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Friday 28 November  
Above the law: Namal Rajapakse and family
Dheera Sujan's picture
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Colombo, Sri Lanka
Colombo, Sri Lanka

Above the law

Published on : 19 January 2012 - 5:16pm | By Dheera Sujan (Photo: Sunday Observer)
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It’s December 2010, and two young law students are sitting for their exam.

One is in a hall full of students, who are being monitored closely by the examiner to make sure they’re following the rules:  no phones, no electronic devices, no cheating.

The other, meanwhile, is taken to a private, air-conditioned room with a computer with internet access, and is allowed to keep his phone.  As an added bonus, he has two teachers from the college sitting by his side. Perhaps simply for moral support, or perhaps for slightly more.

It’s an unthinkable scenario in Europe where recently a couple of high profile cheating and plagiarizing scandals have destroyed hitherto illustrious careers, but not so for Sri Lanka, a country pulled increasingly into the international spotlight for an ever widening smorgasbord of human rights abuses.

A prince above the law
The student in the second scenario is Namal Rajapakse, scion of the country’s ruling family, and a prince in the making.  The other student is D.M. Thushara Jayarathna who was one examination paper away from his law degree from the Sri Lankan Law College when he filed a complaint against Namal Rajapakse for examination violations.

Within days he was receiving death threats and being ordered to keep silent. But Thushara didn’t choose to keep silent. He pressed the complaint to the college, sent petitions out to human rights commissions, NGO’s and the press.  After he gave an interview to the BBC Singhala service, the mood turned really nasty.

Since then he’s received threatening phone calls which he’s managed to trace back to various police owned landlines and mobiles. He’s tried to officially file his case with the police, but they’ve refused to write it up.

Police have come to his house with piles of documents they won’t allow him to read but want him to sign and uniformed officers have told him to put up a white flag outside his house – a traditional sign that there’s been a death in the family.

He’s been abducted twice.  The first time he was detained for 11 hours and though there was no physical roughing up, the stress left him with enough mental trauma for him to go on medication.  The second time he was picked up they weren’t so polite.  He was beaten up, his sarong was pulled off him and he was so frightened that he hasn’t been able to sleep properly since. 

Meanwhile Thushara’s father has had two brain hemorrhages that have left him unable to speak.  His mother was already a Parkinson’s patient, so Thushara decided it was best if he left home.  He’s been living in hiding since last April.  His neighbours and friends have been threatened and he says: “Everyone is so scared in Sri Lanka of this government, they don’t dare go against them.”

A half life in hiding

Thushara now lives a weird half life, neither graduate nor job candidate, with a family he can’t visit, a college that doesn’t want him back.  He depends on NGO’s and human rights activists for a safe place to sleep, and meals to keep him going.

“I’m a beggar” he says matter of factly. He tells his story again and again to media in the hope of stirring enough of an outcry for the persecution to stop, but it’s hard not to think of him as a skinny unarmed David, spitting in the wind against a Goliath that’s almost too big to grant him much notice besides a casual smack when he pipes up too loudly.

The Rajapakses' Sri Lanka: a family concern
President Mahinda Rajapakse has made ruling Sri Lanka a family concern. His brothers and sons occupy top positions in the Ministeries of Defence and Economic Management, a Rajapakse is the Speaker of the House, others are high ups in the army and navy. 
 

His relatives are ambassadors and provincial politicians, and very rich businessmen with controlling shares in industry and aviation.  Namal, the eldest son, and above mentioned character in the exam scenario is an MP.

But Thushara has another title for them:  “They’re criminals and gangsters,” he told RNW. “And I won’t leave this country because I want to bring democracy back to Sri Lanka.”

He adds: "The president has immunity, not his son, yet what’s happened in my case has given immunity to Namal Rajapakse too but he’s nothing more than a gangster.”

 

Discussion

andik4004 26 September 2014 - 8:35am / France

this do be more alive and would be incredible Harga Baja wf terkini
if the entertaining connect about this concept

Shiva 3 February 2012 - 6:59pm

Thanks for your article.

We all have to blame those leaders who suuport this alleged war criminal and human rights abuser.

