24 June, 2024

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Political Solution Is Missing Part Of Reconciliation

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The 15th anniversary of the end of the war has made it clear that the war may have ended but the problems related to it have not. Outside of the north and east, the site of military action, there is a sense of normalcy with the war being a receding memory. This has given rise to the belief that the government could give its priority attention to other problems afflicting the country, most notably the economic collapse which continues to be a baleful presence in the lives of the great majority of people. There was also the hope that under the leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, and his relationships with the leaders of Western countries, that the international pressures from human rights groups and the UN Human Rights Council could be overcome.

However, the events that have transpired have shown that the international community continues to maintain its focus on Sri Lanka. The geopolitical strategies that the government has used, such as sending a naval ship into the Red Sea to protect merchant shipping alongside the US superpower, has not yielded dividends in international human rights forums. Indeed, the situation appears to have worsened from the government’s perspective. The visit of the head of Amnesty International to Sri Lanka, and her visit to the site of the last battlefield of the war was noteworthy. Secretary-General, Agnes Callamard, called on the international community to take decisive action by referring Sri Lanka to the UN Security Council with a view to an International Criminal Court investigation.

The appeal to the international community to prosecute those guilty of war crimes is an indication of a desire to sustain the moral legitimacy of Western countries that has been questioned in Gaza and Ukraine. This may explain why despite the ongoing conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine there is no let up on the attention given to Sri Lanka. On the contrary there appears to be an escalation. The bipartisan resolution in the US Congress calling for a referendum on Tamil Eelam coupled with the Canadian Prime Minister’s yearly reiteration that genocide took place in Sri Lanka cannot be dismissed as being merely due to election-related ploys of foreign politicians. These statements and positions can take on a life of their own, as seen in the Amnesty International statement.

Two Pronged

It appears that the government is responding to this international challenge through a two pronged approach. The first approach is to counter statements issued by international critics with hard hitting responses of its own. The government through its ambassador in Geneva has said the UN Human Rights High Commissioner’s report goes against the fundamental principles of impartiality, objectivity, and non-selectivity while being made at a time when the government was “engaged in a series of reconciliation efforts.” On the Canadian allegation of genocide, the Sri Lankan foreign minister has stated Canada’s disproportionate focus on Sri Lanka is a clear example of “double standards” as it has remained “intentionally ambiguous relating to the daily dire humanitarian situations we see elsewhere.”

The second approach of the government has been led by President Wickremesinghe himself who has made several forays into the north of Sri Lanka to engage with the state administration and civil intelligentsia there. During the recent Vesak holidays the president took time to spend two days in Jaffna and meet with a range of people. He spelled out a vision of development in which the north would become a central hub of large scale development. He said, “I have made it a point to visit Jaffna regularly, both as Prime Minister and President, recognizing the pressing need to address the longstanding issues stemming from the conflict in the north and east. The time has come to shift our focus towards development. There are people here who are looking for jobs and the potential for Jaffna for development is great, to use that term. Jaffna, which has seen limited development in recent years, holds immense potential for growth.”

The president also spoke of the need to prioritize reconciliation efforts. He said, “Moving forward, we must prioritize reconciliation efforts, address concerns regarding missing persons, and devise mechanisms for compensation and truth and reconciliation. I think this is the time now we have to deal with all these issues. These are complex issues that demand collective cooperation and engagement from all stakeholders. I have discussed this with the members of Parliament from North and the East, as to what measures we need to take.” He added that “The government is committed to establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), but we must address the critical issue of judicial powers.”

Power Sharing

However, despite his efforts, there remains a lacuna in the president’s efforts to reach out to the people of the north which needs to be taken into account. According to media and intelligentsia in the north, the president did not address the issue of power sharing and devolution of power, which in its current form is embodied in the now defunct provincial council system in terms of the 13th Amendment to the constitution. Dealing with the ethnic conflict requires attention to be given to this issue as well, and not only to issues of development and dealing with the human rights violations of the past. The roots of the ethnic conflict lie in the issue of how to share power equitably between the ethnic communities (nationalities) that inhabit Sri Lanka’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious and pluralist space.

When the president was elected to the presidency two years ago by parliament he spoke boldly on the issue. He not only said that the 13th Amendment needed to be implemented as part of the constitution, he also pledged to implement it in full, including the provisions for the devolution of land and police powers which no government has so far implemented. But now as president who is contemplating facing the people at the presidential election in less than six months he appears to be less certain of the support of the political parties on whom he depends to deliver the votes outside of the north and east. But silence on this issue could jeopardise his potential vote in the north and east where the Tamil speaking people are a majority.

