In a special statement issued yesterday (28), Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said local and foreign conspirators had not given up trying to divide the country.
“A socialist government assumed power in this country in 1970, but nobody said that it had been brought into power through Russian or Chinese intervention,” the Prime Minister said.
“Likewise, a capitalist government assumed power in 1977, but we never said that it had been brought into power through American or British intervention.”
He asserted, however, that foreign interference reached an extent never experienced before in this country at the 2015 presidential election.
“The situation that prevailed in this country following the assumption of power by the Yahapalana government in 2015 was akin to having been taken over by a hostile foreign invading force,” the Prime Minister said in his statement, listing out how the previous government had acted in a manner detrimental to the country.
- “They systematically persecuted the nationalist political camp in this country. They jailed leading Buddhist monks on trumped-up charges in order to intimidate the Maha Sangha, which has always been at the forefront in protecting the sovereignty of this country. They went after the elephants and tuskers belonging to the temples in a major way, in order to put an end to the perahera traditions of the Buddhists.”
- “They moved to demoralise and render ineffective our armed forces which defeated terrorism and ensured the territorial integrity of the country. Selected members of the armed forces, ranging from the lowest ranks right up to the Chief of Defence Staff were arrested, kept in jail for weeks, months or years and cases were filed against them on trumped-up charges.
- “Nationalist politicians were also systematically persecuted. Various Commissions of Inquiry were instituted against them. They were hauled before the police, remanded for months and cases were filed against them on false charges.”
The Prime Minister said all of this had been done to divide the country and introduce a new Constitution. “What they could not achieve through war, they tried to achieve through political manoeuvres,” he accused, saying that the conspirators had ultimately been unsuccessful only because the Presidential election was won by Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
“However domestic and foreign conspirators have not yet given up,” he said. “Everyone saw the drama that was orchestrated within days of the new President assuming office, alleging that a local employee of a Western embassy had been abducted and questioned.”
The Prime Minister also highlighted the great length to which the previous administration had gone to vilify the armed forces:
- “They admitted that the Sri Lankan armed forces had committed war crimes, and they pledged to establish a special court to try those war crimes with the participation of foreign judges and prosecutors. They also undertook to remove through administrative means, members of the armed forces who were suspected of having committed war crimes even in the absence of evidence against them which can be used in courts.”
- “In August 2016, the Office of Missing Persons Act was rammed through Parliament without room for any debate. Though it’s described as an ‘office’, this is actually an inquisitorial body that can issue summons, examine witnesses, and collect evidence. Officers of the OMP can search without a warrant any armed forces installation, police station, or prison and take into their possession any document or thing they deem necessary. All state bodies including the intelligence agencies and the armed forces are legally bound to cooperate with the OMP even in contravention of the provisions of the State Secrets Act.”
- “In March 2018, the Yahapalana government passed Act No: 5 of 2018 in order to make the provisions of the International Convention Against Enforced Disappearances applicable in Sri Lanka….Under this law, a person suspected of being responsible for an enforced disappearance in Sri Lanka can be extradited to a foreign country and either tried in that country or handed over to the International Criminal Court.”
- “In August 2018, the Yahapalana government passed an amendment to the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act which will enable a foreign country or the International Criminal Court to locate suspects or witnesses in Sri Lanka or to obtain evidence they need from Sri Lanka. The UN Human Rights Commissioner has already requested Western countries to institute legal action in their respective countries against members of the Sri Lankan armed forces suspected of war crimes under the concept of universal jurisdiction.”
The former President alleged the intent behind all this was to persecute, demoralise and render ineffective the armed forces of Sri Lanka. “We need a very strong mandate at this election to conclusively defeat these conspiracies,” he said. “Even though the conspirators lost the presidential election, they have not given up their quest.”