Rajapakse cannot behave inhumanly, commits human rights abuses and above the law as the so called International Community's failure to deal with the regime applying R2P, Human Rights and International Law. Shame on the Commonwealth nations to have a member who defies all democratic norms and values and several lawsuits filed against this regime but allowed to remain as a member. Victims are denied justice.

Anonymous 23 January 2012 - 10:28pm / Canada

We shouldn't take bullshit story like broadcast above,we all appretiate Rajapakksha power at this moment.Open your eyes & brains look at Sri Lanka now & then.

gemunu 19 December 2012 - 5:07pm / UK

It is beyond any right thinking mind to comprehend why some Sri Lankans play underdog to the corrupt MaRaa egime

Anonymous 22 January 2012 - 5:33pm

I find it incredible that this guy hasn't taken this to courts. I am certain that half a dozen lawyers would happily take this to court on a pro bono basis as it is a career making case. The fact that he is a law student and hasn't done this makes it even more suspicious. The alleged wrong doing has taken place on three levels.

Firstly the allegation that Rajapakse cheated at his test or that some impropriety has taken place. I'm certain that if this did take place then the Law College has violated its own rules and should then be taken to courts

Secondly, if such an act took place and he was wrongly expelled from the college then he has grounds to sue on the college on that basis.

Thirdly, and by far the most serious of all these allegations, he claims that he has been wrongfully imprisoned in one case and in a second instance, assaulted with the partial implication that the police themselves are responsible. Serious charges which ought to be taken to court on the grounds of violation of fundamental rights, and yet haven't been set forth in any legal documents.

For those who will say that this is a futile exercise, I'd point out that it is the only way to seek justice. If he wants to get his degree and career back, if he wants to seek justice for all the wrongs that he claims have been inflicted on him, then him pleading his case to foreign human rights commissions and news organizations, local and international, is not the due process.

It's ironic that he claims that Namal has circumvented the proper steps needed to gain a degree and yet he has circumvented the proper steps for a person who has been wrongfully injured.

The only conclusions i can reach from this is that either his claims are based on falsities or that the points i have raised simply haven't occurred to him, in the same way that they haven't occurred to the author of this article or the majority of readers who have commented on it.

This is, quite simply, not an issue about Sri Lanka's 'ethnic question' and it is highly irresponsible journalism to merely assume that such allegations are true without even questioning their, and further it is a disservice to those individuals who work hard and risk their lives to bring the to light the multiple abuses of power that this government has committed.

In future, please attempt to ascertain whether your accusations of nepotism are justified instead of freely throwing around such words. I'm certain that there are many instances where they would be justified however such loose accusations merely tarnish impressions of instances when this government has rightly been accused.

Lasantha Pethiyagoda 21 January 2012 - 11:42am / Australia

Nepotism is commonplace in much of South Asia. It comes from the tradition of monarchies that ruled either parts of the Indian sub-continent or Sri Lanka before the advent of Western colonialism and a newer concept of democracy (from the Greek word)The basic concept of nepotism is founded on the need for absolute trust around those weilding power. It was thought that one's own kith and kin would not betray the ruler if sufficient power is ascribed to them also. However, greed surpasses all such notions and there is no guarantee against the infallibility of human morals under the influence of temptation and corruption. Democracy by itself may not work, as many nominal democracies have also fallen for various reasons. True democracies do not seem to have existed. However, Sri Lankans must be alert to see if economic progress is made and whether ordinary citizens' lives improve over the years, with the gap between rich and poor hopefully narrowing to acceptable levels. Infrastructure such as rural hospitals, schools, country roads must be accessible, affordable and of good quality, while food and commodities are cheap and abundant, Sri Lanka being an agricultural land blessed with the best soil, water and sunshine.

lak 21 January 2012 - 12:32am / u.k

north korea = sri lanka
china = sri lanka
that is very sad

gamaya 20 January 2012 - 11:45pm / UK

I am sorry for this guy. But most people in Sri Lanka and most lankans living in other countries are egoistic like y self. I don't want nothing happen to my family so I keep quiet. I don't know what else to do. I must remind as a Sinhalese to something to my Tamil friend. Prabhakaran - hero for some of you (most perhaps) not only wrecked Tamil lives in Sri lanka by waging war, but wrecked us Sinhalese as well by helping Rajapaksha to win the election in 2005. Oh Prabhakaran...