By way of contrast, one of his two main rivals at the forthcoming elections, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa has staked out his position that a future government led by him would be committed to implementing the 13th Amendment to the constitution. Speaking at the SJB rally to mark the International Labour Day (May Day) in Colombo, he said: “We will be reaching out to the majority Sinhalese population to offer a sustainable solution to the serious political issues plaguing our bankrupt country, especially focusing on the difficulties faced by non-Sinhalese communities.” The political solution would include implementing the 13th Amendment, which is needed along with development and dealing with the past, if the country is to be truly and sustainably reconciled.

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Latest comments

  • 11
    5

    “The political solution would include implementing the 13th Amendment, which is needed along with development and dealing with the past, if the country is to be truly and sustainably reconciled.”
    This is election time. Tamils are not prepared to give their support to promises made by any Sinhala leadership whether it is RW or SJB or AKD or Rajapaksa or Sirisena because this is another attempt by cheating both Tamils and Sinhalese. This time if they are really interested in solving the 75 year old political crisis which resulted in economic crisis and thousands of civilian massacres and complete destruction of rule of law. So, it is a welcome move by Tamils to put forward a Tamil candidate and voting only for that candidate and no second or third preference votes. In other words , Tamils do not want to support or interfere with the political game played by Sinhalese politicians. There may be few so called Tamil leaders may willing to support of one candidate over other candidates or some political parties may not willing to support the Tamil People’s move in order to support one particular leader but Tamil people are frustrated by their actions over the decades. Tamils support a candidate means there is a change in the voting of Sinhalese.

    • 8
      3

      Ajith,
      Kindly tell me how fielding a Tamil candidate helps anyone.

      • 4
        3

        N
        Will making someone happy be considered helping someone?

        • 0
          1

          N
          The logic of “common candidate v. boycotting” debates is based on calculations of who the beneficiary in the South will be.
          The general assumption is that Tamils, never any wiser than the Sinhalese, will throw their lot with Ranil.
          On that basis a boycott will hurt him most.
          The TNA wants to hold its horses until it knows who is contesting from the South, and secretly who will probably score among the Tamils.
          A common candidate may also go with a common second preference, and that could be a bargaining chip. What bargaining, a deal with Ranil!
          If it is an honest stand of “a common candidate and no options”, it is simpler to avoid waste of resources and call for spoiling the ballot paper. That will speak louder than keeping away on voting day or voting for a political broomstick.

      • 8
        1

        Nathan,
        Since 2009, Tamil political parties made deals with Sinhalese leaders or Presidential candidates made on the promises made by them to give Tamil votes for a political solution. One of the observation is that two of them lost because Sinhalese votes turned against those candidates. Sometimes they would have won if they don’t make a deal with Tamil political parties. So, the argument is that the last minute deals did not benefit those candidates or Tamils. In 2019 election Sinhalese only votes brought a President. There is also another reason Sajith lost because Ranil gave his support to Gota, not to Sajith. Tamils should not make enemies with any Sinhalese leaders. We should not forget that Ranil was against to Chandrika’s proposal. Jaffna library was burnt by Ranils UNP and Black July was by Ranils UNP. So, this time Tamils should make their choice, not based on deals made by Political Parties. We should also remember that President cannot make any decision without the support of Parliament. Even he can’t implement what is in the constitution. If it is possible, RW would have implemented it now with the two third majority he has on Parliament. He brought many bills with the majority in the same parliament.

        • 2
          2

          Ajith,
          My Q still begs for an answer from you.
          Try again.

          • 5
            2

            Nathan,
            I may not be able to find the answer what you wants but in my opinion it will helps to the country and people. If you rephrase your Q what is the benefit for Tamils voting for any of the other candidates?

      • 5
        2

        It will be a way of protesting, and one with immense symbolism.

        • 0
          0

          Let us see on the day how loud the protest is.

    • 8
      2

      Ajith: Thank you for being candid.

      Now, can you tell us what you want or rather demand from a Presidential candidate from the Tamils? Also, let us know what a Tamil candidate will do/implement if he/she wins the Presidential election. What are his/her proposals to solve our economic, social, and political issues?

