Vanishing Act
Daily Mirror Editorial
Apr 16, 2012

Throughout history, those who disappeared never emerged alive. They were abducted in white vans, burnt to death on tyre-pyres or simply erased from memory and day-to-day life. Thus was the common fate of those who went missing and no amount of tears or placard holding by bereaved family members helped get them back.

In such a scenario, the vanishing act of Dimuthu Attygala and Premkumar Gunaratnam was not the first episode of a mega series nor will it be the last. Perhaps, theirs would be stories with comparatively happy endings given that their predecessors could never emerge alive, let alone lashing out at those who supposedly committed the crime.

Some say the government has become the readymade culprit, conveniently accused of these disappearances. If the government was behind the two incidents, the obvious reason would be that it could not tolerate the political ideologies endorsed by the two activists, which did not go hand-in-hand with that of the regime. Whether they were functioning under an LTTE proxy, the core of which is a separatist state is a point yet to be investigated. Suspicion and allegations alone cannot be evidence. Yet, if such connections are uncovered, the country's legislation is sufficient to deal with the wrong doings and the people who commit such crimes. In meting out justice according to the country's law, punitive action should always come after an investigation and a hearing, and definitely not the other way around. Hence, if Mr. Gunaratnam has been aided by the PRO-LTTE Diaspora or he had blatantly violated the immigration laws, bringing him to book should not have to be a drama acted in the dark. Whether he was guilty or innocent couldn't be relative or open to multiple interpretations.

True enough, people applaud when drug peddlers, underworld gangsters and murderers disappear without a trace. Whoever who was behind them were never subjected to public wrath. Whether it was the work of the government, or a result of an internal conflict, matters little to them. For them, justice is welcome in any given form, whether it was natural or man-made may be of little concern. Hence, it is the same people who question when Human Rights activists or political leaders go missing. In the face of such questioning, the government is honour-bound to offer a rational explanation.

It is the responsibility of the government to ensure the safety of every citizen irrespective of their religion, ethnicity, and political ideology. After all, ending a war on a jubilant note does not mean, the government can afford to see its citizens being abducted or their bodies dumped in rivers and streams.

Democracy does not dictate such arbitrary action, nor does it provide protection to the perpetrators who hide behind the curtains of power. On the other hand, if any political party opts to act out loose-lined dramas as cheap publicity stunts - they do not deserve public attention, which they have been craving for. After all, people are not to be fooled nor are they to be kept in the perpetual darkness of fear.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka