வெள்ளி, நவம்பர் 05, 2010

Welcome speech by George R Willy to President Rajapakse

Full text:
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome Your Excellency to this great city. If you can ignore the oak trees and the mocking birds you could easily mistake this for Sri Lanka.

It is in Sri Lanka that I was born, and my mother and the parents of my wife Shanthi, our grand fathers and grand mothers are all buried under the sacred soil of my motherland. I grew up Your Excellency, in Jaffna and moved to Colombo when I was only ten years old. My wife is from Badulla, grew up in Diyatalawa where her dad was a well a respected captain in the army.

I have smelt the sweetness of Margosa trees in Jaffna and taste of the Red Jumbu fruits that left red stains on my white shirt as I walked to school in Colombo. I know the allure of Jack fruits ripening on the trees as crows begin to break them open.

I have seen the bright colour of pandals during Wesak and shamelessly ate food at Dansala meant for the poor. And I have heard the chanting of Kovils and inhaled the smell of jasmine and Joss sticks. I’ve heard the bell of All Saint’s church as I assisted Father Herath during Mass.

But since I left Sri Lanka in 1975 there has been such pain, such sorrow and such agony. The mighty Mahaweli Ganga that usually brings its sacred waters to the paddy fields spat out blood. Both the Sinhalese and Tamils. From up here in the United States I have watched the land of my forefathers descend from paradise deep into hell. No one can say with certainty who is to blame but the time for blaming is long gone.

Your Excellency, your power be descended from Dutugemunu and my people from Elara. Remember how Dutugemunu fought Elara on his Elephant Kandula and killed Elara. Dutugemunu of course is still remembered for uniting Sri Lanka for the first time. But he is also remembered for something else. After defeating and killing Elara he built a monument for Elara out of respect for his worthy opponent. He ordered all the citizens of the land to stop, dismount and pay respect to Elara. In so doing he not only showed what a great noble man he was. But also proved to be a great politician. He knew that He had to rule the Tamil people too after the defeat of Elara.

Your Excellency, faith and fortune and your great political skills have placed you at a unique point in history.

Children years to come, will read in their history books, that a great leader, a great warrior by the name of Mahinda Rajapaksa finally defeated the rebellion after nearly 25 years when several before him failed. They may even say that you are Dutugamunu of the 21 century. But if you want to wear Gemunu’s mantle, Your Excellency, you will have to build a monument too. That monument does not have to be a Dagoba or a building. It will have to be new policy backed by laws with teeth to enforce.

Do not make the mistake that started 58 riots. Do not hold back Tamils who want to get into Universities. Do not make the Tamils feel like they are second class citizens. Respect their religion, and respect their language. There is something about the Tamil people you need to know Your Excellency. To them their language is God. There are only few cultures in the world which has such devotion to the language.

You were trained as a lawyer and in your early career you were a formidable defender of human rights.

Now you have the popularity, you have the power of a hero, like Julius Caeser, returning to Rome from his conquests. No one can deny what you ask. Ask the parliament to pass some entrenched clauses; you and I read in law school. Then we have had to study the Soulbury Constitution. If you need my help I will give it free like many in this audience would. The Tamil people are naked and hungry looking for you to assure them that there is a place for them.

Make sure they have one. You killed one Prabhakaran but do not let another grow. You cannot prevent another one with swords and guns. You can only do that with your heart and wisdom. Compassion, truth and justice, you learnt from Buddha are the only weapons you will need. According to Dhamma Pada, Buddha said that hatred does not cease by hatred at any time. Hatred cease by love. This is an old rule. That's what the Buddha said.

Your Excellency, as you leave this fair city and return to Sri Lanka, promise me that a 10 year boy walking to school tomorrow in his white shirt will have no other red stain than from the Jumbu fruits. The morning crow will not open anything other than the jackfruit. That there will be nothing else hanging from the Magosa trees, than the fruits I smelt.

Your Excellency return us to paradise, return us to paradise. Thank You!

Text in Tamil:
ஹ்யூஸ்டன், டெக்சாஸ் சட்டத்தரணி ஜார்ஜ் வில்லி அவர்களின் வரவேற்புரை:

மேன்மைதங்கிய ஜனாதிபதி அவர்களே இப் பெருநகருக்கு உங்கள் வரவு நல்வரவாகுக. இங்கிருக்கும் ஓக் மரங்களையும் பிற பறவைகளைப் போல போலிக்குரல் எழுப்பும் பறவைகளையும் தவிர்த்துவிட்டுப் பார்த்தால் இது இலங்கையோ என்று நீங்கள் இலகுவில் மயங்கிவிடலாம்.
நான் இலங்கையில் பிறந்தவன். என் தாயும் என் மனைவி சாந்தியின் தந்தையும் தாயும் மற்றும் எங்களது பாட்டன்கள் பாட்டிகள் யாவரும் அங்கேதான் என் அத் தாய்த்திரு நாட்டின் புனித மண்ணுக்குள் புதைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளனர்.
மேன்மைதங்கிய ஜனாதிபதி அவர்களே நான் யாழ்ப்பாணத்தில் வளர்ந்து என் பத்தாவது வயதில்தான் கொழும்பு வந்தவன். என் மனைவி பதுளையைச் சேர்ந்தவள். அவள் தந்தை தியத்தலாவையில் மதிப்புமிக்கதொரு கப்டன் என்பதால் அவள் அங்கேயே வளர்ந்தவள். நான் யாழ்ப்பாணத்தின் வேப்பமரங்களின் இன்சுவை முகர்ந்தவன். கொழும்பில் பாடசாலை செல்லும் வழியில் செக்கச் சிவந்த ஜம்புப் பழம் தின்று அதன் சிவப்புக் கொட்டை விழுந்து என் சட்டை கறைபடிந்ததுண்டு. மரத்தில் பழுத்த பலாப்பழத்தை காக்கைகள் கொத்தித் திறந்துவிடுகையில் கவர்ந்திழுக்கும் நறுமணத்தை நன்றே தெரிந்தவன். வெசாக் திருநாளின் மிகைவர்ண அலங்காரப் பந்தல்கள் தோரணங்களைக் கண்டும் ஏழைகளுக்கு உணவிடும் அன்னசத்திரங்களில் கூச்சமின்றிச் சென்று உணவுண்டும் கோவில்களில் ஒலிக்கும் மந்திர உச்சாடனங்கள், தோத்திர பஜனைகள் கேட்டும் மல்லிகைப் பூக்களினதும் சந்தனக்குச்சிகளினதும் நறுமணங்களை அனுபவித்தும், சர்வ புனிதர்களின் தேவாலய மணியோசைகேட்டும் அங்கு நடைபெறும் திருப்பலிப் பூசையில் பங்குத்தந்தை வணக்கத்திற்குரிய ஹேரத் அவர்களுக்குத் திருப்பணிசெய்துமிருகிக்கிறேன்.

ஆனால் 1975 இல் நான் இலங்கையை விட்டு வெளியேறிய நாளில் இருந்து வேதனையும் துன்பமும் கொடூரமுமே அங்கே மிஞ்சின. வழக்கமாக நன்செய் நிலங்களின் நெல்வயல்களுக்கு தன் புனித நீர் பாச்சிய வலிய ஜீவநதி மகாவலி கங்கையில் சிங்கள மக்களினதும் தமிழ் மக்களினதும் செங்குருதியோடியது. என் முந்தையோர் வாழ்ந்து மடிந்த தாய் நிலம் சுவர்க்கத்தில் இருந்து நரகத்தின் அதல பாதாளத்தில் வீழ்வதை அமெரிக்க ஐக்கிய ராச்சியத்தில் இங்கிருந்தபடி கண்ணுற வேண்டியவனானேன். இதற்கு யாரை நோவதென்று எவரும் அறுதியிட்டுச் சொல்லமுடியாதுள்ளது.அன்றியும் நொந்து குற்றங்காண்பற்கான காலமும் என்றோ கடந்துவிட்டது.
மேன்மைதங்கிய ஜனாதிபதி அவர்களே, நீங்களோ துட்ட கைமுனுவின் பரம்பரை. என் மக்கள் எல்லாளன் பரம்பரை. கந்துல என்ற தன் யானையில் இருந்து துட்ட கைமுனு எவ்வாறு எல்லாளனுடன் சண்டையிட்டு அவனைக் கொன்றான் என்பதை எண்ணிப்பாருங்கள். முதன் முதலில் அய்க்கிய இலங்கையொன்றினை உருவாகியதற்காக நிச்சயமாக துட்ட கைமுனு இன்றும் நினைவுகூரப்படுகின்றான். ஆனால் அவன் வேறொன்றுக்குமாகவும் நினைவுகொள்ளப்படுகின்றான். எல்லாளனைத் தோற்கடித்து அவனைக் கொன்றபின் அந்தச் சிறப்புமிக்க எதிரி எல்லாளனை மதித்து நினைவுச் சின்னம் எழுப்பியவன் அவன். அதன் முன்னே நாட்டு மக்கள் அனைவரும் நின்று சிரந்தாழ்த்தி மதிப்பளிக்க வேண்டுமென்று சட்டம் பிறப்பித்தவன். அதன் மூலம் தான் பெருங்கண்ணியவான் மட்டுமல்ல சிறந்த அரசியல் சாணக்கியன் என்பதயும் நிரூபித்துக் காட்டினான். எல்லாளனைத் தோற்கடித்தபின் தமிழர்களையும் தானே ஆளவேண்டுமென்பதை அவன் தெளிந்தே வைத்திருந்தான்.
மேன்மைதங்கிய ஜனாதிபதி அவர்களே, வாய்ப்பும் விதியும் மற்றும் உங்களது மாபெரும் அரசியல் ஆளுமையும் வரலாற்றில் ஒர் தனித்துவமான இடத்திற்கு உங்களைக் கொண்டு சென்றிருக்கின்றது. முன்னே பலபேர் முறியடிக்க முயன்று தோற்ற 25 ஆண்டுகால அரசியற் கிளர்ச்சியினை இறுதியில் அடக்கியவன் மகிந்த ராஜபக்ஷ என்ற பெயருடைய மகாவீரன் என்று இனிவரும் எதிர்காலச் சிறார்கள் சரித்திர நூல்களில் தங்களது பாடம் படிப்பார்கள். 21 ஆம் நூற்றாண்டின் துட்ட கைமுனு என்று அவர்கள் உங்களைச் சொல்லக்கூடும். ஆனால் மேன்மைதங்கிய ஜனாதிபதி அவர்களே துட்டகைமுனுவின் அதே மேலாடையை நீங்கள் போர்த்திக்கொள்ள விரும்பினால் நீங்களும் நினைவுச் சின்னம் எழுப்ப வேண்டும். அது டகோபாவாகவோ அல்லது வேறெந்தத் தூபிகளாகவோ அல்லாது நிறைவேற்றுச் சட்டவலுவுள்ள புதிய கொள்கையொன்றாக இருக்க வேண்டும். 58 ஆம் ஆண்டு இனக்கலவரத்தை மூட்டிய அதே தவறினை நீங்களும் செய்யவேண்டாம். பல்கலைக் கழகம் செல்ல நினைக்கும் தமிழ் இளைஞர்களை இனியும் தடுத்துவிட வேண்டாம். தமிழர்கள் தாம் இந்த நாட்டில் இரண்டாந்தரக் குடிமக்களாக எண்ணிக்கொண்டிருக்க இடந்தர வேண்டாம். அவர்களது மத நம்பிக்கையினைப் புண்படுத்தாது அவர்களது மொழியினை மதித்து நடவுங்கள். மேன்மைதங்கிய ஜனாதிபதி அவர்களே தமிழர்களைப் பற்றித் தெரிந்துகொள்ள வேண்டிய சிலவற்றை நான் உங்களுக்குச் சொல்லவேண்டும். அவர்களுக்கு அவர்களது மொழி வழிபடும் தெய்வம். உலகில் அவ்வாறு தம் மொழியை வழிபடும் கலாசாரங்கங்கள் மிகச் சிலவே. நீங்கள் ஒரு சட்டத்தரணியாகப் பயிற்றப்பட்டவர். உங்கள் ஆரம்பகாலத்தில் நீங்கள் ஒரு கடும் மனித உரிமைப் பாதுகாவலனாக கீர்த்தி பெற்றிருந்தீர்கள். இப்போது உங்களுக்குப் பேரும் புகழும் வந்துவிட்டது. படைநடத்திச்சென்று சமராடி ரோமாபுரிக்குத் திரும்பிவரும் ஜூலிய சீசரைப் போல அதிகாரம் படைத்த மகாவீரனாகிவிட்டீர்கள். நீங்கள் கேட்பதை மறுப்பவர் இல்லை. சட்டக் கல்லூரியில் படித்தபோது நீங்களும் நானும் கற்றுக்கொண்ட சோல்பரி அரசியல் யாப்பின் நீக்கப்பட்ட சரத்துக்களை மீண்டும் அங்கீகரிக்குமாறு பாராளுமன்றத்திடம் கேளுங்கள். என் உதவி வேண்டுமானால் இங்கே குழுமியிருக்கும் அனேகரைப்போல் நானும் இலவசமாகவே அதனைச் செய்து தருவேன். தங்களுக்கென்றொரு இடமிருக்கின்றது என்று நீங்கள் உறுதிமொழி சொல்வீர்கள் என்று தமிழர்கள் ஏதிலிகளாக உங்களிடம் எதிர்பார்த்து நிற்கின்றனர். 'உங்களுக்கு அந்த இடம் இருக்கின்றது' என்பதை அவர்களுக்கு நீங்கள் உறுதிசெய்யுங்கள். ஒரு பிரபாகரனைக் கொன்றீர்கள். அப்படி இன்னொருவன் வளர இடம்வைக்கக்கூடாது. இன்னொருவன் தோன்றுவதை முற்காத்துக் கொள்ள வாளோடும் துப்பாக்கியோடும் உங்களால் முடியாது. மனதாலும் மகத்தான அறிவாலும் மட்டுமே அதனைத் தடுக்க முடியும். புத்தரிடமிருந்து கற்றுக்கொண்ட கருணை, உண்மை, நீதி என்ற ஆயுதங்கள் மட்டுமே அதற்குத் தேவை. தம்மபதத்தில் புத்தர்
„பகைமையைப் பகைமையால் ஒருபோதும் அழிக்கமுடியாது. அன்பினால் மட்டுமே பகமையை இல்லாதொழிக்கலாம் என்பது ஒரு புராதன நியதி.“ என்று சொல்லியிருக்கின்றார்.

