19 September, 2018

Blog

The Life Of A Sri Lankan Tamil Bishop In Danger

By Brian Senewiratne

Dr. Brian Senewiratne

This is an urgent appeal to prevent the possible assassination/ ‘disappearance’ of the outspoken Roman Catholic Bishop of Mannar, his fellow Catholic priests in the North and East, and others, who call themselves ‘Civil Society’, who are the only voices of the Tamil people in this part ofSri Lanka.

I write, not as a concerned Christian, but as a concerned human being, to apprise the international community, including the Pope, of what might happen in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, as it likes to call itself.

Anyone who is even minimally aware of what is going on behind the closed and censored door of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Totalitarian State, will know, that murder is rampant, and accountability non-existent. Murder or ‘disappearance’ is the Government’s answer to any problem, and the only method of silencing the dissenting voice.

Irreplaceable

If such a fate befalls Bishop Joseph (and his fellow priests), it will be a disaster for the Tamil people in the North and East. They, in particular Bishop Joseph, are the only voices that these people have, since their elected members of parliament have gone ‘quiet’ – as so often happens when a democracy is closing down. Bishop Joseph, his fellow Roman Catholic clergy, and ‘civil society’, have done more to high-light the terrible plight of a voiceless people than all their parliamentarians put together. In that blood-drenched country where so many thousands of Tamils have been butchered by the Rajapaksa junta, and some 300,000 Tamil civilians made ‘non-people’, Bishop Joseph, his clergy, and members of ‘civil society’, are the single biggest threat. This is not an opinion to be debated, but a fact to be faced and addressed before it is too late.

Bump them off

Already more than a dozen Christian priests, mainly Roman Catholics, have been murdered, abducted or have simply gone missing – “disappeared”. In the Sinhalese South, it is the dreaded ‘white van’ with no number plates that arrives. The victim is bundled in and that is that.

In the Tamil North and East, these niceties are not considered necessary. Just a straightforward abduction by ‘unknown men’ (read – President Rajapaksa’s gang of thugs, some in army or police uniform, others in civilian clothes), arrive, and that is the last that is seen of the victim. Whether he wears a cassock or not, is not of significance.  It is brazen – plain simple murder, done with the assurance that the Government, the overwhelmingly Sinhalese (99%) Sri Lankan Armed Forces (now running the North and East), the Police, and the crumbling legal system under the heel of the Executive President with sweeping powers, will do nothing to bring the perpetrators to book. Many of these are, in fact, directed by members of the ruling junta.

There is no investigation, not even the pretence of one. The Government does not think it is called for, If there are calls, those who do so are ‘enemies of Sri Lanka’, ‘traitors’, ‘terrorists’ or even ‘Tamil Tiger Terrorists’. In Sri Lanka, any Tamil is a ‘terrorist’ unless he stands close to the blood-drenched Sri Lankan flag. So are others (like the writer of this paper, who is a Sinhalese). Ethnicity no longer matters. To be critical or even to question what the ruling junta does, is, by definition, ‘terrorism’ or treason, and treated as such. George Bush’s “You are with us or with the terrorists” is applied absolutely in Rajapaksa’s autocraticSri Lanka.

Mannar and Bishop Rayappu Joseph

Mannar

Mannar district is one of 25 administrative districts inSri Lanka, located in the North East, with a population of about 130,000, mainly Tamils (and some Muslims). It is linked toMannarIslandby a causeway.MannarIslandis a dry and barren area of about 50 square kilometres. Fishing is economically vital for survival. Deliberate destruction of this (as the GoSL has done) will result in starvation.

The Mannar Diocese has some 86,700 Catholics, 69 priests, and 21 religious priests. Rt Rev Dr Rayappu Joseph is the Bishop of Mannar.

The MadhuChurch, on the mainland in the Mannar district, is one of the ancient Churches of Asia. It is the holiest Roman Catholic shrine in Sri Lanka, home to Sri Lanka’s most famous Catholic statue, the centuries old, priceless statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary – the ‘Our Lady of Madhu’. In 1920, Bishop Brault (the then Bishop of Jaffna) obtained the Pope‘s sanction for the Coronation of the Statue.

In August, thousands of Catholics from all overSri Lankago to Madhu for the annual ‘Madhu festival’. On 18 August 2010, there were more than 450,000 people.

In November 1999, the Sri Lankan Armed Forces (99% Sinhalese) thought nothing of shelling this Church, doing extensive damage.

The Pesalai Catholic Church, one of the largest churches inSri Lanka, is inMannarIsland.  The Sri Lankan Navy thought nothing of tossing hand grenades into the Church, having asked the civilians to take shelter in ‘places of worship’ – which I hope a Church is.

The murder of Tamil Christian priests in Mannar is nothing new. Let me back-track to ensure that history does not repeat itself.

Fr Mary Bastian was a Catholic priest in Vankalai in the Mannar district. He was abducted on January 5th, 1985, by the Armed Forces, tortured and murdered. The body was clandestinely burnt. Several witnesses saw the Priest being taken away by the soldiers. Pope John Paul had a special prayer for the departed soul of Fr Bastian. I have no idea what good that did but I do know that a few days later, a Tamil Methodist Priest, George Jeyarajasingham, was ambushed and killed by the Sri Lankan Army.

Lalith Athulathmudali, the then President J.R. Jayawardene’s Minister of National Security (or rather, Insecurity), in typical Goebellian style, completely denied that the murder had occurred, adding insult to injury by tarnishing the dead priest’s reputation.  He claimed that Fr Bastian had run away toIndiaand was very much alive in Tamil Nadu.

Many Sinhalese Catholic priests in the South collaborated in this cover up. The most serious collaborator was Rt Rev Oswald Gomis, later appointed the Head of the Roman Catholic Church inSri Lanka. Rev Gomis, the government propagandist, with the tacit consent of the then Archbishop of Colombo, Nicholas Marcus Fernando, wrote to theVaticanthat Fr Bastian was alive and well inIndia.

The Pope retracted his earlier statement – something that is unknown. TheVaticanissued a press release that the Pope had erred in praying for Fr Bastian’s departed soul and that “joyfully” he was alive.

Despite overwhelming evidence that the priest was dead, Catholics did not want to push the issue, since it would have eroded the Pope’s credibility even further. With the Pope’s infallibility already dented, the faithful decided to let it pass. The Pope’s infallibility was undermined by Roman Catholic priests in the Sinhalese South, cooperating with the Government.

Let us make sure that the Pope is well aware of the dangers facing Bishop Rayappu Joseph and his fellow priests in the North and East – not that he has not been apprised of this before (as we will see).

Bishop Rayappu Joseph

Born inDelft(an island off theJaffnaPeninsula) in 1940, ordained in 1967, he was appointed Bishop of Mannar in July 1992.

It is impossible to even list out, let alone present, what this outstanding Catholic Bishop has done for the people of Mannar, and the wider community in the Tamil North and East. As someone who is neither a Tamil nor a Roman Catholic, all I can say is that this extraordinary man and his lone voice of protest in a hugely dangerous country, has been an inspiration to all of us who have an interest in human rights in general, the brutalised Tamil ‘minority’ in particular.

What has Bishop Rayappu Joseph done?

What ‘hanging offences’ has the Bishop done to ‘warrant’ assassination or  ‘disappearance’? In a sentence – he has looked after his flock – not just Catholic Christians, but Christians of all denominations, non-Christians, and non-believers. If we believe what is in the Bible, they are all God’s children – which Bishop Joseph has applied absolutely. He is not only the leader of the Catholic Church in Mannar, but a humanitarian, which is why his ‘elimination’ will affect everyone.

Let me take you through some of Bishop Joseph’s ‘hanging offences’, seen as such by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL).

I will not deal with what Bishop Joseph has done for his people in Mannar, traumatised by the war inSri Lanka, prior to 1999. It will simply take too long. I will deal only with some of the more recent events.

The bombing of Mannar

When the Sri Lankan Air Force and Navy decided to bomb and shell Mannar in 1999, Bishop Joseph urged that civilians be spared.  They were not. As scores of civilians, men, women and children, were slaughtered or injured, Bishop Joseph lodged a strong protest with the Armed Forces, went to care for the wounded, and to wipe the tears of those who survived. That was unacceptable to the GoSL.

The bombing of the Madhu Church in Mannar.

With the bombing getting closer to the MadhuChurch(with its invaluable Lady of Madhu  statue), some people (I am told they were Tamil Tigers – some of whom were Roman Catholics) – rescued this treasure. They returned it to the Church when this outrage was over. Had it not been for them this holy of holy statues would have been pulverised.

On 28 November 1999, the Madhu Church was bombed. The Church was extensively damaged, some 40 civilians killed and another 60 injured. Jesus Christ lost an arm (I mean the statue), as I have documented in one of the dvds I have recorded.  Bishop Rayappu Joseph raised a voice of protest at this outrage.

These protests are completely unacceptable to the GoSL. Churches and Hindu shrines (kovils), are there to be destroyed and replaced by Buddhist Statues, dome-shaped Stupas (‘Dagobas’), and Buddhist Temples – despite the fact that there are no (or very few) Buddhists in the area. This is ‘necessary’ to make multiethnic, multireligious, multicultural, multilingualSri Lankainto a Sinhala-Buddhist country – the undisguised intention of the GoSL, whatever the rhetoric.

End of the war

Then came the end of the war, 19 May 2009.

Bishop Joseph, and many others in the North and East, waited for the return to normalcy and at least some accounting and reconciliation. With nothing but a futile “Lesson Learnt Reconciliation Commission” (LLRC) appointed by the Rajapaksa government, he and two of his fellow clergy made a detailed Submission.

LLRC: Submission by the Catholic Diocese of Mannar

Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph, Rev.Fr. Victor Sosai, Rev. Fr. Xavier Croos

This is a crucially important Submission which deals with what the people in the North and East are going through behind the closed and censored doors ofSri Lanka. It is important to point out that despite the end of the war, internationally credible human rights organisations such as Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and International Crisis Group (ICG), are not allowed into the North and East, nor are independent observers.

As such, we have to rely on people on the ground, like Bishop Joseph, his clergy, and ‘civil society’ to tell us what is happening to ordinary civilians.

Although the stated aim of the Submission was to deal with the situation in the Diocese of Mannar, what was presented applies to the entire Tamil area. It is so important that I have reproduced it in full in the Appendix. It is a ‘must read’ document.

This is the only document ever published that gives the actual number of people who are unaccounted for (a staggering 146,679):

“Based on information from the Kacheris[1] of Mullativu and Killinochi about the population in Vanni in early October 2008 and number of people who came to government controlled areas after that, 146,679 people seem to be unaccound for. According to the Kacheri, the population in Vanni was 429,059 in early part of October 2008 (Refer Annex 4 and 5). According to UN OCHA update as of 10th July 2009, the total number of people who came out of the Vanni to government controlled areas after this, is estimated to be 282,380 (Refer Annex 6)”.

The Submission opens with:

“At the outset, we must express our disappointment that previous Commissions of Inquiry have failed to establish the truth into human rights violations and extrajudicial killings they were inquiring and bring justice and relief to victims and their families.”

Driving the point home, it goes on:

“In order to achieve genuine and lasting reconciliation, we believe it is crucial to address roots of the conflict and war, primarily issues affecting Tamils such as recognition of their political reality, language, land, education and political power sharing.”

This invaluable document says much more. It is, as I have said, a “must read”.

The US Envoys come to Sri Lanka

In February 2012, Ambassador Marian Otero, Under Secretary of State, and Ambassador Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State, US State Department, visited Sri Lanka to tell the Rajapaksa government that the US intended to submit a Resolution on Sri Lanka at the upcoming 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (27 February – 23 March 2012).

19 Tamils, non-politicians, (“Civil Society”), including Bishop Rayappu Joseph, immediately sent a letter to them (10 February 2012). It is the most concise and precise letter I have seen, written by people with genuine concern about the Tamil people, and the expectations (and responsibilities) of the UNHRC. I had intended just to quote from this but it is such a comprehensive letter that I decided to reproduce it in full:

10 February 2012

Ambassador Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State

Ambassador Robert Blake, Asst Secretary of State,
US State Department.

Your Excellencies,

Tamils of Sri Lanka and the Forthcoming Sessions of the UN Human Rights Council.

In the context of the forthcoming sessions of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, we, members of the Tamil civil society in Sri Lanka, write this letter seeking to bring to your notice our expectations of the Geneva sessions.

