|A SAD STORY OF A LAWYER WHO HAD TO FLEE FOR HIS LIFE
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|Author:||Angela [ Sun Mar 05, 2006 5:46 pm ]|
|Post subject:||A SAD STORY OF A LAWYER WHO HAD TO FLEE FOR HIS LIFE|
A SAD STORY OF A LAWYER WHO HAD TO FLEE FOR HIS LIFE
18th February 1997
Source: Lankaweb - Padmasiri de Silva reports from Colombo
I am a lawyer from Teldeniya in the Kandy District of Sri Lanka presently living in England as a political refugee. I was the president of the Teldeniya Human Rights Organisation (THRO) which was initially organised to monitor and prevent human rights abuses in the local area either by subversive organisations or by the Sri Lankan Government security forces and also to provide legal assistance to those detained under the emergency regulations. I was also a member of the executive committee of the Kandy Citizens Committee.
In June 1989, during a protest demonstration which was organised by the students of the Teldeniya Maha Vidyalaya (Teldeniya Senior School) to protest against the arrest and detention of one of their schoolmates, the police entered the school premises forcefully and opened fire killing one student ( A.W.M.Jayantha Bandara aged 16) and injuring nine others.
On behalf of the victim's family I appeared at the inquest held before the Teldeniya Magistrate's Court. Mr. Parakrama Ranasinghe appeared as the senior counsel and Mr. Sanath Karalliyadda, I and a few others appeared as Junior counsels. Subsequently the inquest reached a verdict of unlawful killing and named seven police officers from Teldeniya Police station as responsible for the shootings and unlawful killing. The verdict was sent to the Attorney General's Office with a view to bringing criminal charges against those police officers found responsible. My legal clerk Miss. Kalyani Sahabandu, had witnessed the incident and gave evidence in the inquest. She had identified positively those involved in the shootings as she knew those police officers from the time she was working for them as a typist at the Teldeniya police station.
On 2nd August 1989 I appeared on behalf of another aggrieved family of Tilak Abeykoon, one of my neighbours at Poddalgoda, Udispattuwa, a GCE (A.L.)student of the Walala Central College. He was abducted by the security forces on 29th July 1989 when soldiers came in search of his elder brother who was supposed to be an army deserter. On the same night Tilak Abeyakoon was killed by the security forces and his body was found on 1st August 1989. I helped his family to get the victim's body released from police custody. In the course of a private conversation with a magistrate I was instructed to leave the area as it was the time when human right lawyers were threatened and I might be the next target of the security forces. From then onwards I was in hiding at the home of my wife's parents.
On 25th of August 1989, on the day on which formal charges were to be brought against the seven police officers by the Attorney General before the Teldeniya Magistrate's Court, my legal clerk was abducted by unidentified armed men later found to be the members of the security forces. She was later found raped and tortured by them. On the same day a group of about 50 soldiers came in search of me, ransacked the home of my brother and most of his valuables were stolen. As my life was threatened I immediately moved to Colombo.
Meanwhile the seven police officers had been formally charged with murder and their trial was transferred to Kandy Magistrate's Court. In October 1989 two witnesses of the above case, Mr.Sena Rankothge and Mr. Edward Kulathunga, both legal clerks, were abducted by the security forces and killed. Another witness, a trader from Teldeniya was also abducted and killed by the security forces.
On 26th October 1989, Mr. Sanath Karalliyadda, one of my colleagues who appeared with me in the above case and the Vice President of the Teldeniya Human Rights Organisation was abducted by the security forces and later his body was found together with five other dead bodies which were also alleged to be victims of the brutality of the security forces. A vicious campaign was organised by the security forces to prevent a respectable funeral for these victims being held.
Under these circumstances I was forced to flee for my life and left Sri Lanka. I entered Britain as a political refugee and forwarded the story to the human rights organisations throughout the world.
Now I understand through reliable sources that my residence at Iskolamuduna , Udispattuwa has been broken into by the security forces and ransacked and robbed of all the valuables that they could get hold of, burned down with my library which had a life-long collection of valuable and rare books.
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