மேன்மைதங்கிய ஜனாதிபதி அவர்களே நீங்கள் இந்த அழகிய மாநகரைவிட்டு இலங்கைக்குத் திரும்பிச் செல்லும்போது, நாளை தன் பாடசாலைக்குச் செல்லும் பத்துவயதுச் சிறுவனின் வெள்ளைச் சட்டையின் சிவப்புக்கறை ஜம்புப்பழத்தின் கொட்டையால் அன்றி வேறொன்றாலுமில்லை என்பதையும், காலையின் காக்கையொன்று அங்கே கொத்திக் கிழிக்கப்போவது பலாப்பழத்தைத் தவிர வேறொன்றுமில்லை என்பதையும் வேப்பமரத்தில் தொங்குவது நான் முகர்ந்த வேப்பம் பழங்களல்லாது வேறொன்றுமில்லை என்பதையும் எனக்குச் சத்தியம் செய்து தாருங்கள். மேன்மைதங்கிய ஜனாதிபதி அவர்களே எங்களை மீண்டும் சுவர்கத்திற்கு கூட்டிச் செல்லுங்கள்!
எங்களை மீண்டும் சுவர்கத்திற்கு கூட்டிச் செல்லுங்கள்!

(தமிழில்: ந. சுசீந்திரன்)

சனி, மே 22, 2010

We Regret To Inform You That Your Condolences Cannot Be Accepted At This Time

We Regret To Inform You That Your Condolences Cannot Be Accepted At This Time

by V.V. Ganeshananthan

We regret to inform you that your condolences cannot be accepted at this time. At present, both our pain and our hope defy that word, which has been offered and denied us, which we need and do not need, and which in any case we cannot accept, because they (your condolences) will not reach from what has happened to what will come.
We find the word condolences stunning in its insufficiency for past and future.
We evacuated our homes in the light; we vanished from our homes in the dark; we walked away from our families, toward the weapons, and wished that we could turn around. Our bodies entered the earth in places we cannot now identify, and so we are everywhere, blown to dust. By both dying in and surviving this place, we will live here long after your condolences become a ghost in your throat.
We joined others’ battles, willingly and unwillingly; we walked forward on paths not our own when the paths we would have chosen were closed to us. We were incidental; we were vital; we were enemies; we were friends; we were disputed; we were uncounted. In a small country, we felt far away from you. In a small world, we felt far away from you. We were your people and not your people.
We could not wait for you to remember us.

We perished and survived and were less and also more for it. Some of us had little money and little food; we had children. We lost our children willingly and unwillingly. They were torn from our hands; we fought to keep them with us; we pushed them away from us to save them; we held them close in the hope that we might take their bullets and thereby die before them.
Some of us did, but some of us lived, and so the memory of this will outlast even the children we fought to save.
In the rush to escape this bloodletting, which has been its own kind of war, our ears fell to the ground, and so we cannot now hear your condolences. To survive, we had to shut our eyes, with which we would have seen what was in yours. We closed our mouths against hunger and anger; we knew and did not know our families, friends, fellows, and leaders, who hunted us, ran with us, and died with us.
We faced ourselves from all sides. Some of us lived. We are still here. We regret to inform you that your condolences cannot be accepted at this time.

உங்கள் நினைவஞ்சலிகள் தற்போது ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளப்பட மாட்டாது என்று தெரிவிப்பதற்காக வருந்துகிறோம்

உங்கள் நினைவஞ்சலிகள் தற்போது ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளப்பட மாட்டாது என்பதை உங்களுக்குத் தெரிவிப்பதற்காக வருந்துகிறோம். இப்போதைய சூழலில் எங்கள் வலி, நம்பிக்கை இரண்டுமே உங்கள் இரங்கலை எதிர்த்து நிற்கின்றன. எங்களுக்கு வழங்கப்பட்டதும் மறுக்கப்பட்டதுமான, எங்களுக்கு தேவைப்படுவதும், தேவைப்படாததுமான உஙகளின் இரங்கல் செய்திகளை எக்காரணத்தை முன்னிட்டும் நாங்கள் ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளப் போவதில்லை. ஏனெனில் நடந்தவற்றையோ, நடக்கவிருப்பவற்றையோ அவை எதுவும் செய்யப்போவதில்லை.

எங்களின் இறந்தகாலத்தையும் எதிர்காலத்தையும் விளக்கவல்ல ஆற்றல் இரங்கலுக்குக் கிடையாததால், ‘நினைவஞ்சலி’ என்ற சொல் எங்களுக்கு அதிர்ச்சியை ஊட்டுகிறது.
வெளிச்சத்தில் நாங்கள் எங்கள் இல்லங்களை விட்டு வெளியேறினோம்; இருளில் எங்கள் இல்லங்களிலிருந்து மறைந்து போனோம்; வாழ்க்கைப் பாதை மாறுமென்ற நம்பிக்கையில் எங்கள் குடும்பங்களை விட்டுத் தூர வெளியேறி ஆயுதங்களை நோக்கி நடந்தோம்; தற்போது பூமியில் நாங்களே கண்டறிய முடியாத இடங்களுக்குள் எங்கள் உடல்கள் நுழைந்ததால் வெடித்துச் சிதறி துகள் துகளாய் எல்லா இடங்களிலும் பரவியிருக்கிறோம். இங்கே நாங்கள் செத்துக்கொண்டும், உயிரோடும் இருப்பதால் உங்கள் தொண்டைக்குழிக்குள் பேயாக சிக்கிக்கொண்டு வெளிப்படாமலிருக்கும் உங்கள் இரங்கல் வார்த்தைகளுக்குப் பின்னும் நாங்கள் வாழ்வோம்.

விரும்பியும் விரும்பாமலும் அடுத்தவர்களின் போர்களில் நாங்களும் இணைந்தோம்; நாங்கள் செல்ல வேண்டிய பாதை மிக அருகிலிருந்த போதும் அடுத்தவர்களின் பாதையில் முன்னேறி நடந்தோம்; நாங்கள் உதிரிகளாய் இருந்தோம்; முக்கியமானவர்களாய் இருந்தோம்; நாஙகள் நண்பர்களாய் இருந்தோம்; பகைவர்களாய் இருந்தோம்; நாங்கள் பிரச்சினைக்குரியவர்களாய் இருந்தோம்; எண்ணிக்கையிலடங்காதவர்களாய் இருந்தோம்; இச்சிறிய நாட்டில் நாங்கள் உங்களிடமிருந்து வெகுதொலைவாய் உணர்ந்தோம்; இச்சிறிய உலகில் நாங்கள் உங்களிடமிருந்து வெகுதொலைவாய் உணர்ந்தோம்; உங்கள் மக்கள் நாங்கள்; உங்கள் மக்களல்லாதவரும் நாங்கள்.

நீங்கள் எங்களை நினைவுகூர்வீர்கள் என்று உங்களுக்காக காத்திருக்க முடியாது
நாங்கள் அழிந்தோம்; வாழ்ந்தோம்; அழிவதற்கும் வாழ்வதற்கும் நாங்கள் எண்ணிக்கையில் குறைவானவர்கள், அழிவதற்கும் வாழ்வதற்கும் அதிகமானோரும் நாங்கள். எங்களில் சிலருக்கு குறைவான பணமும், குறைவான உணவும் இருந்தது; எங்களுக்கு பிள்ளைகள் இருந்தனர்; விரும்பியும் விரும்பாமலும் எங்கள் பிள்ளைகளை இழந்தோம்; எங்கள் கரங்களிலிருந்து அவர்கள் கிழித்து எடுத்துச்செல்லப்பட்டார்கள்; அவர்கள் எங்களோடிருக்க நாங்கள் போராடினோம்; அவர்களைக் காப்பாற்ற எஙகளிடமிருந்து பிரித்து எறிந்தோம்; அவர்களை நோக்கிய துப்பாக்கிக் குண்டுகளை எங்கள் உடலில் தாங்கி அவர்களுக்கு முன்பாக மரித்துப்போக எண்ணி அவர்களை எங்களின் பிடிக்குள் வைத்திருந்தோம்.
எங்களில் சிலர் மரித்தோம்; ஆனால் எங்களில் சிலர் வாழ்ந்தோம்; எந்த பிள்ளைகளை காப்பாற்ற நாங்கள் போராடினோமோ அவர்களின் காலத்திற்குப்பிறகும் அந்த நினைவுகள் எங்களுடன் வாழ்ந்தது..

போர் எனப்படும் இந்த ரத்தவெள்ளத்திலிருந்து வெளியேறும் வேகத்தில் எங்கள் செவிகள் நிலத்தில் வீழ்ந்துவிட்டன. எனவே உங்கள் இரங்கலை நாங்கள் செவிமடுக்க முடியாது. எங்கள் இருத்தல் நிமித்தம், எங்கள் விழிகளையும் மூடிக்கொள்ள நேர்ந்ததால் உங்களுக்குள் என்னவிருக்கிறது என்பதயும் காண இயலவில்லை. பசியினாலும் கோபத்தாலும் எங்கள் வாயையும் மூடிக்கொண்டோம். எங்கள் குடும்பங்களைப்பற்றி, நண்பர்களைப்பற்றி, தோழர்களைப்பற்றி, எங்களை வேட்டையாடிய, எங்களோடு ஓடிவந்த, எஙகளோடு மடிந்த தலைவர்களைப் பற்றி எங்களுக்குத் தெரிந்திருந்தது; தெரியாமலுமிருந்தது.
எல்லா திசைகளுக்கும் நாங்கள் முகங்கொடுத்தோம். எங்களில் சிலர் வாழ்ந்தோம். இன்னும் நாங்கள் இருக்கிறோம். உங்கள் இரங்கல் செய்திகள் தற்போது ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளப்பட மாட்டாது என்பதை உங்களுக்குத் தெரிவிப்பதற்கு வருந்துகிறோம்.

