Image courtesy of @Tamil Narratives
Today marks 15 years since Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP and human rights lawyer, Nadarajah Raviraj was assassinated in Colombo.
Mr Raviraj was shot in Colombo at close range by unidentified gunmen on a motorbike at around 8:30am on November 10 2006, as he got into his car after giving an interview. The MP died later in hospital. His bodyguard was also killed.
Raviraj's vehicle in the aftermath of the killing.
A police constable who gave evidence in court, alleged that Sri Lanka's current president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was serving as Defence Secretary at the time, had arranged a payment of Rs. 50 million for the assassination of Mr Raviraj. The police constable of the intelligence unit Liyanarachchige Abayaratne, giving evidence before Colombo Additional Magistrate told the court that Gotabaya had known about the murder and arranged a payment to the factions associated to the Karuna group.
A witness, Sampath Prithiviraj, in an inquiry into the assassination of Mr Raviraj alleged that Sri Lankan navy intelligence officials were involved. The witness said the officials associated with the navy intelligence office in Gangarama had planned the killing.
In 2016, following a month long trial, Sri Lanka's top court acquitted and released the five accused of assassinating Mr Raviraj. An all Sinhala jury aquitted three navy intelligence officials and two members of the Karuna paramilitary group accused of the murder.
The decision by the jury was based on reasoning that the five accused cannot be convicted solely on the fact that witnesses in the case identified them.
State witnesses gave considerable details on the murder plot – including details of who pulled the trigger and the subsequent escape plan.
Despite 15 years passing since his assassination, no one has been held accountable for the murder.
Raviraj's widow and mother mourn his slaying.
Statue of former MP Nadaraja Raviraj in Chavakachcheri
"Raviraj's assassination is a clear attempt by the paramilitary operating with the Sri Lanka Army to stifle the Tamil parliamentarians' voice in and out of the Parliament to inform the International Community of the Sri Lanka Government's genocide against the Tamils," said R. Sampanthan, then and current leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
Sampanthan holds a sign calling on Sri Lanka to stop genocide, alongside Raviraj in Colombo.
"Almost an year has passed since the assassination of Batticaloa parliamentarian Joseph Pararajasingam and the Sri Lanka government is yet to bring the killers to book. This reveals the covert connections the government has with them."
'Tamils' struggle cannot be contained by this cowardly killing," said then TNA parliamentarian Shivagilingam.
The Federation of All Mosques and Organizations in Eastern Province (FAMOEP), in a statement issued Saturday, said "Muslims of North East revere Raviraj as a Tamil leader who had given an important place in his heart for the well-being of Muslims."
Mano Ganeshan, MP, described Raviraj as a fighter for democracy and said "he was killed by extremist forces because he voiced for the rights of the Tamil nation and human rights".
Mr Raviraj was widely respected and was conferred the highest civilian honour of the LTTE, the Maamanithar award, in 2006.
LTTE leader Vellupillai Pirapaharan's statement conferring the LTTE's highest civilian award: