As Sri Lanka rocked under a tsunami warning on Wednesday, there was understandably little interest in discussing the aftermath of the recent alleged abduction of Premakumar Gunaratnam and the leader of the women’s wing Dimuthu Attygalle. However the impact it has on Sri Lanka needs to be evaluated for the benefit of the future.
The actions of the Australian High Commission raised some eyebrows and according to newspaper reports, irked many top officials. However as a institution pledged to protecting the interests of their citizens, the actions of the Australian High Commissioner Robyn Mudie can be viewed with some justice.
It can only be hoped that the circumstances promote better understanding and cooperation between the Government and embassy officials, should such unfortunate incidents occur in the future as Sri Lankan officials also have the right to be privy to any information that their foreign colleagues possess in relevance to the situation at hand.
It is unfortunate that Sri Lanka has hit world headlines for the wrong reason yet again but if the testimonies of the two abducted are to be believed, then the white van phenomenon is alive and well. Given its long existence, it is high time that the Government takes steps to crush this menace and reinstate the power of law and order to provide a permanent solution to this stagnating issue.
The elusive nature of Gunaratnam and his connections to the JVP no doubt will create much conversation regarding the culprits behind the possible abduction but what cannot be denied is the importance of showing that Sri Lanka is capable of dealing with the situation in a transparent and responsible manner.
In the aftermath of the UN Human Rights Council resolution and the Government’s own pledge to promote and implement law and order, this situation presents a golden chance to test the genuineness of the State’s intentions. Denying that a serious situation exists in terms of a breakdown of law and order is worse than doing nothing and top politicians would do well to peruse media reports to show shocking examples of how criminal activities are on the increase on this sun-dappled isle.
Arresting the numbers of disappearances is directly linked to taking a stronger view on implementing justice. This means that the courts of law have to do a better job at making sure wrongdoers are punished and political interference is minimised. This will also go a long way to re-instating public faith in the judiciary system.
The white van phenomenon has gone on too long and its effect as a weapon of suppression has firmly pushed Sri Lanka’s reputation down the drain. In fact in the attack on a provincial council politician, the police looked like fools in trying to explain the presence of army officials inside a white van. Unless this menace is stopped for good, there will always be a slur on the nation.
Without such actual results on the ground it will take a long time for Sri Lanka to reach real development.