By Jehan Perera –
International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3) is an international observance promoted by the United Nations since 1992. The observance of the day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It is meant to have as much significance as other better known days, such as International Human Rights Day or International Women’s Day. It was on Disabilities Day that the National Peace Council held the inaugural meeting of its inter-religious committee in Kilinochchi, the former capital of the LTTE, which saw heavy fighting seven years ago. The event itself was held in the Cooperative Hall which, according to an inscription on the wall, had been opened by the Hon Namal Rajapaksa during the period of the last government.
The large hall in which social and educational events take place is part of the massive infrastructure development that the former government engaged in the North and East in the belief that it would win the hearts and minds of the people. The former government’s political strategy with regard to the people living in the former war zones of the North and East was that economic development would suffice, and it was not necessary to either ascertain the truth about the past or to address the political issues that had given rise to the war. But this belief was shown to be incorrect as the Tamil voters in the North and East voted repeatedly against the government that provided them with economic infrastructure but without attending to their individual basic needs or to their collective need for political rights.
A large and well attended event to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities took place on the ground floor of the two storey Cooperative Hall. Those who attended were family members of the disabled persons. Some were blind, some were in wheelchairs while many walked relatively normally but with limbs that were missing. The event that I had come to participate in was upstairs. The level of participation was less than we had expected. During the discussions that followed it became clearer why this was so. We were chided for having organized our event on International Disabilities Day. This day has significance in Kilinochchi and other Wanni districts where some of the fiercest fighting of the war took place. One participant advised us that this was a day that must be given as much importance as International Human Rights Day or International Peace Day, and asked us whether we held a regular event on such a day instead of celebrating it.
However, our shortcoming enabled a discussion to take place on the issue of persons with disabilities in Kilinochchi. According to statistics available at the central government’s district secretariat, there are over 3285 persons with disabilities. But only 483 of them are being provided with the Rs 3000 grant to which they are entitled. It was also reported that the Northern Provincial Council has given a much larger figure for people with disabilities as being in the region of 18,000. The large disparity in numbers may be on account of different measures where it concerns disabilities. We were told that people with disabilities could include those who had no outer disability but had bullets inside them. These could also be chronic pain and mental trauma. Most recent reports on the health effects of war have focused on post traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems, many of which are not identified as war-related disabilities until years after conflict ends.
The neglect of those who have disabilities in terms of obtaining financial assistance is often made worse by the discrimination they suffer in their daily lives. We were told that it was more difficult for those who had disabilities to get licenses for driving, even when they had passed their driving tests successfully. In addition they find it difficult to get into buildings that have not been constructed in a way to facilitate their entry and movement. A greater governmental demonstration of empathy for those with disabilities in the Wanni would make the general population feel that the government is concerned about those who are victims and contribute to the post-war healing process not only for those with disabilities but also for the general population.
Another point that was stressed in the discussion was the importance of caring for individuals as opposed to thinking of macro or political solutions only. At the present time the government is giving priority attention to issues of constitutional reform. The government has expressed its determination to seize the present opportunity when it has the two largest political parties in alliance and have also obtained the support of all the ethnic minority parties. In particular it will want to focus on finding a mutually acceptable solution to the ethnic conflict and to set in place a constitutional settlement that can be built upon in the future as well according to the changing needs of the country’s multi ethnic and plural polity. However, at the same time it is important that the individual needs of war affected people should also be given priority attention.
At the top of the list of concerns of the people of the Wanni is the fate of missing persons. The government commission on missing persons (the Paranagama Commission) reported that there were about 20,000 complaints of missing persons that they had recorded. These are people who continue to be missing seven years after the end of the war. The logical conclusion would be to assume that most of them are no longer alive. However, those who are relatives of missing persons, and those who saw them surrender to the security forces at the closing stages of the war, are not prepared to accept blanket statements about the fate of those they saw go missing. They say they saw the missing persons being registered and photographed prior to their disappearance. So someone somewhere will know what happened. At the discussion in Kilinochchi it was emphasized that the affected people will not accept blanket statements but will require individual accounts of what happened to be provided to them.
The government is today seeking to implement the transitional justice process that the international community has set for it, and is about to announce new mechanisms to follow the Office of Missing Persons that was recently put into law. These measures need to be accompanied by more caring for individual victims. Institutions such as truth commissions will help to create awareness in the general population about the true nature of war and those who were victims. It will create empathy and strengthen the resolve of society that the resort to arms and to violence must never again come to be. It will also give relief to those who are victims that they are able to tell their stories to the state, that must care for all equally, and demonstrate this care by going into the details of what happened to them and give them the answers they need to have.
