Premakumar Gunaratnam alias Kumara Mahaththaya found; leaves for Australia
April 10, 2012 06:48 am
JVP dissident group leader Premakumar Gunaratnam alias Kumara Mahaththaya who was allegedly abducted is currently in Police custody, JVP MP Ajith Kumara told Ada Derana. He claimed that the IGP N.K. Illangakoon had informed him this morning that Gunaratnam was found.
Speaking to Ada Derana Police Spokesman SP Ajith Rohana stated that Noel Mudalige who was reported by the Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka as abducted is currently at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayaka awaiting departure.
Rohana added that the information was received that the aforesaid person had been brought to the Dematagoda area by an unknown gang in a van. He had then later come to the Colombo Crimes Division(CCD) after which he was taken to the Katunayaka airport under police protection.
Noel Mudalige will fly to Australia early today morning, Police spokesman further added.
Last night the Australian High Commission in Colombo requested access to one of their citizens Noel Mudalige, who is supposed to have been forcibly removed from No.291, Gemunu Mawatha, Kiribathgoda, in order to facilitate his safe return to Australia.
Ada Derana also reported yesterday that incidentally the Kiribathgoda address of Mudalige is the same address from where JVP dissident group leader Premakumar Gunaratnam is believed to have been abducted on April 6.
“He has been found safe and well,” Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia Thisara Samarasinghe told Australian media early this morning. “He has been living in Sri Lanka under three different names and with three different passports. We maintain that no one under the name of Premakumar Gunaratnam entered the country via legal means and that’s why he was unable to be located.”
Mr Samarasinghe said Sri Lankan authorities would seek to deport Mr Gunaratnam to Australia. “We understand he has overstayed his visa rights for a very long period.”
An Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman also confirmed that Mr Gunaratnam, who is a political activist with the People’s Struggle Movement in Sri Lanka, had been located.
”We can confirm the safety of the 42 year old man from New South Wales reported missing in the region of Kiribathgoda, Sri Lanka,” the spokesman said.
“It would be inappropriate to discuss further details at this time.”
SP Ajith Rohana confirmed that the person known to be Noel Mudalige had left on a plane bound to Australia at 7.30a.m today (April 10) from the Katunayake airport.
UPDATE: 10/04/2012 11.00am
Mr Gunaratnam’s wife, Dr Champa Somaratne, says she has received word he is on a plane.
“I’m over the moon, I’m so happy,” she said.
“I think it’s because of the rapid international intervention, that’s the only reason he survived, that’s what I’m thinking.”
Claims that Mr Gunaratnam was kidnapped has put the spotlight on the issue of disappearances in Sri Lanka, with the government facing uncomfortable questions about how many people are reportedly detained each year.
The secretary of the Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations, Dr Victor Rajakulendran, says the Sri Lankan opposition recently said 56 people had disappeared in the past six months.
But other estimates run into the hundreds.
“Most of the disappearances end up in torture and death,” Dr Rajakulendran said.
He says they are abducted by government-controlled paramilitary groups.
“It is very common and the white van is very famous in Sri Lanka,” he said.
“The white van comes and takes people and the people haven’t turned up later, you know? So it was not news to Sri Lankans but for the Australians, because it happened to an Australian, it has become big news.”
Global Mail correspondent and the UN’s spokesman in Sri Lanka during the war, Gordon Weiss, says Mr Gunaratnam’s disappearance and then re-emergence “bears the hallmarks of other similar disappearances that have characterised Sri Lankan political life for many, many years”.
“The vast majority of people are never heard of again, and this of course was one of the very things that people thought would subside once the war with the Tamil Tigers was over,” he said.
“It hasn’t subsided at all, in fact it’s going up again.”
Mr Weiss says Mr Gunaratnam was released because his family made his disappearance public.
He says while the Sri Lankan government remains popular, the birth of parties like the Frontline Socialist Party shows discontent is growing.
“Sri Lanka has a long history of restiveness in the face of social and economic distress, and there are some signs that the promises made for people upon the end of the war haven’t eventuated,” he said.
“People are looking for the benefits of that war having ended and they’re not apparent so far. So you’re beginning to get sparks of political opposition, that’s what this left-wing party, this Frontline Socialist Party, represented obviously.”