  1. With deep regret we take note of the fact that the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation (LLRC) has become the point of reference in the discussions on Sri Lanka in Geneva. We wish to emphasise that it is important to give preeminent status and importance to the UN Secretary General’s Expert Panel Report on Sri Lanka in the discussions and particularly to highlight the unbridgeable gaps between the LLRC report and the UNSG’s Expert Panel’s report.
  2. It is no secret that the appointment of the LLRC was an attempt on the part of the Government to buy time from the International Community – to postpone the setting up of an international mechanism to investigate into the grave atrocities committed against the Tamil people. The contents of the LLRC report should be viewed from this perspective – the purpose that it seeks to serve in furthering the short and long term goals of the Government of Sri Lanka.
  3. It is not disputed that the LLRC report has failed in reasonably addressing the question of accountability. On the other hand the recommendations relating to scaling down militarization, disarming paramilitaries et al have been deliberately included so that any reasonable reader cannot out rightly reject the LLRC. This means that the international community is in a way forced to welcome these ‘positive features’ of the LLRC report, pressurize for implementation of those recommendations and postpone any move towards setting up an international mechanism to look into the question of accountability. This is exactly what the Government of Sri Lanka wanted with the LLRC.
  4. Though many are surprised that a Government appointed commission could come up with such ‘positive recommendations’, we on the contrary are not. We were right from the beginning aware that the appointment of the LLRC would be a time buying exercise and the report that has been released has its objective of further buying time for the GOSL. In fact none of the commissioners reflected the kind of views that are now considered to be ‘positive’ in the LLRC report. The Chairman of the LLRC in his questions to Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, a former Under Secretary General of the United Nations, who appeared before the LLRC in a public hearing in Colombo, was of the opinion after visiting the North that the Tamil people were not seeking constitutional reforms but only job opportunities1. Hence it is not abnormal to be surprised that this very commission had chosen to go against the thinking of its Chairman and acknowledge that the Tamils have true political grievances, which require a political solution. But this only reiterates the point that we make, that the commission has made these positive recommendations which even some of its commissioners including its Chairman don’t believe in, to achieve the political purpose of its appointers. Furthermore a careful reading of these so-­called ‘positive recommendations’ will only reveal that they do not accomplish much. For example the substantive recommendations on a political solution parrot the Government’s stated position on a political solution: empower Local Governments and establish a second chamber. (Paragraphs 9.231 and 9.232 of the report). On the question of paramilitaries the report conveniently ignores the                         well-­acknowledged fact that the paramilitaries of the EPDP and TMVP are in fact controlled by Sri Lankan Army Intelligence. (Paragraphs 5.77 and 5.78 of the report). It is also no secret that the leadership of these two para military groups enjoy ministerial portfolios and that their cadre received monthly stipends for many years from the country’s defense budgets. It is also glaring that the commission does not call for the repeal of the PTA (Paragraph 9.57 of the report). The recommendations relating to for example detainees are welcome. However such recommendations fall short of reflecting the overall complexity of the issues and have been included to cover up the report’s otherwise glaring failures. The report thus quite cleverly accomplishes its founding objective of giving the feel good while not straying too far and conceding too much from the current Government’s positions on many of these vital questions.
  5. We have no faith whatsoever that these so called ‘positive recommendations’ of the LLRC report will be implemented. We state this not only from our past experience with presidential commission reports in Sri Lanka but also because we have completely lost faith in the governance framework of this country. We also have no trust in the negotiations taking place between the GOSL and the Tamil National Alliance, which we perceive, again, as a convenient time buying exercise by the Government of Sri Lanka.

We urge that it is imperative that the International Community that meets in Geneva this March for the UN Human Rights Council sessions takes a firm stance on accountability. As expressed by our elected representatives (the Tamil National Alliance) in their initial response to the LLRC on the 19th of December 2011 we urge the ‘international community to acknowledge the consistent failure of domestic accountability mechanisms in Sri Lanka and take steps to establish an international mechanism for accountability’. Any resolution coming out of the Human Rights Council, which gives more time to the Government of Sri Lanka, will have a devastating impact on the Tamil community. The Government’s current activities in the North and East are challenging the very existence of the Tamil people and more time to the GOSL to implement the LLRC’s recommendations will only mean further time for the Government to play havoc in the North and East and subjugate the interests and aspirations of the Tamil people. If the International Community does not act now, like they did not act in May 2009, the Tamils will cease to exist as a ‘people’ in this country.”

[Signed by 19 civil society representatives]

People who write such letters, uncomfortably near the truth, have no place in Rajapaksa’s “Democracy” and must be ‘eliminated’. It was published in the ‘tamilnet’  website, which alone is a ‘hanging offence’ in the eyes of the GoSL.

UNHRC Submission

On 1st March 2012, 31 Christian clergy in North Sri Lanka headed by Bishop Rayappu Joseph, made a Submission to the UN Human Rights Council 19th Session that had started on 27 February.

“Bishop’s House, Pattim, Mannar, Sri Lanka

 1st March 2012

 To: The President and all members of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Dear Excellencies,

UN Human Rights Council sessions and resolution on Sri Lanka

 We are writing to you as a group of concerned Christian clergy in North Sri Lanka who have been directly affected by war and have been working to ensure rights of people in our region before, during and after the war, while being concerned and committed to broader issues of human rights, democratization and rule of law in Sri Lanka. We have also been trying to monitor domestic and international developments in this regard and contribute constructively to such processes.

Although we are not privy to the official positions and documents of members of the Council in relation to actions contemplated related to Sri Lanka, we welcome that the UNHRC members appear to be taking some action towards protection of human rights in Sri Lanka, even though this comes bit too late, after massive loss of life and sufferings. At least now, we urge the Council to act decisively in relation to Sri Lanka, to enable Sri Lankans to move towards genuine reconciliation.

Given the consistent denial of the Sri Lankan government about scale and nature of war time abuses as well as pre-war and post-war concerns, refusal to address these, and given also the seriousness of the allegations levelled against it as one of the parties to such abuses, we believe it is an independent international body that could best address concerns of truth seeking, accountability and reparations for victims in a way that victims, survivors and their families will have confidence. It is only by addressing these that we believe we can move towards genuine reconciliation.

The LLRC has quite rightly identified abuses by the LTTE and also come up with some positive recommendations that has potential for reconciliation. But it has failed to address critical issues of truth seeking and accountability, despite strong evidence and testimony before it. The record of various domestic bodies whose  recommendations successive governments have ignored, including the LLRC’s own interim recommendations issued more than a year ago and threats and intimidation of witnesses who gave testimony to the LLRC including a Christian Priest had made us lose confidence that our concerns will be addressed through LLRC. In fact, the post LLRC track record of abducting human rights defenders in Jaffna, obstructing human rights day event in Jaffna, obstructing peaceful campaigns in the North, killing of a protesting fisherman in Chilaw, vicious hate campaigns against journalists and organizations critical of the government, singing of the national anthem in Sinhalese only and a host of such activities indicates the absolute disregard for the LLRC report by the Government of Sri Lanka.

This, we believe it is imperative that the UNHRC calls on the Government to:

1. Implement LLRC recommendations,

2. Present a time bound, detailed and specific action plan in this regard to the 20th session of the UNHRC,

3. Report back on progress made on implementation to the 22nd session of the UNHRC, and

4. Accept the appointment of and fully cooperate with an international independent and effective mechanism to monitor above and address accountability issues not dealt with by the LLRC.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

1. Most Rev. Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar, Pattim, Mannar, Sri Lanka.
2. Rev. Fr. Kirubaharan, SFXS, Columbuthurai

(the list goes on to 31)

Conspicuous by their absence was the name of Cardinal Malcolm Rangith, the Head of the Catholic Church inSri Lanka, and the Roman Catholic Bishops of Jaffna, Bishop Thomas Savundranyagam, and of Trincomalee-Batticaloa, Bishop Kingsley Swarmpillai.

They clearly feel that there is no problem and that all is well with their flock. If so, they are either out of touch with reality, or have a shameless agenda of their own.

UNHRC – Response of Civil Society

As soon as the Head of the Sri Lankan delegation, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, finished his ‘deviation from the truth’ address to the UNHRC on 27 February, 2012, there was an immediate “Response by Civil Society”  on 29 February, 2012.

“This document is a response to the statement made by Minister Samarasinghe at the High Level Segment of the 19th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). At the outset it is noted that the responses by the Government including setting up the Lesson’s Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and the pledges made in the speech referenced here are as a result of increased international scrutiny and a counter to the growing call for a resolution to

discuss Sri Lanka at the UNHRC. As civil society who work on human rights and rule of law issues in Sri Lanka, the pledges made are yet another indicator of the delaying tactics used by the Government to halt any genuine progress in Sri Lanka.

………., this document highlights areas of contention and counters some of the statements made by him. The table below contains two columns-one with highlights from the statements made by the Minister and the opposing column directly rebutting the specific claim and at times containing questions that should be posed by different actors to the Government of Sri Lanka.

This document is drafted by civil society based on its own reports and documentation, public interest litigation, news reports and other documentation. It is also drafted at a time when civil society and others who are critical of the Government have come under intense threats, resulting in no names being mentioned of those who drafted this document. The shrinking space for any action in Sri Lanka demonstrates the urgent and immediate need for action at the 19th Sessions of the UNHRC.”

‘Table’ referred to is a point by point response to the absolute untruths of theSri Lankan government. I know of no better response to the downright lies of the GoSL.

What is of concern is the decision of those who wrote this not to mention their names because they “have come under intense threats” – which is what this paper by me addresses.  I am, of course, well aware who they are, and what might happen to them, especially to Bishop Joseph.

The opposition to Bishop Joseph

The political party of the Buddhist monks (JHU)

The opposition to Bishop Joseph comes, as would be expected, from the rabidly anti-Tamil political party of the Buddhist Monks, the JHU (Jathika Hela Urumaya (National Freedom Front). They include frank threats (see below)

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith 

Surprisingly, opposition, or rather a lack of support, comes from the Head of the Roman Catholic Church inSri Lanka, Cardinal Malcolm Rangith (a Sinhalese).

On 6 March, 2012, the media spokesperson of the Catholic Church, Rev Benedict Joseph, when questioned about the letter sent by 31 Catholic clergy headed by Bishop Rayappu Joseph, said that “the statement made by Bishop of Mannar Rev.Rayappu Joseph regarding the requirement of an international investigation into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, is not the stance of the Catholic community”.

He added that “ His Eminence Arch Bishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith had already established that the Catholic community believes that Sri Lanka should understand and implement the recommendations made by the LLRC report”.

Professor Sir Hudson McLean  (Scotland)

I have no idea who he is, and cannot get any information on “Google” – something he revels in – “I am flattered that so many persons have searched me on Google,”[2] To this I might respond “Some of us merely want to know your background and why you stand where you do”.

He has written dozens of articles supportive of the GoSL for some 12 years, most of them published in the “LankaWeb”.

Some light is thrown in his article “Paradise lost MUST be regained” on the elusive gentleman whom “so many people” are searching for on Google. In it he says:

Ceylon or Sri Lanka was home to my family for two generations. My father, a planter (tea), brought up our family to love this beautiful Island….”.

 Then came the skeleton in the cupboard, “Recently, I spent a memorable fortnight in your beautiful Island of Sri Lanka, visiting Kandy, Nuwara Eliya (where I enjoyed a game of early morning golf), Hikkaduwa (an expensive coastal Resort)…..

I note that this self-professed ‘concerned Catholic’ did not think it necessary to visit the North and East where thousands of Catholics have been slaughtered and many thousand more are struggling to survive. The problem is that he would not have been able to play golf as he did, in the salubrious climate of Nuwara Eliya. Why would you want to go to the arid North and East when the alternative is the breezy resort of Hikkaduwa? The other side of the coin was that had he gone and seen what is going on, his writings might have been a little more credible. I only hope that the struggling Sri Lankan taxpayer did not have to subsidise this “memorable fortnight”.

I do not know whether I need to spend time dealing with this man who might be singing for his supper. However, I do need to quote his outrageous comments about  the Tamil people – “Most of the Tamils were brought in by the British to work on the tea estates”,(which shows his depth of knowledge of Sri Lanka),  and his claim, “The Island as a whole belongs to the original inhabitants, the Sinhalese.”[3]

He goes on, getting into language unbecoming of his title and position. “US military presence in India would tell the likes of China or Pakistan to fuck off”.

I wondered why the GoSL had not sent this gentleman to fly the Sri Lankan flag at the 19th UNHRC meeting in Geneva. I guess it was the fear that if he told China and Pakistan “to fuck off”, it might have created ‘difficulties’ forSri Lanka.

I take strong exception to McLean’s reference to Bishop Rayappu Joseph in the “Open Letter” he wrote to the Head of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, Cardinal Ranjith, on the “Role of Leaders of the Catholic Faith in a Sovereign State”. Some of it is frankly defamatory.

He says, “As a Catholic, with a deep respect and a feeling of patriotism towards Sri Lanka, I respectfully address the issue, with regret, on the behaviour of Bishop of Mannar Dr. Rayappu Joseph, acting as a racist and openly supporting anti-Sri Lankan sentiments, supporting Division & Terrorism”.

He goes on, with what could be defamation. “Currently as an independent observer, my personal reaction towards Bishop Rayappu Joseph, is that he is trying to recreate a new generation of Tamil Terrorists within Sri Lanka. Bishop Rayappu Joseph is not preaching the doctrine of reconciliation……

Would your conscience, as the Leader of the Sri Lankan Catholics, accept that, due to the racist activity of Bishop Rayappu Joseph, if some of the Sinhala were to respond equally against the Tamil population in the South, and create unrest and even bloodshed?

By maintaining a silence, without responding to Bishop Rayappu Joseph, Your Eminence, you are displaying lack of leadership, and even stooping to the level of supporting racism and terrorism!

As the Leader of the Catholics in Sri Lanka, perhaps you might consider sending strict orders to Bishop Rayappu Joseph either to “Shut-up & Put-up” or a choice of De-robing or Relocating to Tamil Nadu”.

Yours in Blessings of Christ

Prof. Hudson McLean

Hudsonthen goes on to attack the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights  Navanethem Pillay, in what could well be defamation:

“I have been following the learned Hon. Ms. Navanethem Pillai.  Hon. Ms. Pillai as an illustrious international legal personality, should give serious consideration to her current status, either she acts as an independent Commissioner…… , or resigns from this prestigious International position, to maintain its credibility, and decides to act as an independent, dedicated legal representative of the Tamil Diaspora.

As to remuneration, at her mature age, with the available funds of Tamil Diaspora and certainly her personal acquired wealth, plus potential incomes from other future engagements, Hon. Ms Pillai should not find difficulties in sustaining her comfortable standard of living.”

As for his knighthood, I do not know why he was knighted. I have not been impressed by the (several) knights I have met. Here in Brisbane, Australia, we had a knight, Sir Terry Lewis, the Queensland Police Commissioner, charged in the Fitzgerald Inquiry into Police corruption. He was convicted, stripped of his knighthood and jailed. His boss, another knight, the then Premier, Sir Joe Bjelki-Peterson, was charged with perjury for giving false evidence. He escaped jail-time because the Foreman of the jury was a member of his political party and cast the deciding vote. When this was revealed, a re-trial was not proceeded with because Sir Joe was thought to be ‘too old’ (81). He was not too old to come out of the Court, shouting “I told you I was innocent”!