தமிழில் : கவின் மலர்
(இத் தமிழ் மொழிபெயர்ப்பு கவின் மலர் அவர்களின் இணையத் தளத்தில் இருந்து வெட்டி ஒட்டப்பட்டது. நன்றி)

வெள்ளி, மே 21, 2010

Sri Lanka: New Evidence of Wartime Abuses


Government Inquiry Inadequate; UN Should Establish International Investigation

[Readers are warned the photograph reproduced here end of the news below or the photographs you download from following link are distressing: A member of the LTTE apparently captured by the Sri Lankan Air Mobile Brigade. In subsequent photos (downloadable via links below), the man appears to be dead, raising concerns that he might have been executed in custody.]

Photographic evidence: Five photos taken on the front lines in early 2009

(New York) - New evidence of wartime abuses by Sri Lankan government forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the armed conflict that ended one year ago demonstrates the need for an independent international investigation into violations of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said today. Recently Human Rights Watch research gathered photographic evidence and accounts by witnesses of atrocities by both sides during the final months of fighting.

On May 23, 2009, President Mahinda Rajapaksa promised United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the government would investigate allegations of laws-of-war violations. One year later, the government has still not undertaken any meaningful investigatory steps, Human Rights Watch said.

Last week, the government created a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission with a mandate to examine the failure of the 2002 ceasefire and the "sequence of events" thereafter. It is not empowered to investigate allegations of violations of the laws of war such as those documented by Human Rights Watch.

"Yet another feckless commission is a grossly inadequate response to the numerous credible allegations of war crimes," said Elaine Pearson, acting Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Damning new evidence of abuses shows why the UN should not let Sri Lanka sweep these abuses under the carpet."

Human Rights Watch called on Secretary-General Ban to promptly establish an international investigation to examine allegations of wartime abuse by both sides to the conflict.

New Evidence of Wartime Violations

Human Rights Watch has examined more than 200 photos taken on the front lines in early 2009 by a soldier from the Sri Lankan Air Mobile Brigade. Among these are a series of five photos showing a man who appears to have been captured by the Sri Lankan army. An independent source identified the man by name and told Human Rights Watch that he was a long-term member of the LTTE's political wing from Jaffna.

The first two photos show the man alive, with blood on his face and torso, tied to a palm tree. He is surrounded by several men wearing military fatigues, one brandishing a knife close to his face. In the next three photos, the man is lying - apparently dead - against a rock. His head is being held up, he is partly covered in the flag of Tamil Eelam, and there is more blood on his face and upper body.

A forensic expert who reviewed the photos told Human Rights Watch that the latter three photos show material on the man's neck consistent in color with brain matter, "which would indicate an injury to the back of his head, as nothing is visible which would cause this on his face. This would indicate severe trauma to the back of the head consistent with something like a gunshot wound or massive blows to the back of the head with something such as a machete or ax."

While Human Rights Watch cannot conclusively determine that the man was summarily executed in custody, the available evidence indicates that a full investigation is warranted.

Several of the photos also show what appear to be dead women in LTTE uniforms with their shirts pulled up and their pants pulled down, raising concerns that they might have been sexually abused or their corpses mutilated. Again, such evidence is not conclusive but shows the need for an investigation.

The new accounts by witnesses described indiscriminate shelling of large gatherings of civilians during the last weeks of fighting, apparently by government forces. In addition to an incident on April 8, 2009, previously reported, witnesses told Human Rights Watch about three other incidents in late April and early May 2009 of government forces shelling civilians, mainly women and children, who were standing in food distribution lines. The witnesses also described LTTE recruitment of children and LTTE attacks on civilians attempting to escape the war zone.

Government's Failure to Investigate Abuses

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission created on May 17, 2010 is the latest in a long line of ad hoc bodies in Sri Lanka that seem designed to deflect international criticism rather than to uncover the facts. The mandated focus of the commission ­- on the failure of the 2002 ceasefire - is largely unrelated to the massive abuses by both government forces and the LTTE in the last months of hostilities. Nor does the commission appear to have been designed to uncover new information: the commission's terms of reference do not provide for adequate victim and witness protection.

The government-appointed chairman of the commission, Chitta Ranjan de Silva, is a former attorney general who came under serious criticism for his office's alleged interference in the work of the 2006 Presidential Commission of Inquiry. The attorney general's role was one of the main reasons why a group of 10 international experts, the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), withdrew from monitoring the commission's work. The IIGEP stated that it had "not been able to conclude...that the proceedings of the Commission have been transparent or have satisfied basic international norms and standards."

"De Silva was the architect and enforcer of the attorney general's conflict of interest role with respect to the 2006 commission," said Arthur Dewey, former US assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and member of the IIGEP. "Nothing good for human rights or reconciliation is likely to come from anything in which De Silva is involved."

The government has also yet to publish the findings from a committee established in November 2009 to examine allegations of laws-of-war violations set out in a report produced last year by the US State Department, despite an April 2010 deadline.

Sri Lanka has a long history of establishing ad hoc commissions to deflect international criticism over its poor human rights record and widespread impunity, Human Rights Watch said. Since independence in 1948, Sri Lanka has established at least nine such commissions, none of which have produced any significant results.

On March 5, Secretary-General Ban told President Rajapaksa that he had decided to appoint a UN panel of experts to advise him on next steps for accountability in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government responded by attacking Ban for interfering in domestic affairs, calling the panel "unwarranted" and "uncalled for." Two months later, Ban has yet to appoint any members to his panel.

"Ban's inaction is sending a signal to abusers that simply announcing meaningless commissions and making loud noises can block all efforts for real justice," Pearson said. "The only way to ensure accountability in Sri Lanka is to establish an independent international investigation."

Readers are warned the photograph reproduced below is distressing

Photographic evidence: Five photos taken on the front lines in early 2009

[Readers are warned the photograph reproduced above is distressing: A member of the LTTE apparently captured by the Sri Lankan Air Mobile Brigade. In subsequent photos (downloadable via links below), the man appears to be dead, raising concerns that he might have been executed in custody.]

Click here to download or open the photographic evidence: Five photos taken on the front lines in early 2009

புதன், மே 19, 2010

An open letter to Defence Secretary from an ordinary citizen.

The Island, Colombo, 19 May 2010

It is with dismay that I read the news report on the front page of The Island of Thursday, May 6th, titled’ ‘TRAITORS SHOULD BE GIVEN CAPITAL PUNISHMENT’, with an inset that ‘Defence Secretary Rajapaksa says the LTTE rump is exploring every avenue to avenge Prabhakaran’s killing on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon last May’.

According to that report, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya says anyone seeking to undermine Sri Lanka’s sovereignty should be regarded as a traitor. It will be a grave blunder on the government’s part for the so-called international community to interfere in Sri Lanka, he says. The Defence Secretary says that any Sri Lankan promoting an agenda that is detrimental to the country is nothing but a traitor who should be ready to face the consequences…….. traitors deserved capital punishment and no one should shed crocodile tears over them."

If he will pardon my saying so, too often, the Defence Secretary seems to speak impulsively not calmly issuing reasoned and well-balanced pronouncements. Some of us ordinary citizens are often left to wonder and feel perturbed at the attitudes that are promoted. All of us are mindful of the debt we owe the President and his brother the Defence Secretary, and even more to the former Army Commander, Gen. Sarath Fonseka and his men, for bringing the long drawn-out and ruinous war to an end. We can understand – even if we don’t go along with it – the triumphalism that prevailed when victory was finally wrested from the LTTE. But is it necessary to demonise the enemy? A Palestinian peace-maker named Ali Abu Awward observed, in the course of a meeting of 135 Israeli and Palestinian artistes to express the benefits of reconciliation, "Everybody wants to see the other side as a devil, to excuse their own behaviour against him, because if we saw him as a human there is a payment, there is a price, and nobody wants to pay the price".

Thankfully, the war is over. Now is the time for genuine moves towards peace and reconciliation and efforts to bridge the polarization that has taken place between Tamil-speaking and Sinhala-speaking Sri Lankans. Constant fulminations against possible attempts on the part of unnamed, nebulous sources abroad, and against any group or individual who is at all critical of the government may seem like red herrings to distract the people from the realities of our situation here, notably the rising COL, now that the elections are over. It is the talk of ‘Patriots’ and ‘Traitors’, of "those who are for us or against us," that troubles me. The definition and wide interpretation of the term ‘traitor’ seems to emanate from a few strident voices and since the popular feeling is that these voices have the backing of the government, a fear psychosis which began quite some time ago, has almost paralysed thinking people to the extent that they fear to raise a moderate tone and a reasoned criticism of any sort, publicly. The handful of courageous journalists and writers who still dare to speak out openly and honestly, have sometimes deplored "the silence of the good people". That silence indicates that most people feel cowed and they will not risk any public utterance that might be interpreted by the powers-that-be and their supporters as treasonable.

Increasingly, the impression created is that the government will not allow any dissent and that we must all be ‘yes’ men and women and forever hold our tongues – whatever the provocation – if we wish to survive in the present climate. There are many things that raise concern and at risk of being called a traitor. I’d like to ask the Defence Secretary a question regarding one such issue that disturbs me. It’s about those cemeteries in the North where the LTTE honoured their dead. Did you concur, Mr. Defence Secretary, with the decision to bulldoze those LTTE cemeteries? I visited Gettysburg in 2008 and I was more than ever moved to admiration of that great US President and rare human being, Abraham Lincoln, when I saw how the graves and monuments of the Confederate dead had been allowed to remain side by side in the hallowed ground which also bears testimony to those of the Union Army who perished in battle.

"Hatred cannot be overcome by hatred," said the Buddha. We can do no better at this point in time than to enshrine in our hearts the concluding sentences of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural speech: "With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Anne Abayasekara

Negotiation: Getting to “Yes”

Negotiation: Getting to “Yes”

Charles Sarvan

“People tend to see what they want to see. Out of a mass of detailed information, they tend to pick out and focus on those facts that confirm their prior perceptions and to disregard or misinterpret those that call their perceptions into question. Each side in a negotiation may see only the merits of its case, and only the faults of the other side’s. The ability to see the situation as the other side sees it [...] is one of the most important skills a negotiator can possess. It is not enough to know that they see things differently [...] you also need to understand empathetically the power of their point of view and to feel the emotional force with which they believe in it”
(Roger Fisher et al, ‘Getting to Yes’, Arrow Books, London, 1992, p. 23)

