On January 10, 2010, Sri Lankan cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda disappeared from his place of work under mysterious circumstances. His family and many others believe that he was abducted by the government in retaliation for voicing his dissent with the then administration’s human rights violations.
Although the five-year disappearance of Eknaligoda has been shrouded in a curtain of misinformation and failed investigations, the new government in power has promised to broaden its investigation. The case recently found energy with the disclosure of new information that could implicate the former government’s involvement in his abduction. Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the Sri Lankan police detained 11 people, including former soldiers and military informers, for questioning. They did so as part of recent effort on the government’s part to look closer at Eknaligoda’s abduction case, and also to address this issue of human rights abuses that Eknaligoda discussed in his work.
The information uncovered from the questioning seems to point definitively to government was involvement in the disappearance of the cartoonist. “It has been disclosed during the investigations these 11 people had taken Prageeth to a camp,” commented police spokeswoman Ruwan Gunasekera.
At the time of his disappearance, Eknaligoda was known for his vehement opposition to the former administration and active support of the opposing party in the 2010 presidential race. In his profession as a cartoonist and journalist, Eknaligoda spoke out against former president Rajapaksa’s abuse of power. His disappearance occurred just two days before the 2010 presidential election, and the media office for which he worked noted that the piece that he was working on at the time of his abduction criticized the government’s alleged involvement in a cluster bomb attack on a Sri Lankan hospital that left 52 civilians dead and 80 wounded.
This information, coupled with what was disclosed in the interrogation of former military individuals, brings the family of Eknaligoda one step closer to closure. Further, President Maithripala Sirisena has pledged that those involved in Eknaligoda’s abduction will face prosecution for war crimes, a result that would have been unprecedented under Rajapaksa’s rule and has until recently seemed a remote if not unattainable possibility.
Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!