Threats

The threats have come from ‘unspecified sources’ – which most of us who are familiar with Sri Lankawould prefer to call “the Rajapaksa regime”. These have been freely aired by Media such as the Sunday Divaina website.

An open threat came from the party of the Buddhist monks – JHU, Jathika Hela Urumaya (National Freedom Front), a Government coalition partner, that accuses Bishop Joseph of aspiring to become the Cardinal of Tamil Eelam (IndependentTamilState) and that he should be arrested and prosecuted. The JHU told the BBC that the Government should prosecute Bishop Joseph.

These politically-active Buddhist monks can be, and are, very violent. It was one of them who assassinated Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in 1958. Those who believe that as followers of Buddhism, monks cannot be violent, might like to know that Pol Pot was a Buddhist monk.

In February 2007, President Rajapaks’s Minister for Environment and National Resources, Champika Ranawaka, from the JHU, advocated extrajudicial methods to deal with human rights groups, journalists and others who criticize the State’s militaristic aims. “Those bastards are traitors. We can’t do anything because of wild donkey freedom in this country”, he told the Ravaya newspaper on 18 February 2007. “If those can’t be handled with existing laws, we know how to do it. If we can’t suppress those bastards with the law, we need to use other ways and means, yes”. No one in President Rajapaksa’s government has condemned the Minister’s threat to move outside the law.

On 23 March 2012, President Rajapaksa’s Minister of Public Relations and Public Affairs, Mervyn Silva, addressed a public meeting in Kiribathgoda (near Colombo) and said that he will “break the bones” of Sri Lankans who supported the UNHRC Resolution in Geneva, adding that he would do this himself. I will deal with this threat from a very violent person in the Rajapaksa government with a documented track record of ‘breaking bones’ and physically savaging people, later in this article.

Let me be clear. These are not just empty threats in Sri Lanka, as Lasantha Wickrematunga, the Sinhalese owner/editor of the Sunday Leader (the only newspaper in Sri Lanka to be critical of the Government) found out. He was assassinated in broad daylight, by four masked men, when he was on his way to work in a suburb of Colombo. Many others critical of the government, or even those who even dare to question what the Government is doing, have gone the same way, or have been bundled into a “white van”, never to be seen again. Amnesty International has just reported that in the past six months some 32 people have ‘disappeared’ in Sri Lanka – almost certainly an underestimate because many families are to afraid to report such ‘disappearances’ to the Police or the Armed Forces who run the North and the East. When they have, they have ‘disappeared’ too.

The same applies to rape, as I will set out in a paper I am about to publish – “An epidemic of Rape of Tamil women and girls in the North and East of Sri Lanka by the Armed Forces”.

Concern and support for Bishop Rayappu Joseph

Forum Asia at the UNHRC    Oral and written statements

Forum Asia for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is a regional human rights group with 49 member organisations in 17 countries across Asia. It made an oral and written statement to the 19th Session of the UNHRC on 13 March 2012. The written statement is at (A/HRC/19/NGO/64).

I will refer only to the oral presentation, in particular, the reference to ‘Civil Society’.

The first part confirmed what Bishop Joseph and ‘Civil Society’ had detailed in their Submission, and then went on to deal with the concerns of their safety. Here is part of what they said.

It referred “to the emerging trends of land grabbing and development-induced displacement in post-war Sri Lanka. Contrary to Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe’s portrayal during the High-level Segment – about the progress in the “removal of military from facilitation of civil administration in the north making land previously used for security purposes available for resettlement/return”, the forcible acquisition of these lands by the Ministry of Defense and Rural Development for the purposes of military camps, Special Economic Zones, tourist resorts or infrastructure development has increased the militarization of the former conflict areas in addition to displacing thousands of vulnerable communities, particularly farmers and fisherfolk, as further elaborated in.”

It then went on to deal with intimidation by the GoSL:

“Madam President, the systematic intimidation by the government and state media against those Sri Lankan civil society organizations engaging with the UN human rights mechanisms does not amount to genuine and constructive cooperation of the government with this Council… ..

The Submission continued:

 “Madam President, in response to the reservations put forward by some States on the added value of the Council’s action at the current session concerning the accountability and reconciliation issues in Sri Lanka, FORUM-ASIA highlights the followings: 1) The Council has a responsibility to complement and fill the gaps in the domestic accountability process as it endorsed the joint communiqué between the UN Secretary-General and the President of Sri Lanka three years ago in 2009;……

The support of the international community as well as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Special Procedures through the action by this Council will enhance the space for those embattled Sri Lankan human rights defenders and victims to raise their legitimate concerns on justice.

Sinhalese clergy and civilians

In striking contrast to the Tamil Bishops in the North and East, and the (Sinhalese) Head of the Roman Catholic Church on Sri Lanka. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, who are unable to support an outstanding Tamil Bishop in the North East, support for him has commendably come from my community, the Sinhalese, in the South.

Headed by the fine upstanding Sinhalese Bishop, Kumara Illangasinghe, (Anglican)  Bishop Emeritus of Kurunegala, Christian clergy and laity from South wrote to UNHRC in support of the letter by Northern clergy:

“12th  March 2012

To: The President and all members of the United Nations Human Rights Council

We the undersigned, endorse the concerns and calls made in the letter of 1st March 2012 to the President and Members of the UN Human Rights Council by 31 Catholic clergy from Northern Sri Lanka, including the Bishop of Mannar.

We also express our grave concerns about intimidation and discrediting of the signatories of the initial letter and in particular the Bishop of Mannar, by media such as the Sunday Divaina, websites and even government’s coalition partners such as the Jathika Hela Urumaya and National Freedom Front by accusing the Bishop of aspiring to become Cardinal of Tamil Eelam and that he should be arrested and prosecuted.”

  1. Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe
  2. Rev. Fr. M. Sathivel  (and others)

63 people signed it – 25 priests, 7 nuns, and 31 civilians.

As a Sinhalese, I am proud of members of my ethnic group who have come forward, not just to support Bishop Joseph, but to rescue the name of the Sinhalese. The former President of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, in a recent public speech in Colombo said that after watching the shocking (UK) Channel 4 video, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, her son had called her from London, sobbing, “I am ashamed to be called a Sinhalese”. She can be seen in the just-released second Channel 4 documentary “Sri Lanka: Justice denied”

One of Bishop Illangasinghe’s predecessors in the Anglican Church in Kurunagala was the irreplaceable (Sinhalese) Bishop Lakshman Wickremasinghe, whose name is synonymous with integrity, decency and humanity. He was the only one I know of who has publicly apologised to the Tamils (after the 1983 massacre of Tamils inColombo), for what had been done to them. His third (and final) Pastoral Letter is well worth reading. He is what all clergy should aspire to be. I know exactly where he would have stood in the current dreadful situation facing the Tamils in the North and East.

Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples (ACPP)  Hong Kong

ACCP is a regional non-government organization inspired by Pope Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio  and serving justice and peace efforts inAsia  through advocacy, education and training, and networking for solidarity.

“Urgent – request for solidarity with Northern Priests and Bishop of Mannar for taking a stand on Geneva UN HRC sessions

 Dear Friends,

Greetings from ACPP, Hongkong.

As some of you may already be aware, the Bishop of Mannar in Northern Sri Lanka, together with 30 priests, has written to the UN Human Rights Council urging them to call on the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the positive recommendations of the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee, the body of inquiry it set up to look back at the Sri Lankan Civil War and provide recommendations for moving forward to an era of healing and peace building), among other things. 

 The Bishops and the priests have since been attacked through intimidation and discredit by media and government-friendly groups. 

 Concerned civil society groups in Sri Lanka and abroad are rallying around Bishop Rayappu Joseph and the priests for their principled and courageous position in the light of UN’s belated interest in the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.  As the UN is discussing a US-led resolution on Sri Lanka this week, letters of support for the bishop’s letter have been solicited and directed sent to the UN HRC.   

However, the on-goings at the Human Rights Council in Geneva is anyone’s guess, and already there are those who are questioning the US resolution, which even if passed, are predicted to be much watered down.  This means it would not have any meaningful effect on the human rights situation and national reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka.

Given this scenario, the pressure is thrown back to those opposing the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and civil society actors like Bp. Joseph and his priests. It is imperative thus, that they be affirmed and supported in their action, now more than ever.”

The ACCP appealed to people “to send your notes and messages of solidarity to Bishop Rayappu Joseph and the 30 priests to affirm their courageous act of writing to the UN, to encourage them to be steadfast in their public stand and prophetic witness, and to give them support in the continuing and expected increased backlash on their action.

You may address your messages of solidarity to:  

E-mail:                  bpjoseph@sltnet.lk
Fax No.:               0094-23-2232709

Thank you very much and hope that you will send your letters as soon as possible to support these men of God who have taken upon themselves to be the voice of the voiceless in Sri Lanka. 

May God bless all our efforts for Justice and Peace,

Terence Osorio

Coordinator

AsianCenter for the Progress of Peoples

Protests (or their lack) by the Churches in Sri Lanka at the threats against Bishop Joseph

What about the Christian Church inSri Lanka? The Church in the Sinhalese South is more Sinhalese than Christian. The Head of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Malcolm Rangith, behaves as if he is an honorary member of the Rajapaksa government. His predecessor, Archbishop Ostwald Gomis, was the same. Gomis was holding the bloodstained hands of President Rajapaksa, singing Christmas carols while his flock, yes, the Tamils in the North and East are also his flock, were being decimated and their homes reduced to rubble by the Armed Forces of the man who he was singing carols with, who is not only the Executive President with sweeping powers, but also the Minister of Defence and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith (a Sinhalese) said that the Report by the UN Secretary General’s  Panel of Experts to look into accountability issues in the closing stages of the war, was part of “an international conspiracy” against the country. This is, of course, what the GoSL claims. The Cardinal might consider quitting his position and accepting a Cabinet post in Rajapaksa’s government. He can then fly the flag for the GoSL, rather than do so from the position he holds. He cannot do both.

As for the Bishops in the Tamil North and East (other than Bishop Joseph), the less said of them the better. I will not waste time detailing their (non)activities. Bishop Thomas Savundranayagam, Bishop of Jaffna, recently said that the rehabilitation of the Tamil people ‘was going very well”. The man must be on a different planet (already).

Bishop Kingsley Swarmpillai, Bishop of Trincomalee-Batticaloa, is only marginally better.

In such a setting, Bishop Rayappu Joseph was a gift from God.

Other human rights activists threatened

It is not only Bishop Rayappu Joseph, his Tamil clergy and ‘Civil Society’ who have been threatened. Sinhalese activists of standing (Sunila Abeysekera a much respected human rights activist, Nimalka Fernando, a lawyer, women’s rights activist, a member of the Democratic People’s Movement in Sri Lanka and the President of the International Movement Against All forms of Discrimination against Women (IMADR), and Dr Paikiasoothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a much respected organization in Colombo, have also been threatened.

They decided to issue a Joint Statement on 23rd March 2012 in Colombo:

As the three Sri Lankan human rights defenders who have come most under attack by the state media in Sri Lanka in the past week, because of our active involvement with the on-going session of the UN Human rights Council in Geneva, we feel compelled to issue this statement of clarification.

We do not deny that we are critical of the conduct of the government of Sri Lanka, and the institutions and agencies under its control, whenever disregard for the human rights obligations imposed on the government by virtue of its being signatory to almost all international human rights conventions comes to our attention. As the President of Sri Lanka, and his Special Envoy on Human Rights well know, the three of us have offered our services to this government to ensure human rights accountability in the past. For example, all of us served on the National Advisory Council appointed by Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, when he held the portfolio for Human Rights. 

Nor do we deny that we work with a range of human rights organizations, nationally, regionally and internationally, to draw attention to human rights violations in Sri Lanka as well as to the culture of impunity and the lack of accountability for violations of the past and of the present. This is our right, as human rights defenders, and we have exercised that right for many years, under various governments, in spite of a barrage of attacks and intimidation from various quarters, including state and non-state entities.

It is indeed regrettable that at a time in the history of our country when we have the opportunity to transform our society, to move from a post-war to a post-conflict phase, and to enjoy the support of the international community to rebuild a just, humane and prosperous Sri Lanka in which all its citizens can live together with peace and dignity, the government and its media have seen it necessary to launch into an unprecedented and utterly personalized attack against the three of us. There is no attempt to challenge us substantively on any point. None of the comments attributed to us, were actually ever made by any one of us; there are many who were present at the side events where we have spoken who can testify to that. 

This attack is totally counter-productive in terms of the government’s campaign to resist the Resolution on Sri Lanka, which has been tabled at the Council. In fact, in Geneva today, there is more focus on the attacks and acts of intimidation of Sri Lankan human rights defenders than there is on the negotiations around the Resolution. Those who accuse us of bringing the country into disrepute would do well to examine both their own motives and the consequences of their actions. Instead of carrying on with advocacy for defeating the Resolution, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the Council, Ms. Tamara Kunanayagam has had to spend hours of her valuable time talking to delegations, to the President of the Council and to officials of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights about the campaign of intimidation and attack against Sri Lankan human rights defenders at the Council and in Sri Lanka. 

As human rights defenders working to defeat impunity in Sri Lanka and to build a strong system of justice and accountability for human rights violations, whether committed in the past or in the present, we remain committed to our ideals and to our goals. For us, whether there is a Resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human rights Council or not, our work to defend human rights in Sri Lanka must, and will, go on.   

Sunila Abeysekera    Nimalka Fernando      Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

 

The High Commissioner for Human Rights warns Sri Lanka

On 23 March 2012, at the close of the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, warned that there must be no reprisals against Sri Lankan human rights defenders in the aftermath of yesterday’s adoption by the Human Rights Council of a resolution on Sri Lanka.