Fisher describes three different types of negotiation. In ‘soft negotiation’ the participant changes her or his position, and makes offers with the belief that the goal is agreement. However, such an attitude can leave one feeling exploited, taken advantage of, and bitter. In ‘hard negotiation’, participants are distrustful adversaries. The goal is victory, and negotiation becomes a contest of wills where one takes an extreme and inflexible position, “digs in” and makes threats. The third, ‘principled negotiation’ (developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project), seeks “to obtain what you are entitled to and still be decent” (p. xiv).
Among the aspects the book emphasises are the separation of individuals from the problem and, secondly, the focussing, not on the “position” overtly adopted but on (often unexpressed) “interests”. Human beings are creatures of strong emotion, emotions which become entangled with the objective merits of the problem. If others have deeply held values and convictions, remember: so do you (p. 19). The purpose of negotiation should not become one of scoring points, confirming negative impressions, and apportioning blame (ibid). Blaming others for the problem is counterproductive: attacked, the other side becomes defensive; being defensive, they counter-attack by counter-blaming. Rather than only defending your case, invite criticism, and be ready to seriously examine your own case (p. 116).
The challenge is to reconcile not “positions” but “interests”. In “interests”, Fisher includes not only underlying concerns and causes but also wishes – and fears. Positions cloud and distract from interests, from “each side’s needs, desires, concerns and fears” (p. 42). After the Six Day War of 1967, Israel occupied the whole of the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt’s “position” was that, after centuries of domination by Greece, Rome, Turkey, France and Britain, the Sinai was again Egyptian, and every inch should be returned. Though Israel’s “position” was that a part should remain under its control, the real “interest” (in this case, concern), was that Egyptian armour should not be right on its border, able to launch another sudden attack. By looking behind “position” to “interest”, a solution was found: Egypt would resume sovereignty but observe, in practice, a de-militarised zone.
Nadesan Satyendra, in his now discontinued site, lists Sinhalese “interests”, among them that Tamil Eelam will be a first step towards a pan-Tamil state including Tamil Naadu, and that Tamil Eelam will threaten the existence of the Sinhalese Buddhist nation. These concerns were seen as irrational or as mere excuses for rejection and continued ethnic domination: they were not taken seriously by Tamil leaders, discussed and fears allayed. As for the Tamil position, it changed with time and political-historical developments but the fundamental concern and wish, the “interest”, remained the same: justice and recognition, equality and dignity. What immediately follows is taken from my essay, Reign of Anomy (the title adapted from Soyinka’s Season of Anomy:
It is well to remind ourselves that when, in 1925-6, Mr S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, as leader of the Progressive National Party, set out the case for a federal political structure for Sri Lanka and made this the main plank of the political platform of his party, he received no support for it from the Tamils: see, K. M. P. De Silva, A History of Sri Lanka, p. 513. In the 1930s, the Jaffna Youth Congress rejected federalism and, what is more, persuaded almost all the leading schools in Jaffna to teach Sinhala as a compulsory subject. As A E Jayasuriya observed, “At a time when the Sinhalese were prepared to do without Sinhala, the battle for Sinhala and Tamil was fought by Tamil leaders” : see, D Nesiah, Tamil Nationalism, Marga Institute, Colombo, 2001, p. 12. In 1952, the Kankesuntharai parliamentary seat was contested by Chelvanayagam as a member of the Federal Party: he was comfortably defeated by a U.N.P. candidate. Even after the trauma of Standardisation (“racial” quota) in relation to University admission beginning in 1971, and the Draft Constitution of 1972, the All Ceylon Tamil Conference declared, “Our children and our children’s children should be able to say, with one voice, Lanka is our great motherland, and we are one people from shore to shore. We speak two noble languages, but with one voice” (Nesiah, p. 14).
Subsequent “positions” adopted (including the extreme one, somewhat similar to Moses in the Old Testament, vis-a-vis Pharaoh and bondage: “Let me people go”) obscured Tamil “interests”, that is, Tamil concerns, wishes and aspiration: a misunderstanding that has caused horrendous damage and terrible tragedy.
Criteria employed in negotiation must be objective, internationally accepted and independent of both sides. Groups should not insist on the principle of self-determination “as a fundamental right but deny its applicability to those on the other side” (p. 89) Here, a third-party, acceptable to both sides, could play a positive role. Attempts to dominate “threaten a relationship; principled negotiation protects it” (p. 86). The more standards of fairness are brought in, the better and more durable the “final package” will be (ibid). Those who are going to be affected must be involved in discussion, policy and process. Otherwise, they will not approve of the result (p. 27). “We” of the more powerful group, are going to figure out how to solve your problem (p. 28) - a problem created by us in the first place.
Fisher observes that, ultimately, conflict does not lie in some objective reality but in people’s minds (p. 23). Difference exists because it exists in the mind. In other words, the mind does not see an already existing difference – the mind creates the difference. Perhaps, this can be modified to read: What makes the difference is not difference per se (be it language, “race”, skin-colour and / or religion) but the value, importance, significance that we, human beings, attach to that difference. There’s many a “No” and “But” on the way to a mutually agreed, harmonious and happy, “Yes”, but result and reward make the effort worthwhile; indeed, imperative.

திங்கள், மே 17, 2010

War Crimes in Sri Lanka

Full report as pdf file (54 pages)

War Crimes in Sri Lanka

Asia Report N°191 17 May 2010


The Sri Lankan security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) repeatedly violated international humanitarian law during the last five months of their 30-year civil war. Although both sides committed atrocities throughout the many years of conflict, the scale and nature of violations particularly worsened from January 2009 to the government’s declaration of victory in May. Evidence gathered by the International Crisis Group suggests that these months saw tens of thousands of Tamil civilian men, women, children and the elderly killed, countless more wounded, and hundreds of thousands deprived of adequate food and medical care, resulting in more deaths.

This evidence also provides reasonable grounds to believe the Sri Lankan security forces committed war crimes with top government and military leaders potentially responsible. There is evidence of war crimes committed by the LTTE and its leaders as well, but most of them were killed and will never face justice. An international inquiry into alleged crimes is essential given the absence of political will or capacity for genuine domestic investigations, the need for an accounting to address the grievances that drive conflict in Sri Lanka, and the potential of other governments adopting the Sri Lankan model of counter-insurgency in their own internal conflicts.

Crisis Group possesses credible evidence that is sufficient to warrant an independent international investigation of the following allegations:

* The intentional shelling of civilians. Starting in late January, the government and security forces encouraged hundreds of thousands of civilians to move into ever smaller government-declared No Fire Zones (NFZs) and then subjected them to repeated and increasingly intense artillery and mortar barrages and other fire. This continued through May despite the government and security forces knowing the size and location of the civilian population and scale of civilian casualties.
* The intentional shelling of hospitals. The security forces shelled hospitals and makeshift medical centres – many overflowing with the wounded and sick – on multiple occasions even though they knew of their precise locations and functions. During these incidents, medical staff, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and others continually informed the government and security forces of the shelling, yet they continued to strike medical facilities through May forcing civilians to abandon them.
* The intentional shelling of humanitarian operations. Despite knowing the exact location of humanitarian operations and food distribution points, the security forces repeatedly shelled these areas, which were crowded with humanitarian workers, vehicles and supplies, and civilians. Many were killed or wounded trying to deliver or receive basic humanitarian assistance, including women, children and infants.

The consequences of the security forces’ shelling were made substantially worse by the government’s obstruction of food and medical treatment for the civilian population, including by knowingly claiming the civilian population was less than one third its actual size and denying adequate supplies.

The government declined to respond to Crisis Group’s request for comment on these allegations.

There is also strong evidence that the LTTE engaged in:

* The intentional shooting of civilians. The LTTE fired on and killed or wounded many civilians in the conflict zone who were attempting to flee the shelling and cross into government-controlled areas.
* The intentional infliction of suffering on civilians. The LTTE refused to allow civilians to leave the conflict zone, despite grave danger from shelling and lack of humanitarian supplies, even when the civilians were injured and dying. The LTTE also forcibly recruited many civilians to fight or serve as labourers and beat some family members who protested the recruitment.

The substantial body of evidence collected by Crisis Group since August 2009 offers a compelling case for investigation of the conduct of hostilities and the role of the military and political leadership on both sides. It consists of numerous eyewitness statements that Crisis Group has taken and considers to be reliable as well as hundreds of photographs, video, satellite images, electronic communications and documents from multiple credible sources. But it covers only a small number of the violations allegedly committed and is but a first step in what should be a major effort to examine the last year of the war. Among the other allegations that should be investigated are the recruitment of children by the LTTE and the execution by the security forces of those who had laid down their arms and were trying to surrender.

Much of the international community turned a blind eye to the violations when they were happening. Some issued statements calling for restraint but took no action as the government continually denied any wrongdoing. Many countries had declared the LTTE terrorists and welcomed their defeat. They encouraged the government’s tough response while failing to press for political reforms to address Tamil grievances or for any improvement in human rights. The eventual destruction of the LTTE militarily came at the cost of immense civilian suffering and an acute challenge to the laws of war. It also undermined the credibility of the United Nations and further entrenched a bitterness among Tamils in Sri Lanka and elsewhere which may make a durable peace elusive. Now a number of other countries are considering “the Sri Lankan option” – unrestrained military action, refusal to negotiate, disregard for humanitarian issues – as a way to deal with insurgencies and other violent groups.

To recover from this damage, there must be a concerted effort to investigate alleged war crimes by both sides and prosecute those responsible. Sri Lanka is not a member state of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the UN Security Council is not likely to refer these crimes to the ICC in the short term. While some of the LTTE may go on trial in Sri Lanka, it is virtually impossible that any domestic investigation into the government or security forces would be impartial given the entrenched culture of impunity. A UN-mandated international inquiry should be the priority, and those countries that have jurisdiction over alleged crimes – including countries such as the U.S. where dual nationals or residents may be suspected – should vigorously pursue investigations.


To the Government of Sri Lanka:

1. Cooperate fully with international efforts to investigate alleged war crimes, including a UN-mandated international inquiry, guaranteeing free access to the conflict area and effective protection of witnesses.

2. Try LTTE cadres suspected of war crimes in open court, allowing them and witnesses against them full protections required by international law and permitting international oversight, or release them if there is insufficient evidence.

3. Invite the UN special rapporteurs on extrajudicial executions, torture, violence against women, the right to food, the right to health, the protection of human rights while countering terrorism and the situation of human rights defenders, and the special representatives on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and on children and armed conflict, to visit Sri Lanka to investigate the conduct of the last year of hostilities.

4. Compile, with the assistance of the ICRC and/or the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a full and public register of those killed, wounded and missing from the final months of the war, including the circumstances of their death, injury or disappearance; and issue death certificates and provide financial compensation for civilians killed or wounded and for property destroyed or damaged.

5. Provide ICRC with full access to all places of detention, including where LTTE suspects or surrendees are being held, and allow detained individuals full protections under international law.

To the United Nations and Member States:

6. Authorise an independent international inquiry into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka during the last year of the conflict, tasking it to investigate the conduct of both sides, to complete its work within a reasonably short period and to recommend steps to be taken by national and international authorities to ensure accountability for any crimes.

7. Begin inquiries into attacks on UN assets and personnel and into the conduct of the UN during the last year of the conflict, examining the UN’s September 2008 withdrawal from Kilinochchi through to its ineffectual attempts to push for a ceasefire and its involvement in Sri Lankan government internment camps.

8. Empower the special rapporteurs on extrajudicial executions, torture, violence against women, the right to food, the right to health, the protection of human rights while countering terrorism and the situation of human rights defenders, and the special representative on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), to carry out full investigations of the conduct of the last year of hostilities, particularly into alleged extrajudicial executions and torture, and the special representative on children and armed conflict to more completely investigate the recruitment of child soldiers and killing and maiming of children.

9. Make available to any credible efforts to investigate alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka all relevant information within the possession or control of the UN.

10. Ensure that Sri Lankan contributions to UN peacekeeping missions are consistent with universal human rights principles, including by ensuring the systematic pre-deployment screening of Sri Lankan personnel to identify any individuals allegedly involved in war crimes or human rights violations.

To India, the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Other EU Member States, Switzerland and Others:

11. Do not extradite LTTE suspects to Sri Lanka unless guarantees of humane treatment and fair trials are in place. Instead prosecute in domestic courts where possible and appropriate.

12. Begin investigations into alleged war crimes or human rights abuses in cases where jurisdiction may exist, including where nationals or residents are allegedly involved. Ensure such investigations have sufficient resources and share evidence in the possession or control of governments, including satellite imagery.

13. Support non-frivolous civil suits by or on behalf of alleged victims of the security forces or the LTTE, including by limiting claims of immunity.

14. Grant asylum or other protected status to witnesses and act to preserve evidence of war crimes, particularly by allowing officials to cooperate with credible investigations.

15. Impose targeted sanctions, including travel restrictions, on Sri Lankan officials and members of their families, unless and until the government cooperates with international efforts to investigate alleged war crimes.

