By Nimalka Fernando –
Chennai is burning. Tamil Nadu is in uproar. As I sit in my room in Geneva glancing through the resolution on Sri Lanka the papers scream that Karunanidhi’s DMK has pulled out from the Indian Congress led UPA government. With 18 DMK members including 5 Ministers out of the UPA government this will leave the Congress government in the “conditional” hands of Mayawati’s BSP and the Samajawadi Party. Unlike the DMK, these two parties are not alliance partners with ministerial portfolios and more importantly, they are political opponents in Uttar Pradesh. Without the DMK the Congress government now walks on a political “tight rope”.
For over 6 years human rights organizations and activists with Sri Lankan family members have been working morning and night trying to cope with the grief of losing our loved one’s let alone seeking justice for them. Looking for justice is not new to some of us. Since 1989 when thousands disappeared from all over the island my country was referred to as the “tear drop” of the Indian Ocean. Thousands of family members came before the Disappearance Commission and testified. They provided evidence which flowed like a river of tears before the commission. Their collective plea was to know where their loved one’s were for the sake of closure . They wanted to know whether their family members were alive or whether something tragic had happened. They wanted proof so that they could either perform religious rituals to celebrate or mourn their family member. They wanted to know the “truth”. As evidence mounted many government officials including armed forces personnel left the country, one by one.. The government also assisted them to flee. Only a few cases were filed against perpetrators. Those who represented the Sri Lankan Attorney General’s department came before international forums and declared pompously that we have successfully prosecuted the perpetrators. How many people did these perpetrators enforcedly disappear? As reported in the Commission headed by Ms Manouri Muttetuwegama and Mr Devanesan Nesiah; two dedicated eminent persons from the professional community in our country over 35,000 confirmed disappearances. From 35,000 only 2 cases have been successfully filed and seen through the administrative process of justice in Sri Lanka.It brings me great shame and disappointment that representatives of the Attorney General’s department come and proudly hail the wonders of the AG department. Would you be able to go in front of family members still waiting for justice for their disappeared loved one’s and humanely proclaim your own perceived “success story”.
From time to time the leaders of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party used these family members to garner their votes. They diverted families from seeking justice by giving them superficial solutions.
No political leader now in power in the UPFA led Sri Lankan government using the vote bank of the 1989 carnage ever pledged to revive the old files. Instead they used the “Kappan” or payoff culture. They gave envelopes and certificates to the families for sacrificing their loved ones to them to come to power. This travesty of justice has taken root in Sri Lanka and we are now following the same foot path towards future. You should ask yourself the question, why do the same people who stood with us on disappearances in the 1980’s now stand against us? I will help you answer this question.
It is with a weeping heart I meet Dr Manoharan in Geneva as he visits the HRC from time to time seeking justice. He is a man who served our society. A father who was educating his child to become a professional. He was no different from you. Today he come before us with tears and a trembling voice telling us to please give me justice. How did the human rights envoy of the President respond to him? He told us how the LTTE killed people brutally. How bombs exploded. What was he implying? That Dr Manoharan is a LTTE supporter? That the 5 boys playing in the beach road were LTTE cadres? Surely Mr Minister you know well that you never answered this father’s question straightforwardly. This so called non – summary proceeding has proceeded for the last two years. It is moves at a snail’s pace. But time is of the essence because as time passes for those with no answer, their grief will grow and their tears will fill the ocean around us and swallow Sri Lanka into its own Ocean of tears. We need to move faster and you need to know that you are only fooling yourself.
This brings me back to Chennai. The DMK has become active. What were they doing when hundreds and thousands of innocent people were locked inside the Mullivaikal? What made Mr Karunanidhi pull out now when he could not come out when thousands of Tamil people were suffering in Sri Lanka? You should have left then Karunanidhi but instead
you chose to speak about the crores of rupees being sent to assist the internally displaced. You own daughter Kanomozi came with a delegation to Sri Lanka and disappeared into Sri Lanka’s “little England” or Nuwara Eliya located in Central Sri Lanka at state expense. You never sighted the Northern or Eastern Provinces.. Why did you not look at the root of the problem that you see in Chennai everyday where the tears of Tamil refugees who fled persecution and violence washed your streets? India has always sheltered Tamils, when Mullivaikal was happening why did Mr Karunanidhi not send a boat or ship? At least the late Hon Rajiv Gandhi sent Parippu.
Can we truly redress the tragedy of Mullivaikal with such antics? Just because you pull out of the government of India justice will not come to thousands who are seeking it. For years the human rights defenders of Sri Lanka worked hard with the international community including INGOs to arrive at this stage. Mr Karunanidhi has forgotten 2009 when he could not get India to vote against Sri Lanka. If that resolution was passed we would have seen different politics in South Asia and in Sri Lanka. Raviraj and Lasantha would not have died. Many more would have been saved. He is responsible for what happened then and this is my very honest analysis. The tragedy of the No fire zone hangs on his head squarely. His regime in Tamil Nadu let the Tamil people down. The fires that were lit in Mullivaikal cannot dowsed by setting Chennai on fire. This will not be erased from history.
Mullivaikal can only see justice if Delhi rises up and if Colombo complies. The true tale of two cities lies in Colombo and Delhi.