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, quoting Mrs Pillay said that during this Human Rights Council session, there has been an unprecedented and totally unacceptable level of threats, harassment and intimidation directed at Sri Lankan activists who had travelled to Geneva to engage in the debate, including by members of the 71-member official Sri Lankan government delegation. Intimidation and harassment of Sri Lankan civil society activists have also been reported in other locations around Geneva.

On the other hand, the Sri Lankan ambassador inGenevareceived an anonymous threatening letter which is being followed up by the police and UN security.

At the same time in Sri Lanka itself, newspapers, news websites and TV and radio stations have since January been running a continuous campaign of vilification, including naming and in many cases picturing activists, describing them as an “NGO gang” and repeatedly accusing them of treason, mercenary activities and association with terrorism. Some of these reports have contained barely veiled incitement and threats of retaliation. At least two comments posted by readers of articles of this type have called for burning down of the houses of the civil society activists named in the articles, and at least one such comment called openly for them to be killed.

The High Commissioner noted that some of the attacks on human rights defenders were carried in Sri Lankan state media and Government websites or were filed by journalists who had been officially accredited to the Human Rights Council session by the Sri Lankan permanent mission. She called on the Government to ensure the protection of human rights defenders, to publicly disassociate itself from such statements, and to clearly uphold the right of Sri Lankan citizens to freely engage in international debate of this kind.

The High Commissioner has also noted that Sri Lanka’s own Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission, in its report published in December (2011), made extensive and positive references to the role civil society can play in reconciliation and rehabilitation efforts, and stressed this would require greater tolerance towards differing views within Sri Lankan civil society and the protection of Sri Lankan human rights defenders

What is clear is that once totalitarian regimes start of this slippery slope, the target expands. Today it is Bishop Joseph and his 30 Tamil priests who are in the line of fire, tomorrow it will human rights activists, two of whom are renowned Sinhalese activists who have already been threatened.

How serious are these threats?

Given the tract record of the GoSL, its undisciplined Armed Forces and the breakdown of law and order with hooligans and thugs doing as they please, often with the blessings of the Government and the regime in power which has a very violent man as a Minister in the Rajapaksa government (see below), it would be of the utmost stupidity to treat these threats lightly.

This is precisely what happened to Fr Jim Brown (mentioned in one of Bishop Joseph’s documents).

Rev. Fr. Tiruchelvan Nihal Jim Brown, a young Roman Catholic priest, had been sent as the parish priest to thePhilipNeriChurch, Allaipiddy village, onKeytsIsland, off theJaffnaPeninsula. He had replaced a priest who said he was too afraid to return because of threats from the Sri Lankan Navy.

Hundreds of Tamil Christians and Moslems had taken refuge in the Church during the fighting between the Sri Lankan Navy and the Tamil Tigers. On 13 August 2006, the Church was shelled, killing dozens of people and injuring many more.

Fr Brown was known to have helped many civilians to move from Allipaiddy to the town ofKayts. He, like his predecessor, continued to receive threats from the Navy. He received a number of death threats from the Commanding Officer of the Allaipiddy Naval camp. How real were these threats?

We found out on 20 August 2006. Fr Brown and another man, Wenceslaus Vimalthas, left Allaipiddy to visit the near by village of Mandaithivu. The Sri Lankan Navy refused to allow them to enter the village. On the way back to Allaipiddy they were stopped at a Navy check-point. They have not been seen again.

Amnesty International launched two appeals (on 29 August 2006, and again on 12 September 2006) “Fear for Safety: Possible Disappearance”. So did Human Rights Watch. His body has recently been found in a bag weighed down with stones, at the bottom of the sea near the Sri Lankan Naval position. Rear-Admiral Upali Ranaweera, the Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy in the Northern region should know all about this. (I do not know where he is today. Perhaps in a Sri Lankan diplomatic position outsideSri Lanka, where many with a case to answer have now been posted).

On 17 April 2007, the Roman Catholic clergy sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI[4] on the situation in Sri Lanka – “Members of the clergy have been among those targeted. We are particularly troubled by the case of Reverend Fr Thiruchelvan Nihal Jim Brown who ‘disappeared’ after he stopped at a Naval check-point on Kayts Island near Jaffna on August 20, 2006. He had been receiving death treats from senior Navy”.

Just to show that appeals to the Pope, or anyone else, for that matter, meant nothing, Fr M.X.Karunaratnam, Head of North East Secretariat of Human Rights (NESoHR), was slaughtered. Fr Karunaratnam regularly travelled on the road in the North administering Holy Communion to groups of villagers on the road. He had been regularly threatened by the Army, but he did what was expected of him as a priest.

On 20 April 2008, the Sri Lankan Army’s “Deep Penetration Unit” unleashed a claymore mine, killing him instantaneously. The GoSL could not care less, nor could the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Colombo who had direct access to the President.

So, threats by the Sri Lankan government and its Armed Forces, are real threats that are carried out. That is why they cannot be ignored.

What was passed at the 19th Session of the UNHRC

Although expatriate Tamils all over the world are ‘celebrating’ the US-sponsored Resolution passed at the UNHRC meeting, as a ‘win’ for the Tamils, careful appraisal of its contents shows that it is a sell-out of the Tamil people in the North and East of Sri Lanka, and has given the GoSL permission to do what it wants for another year (till March 2013).Here is what was passed:

“United States of America: the verbally revised resolution adopted on 22 March 2012 at the 19th session of the UNHCR

Promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other relevant instruments,

Recalling Council resolutions 5/1 and 5/2 on institution building of the Human Rights Council,

Reaffirming that States must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, as applicable,

Taking note of the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission of Sri Lanka and its findings and recommendations, and acknowledging its possible contribution to the process of national reconciliation in Sri Lanka,

Welcoming the constructive recommendations contained in the Commission’s report, including the need to credibly investigate widespread allegations of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, demilitarize the north of Sri Lanka, implement impartial land dispute resolution mechanisms, re-evaluate detention policies, strengthen formerly independent civil institutions, reach a political settlement on the devolution of power to the provinces, promote and protect the right of freedom of expression for all and enact rule of law reforms,

Noting with concern that the report does not adequately address serious allegations of violations of international law,

1. Calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the constructive recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and to take all necessary additional steps to fulfil its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans;

2. Requests the Government of Sri Lanka to present, as expeditiously as possible, a comprehensive action plan detailing the steps that the Government has taken and will take to implement the recommendations made in the Commission’s report, and also to address alleged violations of international law;

3. Encourages the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant special procedures mandate holders to provide, in consultation with, and with the concurrence of, and the Government of Sri Lanka to accept,, advice and technical assistance on implementing the above-mentioned steps;, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to present a report on the provision of such assistance to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second session”.

That was it. The introductory clap-trap excluded, it merely calls on the GoSL to implement the LLRC and to present an action plan, and encourages the UN HRC to ‘advise’ the GoSL and report back to the UNHRC at its 22nd Session – March 2013!

It is worth repeating what the 19 Tamils in Civil Society, including Bishop Rayappu Joseph, pointed out to the US Envoys who visited Sri Lankain February 2012 (see above). Their concluding paragraph is so important that it is worth repeating:

“we urge the ‘international community to acknowledge the consistent failure of domestic accountability mechanisms in Sri Lanka and take steps to establish an international mechanism for accountability’. Any resolution coming out of the Human Rights Council, which gives more time to the Government of Sri Lanka, will have a devastating impact on the Tamil community. The Government’s current activities in the North and East are challenging the very existence of the Tamil people and more time to the GOSL to implement the LLRC’s recommendations will only mean further time for the Government to play havoc in the North and East and subjugate the interests and aspirations of the Tamil people. If the International Community does not act now, like they did not act in May 2009, the Tamils will cease to exist as a ‘people’ in this country.”

To establish “an international mechanism for accountability” was not done. What was done was to give more time to the Government of Sri Lanka, which, as Civil Society rightly pointed out, “will have a devastating impact on the Tamil community”. It will “only mean further time for the Government to play havoc in the North and East and subjugate the interests and aspirations of the Tamil people”.

The concluding sentence is critical and is what will undoubtedly happen. “If the International Community does not act now…… the Tamils will cease to exist as a ‘people’ in this country.”

What the US-Resolution did was to enable the Sri Lankan government to make sure that the Tamils cease to exist as a ‘peoples’ inSri Lanka. I completely agree with what ‘Civil Society’ has written.

In the event of the GoSL refusing to accept the Resolution (which has just been done – see below), there were no penalties.

Moreover, what was urgently needed is the immediate admission of internationally credible Human Rights organisations (AI, HRW, ICG), and international humanitarian organisations into the North and East to check on what was happening to the Tamil people, their land and their survival. That was, most certainly, not done.

As such, the UNHRC Resolution made a bad situation (for the Tamil people in the North and East) even worse. I will deal with what can be done about this in a separate publication.

Two new events

This paper was ready for publication when there were two events of significance, one of which I have just alluded to.

1. The UNHRC Resolution will not change what Sri Lanka will do.

On 26 March 2012, in the first announcement following the UNHRC Resolution, Foreign Minister G.L.Peiris said thatSri Lankawill not alter what is being done, no matter the consequences.

 

  1. Sri Lankadoes not agree with the Resolution, and “we have no reason to fear or panic”.
  2. There will not be a change in the future course of action and “will not do anything new”.

In other words, passing the Resolution was a waste of time. What has gone will continue. The serious problem was that the UNHRC Resolution did not spell out what the consequence of non-compliance will be.

Economic sanctions would have been one possibility, but as Peiris rightly pointed out, “because of the resolutions in Geneva there aren’t going to be economic sanctions. These two things are not inter-related…….This will not take place that way”.

Sri Lankans are not stupid. It is the UNHRC and its members that are (for geopolitical and economic gains), andSri Lankaknow full well how ‘to play them’. It was done to perfection.

2.Physical threats by a Government Minister

On 23 March 2012, President Rajapaksa’s Minister of Public Relations and Public Affairs, Mervyn Silva, addressed a public meeting in Kiribathgoda (near Colombo) and said that he will “break the bones” of (named) Sri Lankans who supported the UNHRC Motion in Geneva, adding that he would do this himself. He said “I am a good Sinhala Buddhist. I will not allow anybody to auction my Sinhala Buddhist traits”.

My mother was a devout Buddhist, and I am familiar with Buddha’s teaching. Could Minister Silva tell us which Buddhist stanza sets out what this “good Sinhala Buddhist” is doing, and has done (repeatedly)?  It is time for the Buddhists in Sri Lanka to take this man to task for defaming a great religion.

Minister Silva said that past kings would execute those acting against the country, and that “The time has come now to do what the kings did then”.

I do not want to spend time on this man who should have been behind bars, but he is a dangerous player in that he can unleash violence, not only on those struggling to restore human rights in Sri Lanka, but is making a mockery of the rule of law and dismantling democracy in that country.

Minister Silva has a long history of violence, which include several episodes of serious assault of individuals and even of television studios. He operates with a band of underworld characters, drug dealers, goons and criminals. He does what he likes to whomever he likes, functioning well outside the law – beyond even the law of the jungle. How he gets away with it is a separate issue, but he does. President Rajapaksa should come clean on why this man with a long history of criminality has been given Ministry after Ministry, once even in charge of the Media, despite the fact that he personally destroyed a Media outlet in Colombo. He boasted that as long as President Rajapaksa and the Rajapaksa family in power, “no one can touch me”.

Silva named his intended victims – human rights activists, Dr Packiasothy Saravanamuttu, and lawyer Ms Nimalka Fernando, and journalists Sunanda Deshapriya and Poddala Jayantha (who has not even gone to Genevaor sent a communication). Mr Jayantha has already been savaged by the Minister and his goons, and has had his legs broken. Three of the people in the Minister’s sights are Sinhalese.

Whether Bishop Rayappu Joseph, his clergy and members of ‘Civil Society’ in the North are within the reach of Minister Silva and his goons, I do not know. Most certainly, the human rights activists and anyone even mildly critical of what President Rajapaksa and his junta are doing, are at considerable risk.

The UN High Commissioner, Navanethem Pillay’s ‘warning’ to Sri Lanka that there must be no reprisals against human rights defenders after the adoption of the Resolution at the 19th UNHRC, will have absolutely no effect on Minister Silva who operates an even more violent group within an already violent regime of the ruling junta in Sri Lanka.

This is an urgent appeal to prevent the possible assassination/ ‘disappearance’ of the outspoken Roman Catholic Bishop of Mannar, his fellow Catholic priests in the North and East, and others, who call themselves ‘Civil Society’, who are the only voices of the Tamil people in this part ofSri Lanka.

I write, not as a concerned Christian, but as a concerned human being, to apprise the international community, including the Pope, of what might happen in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, as it likes to call itself.

Anyone who is even minimally aware of what is going on behind the closed and censored door of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Totalitarian State, will know, that murder is rampant, and accountability non-existent. Murder or ‘disappearance’ is the Government’s answer to any problem, and the only method of silencing the dissenting voice.

Irreplaceable

If such a fate befalls Bishop Joseph (and his fellow priests), it will be a disaster for the Tamil people in the North and East. They, in particular Bishop Joseph, are the only voices that these people have, since their elected members of parliament have gone ‘quiet’ – as so often happens when a democracy is closing down. Bishop Joseph, his fellow Roman Catholic clergy, and ‘civil society’, have done more to high-light the terrible plight of a voiceless people than all their parliamentarians put together. In that blood-drenched country where so many thousands of Tamils have been butchered by the Rajapaksa junta, and some 300,000 Tamil civilians made ‘non-people’, Bishop Joseph, his clergy, and members of ‘civil society’, are the single biggest threat. This is not an opinion to be debated, but a fact to be faced and addressed before it is too late.

Bump them off

Already more than a dozen Christian priests, mainly Roman Catholics, have been murdered, abducted or have simply gone missing – “disappeared”. In the Sinhalese South, it is the dreaded ‘white van’ with no number plates that arrives. The victim is bundled in and that is that.