Brussels, 17 May 2010

War Crimes in Sri Lanka

War Crimes in Sri Lanka
Brussels | 17 May 2010

Newly revealed evidence of war crimes in Sri Lanka last year makes an international inquiry essential.

War Crimes in Sri Lanka , the latest report from the International Crisis Group, exposes repeated violations of international law by both the Sri Lankan security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the last five months of their 30-year civil war. That evidence suggests that the period of January to May 2009 saw tens of thousands of Tamil civilian men, women, children and the elderly killed, countless more wounded, and hundreds of thousands deprived of adequate food and medical care, resulting in more deaths.

Released on the eve of the first anniversary of the end of the fighting, the report calls for an international inquiry into alleged crimes. The government has conclusively demonstrated its unwillingness to undertake genuine investigations of security force abuses and continues to deny any responsibility for civilian casualties. A true accounting is needed to address the grievances that drive conflict in Sri Lanka, so the international community must take the lead.

“The scale of civilian deaths and suffering demands a response”, says Crisis Group President Louise Arbour. “Future generations will demand to know what happened, and future peace in Sri Lanka requires some measure of justice.”

Both sides in Sri Lanka’s civil war violated international humanitarian law throughout the decades-long conflict. However the violations became particularly frequent and deadly in the months leading to the government’s declaration of victory over the LTTE in May 2009. Evidence gathered by Crisis Group provides reasonable grounds to believe that government security forces repeatedly and intentionally violated the law by attacking civilians, hospitals and humanitarian operations. The government declined to respond to Crisis Group’s request for comment on these allegations. Evidence also shows that the LTTE violated the law by killing, wounding or otherwise endangering civilians, including by shooting them and preventing them from leaving the conflict zone even when injured and dying.

Much of the international community turned a blind eye to the violations when they were happening. Many countries welcomed the LTTE’s defeat regardless of the cost of immense civilian suffering and an acute challenge to the laws of war. The United Nations too readily complied with the government’s demands to withdraw from conflict areas.

The international community has a responsibility to uphold the rule of law, the reputation of international agencies and respect for international humanitarian law, most importantly the protection of civilians lives. Today, a number of other countries are considering “the Sri Lankan option” – unrestrained military action, refusal to negotiate, disregard for humanitarian issues, keeping out international observers including the press and humanitarian workers – as a way to deal with insurgencies and other violent groups.

“An international inquiry is necessary not only for justice and long-term peace in Sri Lanka but also to help prevent a repeat elsewhere”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “It would serve as a warning to other governments that may be considering ‘the Sri Lankan model’ to address their own internal conflicts.”

ஞாயிறு, மே 16, 2010

SRI LANKA: Indigenous insensitivity and the reconciliation commission

May 14, 2010

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

SRI LANKA: Indigenous insensitivity and the reconciliation commission

The BBC Sinhala Service reported today of a press conference held by the Minister of Media, Keheliya Rambukwella. At this press conference he was questioned on the announcement by the government about a commission for reconciliation and lessons learned. He was questioned as to whether the commission will be something like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa.

The Minister's answer was that the South African experience and the bringing of Norway as mediators and the like are all alien experiences to Sri Lanka. He said that, in this particular instance, the government will look to an indigenous approach, something home grown, something of Sri Lanka's own to the issue of reconciliation and lessons learned in terms of the recent conflict.

As this is the position of the government it is worth examining the indigenous approaches to truth and reconciliation to the Sri Lankan context. From various approaches through government commissions there is overwhelming agreement that all the commissions appointed so far, have failed to address the serious questions that have been affecting Sri Lanka in the conflicts in the recent past. The commissions have been condemned by international organisations such as Amnesty International as well as by local human rights groups who have published extensive reports and analysis on the workings of these commissions.

From the point of view of mandate as well as the selection of the commissioners and the work they have carried out, it is not difficult to form an opinion that these commissions were not meant, first of all to engage in a genuine investigation to find the truth of what has happened, or to address the problems of law and morality concerned. They did not deal with the ways to avoid the possibility of the recurrence of similar incidents in the future.

In fact, all such commissions to date have been exercises of denial. Their purpose was to create confusion in the minds of the people at times when the people are seriously expressing concerns about the problems that are a result of these conflicts such as forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, abuse of power, illegal arrest and detention and many other forms of arbitrary use of power which has caused enormous suffering to the people.

Therefore any repetition of the immediate past in terms of truth and reconciliation would be to repeat the traditions of denial, instead of trying to achieve anything positive. Then we should go back and ask as to whether there are / local traditions of truth telling in the midst of conflicts. I think it is not difficult at all to answer that question.

Sri Lanka's ancient tradition is set on a caste based social structure. The political scientist and the sociologist all agree that the centuries of social organisation of Sri Lanka was based on the hierarchical model of caste. Caste does not recognise the equality of human beings and is based on the legal premise of disproportionate punishment for different categories of persons. While any crime against the upper layer is considered the most heinous, any violence to the lower layers of society are not considered crimes at all. Such was the caste doctrines in India and such was the doctrines that have been deeply entrenched in the Sri Lankan psyche. The country does not have tradition of truth telling and seeking reconciliation after periods of crises.

Some may argue that the religion of Sri Lanka is Buddhist and Buddhism has a rich tradition of truth and reconciliation. That Buddhism has that tradition is undeniable. It is one of the greatest traditions in terms of seeking truth and reconciliation.

However, this is not the living tradition of Sri Lanka in terms of social relationships. Even the monks themselves are divided into castes and the deeply entrenched tradition of cast remains in the Sinhala and Tamil communities. Therefore in the living reality of Sri Lanka, there has never been a time since the Polonnaruwa period at least, when there was a tradition truth seeking and reconciliation.

Therefore talking of a commission in indigenous terms is clearly dangerous. The first time this was introduced into the political discussion in Sri Lanka was in the 1972 Constitution and it was called an autochthonous constitution. What was this indigenous, autochthonous constitution? It displaced the supremacy of the parliament. In fact, this constitution destroyed whatever had been built in terms of freedom of expression and the duty of the judiciary to protect the individual from the arbitrary actions of the state.

That indigenous tradition was continued in the 1978 Constitution. This created the indigenous dictator. Sri Lanka abandoned the liberal democratic constitutional model altogether. The separation of power concept was given up in favour of the absolute power of the executive president. After that came the undermining of the judiciary on an unprecedented scale and also the undermining of the parliament. All these are aspects on which enough has been written in detail and the purpose of this statement is not to go into the details of that discourse. But the fact that this indigenous tradition is a tradition of dictatorship and authoritarianism and the suppression of the rights of the individuals is quite clear.

The problem that Sri Lanka faces is one of an indigenous tradition of the total suppression of people which has been the cause of the violations that Sri Lanka is trying to deal with now. The development of the indigenous tradition of suppression also provoked the indigenous traditions of rebel movements which also resorted to the most barbaric modes of violence. Both in the south in terms of the JVP rebellions and in the north in the Tamil movements culminating in the liberation tiger movement saw, the barbaric use of violence. Thus the indigenous traditions of the state using barbarous violence and the local rebels using also using violence are what the country has seen in the past.

What the Minister's statement clearly indicates is that this commission is going to be a farce. It is going to be a repetition of the traditions of denial, the suppression of truth and trying to strengthen the local suppression that has been going on with the help of the people who are willing to support that tradition. Therefore it will not be a surprise that the so-called commissioners would be those who have a long record of being engaged in the suppression of all attempts of people to seek justice and find ways of dealing with a barbarous, indigenous past.

Sumanthiran’s maiden Speech in Parliament

[Mr. M. A. Sumanthiran, a prominent lawyer in Colombo, Sri Lanka is Member of Parliment of TNA(Tamil Natinonal Alliance)]

Honourable Deputy Chairman of Committees, I wish to first thank you for affording me the opportunity to participate and to make my first speech at the very first debate that is being taken up at this 7th Parliament.

The word ‘debate’ envisages deliberation, exchange of opposing ideas and the ability for one to convince the other and try to change the view point of opposing positions. Unfortunately at this debate, even before the debate begins, this assembly - even this country - knows what the result would be. We deliberate, but at the time of voting it goes on party lines. However this particular motion to extend the state of emergency by the Hon. Prime Minister has another aspect to it, and that is, even if by an overwhelming majority vote, the state of emergency is extended for another month, there are regulations that are made under those emergency powers and the Honourable Minister for External Affairs in his detailed speech listed the changes that were being made to the emergency regulations that have been in force until the 2nd of May 2010.

Therefore with the hope that whatever suggestions that are made at this debate, will be taken into account even in the future when the emergency regulations are amended, I venture to point out three aspects and respond to three matters that the Honourable Minister for External Affairs listed yesterday. He said this is a progressive step. “We cannot do away with state of emergency once and for all; we have to do it step by step”. And in that process he listed around 12 items that have been done away with in the emergency regulations of 2005. Unfortunately there are a dozen emergency regulations that are in extant and only one of those has been amended. I wouldn’t say that the amendments are cosmetic, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they are substantial either. It is true that powers to impose curfew and various other extraordinary powers that had been granted have now been taken away, but more importantly, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that another set of emergency regulations, namely, Emergency (Prevention and Prohibition of Terrorism and specified Terrorist Activities) Regulations No.7 of 2006 of December 2006, has been left untouched. The Emergency Regulations of 2005 are the set of regulations that ordinarily have to come into force when a state of emergency is declared, and those are substantially the same as that we had from 1995. But the one that I am referring to now, of 2006 is an extraordinary set of regulations that were brought in, perhaps due to the fact that at that time there was a ceasefire agreement in force; conceded by the government that it was in force at that time, because in January 2008 the government acted under that agreement and gave notice of abrogation. So in December 2006, matters that were declared offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act were brought in, through the backdoor as it were, by these emergency regulations of December 2006. There is heavy criticism by various persons on the content of those regulations. They are overbroad, vague; even having dealings with somebody who has dealings with a terrorist is an offence. Advising a person who is involved in terrorist activity is made an offence. That even touches then, the privilege of Attorneys at Law even to advise somebody to surrender.

And that takes me to another regulation, the regulation that provides for rehabilitation of surrendees. I think that it is another draconian piece because it says that when a person surrenders - and the act of surrender is clearly his own confession in content - he is taken for rehabilitation or what is called ‘rehabilitation’. Now that goes against all norms: that a person must first be pronounced by a competent court to have committed an offence. Even the Prevention of Terrorism Act has safeguards as to how confessions are made admissible. There are safeguards: you have to make it to a person not below the rank of ASP and so on. Now where it involves surrendees that regulation has been left untouched, and it was stated in this House yesterday that there are over 11,000 surrendees kept in an undisclosed place. That is why I say, that although the Honourable Minister for External Affairs stated that a big step has been taken in removing various powers under the emergency, I’d like to think that that is not correct because one out of about 12 regulations has been slightly amended. Now, the power of the armed forces to exercise police powers is another matter which is specifically stated continues to be in force. Now that again is one that is fraught with serious dangers, serious dangers of abuse, even the power to carry out investigation by armed forces, generally the powers that are only left with the police are given to the armed forces and those are to still continue.

The second issue that I wish to highlight is a very unfortunate one and that is this: we can discuss and debate what is printed in Emergency Regulations and what is given to us. But I will give two examples of instances where even the powers given in the Emergency Regulations are not utilized. One is the High Security Zone in Valligaman in Jaffna, the other is the forcible internment of displaced persons in Vavuniya. Neither of these two examples that I cite come under any Emergency Regulation whatsoever. These are two examples only, of flagrant violations, of total illegality. So what is the point, I ask Honourable Deputy Chairman of Committees, of framing regulations, then pruning them down, making announcements that we have done away with draconian provisions, when the Government acts totally outside of even those powers that are given under the Emergency Regulations. There is not a single detention order for those 80,000 odd persons that the government says are still in the camps. An application has been filed in Supreme Court and the Supreme Court perhaps is so embarrassed that for months no order has been given even with regard to Leave to Proceed. Ordinarily, on the very first day of support order is given either to proceed or it is dismissed. Several dates have been given for the Order and now there is no date at all. It is the first time in the history of this country that the Supreme Court has not given a date to make an order with regard to leave to proceed. Same with regard to the High Security Zone in Jaffna. An application is pending in the Supreme Court for the last six years. There has been even a judicial pronouncement that it is illegal and several consequential orders have been made for persons to be resettled in those areas. But apart from a few who were permitted to be resettled in the outer periphery, six years ago, not one single person has been allowed inside, and that is not a prescribed High Security Zone. There are many areas that have been declared under the emergency Regulations as High Security Zones, but not Valligamam, in Jaffna. And over hundred thousand persons are displaced as a result. The point that I am making is that it is well and good to discuss what powers are being removed, how we are going step by step, but all that is irrelevant and all that becomes useless when the government acts totally outside of the powers that are given even through the extraordinary powers of emergency regulations.

