Photograph: Chandraprema presenting his book entitled 'Gota's War' to the Rajapaksa brothers (Courtesy Business Today)
The Sri Lankan government’s proposed ambassador to Geneva is a known member of a government death squad, responsible for the murder of hundreds, including school children, said the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) and Journalists for Democracy Sri Lanka (JDS) in a joint press release this morning.
C. A. Chandraprema was a key member of the PRRA, the People’s Revolutionary Red Army - a group that worked with the Sri Lankan military during the late eighties to quell a Sinhala uprising, said the groups. Nicknamed “Thadi Priyantha”, Chandraprema was involved with the squad that is responsible for “the murders of hundreds of people, including human rights lawyers, journalists, university students and school children”.
Though he was arrested in 2000 in connection with the 1989 assassinations of two human rights lawyers - Charita Lankapura and Kanchana Abhayapala – he was later released and never charged for any crimes.
Instead, Chandraprema went on to forge a career as a newspaper columnist and even authored a book on current Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa that denies all accounts of war crimes and heaps praise on the Rajapakse regime.
“It is the ultimate irony that a man who has never been properly investigated for his alleged role in the murder of brave human rights lawyers should sit in the Human Rights Council,” said ITJP’s Executive Director, Yasmin Sooka. “Sri Lanka has a past record of intimidating and threatening activists who attend the Human Rights Council – it is simply not safe to have a man like this heading a diplomatic mission in Geneva.”
“Unpunished state criminality is the obscene underside of Sri Lanka's celebrated democracy,” added Bashana Abeywardene, coordinator JDS. “The truth has been buried to such an extent that an alleged former member of a death squad can be proposed as the country's representative to the United Nations and nobody even protests.”