24 September, 2020

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Reparations Office Can Bind The Nation Together 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Limping and internally conflicted thought it be, the government of national unity once again showed its value when it got the Office for Reparations bill passed through parliament. The margin of victory was narrow with just 59 MPs voting in favour and 43 against it. As both UNP and SLFP members of the government voted for the passage of the bill it can be believed that both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe were in favour of the passage of the bill. They were joined by the TNA which also voted in favour of the bill. However, the voting figures show that most of the government MPs kept away from the vote. This was a shirking of their responsibility to take a stand on an issue of greatest importance to the national reconciliation process.

It is to the credit of the government that it continues with its post-war reconciliation process despite strong opposition from nationalists and party political rivals on both sides of the ethnic divide. This opposition is fueled both by misinformation about the purpose of these reconciliation mechanisms and by the desire to gain partisan political advantage. It is to the credit of the members of the UNP and SLFP who did cast their votes that they were of one mind in ensuring that the bill was passed even while at loggerheads on most other matters of state. This alone highlights the value of the alliance and the need for it to continue beyond the present term of parliament.

Particularly praiseworthy was the vote of UNP members Sajith Premadasa and Navin Dissanayake in favour of the bill. Both of them had lost their fathers to LTTE suicide bombers when they were at the height of their political careers. Anther who voted in favour of the bill was Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka who almost lost his life to an LTTE suicide bomber. The opposition critiqued the bill on account of the possibility of LTTE cadres obtaining reparations as a result of the establishment of the Office for Reparations. In voting in favour of the bill all three of these UNP members gave priority to victims of human rights violations during the war, and other conflicts that had taken place in the country, rather than to their own personal losses.

LTTE Compensation 

The Office for Reparations is the second of the transitional justice mechanisms to be set up following the October 2015 resolution of the UN Human Rights Council that the government decided to co-sponsor. The first was the Office of Missing Persons which was established in February this year. The acceptance of the targets set out in the resolution and intended to be achieved by the government have been controversial since the day the resolution was signed. The government has been denounced by the opposition for having betrayed the country and those who both fought and led the military operations that resulted in the defeat of the LTTE.

With few exceptions, such as Minister Mangala Samaraweera, the unfortunate failure of the government’s leaders to defend the co-sponsorship of the UNHRC resolution in October 2015 can be attributed to their lack of conviction and political courage with regard to the need for the ongoing reconciliation process. The non-participation of many government members in the vote on the Office for Reparations bill indicates their lack of conviction that it is a necessary measure in terms of the national reconciliation process. Without a system of ensuring reparations for past human rights violations and injuries stemming from such violations, the consequences of the war cannot be adequately dealt with.

Last weekend I was at a workshop that explained the concept of transitional justice and what it means for Sri Lanka to a group of community leaders and members of the Youth Parliament in the Ratnapura district. When the Office for Reparations was being discussed the same objection that was heard in parliament was heard on the seminar floor. Articulating themselves with considerable passion, some of the participants said that the Office for Reparations would be compensating LTTE members and their families and this was not an appropriate or just use of national resources. They pointed out that it was an inequitable use of government resources to use funds to compensate LTTE members and their families when the LTTE’s primary focus was on dividing the country. This echoes the objection of the political opposition to the Office for Reparations.

Big Majority 

The legislation in the Office for Reparations Act does not specifically state that LTTE members and their famileis are to be recipients of reparations. The law states that persons who have suffered damage as a result of loss of life or damage to their property or persons in four contexts are those who are entitled to reparations. These are in the context of the war that took place in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, in connection with political unrest of civil disturbances, in the course of systemic gross violations of the rights of individuals, groups or communities of people in Sri Lanka or due to an enforced disappearance. This use of language does not exclude the LTTE members or their families from receiving reparations if they have suffered human rights violations.

Once the institution is set up and commissioners are appointed they will need to go into this issue. It is an axiom that those who seek justice need to have clean hand themselves. The commissioners will be able to look at what other countries have done in similar situations. At the workshop in Ratnapura, those who were conducting it took the position that reparations were for all Sri Lankans who were entitled to them. This was acceptable to the big majority of the workshop participants. This was seen when 15 out of 17 youth development officers who were taking part in the training said they were prepared to organized follow up workshops in their localities and explain the transitional justice process to the people they worked amongst.

This is an opportunity for the government, political parties and public and civic institutions that failed in the past to make amends for those failures. The Office for Reparations can provide a strong message of care to the conflict affected populations living in all parts of the country due to the several conflicts that have taken place during the country’s post-independent history. These include the recent anti-Muslim riots and the two JVP insurrections that took place in 1971 and again in 1988-89 in which much violence was perpetrated on innocent people. Even though most of the government MPs did not vote, by getting the Office for Reparations into the law, the government of national unity can still claim to represent the interests of a multi ethnic and plural nation better than the opposition who voted against the bill.

