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A Plan for a Campaign of Blackmail and Political Harassment


By Our Special Correspondent in Colombo

(February 20, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) There was breaking news today (20/02/2010) at noon that some NGOs are trying to destabilize the country and that the government will engage in a campaign against this. This news was attributed to a Foreign Ministry source. In making inquiries into this news item, it was revealed that the beginning of this attempt to initiate a campaign started at a meeting held at Temple Trees yesterday (19/02/2010), between 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., when the president met a group of SLFP lawyers. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the forthcoming Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) election, which is fixed on the 24th. The SLFP is to support Palitha Kumarasinghe for the president as against Shibli Azis.

In the course of the discussion, the name of JC Weliamuna was dragged in. it was mentioned that Rs 15million has been received by him, referring to the monies received by Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL). This money was received by TISL from 2004. The details about the receipt of these funds have been published in the TISL website itself, and is therefore no secret at all. The impression created at the meeting was that these monies have been received within the last 1 ½ months. It was said that “Nobody knows what happened to this money,” thus creating an impression of misuse of funds. However, all the funds received from 2004 by TISL have been accounted for in detail, and the accounts have been publicized. At this stage it was said that “something must be done about him.” Meaning JC Weliamuna. At this stage, a suggestion was made that the TISL office should be raided and another suggestion was to refer Weliamuna’s name to the Ethics Committee of BASL for misconduct. However, “something must be done about him” could even mean worse, given for example the incident relating to Prageeth Ekanaliyagoda, who remains missing since the 24th of January, 2 days prior to the presidential election, in which he supported the opposition candidate.

It was also mentioned that JC Weliamuna planted a grenade about a year back to get publicity. This reference was to the throwing of two grenades at JC Weliamuna’s house, and the explosion of one of them caused serious damage to his house. Despite of demands from local and international human rights groups, there was no credible inquiry into this attack. The attack is being publically perceived as retaliation for JC Weliamuna’s involvement in many human rights cases, at which the conduct of the Defense Ministry itself has been questioned. Later, on the Defense Ministry website, the names of several lawyers appearing for human rights cases, particularly on behalf of Tamil victims detained under the national security laws, were named as traitors. Another letter was distributed by a group naming itself Mahasohn Balakaya (Demon Brigade) which also carried a similar kind of message.

It was at this meeting at Temple Trees that the decision was taken to carry out a campaign of publicity against JC Weliamuna and against “NGOs trying to create de-stability in the country.” There was an attempt also to create an impression that the money given to TISL had been used for opposition political campaigns. However, all the money given to TISL has been used for the purposes which are well-publicized and all the accounts have been made available to the public.

This morning’s announcement on destabilizing the country appears to be the beginning of another campaign directed towards blackmail, which may be accompanied by other acts of political harassment.

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