26 September, 2020

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Sri Lanka Needs More International Assistance Not Less

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Foreign assistance to Sri Lanka has been falling partly on account of Sri Lanka’s post-war accession to the ranks of middle income countries, albeit of those at the lower end.  It is from this perspective that an old friend of Sri Lanka, former Japanese peace envoy to Sri Lanka, Yasushi Akashi, has been quoted by the Presidential Spokesman’s Office as having said that he was “amazed by the ability of government officials, starting from the leadership, to mobilize the extra efforts in a very effective manner” according to a news story in the national media.  He was also quoted as saying he was “sure that the government and people of Sri Lanka will wish to move much more rapidly, but with Sri Lanka’s limited resources what it has done by itself is amazing.”

Despite this internationally commended post-war success, there is a sense of inevitability that the country is going to be subjected to yet another negative resolution against the Sri Lankan government at the ongoing session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.  Invitations have been given to skeptics to peruse the web and see how transparent the Sri Lankan government is when it cites its achievements.  But hard hitting statements made by Sri Lankan government representatives appear designed for domestic rather than international consumption, as they have been counter-productive in serving to antagonize the UN system and its supporters even more.

What is necessary is more concrete evidence from the ground that the lives of those worst affected by the long years of war are in the process of being restored.  This would be the measure of post-war success in reconciliation.  In this context it is not enough to observe the improvements being made to national infrastructure, which includes roads, governmental buildings and airports.  It is also important that the dwellings of people are upgraded to some level of normalcy, and they know the fate of those missing in the war.  A fatal weakness in post-war Sri Lanka is the absence of any attention given by the government to facilitating the search for missing and disappeared persons, every one of whom would have been an irreplaceable member of some family.

NO NORMALCY

The government seeks to claim credit where resettlement of the war-affected people is concerned.  The returnee community of Sannar in the Mannar district in the North would be an example.  There are about 180 families that have been resettled there.  Most are Tamils who lived in that part of Mannar but who had to flee due to the war.  They have continued to live in temporary housing consisting of tin roofed shacks although nearly four years have passed since the end of the war.  Those who have seen the reality of war and natural disaster induced displacements in other parts of the world may find that four years is not a long period of time. But in Sri Lanka, with its small size and availability of resources which are being spent in the billions on a new airport near the President’s birth place, four years is a lot of time for people to languish in tin shacks that they have to call their homes.

It has only been in the last few months that Habitat for Humanities, an NGO, has commenced a programme of activities in Sannar to provide the people with toilets and tube wells.  So far the people have lacked even these basic amenities.  The next step will be to provide them with better quality housing.  If not for the intervention by this NGO the resettled people of Sannar would have been left to fend for themselves.  As one of them said, it is has been difficult for them to think of building their houses by themselves as they lack both the money to purchase the necessary housing material, and they also do not have the time, as they have to go out into the market place to sell their labour to bring back food for the day to their families.

Just across the road is a military camp, one of the large number that continue to dot the North and East of the country, despite the decimation of the LTTE in the last battle and the passage of four years of peaceful conditions.   When I went into the village, I saw two military personnel keeping some sort of watch inside the village.  They looked like two boys, but they had guns, and their presence served as a reminder of the war and that normalcy has still not been restored to the North.  The constant complaint of those who live in the North and East is that military intelligence personnel are ubiquitous in their lives, and their presence on street corners, in market places and even at private functions that people organize, serves to dampen their sense of being normal and free to speak as they wish.  It also serves as a reminder that even four years after the war, normalcy has still not been restored.

POLITICISED DISTRIBUTION

The resettlement taking place in Sannar is important for another reason too.  It shows that antagonistic relationships that exist between ethnic communities can be eased if not healed through creative solutions.   This is particularly important in view of the recent rise in Buddhist-Muslim tensions following the rise of an extreme Buddhist group, the Bodhu Bala Sena which is questioning some of the practices of the Muslim community.  A few months ago there were reports of localized Tamil-Muslim tensions in Mannar over conflicting claims of the two communities to land and fishing resources.  Some of these issues are now before the courts of law and others await more consensual solutions.  These tensions had spreads to Sannar as well, due to concerns that Tamils who had settled in Sannar would be forcibly moved out to accommodate Muslims there.

However, these tensions have now eased due to the clearing of several hundred acres of forest land to provide for the returning Muslim community.  This shows that solutions to inter-ethnic tensions are possible if adequate resources are available and distributed in a manner that is equitable.   The Tamils are the majority community in Mannar, and their representatives control the local level government bodies.  They also have the stronger civil society representation, especially through the Catholic Church and affiliated NGOs.  On the other hand, the Muslims have a powerful minister in the central government who has been effective in providing them with governmental resources. But it is not healthy for inter-ethnic relations if actions of the government and of NGOs are perceived as helping one community at the expense of the other.    The people of Sannar have grievances on this score.

