16 May, 2022

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Disappearances Day In Jaffna: Police & Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam Disrupt Christian Service

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances – 30 Jan. 2022

Sri Lanka is close to breaking the record on the number of missing persons. In the official UN report of 2009, of the 82 countries where the cases of missing persons were identified, the largest number (more than 1000) transmitted were: Iraq (16,544), Sri Lanka (12,226), Argentina (3,449), Guatemala (3,155), Peru (3,009), Algeria (2,939), El Salvador (2,661) and Colombia (1,235).

However, after the Report of the UN Secretary-General’s “Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka” dated 31 March 2011, Sri Lanka is now reckoned as having the highest number of disappearances. Says Amnesty International, “Sri Lanka has one of the world’s highest number of disappearances, with between 60,000 and 100,000 people vanishing since the late 1980s. The mass disappearance of those who surrendered at the end of the country’s armed conflict is a clear indication of the institutionalization of the practice, with the state concealing the fate and whereabouts of the missing.”

The loss of family members under the might of Sri Lankan forces is a soul wrenching event. Others might forget but not immediate family. Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, MP, the leader of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress which is a member of the Tamil National People’s Front, “has latched on to this and is exploiting it for political benefit. The TNA is a responsible party and is seeking the protection of the India-brokered 13th amendment to avert the disastrous consequences of living under the Sri Lankan state,” says an articulate Tamil woman from Trincomalee where a colonial newspaper report from the late nineteenth century reported that there were only a handful of Sinhalese. But today Trincomalee is nearly losing its Tamil character because of Sinhalese state-aided colonization.

Sri Lanka’s 13th Amendment to the constitution, once implemented fully, will give police and land powers to the provinces. It will help stop the deliberate demographic altering of the northern and eastern provinces, asserts an active Tamil politician.

This is why Tamil parties are waking up to the importance of the 13th amendment that they failed to grasp until now. As D.B.S. Jeyaraj reported in an article dated 13 Jan. 2022: “In a significant political move, seven political parties mainly representing the Sri Lankan Tamils of the Northern and Eastern provinces have written a joint letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his help to fully implement the provisions of the 13th amendment to the Constitution.” These seven parties looking to India’s kind guidance to the Sri Lankan government in fully implementing what was passed by Sri Lanka’s own Parliament in enacting the 13th amendment are the TNA, ITAK, TELO, PLOTE, EPRLF, TMP and TNP.

I say that it is dangerous for Tamils to wait for all that we want. Jaffna too is being demographically altered. We must get anything we aspire to as a people one by one before even the Northern province is demographically unrecognizable like Trincomalee. This is why the TNA has prioritized the 13th amendment which already is law. It is the easiest to ask for and get.

Clearly asking for the 13th amendment does not mean that these 7 political parties have abandoned the disappeared. However, staking the high moral ground over the disappearances issue, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, is really opposing the 13th amendment. As Sinhalese nationalists oppose the 13th amendment recognizing that it would stop their plans for the North-east, Gajendrakumar’s politics reminds one of what J.L Fernando describes in his book, Three Prime Ministers of Ceylon (MD Gunasena, 1963, p. 27), “The Damila [Ponnambalam] bowed low before the Sinhala Lion, DS Senanayake, and was made a Minister.”

Rev. Fr. Daniel Jeyaruban

The Rev. Daniel Jeyaruban of St. John’s College, freshly back from the US with an M.Div. degree, was the celebrant of the Eucharistic Service that commenced at 7.30 am today at St. James’. As he started preaching and the parishioners eagerly awaited this highly qualified priest to speak, around 8 am, the loudspeakers started. No one could hear him.

Some Wardens and Elders of the church went out to stop the noise. Only the technical people were present playing a recording. They stopped for barely 5 minutes and then resumed. However, even funeral processions going to the Chemmany Crematorium stop their drums in respect when passing the church whether a service was on or not.

But here was a political party showing scant respect for Christians while the service was on. The Wardens and Elders could not prevail on Ponnambalam’s agents to stop the noise even though the meeting would not start for another 2-3 hours. What was blaring was pre-recorded nationalist rant, repeated on and on again making a misery of those in the neighbourhood.

An attempt was made to contact Jaffna police. Their website listed the number 021-321-1258. That phone at the police force advertising itself everywhere as people friendly, was disconnected.

After the service that concluded at 9:15 am or so was Sunday school that was rendered equally ineffective by the noise. A trip to the police station had to be made by a church member to complain. After further delay in writing a complaint, a police jeep was sent to Muththirai Chanthai. By then Sunday school was over and the meeting had begun.

Loudspeakers continued their blaring. With overseas funding several busloads of people had been brought in – 1500 estimated a journalist for Kalaikathir. Well before the meeting from 8.00 am onwards, loudspeakers condemned the 13th amendment as serving Indian interests. A lot of India-bashing followed. “If there is another massacre only India can come to our aid. These fellows are offending our friends,” said a deeply upset female engineer listening to them.

