Will Kanchana Abhayapala welcome his Uncle Prince..?
Attorney Prince Gunasekara, a representative of Sri Lankan Parliament from Habaraduwa in the 60s and 70s, a symbol of left politics history of Sri Lanka at a certain phase, passed away, leaving a permanent closure to an era.
Born in July 17, 1924, in Habaraduwa Kathaluwa village, Prince Gunasekara was 94 years old when he passed away. He spent his last days in Britain—for where he flew long time ago barely escaping with his life amid the 89’s terror.
Many would remember him on the coming days, writing commemoration for the contribution he made as a parliamentarian, a journalist from Lankadeepa newspaper, a lawyer and a human rights activist. This is not a mere remark made for appreciation, because this article sums up a history many have long forgotten—one that would bespeak of a pool of men who were terminated in a dark age, including his son-in-law.
Attorney Kanchana Abhayapala is the son of Prince Gunasekara’s sister who worked with the ‘Students for Human Rights - SHR’ movement, which was not a part of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP); but only a mere friend to it. Sanath Karaliyadda, H. Sri Nissanka and Charitha Lankapura, who happened to work with him, were the same. Their guide was renowned Human Rights lawyer Wijedasa Liyanarachchi.
Collecting their attribution 'SHR – Students for Human Rights' movement was founded with the lead of President’s Counsel Nimal Senanayake, who unfortunately had to bid farewell before everyone else amid a sudden heart attack.
Back in the day Attorney Wijedasa Liyanarachchi was the only lawyer who demonstrated content of the Habeas Corpus petitions in Sinhala at the Appells Court. He was assassinated in a torture chamber at Sapugaskanda area around the time of September 02 – 03, in 1988. 30 years pass since he was taken away from us.
Following the termination of Wijedasa Liyanarachchi by the 1988 terror, Kanchana Abhayapala and Charitha Lankapura were the ones to influence on filing the Habeas Corpus against state terrorism. The country was ruled by lawlessness over the Rule of Law. Death sentence was imprinted upon those who stood up for human rights and against disappearing, not only the members of the JVP.
Surrounded by the mayhem, Prince Gunasekara only wanted to send his nephew, Kanchana Abhayapala to England. Kanchana, Gemunu, Yasas Seneviratne and others had been offered to come to Britain for safety, except neither of them agreed to abandon their fight to win human rights.
Meanwhile, there were others who managed to escape to other countries abandoning the will to fight against state terrorism and for human rights. Those remained still with willpower were offered with nothing but death. Kanchana Abhayapala was killed in August 28, 1989. Despite the reports claiming that he was killed in his residence gunshot from the window, a contemporary stated otherwise that he was killed on the road while driving in his car.
Nevertheless, neither the JVP nor any human rights bodies remember of Kanchana today.
It was Prince Gunasekara who foresaw the danger that was about to walk in their way. Therefore, he was able to gain the support of the British High Commission in delivering safe passageway away from Sri Lanka to several people who were threatened with life. Even to this day, half the community of Sri Lankan attorneys who live in Britain are the ones who were saved by the hand of Prince Gunasekara. He also made effect in saving many other lives by awakening international human rights organizations amid the state terrorism existed in the country at the time.
David Gladstone was the British High Commissioner of Sri Lanka at the time. He gave hand in saving those human rights activists. For that, he was accused of tampering sovereignty of Sri Lanka by the Premadasa Government and sent back to his country. See, Life Abroad - DIPLOMATIC CONTROVERSIES
We bid farewell to Prince Gunasekara, who acted in his conscience by believing in left politics amid a dark age, barely escaping with his life from state terrorism, and further worked as an attorney and a human rights activist representing a progressive generation of Sri Lankan left politics.
So, are we to hope that Prince Gunasekara may also meet his nephew, who was taken away by the wrath of state terrorism 29 years ago, the forgotten sands are re-revealed and reminded.