At the end of our meeting at the Cooperative Hall, we were invited by one of the religious clergy to visit an orphanage and home for mentally disturbed persons. We met with young children who had lost their parents for various reasons. One of them was a child who lost her entire family in a bomb blast. I recalled that six years ago on a visit to Trincomalee I had been shown another child in another orphanage. Her mother had been killed as the family fled the last battles, and she had refused to move from her mother’s side until her father agreed to stop their fleeing from the battle zones to bury the body. Six years later the needs of these war victims need to be addressed better by the Sri Lankan state. Macro level change, such as constitutional reform, is difficult to achieve as it is politically controversial, and so is delayed. But this excuse cannot be given where it concerns giving a strong message of care to those who have been victims by reintegrating them into the mainstream society and giving them individualized care.
Father S.J.Emmanuel / December 5, 2016
DearJehan, In addon to the casulig satement, that “The former government’s political strategy with regard to the people living in the former war zones of the North and East was that economic development would suffice, and it was not necessary to either ascertain the truth about the past or to address the political issues that had given rise to the war. But this belief was shown to be incorrect as the Tamil voters in the North and East voted repeatedly against the government that provided them with economic infrastructure but without attending to their individual basic needs or to their collective need for political rights” you and the NPC.have done well to Focus our Attention to the micro/grass-root Problems of the war-victims. Ihope your message goes down to the grass root masses of the South
Dinuk / December 5, 2016
Jehan Perera, You are quite correct that what is missing is a focus on the middle and ground levels – whether with reconciliation or development.
Today we have lots of talk about mega cities and free trade agreements – Macro level hot air bubbles, but very little focus on ground realities to improve the lot of people or the REAL economy and production.
As a result we have a lot of Hot Air generated about reconciliation and mega development even as the economy crashes and the justice system is run by a corrupt clown – Wjedasa Jarapassa with nor HR or justice in sight.
Sri lanka is the Hot Air Hub of the world, Today! All talk and not real development, only foreign agendas – IMF, Chinese, US, India, UN.. the peoples’ needs and real economy are ignored.
Mallaiyuran / December 5, 2016
Sometimes I wonder what side Father argues.
Jehan PhD has put clear that the giving right to Tamils is impossible; so it is better restart the fake development games while forcing them to accept the Signalization and Buddhisization of the North with his conversion propaganda in the North. As per him Signalization and Buddhisization of the North is paramount as the North East vote against the so called “Royal Development”. Swamynathan wants to build 20,000 homes and resettle the displaced Sinhalese and Muslims there so he is adamant of keeping the NPC out of it. This is more damaging then the Old Royals road paving for the occupying army.
Macro level change, such as constitutional reform, is difficult to achieve as it is politically controversial, and so is delayed. But this excuse cannot be given where it concerns giving a strong message of care to those who have been victims by reintegrating them into the mainstream society and giving them individualized care…………………….But this belief was shown to be incorrect as the Tamil voters in the North and East voted repeatedly against the government that provided them with economic infrastructure but without attending to their individual basic needs or to their collective need for political rights.
The large hall in which social and educational events (exactly what educational events? The Old Royals envisaged Jehan PhD’s future Buddhist religious conversion propaganda and developed this hall for him?) take place is part of the massive infrastructure development that the former government engaged in the North and East in the belief that it would win the hearts and minds of the people. The former government’s political strategy with regard to the people living in the former war zones of the North and East was that economic development would suffice, and it was not necessary to either ascertain the truth about the past or to address the political issues that had given rise to the war.
Then what Jehan PhD wanted?
It was on Disabilities Day that the National Peace Council held the inaugural meeting of its inter-religious committee in Kilinochchi, the former capital of the LTTE, which saw heavy fighting seven years ago. The event itself was held in the Cooperative Hall which, according to an inscription on the wall, had been opened by the Hon Namal Rajapaksa during the period of the last government.
Jehan PhD argues that Old Royals were doing massive deployments in North. Out Child the so called Father is nodding his head for that. The evidence for massive development took place in North got established by Jehan’s his BBS when went to North to preach why the Northern people have to submit the Sinhalisation and Buddhisization of the North. How many of these meeting he so far he held it with his masters of BBSs and Ayatollahs to tolerate the other religions?
Jehan PhD has not seen the statistics showing the North and the East are poorest, most underdeveloped, less educated provinces in the country. The dope master arguing as he had seen Old Son Prince name encrypted in a hall so they had carried out massive development. The truth is it is Cooperative Hall but opened by Old Son Prince. The unwritten law in North is no building opening should be conducted without army and a southern politician; even the girls’ sari ceremonies had been inundated by army. Noe the Jehan PhD is fooling everybody that the Old Royals were trying winning the heart of Tamils with development and our childish Father is nodding his head to that too. They developed only the roads army travel for easy deployment, but not the rural roads where people do not have any facility to travel. They repeated there were only 13,000 troops in 2009 but even now there are 150,000 are stationed there. This guy is giving evidence to the development they carried out there as the conference hall -Cooperative Hall. Could father give a ratio of the cost involved to this ” Cooperative Hall: Lotus Hall” in Colombo? or the Airport sitting in the Wilderness of Hambantota, or the Hambantota Harbor or the Stadium? Can father answer which agency is paying Jehan PhD for waste money on hiring a big halls for conversion, to which the Northern Hindus and Christians do not want to go and get converted, for such wasteful objects while the kids on those provinces begging the diaspora world for bicycles riding to school 6-7 miles? Why Jehan cannot donate that money for those kids to buy bicycles?