The observations of former Japanese peace envoy Yasushi Akashi are particularly relevant at this juncture.  He is quoted as having said, “I think everyone tends to judge a situation from his or her own background. That is why I feel that it is rather unfair for some developed countries, which have much more resources than Sri Lanka, to express impatience with Sri Lanka and its development; but this is not fair and this is not objective.” Despite the large proportion of displaced persons who have been resettled, the quality of their resettlement, and human rights problems, do not yet qualify the Sri Lankan experience to be cited as a model for international emulation. The international can contribute constructively to greater reconciliation in Sri Lanka, not only by putting pressure on it for a political solution and human rights accountability, but also by ensuring that there are more resources to be distributed to all who are in post-war recovery.

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    It is more important to have in place a fair distribution, rather than simply more resources: Sri Lanka is ruled by a dynasty, more resources are reinforcing Rajapaksas’ power. Do you have any hope that more money from the international community for Sri Lanka will be allocated to the most affected? Rajapaksa will give money to the Tamils? I don’t think so.

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    No worry, Jehan.

    House of Lords not wrried about the Charter but only about the trade network: the world rotates on geopolitics and not on HUMAN-RIGHTS-for-all – UNHRC goes through some motions:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldhansrd/text/130307-0002.htm#13030791000758

    House of Lords, 7 March 2013, debate on Commonwealth and Commonwealth Charter – opening remark of the Minister for the Commonwealth, Lord Howell of Guildford:

    ”I shall start my brief intervention by quoting from an article in the Daily Telegraph earlier this week which said about Britain that,

    “the best vision of what its 21st century economy could become”,
    is,

    “a Britain which rediscovers the Asian and wider global links that propelled the country’s economic growth in the 19th century and could do so again”.
    That is entirely right. It is not a dream but a practical vision. Here, in what we now call the emerging economies and powers, is where our future prosperity and destiny clearly lie. That something that I-not only I, of course -have been saying for 20 years.

    The Commonwealth network is a vital and central part of this totally new landscape and this new scene. I once described the Commonwealth as the “necessary network”, in the sense that if it did not exist we would certainly have to invent something very like it. My right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary was showing commendable prescience when a year or so ago he described the Commonwealth as,

    “a cornerstone of our foreign policy”. ……. ………….”

    Many other Lords also dwelt on trade network and only a few spoe of human rights, rule of law, …..

    By the way, you’re fast changing towards it:

    Does what Akashi say tally with the reports coming out of the North and the East?

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      My apologies to Jehan:

      Despite the large proportion of displaced persons who have been resettled, the quality of their resettlement, and human rights problems, do not yet qualify the Sri Lankan experience to be cited as a model for international emulation. The international can contribute constructively to greater reconciliation in Sri Lanka,(…) by putting pressure on it for a political solution and human rights accountability (……)

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        Jehan has come to please the govt in the first paragraphs and he tells the truth at the end.
        He needs to have spoken about Akashi in the last paragraph only.

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      Keep on dreaming. Camoron went with a big trade delegation to India recently and came back empty handed and that is the talk in the UK. Refugees the Parsi’s of India have always been favoured by the Europeans for 500 years and one of them Gandhi married Indira but that has finished. TATA was given £3billion by Brown to revitalise the steel and car industry but everyone doubts they would make it and one of the reasons is only Parsi blood with caste can move forward within the company. The 4th richest man in the world Ambani was refused the running of Canadian Oil Company because he is Indian. The British cannot compete the eastern European nations when it comes to services so UK has a very large workforce from the EU and the ones who can push a pen are there writing cock and bull. Who listens to house of lords- a seat was purchased for £100k by many under bLiar.

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    In the past Yashushu Akashi was a frequent visitor and tried to broker peace between the Govt and LTTE. However they appeared to give up on this some time back.

    Japan urges Sri Lanka to probe war crimes

    (AFP) – Nov 30, 2011

    COLOMBO — Japan, a top aid giver to Sri Lanka, on Wednesday urged the island’s government to probe war crimes allegedly committed while defeating Tamil rebels and pressed Colombo to improve human rights.

    Japan said it wanted “genuine reconciliation” in Sri Lanka after troops crushed Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009 and declared an end to nearly four-decades of ethnic strife that claimed up to 100,000 lives.

    Tokyo’s special envoy to Sri Lanka, Yasushi Akashi, said there was a “perception of insecurity” despite the end of conflict.

    “I emphasised the vital need to improve the human rights situation in this country,” Akashi told reporters at the end of a four-day visit to the island for talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse and other leaders.

    Akashi said many Sri Lankans still spoke of “disappearances” in Tamil areas, military occupation of private property and heavy presence of soldiers in the island’s northeast.

