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Richard De Zoysa

 

Richard de Zoysa died twenty years ago, in the early hours of February 18th 1990. He had been abducted from his home earlier that night by a posse of armed men, part of the death squads which had dealt with what was seen in those days as the JVP menace. 

The methods used during that period to rid the country of what was seen as terror are now all forgotten. This is not only because they occurred two decades and more ago, and our memories are incredibly short. No, it was also because the perpetrators of terror in those days were also part of the establishment, and therefore any misdemeanours on their part are naturally skated over. 

In that respect Richard’s death proved a turning point. Being himself a member of the establishment, however rebellious, he could not be ignored, and it is in part because of his death that the reign of terror came to a halt. And perhaps even more fortunately, the criticism then led to crystallization of protest, the emergence of a proactive Civil Society that has made itself heard ever since, when abuses take place. 

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Rajiva Wijesinha

May 2010
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