Being Tamil in Colombo, 1992: false testimony & the travails of Reggie David and family

Ben Bavinck’s Diary Entries — This is the third in the series. It differs from the other thematic entries in being one single episode retailed serially. Serendipitously, it fits in with one of the cultural traits highlighted by Pradeep Jeganathan and provides a wake-up call to those well-meaning individuals (especially foreigners) who think that judicial trials draw forth “truth” like some magic wand. Where accusation is based on  fabrication or non-truth because of petty jealousies or deeper machinations, then judicial action is likely to deepen bitterness and generate feud. Web Editor.

14th April 1992, Colombo: Today I heard from a friend that Reggie David, a Tamil girl from Jaffna well-known to both of us, suddenly had been arrested in Colombo together with her whole family. We went to see them at the police station together with two other friends. We were able to help them with some of their practical problems and also encourage them. It seemed that the police was treating them reasonably well. We hoped they would be released in a day or two.

 16th April 1992, Colombo: Today however we heard that the group had been divided so that the six women were now kept at theMountLaviniapolice station and the four men at Kohuwala. We quickly went to see them. The women were very depressed. Reggie who the last time we saw her had been defiant, looking around with flashing eyes, now was completely shattered and weeping because her family members blamed her for all this misery. At her office she had been involved in a quarrel with a Sinhalese girl, who apparently had taken revenge by phoning the police. While we were there the sub-inspector indicated that he wanted to see me. He asked me what I wanted. I told him that I knew this girl from the time when she was participating in a demonstration inJaffnaagainst the murder of Rajani and that I was absolutely certain that she and her family had no connections with the Tigers. I asked him to look after them at which he said that he would certainly do so because he also was a Hollander (Dutch burgher).

18th April 1992, Colombo: The next day we again went to visit the arrested family members. They were in a much more buoyant mood than the last time we saw them. The burgher inspector had kept his word, talked to them and after that they had received much better treatment. Very interesting how unexpected circumstances can exert some influence. We hope that they will be free in the next few days. What a crazy situation! A whole family of 10 persons being arrested because of a telephone call or a small note.

27th April 1992, Colombo: Well, it didn’t happen so quickly. Reggie told us wonderful stories about the interrogation by the police, which had lasted four hours. When they had asked her who she preferred, the LTTE or the EPRLF, she had answered that she was against everyone carrying arms. When they then asked whether she was also against the police she had calmly replied that she was. This had caused a lot of laughter. Finally on the 23rd April the whole group had been arraigned before a judge who finished the case and dismissed them. That evening we had a little celebration, and three days later they asked us all to come and have a splendid lunch in the roomy house of their Sinhalese neighbour. It was wonderful to see Tamils and Sinhalese together celebrating the happy conclusion of this affair.


Filed under accountability, communal relations, reconciliation, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, truth as casualty of war

2 responses to “Being Tamil in Colombo, 1992: false testimony & the travails of Reggie David and family

  1. It used to be said that cricket was the only thing that united all Sri Lankans, irrespective of ‘ethnicity’, religion etc. I think dislike of the Police has now replaced cricket as an island-wide unifier 🙂

  2. Some politicians are real murderers. Ranil Wickremesinghe was behind the burning of Jaffna Public Library in 1981. Ranil Wickremesinghe ordered and witnessed the execution of hundreds of innocent young men from Kelaniya area in his torture chamber in Batalanda in 1989 which was confirmed by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry which comprised retired judges. The courts rejected charges based on technical issues, not factual issues. Since Ranil Wickremesinghe committed these horrendous crimes in Batalanda, Ranil Wickremesinghe had to abandon not only his electorate of Biyagama, but also the Gampaha District. Since these murders Ranil Wickremesinghe is an MP without an electorate – thanks to his uncle J. R. Jayawardene’s constitution. After the 1989 Batalanda mass murder, Ranil Wickremesinghe recruited a convicted killer and multiple criminal Gonawala Sunil as his secretary. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s secretary Gonawala Sunil went around killing and intimidating people Ranil Wickremesinghe wanted to be silenced. Several dedicated armed forces personnel were also threatened by Gonawala Sunil. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s corruption in “LH Plantations” has been highlighted with excruciating details by his closest ally Mangala Samaraweera. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s very close family members own several newspapers, broadcasting and telecasting stations which promote Ranil Wickremesinghe and help to prolong his political survival.

    -Nalliah Thayabharan

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