Who killed Lalith Athulathmudali? The great lie !

By V.Thangavelu

The Sunday Island (September 3, 2000) wrote an editorial captioned "The great imponderable." As is well known The Island newspaper acts as the mouthpiece of extreme Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinistic forces portraying them as " nationalists" and "patriots" defending Sinhala Buddhism. On the other hand it conducts a virulent campaign of disinformation against the LTTE and misses no opportunity to demonise them as "terrorists" and "murderers!" It had consistently sought the elimination of LTTE "menace" through military means!

 Like the dog that raises its legs irrespective of the fact where the stone has hit, The Island newspaper editor in his anxiety to tarnish the LTTE black accuses it of killing Lalith Athulathmudali without a shred of evidence to prove it. In fact all the available evidence points the finger at President Premadasa and personnel of the security forces close to him as those behind Athulathmudali's murder.

The Island's editorial, inter alia, states that "A major imponderable is what   the LTTE will do between now and October 10. Whatever that be, there is very little doubt that there will be an effort by the Tigers to make waves and influence the ultimate result. Despite the very short memory span of most Lankans, let us not forget that they have always done it before. The country has lost some of its best leaders to Tiger terrorism as elections approached. Names like Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake, Ranasinghe Premadasa and many more easily come to mind. Vijaya Kumaratunga was another major loss but the available evidence does not suggest a Tiger hand in that killing."

The Island's editorial very cleverly, albeit clumsily, insinuates that "Vijay Kumaratunga was another major loss but the available evidence does not suggest a Tiger hand in the killing." Apparently the editor deliberately feigns ignorance and misleads the readers as to who the real killers of Vijay Kumaratunga are based on evidence. The overwhelming evidence pinpointed the JVP of having carried out the killing! It was just one of thousands of armed retaliatory killings by the JVP against those who supported the Indo-Sri Lanka accord signed in 1987. It was too embarrassing for The Island newspaper editor to acknowledge that the killing was carried out by the Sinhalese racist JVP which masquerades as a party wedded to Marxism and class solidarity!

Reverting back to Lalith Athulathmudali's killing, who were the actual people behind his assassination?

Athulathmudali was a co-founder of the DUNF, a breakaway party from the UNP. He was shot dead by a lone gunman during an election rally at Kirillappona in April 1993, when President Premadasa was still in power.

The Sri Lankan security forces immediately blamed the LTTE for the killing. As Minister for National Security in the UNP regime between 1984 and 87, Athulathmudali had aggressively pursued a 'dirty war' in the Tamil homelands and unleashed several unrestrained military offensives into the Northeast. So it was believed the LTTE had a motive. The Colombo based Sinhala-owned press was also quick to fall in line.

The timing of the assassination of Athulathmudali was important. President Ranasinghe Premadasa was still smarting under the ignominy of having to face an impeachment motion brought against him by the DUNF in parliament. Accused fingers were pointing at President Premadasa for the cold-blooded murder of Athulathmudali despite his repeated assertion of innocence. He pleaded " Assassinate me if you wish, but don't assassinate my character which I have cherished from my childhood!" Yet, there existed a strong perception among the Sinhalese that President Premadasa was behind the assassination of Athulathmudali.

When on May 1, President Premadasa himself was killed in a bomb blast in Colombo; there was wide spread rejoicing among Sinhalese. Athulathmudali's supporters in Colombo south considered his electoral power base lit crackers in celebration.

When President Chandrika came to power after putting an end to the UNP's 17 years tyrannical rule in 1994, she launched a Special Commission of Inquiry into the assassination of Lalith Athulathmudali. The Commission after deliberating for 2 years submitted its final report to the Sri Lankan President on October 7, 1997. The findings of the commission pointed the finger at former President Ranasinghe Premadasa (1988-93) and security force personnel who were close to him as directly responsible for the killing of Athulathmudali.

On September 08. 1988 one Devasundara, Inspector of Police in charge of the local unit of the newly formed Terrorism Investigation Department (TID) was arrested in Anuradhapura in connection with the murder of Athulathmudali.

The other accused arrested in the case were W. Bandulalage Somaratne alias Malwatte Some, U.L.Seneviratne, B.G. Devasurendra and A. Abdeen. They were all charged with conspiracy, aiding and abetting to commit the murder of Lalith Athulathmudali and unlawful detention of Ragunathan.

Subsequently two of the accused were killed. One of the accused Ranganatha Karunaratne currently held in jail filed an application for bail in June, 2000 saying he has been kept in custody for over 4 ½ years without any charges or trial.

At the time of the killing of Athulathmudali, it was alleged that Ragunathan, whose body mysteriously appeared on the following morning a few hundred yards from the scene of murder, was the assailant who fired the fatal shots that killed Athulathmudali. But later it transpired that Ragunathan; a Tamil youth who came to Colombo to go abroad in search of employment was arrested and detained by the Colombo Police. Ragunathan was shot dead by the Police and his body dumped with a cyanide capsule in his mouth to fake his murder as one of suicide. It was an attempt to cover up the real murderer(s).

When these are the facts, the Sinhalese owned press, including The Island, day after day and month after month, continue to indulge in malicious propaganda that Athulathmudali was killed by the LTTE. The Island newspaper does this with reckless disregard for accuracy or truth.

The Sinhala -owned press in its attempt to demonise the LTTE, had suppressed publication of serious human rights breaches committed by the Sri Lankan government and its security forces.

The U.S. State Department, in its 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, concluded that the Sri Lankan security forces have committed numerous extra-judicial killings and have executed prisoners who were captured on the battlefields. Many others have simply disappeared. Suspected members of LTTE are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention and the Sri Lankan government, in virtually all cases, refuses to investigate or prosecute those responsible for human rights violations. The Sri Lankan security forces after arrest and detention of suspected LTTE sympathisers under Emergency Regulations and/or Prevention of Terrorism Act subject them to torture.

Amnesty International stated that between 1995/96 "that of the 600-odd people who have "disappeared" in the last 18 months after their arrest by the security forces, nearly all have died as a result of torture or been deliberately killed in detention."

Currently over 1,500 LTTE suspects are detained in the various state prisons for upto 4 years without trial or charges. A few have been murdered right inside the state prisons by Sinhalese prison officials in collusion with convicted prisoners. Obviously the Sri Lankan government is a terrorist state which uses its armed forces as an instrument of terror to decimate not just the LTTE, but the entire Tamil people. The Sinhalese owned press deliberately suppresses these unpalatable facts.

The Island editorial is part of the smear campaign that has been mounted by the Sri Lankan government to discredit the LTTE worldwide. Joseph Goebbels, the master propagandist for the Nazis laid down the dictum that a lie repeated many times becomes a truth. The Island editor appears to be an outstanding pupil of him. (Tamilcanadian – Sept, 2000)