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Latest comments

  • 4
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    Jehan sees the problems facing us is due to the language/religion-divide. He is tirelessly trying his best to close the divide. We who agree with him admire his determination.
    He will succeed.

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      K. Pillai,
      Reperations are a must for the people who suffered at the hands of the government and the LTTE. Not sure if this should include the LTTE cadre that perpetrated violence against others but Jehan seems to think so because that’s what his pay masters/handlers want. These Western pay masters want to create a divide amongst the population by instituting reparations for terrorists. The West should lead by example and start providing reparations for the Islamic Terrorists they have obliterated. Sri Lanka can follow right after. Until then, I say NO.

      .

  • 2
    2

    “Even though most of the government MPs did not vote, by getting the Office for Reparations into the law, the government of national unity can still claim to represent the interests of a multi ethnic and plural nation better than the opposition who voted against the bill”.

    A giant step in the right direction.

    “However, the voting figures show that most of the government MPs kept away from the vote. This was a shirking of their responsibility to take a stand on an issue of greatest importance to the national reconciliation process”.

    Politics no doubt is a dirty game.

  • 2
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    Time and time again Jehan is trying his utmost to bridge the gap in our divided mindset. Not a week passes without Jehan writing articles to articulate ways and means for co-existence and promote harmony among the people; whether they are from the North , or the South for that matter East or West of our island nation. Reparation by definition is the act of amending any wrong doing by whatever party. Its a question of winning the hearts and minds of concerned group or individuals

    To my knowledge the OMP ,though set up in February there is no evidence to date that it had materially produced anything substantial. Meeting about meeting seems to be theme so far. Unless and otherwise the stated organisation(s) act with some teeth, it would end up as “we also ran the race”. Wasting time and money. They should have a time frame with deliverables.
    Peace is built on understanding, and wars are built on misunderstandings. South Africa’s” Truth and Reconciliation ” is a good example to go by

    “It is not the strongest of species that survive , nor the most intelligent , but the one most responsive to change”- Charles Darwin

    • 1
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      The idea of Reparations is ‘Dead in the Womb’ Bill or Act notwithstanding. Instead of dreaming and exulting over it, extrude this Frankenstein and incinerate it.

  • 1
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    Do ‘reparations’ include release of ‘political prisoners’ or charging them in courts?
    Do ‘reparations’ include allowing people re-settle in their homes and lands from which they were driven away, reconstruction of homes, restoring their way of life & livelihoods, and cessation of persecution of alleged ex-LTTErs?

    If not, this will be a meaningless exercise.

  • 3
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    OK Jehan if you have money go pay reparations yourself. Why you see everything with an Eelaam pair of spectacles, stand up and talk about reparations for the pain and suffering caused by tamil terrorists to those people who used to live in wanni regions that were decimated and mauled by the terrorists, those Sinhala and Muslim people of the deep south that were blown to smithereens by terrorist bombs, and the military, police and civil defence personnel that were murdered by so called one-sided freedom fighters, alias terrorists. Before we find money for reparations, first go and look into the bank balances of the present and past day prime ministers, presidents and ministers and high ranking civil servants, held in foreign banks. You try and ease those moneys out first, then the whole country could benefit from the mega scale treasures squirreled away by our so called, criminal minded leaders, evenly spread across sinhala, muslim and tamil citizens.

  • 4
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    Nonsens

    Noone can please the Tamils

  • 0
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 3
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    According to a lawyer who appeared in a TV discussion, what happened in Sri Lanka was an internal matter. The Government took measures to crack down a group that went on killing members of the security forces as well as unarmed civilians. Therefore, international law on human rights do not apply for such a situation and UNHRC has no authority to impose any conditions to Sri Lankan Government. But the spineless guys in this Government do not have guts to tell that. Mangala has decided to co-sponsor the UNHRC resolution without the approval of the Cabinet or the President. Therefore, the resolution is not legally valid. If Mangala took the decision on his own he should be branded as a traitor. I am wondering whether the Tamil Diaspora oiled his palm!

