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Hulugalle attempts to cover up government responsibility for attack on Sirasa

By Our Political Editor

(March 26, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Mr. Lakshman Hulugalle, Director General of National Security, attributed the attack on Sirasa TV to a Buddhist organization in a statement. However, the government has not taken any action to arrest anyone from this organization for the attack. In response, a Buddhist monk associated with the organization denied the allegations by Lakshman Hulugalle, deeming them baseless. Further revelations by people identifying the photographs of the attackers clearly indicates a highly organised political attack with the assistance of the police. All this clearly proves that Hulugalle’s statement was an attempt to cover up a political attack.

The Sirasa TV attack was a highly publicized event by an organized group on a well-known media establishment associated with the opposition. If the government has reliable information that a particular organization has carried out this attack, it is the duty of the government to reveal this information and to take appropriate legal action on the basis of that evidence. However, there has been no indication of any attempt by the government to gather such evidence against the perpetrators so as to bring them to justice. The governments’ attribution of this case to a Buddhist organization appears to be an attempt to divert criticism levelled against the government for allowing the attacks to occur, and for failing to mobilize governmental and law enforcement agents to take appropriate action.

The details of the attacks have been made transparent by means of available photographic evidence. Sirasa TV has publicized pictures of seventeen people demonstrating violent actions during the attack. The media station has also publicized photographs of the CTB bus which transported the attackers to and away from the location.

Meanwhile, the forced disappearance of Prageeth Ekanaliyagoda still remains an unresolved issue. Responsible ministers from the government have made various statements about this disappearance. Some ministers have suggested that the police have conducted enquiries into the case, and are in possession of details about the circumstances of this disappearance. It has been said that the details of the disappearance will be revealed; however, no such revelations have been made despite a multitude of promises. Some ministers have made attempts to suggest that the journalist is in hiding and that they are aware of this fact.

In light of these incidents, an emerging pattern is becoming increasingly noticeable: when there are allegations of violence against the media which point to the involvement of the government, the government engages in counter-propaganda by issuing various statements, but ultimately, does nothing to ensure proper inquiries into these incidents.

The primary obligation of a government with respect to acts of violence, particularly attacks on public order, is to investigate these matters and bring the perpetrators to justice. Instead, the state engages in propaganda exercises in an attempt to diffuse concern and divert attention to other matters, ultimately preventing any real investigations into such violence. When the state refuses to investigate violence, it creates the conditions necessary for the proliferation of such violence and the protection of its perpetrators. It is the state’s inherent obligation to be able and willing to conduct an investigation into these matters; it is this fundamental obligation that the state is deliberately failing to carry out in these instances.

When the government directly or indirectly engages in creating and maintaining a situation of violence within a country, the people will be unable to expect protection from anyone. The primary duty of the state is to ensure the safety and security of its people. In Sri Lanka, the government has not only failed to maintain security, but actively participates in creating the conditions which make for its collapse.

Over a long period of time and under several regimes, instead of working to ensure law, order and the basic security of its people, the Sri Lankan state has been constantly engaged in creating violence within society. It works to maintain its power by encouraging and even creating chaos and violence. The basic duty of a state is to maintain the rule of law. However, the greatest threat to Sri Lanka’s rule of law arises from the actions of the state. Instead of creating the necessary machinery for the maintenance of law and order - by means of an efficient management of the policing system, and providing resources for the judiciary to function independently - the state has become an obstruction to the work of the police and the judiciary. When the government itself becomes an obstruction to the work of state agents, it becomes responsible for the chaos and violence that occurs within society. It is this kind of state-generated chaos and violence which must be brought to an end in Sri Lanka. As the head of state, it is the responsibility of the president to ensure that the state carries out its functions to provide stable conditions for people to survive within a society. This is the fundamental failure of the state which has permeated into the social, economic and political spheres of Sri Lanka.

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