In the Tamil North and East, these niceties are not considered necessary. Just a straightforward abduction by ‘unknown men’ (read – President Rajapaksa’s gang of thugs, some in army or police uniform, others in civilian clothes), arrive, and that is the last that is seen of the victim. Whether he wears a cassock or not, is not of significance.  It is brazen – plain simple murder, done with the assurance that the Government, the overwhelmingly Sinhalese (99%) Sri Lankan Armed Forces (now running the North and East), the Police, and the crumbling legal system under the heel of the Executive President with sweeping powers, will do nothing to bring the perpetrators to book. Many of these are, in fact, directed by members of the ruling junta.

There is no investigation, not even the pretence of one. The Government does not think it is called for, If there are calls, those who do so are ‘enemies of Sri Lanka’, ‘traitors’, ‘terrorists’ or even ‘Tamil Tiger Terrorists’. In Sri Lanka, any Tamil is a ‘terrorist’ unless he stands close to the blood-drenched Sri Lankan flag. So are others (like the writer of this paper, who is a Sinhalese). Ethnicity no longer matters. To be critical or even to question what the ruling junta does, is, by definition, ‘terrorism’ or treason, and treated as such. George Bush’s “You are with us or with the terrorists” is applied absolutely in Rajapaksa’s autocraticSri Lanka.

Mannar and Bishop Rayappu Joseph

Mannar

Mannar district is one of 25 administrative districts inSri Lanka, located in the North East, with a population of about 130,000, mainly Tamils (and some Muslims). It is linked to Mannar Island by a causeway.MannarIslandis a dry and barren area of about 50 square kilometres. Fishing is economically vital for survival. Deliberate destruction of this (as the GoSL has done) will result in starvation.

The Mannar Diocese has some 86,700 Catholics, 69 priests, and 21 religious priests. Rt Rev Dr Rayappu Joseph is the Bishop of Mannar.

The Madhu Church, on the mainland in the Mannar district, is one of the ancient Churches of Asia. It is the holiest Roman Catholic shrine in Sri Lanka, home to Sri Lanka’s most famous Catholic statue, the centuries old, priceless statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary – the ‘Our Lady of Madhu’. In 1920, Bishop Brault (the then Bishop of Jaffna) obtained the Pope‘s sanction for the Coronation of the Statue.

In August, thousands of Catholics from all over Sri Lankago to Madhu for the annual ‘Madhu festival’. On 18 August 2010, there were more than 450,000 people.

In November 1999, the Sri Lankan Armed Forces (99% Sinhalese) thought nothing of shelling this Church, doing extensive damage.

The Pesalai Catholic Church, one of the largest churches inSri Lanka, is inMannarIsland.  The Sri Lankan Navy thought nothing of tossing hand grenades into the Church, having asked the civilians to take shelter in ‘places of worship’ – which I hope a Church is.

The murder of Tamil Christian priests in Mannar is nothing new. Let me back-track to ensure that history does not repeat itself.

Fr Mary Bastian was a Catholic priest in Vankalai in the Mannar district. He was abducted on January 5th, 1985, by the Armed Forces, tortured and murdered. The body was clandestinely burnt. Several witnesses saw the Priest being taken away by the soldiers. Pope John Paul had a special prayer for the departed soul of Fr Bastian. I have no idea what good that did but I do know that a few days later, a Tamil Methodist Priest, George Jeyarajasingham, was ambushed and killed by the Sri Lankan Army.

Lalith Athulathmudali, the then President J.R. Jayawardene’s Minister of National Security (or rather, Insecurity), in typical Goebellian style, completely denied that the murder had occurred, adding insult to injury by tarnishing the dead priest’s reputation.  He claimed that Fr Bastian had run away toIndiaand was very much alive in Tamil Nadu.

Many Sinhalese Catholic priests in the South collaborated in this cover up. The most serious collaborator was Rt Rev Oswald Gomis, later appointed the Head of the Roman Catholic Church inSri Lanka. Rev Gomis, the government propagandist, with the tacit consent of the then Archbishop of Colombo, Nicholas Marcus Fernando, wrote to theVaticanthat Fr Bastian was alive and well inIndia.

The Pope retracted his earlier statement – something that is unknown. TheVaticanissued a press release that the Pope had erred in praying for Fr Bastian’s departed soul and that “joyfully” he was alive.

Despite overwhelming evidence that the priest was dead, Catholics did not want to push the issue, since it would have eroded the Pope’s credibility even further. With the Pope’s infallibility already dented, the faithful decided to let it pass. The Pope’s infallibility was undermined by Roman Catholic priests in the Sinhalese South, cooperating with the Government.

Let us make sure that the Pope is well aware of the dangers facing Bishop Rayappu Joseph and his fellow priests in the North and East – not that he has not been apprised of this before (as we will see).

Bishop Rayappu Joseph

Born in Delft(an island off theJaffnaPeninsula) in 1940, ordained in 1967, he was appointed Bishop of Mannar in July 1992.

It is impossible to even list out, let alone present, what this outstanding Catholic Bishop has done for the people of Mannar, and the wider community in the Tamil North and East. As someone who is neither a Tamil nor a Roman Catholic, all I can say is that this extraordinary man and his lone voice of protest in a hugely dangerous country, has been an inspiration to all of us who have an interest in human rights in general, the brutalised Tamil ‘minority’ in particular.

What has Bishop Rayappu Joseph done?

What ‘hanging offences’ has the Bishop done to ‘warrant’ assassination or  ‘disappearance’? In a sentence – he has looked after his flock – not just Catholic Christians, but Christians of all denominations, non-Christians, and non-believers. If we believe what is in the Bible, they are all God’s children – which Bishop Joseph has applied absolutely. He is not only the leader of the Catholic Church in Mannar, but a humanitarian, which is why his ‘elimination’ will affect everyone.

Let me take you through some of Bishop Joseph’s ‘hanging offences’, seen as such by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL).

I will not deal with what Bishop Joseph has done for his people in Mannar, traumatised by the war inSri Lanka, prior to 1999. It will simply take too long. I will deal only with some of the more recent events.

The bombing of Mannar

When the Sri Lankan Air Force and Navy decided to bomb and shell Mannar in 1999, Bishop Joseph urged that civilians be spared.  They were not. As scores of civilians, men, women and children, were slaughtered or injured, Bishop Joseph lodged a strong protest with the Armed Forces, went to care for the wounded, and to wipe the tears of those who survived. That was unacceptable to the GoSL.

The bombing of the Madhu Church in Mannar.

With the bombing getting closer to the MadhuChurch(with its invaluable Lady of Madhu  statue), some people (I am told they were Tamil Tigers – some of whom were Roman Catholics) – rescued this treasure. They returned it to the Church when this outrage was over. Had it not been for them this holy of holy statues would have been pulverised.

On 28 November 1999, the Madhu Church was bombed. The Church was extensively damaged, some 40 civilians killed and another 60 injured. Jesus Christ lost an arm (I mean the statue), as I have documented in one of the dvds I have recorded.  Bishop Rayappu Joseph raised a voice of protest at this outrage.

These protests are completely unacceptable to the GoSL. Churches and Hindu shrines (kovils), are there to be destroyed and replaced by Buddhist Statues, dome-shaped Stupas (‘Dagobas’), and Buddhist Temples – despite the fact that there are no (or very few) Buddhists in the area. This is ‘necessary’ to make multiethnic, multireligious, multicultural, multilingualSri Lankainto a Sinhala-Buddhist country – the undisguised intention of the GoSL, whatever the rhetoric.

End of the war

Then came the end of the war, 19 May 2009.

Bishop Joseph, and many others in the North and East, waited for the return to normalcy and at least some accounting and reconciliation. With nothing but a futile “Lesson Learnt Reconciliation Commission” (LLRC) appointed by the Rajapaksa government, he and two of his fellow clergy made a detailed Submission.

LLRC: Submission by the Catholic Diocese of Mannar

Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph, Rev.Fr. Victor Sosai, Rev. Fr. Xavier Croos

This is a crucially important Submission which deals with what the people in the North and East are going through behind the closed and censored doors ofSri Lanka. It is important to point out that despite the end of the war, internationally credible human rights organisations such as Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and International Crisis Group (ICG), are not allowed into the North and East, nor are independent observers.

As such, we have to rely on people on the ground, like Bishop Joseph, his clergy, and ‘civil society’ to tell us what is happening to ordinary civilians.

Although the stated aim of the Submission was to deal with the situation in the Diocese of Mannar, what was presented applies to the entire Tamil area. It is so important that I have reproduced it in full in the Appendix. It is a ‘must read’ document.

This is the only document ever published that gives the actual number of people who are unaccounted for (a staggering 146,679):

“Based on information from the Kacheris[1] of Mullativu and Killinochi about the population in Vanni in early October 2008 and number of people who came to government controlled areas after that, 146,679 people seem to be unaccound for. According to the Kacheri, the population in Vanni was 429,059 in early part of October 2008 (Refer Annex 4 and 5). According to UN OCHA update as of 10th July 2009, the total number of people who came out of the Vanni to government controlled areas after this, is estimated to be 282,380 (Refer Annex 6)”.

The Submission opens with:

“At the outset, we must express our disappointment that previous Commissions of Inquiry have failed to establish the truth into human rights violations and extra-judicial killings they were inquiring and bring justice and relief to victims and their families.”

Driving the point home, it goes on:

“In order to achieve genuine and lasting reconciliation, we believe it is crucial to address roots of the conflict and war, primarily issues affecting Tamils such as recognition of their political reality, language, land, education and political power sharing.”

This invaluable document says much more. It is, as I have said, a “must read”.

 

The US Envoys come to Sri Lanka

In February 2012, Ambassador Marian Otero, Under Secretary of State, and Ambassador Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State, US State Department, visited Sri Lanka to tell the Rajapaksa government that the US intended to submit a Resolution on Sri Lanka at the upcoming 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (27 February – 23 March 2012).

19 Tamils, non-politicians, (“Civil Society”), including Bishop Rayappu Joseph, immediately sent a letter to them (10 February 2012). It is the most concise and precise letter I have seen, written by people with genuine concern about the Tamil people, and the expectations (and responsibilities) of the UNHRC. I had intended just to quote from this but it is such a comprehensive letter that I decided to reproduce it in full:

10 February 2012

Ambassador Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State
Ambassador Robert Blake, Asst Secretary of State,
US State Department.

Your Excellencies,

Tamils of Sri Lanka and the Forthcoming Sessions of the UN Human Rights Council.

In the context of the forthcoming sessions of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, we, members of the Tamil civil society in Sri Lanka, write this letter seeking to bring to your notice our expectations of the Geneva sessions.

  1. With deep regret we take note of the fact that the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation (LLRC) has become the point of reference in the discussions on Sri Lanka in Geneva. We wish to emphasise that it is important to give preeminent status and importance to the UN Secretary General’s Expert Panel Report on Sri Lanka in the discussions and particularly to highlight the unbridgeable gaps between the LLRC report and the UNSG’s Expert Panel’s report.
  2. It is no secret that the appointment of the LLRC was an attempt on the part of the Government to buy time from the International Community – to postpone the setting up of an international mechanism to investigate into the grave atrocities committed against the Tamil people. The contents of the LLRC report should be viewed from this perspective – the purpose that it seeks to serve in furthering the short and long term goals of the Government of Sri Lanka.
  3. It is not disputed that the LLRC report has failed in reasonably addressing the question of accountability. On the other hand the recommendations relating to scaling down militarization, disarming paramilitaries et al have been deliberately included so that any reasonable reader cannot out rightly reject the LLRC. This means that the international community is in a way forced to welcome these ‘positive features’ of the LLRC report, pressurize for implementation of those recommendations and postpone any move towards setting up an international mechanism to look into the question of accountability. This is exactly what the Government of Sri Lanka wanted with the LLRC.
  4. Though many are surprised that a Government appointed commission could come up with such ‘positive recommendations’, we on the contrary are not. We were right from the beginning aware that the appointment of the LLRC would be a time buying exercise and the report that has been released has its objective of further buying time for the GOSL. In fact none of the commissioners reflected the kind of views that are now considered to be ‘positive’ in the LLRC report. The Chairman of the LLRC in his questions to Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, a former Under Secretary General of the United Nations, who appeared before the LLRC in a public hearing in Colombo, was of the opinion after visiting the North that the Tamil people were not seeking constitutional reforms but only job opportunities1. Hence it is not abnormal to be surprised that this very commission had chosen to go against the thinking of its Chairman and acknowledge that the Tamils have true political grievances, which require a political solution. But this only reiterates the point that we make, that the commission has made these positive recommendations which even some of its commissioners including its Chairman don’t believe in, to achieve the political purpose of its appointers. Furthermore a careful reading of these so-­called ‘positive recommendations’ will only reveal that they do not accomplish much. For example the substantive recommendations on a political solution parrot the Government’s stated position on a political solution: empower Local Governments and establish a second chamber. (Paragraphs 9.231 and 9.232 of the report). On the question of paramilitaries the report conveniently ignores the                         well-­acknowledged fact that the paramilitaries of the EPDP and TMVP are in fact controlled by Sri Lankan Army Intelligence. (Paragraphs 5.77 and 5.78 of the report). It is also no secret that the leadership of these two para military groups enjoy ministerial portfolios and that their cadre received monthly stipends for many years from the country’s defense budgets. It is also glaring that the commission does not call for the repeal of the PTA (Paragraph 9.57 of the report). The recommendations relating to for example detainees are welcome. However such recommendations fall short of reflecting the overall complexity of the issues and have been included to cover up the report’s otherwise glaring failures. The report thus quite cleverly accomplishes its founding objective of giving the feel good while not straying too far and conceding too much from the current Government’s positions on many of these vital questions.
  5. We have no faith whatsoever that these so called ‘positive recommendations’ of the LLRC report will be implemented. We state this not only from our past experience with presidential commission reports in Sri Lanka but also because we have completely lost faith in the governance framework of this country. We also have no trust in the negotiations taking place between the GOSL and the Tamil National Alliance, which we perceive, again, as a convenient time buying exercise by the Government of Sri Lanka.