And the third issue is with regard to an announcement that again the Honourable Minister for External Affairs made yesterday that His Excellency the President has decided to appoint a Reconciliation Commission, and he added that this Commission would be in the lines of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. We welcome this move. Truth must be told. After all it is truth that will set everyone free. But for truth to be told, as was stated this morning in this house at this debate, there needs to be a change of attitude. For true reconciliation to take place, one must first understand, accept the fact that this protracted war that went on for over 30 years was not merely with a rag-tag army, a group of armed men. The very fact that the Honourable Minister states that reconciliation is necessary is enough proof that the government concedes that as a result of this protracted war communities in this country have been alienated from each other and we need processes for reconciliation. Now for that to happen attitudes must change as I said and I want to highlight one issue with regard to the announcement that there is going to be a week of commemoration or victory celebration, to mark what happened last year, beginning 12th of May. Last year when there were victory celebrations I happened to be walking on the street when busses from various parts of the country came to Colombo for the victory celebrations and we were taunted on the streets, like how they do at big matches. I was told ‘Eke thamai Appi kiuwe, Apiththeka baha kiuwe’ That was the attitude. That was the attitude that hurt, that alienates people. That is not in the spirit of reconciliation that the Honourable Minister of External Affairs stated yesterday. And I hope that even when this week is taken to mark this occasion of the end of an armed conflict, that it is done sensitively. And that the commemoration is as much for the soldiers who died and who were maimed and lost various other facilities, as for every other Sri Lankan citizen who died and lost. Because all those who died in this war are Sri Lankan. All those who lost their limbs, their loved ones, their homes and various other things are all Sri Lankan. And we need to address this occasion with a sense of grief. It is not a sense of triumphalism, of one over the other, but a sense of grief that our country has had to go through this kind of spell, and perhaps a sense of relief that we are now coming out of it. And unless our attitude changes in that direction, we cannot even think in terms of other processes of reconciliation.

Honourable Hisbullah detailed a story yesterday in this House. He told this house that there was a 13 year old person taken into detention, 14 years ago; that for more than half his life he has been in detention and that he has not committed any offence. He doesn’t even know why he is in detention. Now this is not an example that I am giving you, it is an example that has been given to this House by a Member of the Government bench. So I take it, that he knows what he is talking about. That must be one of hundreds, or even thousands, that are languishing in detention. How can we then say that we are truly free, when a teenager who is taken in does not even know, according to the Honourable Minister himself, as to why he has been kept behind bars for 14 long years. And the Hon Member stated this but did not say what remedial measure had been taken by the government for this. And unless we are able to address these issues, we will not be able to move forward in this process of reconciliation.

War is a bad thing. After all, in this country and the majority of Buddhist adherents in this country, have a connection with Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism. And if one thinks about that, his conversion to Buddhism was after a war that he won, but through grief that so much was lost during that war. And if Emperor Ashoka’s offspring brought Buddhism to this country, and that is our history, as true Buddhists and others who follow various religions who also believe that killing is bad, to simply put it, must grieve over the hundreds and thousands of persons, perhaps, who lost their lives during this 30 year war.

We oppose the extension of the emergency for the reasons that I have stated. Because even the assurance given by the Honourable Minister for External Affairs that these are substantial changes don’t convince us. I highlighted some of the provisions that still exist and must be done away with as quickly as possible. I hope that the government will take steps to look at the other emergency regulations in force, particularly the one that was promulgated in December 2006 and take steps to repeal those provisions as well.

Therefore Honourable Deputy Chairman of Committees, while the government takes those steps, I urge the government to not act outside the pale of law, not to act outside the strict provision of the law. The rule of law must prevail. And it was only two examples that I gave where large numbers of persons are affected. And that must be remedied forthwith. If we are to say that we are taking definite, concrete steps to return to normality, then these are some of the essential steps that must be taken, and I hope that the government will do that at least in the future.

And I end with my third point repeating that the process of reconciliation and truth-telling must commence with changes of attitude. And when people do start telling their stories it must be received in the spirit that we ask them to tell their stories. Thank you very much.

புதன், ஏப்ரல் 28, 2010

Unchristian and Christian missionaries

The word missionary comes from the Latin meaning to send. For example, the Buddha was Indian, and Indian missionaries were sent to bring Buddhism to Sri Lanka. But now, given almost half a millennium of dominance and proselytization, the word "missionary" is usually associated with Christianity and the West. Missionaries are not in favour. As I write (February 2010), about ten American missionaries have been expelled from Haiti for, allegedly, attempting to abduct children from that earthquake devastated country. In Sri Lanka, there is concern and indignation at the "unlawful" (as distinct from lawful?) conversion of Buddhists to Christianity. Going back in time, there is the role, often unfortunate, played by missionaries during the years of Western imperialism.

It has been claimed that, in return for protection afforded by the imperial state, Christian missionaries emphasised meekness, acceptance, the Biblical "turning of the other cheek", and directed the thoughts of the "natives" to wealth, dignity and freedom in the next world. Alan Bott, in his ‘Our Fathers’ writes that the British East African Company "reaped" (financial, material) profit where Livingstone had "sown" the Gospel. V. G. Kiernan (‘The Lords of Human Kind’) states that missionaries were in close league with European governments, and were advocates of annexation. The priest in Mongo Beti’s novel, ‘The Poor Christ of Bomba’, seeing the ambiguity of his position, decides to return to France: he’ll come back when Africa is free. (Asian Buddhist monks working in the West today encounter no hostility.) Christine Bolt (‘Victorian Attitudes to Race’) observes that the nineteenth-century European missionary believed that Christianity was divinely ordained to conquer and save "savage" peoples. However, the missionary’s sense of spiritual superiority easily turned into racial superiority, and cultural arrogance. Bolt quotes from the ‘Church Missionary Intelligencer’ of 1850: Once a people are defeated in war, Christianity best consolidates the conquest. Kipling wrote the poem, ‘The White Man’s Burden’, to urge the United States to conquer and occupy the Philippines. The Philipinos, like other conquered "natives", were but "Half devil and half child" who had to be dragged – for their benefit – from darkness into the light of Christianity and Western civilization. Even in the twentieth century, during the period of India’s struggle for independence, some British clergymen argued that God Himself had given India to Britain, and to abandon (sic) the land and people would be a betrayal of a sacred trust.

Amartya Sen (among others) has pointed out that identity is multiple. To affix a label – Sinhalese, Tamil, Christian, Moslem – is to isolate and give importance to just one aspect. It simplifies and, therefore, falsifies, a complex reality. The label "missionary" disregards and suppresses what is contrary, even contradictory. The present writer paid tribute to Dr R. L. Hayman and the Rev A. J. Foster in an article on St Thomas’ College, Gurutalawa (‘Sunday Island’, 5 July 2009). These two educationalists were held in affection and esteem not only by Christians but also by Buddhists and Hindus; not only when they were pupils but in later life, as mature adults possessed of greater awareness, knowledge and better judgement. On the lines of "bad news is good news", it is those missionaries who were "racially", socially and spiritually arrogant, and who went along with the imperial project who have tended to remain in memory. Altering Shakespeare’s words, one can say that the evil done by some lives on after them, while the good done by others is buried with their bones. A strong corrective of the negative image of Christian missionaries can be found in Thiru Arumugam’s ‘Nineteenth Century American Medical Missionaries in Jaffna, Ceylon: with special reference to Samuel Fisk Green’ (South Asian Studies Centre, Sydney, 2009).

The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) was formed in 1810. The aim was, in the process of curing the body, to convert the soul to Christianity: those in sickness and pain are grateful for help, and susceptible to influence. The body was healed so that the soul might be saved (Arumugam, p. 31). "Extracts from the Bible were printed on the reverse side of the patient’s (sic) tickets and they had to read it out (or have it read to them) before treatment commenced" (p. 56). However, the missionaries met with little success where conversion was concerned: see, for example, pages 67 & 68. So it is not surprising that (according to statistics available to me), the percentage of Christians at independence was about 9% and now is perhaps down to 7%.

To read a book is to enter into, and inhabit, the world and times it re-presents. Here, in Arumugam’s work, we encounter the human beings behind the label "missionary". Prior to the opening of the Suez Canal (1869), the voyage from America, non-stop, took between four and five months. To send a letter from Ceylon and receive a reply meant a lapse of eight to ten months. Missionaries were expected to serve until they retired or passed away: leaving on missionary work often meant saying goodbye forever to loved family and friends, familiar environment and culture. It demanded conviction and commitment; called for endurance and quiet heroism. Miss Elizabeth Agnew, Principal of Uduvil Girls’ School, served from 1840 until her death forty-three years later. During this period, she never visited America, saying she was too busy to go on holiday. Having taught so many girls, she was known as "the mother of a thousand daughters" (p. 27). Dr Isabella Curr, from Scotland, joined the American Christian Mission, and worked at hospitals in Manipay and Inuvil for nearly forty years (p. 140).

It was not only the missionaries who fell ill and died, but their infants and children: "in less than eighteen months, we been (sic) called to part with three children [...] May our loss be made up by spiritual children" (p. 30). Harriet married Samuel Newell at the age of seventeen, aware of the life, difficulties and dangers that awaited her. Four months after leaving America, the Newells reached Calcutta (June 1812). However, the British East India Company declared them unwanted and ordered them to return to America. The Newells took the earliest ship available, one that was sailing from India to Mauritius. During the voyage, Harriet gave birth but the infant died four days later. Harriet too fell ill, and though treated in Mauritius, passed away, never having set foot in Ceylon, but affirming the value of, and her faith in, religion (p. 5). In the expulsion of the Newells, we have an insight into imperial assumptions and attitudes. Britain looked upon its overseas territory and peoples as belonging rightfully to her: the Americans would be better employed in converting "their" own heathen.

In Jaffna, the missionaries found that widespread poverty and inadequate shelter were major causes of disease and illness (p. 21). They devoted themselves totally to their work. In times of epidemics, such as cholera (p. 32), they "worked among the sick, bathing the sufferers, burying their dead, and doing what they could to relieve distress", disregarding danger to themselves. (Those of a certain age will recall the difference the presence of Western nuns and sisters made to hospital wards in Sri Lanka.)

Among the charges levelled against imperialism, one is that education was deliberately kept rudimentary, sufficient for the natives to help Britain to administer the country. Another is that missionaries were condescending in ‘racial’ and cultural terms. Neither applies to these missionaries. One writes home that there are among the people of Jaffna those of intelligence such that, "if they had equal advantages with the young men in our country, they no doubt would be an honour to any nation" (p. 28). As for deliberately limiting knowledge, their aim was to "teach [...] the sciences usually studied in the Colleges of Europe and America" (p. 42). Electricity was a part of the curriculum in Jaffna "only a decade or so after Michael Faraday discovered how to create current flow, and several decades before Edison invented the incandescent lamp" (ibid). Though economically neglected and poor, Jaffna then had a general hospital that would have done Colombo proud.

