2 October, 2020

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On Recent Suppression Of Tamil Voice At Vavuniya

By Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

A group of hundreds of relatives of the disappeared from Mannar and Vavuniya were to arrive on the 5th night in Colombo by buses to share with the people in the South their pathetic stories about the disappearances of their loved ones during and after the war, and then to present a petition to the UN to request its intervention to trace them.

But, when they were about to leave that night the police and the army in Vavuniya in a joint operation have stepped in and pushed the people inside the Church premises and ordered the drivers to take back their buses.

These are families who have been weeping, crying and going from place to place for years now, searching for information about their sons or daughters or husbands who have disappeared

The disappearance of Fr. Francis Joseph and several others after surrendering to the army in 2009 is just one instance that has not been accounted for. It was reported to the ‘Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission’, by the Bishop of Mannar, quoting government records that 146,679 were missing. Up to now there is nobody found to be accountable for these disappearances. All these facts point to a serious lack of accountability.

There is an entire section in the LLRC report (Chapter 9/43-60) on the question of disappearances. Had the government carried out those recommendations of the LLRC such as appointing an independent commissioner on disappearances, the need to come to Colombo to handover a petition to the UN would not have arisen.

Such being the situation, what could be the purpose of this unjust act of blocking their coming to Colombo? Were these relatives of the disappeared who were mostly elderly women planning to carry out criminal activities? They were only planning to do something which is quite in accordance with the constitution of the country, to find a solution to a problem which is causing innermost pain to them every moment of their lives.

The constitution of Sri Lanka in no 14 has guaranteed the freedom of Speech, assembly, association, movement. It is precisely those actions that this group has been intending to carry out: to speak about and express the sufferings they were subject to by moving to another place in the country and holding a peaceful assembly.

The freedom to engage in such activities have also been guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (No 13) which says, ‘everyone has the right to freedom of movement’ and article 19 says, ‘everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’.

Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (No. 20). In spite of all these assurances still the law enforcing authorities, perhaps in consultation with the political authorities, have decided that such freedoms should not be allowed to the citizens.

The authorities want to instill fear in people and prevent them from raising their voices on issues of human rights. Can this happen in a democratic country? On the 20th December 2006, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which affirmed the rights of the victims’ families to seek reparations, to know about the whereabouts of those victims and to demand the facts regarding the disappearance of their loved ones.

Accordingly, the acts of forced disappearances and abductions have been recognized as ‘crimes’. The victims could have been either forcefully detained or tortured or even killed.  According to the UN, such acts have been recognized as ‘crimes against humanity’. Hence, the relatives have a right to know the truth.

Those who carry out such abductions and forced disappearances do so with the specific purpose of denying to the relatives of the disappeared their legitimate rights and of silencing them and preventing any dissent against the powers that be. These illegitimate acts are directed towards every opponent and critic and also create a sense of uncertainty and fear in the wider community.

The suppression of the free movement of citizens in Vavuniya is an instance of a violation of freedom of the citizens of this country amounting to an infringement on fundamental rights to free expression and movement. It has in fact proved again that the government does not care for the rights of the people.

One the one hand, this undemocratic act of the government only contradicts what the President’s special representative told the audience at Geneva. On the other hand, this inhumane act reflects what is being echoed in Geneva by the human rights activists.

The denial of this basic freedom proves that a situation of normalcy does not prevail in the areas of North and East. The freedom to move about and the freedom of expression have been denied. Further this incident well orchestrates the suppression of Tamil people that is going on in the North. Surely one cannot expect an autocrat or the military rule to respect the principles of democracy and human rights.

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Latest comments

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    The govt puts up a show in Geneva but at home it is business as usual. This travesty of justice and violation of human rights by none other than the armed forces. No law in this country only suppression and harrassment of people.

    • 0
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      Safa

      “The govt puts up a show in Geneva but at home it is business as usual. “

      Government in its own way says to UNHRC “up yours”.

      • 0
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        Thats the way.

        Thats how we must do.

        • 0
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          Your kith and kin are not in the list of missing persons.

        • 0
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          Lanka power

          “Thats the way. Thats how we must do.”

          Thats the way to self destruction. Please keep going.

          I will meet you at the bottom of the cliff in case if you need any first aid.

    • 0
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      The answer is to organise the Armed Forces for trainig in productive employment, like agriculture, so they will feel they have a purpose in Life. They have only been trained for War so far! The GOSL has to start thinking positively about people, not be on the defensive all the time!

  • 0
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    The Government will permit thugs to protest in front of Chief Justice’s house, allow Bodu Bala Sena to stop traffic any where they like and protest against Muslims and Businesses, allow Mervyn’s thugs to destroy TV stations and attack students, but will not allow citizens of Sri Lanka to take part in a peaceful protest. This is the “Military State Dictatorial Democracy” that is practiced in Sri Lanka today. Democracy loving citizens of Sri Lanka should start documenting all the atrocities created by the Government, its ministers, supporters including religious monks, civil servants, judges etc and one day bring charges against those violators of law to a special court (that should be appointed in the future) and punish those who have deprived the constitutional rights of civilians of the country. This is the only way that would ensure that in the future such atrocities are not be committed.

  • 0
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    Safa & Park,
    I agree with you.

  • 0
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    Dogs in cassoack getting innocent & unsuspecting citizens ready for a another blood bath.
    Its all written in the catholic church history. Creating blood baths is nothing new.
    The ghost of the Roman Empire emerging through the cassoack, INGOs, HR ORgs,

    Iddamalgoda, just mind you own business closer to your ministry.

    • 0
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      IT IS THAT,giving all the Blames on Yellow robs, Cassocks,IN G O’s, HR orgs is your and your bosses business.