    “We have no means to verify if these statements are true, but I must say that there is a certain degree of common thread running through these comments,” Akashi said.

    Now with sources drying up MR has done a pilgrimage to Tokyo to revive ties and perhaps aid. However in the absence of any sincere effort to address the problems of the minorities it seems any aid obtained will be of symbolic value only.

    With the advent of the BBS the Govt has achieved notoriety as being ethno-religous centric in policy. Increaseing attacks on Saudi, Iran by the JHU / BBS combine, countries which have helped Sri Lanka politically and financially will see aid from those countries drying up as well.

    With the hora impeachment Govt has lost the support of the western countries as well. So the future is bleak as far as aid is concerned. Maybe a good thing for the people as they will not go deeper into debt. But the people may have to arise from their slumber and challenge the fiscal and monetary policies of the Govt. The blank cheque given to MR, GR, BR must be cancelled.

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    Jehan:

    Your objectivity with comments on various issues now appears in tatters. Why does this regime need more international assistance – to commit another genocide, this time on the Muslims?

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    What baffles me is why the Government has not used its huge bureaucracy and infrastructure to attend to the basic needs of the resettled people. After all in the scheme of things the numbers are manageable, and funds to assist them amply available.

    Building roads, India’s 50,000 homes, rail, power, and water are the basic infrastructure that is part of contracts entered into with Governments and friends of the family, that is not what helping a person who is short of basics to help him or herself in their immediate tasks.

    This total lack of common decency, and basic responsibility of a state to its citizens appears to be hijacked due to the tug of war with the TNA, who will not budge in their criticism of the way the Govt. has gone about their duties.

    I also believe if there is a credible mechanism where the MR Government does not purloin assistance for these people, then more will be forthcoming, and I dare say the Diaspora can then channel resources through an approved agency which is transparent that shows that it is reaching the intended recipients and NOT some other party!

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    “The international can contribute constructively to greater reconciliation in Sri Lanka, not only by putting pressure on it for a political solution and human rights accountability, but also by ensuring that there are more resources to be distributed to all who are in post-war recovery.”

    The strategy or tactics used by the current regime to avoid the international pressure for a political solution is post-war recovery in terms of resettlement,and reconciliation. The problem is not the resources, it is the unwillingness of the current regime to start a true reconciliation with the Tamils. The Government wanted to show the world that they are developing the North_East with massive infrastructures such as roads, buildings, banks and closing of IDP camps etc. In fact the benefits of large amount of investments are not for those who are really affected by the war or those who are really need help. Most of the benefits are gone to Southerners than the affected people. How can you expect a reconciliation without the partnership of those people and their representatives. How can you expect a reconciliation with each family is surrounded by a military personal who is a stranger and people look them as an occupier. Why cannot Japan urge Sri Lanka to go for a political solution that was agreed by various main stream political parties to devolve the power to its people and a well designed program of development through reconciliation, reconstruction and resettlement with the support of international community and the diaspora community which is willing to contribute towards the development of the North-East.

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    ”the government and people of Sri Lanka will wish to move much more rapidly” ??

    Akashi doesn’t read newspapers? online media?

    Doesn’t he know that Sri Lankan govt has been preventing aid agents, including the UN and ICRC, from helping the war-ravaged? If he didn’t know it, did Jehan write about it?
    NO. What does he say?
    ”Despite this internationally commended post-war success,…”

    What malice is this, Jehan??

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    Why is the govt not holding the election?
    Why is the Presidential task Force for Northern Development composed of officials from the central govt and armed forces?

    There were very good suggestions to move fast to LLRC by conscientious Sinhalese – the govt could have taken them up if it wished to let the Tamils live decently.
    ”LLRC”, ”Action Plan”, etc are time-buying ploy to destroy socio-economic-cultural-environment of the Tamils.

    The Tamils don’t want material resources from the rest of the world. They only want political freedom to developthemselves.
    Exactly why the elctions are NOT held yet.

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      “The Tamils don’t want material resources from the rest of the world.”
      That is exactly what western nations dont like they are still the slave masters and are jelous of other cultures that do well and wont mind bombing it like England went to war with Germany or now in Mali.

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    Jehan wants more International aid to complete the Geneocide of the Tamils. They want money to pay the paramillitary to terorise the population. Houese built to settle sinhala people in the North and east in the lands of Tamils displaced by War. First remove the army and army governors from North. Give the power to Tamil. Then give the international aid. Otherwise Sinhala governemnt will complete the Genocide of Tamils started in 1956 very soon with the aid money. How much Akasi knows other than the information he gets from the War Criminals. We expect much better from Jehan

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    Jehan has lived all his life on Aid so it’s understandable.