We urge that it is imperative that the International Community that meets in Geneva this March for the UN Human Rights Council sessions takes a firm stance on accountability. As expressed by our elected representatives (the Tamil National Alliance) in their initial response to the LLRC on the 19th of December 2011 we urge the ‘international community to acknowledge the consistent failure of domestic accountability mechanisms in Sri Lanka and take steps to establish an international mechanism for accountability’. Any resolution coming out of the Human Rights Council, which gives more time to the Government of Sri Lanka, will have a devastating impact on the Tamil community. The Government’s current activities in the North and East are challenging the very existence of the Tamil people and more time to the GOSL to implement the LLRC’s recommendations will only mean further time for the Government to play havoc in the North and East and subjugate the interests and aspirations of the Tamil people. If the International Community does not act now, like they did not act in May 2009, the Tamils will cease to exist as a ‘people’ in this country.”

[Signed by 19 civil society representatives]

People who write such letters, uncomfortably near the truth, have no place in Rajapaksa’s “Democracy” and must be ‘eliminated’. It was published in the ‘tamilnet’  website, which alone is a ‘hanging offence’ in the eyes of the GoSL.

UNHRC Submission

On 1st March 2012, 31 Christian clergy in North Sri Lanka headed by Bishop Rayappu Joseph, made a Submission to the UN Human Rights Council 19th Session that had started on 27 February.

“Bishop’s House, Pattim, Mannar, Sri Lanka

1st March 2012

To: The President and all members of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Dear Excellencies,

UN Human Rights Council sessions and resolution on Sri Lanka

We are writing to you as a group of concerned Christian clergy in North Sri Lanka who have been directly affected by war and have been working to ensure rights of people in our region before, during and after the war, while being concerned and committed to broader issues of human rights, democratization and rule of law in Sri Lanka. We have also been trying to monitor domestic and international developments in this regard and contribute constructively to such processes.

Although we are not privy to the official positions and documents of members of the Council in relation to actions contemplated related to Sri Lanka, we welcome that the UNHRC members appear to be taking some action towards protection of human rights in Sri Lanka, even though this comes bit too late, after massive loss of life and sufferings. At least now, we urge the Council to act decisively in relation to Sri Lanka, to enable Sri Lankans to move towards genuine reconciliation.

Given the consistent denial of the Sri Lankan government about scale and nature of war time abuses as well as pre-war and post-war concerns, refusal to address these, and given also the seriousness of the allegations levelled against it as one of the parties to such abuses, we believe it is an independent international body that could best address concerns of truth seeking, accountability and reparations for victims in a way that victims, survivors and their families will have confidence. It is only by addressing these that we believe we can move towards genuine reconciliation.

The LLRC has quite rightly identified abuses by the LTTE and also come up with some positive recommendations that has potential for reconciliation. But it has failed to address critical issues of truth seeking and accountability, despite strong evidence and testimony before it. The record of various domestic bodies whose  recommendations successive governments have ignored, including the LLRC’s own interim recommendations issued more than a year ago and threats and intimidation of witnesses who gave testimony to the LLRC including a Christian Priest had made us lose confidence that our concerns will be addressed through LLRC. In fact, the post LLRC track record of abducting human rights defenders in Jaffna, obstructing human rights day event in Jaffna, obstructing peaceful campaigns in the North, killing of a protesting fisherman in Chilaw, vicious hate campaigns against journalists and organizations critical of the government, singing of the national anthem in Sinhalese only and a host of such activities indicates the absolute disregard for the LLRC report by the Government of Sri Lanka.

This, we believe it is imperative that the UNHRC calls on the Government to:

1. Implement LLRC recommendations,

2. Present a time bound, detailed and specific action plan in this regard to the 20th session of the UNHRC,

3. Report back on progress made on implementation to the 22nd session of the UNHRC, and

4. Accept the appointment of and fully cooperate with an international independent and effective mechanism to monitor above and address accountability issues not dealt with by the LLRC.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

1. Most Rev. Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar, Pattim, Mannar, Sri Lanka.
2. Rev. Fr. Kirubaharan, SFXS, Columbuthurai

(the list goes on to 31)

Conspicuous by their absence was the name of Cardinal Malcolm Rangith, the Head of the Catholic Church inSri Lanka, and the Roman Catholic Bishops of Jaffna, Bishop Thomas Savundranyagam, and of Trincomalee-Batticaloa, Bishop Kingsley Swarmpillai.

They clearly feel that there is no problem and that all is well with their flock. If so, they are either out of touch with reality, or have a shameless agenda of their own.

UNHRC – Response of Civil Society

As soon as the Head of the Sri Lankan delegation, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, finished his ‘deviation from the truth’ address to the UNHRC on 27 February, 2012, there was an immediate “Response by Civil Society”  on 29 February, 2012.

“This document is a response to the statement made by Minister Samarasinghe at the High Level Segment of the 19th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). At the outset it is noted that the responses by the Government including setting up the Lesson’s Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and the pledges made in the speech referenced here are as a result of increased international scrutiny and a counter to the growing call for a resolution to

discuss Sri Lanka at the UNHRC. As civil society who work on human rights and rule of law issues in Sri Lanka, the pledges made are yet another indicator of the delaying tactics used by the Government to halt any genuine progress in Sri Lanka.

………., this document highlights areas of contention and counters some of the statements made by him. The table below contains two columns-one with highlights from the statements made by the Minister and the opposing column directly rebutting the specific claim and at times containing questions that should be posed by different actors to the Government of Sri Lanka.

This document is drafted by civil society based on its own reports and documentation, public interest litigation, news reports and other documentation. It is also drafted at a time when civil society and others who are critical of the Government have come under intense threats, resulting in no names being mentioned of those who drafted this document. The shrinking space for any action in Sri Lanka demonstrates the urgent and immediate need for action at the 19th Sessions of the UNHRC.”

The ‘Table’ referred to is a point by point response to the absolute untruths of theSri Lankan government. I know of no better response to the downright lies of the GoSL.

What is of concern is the decision of those who wrote this not to mention their names because they “have come under intense threats” – which is what this paper by me addresses.  I am, of course, well aware who they are, and what might happen to them, especially to Bishop Joseph.

The opposition to Bishop Joseph

The political party of the Buddhist monks (JHU)

The opposition to Bishop Joseph comes, as would be expected, from the rabidly anti-Tamil political party of the Buddhist Monks, the JHU (Jathika Hela Urumaya (National Freedom Front). They include frank threats (see below)

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith 

Surprisingly, opposition, or rather a lack of support, comes from the Head of the Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, Cardinal Malcolm Rangith (a Sinhalese).

On 6 March, 2012, the media spokesperson of the Catholic Church, Rev Benedict Joseph, when questioned about the letter sent by 31 Catholic clergy headed by Bishop Rayappu Joseph, said that “the statement made by Bishop of Mannar Rev.Rayappu Joseph regarding the requirement of an international investigation into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, is not the stance of the Catholic community”.

He added that “ His Eminence Arch Bishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith had already established that the Catholic community believes that Sri Lanka should understand and implement the recommendations made by the LLRC report”.

Professor Sir Hudson McLean  (Scotland)

I have no idea who he is, and cannot get any information on “Google” – something he revels in – “I am flattered that so many persons have searched me on Google,”[2] To this I might respond “Some of us merely want to know your background and why you stand where you do”.

He has written dozens of articles supportive of the GoSL for some 12 years, most of them published in the “LankaWeb”.

Some light is thrown in his article “Paradise lost MUST be regained” on the elusive gentleman whom “so many people” are searching for on Google. In it he says:

Ceylon or Sri Lanka was home to my family for two generations. My father, a planter (tea), brought up our family to love this beautiful Island….”.

Then came the skeleton in the cupboard, “Recently, I spent a memorable fortnight in your beautiful Island of Sri Lanka, visiting Kandy, Nuwara Eliya (where I enjoyed a game of early morning golf), Hikkaduwa (an expensive coastal Resort)…..

I note that this self-professed ‘concerned Catholic’ did not think it necessary to visit the North and East where thousands of Catholics have been slaughtered and many thousand more are struggling to survive. The problem is that he would not have been able to play golf as he did, in the salubrious climate of Nuwara Eliya. Why would you want to go to the arid North and East when the alternative is the breezy resort of Hikkaduwa? The other side of the coin was that had he gone and seen what is going on, his writings might have been a little more credible. I only hope that the struggling Sri Lankan taxpayer did not have to subsidise this “memorable fortnight”.

I do not know whether I need to spend time dealing with this man who might be singing for his supper. However, I do need to quote his outrageous comments about  the Tamil people – “Most of the Tamils were brought in by the British to work on the tea estates”,(which shows his depth of knowledge of Sri Lanka),  and his claim, “The Island as a whole belongs to the original inhabitants, the Sinhalese.”[3]

He goes on, getting into language unbecoming of his title and position. “US military presence in India would tell the likes of China or Pakistan to fuck off”.

I wondered why the GoSL had not sent this gentleman to fly the Sri Lankan flag at the 19th UNHRC meeting in Geneva. I guess it was the fear that if he told China and Pakistan “to fuck off”, it might have created ‘difficulties’ for Sri Lanka.

I take strong exception to McLean’s reference to Bishop Rayappu Joseph in the “Open Letter” he wrote to the Head of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, Cardinal Ranjith, on the “Role of Leaders of the Catholic Faith in a Sovereign State”. Some of it is frankly defamatory.

He says, “As a Catholic, with a deep respect and a feeling of patriotism towards Sri Lanka, I respectfully address the issue, with regret, on the behaviour of Bishop of Mannar Dr. Rayappu Joseph, acting as a racist and openly supporting anti-Sri Lankan sentiments, supporting Division & Terrorism”.

He goes on, with what could be defamation. “Currently as an independent observer, my personal reaction towards Bishop Rayappu Joseph, is that he is trying to recreate a new generation of Tamil Terrorists within Sri Lanka. Bishop Rayappu Joseph is not preaching the doctrine of reconciliation……

Would your conscience, as the Leader of the Sri Lankan Catholics, accept that, due to the racist activity of Bishop Rayappu Joseph, if some of the Sinhala were to respond equally against the Tamil population in the South, and create unrest and even bloodshed?

By maintaining a silence, without responding to Bishop Rayappu Joseph, Your Eminence, you are displaying lack of leadership, and even stooping to the level of supporting racism and terrorism!

As the Leader of the Catholics in Sri Lanka, perhaps you might consider sending strict orders to Bishop Rayappu Joseph either to “Shut-up & Put-up” or a choice of De-robing or Relocating to Tamil Nadu”.

Yours in Blessings of Christ

Prof. Hudson McLean

Hudsonthen goes on to attack the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights  Navanethem Pillay, in what could well be defamation:

“I have been following the learned Hon. Ms. Navanethem Pillai.  Hon. Ms. Pillai as an illustrious international legal personality, should give serious consideration to her current status, either she acts as an independent Commissioner…… , or resigns from this prestigious International position, to maintain its credibility, and decides to act as an independent, dedicated legal representative of the Tamil Diaspora.

As to remuneration, at her mature age, with the available funds of Tamil Diaspora and certainly her personal acquired wealth, plus potential incomes from other future engagements, Hon. Ms Pillai should not find difficulties in sustaining her comfortable standard of living.”

As for his knighthood, I do not know why he was knighted. I have not been impressed by the (several) knights I have met. Here in Brisbane, Australia, we had a knight, Sir Terry Lewis, the Queensland Police Commissioner, charged in the Fitzgerald Inquiry into Police corruption. He was convicted, stripped of his knighthood and jailed. His boss, another knight, the then Premier, Sir Joe Bjelki-Peterson, was charged with perjury for giving false evidence. He escaped jail-time because the Foreman of the jury was a member of his political party and cast the deciding vote. When this was revealed, a re-trial was not proceeded with because Sir Joe was thought to be ‘too old’ (81). He was not too old to come out of the Court, shouting “I told you I was innocent”!

Threats

The threats have come from ‘unspecified sources’ – which most of us who are familiar with Sri Lanka would prefer to call “the Rajapaksa regime”. These have been freely aired by Media such as the Sunday Divaina website.

An open threat came from the party of the Buddhist monks – JHU, Jathika Hela Urumaya (National Freedom Front), a Government coalition partner, that accuses Bishop Joseph of aspiring to become the Cardinal of Tamil Eelam (IndependentTamilState) and that he should be arrested and prosecuted. The JHU told the BBC that the Government should prosecute Bishop Joseph.

These politically-active Buddhist monks can be, and are, very violent. It was one of them who assassinated Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in 1958. Those who believe that as followers of Buddhism, monks cannot be violent, might like to know that Pol Pot was a Buddhist monk.

In February 2007, President Rajapaks’s Minister for Environment and National Resources, Champika Ranawaka, from the JHU, advocated extrajudicial methods to deal with human rights groups, journalists and others who criticize the State’s militaristic aims. “Those bastards are traitors. We can’t do anything because of wild donkey freedom in this country”, he told the Ravaya newspaper on 18 February 2007. “If those can’t be handled with existing laws, we know how to do it. If we can’t suppress those bastards with the law, we need to use other ways and means, yes”. No one in President Rajapaksa’s government has condemned the Minister’s threat to move outside the law.

On 23 March 2012, President Rajapaksa’s Minister of Public Relations and Public Affairs, Mervyn Silva, addressed a public meeting in Kiribathgoda (near Colombo) and said that he will “break the bones” of Sri Lankans who supported the UNHRC Resolution in Geneva, adding that he would do this himself. I will deal with this threat from a very violent person in the Rajapaksa government with a documented track record of ‘breaking bones’ and physically savaging people, later in this article.