      We are at present weighing our options in deciding to vote. A Tamil candidate is welcome and let us know what his Action Plan is.

      • 7
        1

        Douglas,
        We, Tamils do not want or demand from the Presidential Candidates because it is a well known fact since independence of this country Tamils are asking for devolved powers for their homeland. That does not mean a separation.
        The purpose of Tamil candidate is to unite Tamil Political parties rather than a voting for Sinhalese President. Even Sinhalese people are lost the confidence on the executive President who is above the law. It is a clear message to the Sinhalese people Tamils are not enemies of Sinhalese and Tamils want the Sinhalese to realise that they were cheated by their own Sinhalese leaders, not by Tamils. We Tamils are not interested in ruling Sinhalese. Sinhalese have to realise that sharing power is good for a united country. It is true that there are economic, social problems in this country and all should unite together respecting each other.

        • 2
          2

          Ajith: Thanks. Did I speak of “Separation”? What I need is to know what a “Tamil Candidate” (as suggested by you) would offer to us, if he/she is elected the President of this country. I am for ANY (no matter what ethnicity) candidate if he/she offers a workable solution to take us out of this present mess.

          I am in total agreement with what you say: “It is…..all should unite together respecting each other”. In that term of “UNITY”, please don’t segregate and classify people according to their respective ethnicity. Let us all be together as Sri Lankans, no matter who leads – Sinhalese/Tamil/Burgher/Musalmani etc.

          • 3
            2

            “Ajith: Thanks. Did I speak of “Separation”? What I need is to know what a “Tamil Candidate” (as suggested by you) would offer to us, if he/she is elected the President of this country. I am for ANY (no matter what ethnicity) candidate if he/she offers a workable solution to take us out of this present mess.”
            I know you did not speak about separation but you cannot deny that it was spoken by many Sinhalese leaders and still they speak. If not, What is the solution you plan to give for North East Tamil speaking People? You can simply say that you don’t need to segregate people according to the ethnicity but in reality that is a fact in the history of 75 years of rule in which JVP also took part in the past.
            You asked about what a “Tamil Candidate” would offers to us if he/she elected the President of this country. IF it becomes true the Tamil Candidate will do much better governance than other “Sinhalese Candidates” do to this country. Why cannot NPP nominate a “Tamil Candidate” instead of AKD?

      • 1
        1

        D
        Kumar Ponnambalam contested in 1982 on the Tamil Eelam ticket, on which the TNA was elected in 1977 but abandoned when its leader became Leader of the Opposition.
        He polled impressively in the N & E, despite the TNA canvassing against him to avert embarrassment in case he scored well.
        That is the nearest that Tamils will ever get to a common candidate.

  • 7
    0

    ” it was hoped that under the leadership of……” – Dr.JP are you kidding me? You need to look up the attributes of a leader – perhaps in the Harvard Business Review. It starts with Integrity.

    • 0
      0

      JP always kids us.

  • 0
    2

    [Edited out] Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Please read our Comments Policy

  • 14
    3

    It is true that 13A needs to be implemented in full. But there are other baleful influences that have to be neutralized. A section of the clergy have arrogated to themselves more power than is good for their puny mental abilities. Otherwise why would they collectively petition the President to release a vile thug -in-robes who is serving a well-deserved jail term? Is a thug above the law simply because he wears a robe?
    Thankfully RW has not obliged, at least this time.
    Can the minorities be safe from meddling by these unelected feudal power centres?

    • 10
      2

      I have mentioned this once before. Even then, it is worth repeating.
      An Ambassador once lamented, ‘Will the men in Yellow -robes ever allow for an amicable settlement’.

      • 0
        0

        “Will the men in Yellow -robes ever allow for an amicable settlement’.”
        It is really saffron rather than yellow.
        And not just Saffron or yellow even white and black obstruct amicable settlements.

    • 11
      2

      old codger

      “A section of the clergy have arrogated to themselves more power than is good for their puny mental abilities.”

      Here is a link to one such Saffronista in Batticaloa who has time and again proved he is above the law:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQB3HHTJA5I&t=12s
      For example Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thero was in a state of bliss about 7 years ago.

      About two days ago Baby Prince Namal prostrated in front of the same saffron clad thug seeking his blessing for his election victory. Actually he started his election campaign right at Ampitiye’s feet:
      https://x.com/RajapaksaNamal/status/1794384609935028409/photo/1

      Even AKD prostrates whenever he sees saffronistas.
      What is the message from political parties to their voters?