      SO WE SHOULD ALLOW YOU To do your business of
      white van abduction for expressing ideas,
      abaductoion for Ransom,
      raping,
      political revenge killings,
      and
      Killing of rival Business men who have more money
      and make disappearance of innocent civilians, because they have some heard earned money sent by their relatives from foreign countries.
      You are one of SXXt eating pigs Of Political Thugs, and one of paid goons.

      YOU SHOULD MIND YOUR OWN F BUSINESS AND FLY A KITE.

  • 0
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    Just when the de facto CJ claims that we could give lessons to the US and EU on Human Rights, having over a 2500 year History, next to the News clip appears that our Ministers have been avoiding meeting the British MP who has come to look after the interest of the slain UK National on Christmas eve in 2011. Certainly no Human Rights violations according to this CJ, but only disappearences where only God knows as in the case of Prageeth Eknaligoda and many others including Politicians from the Opposition. Here again preventing peaceful demonstrations that are taboo, except those violent ones performed by the Govt. thugs?

  • 0
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    Despite all those hollow assurances by mendacious Ministers in Geneva, refusing the peaceful right of democratic protest by a section of directly affected people is a gross violation of our own Constitution and the denial of freedom of expression. Using the armed military/Police to physically abuse them to turn away makes matters worse for the confused regime – clearly under siege. Mano Ganesan has every right to bring this crude attack to the notice of the world.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
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    The year 2013 will be “mared” by social disturbnaces that will definitely hamper our attempts to get on our feet. This adversarial environment has been brought about mostly, ashamed to say, by some of the actions of the Government. We should have known by observance, that prior to any world event where Sri Lanka is ivolved, various organizations and interest groups and parties wait for an opportunity to create “sensational news” and make capital out of it to disrupt and achieve their goals. So a responsible government must study carefully the environment and work in a such a responsible manner to avoid giving ammunition to your opponents.

    But did our Government go about its business in that sensible manner? In my opinion the answer is NO. Starting from the repeal of the 17th Amendment and the introduction of the the 18th Amendment, the “negligence and the haphazard” manner of drafting the “Divinaguma Bill” followed by the “impeachment of the CJ”, “the controversial appointments” to high positions of responsibilty, the “failure” to “discipline” your own Ministers in the Cabinet and the Heads and Members of the Local Government Institutions,”irresponsible public utterances” made by the Head of the Government and the Ministers, to mention a “few”, took us along this “perilous path”.

    This Government must be thankful and honour the citizens of the country for the “endurance” sustained since 1983 (that blac mark). They also must realize that so many forces within and outside want a “similar” uprising to be “staged” with the least opportunity available. So it is imperative that the Government must show its streangth in “Good Goverrnance”, respect and maintain Law and Order and most importantly “discipline” your own “colleagues” in the centre as well as at local levels.

    In a way, in my hindsight, it is a good decision to have stopped this protest march coming (in bus loads) from Vavuniya, as other wise, who knows even there would have been a well “organized and paid for clash” originating at Kelaniya. They have proved that sort of “patriotic show-downs” are abundantly available at hand to be used with short notice.

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    Can the various government spokesmen say under what law these citizens from the North were prevented from coming to the South? If there is no law did the armed forces – who are paid to maintain the law – acting illegally? If the armed forces acted illegally, who is going to punish them?

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    What justice or democracy you expect from a government when it’s own officers attached to Ministry of Defense robbed a Tamil Businessman in broad daylight.

    Please read the following web. to see how Officers attached to Ministry of defense and five Police constables and other ten security division personnel involved in the Biggest robbery in Sri Lanka……12 milllion rupee heist and a dayligtht robbery.
    http://www.divaina.com/2013/03/11/news07.html

    When I was in Tanzania, it was a known fact that the same police constables who do their duties in day time come to rob people and Businesses during the night using the same police weapons. They even robbed the Sri Lankan Buddhist temple in Dharsalam after threatening Sri Lankan Buddgist priest. Now the same have come to Sri Lanka.

    Preasident is systematically taking the country to a rogue state, and also taking the country towards a Japanese Harakiri type suicidsl death, similar to USA David Koresh or Mass Murderer Jim Jones…..Guyana mass murder, suicide.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/18/newsid_2540000/2540209.stm

    MARA is taking the country to a drema world with false Tourism, development and per capita income while robbing, harassing and murdering it’s people while visiting Buddhist temples every day.

    He is more suitable to me a monk than a President. A Tsunami prophet.

    Dreaming for more Tourists, foreign businesses and Investments to come to Sri Lanka……..while all utility prices also skyrocketing and Govt. red tape (commissions) and other thugs and thieves in galore swhowing a different picture to Country and outside while doing something else.

    This is the right time that UN intervene Sri Lanka before MARA taking it to a Harakiri type Mass murder suicidal ending.

  • 0
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    Adding to the comments of Siri, this is one further indication the rule of the jackboot is the one in real action in the North. The interference with the Freedom to Travel guarantee in the Constitution is a dangerous development. Unless remedial measures are taken and the Policemen concerned punished transparently, no one is safe in the streets, with Policemen poking their guns in different parts of one’s anatomy. Like that cantankerous Rambukwella, the President also can play clever staving off international criticism by saying “I don’t know of this incident. I’ll have to call for a Report” No wonder the US authorities here are threatening to take appropriate action.

    What does the new find of the Rajapakses – Dr Subramaniam Swamy – have to say now that he is caught with the mendacious claim “normalcy has returned to the Tamil North” Sri Lankans find Swamy’s role somewhat curious in a world when almost everything is available at a price.
    After all, the inconsistent leader of the 3-wheeler Janatha Party, is in record of originally having offered Prabakaran and the LTTE to be their “mentor and guide” Politics, undoubtedly, is a strange game with stranger bedfellows.

    Senguttuvan

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