Let me be clear. These are not just empty threats in Sri Lanka, as Lasantha Wickrematunga, the Sinhalese owner/editor of the Sunday Leader (the only newspaper in Sri Lanka to be critical of the Government) found out. He was assassinated in broad daylight, by four masked men, when he was on his way to work in a suburb of Colombo. Many others critical of the government, or even those who even dare to question what the Government is doing, have gone the same way, or have been bundled into a “white van”, never to be seen again. Amnesty International has just reported that in the past six months some 32 people have ‘disappeared’ in Sri Lanka – almost certainly an underestimate because many families are to afraid to report such ‘disappearances’ to the Police or the Armed Forces who run the North and the East. When they have, they have ‘disappeared’ too.

The same applies to rape, as I will set out in a paper I am about to publish – “An epidemic of Rape of Tamil women and girls in the North and East of Sri Lanka by the Armed Forces”.

Concern and support for Bishop Rayappu Joseph

Forum Asia at the UNHRC    Oral and written statements

Forum Asia for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is a regional human rights group with 49 member organisations in 17 countries across Asia. It made an oral and written statement to the 19th Session of the UNHRC on 13 March 2012. The written statement is at (A/HRC/19/NGO/64).

I will refer only to the oral presentation, in particular, the reference to ‘Civil Society’.

The first part confirmed what Bishop Joseph and ‘Civil Society’ had detailed in their Submission, and then went on to deal with the concerns of their safety. Here is part of what they said.

It referred “to the emerging trends of land grabbing and development-induced displacement in post-war Sri Lanka. Contrary to Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe’s portrayal during the High-level Segment – about the progress in the “removal of military from facilitation of civil administration in the north making land previously used for security purposes available for resettlement/return”, the forcible acquisition of these lands by the Ministry of Defense and Rural Development for the purposes of military camps, Special Economic Zones, tourist resorts or infrastructure development has increased the militarization of the former conflict areas in addition to displacing thousands of vulnerable communities, particularly farmers and fisherfolk, as further elaborated in.”

It then went on to deal with intimidation by the GoSL:

“Madam President, the systematic intimidation by the government and state media against those Sri Lankan civil society organizations engaging with the UN human rights mechanisms does not amount to genuine and constructive cooperation of the government with this Council… ..

The Submission continued:

 “Madam President, in response to the reservations put forward by some States on the added value of the Council’s action at the current session concerning the accountability and reconciliation issues in Sri Lanka, FORUM-ASIA highlights the followings: 1) The Council has a responsibility to complement and fill the gaps in the domestic accountability process as it endorsed the joint communiqué between the UN Secretary-General and the President of Sri Lanka three years ago in 2009;……

The support of the international community as well as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Special Procedures through the action by this Council will enhance the space for those embattled Sri Lankan human rights defenders and victims to raise their legitimate concerns on justice.

Sinhalese clergy and civilians

In striking contrast to the Tamil Bishops in the North and East, and the (Sinhalese) Head of the Roman Catholic Church on Sri Lanka. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, who are unable to support an outstanding Tamil Bishop in the North East, support for him has commendably come from my community, the Sinhalese, in the South.

Headed by the fine upstanding Sinhalese Bishop, Kumara Illangasinghe, (Anglican)  Bishop Emeritus of Kurunegala, Christian clergy and laity from South wrote to UNHRC in support of the letter by Northern clergy:

“12th  March 2012

To: The President and all members of the United Nations Human Rights Council

We the undersigned, endorse the concerns and calls made in the letter of 1st March 2012 to the President and Members of the UN Human Rights Council by 31 Catholic clergy from Northern Sri Lanka, including the Bishop of Mannar.

We also express our grave concerns about intimidation and discrediting of the signatories of the initial letter and in particular the Bishop of Mannar, by media such as the Sunday Divaina, websites and even government’s coalition partners such as the Jathika Hela Urumaya and National Freedom Front by accusing the Bishop of aspiring to become Cardinal of Tamil Eelam and that he should be arrested and prosecuted.”

  1. Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe
  2. Rev. Fr. M. Sathivel  (and others)

63 people signed it – 25 priests, 7 nuns, and 31 civilians.

As a Sinhalese, I am proud of members of my ethnic group who have come forward, not just to support Bishop Joseph, but to rescue the name of the Sinhalese. The former President of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, in a recent public speech in Colombosaid that after watching the shocking (UK) Channel 4 video, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, her son had called her from London, sobbing, “I am ashamed to be called a Sinhalese”. She can be seen in the just-released second Channel 4 documentary “Sri Lanka: Justice denied”

One of Bishop Illangasinghe’s predecessors in the Anglican Church in Kurunagala was the irreplaceable (Sinhalese) Bishop Lakshman Wickremasinghe, whose name is synonymous with integrity, decency and humanity. He was the only one I know of who has publicly apologised to the Tamils (after the 1983 massacre of Tamils in Colombo), for what had been done to them. His third (and final) Pastoral Letter is well worth reading. He is what all clergy should aspire to be. I know exactly where he would have stood in the current dreadful situation facing the Tamils in the North and East.

Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples (ACPP)  Hong Kong

ACCP is a regional non-government organization inspired by Pope Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio  and serving justice and peace efforts in Asia  through advocacy, education and training, and networking for solidarity.

“Urgent – request for solidarity with Northern Priests and Bishop of Mannar for taking a stand on Geneva UN HRC sessions

 Dear Friends,

Greetings from ACPP, Hongkong.

As some of you may already be aware, the Bishop of Mannar in Northern Sri Lanka, together with 30 priests, has written to the UN Human Rights Council urging them to call on the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the positive recommendations of the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee, the body of inquiry it set up to look back at the Sri Lankan Civil War and provide recommendations for moving forward to an era of healing and peace building), among other things. 

The Bishops and the priests have since been attacked through intimidation and discredit by media and government-friendly groups. 

Concerned civil society groups in Sri Lanka and abroad are rallying around Bishop Rayappu Joseph and the priests for their principled and courageous position in the light of UN’s belated interest in the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.  As the UN is discussing a US-led resolution on Sri Lanka this week, letters of support for the bishop’s letter have been solicited and directed sent to the UN HRC.   

However, the on-goings at the Human Rights Council in Geneva is anyone’s guess, and already there are those who are questioning the US resolution, which even if passed, are predicted to be much watered down.  This means it would not have any meaningful effect on the human rights situation and national reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka.

Given this scenario, the pressure is thrown back to those opposing the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and civil society actors like Bp. Joseph and his priests. It is imperative thus, that they be affirmed and supported in their action, now more than ever.”

The ACCP appealed to people “to send your notes and messages of solidarity to Bishop Rayappu Joseph and the 30 priests to affirm their courageous act of writing to the UN, to encourage them to be steadfast in their public stand and prophetic witness, and to give them support in the continuing and expected increased backlash on their action.

You may address your messages of solidarity to:

E-mail:                  bpjoseph@sltnet.lk
Fax No.:               0094-23-2232709

Thank you very much and hope that you will send your letters as soon as possible to support these men of God who have taken upon themselves to be the voice of the voiceless in Sri Lanka. 

May God bless all our efforts for Justice and Peace,

Terence Osorio

Coordinator

Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples

Protests (or their lack) by the Churches in Sri Lanka at the threats against Bishop Joseph

What about the Christian Church in Sri Lanka? The Church in the Sinhalese South is more Sinhalese than Christian. The Head of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Malcolm Rangith, behaves as if he is an honorary member of the Rajapaksa government. His predecessor, Archbishop Ostwald Gomis, was the same. Gomis was holding the bloodstained hands of President Rajapaksa, singing Christmas carols while his flock, yes, the Tamils in the North and East are also his flock, were being decimated and their homes reduced to rubble by the Armed Forces of the man who he was singing carols with, who is not only the Executive President with sweeping powers, but also the Minister of Defence and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith (a Sinhalese) said that the Report by the UN Secretary General’s  Panel of Experts to look into accountability issues in the closing stages of the war, was part of “an international conspiracy” against the country. This is, of course, what the GoSL claims. The Cardinal might consider quitting his position and accepting a Cabinet post in Rajapaksa’s government. He can then fly the flag for the GoSL, rather than do so from the position he holds. He cannot do both.

As for the Bishops in the Tamil North and East (other than Bishop Joseph), the less said of them the better. I will not waste time detailing their (non)activities. Bishop Thomas Savundranayagam, Bishop of Jaffna, recently said that the rehabilitation of the Tamil people ‘was going very well”. The man must be on a different planet (already).

Bishop Kingsley Swarmpillai, Bishop of Trincomalee-Batticaloa, is only marginally better.

In such a setting, Bishop Rayappu Joseph was a gift from God.

Other human rights activists threatened

It is not only Bishop Rayappu Joseph, his Tamil clergy and ‘Civil Society’ who have been threatened. Sinhalese activists of standing (Sunila Abeysekera a much respected human rights activist, Nimalka Fernando, a lawyer, women’s rights activist, a member of the Democratic People’s Movement in Sri Lanka and the President of the International Movement Against All forms of Discrimination against Women (IMADR), and Dr Paikiasoothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a much respected organization in Colombo, have also been threatened.

They decided to issue a Joint Statement on 23rd March 2012 in Colombo:

As the three Sri Lankan human rights defenders who have come most under attack by the state media in Sri Lanka in the past week, because of our active involvement with the on-going session of the UN Human rights Council in Geneva, we feel compelled to issue this statement of clarification.

We do not deny that we are critical of the conduct of the government of Sri Lanka, and the institutions and agencies under its control, whenever disregard for the human rights obligations imposed on the government by virtue of its being signatory to almost all international human rights conventions comes to our attention. As the President of Sri Lanka, and his Special Envoy on Human Rights well know, the three of us have offered our services to this government to ensure human rights accountability in the past. For example, all of us served on the National Advisory Council appointed by Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, when he held the portfolio for Human Rights. 

Nor do we deny that we work with a range of human rights organizations, nationally, regionally and internationally, to draw attention to human rights violations in Sri Lanka as well as to the culture of impunity and the lack of accountability for violations of the past and of the present. This is our right, as human rights defenders, and we have exercised that right for many years, under various governments, in spite of a barrage of attacks and intimidation from various quarters, including state and non-state entities.

It is indeed regrettable that at a time in the history of our country when we have the opportunity to transform our society, to move from a post-war to a post-conflict phase, and to enjoy the support of the international community to rebuild a just, humane and prosperous Sri Lanka in which all its citizens can live together with peace and dignity, the government and its media have seen it necessary to launch into an unprecedented and utterly personalized attack against the three of us. There is no attempt to challenge us substantively on any point. None of the comments attributed to us, were actually ever made by any one of us; there are many who were present at the side events where we have spoken who can testify to that. 

This attack is totally counter-productive in terms of the government’s campaign to resist the Resolution on Sri Lanka, which has been tabled at the Council. In fact, in Geneva today, there is more focus on the attacks and acts of intimidation of Sri Lankan human rights defenders than there is on the negotiations around the Resolution. Those who accuse us of bringing the country into disrepute would do well to examine both their own motives and the consequences of their actions. Instead of carrying on with advocacy for defeating the Resolution, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the Council, Ms. Tamara Kunanayagam has had to spend hours of her valuable time talking to delegations, to the President of the Council and to officials of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights about the campaign of intimidation and attack against Sri Lankan human rights defenders at the Council and in Sri Lanka. 

As human rights defenders working to defeat impunity in Sri Lanka and to build a strong system of justice and accountability for human rights violations, whether committed in the past or in the present, we remain committed to our ideals and to our goals. For us, whether there is a Resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human rights Council or not, our work to defend human rights in Sri Lanka must, and will, go on.   

Sunila Abeysekera    Nimalka Fernando      Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

 

The High Commissioner for Human Rights warns Sri Lanka

On 23 March 2012, at the close of the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, warned that there must be no reprisals against Sri Lankan human rights defenders in the aftermath of yesterday’s adoption by the Human Rights Council of a resolution on Sri Lanka.

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, quoting Mrs Pillay said that during this Human Rights Council session, there has been an unprecedented and totally unacceptable level of threats, harassment and intimidation directed at Sri Lankan activists who had travelled to Geneva to engage in the debate, including by members of the 71-member official Sri Lankan government delegation. Intimidation and harassment of Sri Lankan civil society activists have also been reported in other locations around Geneva.

On the other hand, the Sri Lankan ambassador inGenevareceived an anonymous threatening letter which is being followed up by the police and UN security.

At the same time in Sri Lanka itself, newspapers, news websites and TV and radio stations have since January been running a continuous campaign of vilification, including naming and in many cases picturing activists, describing them as an “NGO gang” and repeatedly accusing them of treason, mercenary activities and association with terrorism. Some of these reports have contained barely veiled incitement and threats of retaliation. At least two comments posted by readers of articles of this type have called for burning down of the houses of the civil society activists named in the articles, and at least one such comment called openly for them to be killed.

The High Commissioner noted that some of the attacks on human rights defenders were carried in Sri Lankan state media and Government websites or were filed by journalists who had been officially accredited to the Human Rights Council session by the Sri Lankan permanent mission. She called on the Government to ensure the protection of human rights defenders, to publicly disassociate itself from such statements, and to clearly uphold the right of Sri Lankan citizens to freely engage in international debate of this kind.

The High Commissioner has also noted that Sri Lanka’s own Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission, in its report published in December (2011), made extensive and positive references to the role civil society can play in reconciliation and rehabilitation efforts, and stressed this would require greater tolerance towards differing views within Sri Lankan civil society and the protection of Sri Lankan human rights defenders

What is clear is that once totalitarian regimes start of this slippery slope, the target expands. Today it is Bishop Joseph and his 30 Tamil priests who are in the line of fire, tomorrow it will human rights activists, two of whom are renowned Sinhalese activists who have already been threatened.