  • 1
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    Jegan,
    It is true that it is good such a bill passed through the Srilankan parliament with 59 to 43 but more than half of the MPs abstained or against to it. You talk about LTTE and Government war but Srilanka had lots of wars ( I call the riots as war because it is one sided and military was onesided) since 1948. The wars were not always against Tamils but also between Sinhalese and the military as well. Even though lots of Sinhalese were victims because of Sinhalese military and Sinhalese terrorists (victims include: Sinhalese civilians, Sinhalese military, Sinhalese terrorists). Unfortunately there is no one among Sinhalese leadership prepared to talk about the Sinhalese victims by Sinhalese military, Sinhalese Terrorists and Sinhalese politicians. This is the beauty of Sinhalese political leadership. If there is a threat against a Sinhalese leadership they become brutal and they massacre Sinhalese but they escape by creating riots (war) against Tamils or Muslims and Sinhalese are happy with that bloodbath and ignore the Sinhalese victims of Sinhala leadership. So, whether the bill goes through or no, it is not going to work at all.

  • 2
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    The bill passing is no indication of any change in the way Appe Aanduwa works. One must remember, even in Indian Pakistani citizenship acts, with Lefts (LSSP, CP) some other Sinhala MPs opposed it and voted against it. But it was not a turn of things for good, but it was the real turn of things for bad. Out of 106 UNP MPs & 25 SLFP MPs only 59 voted for the bill. So, the first thing is the bill didn’t pass through the Yahapalanaya Court. 2nd There was TNA with 16 members. Then the Muslim, Up Country and JVP MPs were there too? That is telling more Sinhalese opposed to the bills than those voted for it. Then it is telling the bill was defeated in the court of Sinhala Community too.

    They have been exaggerating LTTE’s civilian murders in South. They have been undermining the Tamils suffering in the North East on the hand of the Army & Paramilitary, Muslim guards and Sinhala Home Guards. Paranagama Commission sent out CID’s to all Tamil missing people’s homes to shut them up so previous UNHRC High Commissioner forced it to shut down. But still they down played JVP’s damages to them. Once Reparation commission is set up they would like it to pay for Sinhalese than Tamils. It is in that condition they want to establish a reparation office. Where will that end up is they would start a new explanation of all what happened by LTTE and JVP to enable only to pay Sinhalese and chase out the Tamils from the office. Unless this Office is watched by international monitors, Tamils should not believe these games. Tamils must remember even when The International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) was nothing different happed. IIGEP just resigned when the Lankawe crooks cheated in Udugama’s Commission investigation.

  • 2
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    Racist Jehan PhD is pouring oil to the parliamentarian that if another one bill comes there, how to act. He is saying Vaalaiththodam Junior, Navin and Ponny were attacked by LTTE. Further he is saying that Sinhalese opinion of LTTE may benefit out this is not true because there is an axiom he has established in the bills that recipient should be guilt free for benefits. So now who are Tamils can benefit in the reparation is only those who escaped out of the Sinhala Jury verdict, that may not be even very extremely innocents, but only Karuna, Deva class Tamils. This what Jehan PhD has written up there?

    But just for the sake of good faith let us say other than guilty LETTers, innocents Tamils may benefit too, with Sinhalese from this bill. For this, the ultra-racist Aanduwa’s Campaigner says Vaalaiththodam Junior, Navin and Ponny were attacked by LTTE but those gracious angels still voted for the bill. In other words, his arguments is it is foolishness for those three for not holding revenge against innocents Tamils, just for the LTTE’s committed crimes(- in his opinion). But the Rapist Army names the Killing Field of Sri Lanka operation as Humanitarian Rescues Mission. Can Jehan PhD explain why the Rapist Army saved from LTTE, if Vaalaiththodam Junior, Navin and Ponny should not have voted for the reparation bill for innocent Tamils? Such a poisonous writing is what Jehan PhD propagates.

  • 1
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    Because there can be some right and wrong can get mixed up, we will not be going into history before an international independent Investigation on those criminals. But simple unhide-able matters:
    1.) Ponny was selected to command the war by Old Brother Prince because of his record on Jaffna and East he was as brigadier on those two stations. Jehan PhD knows that truth; Old Brother Prince knows that truth; Ponny knows that truth; the whole world knows that truth. It is not just that there was no reason that Ponny was listed as a possible war criminal in the withdrawn OISL report. Ponny is a resident of USA, but he cannot go there. Can Jehan PhD explain if not LTTE who will punish Ponny for all what he did for innocent Tamils?
    2.) At the time Richard P. was the Local Councils minister, he ordered burning the Jaffna Library for his anger with Mayor Visvanathan. But he made peace with LTTE and gave arms them to fight with IPKF. LTTE lost their members and fought with IPKF on his promise. In fact, from Malati death to all LTTE losses to IPKF was because of Richard. P. Once the IPKF gone and he came to power, he threw away all his agreements with LTTE like SWRD did for SJV. Can Jehan PhD explain if not LTTE who will punish Richard. P?
    3). Gamini played major roles in dismissing Amirthalingam through 1977,1983 pogroms to Burning the library. Gamini played a game in Athulathmudali’s death hoping that to go on LTTE. Navin’s record is out on the Media of what he did in Brigadier Goon’s sign language episode (Feb 2018). Can Jehan PhD explain if not LTTE who will punish Gamini?