      Need to have another serious Aragalaya?

      • 11
        1

        Words of wisdom …….. hope all the Tamils are listening ………. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wp-TTZy6IdI

        If they vote for him, Tamils are wise/buddhimath ……. if not, as dumb as Sinhala_man ….. to vote for someone else …….

        Native, would you rather be dumb ……. than wise? …… Or in-between?

        • 6
          1

          nimal fernando

          Thanks for the clip.

          “Native, would you rather be dumb ……. than wise? …… Or in-between?”

          Given the choice I would consider voting for the stupid plain speaking butcher Gota than his nephew.

          Does the Baby Prince Namal think Tamils/Muslims will vote for Rajapaksas who Baby Prince thinks help the Tamils without expecting anything in return?

          It reminds me of Louis Heren’s famous quote “Why is this lying bastard lying to me?”

      • 8
        1

        Native,
        “What is the message from political parties to their voters?”
        That the Yellow Ayatollahs have the last word always.

    • 0
      0

      Hello OC,
      Sounds like they have been taking lessons from the Catholic Church. There are investigations in Scotland and Ireland into the Institutional behaviour of the Church towards the criminal, systematic abuse by their Priests and Nuns. For a long time they behaved with impunity while the top levels covered up their crimes. It even permeated the Schools and Social Work Organisations. Many Teachers, Headmasters, Policemen and Social Workers knew about it and did nothing. The Middle Classes closed ranks, after all, by their reckoning, it was only the children of riff-raff that were being abused. Keep Religion out of Politics.
      Best regards

  • 7
    2

    “ when the government was “engaged in a series of reconciliation efforts.”
    Is it so! Do the Tamil Speaking Citizens (TSC) really believe that there has been GENUINE reconciliation efforts by GoSL ever since brutally executed annihilation of LTTE an organisation that AROSE because of the decades of suppression of minorities. War is not a choice to solve internal problems within a country.Dialogues organised by an international intermediary organisation could have avoided lots bloodshed and government coffers.
    More than just talks etc TSC wants to see positive actions by GoSL such reducing armed forces in North and East of SL

  • 1
    1

    There have been many reports similar to this:
    .
    https://www.orissapost.com/sri-lankan-president-wickremesinghes-party-suggests-referendum-to-postpone-elections-for-two-years/
    .
    The NPP response:
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQlTbKfGRbg
    .
    My YouTube comment: Google Translation into Sinhalese of this:
    .
    I agree absolutely, Nalindra. The issues are clear, and the entire country will fight against this. It will not succeed.

    For this reason, none of our individual reactions ought to be extreme or of uncontrolled fury. This ridiculous talk is meant to upset us; therefore we ought to be level-headed in our responses. Adopt Nalindra’s own clear but untroubled tone of voice.”
    .
    I’m going to keep my focus on how we ought to educate the public on complicated aspects of the election like Preferential Voting.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V) of 51B, Golf Links Road, Bandarawela, Sri Lanka

    • 5
      2

      SM,
      Ruchira has accused Nalinda Jayatissa of conspiring against him. What do you think?

      • 0
        0

        Hello OC,
        I think “Chiv” if I remember correctly gave the right answer/advice.
        Best regards

        • 1
          0

          LS
          As I said to Chiv, he has turned out to be the real doctor here. I wouldn’t have been so forgiving to the scummy psychotic pair who questioned his credentials as a doctor.
          I fervently hope the other psycho too outs himself soon.

  • 3
    14

    “Secretary-General, Agnes Callamard, called on the international community to take decisive action by referring Sri Lanka to the UN Security Council with a view to an International Criminal Court investigation.”

    Ridiculous. Around 80,000-100,000 people died during the SL civil war which lasted 26 years or so. That’s a maximum of ~3900 people per year when averaged out. Since October of just this year, at least 35K Palestinians have been killed. There have been no sanctions on Israel, no trade embargo, not even a consensus for a ceasefire. The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Netanyahu, but no European country will follow up on it, due to accusations of anti-semitism. It is obvious to any neutral observer that the UN is a useless organization. Some of its primary donors, the US, UK, and France, are responsible for facilitating war all over the world and then selling weapons for a premium. Anyway, back to common sense. Sri Lanka should do **nothing** unless Israel is held accountable.