Does Father know that New King wanted President elect Trump to get the 2015 resolution cancelled because five countries(America, Britain, Australia, Germany and Canada) are asking to bring a solution to the ethnic problem so that they can have the war crime investigation cancelled? All these time(For two years) Appe Yahapalanaya Anduwa trying to make a constitutional change to have the war crime investigation cancelled, but with Donald Trump elected to presidency they want the war crime investigation cancelled even without the fake constitutional change. Does Father understand that is what Jehan is saying by “Macro level change, such as constitutional reform, is difficult to achieve” Can father explain how much of difficulties Jehan PhD has encountered in a sincere effort to change the constitution? Can father explain what difficulties Ranil had to sign the Rome Treaty in contrast to the difficulties he had to go to New York to demand UNSG to abandon the UNSG’s expert Panel report? Can Father clarify who is paying Jehan to start a political campaign saying the “constitutional reform, is difficult to achieve” so Donald Trump should eliminate the war crime accusation and free the Sri Lankan government?
I ask a question from Father. Who is holding the NPC from not functioning properly? Is it 13A or Appe Yahapalanaya Anduwa? Why the Anduwa not allowing the NPC to function like all other 7 in the South? When the court gave verdict to North-East Split, it did not say merger was unconstitutional. Sampanthar asked Old King to rectify the technical matter mentioned in the verdict and remerge them. What difficulty is the Yahapalanaya EP has to fulfill that request?
Mallaiyuran / December 6, 2016
At the top of the list of concerns of the people of the Wanni is the fate of missing persons.
Paranagama commission was not appointed to this job. His extension to this job was to fool the UNHRC’s concern on the March 2014. Missing persons are estimated as 145,000 from Mullaitivu only ( five months). it is not 20,000 as reported by Paranagama Commission. That is not the only priority as Jehan trying to establish.
Rajiah / December 6, 2016
Also did you EVER talk TO SINHALA border villagers whose families were hacked to death and those across the country whose families died from suicide bombs too or just innocent Tamil victims? ARe those who died at the hands of Tamil Tiger Suicide bombers and massacres lesser? For example the Muslim families at Kattankudy; the sinhala families at Dollar and Kent farms and those who died in the numerous bus, train, bus terminal suicide bombs designed to kill as many Sinhalese and Muslims as possible? Why are you mute Jehan?
Rajash / December 6, 2016
The Macro figure Amma CM of Tamil Nadu passed away today 11.30 am India time
KA Sumanasekera / December 6, 2016
We know their political rights were more important to you then, than their Limbs and mental health . .
That must be the reason why the great man Mr Pirahaparan had no problems with recruitment from the pool of the Grass Roots , whom you were entrusted with to look after .
It is good to hear that you still sick to the Political Rights of the grass roots, even though the Vellala TNA has taken full control of the North, lock stock and barrel….
Rajiah / December 6, 2016
Aren’t you the bugger who worshipped Suicide terrorist bombers? Isn’t suicide against Catholicism?Why don’t you go back from your Dole and go work in SL and build tube wells, schools etc using the hidden Tiger treasures?
Good student / December 6, 2016
Dear Father S J Emmanuel,
You are the hard core LTTE supporter who goes around the world committing the seven deadly sins, especially lying. You are a born pathological liar like most LTTE/TNA types(eg sole representatives!).
The Tamil Catholics of Jaffna rejected you not once but twice when you tried to become the Bishop Of Jaffna and the Bishop of Mannar respectively. Saundranayagam and Rayappu beat you to the post. You were not good enough. They did not want you and nor do we. Because you are a double reject you have lots of internal problems causing you to spew hate and lies. I have seen your videos. I have Tamil friends who regard you as a rogue priest and say you should be defrocked. Its just that its not worth the bother.
You by spreading false propaganda helped to stop the Indian peace keeping force/IPKF from finishing off Velu in 1987 plus, thus prolonging the terrible agony of the Tamil people whom you falsely claim to represent.
