By K. Anaga –
Maithripala Srisena, the former president of Sri Lanka has been punished with a fine of 100 million rupees for his part in the 2019 April 21 killing of a few hundred worshipers in various churches. The action was taken against him and others for failure to take appropriate remedial measures to prevent the massacre. This is the first time in the history of Sri Lanka that a President or Prime Minister of the country has been taken to task for their misdemeanor. In this instant, they have not been found fault with for the direct attack but for utter disregard for information received through various sources including India that something drastic is going to happen.
Their conduct may be due to other reasons, not excluding a move for a change of regime in the next elections. Apparently, Maithri was not happy with Ranil, considered a ‘Cunning Fox’ by many.
Maithri and his officers may deserve this punishment and even more by way of imprisonment, for murder and mayhem let loose.
Whether Maithri is to take ‘abode’ under the bo-tree in Pettah with a begging bowl or at the ‘Royal Park’ apartment complex, is left to be seen.
JR Jayewardene’s Government
But, what about JR? Jayewardene and his ministers responsible for the 1977 communal riots and 1983 pogrom.
The 1977 pogrom was to teach the Tamils a lesson according to JR for voting almost entirely for the Tamil United Front advocating a separate state for the Tamils, in view of the severe discriminatory policies and state-aided colonization adopted by the successive Sinhala governments.
The 1977 pogrom was a prelude to the 1983 pogrom. My house and my sibling’s houses along with many others were damaged by the mobs, beyond repair.
In 1983, during the regime of the first President of Sri Lanka, JR Jayewardene, created the infamous black July where hundreds of Tamils were killed and burnt alive due to his deliberate inaction and the statement made by him “If you want war I will give you war and if you want peace I will give you peace”. He conducted himself like a pseudo, Sir. Winston Churchill who told his newly elected coalition government during the war that “I have nothing to offer but blood, tears, and sweat”. Churchill was fighting a foreign enemy but our president JR was trying to instigate/incite the Sinhalese against the Tamils, his own countrymen. This is a clear indication of JR’s attitude towards the Tamils.
Further, adding fuel to the inferno all over the Tamil areas in the south he said that “I am not worried about the opinion of the Jaffna Tamils. The more you put pressure in the north the happier the Sinhalese people will be here regardless if we starve the Tamils”
A state-sponsored genocide. Thus LTTE commenced its actions slowly but steadily.
JR’s government in general and these ministers, in particular, Cyril Mathew, and Premadasa together with MH Mohamed were seen encouraging the thugs to do the needful to ensure the Tamils don’t raise their heads.
Lalith Athulathmudali was not keen to save the Tamils from the mobs, instead, he was concerned about “feeding the Sinhalese” in the Colombo district to ensure his vote bank was intact for the future.
His voice was heard over the FM meters in Jaffna, directing the bombardment of areas suspected by him as “Tiger Land”, subsequently, after a couple of years.
Gamini Dissanayake encouraged the mobs and threatened the Tamils with his statement that ‘”If India invades this country the Tamils will be killed within 24 hours”. This was essentially meant for the Sinhalese to swallow it. Well, this utterance is nothing when compared to what he did in Jaffna in 1981. He was complicit in burning Asia’s best library, with over 97,000 books.
Lalith and Gamini were competing with each other for the post of president and in that process, each one of them uttered the most, to rouse up the Sinhalese, but “lost their way”, allegedly due to LTTE’s bombing.
Unfortunately or fortunately none of the above politicians are in the world of the living today.
The irony, I must confess, is that I was a good friend of JR’s nephew. Both of us joined one of the oil companies and our good friendship continued till he left the company. However, I lost touch with him after some time. I, understand that he passed away a few years ago. Similarly, I was associated with Cyril Matthews’s niece in a company, where I was a manager. She was a friendly girl who cared for me as a vegetarian by giving me vegetable short eats and homemade jam. All good things came to an end, not because of the riots but with the passage of time.
Notwithstanding all the above, if Maithri and his associates deserve a punishment of this magnitude? What type of punishment should be given to JR and his clan whose multiple crimes are beyond redemption? They are not to be seen. Why can’t the government enhance its request from the IMF to obtain some US$ to be distributed to the victims who suffered in 1977 and 1983?
Of course, as usual, a commission was appointed by JR, headed by Justice Sansoni, to inquire into the 1977 Communal riots. I made a written submission as requested by the commission. I am still awaiting a response.
The dead cannot be brought to life and given punishment. If JR was dealt with, appropriately at the right time, Maithri would have been cautious and the need to find money to buy a “begging bowl” may not arise.
“One country one law” may not work, but applying the same law and the same punishment for the same/similar crime, may work.
To sum up the situation:
JR’s Government assisted the perpetrators to commit the crime.
Maithri’s government failed to prevent the perpetrators from committing the crime.
Ranil’s government Continues to protect the perpetrators of multifaceted crimes.
No wonder, the Canadian government entered the fray and did the needful, to a certain extent.