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``Anil's Ghost''

``Anil's Ghost'', the new novel by the celebrated Sri Lankan-Canadian writer, Mr. Michael Ondaatje, is based on the orgy of killings and disappearances that swept southern Sri Lanka in the late 80s when government-backed death squads put down an armed insurrection by the Janatha Vimukthi Perumina.

Now, one incident from those dark years has returned to haunt the United National Party (UNP), in power then, and its present leader, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. With the Government stepping up investigations into the incident in the weeks ahead of the general election, the spin team of the ruling People's Alliance (PA) has pounced on it and made it the Big Issue.

The allegation is that Mr. Wickremesinghe, then a Minister, was the political authority behind an illegal detention centre in a housing complex at an industrial township outside Colombo between 1988 and 1990.

-Sri Lanka takes its place in the annals of savagery-
Financial Times Thursday January 18 1990
David Housego, reports on the authorities' violent crushing of the JVP revolt.

Interrogation procedures appear to follow a systematic pattern beginning with a heavy beating and leading in the worst cases to a Sri Lankan invention of passing a plastic tube into the rectum with barbed wire inside - and then withdrawing the plastic. But the contrasting reality is of a capital, Colombo, which has the festive mood of a city liberated after a long siege. Middle class Colombo celebrated the capture and killing in November of Rohan Wijeweera, the JVP leader, which led to the arrest and elimination of his colleagues.

The savagery of the conflict has created its own momentum of ever more gruesome atrocities- The JVP first, then the armed forces in retaliation, took to leaving dead bodies by the roadside and then igniting them with rubber tyres. In the Kandy district in central Sri Lanka, paramilitary forces recently cut up bodies and draped them from roadside trees - as though a burning body alone was no longer sufficient to intimidate opponents.

Deadly Paradise -John Colmey - INTHESETIMES Vol 13 No.34 September 13-19 1989
Sri Lanka -Asia's new killing field Driving through the outskirts of the capital city two weeks ago, police constable Lal Perera hit a small bump in the road. He died instantly when the bump turned out to be a 20-pound Claymore mine.
The next morning, according to area residents, the Sri Lankan army brought 15 young men, suspected leftist insurgents, to the same spot. They lined the boys up around the crater left by the blast and shot them one by one in the back of the head; their bodies fell into the pit. The petrol threw tires and plastic utensils on the pile of corpses and set it ablaze. The smell of burning flesh filled the air for most of the morning.

Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had links with or, had knowledge of, the groups that were responsible for Batalanda killings. Former Senior Superintendent of Police Douglas Peiris, who was recently arrested on landing at Colombo International Airport after absconding overseas, stated that the Mr. Wickremesinghe had provided housing, vehicles and money to one Dharmasiri and one 'Thadi' Priyantha who, he claimed, were operating the death squad. He said that he had been introduced to these two persons who had been identified as members of the Independent Students' Union (ISU) of the University of Colombo. One of the houses provided was in the Mahara area located behind the Mahara Resthouse. In his deposition Mr. Peiris specifically mentioned Hulftsdorp attorneys Kanchana Abeypala and Charitha Lankapura, Gampaha attorney Nissanka, and a Kelaniya Tyre Corporation employee named Perera as being the victims of a clandestine death squad which, he claimed, operated at that time with the knowledge of Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. Douglas Peiris claims political links in 'terror' killings-Full story- (Daily News - 13/08/00)

"Counter Subversive Unit (CSU) was operated at the Batalanda camp. Douglas Peiris was the head of that unit" -Former IGP Earnest Perera.

Mr.Ranil Wickremesinghe, leader of the opposition was reported to have said in a political rally at Kekirawa that there was no such torture chamber at Batalanda. and that the government is using this story to sling mud at UNP leadership.

"We must not forget that the UNP was led during the past by great leaders in the calibre of people like D. S. Senanayake and Dudley Senanayake" - Wijeypala Mendis

The Batalanda Commission in its report in the mid-1990s said there was no way that Wickremesinghe wouldn"t have known of the torture chamber but did not accuse him of direct involvement. UNP officials said they believed that Peiris had been offered amnesty for his testimony against Wickremesinghe

 

What the Batalanda Commission Found

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