The reason for the present day problem is the mass atrocities your Tamil ancestors committed against the Sinhalese Buddhists, [who were just minding their own business cultivating the dry zone, making the dry zone bloom], when they attacked and wiped out our city of Anuradhapura about AD 1000(having attacked it for 1200 years before that) and when we Sinhalese built Polonnaruwa, Tamil thugs wiped it out as well. Committed genocide against us. Those are the root causes of the present day problems Holy Farther, created by your violent ancestors and perpetuated by people like you.
Tamils are a hugely wealthy community in Sri Lanka especially after British favouritism DURING THE COLONIAL PERIOD. The majority living very comfortably in the Sinhalese areas doing really well. Earning good money from the stupid Sinhalese, but always griping of discrimination whilst living the good life in Colombo 3,6, 7,8, Kandy and all the big cities. Just trying to get more and more by violent and selfish means like asking for 33% of the country whilst most of them live in the Sinhalese areas. Only about 50% of the Sri Lankan Tamils live in NP & EP. You want to have the cake and eat it!! Don’t make excessive demands they cant be met.
If Mahinda did not rebuild the infrastructure in the North you would have been the first to complain saying after 30 years of war Colombo did not rebuild the infrastructure (which the LTTE had destroyed).
What infrastructure did the LTTE build for the Tamils of Jaffna???????!!!!! LTTE did not even build a toilet for the Tamils they claimed to represent.
Learn to intermarry and live in peace.
Rajiah / December 6, 2016
Well said.This man Emanuel seems to forget he hero worshipped Suicide cadre. He is a hateful lying sack of excrement who is now changing his tune like Kirubaran too. They loved to cheer terrorist attacks on innocent tamils. They loved it when Neelan and Laxman Kadi were executed. They are false Catholics. He should have been defrocked long ago. If he means peace he needs to come back and bring his Tiger unCatholic dirty money and work for the rural people of the Tamil Areas.
Kalupahana / December 5, 2016
Yes, indeed, and the so called New Constitution drafting racket is the biggest MACRO Lie of them all! to enable the same corrupt circus of politicians to satisfy their greed for power and further destroy the country while distracting the people!
A new constitution will work only when the CORRUPT POLITICAL CULTURE is ended. In any case, this new constitution with Buddhism given first place is a massive RED HERRING and distraction from the need of the hour which is investigating Financial Crimes and War Crimes and holding those responsible ACCOUNTABLE including the Bond Scam.
Jehan, Even the most perfect Constitution is doomed to failure as long as you have the corrupt crooks and money politics with Bi-partisan UNP-SLFP corruption and immunity and immunity for criminal politicians provided by Ranil and Sira
Ranil Wickramasinghe is the biggest crook of them all – distracting the moda masses with a useless constitutional exercise – rather than cleaning up the Parliament of corrupt morons and their cronies all over the country who operate a mega network of corruption.
justice / December 5, 2016
“Out of Sight is Out of Mind” is an old saying.
This simple remedy was practised at the end of the war.
All bodies on the seashores were buried in the shell craters and trenches and the area was ‘out of bounds’ until recently.
All or most LTTE war cemeteries were bulldozed flat and structures built on top of them.
But recently relatives of the dead mourned at sites of those left and/or partially demolished.
In advanced societies, those disabled are registered and counselled by specialists, wheel chairs (electrically propelled and by hand) supplied,special ramps – mobile and/or permanent – built into buildings and public transport vehicles for these to enter and exit.
Special training programs are in place to train disabled to qualify according to their limited abilities.
All these are possible if there is political will and funds.
But, both are wanting in our country.
SinhalaPropaganda / December 5, 2016
Sinhala genocidal maniacs have crippled, mutilated, raped, widowed, orphaned, displaced, bombed, burned, shot, tortured and murdered hundred of thousands of Tamils since the country’s independence in the name of forced territorial unity under a highly centralized majoritarian state which did not exist before the intervention by colonial powers. Sinhalese are a nation of human-beast hybrids, rapists, saffron-clad child abusers, war criminals, looters, rioters, drunken hooligans, murderers and uneducated barbarians who are given impunity to do as they please. At least the White colonial masters knew how to run a civilized orderly society.
BBS Rep / December 6, 2016
“The government is today seeking to implement the transitional justice process that the international community has set for it,”
Gnanasara and his ardent backers, the MR Mafia group will not only ensure this will not happen and are in the process of creating a new conflict – this time against the Muslims. Another holocaust will descend upon Sri Lanka and another round of talks on transitional justice will ensue.
Gossip has it that 38000 disabled soldiers are getting the full pension. Recently the beleaguered My3 when confronted with protesting disabled former military officers made an on-the-spot decision to increase their pensions by 30%. There is no real figure for the civilian disabled due to the 30 year war and the pensions paid to them. Just imagine the colossal cost to the taxpayer to pay these pensions.
With all these the politicians, mainly Ranil and My3 nor the police nor the military are trying to stop Gnanasara and his huge army of bigots from starting another holocaust.
This country is doomed.