What preoccupied "Ceylonese" around the mid-1950s was the so-called language issue, and the cry of "Sinhala only". A hundred years earlier, it was decided that medical education in Jaffna would be conducted only in Tamil, but the motivation for the "Tamilizing [of] western medicine" (p. 96) was not a racist nationalism: it was found that doctors instructed and trained in English left the area (and the notion of altruist service) for better-paid posts in other parts of the Island. Dr Green’s concern was that the Tamils trained by the mission settle in their own respective villages, and be of service to the poor. Most remarkably, Dr Green did not want to see students become "denationalized", giving up the turban for a hat, and vegetarianism for "carnivorism" (p. 93). His wish was to see Christian Tamils - not Europeanised Tamils (ibid).

Dr. Green who had mastered Tamil, translated many Western medical text-books, including the most famous of them, ‘Gray’s Anatomy’. Often, Tamil not having the equivalent medical terms, Dr Green set about coining words. A literal translation, he wrote, is useless (p.80): "It is better to devise one’s own plan, and compile freely from many authors, taking their ideas only [...] select a well planned elementary treatise and use this as a basis [...]; which may prove to be a compilation, translation, and original work combined; interleave it, add, erase, and transpose matter, remodel sentences, phrases and figures so as to adapt the book to the language of the people [...] " Free of cultural arrogance (often, based on ignorance), Dr Green urged that "the medical missionary should investigate the native systems of medicine" (p. 80); associate with, and learn from, native doctors.

I conclude with an entry that has to do with Colombo, rather than Jaffna. Mary Irwin, ostensibly single, arrived in 1897 to take up work as a doctor. It then transpired that, while in America, she had married Mr S. C. K. Rutnam, her tutor in Tamil. The discovery of the marriage created displeasure in the missionary hierarchy, and the Rutnams moved to Colombo where Mrs Rutnam became the first female obstetrician and gynaecologist in the capital (p. 140). She was active in groups such as the Ceylon Women’s Union; campaigned for maternal and child health-care, and wrote school text-books on health and hygiene. She was elected the first woman member of the Colombo Municipal Council and, in 1958, was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay international award for public service: "Jaffna’s loss was Colombo’s gain" (p. 140).

As with members of all religions, there are some who, in the name of their religion, act in ways contrary to the teachings of that religion (hence "unchristian" above) while others live by, and exemplify, the highest and noblest ideals of their faith. 0ne realizes, yet again, that truth, rather than being single and simple, is often multiple and complex.

Charles Ponnuthurai Sarvan

திங்கள், ஏப்ரல் 19, 2010

World Books Day

World Books Day
Directorates of Public Libraries
Puthagam Pesuthu of Bharathi Puthakalayam
jointly present

Special Seminar on Copyrights issue

22nd April 2010; 6 pm | LLA Buildings Hall, Chennai 2

to be presided by
K Arivoli
Director, Public Library Department

Welcome Address:
Sethu. Chokkalingam,
President, BAPASI

Copyrights & the Law
Advocate S Senthilnathan
Advocate S Duraisamy

Copyrights and Publishing Houses
Gandhi Kannadasan

Copyrights and Libraries
N Avudaiyappan

Copyrights and Translations
Era Natarasan

Copyrights and Authors

Vote of Thanks:
K Nagarajan

Puthagam Pesuthu, 421 Anna Salai, Chennai- 600018 phone: 044- 24332424

Please share the invitation with friends

செவ்வாய், மார்ச் 09, 2010

SRI LANKA: Government campaign against Transparency International and moves to arrest J.C. Weliamuna

SRI LANKA: Government campaign against Transparency International and moves to arrest J.C. Weliamuna

March 9, 2010

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

SRI LANKA: Government campaign against Transparency International and moves to arrest J.C. Weliamuna

The Asian Human Rights Commission reliably understands that there is a move to arrest and detain J.C. Weliamuna, the chairperson of Transparency International in Sri Lanka (TISL) on fabricated charges. During the last few weeks there have been several media attempts on the part of the government to make insinuations against the Sri Lankan branch of Transparency International. There were publicised reports about the misuse of funds which TISL has publically claimed as completely fabricated and false. There have also been reports over government media channels about NGOs and INGOs trying to destabilize Sri Lanka and an announcement that the government will carry out an all out campaign against such organisations.

These allegations come in the aftermath of the presidential elections and in the midst of a parliamentary election. In the presidential elections one of the most glaring complaints against the government was its abuse of the state resources for electoral purposes. This is also one of the major grounds for the petition filed by the opposition common candidate against the election results of the last presidential elections. The election monitoring organisations have made strong adverse reports against the government on this score. In the parliamentary elections also, if there is any abuse of government resources similar accusations are likely to arise.

The purpose of the attack on TISL and of the possible arrest its chairperson, J.C. Weliamuna, would be to create adverse impressions on the credibility of the organisations engaged in monitoring elections as well as the findings of these organisations in the last elections.

It is quite possible to make use of national security laws to arrest persons and then engage in heavy propaganda against them while they remain in detention. While TISL may have an impeccable record about their accounts and credibility, these things become relevant only at the final stage of a trial. Meanwhile persons can be kept in detention for long periods and then heavy adverse campaigns can be carried out against them in order to blackmail them for political purposes.

Over a long period the Asian Human Rights Commission has pointed out that Sri Lanka's criminal justice system is in serious crisis and can be manipulated by the authorities to achieve whatever purposes they wish. Even under normal circumstances the fabrication of charges can be achieved easily within Sri Lanka's criminal justice system. In recent times this has also been put to political use and the AHRC has been reporting for quite some time now that the process of arrest, detention and even trial is now being manipulated for political purposes. The cases against J.S. Tissainayagam, Santha Fernando and now the retired general, Sarath Fonseka and many of his associates are glaring examples of the severe abuse of the criminal justice process in order to achieve unscrupulous political purposes.

On the 27th September, 2008 two grenades were thrown at the house of J.C. Weliamuna. One exploded and damaged the building. The other was found inside the property. If it had exploded it could have seriously harmed Mr. Weliamuna and his family. There was a serious outcry locally by the Bar Association and human rights organisations and many international organisations including Transparency International and the International Commission of Jurists. The case was also reported by the International Bar Association. However, there were no serious investigations into the attack and no one was arrested. Recently there was a report by the government when it attempted to create the impression that Mr. Weliamuna threw the grenades to create publicity for himself. These types of counter attacks in order to ridicule the complaints relating to harassment have also become a common feature of government propaganda.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the Sri Lankan government to desist in the harassment of Transparency International and to refrain from abusing the criminal justice process by arresting Mr. J.C. Weliamuna or anyone else on fabricated charges. We also call upon the government as well as all members of parliament to intervene in order to stop the arrest and the abuse of the legal process. We also call upon the Inspector General of Police to desist from allowing the abuse of police powers for political purposes. We call upon the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka to intervene strongly to prevent the political harassment of civil society organisations and human rights activists. We call upon the Secretary General of the United Nations, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and all human rights agencies and international organisations to intervene seriously to protect the rights of citizens who participate peacefully in political life and to protect human rights activists and defenders.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
Posted on 2010-03-09
Back to [AHRC Statements 2010]


Asian Human Rights Commission

செவ்வாய், மார்ச் 02, 2010

Repeal PTA in Sri Lanka!!!

Campaign for Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and end gross violations of rights in Sri Lanka!!

There is no longer any reason for the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Sri Lanka; on the contrary, there are many compelling reasons as to why it should immediately be repealed. It was the existence of the LTTE and its ruthless violence that the government used to justify the promulgation and maintenance of the PTA. Now, by the very admission of the government this threat has ceased to exist.
Even at a time of grave danger the PTA was too draconian and many of the provisions in the act could not have been justified. This has been pointed out by local legal opinion, local human rights groups and governments around the world, as well as international human rights agencies and several United Nations agencies and experts.
After the defeat of the LTTE the government said that elements associated with it could remain, and that some new elements may emerge; yet every country faces this possibility all the time. If this reasoning is used to suspend the operation of a normal legal system then this would need to apply everywhere, forever. Terrorism – even war – is always possible, but if people are willing to abandon their freedoms and their normal legal rights to preempt these possibilities, draconian law will reign indefinitely.
As long as the PTA remains in operation there is reason to suspect that it is being used by the government for political advantage, as an instrument to perpetuate its own power. Complaints of oppression by the opposition and other dissenting voices will have legitimate weight.
The Act has effectively aided the destruction of the normal rule of law within Sri Lanka and undermined the independence of its judiciary; indeed litigants, lawyers and even the judges may have started to forget what a strong, functioning legal system is like. To maintain the PTA is to continue destroying what is left. The disadvantages far outweigh the advantage that the the government spokesperson may claim that it has.
An enduring PTA will continue to place the Criminal Investigation Division and the Terrorism Investigation Division beyond the control of the law, with no checks or balances against its abuse of power. Tales of torture being used, charges being fabricated and deaths occurring in places of detention are heard constantly, yet while the PTA exists there is no way to even investigate such allegations, let alone avoid them.
Sri Lanka’s policing system has collapsed; this is now a fact acknowledged by all. Yet no reform process can be set in motion, and under the protection of the PTA Sri Lanka's police force will continue to degenerate, its people given no option but to live under its oppression, corruption and arbitrary violence.
What this means is that literally hundreds of thousands of people will suffer without any legal recourse, and large numbers will continue to live outside the protection of the law. The entire population will be affected.
It is time for everyone in Sri Lanka and beyond to earnestly request the immediate repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act by the Sri Lankan government. The judiciary must no longer be undermined by those with extraordinary power, the rule of law must be revived and all people must be given its protection.

பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தினை வாபஸ் பெற்று பாரிய அளவில்
நிகழும் உரிமை மீறல்களுக்கு முற்றுப் புள்ளி இடவும்!!

பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தினைத் தொடர்ந்தும் செயற்பாட்டில் வைத்திருப்பதற்கு எந்த ஒரு காரணமும் இல்லை. மாறாக அதனை உடனடியாக வாபஸ் பெற வேண்டும் என்பதற்கு பல மறுக்க முடியாத காரணங்கள் உள்ளன.
நான்கு மாதங்களிற்கு முன்னர் LTTE யினரை தோற்கடித்து விட்டதாக அரசு பிரகடனப்படுத்தியது. பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தை பிரகடனப்படுத்தி அதனை நடைமுறையில் வைத்திருந்ததை, LTTE யினர் நிலை கொண்டிருந்து ஈவு இரக்கமற்ற வன்முறையில் ஈடுபட்டதைக் காரணம் காட்டி அரசு நியாயப்படுத்தியது. தற்சமயம் அரசின் கூற்றிற்கமையவே அவ்வகையான வன்முறைக்கான அச்சுறுத்தல் ஓய்ந்து விட்டது. ஆகவே தொடர்ந்தும் பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தினை நடைமுறையில் வைத்திருப்பதை நியாயப்படுத்த எக்காரணமும் இல்லை.