PeterNY 20 January 2012 - 5:10pm / USA

No wonder third world countries are usually condemned to remain third world countries.

user avatar
Dheera Sujan 20 January 2012 - 3:13pm / The Netherlands

 Dear commenters,

 

While we at RNW appreciate your comments about any of our stories, I have to ask you to try to stay objective or at least polite.  Any insulting comments or deregotary personal remarks will be deleted.

 

PROF. KOPAN MAHADEVA 20 January 2012 - 12:49pm / U.K.

Dear Tamil Canadian: I am very sorry I cannot applaud you for publicizing the above article and some of its related comments. It contains two main allegations with many personal factors and innuendos. To me it looks out of balance and lacking fairplay, dignity, and good taste. It's out of character for you to publicize such material, which will not do much good to you, to Canada, the Tamils or to Sri Lanka -- which is on the brink of ushering in a new era. Let God punish all wrongdoers in his way, in his time, and do our best as individuals and groups in ethical, lawful, decent and morally acceptable ways. I like you so much, and hence this comment.
-- Prof. Kopan Mahadeva, London

Shiva 3 February 2012 - 7:04pm

Dear Kopan, Rajapakse family ruling days are numbered and all the family members will be like the Pol Pot regime at the ICC sooner or later.

Justine 20 January 2012 - 12:20pm / Germany

If the Tiger structures have been still there, Rajapakse and his clan would be up to all this what is going on. The Sinhala masses except for a certain percentage, simply believe what the govt. spews out. Mahinda Rajapakse himself is a crook and a thug during his school days. What could one except the children to be. His wife must be ashamed of herself being the wife of this dog. They will all perish and we have still time to create a justful society for the Sinhalese and Tamils. Mahinda cannot enjoy the present protection always as he does now. Every dog has it's day.

Anonymous 20 January 2012 - 7:24am / Srilanka

Scared to comment even anything againt them

SM 20 January 2012 - 2:33am / Australia

Martin Neimroller had prescient words which adapted might read as follows:

First they came for the Tamils of Indian origin,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't an Indian Tamil.

Then they came for the Southern JVP youth,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a JVP youth.

Then they came for the Sri Lankan Tamils,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Sri Lankan Tamil.

Then they came for the Christians,
and I didn't speak out because I was Buddhist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

ds 20 January 2012 - 1:16am

When the whole system is corrupted (from top to bottom) what do you expect to happen? Vote for the rogues, appoint these corrupted crooks over and over again, cement their positions, and then cry. Is this what you call the stupidity of the Sri Lankans. Sorry!

R.Premadasa 20 January 2012 - 12:54am / sri lanka

government injustice is same whether you are tamil, sinhala or muslim. we should get together against it as a single force.
tamil, sinhala, muslim and other populations were around 20%, 70%, 6%, 4% respectively for the last century. check the facts before misleading public. according to 1946 cencus Total Tamil population (both indian & sri lankan tamils) was 22.75%. it does not matter which race you and me are. we should stop talking about races and think as Sri Lankans and fight aginst rulers. these rajapakshes' will ruin the country

cabs 20 January 2012 - 12:51am / sl

@ thamby
SL never had Tamil population of 32%..In 1948 it was less than 10%

Kumar 20 January 2012 - 12:16am

Most of the people who wrote comments are from out side of the country. Do they know what really happened in SL. Yes I know lots of them even havent been in SL. Those people includind the writer of this article are probably paid by LTTE ---. Because this type of ---- are published by people who greed for dirty money. No any inteligent jurnalist will published this kind of --- and this writer must study the basics of journalism. [rude language removed -Ed.]

Thamby 19 January 2012 - 11:21pm / USA

I applaud your bravery to publish this article. May be you might have put yourself in danger for publishing this article. Tamil population was 32% in 1948 in Srilanka. Now it is merely less than 16% Many well off Tamils left the country. They had to go through LTTE dictatorship to corrupt Srilankan hegemony rule.! Srilanka is going from better to worst dictatorship its justice system is similar to coconut court system. There is no justice. Tamils have to bribe every official in Srilanka to get a ordinary Birth certificate to passport. Rajapakshas and India has robbed everything from Tamils; LAND, JOBS. JEWELRY ,BUSINESS etc. They will destroy Fonseka , JVP rebels and Ajit Premadasa to eliminate rivalry and facilitate mega loser Ranil stay in power as a opposition leader FOR EVER (loser).

