By C.V. Wigneswaran –
Someone asked “There are sudden arrests taking place in Malaysia and Sri Lanka of those sympathetic to the Tiger cause. How do you see them?”
My response was: A dangerous question to answer. Anything said sympathetic towards those arrested or suspected could be used against me too since I am a politician now. So let me tell something that happened in my judicial life. When I was the High Court Judge of Colombo a person was brought before me as a dangerous suspect. The man was in trousers. He had a red scarf tied around his head. He was moving inside the prisoner’s cell very much like a tiger or lion in its captive cell.
As soon as I sat down on the Bench the Court Police Officer came and whispered into my ears “Sir! he is a very dangerous criminal. He is the brother in law of Rohana Wijeweera. He is violent. The best thing to do would be to re-remand him for two weeks. Otherwise he might start becoming violent in Court.” Just at that time the Prisoner stopped pacing within the Prison Cell, looked sharp at me and shouted “Sir! Could I have a word with you?”. I said. “Yes! Go ahead.“
“Sir! I am a London qualified Medical Doctor. I happen to be the brother in law of the late Rohana Wijeweera. For political reasons I am being harassed. A politician in Gampaha where I practice medicine is behind my arrest and harassment. They put me in the stinking Prison toilet in the nights under a powerful light above my head and when I huddle in a corner trying to take a few winks of sleep someone comes and pours urine water on me in a bucket soaking me with it. This has been happening daily for some days now. They are harassing me because I am a brother in law of late Rohana Wijeweera. I have done no wrong.” I asked him to put in writing what he had to say with the help of a Court officer. I asked him to be kept in custody in an adjoining Court room until he finished writing and asked the Mudaliyar to call the Case thereafter. He wrote in good English what he had to say. I made order to have the Prisoner examined by a Doctor and noticed the Prison Superintendant to be before me immediately. He came. I told him of the allegations made. He tried to deny. I asked him if he made night rounds to ascertain whether incidents of this nature were taking place in the Prison. He kept silent.
I wanted a credible Report on the allegations made. If any complaints came to me that the Prisoner has been treated unjustly because he had complained to me, steps would be taken against the Superintendent. I told him the Prisoner was only a suspect. His Case is still to be inquired.
Subsequently the Case came up for inquiry. It was found that the Doctor had done no wrong but a false Case had been mounted on him for political reasons. The complaining Police Officer faired really bad during his cross examination. So much so the political forces which engineered the Case against the Doctor out of sheer exasperation immediately transferred the officer to the North. That was War time around 1990 or so.
When political complaints are made against persons, sections of the Press go to town thanks to the lavishness of the political forces engineering such cases and paint the suspects taken into custody as dangerous criminals. Their criminality when tested later judicially are found to be zero in many cases. By the time their cases come up for inquiry or trial the persons taken in to custody have been painted pitch black. In recent times the fashion is to paint them as Terrorists.
Who is a Terrorist? A man is said to have been killed by Mr.X. There is the normal Law of the Country. He could be taken into custody and tried under the normal Law. But when he is brought under the Prevention of Terrorism Act what happens? Mr. X is said to have committed not a murder but a terrorist murder.
Who decides whether Mr.X is a Terrorist or not? The Police, Politicians and the State of course! Is there a proper definition as to who a Terrorist is? I used to have cases where persons had given a meal or a glass of water to a so called Terrorist. When I ask the Police why do you call such person a Terrorist, they reply he is indeed a Terrorist. Then I say “Alright! Has he been convicted of any Terrorist offence?” They say “no”. But they still maintain he is a Terrorist. So Terrorism and the identity of a Terrorist is subjective. There are no objective tests which can identify a person as a Terrorist. You come to hear someone is a Terrorist.
Then you arrest a person for having given a meal or water to such Terrorist. That person may have been wrongly identified to the Police or People in authority as a Terrorist for political reasons. But that is not investigated.
The arrests you refer to are similar to the arrests made just before the Elections in 2015. Suddenly lots of so called Terrorist activities come to light at the time of Elections. After Elections nobody bothers about such so called Terrorist acts nor activities. Someone must do a Research on the effect of Politics on the growth of Terrorism!
So the idea seem to be Tigers have reincarnated. They did not come to life all these ten years but suddenly during Election times, whether in 2015 or now, they suddenly resurrect from their death beds. After Elections they again pass away into their graves!
What we see on the Press is that some Terrorists or those involved in Terrorist activities have been arrested. Evidence of their involvement has been established by recovering incriminating materials. Not that their identity of being a Terrorist (whatever that may mean) has been established. Often when they go to prove their Terrorist activities the Prosecutors fail for want of proper evidence. Curiously it is normally a Tamil or a Muslim who would fall under that category unless a Sinhalese has rubbed a man in authority on the wrong side. The answer to your question is I see them as political antics and/or electoral gimmicks!
*Justice C.V. Wigneswaran – Former Chief Minister Northern Province and Secretary General Thamizh Makkal Kootanii