SRI LANKA: Reflections on the Constitution — Part 4 

Basil Fernando


Making a person disappear over a land dispute

A place where there is no room for justice is not a nation but a madhouse. That is what Sri Lanka has become today. Ask anyone who has sought justice for any problem they have faced.

Among the hundreds of thousands of such stories here is one. Mr. Thirimadura UpaIi Mendis . The family lived in Galle. The family consisted of six including fourAHRC-ART-112-2010.jpg children. For over 40 years they lived in the same place and looked after a small plot of land. Then suddenly a company claimed the land. The company claimed it had bought the land from a title holder. Three and half million was offered money and a part of the land. When the negotiations were taking place, Thirumadu Upali Mendis was called for an investigation by the DIG of Galle. The DIG showed a letter issued by Gotabaya Rajapakse saying that there is an interest in the case at high level. A few day later when Thirimadu Upali Mendis was watching a cricket match at between India and Sri Lanka, he was taken away by 3 police officers who took him in a van bearing no. GB 8484. At the time of arrest his daughter was with him. From then onwards and up and until now he is missing. The family has made complaints to all authorities and many people have made interventions. The story has been published in the media but it has all been of no avail.

There is no one to respond to inquiries; there are no investigations and there is no will by state to carry out its obligations to citizens. Thirimadu Upali Mendis is now added to long list of disappeared persons.

It was simple land issue. The way to deal with it was by causing a forced disappearance – which means the abduction and disposal of the person in secret.

That is the extent of the absence of justice in Sri Lanka.

But the president wants the teachers to teach that Sri Lanka is the best place on earth!

How has all this come about?

It is the nation’s constitution itself that has brought about this lawlessness. The constitution of 1978 has removed all safeguards against abuse of power. NOW POWER IS ABUSED EVEN TO SETTLE A LAND DISPUTE BY MAKING ONE OF THE PARTIES DISAPPEAR

Document Type : Article
Document ID : AHRC-ART-112-2010
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Land rights,