M.A. Sumanthiran, MP, PC, was targeted as a traitor which word raised the spectre of the old LTTE days. This focus on Sumanthiran, said an observer, showed that the purpose of the meeting was not the disappeared but possible future elections. There were numerous calls for chasing off political groups asking for the 13th amendment. Other Tamil parties were condemned for holding up the lion flag that SJV Chelvanayakam rejected. It reminded a listener of the LTTE days again.

TV stations of repute ignored the event in their nightly news. How many newspapers will cover this tomorrow is yet to be seen.

Explaining this lack of interest, a disgusted official of St. James’ Church Nallur said, “Pure outpouring of bile by the grandson of G.G. Ponnambalam who sold out estate Tamils for a ministerial post.”

In the event, it came to be known that a permit had indeed been approved at the level of an ASP to blare with loudspeakers on a Sunday morning in front of a church. An embarrassed constable explained, “Given the nature of the event, we would have been blamed if we had denied the permit.”

But is St. James’ the only location for this meeting extoling Prabhakaran and his leadership and condemning the only political group among Tamils that still has an international and liberal outlook? Are there no other locations in Jaffna for handling the small crowd that came? The police failed in their duty by approving the permit on a Sunday during worship hours and by being uncontactable in an emergency.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    3

    ” “If there is another massacre only India can come to our aid. These fellows are offending our friends,” said a deeply upset female engineer listening to them.”
    What she meant was only India can train, finance and equip another Prabakaran.

    Soma

  • 2
    9

    If the police refused the permit the same SOB would have blamed the same police the same way!

    Soma

    • 7
      0

      soman

      “If the police refused the permit the same SOB would have blamed the same police the same way!”

      You know why the police in Jaffna has had such reputation wherever they went they usually created trouble, opportunity shoot and kill.

      Do you think people should allow police to intervene where their service was not required?
      In 1973 police shot and killed a People’s bank employee at Nallur Temple festival, in 1974 January police created trouble at an international Tamil research seminar conference and killed 11 or 12 people (SJ will deny this because Sirimao was the prime minister at the time who could do no wrong), the Jaffna Library was burnt down (31 May 1981 – 2 Jun 1981) by Cyril Mathew and Dutta Gamani who led bunch of thugs from Kurunegala and local Sinhala only policemen.

      As recently as in December 2021 Sky reported “A policeman has killed four fellow officers and injured three others in a shooting at a police station in Sri Lanka.” – https://news.sky.com/story/sri-lanka-policeman-shoots-dead-four-fellow-officers-and-injures-three-others-in-thirukkovil-12503651.

      When do you intent to grow up?

    • 2
      0

      Hello racist scumbag Somoooooo, it appears you become very active with your comments anytime there is an article that has a nexus to Tamils. What a racist loser. Wow, how many comments did you post here?

      • 0
        2

        Tamil from Canadian north
        I am busy promoting a separate Homeland for Tamils.
        I am the only Sinhala Ealamist.

        Soma

        • 1
          0

          Somanooooooo you don’t have to promote anything. Just take a chill pill and drink your Panadura Kasippu, maybe try that VSOA.

          • 0
            1

            Tamil fron Canadian North
            Have you bought your apartment in Wellawatta?
            Do it before prices sky rocket.
            A Tamil friend of mine has sold his ancestral property in Jaffna and bought an apartment in Dehiwala.

            Soma

  • 13
    1

    Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam is becoming a real ‘pain-in-the-ass’ for the Lankan Tamils. He is asking for too much and wants everything in one shot without working for things gradually. There is another chap also named Gajendran (Selvarasa) who is aiding and abetting him. Both of them remind me of a ‘trumpet and trombone duo’.

    • 4
      10

      CM
      Is GP the only pain?
      Each one of them is, including the few who seek to decide who can step on “Tamil soil”.

  • 7
    2

    I don’t blame Gajendrakumar or Gajendran for their politics. As long as the other political parties such as Federal party, TELO,PLOTE,EPRLF, Wigneswaran party, EPDP all play politics with Tamil people. Why cannot they come under one roof with one policy? Here power is the main policy, not the Tamil people’s rights that is self determination of North East Tamil speaking people. Why cannot they work for this policy?

    • 1
      8

      Ajith
      ‘Tamil people’s rights that is self determination of North East Tamil speaking people. “
      Please try to be more specific next time.
      It is,:
      Self determination for Hindu/Christian community in Jaffna.

