Eknelygoda's wife latest victim of Sri Lankan intolerance

By Bob Dietz/CPJ Asia Program Coordinator on March 26, 2012 2:04 PM ET

On Thursday and Friday, we wrote about the ugly government backlash to last week's U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into Sri Lanka's alleged abuses of international humanitarian law during its war with Tamil separatists.

That campaign of intimidation continues: In the magistrate's court where Sandhya Eknelygoda has been trying to gain any information about the whereabouts of her husband, Prageeth, who disappeared on January 24, 2010, she came under harsh questioning -- observers at the court called it intentionally intimidating -- from government lawyers about her presence at the UNHRC in Geneva. Before she returned home from Switzerland, her name had been denounced in the government-controlled media as one of the government's critics -- several of whom have been denounced as "traitors."

Eknelygoda told colleagues in Colombo that Monday's entire court session was about how she went to Geneva, who funded her trip, why she betrayed her country, and how much she was paid to do that. Her lawyer objected to the line of questioning, but was overruled, she said. 

When she had returned home on Sunday from Geneva, she told reporters, "I only wanted to bring the disappearance of my husband to the notice of the international community. But, those who are allied with the government insulted me, saying I went there to betray the country," she said. You can see a video report of her statement on YouTube.

Eknelygoda and her two teenage sons have been waging a quiet but steadfast campaign to pressure the government for information about their husband and father. CPJ and four other media support groups wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in March 2011, asking for his intervention in the case. Ban referred the issue to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNESCO, where it has been allowed to languish, despite pleas from Eknelygoda and her supporters.

Nor has a January 2012 ruling by Sri Lanka's Appeal Court that former Attorney General Mohan Peiris could be called in as a witness into the disappearance of Eknelygoda been acted on. In a November 2011 posting, "Sri Lanka's savage smokescreen," CPJ reported that Peiris told the Asian Human Rights Commission that Eknelygoda had taken refuge in a foreign country and that the campaign against his disappearance is a hoax, although he failed then and ever since to provide detailed information about where Eknelygoda had fled.

At the time, CPJ said that Peiris's statements "do more than point up the government's indifference to Eknelygoda's fate and the mental anguish of his wife and two sons. Peiris's statements highlight the disregard with which the government views international opinion."

Given the response in the government-controlled media following last week's Geneva vote, that indifference and disregard have moved on to outright hostility.


If Gotabaya killed Basil then Basil's wife would be in front of the UN Office.

If Mahinda killed Gotabaya, then Gotabaya's wife would be in front of the UN Office.

When Savendra Silva tried to rape Kehilia's daughter in the New York UN Office, Kehilia was shouting like a traitor. Kehilia's daughter was a 30,001 woman for him.

Dear Author,

Firstly i like to thank you for bringing this issue out in the open.I am 46 year and living in UK since 1986. Prior to that i was born and bred in Colombo(studied in a sinhala school with Tamil medium) who only visited north of SL during my school holidays as it was my parents birth place. During July 1983 my dad was ill and admited at the Colombo Government hospital. Within few days of admitting him at the hosptial the riots started and we been told to take him home since he is a tamil he might get killed at the hospital. He died on the 10 August 1983, when i was 17, sister 12 and mum middle aged person. We had nothing to do with any troubles in North of SL and because simply being a Tamil we have been penalised and my dad died as a consequence. There are thousands of stories like this, and i am happy mine is not bad as the other. ie: person is not burnt alive by putting tyres put on their necks.

I only visited SL twice(both occasions i had to go because my mother in law wasnt well) for the past 26yrs, not because i dont like visiting my birth place, but simply because of i am scared of travelling to SL.

After this many years if i still have the fear for my life by going to colombo, i could imagine what sort of perils the people living in SL are going through, whether Sinhala,Tamil or Muslim. Unless the Government attitude changes starting from the top nothing will change. To do that, Western countries should do much as possible to protect the innocent from mass killings and war crimes and they have a duty to do that, simply because they are the provided the armoury to SL govt and placed them on a dictatorship path.

Thank you.

Compare the virtual scienle over the well attested mass murder committed by Rajapaksa and his army to the response to events in Libya. The Sri Lankans were allowed to get away with large scale murder which everyone knew at the time was happening. As recently as December 2010 Tory defence minister Liam Fox, a longstanding stooge of the Sri Lankans, thought it was unproblematical to visit the country. William Hague had to very publicly suggest just how unwise this might be.A thing that is striking is just how little political impact the massive Tamil community in Britain has when it comes to winning support. They organised impressive and combative occupations of Parliament Square but have not been able to reach out to wider forces. This is a tragedy.

Another interesting point is that it was the first Chinese proxy war. The Sri Lankan army were fnuded and resourced by China who want to use Sri Lanka as a naval base to project power across the Indian ocean.

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