LTTE யினர் ஏற்படுத்திய பாரிய அச்சுறுத்தலின் பின்னணியில் கூட, பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தின் ஏற்பாடுகள் கொடூரமானவை எனக் கருதப்பட்டது. குறிப்பிட்ட வகையிலான அச்சுறுத்தல்கள் இருந்த போதிலும் கூட இச்சட்டத்தின் விதப்புரைகள் நியாயப்படுத்தக் கூடியதாக இருந்ததில்லை. இது இவ்வகையிலானது என்பதை உள்ளூர் சட்ட வல்லுனர்களின் கருத்தும், உள்ளூர் மனித உரிமைகள் ஆர்வலர்களின் குழுக்களும், உலகின் பல்வேறு அரசுகளும், பல ஐக்கிய நாடுகள் ஸ்தாபனத்தின் முகவர் அமைப்புக்களும், நிபுணர்களும், மற்றும் பல்வேறு சர்வதேச மனித உரிமைகள் அமைப்புக்களும் சுட்டிக்காட்டியுள்ளன. ஆகவே இச்சட்டத்தை நியாயப்படுத்துவதற்கான காரணம் அற்றுப் போயுள்ளமையால் இக்கொடூரச் சட்டத்தை தொடர்ந்தும் நடைமுறையில் வைத்திருக்க எந்தவொரு அடிப்படையுமில்லை.
LTTE யுடன் தொடர்புள்ள பலரும் அவ்வகையிலான சில புதிய அமைப்புக்களை உருவாக்கலாம் எனக் காரணம் காட்டி குறித்த சட்டத்தை தொடர்ந்து நடைமுறையில் வைத்திருப்பதை நியாயப்படுத்துகின்றார்கள். இவ்வகையான நிலைமை ஏற்படக்கூடிய வாய்ப்புக்கள் எல்லா நாடுகளும் எதிர்கொள்ள வேண்டிய ஒன்றாகும். இக்காரணத்தின் அடிப்படையில் சாதாரண சட்ட ஒழுங்கு முறைக்கு அமைய செயற்படுவதை இடை நிறுத்த இதனைக் காரணமாகக் கொள்வதெனில் எல்லா நாடுகளும் எல்லாச் சமயங்களிலும் இவ்வகையான சட்டங்களை நடைமுறைப்படுத்தும் தேவையேற்படும். பயங்கரவாத அமைப்புக்கள் மாத்திரமன்று உலக யுத்தங்கள் கூட ஏற்பட வாய்ப்பு உள்ளது. இவ்வகையிலான ஒரு வாய்ப்பு உள்ளது என்று கூறி மக்கள் தங்கள் சுதந்திரங்களை இழந்து சாதாரண சட்ட ஒழுங்குகளிற்கமைய செயற்படுவதையும் இழக்க நேரிடுமாயின் குறித்த வகையிலான கொடூர சட்டங்களில் இருந்து அவர்களை பாதுகாக்க முடியாது போகும்.
பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டம் தொடாந்து நடைமுறையில் இருக்குமேயானால் அதில் இருந்து அரசியல் அனுகூலங்களைத் தாம் பெறுவதற்காகவே பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தை அரசு நடைமுறையில் வைத்திருக்கின்றது என்று குற்றம் சுமத்தவும், நியாயப்படுத்தக்கூடிய ஐயம் ஏற்படவும் இடமளிக்கின்றது. தனது அதிகாரத்தை செலுத்த பயங்காரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தை அரசு ஒரு கருவியாக பயன்படுத்துகின்றது என அனுமானிக்க இடமளிக்கின்றது.

எதிர்கட்சியில் உள்ளவர்களும் அரசின் கருத்துக்கு மாற்றுக் கருத்துக்களைக் கொண்டவர்களும் ஆளும் கட்சி தன் அதிகாரத்தைத் தக்கவைப்பதற்கு, மாற்றுக் கருத்துக்களை அடக்கிவைக்கும் பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தைக் கருவியாகப் பயன்படுத்துகின்றது என்று கூறுவது உண்மையாகின்றது.
பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தை நடைமுறைப்படுத்தியதன் விளைவாக நாட்டினுள் வழமையான சட்டத்தின் ஆதிக்கத்திற்கு அமைவான செயற்பாடுகளை அழிக்கவும் நீதித்துறையின் சுயாதீனத் தன்மைக்கு பங்கம் ஏற்படுத்தவும் இடமளித்தது. அதன் விளைவாக வழமையான சட்டத்தின் ஆதிக்கத்திற்கு அமைவான ஒழுங்கு முறைகள் எவ்வகையிலானது என்பதனை வழக்காளிகளும், சட்டத்தரணிகளும், நீதிபதிகளும் கூட மறக்க ஆரம்பித்து இருப்பார்கள். பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டம் எல்லாப் பகுதிகளிலும் நடைமுறைப்படுத்தப்பட்டுள்ளன. அதனால் சட்டத்தின் ஆதிக்கமும், நீதித்துறையின் சுயாதீனத் தன்மையும் பாரிய அளவில் பாதிப்புற்றுள்ளன. தொடர்ந்தும் பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தினை நடைமுறையில் வைத்திருப்பது என்பது அதன் பாதகமான விளைவுகளை தொடரவிடுவதற்கு ஒத்ததாகும். ஆகவே அரசின் பேச்சாளர் கூறும் சிறு அனுகூலங்களைக்காட்டிலும் பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தை தொடர்ந்தும் அமுல்படுத்துவதனால் ஏற்படும் பிரதிகூலங்களும், பாரிய பாதகமான விளைவுகளும் அதிகமானவை.
தொடர்ந்தும் பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தை நடைமுறையில் வைத்திருப்பது குற்றவியல் புலனாய்வுப் பிரிவும், பயங்கரவாத புலனாய்வுப் பிரிவும் சட்டத்தின் கட்டுப்பாட்டுக்கு அப்பாற்பட்ட அமைப்புக்களாகிவிடும். இவ்வமைப்புக்களுக்கு பெருமளவு அதிகாரங்களை பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டங்கள் அளித்துள்ளமையால் அவைகள் தமக்குள்ள அதிகாரங்களை துஸ்பிரயோகம் செய்வதைக் கட்டுப்படுத்த செயல்வலுவுள்ள எந்த வழியுமே இல்லை. அவர்களால் கைது செய்யப்பட்டு தடுத்து வைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளவர்கள் சித்திரவதை செய்யப்படுவதாகவும், வேண்டுமென்றே அவர்கள் மரணிக்கச் செய்யப்படுவதாகவும் அடிக்கடி கேள்விப்படும் விடயமாகும். எனவே பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டம் நடைமுறையில் இருக்கும் வரை இவ்வகையான நிகழ்வுகளைத் தவிர்த்துக் கொள்ள வழி இல்லாதுபோய்விடுவது மாத்திரமன்றி இவை தொடர்பான புகார்களைக் கூட புலனாய்வு செய்ய முடியாத நிலை உள்ளது.
இலங்கையில் பொலிஸ் ஒழுங்கு முறைகள் செயலற்றுப் போயுள்ளன என்பது யாவரும் ஏற்றுக் கொள்ளும் ஒரு விடயமாகும். இவ்வமைப்பை புனரமைப்புச் செய்வதற்கு பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டம் நடைமுறையில் உள்ள காலம் வரை நடைமுறைப்படுத்த முடியாத ஒரு விடயமாகும். அப்படியெனின் பாரதூரமான அளவிற்கு செயலற்றுப் போயிருக்கும் பொலிஸ் ஒழுங்கு முறை தொடர்ந்தும் வீழ்ச்சியடைந்து கொண்டேபோகும். அதன் விளைவாக மக்கள் அடக்கு முறைக்குட்பட்டும் ஊழல் மோசடிகள் மத்தியில் நியாயப்படுத்த முடியாத செயல்கள் மத்தியிலும் வாழ நேரிடும்.
இவை எல்லாவற்றின் விளைவு ஆயிரக்கணக்கானோர் பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தின் ஏற்பாடுகளினால் பாதிப்புற்ற நிலையில், அதற்கு சட்டத்தினால் எந்த நிவாரணமும் பெற முடியாத நிலை ஏற்படும். அதன் பொருள் யாதெனில் பெருமளவிலான மக்கள் சட்டத்தின் பாதுகாப்பு அற்ற நிலையில் வாழ நேரும் என்பதே. பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தினால் ஏற்படும் தாக்கம் இந்நாட்டு மக்கள் எல்லோரது வாழ்விற்கும் மேற்கூறப்பட்ட பாதகங்களை ஏற்படுத்தும்.
ஆகவே இலங்கை வாழ் மக்கள் யாவரும் அதன் வெளியில் வாழும் இலங்கையரோ அல்லது ஏனையோரோ பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தை உடனடியாக இரத்துச் செய்ய வேண்டும் என்று அரசாங்கத்திடம் அழுத்தமான வேண்டுகோள் விட வேண்டும். மேலும் பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தின் கீழ் உள்ள அதி விசேட அதிகாரங்களைப் பயன்படுத்துவதன் மூலம் நீதித்துறையினை வலுவிழக்கச் செய்து சாதாரண சட்ட ஏற்பாடுகளைப் பயன்படுத்தி நீதித்துறையினர் மக்களுக்கு பாதுகாப்பு அளிக்கக்கூடிய வழி வகைகளை செய்து உதவுவதற்கு இச்சட்டம் முட்டுக்கட்டையாகவுள்ளது.

உத்தேசக் கடிதம்

நெடுநாட்களாக இலங்கை மக்கள் அனுபவித்து வரும் பாரியளவிலான துன்பங்களை மிகுந்த கவலையுடன் நான் அவதானித்து வந்துள்ளேன். LTTE யினரை தோற்கடித்துவிட்டதாக அரசு பிரகடனப்படுத்தியதும் இந்நாட்டின் எல்லா மக்களுக்கும் சமாதானம் ஏற்படும் என்றும், அவர்களுக்கு சட்டத்தின் பாதுகாப்புக் கிடைக்கும் என்றும் எதிர்பார்த்தேன். தொடர்ந்தும் பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தை நடைமுறையில் வைத்திருப்பதன் மூலம் இவ் எதிர்பார்ப்பில் ஏமாற்றம் அடைந்தேன். மக்களின் உரிமைகள் மறுத்து குறித்த கொடூர பயங்கரவாத தடுப்புச் சட்டத்தின் ஏற்பாடுகளை எவ்வகையிலும் ஏற்றுக் கொள்ள முடியாத முறையில் நடைமுறைப்படுத்தி மக்களைத் தொடர்ந்தும் துன்பத்திற்கு உள்ளாக்குவது எந்த வகையிலும் நியாயப்படுத்த முடியாத ஒரு விடயமாகும். மேலும் சட்டத்தின் ஆதிக்கத்தை நியாயப்படுத்தக் கூடியவகையில் நடைமுறைப்படுத்துவதற்கான கோட்பாடுகளிற்கும் முரணானவையாகும். இவ்வகையிலான கொடூரச் சட்டத்தின் கீழ் வாழ்வது என்பது நரக வாழ்க்கைக்கு ஒத்ததாகும். இச்சட்டங்களினால் விசேடமாக பாதிப்புற்றோர் உளர். அவர்கள் எந்த வகையிலான மனிதாபிமான முறையிலான பராமரிப்பினையோ சட்டப் பாதுகாப்பையோ பெற முடியாத நிலையில் உள்ளனர்.
ஆகவே இந்நாட்டு மக்கள் அனுபவிக்கும் பாரிய துன்பத்தில் இருந்து உடனடியாக அவர்களை மீட்டு எடுத்து நாட்டின் சாதாரண சட்டத்தின் செயற்பாட்டை மீள ஏற்படுத்தி சட்டத்தின் பாதுகாப்பை அவர்களுக்கு அளிக்கக் கூடிய வகையில் நீதித்துறைக்கு அதிகாரத்தை வழங்கி ஒரு ஜனநாயகத்தின் கீழ் அத்துறையினரிடம் இருந்து எதிர்பார்க்கும் பொறுப்பை நிறைவேற்ற இடமளிக்குமாறு ஸ்ரீலங்கா அரசிடம் வேண்டுகின்றேன்.

The Petition

Dear Mr. President Rajapakse,

I have long been watching the tremendous suffering of the people in Sri Lanka with great anxiety.

When the government declared the defeat of the LTTE, I hoped that those within Sri Lanka's border would regain the protection of the law, and a sense of peace. Yet this hope has been betrayed by the continued operation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. There is no longer justification for the PTA, and all it currently achieves is the large-scale deprivation of civilians' rights and the arbitrary use of draconian laws. These leave huge numbers of Sri Lankans without the right to demand humane treatment or legal protection - they lack logic or reason, they are against all principles of equality before the law and for many, they have made Sri Lanka a living hell.

I therefore urge the Sri Lankan government to immediately remove this cause of extreme suffering by restoring the rule of law and leaving the judiciary to its work. The judiciary must no longer be undermined by those with arbitrary, extraordinary power, the rule of law must be revived and all people must be given its protection, as is expected within a democracy.

Yours sincerely,


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