      Soma

      • 2
        11

        Ajith
        You are abondoning +50 of Tamils who are outside North and East.
        TNA never told us so.
        They are welcome in Sinhala majority provinces only so long as Tamils in North and East are willing to live in one country.
        Otherwise Sinhalese, regretfully, will have to say adieu to them

        Soma

        • 5
          0

          Soma,
          The population distribution by ethnicity has changed a lot after Sri Lanka or Ceylon was united by British due to many factors. Have you got any statistics to proof that more than 50% Tamils lived outside North East? do you know why Tamil people have been moved from South to North East in 1958 and 1983? Do you know why Tamil moved to India and other western world after 1983? Tamils are also willing to accept Sinhalese who are willing to live in the North East under Tamil military? If the Tamils who are willing to live in the South among Sinhalese or Sinhala military that is fine but the fact is that Sinhalese are not majority in the North East Provinces and they need to decide their own fate about the security and economy. That is called Self determination. The people of North East do not want Sinhalese military where they are majority and they don’t racist Sinhala politicians to decide on their security and economy. Why cannot have a referendum in the North East to find out the truth?

          • 2
            5

            I have always supported the idea of a referendum and a separate Homeland for Tamils, I mean for all Tamils scattered across the island.
            What I am opposed is the HOLIDAY RESORT MODEL OF TAMIL EALAM.
            .
            Mr Ajith, for various reasons as you yourself describe the demography has changed.
            We live today , seeking solutions for problems today, not yesterday.
            Unless at least 90% of Tamil speaking people express their desire to live in a separate Homeland no solution can be found. ( A ‘solution’ that benefits at least 90% of Tamil speaking people.)
            .
            When you Tamils express your desire to live in Sinhala majority provinces you are contrading yourself in a shameless hypocritical way. The very rationale for a Ealam crumbles.
            Your excuse that there are military camps in the North and East is childish. In an agreement of relocation of Tamils in the South as well as Sinhalese in the North and military camps can be removed. That is obvious.
            .
            You must try to get rid of this notion that Sinhala Buddhist society is superior to a Tamil only Ealam.
            .
            Let your brothers and. sisters in Sinhala majority provinces
            too enjoy the benefits of self determination.

            Soma

            • 4
              0

              soman

              “We live today , seeking solutions for problems today, not yesterday.”

              Today’s problems were created yesterday.
              The problems you create now will be passed on to tomorrow along with yesterday’s problem. This has been going on for the past 75 years. Sinhala/Buddhists are capable of creating new problem without attempting to solve previously accumulated ones.

              At the last count there seems to be 6.9 million problems. How do you propose to deal with all 6.9 million of them?

              You need to grow up, which alone is a major problem.

      • 4
        0

        soman

        “‘Tamil people’s rights that is self determination of North East Tamil speaking people. Please try to be more specific next time.”

        I will simplify what people including Tamil and Sinhala speaking people want.

        They don’t want to be told by politicians, Shavendra/Kamala, saffronista, funtionaries, …….. when to go to toilet, where to go to toilet, how many times a day, how much can each person discharge at a time, comply with specific colour, …… and they don’t want their toilets be frequently grabbed by greedy toilet grabbers or covert them into living quarters for strangers by Anuradha Yahampath or Vihares by Saffronista’s.

        This the umpteenth time I have tried my best to simplify the problem.

        Hope you don’t grab my toilet for archaeological reasons or for the purpose of building Vihares.

    • 3
      9

      “Why cannot they come under one roof with one policy? “
      You know what I know, but will not spell it out.
      BTW
      Tamil people is not the same as Tamil speaking people.
      Until the Tamil nationalists can accept the Muslims and Hill Country Tamils as distinct nationalities and base their call for self determination on that (the way a certain left party in the country has been doing for 30 years) they will unite nobody with them and their greed will not let them achieve anything.

      • 3
        2

        “Why cannot they come under one roof with one policy? “ “
        Federal party, TELO,PLOTE,EPRLF, Wigneswaran party, EPDP all play politics with Tamil people
        SJ,
        I was talking about Tamil political parties only, not about Muslim political parties or Up country Tamils political parties. It is up to the Muslim political parties in the North East to decide whether they are Tamils or Sinhalese or Muslims. I don’t think that Tamil political parties are against to the self determination of Muslims in their majority areas or self determination of Up Country Tamils in their majority area. My point is I am sure it is possible and it a necessity to Tamil speaking people including Muslims to unite to decide their fate in the long run with necessary check and balances.

        • 0
          2

          Ajith
          How many areas with self determination?
          Good . The way to go.

          Soma

        • 0
          1

          Ajith
          “My point is I am sure it is possible and it a necessity to Tamil speaking people including Muslims to unite to decide their fate in the long run with necessary check and balances.
          Haven’t I always promoted unity among all Tamil speaking people as a prerequisite for winning a separate Homeland?

          Soma

          • 2
            0

            Soma,
            I am only talking of North East Provinces, not about others. You are pretending to be good for Tamils but with full of venom in your head, very dangerous.

            • 1
              1

              Ajith

              You are not even talking of Eastern province.
              You are talking about Hindu/Christian community in Jaffna.
              I am in the business of constantly reminding everyone that a ‘political solution’ should benefit at least 90% of Tamil speaking people scattered across the island and I am agreeable to any solution that satisfies this 90% criterion.

              Soma

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