    During the Tsunami Paul McCarthy asked bush why US was not giving and Bush replied everything revolves around defence and the same goes for UK and Norway or any country. It’s when folk cannot negotiate they look for Aid.

    If the Sinhalese think the Japanese love them they are stupid because Japan is still an American puppet with 100K marines still stationed in Japan. Japan gives because they are told to even while printing money in excess of their worth and as of today its 100% above.

    Germany still has ½ million US/UK soldiers who are due to return by 2020 but most prefer to stay in Germany because life is better- hospitals, schools care etc. Most Jews in their old age resettle in Germany even though they don’t speak German because of the medical care while in the UK they may die of a virus or remain neglected by the NHS because they are old.

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    GEHAN ARE YOU DUMB MAN? MORE INTERNATIONAL ASSITANCE FOR RAJAPAKSAS TO STEAL MORE? DESTROY THE DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS? POOR ARE POORER, MIDDLE CLASS IS POORER? WHICH DEVELOOPMENT PROJECTS ALREADY COMPLETED THE COUNTRY IS EARNING LUMP SUMS? RAJAPASSA PORT? RAJAPASSA NELUM POKUNA? RAJAPASASSA MAHINDA CHINTHNA COAL POWER PLANT? RAJAPASSA CRICKET STADIUM? . ALSO PROMOTING BOLLYWOOD, CAR RACING ARE YOU A ANOTHER KISS ASS TO SAY THAT WE NEED MORE FOREGN ASSITANCE. WE NEED MORE FORIEGN ASSISTANCE IF THE FINACIAL IS CONTROLED BY THE RESPONSIBLE EDUCATED PEOPLE. FINANCE MINISTER IS A DUMB MUTT WHO CREATED FINANCIAL CAOS IN THE COUNTRY. DONT TALK BS! BANGA WEWA.

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    GEHAN IS A RAJAPASSA KISS ASS

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    The foreign aid is drying up because of the bad reputation the country is building up with the international community. We just look at them when we need aid and money not other wise. They are not fools and they have to answer to their tax payers. Unless we put our house in order, its going to be very hard for us to do a decent living in this country other than for the dirty politicians and those connected to them.

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    Sri Lanka doesn’t need foreign aid; what it needs is foreign investment . That is what Ranil was doing in 2006. Now that the LTTE is gone, let us hope the UNP gets another chance.

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    Akashi is not worried about the pathetic situation of the people under the army boots. He is so worried about SriLanka reputation ???????

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    The Catch 22 scenario we are in will continue till someone is able to break the cycle and go full speed ahead. No one wishes to give to a spendthrift govt. that is borrowing and wasting the funds on useless projects whilst the truly needy are still being treated like as “revenge of the aggressors”

    Can the Diaspora justify holding silly GTF all over, whilst the people they pretend to represent are in dire straits? They should put their money where their mouth is. That has simply NOT been forthcoming since the end of the war, and there are ways funds can go direct to the recipients without going through Govt. channels where it is likely to disappear

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    Oh Dear Rita! Foreign Investment – Who the right thinking person would risk their money in a country like this. Jungle law, lawless and corrupt self serving politicians who give two hoots to the country and people.

    Before the Fortune 500 and blue cheap investors making decisions they consult their countries’ foreign office to make sure that particular country is good do their investment, this includes about the character of its leaders. They do thorough due diligence as they are bound to their share holders to make sure the investment is good for them.

    Unless we put our house in order, a have well and good law and order situation, where the people respect law and each other, have right thinking and good leaders, you wouldn’t expect for a long time come any good and sound investment from any one.

    If we are to get any thing good, we have to change and improve ourselves for the better in every walk of our lives and the country. This is the big responsibility of our civil society as politicians let us down very badly to the zero.

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    Sri Lanka needs more money,according to Jehan ,for what? There are people always think that the “Money is First” Can Jehan and his NGO demand for a Independent inquiry on war crimes ? What about restoration of human dignity in the country,especially for Tamils.Roads and other construction are good for people who get 20% 40% commission and to allow their people to earn.High ways in Mullaitivu is for whom? Is it for people who do not even having a push bike? Akashi was really treated well by MRs regime when he visited Sri Lanka during war time.He never utter a word about halting the war and to engage with dialogue for a peaceful settlement as Jehan’s NGO suggested in ninety fives. He was a very good friend of MARA.Better people like him avoiding putting mouth without having a sense of the ethnic conflict.Jehan now talks about Post war reconciliation. Can be there a reconciliation based on win-lose solution.Can you have a reconstruction of a community by the same party which destroyed it and work only for its own community suppressing all other communities.What is locally found solution. Is it destroying the opponent? or waging war on their own citizens.Useless talking to people like Jehan Perera, a so-called Catholic opportunist.

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    Johan Perera got ….

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
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