Weliamuna attack: BASL wakes up

  • President Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary assure lawyers of bringing culprits to book

Police are yet to make a breakthrough in the investigations to the grenade attack on the residence of senior human rights lawyer, J.C.Weliamuna with the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) and the civil organisations pressing for an immediate probe.

On Friday, BASL representatives met with President Mahinda Rajapaksa for a discussion on the issue.
President Rajapaksa told representatives that he was personally keen on bringing the culprits to book because some elements were trying to tarnish the image of the government by trying to linkthe government to last week’s grenade attack, BASL Secretary Udaya Rohan de Silva said.


Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Police Chief Jayantha Wickramaratne and Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama were among those present at the meeting. “The President has given instructions to the IGP to look into the matter and he has in turn said he would keep the BASL updated on the progress of the investigations,” Mr. de Silva said.

He said that the Defence Secretary too instructed the IGP to investigate the attack and had assured the lawyers that the government was keen to find out who was behind the attack.

According to Mr. de Silva, the Police Chief had pledged he would handover a report on the investigations to the BASL within a week. Meanwhile, several local and international civic organisations, have called on the government to bring the perpetrators to book.

However Police Spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunasekara told The Sunday Times he was yet to receive a report on a breakthrough in the investigations.

Mr. Weliamuna was about to retire for the night last Saturday, when he heard loud noises around 11 p.m. outside his house in Dutugemunu Street, Kohuwala. Looking out the window he had spotted a three-wheeler parked on the main road, but as there was nothing suspicious about it, he had ignored it. Forty-five minutes later there was another loud bang that shattered some glass windows in the house. It was then that he realized that a hand grenade had been lobbed into the balcony of the house while another lay unexploded. No one was injured in the blast.

In an open letter to the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), several organisations and individuals collectively called on the BASL to pass a resolution condemning the incident and other such attempts that hamper lawyers from engaging in their professional work.

“Mr Weliamuna has been appearing in highly sensitive cases involving corruption and human rights violations and there is little doubt that this attack was an attempt to intimidate him,” the letter said.
The BASL Secretary told the Sunday Times that the BASL will hold a special general meeting on October 11 to discuss the matter.

Protest led by civil organisations on Friday at Lipton’s Circus and below lawyers march in protest on Tuesday, against the attack. Pix by Sanka Vidanagama

Meanwhile Amnesty International (AI) appealed to authorities to protect Mr. Weliamuna and his family. Issuing a statement on the incident, the organisation urged the government to order a full and impartial investigation by a competent authority, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice.
Several civil organisations and activists are to meet tomorrow at the Social and Peace Centre in Deans Road to discuss the incident and what action needs to be taken.

Meanwhile Asia Pacific Director of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) Roger Normad said the attack must be seen in the context of rising human rights violations in Sri Lanka and increasing attacks on the freedom of expression and the right to dissent.

“The growing climate of fear and intimidation in Sri Lanka constitutes a threat not only to individual human rights defenders, but to the country’s democratic institutions and traditions,” he said.

Minister of Justice and Ports Development Dilan Perera said the attack on his colleague was not merely made on an individual but against a whole society committed to justice and democracy.

“I do not accept some of the views of Mr. Weliamuna, but, like Voltaire, I would defend to the death, his right and that of all our multi-cultural citizens, to lawfully express them openly and vigorously.

“I would like all, particularly the perpetrators, to consider the humanity of The Buddha’s message, that, it is through argument and persuasion that differences are resolved, not through violence or hatred,” he said.

It is believed that the attack might be linked to some cases that Mr. Weliamuna was appearing for and one such case was a fundamental rights case in the Supreme Court against alleged torture by Kandana police.

The case was filed by Lalith Rajapakse of Kapuwatta, Jaela citing a series of threats and harassment by the police to withdraw an ongoing case in the Negombo High Court against a former sub inspector attached to the Kandana police who, it was reported, hd allegedly tortured Mr. Rajapakse resulting in serious injuries and brain damage.

Attack, part of a growing climate of fear and intimidation

International Commission of Jurists

This attack against a senior and well-respected human rights lawyer must be seen in the context of rising human rights violations in Sri Lanka and increasing attacks on freedom of expression and the right to dissent.

The growing climate of fear and intimidation in Sri Lanka constitutes a threat not only to individual human rights defenders, but to the country’s democratic institutions and traditions.

Blow to those who stand up for good governance

Organisation of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka

Mr. Weliamuna has been in the forefront of the campaign against bribery and corruption. He has also been a strong advocate for the implementation of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, an important piece of good governance legislation enacted in recent times in which the OPA played a major role in the drafting.

Police at the scene of the attack

The OPA considers this attack as an attempt to harm and intimidate a fellow professional, a lawyer and through such attacks to send a broader message to those who represent the cause of good governance, accountability and integrity in public life. It also represents a clear challenge to the independence and integrity of the legal profession, and contempt for the rule of law.

As the Apex body of Professionals the OPA wishes to express solidarity with the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and wishes to call upon the Inspector General of Police to take immediate action to ensure that the culprits are brought to book.

Right to practice profession undermined

South Asians for Human Rights

Mr. Weliamuna said that he has had no personal enemies and therefore this attack has to be connected to his work.

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) unequivocally condemns this attack, which is a violation of the rule of law itself and a downright interference with the fundamental rights of an individual, as every person should have the freedom to carry on his/her profession without any threat of harm to their

A salute to his courage and commitment

The National Peace Council of Sri Lanka

The National Peace Council of Sri Lanka condemns the grenade attack on the residence of J. C. Weliamuna. The NPC views this attack as part of a broader assault on human rights, good governance, accountability and integrity in public life and thus demands stern action be taken against those responsible. We are particularly saddened by this attack as it had taken place at night, when his family and two young children were present.

Mr Weliamuna has been a colleague and partner in work we are doing. We appreciate his courage and commitment to the rule of law and to integrity in public life.

Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]
Other News Articles
Elections likely in coming year
Bank ultimatum for Foreign Ministry: Pay Rs. 46 million taken for tickets
UN seeks more security for food convoys
Kilinochchi hospital also moved out
Troops on the Kilinochchi front
Docs mourn colleague
Vavuniya war hospital has only one surgeon, one anaesthetist
GMOA angered by comments made by minister and SSP
Court gets stern with CEB over unrealistic tariffs
Loco drivers strike over suspension
SLPI to hold forum on media’s social responsibilities
Not an ITN official
Grade Six special quota scrapped
Rape of Dahaiyagala sanctuary halted
CJ says demerger ruling based on cultural differences
Jumbo pack forces Sajith to flee
AG hands in retirement papers
Weliamuna attack: BASL wakes up
Sakvithi swindle: The shameful, shocking inside story
Did Dilhani have to die for authorities to take action?
Rage over Rajagiriya land fill-up
Defence ministry gets lion’s share
Terrorism parley in Colombo still uncertain


Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 2008 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved.| Site best viewed in IE ver 6.0 @ 1024 x 768 resolution