Colombo Telegraph

Aghast At CBK’s Position On War Crimes

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole –

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (CBK) has stated that there is no need for a war crimes probe and that the need is for a new constitution. I have respected Madam CBK over the years and supported her in many ways. However, in this she is wrong; absolutely wrong!

CBK heads the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR). There can be neither unity nor reconciliation when there is no justice for those civilians who were butchered by both sides during the war for the simple reason of their being Tamil or refusing to remain as a human shield.

I have travelled much in the North East and there is really no doubt that massacres occurred. It was only this week that I visited a home run by the Sisters of Charity and heard of how the soldiers dumped 500 wounded persons on them and there had been wanton shelling from the army camp. I have had my secretary telling me how she was with her infant grandchild and gone to a place announced by the army to collect infant food, only to be shelled by the army. A driver spoke of bombs all round in a declared safe zone, and he could see little because it was a constant series of flashes. I can go on ad nauseam. Tamils know!

The Sinhalese people are in collective, selective amnesia denying that all this happened, while a few Sinhalese friends privately admit that these things really happened. Anyone who says there is no need for a truly independent, demonstrably fair war crimes probe is essentially saying that those who deliberately murdered Tamils have a free pass. I do not think that CBK has thought through her new position.

CBK argues that the need is for a new constitution not a war crimes probe. We really need both. We have the Thirteen Amendment. Of what good is it when it is not implemented fully? In a political situation where the state cheats and the Supreme Court and Presidential Commissions of Inquiry collaborate, anyone guilty of war crimes will root for a piece of paper in the form of a constitution that is never obeyed. It was only last week that I was in court in the North where the Police prosecutor was making a long statement against me in Sinhalese, despite the constitution/law requiring Tamil to be the language of the courts in the North and a Supreme Court judgement to that effect!

Madam Kumaratunga: please do not waver from the correct positions you have taken in the past. Stay the course you boldly took in 2000 and in rooting for change in 2015. Every crime needs to be punished as a deterrent. No probe means a free hunting season on Tamils. Your government cosponsored a resolution calling for foreign judges. Why the change now? If you persist in this, you will be giving proof to the claim of the separatists that the Sinhalese are always lying and that we Tamils must go our own way. Sensible people do not want that.

We want justice, not more words, empty promises and constitutions that are never taken seriously please. We want the rule of law, to return us to which this government was elected. Please do not tell us it is OK to kill Tamils and that the rule of law will be waived to let the killers escape.

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