    • 0
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      Mallaiyuran,
      You ask, ‘who will punish Ponny for all what he did for innocent Tamils’. You probably meant to say, ‘for all what he did to innocent Tamils’.

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    IA mpretty sure, SAjith PEmadasa and NAvin dissnayake are betting on theri fathers successes. So they say, “I hear, but, I don’t understand any of these things. So, If I become the president, I will understnd these. Then, the next five I will try to some thing. IT looks SARATH FONSEKA is runing him just because of his EGO. HE has proven he is not leadership material for politics. In politics, you can not succeed because of extensive training. IT is politics and you need to understand the objective and it is not the ability to cheat zand plunder and the ability to engage in FRaugds and lie. I think, JVP should Sue the govt asking reparation for Families whose membes died or killed because of JVP At one time One Indian Tamil was heading the LAnguages and he was promoting Tamils above Sinhala. Now under KAriyawasam, ministry of Education, up country Tamisl are Tamilizing everything. KAriya wasam is silent because of Votes and Trade Unions.

  • 1
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    Ajith, Mallaiyuran,
    Sinhala Buddhists have the habit of ‘Forgive and Forget’ the past and go ahead whereas Demalu have the habit of ‘Digging into the Past’ to create problems for Sinhalayo. Despite all the heinous crimes committed by Demala terrorirts such as killing Buddhists who were worshiping at Sri Maha Bodhiya, bombing of ‘Dalada Maligawa’, not a single Demala person was harmed. Same thing with what happened during JVP terrorism. In 1983 incident, it was thugs hired by UNP and Muslims who harmed Demalu. Many Sinhalayo provided protection to Demalu even risking their lives. Who sent lorry loads of relief materials to Demalu after the war ended? Not Demalu who live in Colombo but Sinhala Buddhists. But ungrateful Demalu do not appreciate such good things. Demalu keep on chanting the Mantra ‘War Crimes, War Crimes. War crimes’. There will not be reconciliation as long as Demalu have this dirty habit.

  • 0
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    Now JVP’s Vijitha Herath is saying the Old Royals are using the excuse of “country’s economy is destroyed” to stage a military coup. He says New King is dragged into it, though his 2015 mandate was to arrest those guys and investigate them. .

    Now, Ranil , who has become the lastest Left in the island, to do is to bugger off to Australia to his colleagues, Dr. Siri Gamage, Prof. Kumar, Lionel Bobbage……

  • 1
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    In the context of war in North and East is specifically mentioned but no mention about victims of Demala terrorism in rest of the country.
    ———————————–
    Demalu started the terrorism campaign targeting the security forces and unarmed civilians. Therefore, Demalu should pay reparations for the damage they caused to people and property.
    ————————————
    We will reeducate the guys at Ratnapura not to get misled by a guy who gets paid in $$$s provided by pro-Tamil crooks in the western world.

  • 1
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    LTTE Cadres and Members who suffered Human Rights Violations must be paid Reparation…
    Nice one Dr Jehan..

    Wonder how much A LTTE Cadre who vanished to the Other World or to the ex Viking Lands get compensated ..
    And those poor Lactating Women , their Moms, Dads and even Grand Parents in Kabelithigollawa get from those Reparation Commissioners…
    We have to wait and see.. Don’t we?..

    Dr Jehan seems so happy that Keselwatta Kid , Young Dissanayaka and the Field Marshall Ponny agreed to pay Compo to the LTTE.
    The irony is Two of them are living well , as a result of Human Rights violations of their dear Daddies.
    And the other is directly related to Big Ass Human Rights violations like killing Journalists who criticised the Armed Forces….

    I know one my mate’s Uncles was burned on a Tyre Pyre when Keselwatta Kid’s Dad was calling the shots.
    My mate Native keeps reminding me all the time ,that Navin’s Daddy killed innocent Tamils and Burned their Library..
    My Elders tell me Dr Ranil is involved in giving Mr Pirahaparan the co-ordinates to the brave Army Intelligence Boys hide out in Athurugiriya, where the whole company was massacred by the LTTE.

    Wonder how much Compo the good Commissioners will grant these victims…

  • 0
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    What a bunch of traitors…. Why do tax payers have to make reparations to a group of terrorists who murdered so many innocent civilians and tried to tear apart the country ? WTH ? Government should only make reparations to those whom they have wronged and not to a bunch of blood sucking terrorists. Only thing an ex LTTE member deserves is a nice little prison cell. Funny how a nobody like Jehan perera thinks it matters what he is spewing. Shove your reconciliation crap up in your ass.

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