Kumz

R.Premadasa 20 January 2012 - 12:52am / Sri Lanka

government injustice is same whether you are tamil, sinhala or muslim. we should get together against it as a single force.
tamil, sinhala, muslim and other populations were around 20%, 70%, 6%, 4% respectively for the last century. check the facts before misleading public. according to 1946 cencus Total Tamil population (both indian & sri lankan tamils) was 22.75%. it does not matter which race you and me are. we should stop talking about races and think as Sri Lankans and fight aginst rulers. these rajapakshes' will ruin the country

cabs 20 January 2012 - 12:49am / sl

SL never had a Tamil population of 32%. in 1948 it was les
s than 10%.

Thamby 19 January 2012 - 11:21pm / USA

I applaud your bravery to publish this article. May be you might have put yourself in danger for publishing this article. Tamil population was 32% in 1948 in Srilanka. Now it is merely less than 16% Many well off Tamils left the country. They had to go through LTTE dictatorship to corrupt Srilankan hegemony rule.! Srilanka is going from better to worst dictatorship its justice system is similar to coconut court system. There is no justice. Tamils have to bribe every official in Srilanka to get a ordinary Birth certificate to passport. Rajapakshas and India has robbed everything from Tamils; LAND, JOBS. JEWELRY ,BUSINESS etc. They will destroy Fonseka , JVP rebels and Ajit Premadasa to eliminate rivalry and facilitate mega loser Ranil stay in power as a opposition leader FOR EVER (loser).

Kumz

Thamby 19 January 2012 - 11:21pm / USA

I applaud your bravery to publish this article. May be you might have put yourself in danger for publishing this article. Tamil population was 32% in 1948 in Srilanka. Now it is merely less than 16% Many well off Tamils left the country. They had to go through LTTE dictatorship to corrupt Srilankan hegemony rule.! Srilanka is going from better to worst dictatorship its justice system is similar to coconut court system. There is no justice. Tamils have to bribe every official in Srilanka to get a ordinary Birth certificate to passport. Rajapakshas and India has robbed everything from Tamils; LAND, JOBS. JEWELRY ,BUSINESS etc. They will destroy Fonseka , JVP rebels and Ajit Premadasa to eliminate rivalry and facilitate mega loser Ranil stay in power as a opposition leader FOR EVER (loser).

Kumz

Anonymous 19 January 2012 - 9:47pm

wEF

chula vamsha 19 January 2012 - 9:47pm

I'm happy there are many of them. at least they will have guts and save the country like the father did. I like the freedom and human rights that prevail in sri lanka after so many years of suffering foreign funded terrorism etc. Unfortunately we can't have more democracy 'cos we don't have an opposition. what we have is just a group of coolies who still work for the same powerful dictator countries.

Kumara 20 January 2012 - 12:34am / Sri Lanka

Thank you very much your comments.

Anonymous 19 January 2012 - 9:45pm

I can't believe that this happened under this writers watch. It seems like he was an eye witness. Get a life. These are all could haves and should haves. No proof. Just mud. It is like I am saying that you have an affair with your neighbour's wife. No proof, but anyone can say anything. Just learn to accept the facts. If you can proove this, please go to courts.

Anonymous 19 January 2012 - 9:45pm

I can't believe that this happened under this writers watch. It seems like he was an eye witness. Get a life. These are all could haves and should haves. No proof. Just mud. It is like I am saying that you have an affair with your neighbour's wife. No proof, but anyone can say anything. Just learn to accept the facts. If you can proove this, please go to courts.

Sunil R 19 January 2012 - 7:23pm / Srilanka

Well done the BRAVE Srilankan Patriot "Thushara", We need young blood like you to rise up against the Rajabaskha Clan and persevere the democracy in SriLanka. It has been terrorist by the Rajabaskha Clan.

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