    • 9
      1

      Lester,
      If ‘Israel is held accountable’, should Sri Lanka be held accountable?

  • 5
    8

    Implementation of the 13th Amendment is a must at any cost. Buddhist clergy, Sinhala extremists, Muslim politicians and Tamil politicians with LTTE’s mind set should know the reality.

    • 4
      2

      AYATHURAY RAJASINGAM,
      I hear this ‘LTTE’s mind set’ thrown around, a lot.
      Now, you.
      Could you tell me about it, please.

    • 6
      1

      AYATHURAY RAJASINGAM

      13th A, reasonable settlement, ….. all are out now.
      During his last visit to North AKD openly said he had come to North not to negotiate political settlement.
      Ranil did not talk about political settlements either during his visit to North in the last few days hence C V Wigneshwaran was disheartened and disappointed.

      Now whom are you appealing to?

      • 2
        5

        Native Vedda,
        Then the only option is to declare the North-East Province as an Independent Territory within the Union of India in accordance with the Indian Constitution. This process is on its course. Airports, Harbours, Bank (State Bank of India) are already within the Indian control. Next is the usage of Indian currency in Sri Lanka. This is how Sri Lanka is moving. Sri Lankan Airlines is already finding difficult to manage itself. It may be taken over by India. When the bridge between Dhanuskodi and Talaimannar is completed, then it is a matter of time or when Akhand Bharat is declared, it is automatically within India’s control and Sri Lanka may be Two Independent Territories within the Union of India. Who knows..

        • 2
          2

          AYATHURAY RAJASINGAM

          “Then the only option is to declare the North-East Province as an Independent Territory within the Union of India in accordance with the Indian Constitution.”

          How are you going to do that?
          Why didn’t nimal fernando’s GURU and madman Prabaharan do it?

          • 0
            1

            NV
            “Then the only option is to declare the North-East Province as an Independent Territory within the Union of India in accordance with the Indian Constitution.”

            India already considers entire island as a part of India.
            Why bother to subdevide further?
            .
            Soma

            • 1
              1

              Soma & Native Vedda,
              Why not clarify from India as to whether Akhand Bharat is in process. Whether Indian currency be in use in Sri Lanka, reason for Indian Banks to be opened in Sri Lanka, reasons for controlling harbours & Airports by India, etc and finally to build the bridge between Dhanuskody to Talaimannar and railway straight to Trincomalee. Now some Indian Restaurants are already opened in Jaffna. Hindi is taught in Jaffna and Tamils are studying with great aspiration. There are some more.

              • 1
                0

                A.J.
                You are happy we are happy.
                .
                Soma

                • 0
                  1

                  Soma,
                  You like Butter Chicken and Cheese naan?

  • 7
    1

    Without the support of USA, India and other countries, GoSL Forces could not have brought the protracted civil war to an end. GoSL too conducted the war in much more brutal means without any UN observers (+media) on the ground. Those countries that supported the GoSL should have obtained an unbreakable International Agreement to SAFEGUARD TSC (Tamil Speaking Citizens) rights to live in SL as equal citizens. Many countries are now RECOGNISING Palestine as a State. If the Singhalese continue to treat them badly, should not the UN/Other countries do the same.
    Drug culture in the country [Espescially in North & East] has been encouraged by the hidden EVIL forces to bring down the Economy+ Educational capability of the Tamils.
    !3th Amendment is USELESS and waste of Government Funds as far as TSC are concerned when it is DEVOID of Land and Police powers. Police powers too is not enough with huge contingent of Defence Forces presence in North & East of SL.

  • 6
    1

    “not yielded dividends in international human rights forums”
    Why should the GoSL get dividents for the Genocidal activities that has been committed over SEVERAL decades with STILL no let ups?
    The Government and Media DOESN’T want real RECONCILIATION. They JUST want to hoodwink the International Communities.

  • 3
    0

    “Moving forward, we must prioritize reconciliation efforts, address concerns regarding missing persons, and devise mechanisms for compensation and truth and reconciliation. I think this is the time now we have to deal with all these issues. ……….”

    What is the big hurry? Let us drag these things until 2048 so that everyone connected with all the sordid happenings will be dead and gone. There can be no neater way to solve the problem!

  • 4
    0

    There will be no reconciliation .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=541N6YxaxgQ

  • 0
    0

    Give the Tamil speaking people what they want.
    Hold a referendum among them.
    .
    Soma

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