How serious are these threats?

Given the tract record of the GoSL, its undisciplined Armed Forces and the breakdown of law and order with hooligans and thugs doing as they please, often with the blessings of the Government and the regime in power which has a very violent man as a Minister in the Rajapaksa government (see below), it would be of the utmost stupidity to treat these threats lightly.

This is precisely what happened to Fr Jim Brown (mentioned in one of Bishop Joseph’s documents).

Rev. Fr. Tiruchelvan Nihal Jim Brown, a young Roman Catholic priest, had been sent as the parish priest to thePhilipNeriChurch, Allaipiddy village, onKeytsIsland, off theJaffnaPeninsula. He had replaced a priest who said he was too afraid to return because of threats from the Sri Lankan Navy.

Hundreds of Tamil Christians and Moslems had taken refuge in the Church during the fighting between the Sri Lankan Navy and the Tamil Tigers. On 13 August 2006, the Church was shelled, killing dozens of people and injuring many more.

Fr Brown was known to have helped many civilians to move from Allipaiddy to the town ofKayts. He, like his predecessor, continued to receive threats from the Navy. He received a number of death threats from the Commanding Officer of the Allaipiddy Naval camp. How real were these threats?

We found out on 20 August 2006. Fr Brown and another man, Wenceslaus Vimalthas, left Allaipiddy to visit the near by village of Mandaithivu. The Sri Lankan Navy refused to allow them to enter the village. On the way back to Allaipiddy they were stopped at a Navy check-point. They have not been seen again.

Amnesty International launched two appeals (on 29 August 2006, and again on 12 September 2006) “Fear for Safety: Possible Disappearance”. So did Human Rights Watch. His body has recently been found in a bag weighed down with stones, at the bottom of the sea near the Sri Lankan Naval position. Rear-Admiral Upali Ranaweera, the Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy in the Northern region should know all about this. (I do not know where he is today. Perhaps in a Sri Lankan diplomatic position outsideSri Lanka, where many with a case to answer have now been posted).

On 17 April 2007, the Roman Catholic clergy sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI[4] on the situation in Sri Lanka – “Members of the clergy have been among those targeted. We are particularly troubled by the case of Reverend Fr Thiruchelvan Nihal Jim Brown who ‘disappeared’ after he stopped at a Naval check-point on Kayts Island near Jaffna on August 20, 2006. He had been receiving death treats from senior Navy”.

Just to show that appeals to the Pope, or anyone else, for that matter, meant nothing, Fr M.X.Karunaratnam, Head of North East Secretariat of Human Rights (NESoHR), was slaughtered. Fr Karunaratnam regularly travelled on the road in the North administering Holy Communion to groups of villagers on the road. He had been regularly threatened by the Army, but he did what was expected of him as a priest.

On 20 April 2008, the Sri Lankan Army’s “Deep Penetration Unit” unleashed a claymore mine, killing him instantaneously. The GoSL could not care less, nor could the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Colombo who had direct access to the President.

So, threats by the Sri Lankan government and its Armed Forces, are real threats that are carried out. That is why they cannot be ignored.

What was passed at the 19th Session of the UNHRC

Although expatriate Tamils all over the world are ‘celebrating’ the US-sponsored Resolution passed at the UNHRC meeting, as a ‘win’ for the Tamils, careful appraisal of its contents shows that it is a sell-out of the Tamil people in the North and East of Sri Lanka, and has given the GoSL permission to do what it wants for another year (till March 2013).

Here is what was passed:

“United States of America: the verbally revised resolution adopted on 22 March 2012 at the 19th session of the UNHCR

Promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other relevant instruments,

Recalling Council resolutions 5/1 and 5/2 on institution building of the Human Rights Council,

Reaffirming that States must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, as applicable,

Taking note of the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission of Sri Lanka and its findings and recommendations, and acknowledging its possible contribution to the process of national reconciliation in Sri Lanka,

Welcoming the constructive recommendations contained in the Commission’s report, including the need to credibly investigate widespread allegations of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, demilitarize the north of Sri Lanka, implement impartial land dispute resolution mechanisms, re-evaluate detention policies, strengthen formerly independent civil institutions, reach a political settlement on the devolution of power to the provinces, promote and protect the right of freedom of expression for all and enact rule of law reforms,

Noting with concern that the report does not adequately address serious allegations of violations of international law,

1. Calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the constructive recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and to take all necessary additional steps to fulfil its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans;

2. Requests the Government of Sri Lanka to present, as expeditiously as possible, a comprehensive action plan detailing the steps that the Government has taken and will take to implement the recommendations made in the Commission’s report, and also to address alleged violations of international law;

3. Encourages the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant special procedures mandate holders to provide, in consultation with, and with the concurrence of, and the Government of Sri Lanka to accept,, advice and technical assistance on implementing the above-mentioned steps;, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to present a report on the provision of such assistance to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second session”.

That was it. The introductory clap-trap excluded, it merely calls on the GoSL to implement the LLRC and to present an action plan, and encourages the UN HRC to ‘advise’ the GoSL and report back to the UNHRC at its 22nd Session – March 2013!

It is worth repeating what the 19 Tamils in Civil Society, including Bishop Rayappu Joseph, pointed out to the US Envoys who visited Sri Lankain February 2012 (see above). Their concluding paragraph is so important that it is worth repeating:

“we urge the ‘international community to acknowledge the consistent failure of domestic accountability mechanisms in Sri Lanka and take steps to establish an international mechanism for accountability’. Any resolution coming out of the Human Rights Council, which gives more time to the Government of Sri Lanka, will have a devastating impact on the Tamil community. The Government’s current activities in the North and East are challenging the very existence of the Tamil people and more time to the GOSL to implement the LLRC’s recommendations will only mean further time for the Government to play havoc in the North and East and subjugate the interests and aspirations of the Tamil people. If the International Community does not act now, like they did not act in May 2009, the Tamils will cease to exist as a ‘people’ in this country.”

To establish “an international mechanism for accountability” was not done. What was done was to give more time to the Government of Sri Lanka, which, as Civil Society rightly pointed out, “will have a devastating impact on the Tamil community”. It will “only mean further time for the Government to play havoc in the North and East and subjugate the interests and aspirations of the Tamil people”.

The concluding sentence is critical and is what will undoubtedly happen. “If the International Community does not act now…… the Tamils will cease to exist as a ‘people’ in this country.”

What the US-Resolution did was to enable the Sri Lankan government to make sure that the Tamils cease to exist as a ‘peoples’ inSri Lanka. I completely agree with what ‘Civil Society’ has written.

In the event of the GoSL refusing to accept the Resolution (which has just been done – see below), there were no penalties.

Moreover, what was urgently needed is the immediate admission of internationally credible Human Rights organisations (AI, HRW, ICG), and international humanitarian organisations into the North and East to check on what was happening to the Tamil people, their land and their survival. That was, most certainly, not done.

As such, the UNHRC Resolution made a bad situation (for the Tamil people in the North and East) even worse. I will deal with what can be done about this in a separate publication.

Two new events

This paper was ready for publication when there were two events of significance, one of which I have just alluded to.

1. The UNHRC Resolution will not change what Sri Lanka will do.

On 26 March 2012, in the first announcement following the UNHRC Resolution, Foreign Minister G.L.Peiris said thatSri Lankawill not alter what is being done, no matter the consequences.

 

  1. Sri Lankadoes not agree with the Resolution, and “we have no reason to fear or panic”.
  2. There will not be a change in the future course of action and “will not do anything new”.

In other words, passing the Resolution was a waste of time. What has gone will continue. The serious problem was that the UNHRC Resolution did not spell out what the consequence of non-compliance will be.

Economic sanctions would have been one possibility, but as Peiris rightly pointed out, “because of the resolutions in Geneva there aren’t going to be economic sanctions. These two things are not inter-related…….This will not take place that way”.

Sri Lankans are not stupid. It is the UNHRC and its members that are (for geopolitical and economic gains), andSri Lankaknow full well how ‘to play them’. It was done to perfection.

2.Physical threats by a Government Minister

On 23 March 2012, President Rajapaksa’s Minister of Public Relations and Public Affairs, Mervyn Silva, addressed a public meeting in Kiribathgoda (near Colombo) and said that he will “break the bones” of (named) Sri Lankans who supported the UNHRC Motion in Geneva, adding that he would do this himself. He said “I am a good Sinhala Buddhist. I will not allow anybody to auction my Sinhala Buddhist traits”.

My mother was a devout Buddhist, and I am familiar with Buddha’s teaching. Could Minister Silva tell us which Buddhist stanza sets out what this “good Sinhala Buddhist” is doing, and has done (repeatedly)?  It is time for the Buddhists in Sri Lanka to take this man to task for defaming a great religion.

Minister Silva said that past kings would execute those acting against the country, and that “The time has come now to do what the kings did then”.

I do not want to spend time on this man who should have been behind bars, but he is a dangerous player in that he can unleash violence, not only on those struggling to restore human rights in Sri Lanka, but is making a mockery of the rule of law and dismantling democracy in that country.

Minister Silva has a long history of violence, which include several episodes of serious assault of individuals and even of television studios. He operates with a band of underworld characters, drug dealers, goons and criminals. He does what he likes to whomever he likes, functioning well outside the law – beyond even the law of the jungle. How he gets away with it is a separate issue, but he does. President Rajapaksa should come clean on why this man with a long history of criminality has been given Ministry after Ministry, once even in charge of the Media, despite the fact that he personally destroyed a Media outlet in Colombo. He boasted that as long as President Rajapaksa and the Rajapaksa family in power, “no one can touch me”.

Silva named his intended victims – human rights activists, Dr Packiasothy Saravanamuttu, and lawyer Ms Nimalka Fernando, and journalists Sunanda Deshapriya and Poddala Jayantha (who has not even gone toGenevaor sent a communication). Mr Jayantha has already been savaged by the Minister and his goons, and has had his legs broken. Three of the people in the Minister’s sights are Sinhalese.

Whether Bishop Rayappu Joseph, his clergy and members of ‘Civil Society’ in the North are within the reach of Minister Silva and his goons, I do not know. Most certainly, the human rights activists and anyone even mildly critical of what President Rajapaksa and his junta are doing, are at considerable risk.

The UN High Commissioner, Navanethem Pillay’s ‘warning’ to Sri Lanka that there must be no reprisals against human rights defenders after the adoption of the Resolution at the 19th UNHRC, will have absolutely no effect on Minister Silva who operates an even more violent group within an already violent regime of the ruling junta in Sri Lanka.

What could be done?

To give the Bishop, his clergy and members of ‘civil society’, and now even human rights activists in the Sinhalese South, physical protection is impossible. The Sri Lankan regime can do whatever they want to whom ever they want with complete impunity. They have and they will. So will the likes of Minister Mervyn Silva and his goons.

The only possible ‘protection’ that can be given is the force of public opinion, in particular, international opinion. This might well be insufficient but is all that can be done, other than the physical removal of the vulnerable people from the country. That is neither possible nor desirable since what is being removed is the only voice of a voiceless people – the Tamil people in the North and East, and the voice of reason in the South. To remove them is not only impossible but irresponsible. It is as irresponsible as what the UN and Humanitarian organisations did in 2008 – remove themselves from the conflict zone (on the orders of the Government)S, enabling the Government Armed Forces to commit the most serious atrocities on the civilians in the North and East.

What can be done (if anything) is to apprise the world of what might happen, and to let the regime inSri Lankaknow that the world is watching.

Harold Pinter, the 2005 Nobel Prize winner in Literature, titled his Nobel Lecture – Art, Truth and Politics. I will quote from this outstanding lecture since that is what is happening inSri Lanka.

“The majority of politicians……are not interested in truth but in power and the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people (in Sri Lanka and abroad) remain in ignorance of the truth. What surrounds us is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we (in the outside world and those in Sri Lanka) feed.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it is happening, it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It is of no interest”. (end of quote).

“Not a single civilian was killed by our soldiers. It was all done by the Tamil Tigers” said President Rajapaksa, on the first anniversary of the slaughter, in his ‘tapestry of lies’. Adding to the tapestry, he went on, “Our soldiers went to war with a gun in one hand and the human rights convention in the other”. This, mind you, was to hundreds of people, several from the diplomatic community invited for the tamasha in Colombo.

In Sri Lanka  today, the Rajapaksa regime is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, ruthless, scornful and indifferent it might be, but also very clever. As a salesman, President Rajapaksa is in a class of his own, and his most saleable commodity is himself. That is why it was ‘necessary’ to jail General Sarath Fonseka, the former Army Commander, on a trumped up charge and hand-picked Judges.

The Rajapaksa junta no longer bothers about the truth. They see no point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It simply does not give a damn about the United Nations, International Law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant.

The problem is how one can protect outspoken people such as Bishop Rayappu Joseph from such a regime. I do not think it is possible – except to let the junta know that the world is watching. It is for this reason that this paper is being published.

Appendix

LLRC: Submission by the Catholic Diocese of Mannar [5]

by Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph , Rev. Fr. Victor Sosai, Rev. Fr. Xavier Croos

A. Introduction:

This is a presentation on behalf of the people of Mannar district by the Roman Catholic Bishop and Priests of the Diocese of Mannar[1] to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

At the outset, we must express our disappointment that previous Commissions of Inquiry have failed to establish the truth into human rights violations and extrajudicial killings they were inquiring and bring justice and relief to victims and their families. For example, the attack on the Pesalai Catholic Church while civilians were taking refuge and the disappearance of Fr. Jim Brown, both in 2006, were amongst the 16 cases that the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Alleged Serious Violations of Human Rights was mandated to look into, but we have not heard of any progress. It is also disturbing that reports of these Commissions have not been made available to those who came before the Commission, victims, their families and general public.

However, we believe the appointment of the LLRC by His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse is an opportunity for all Sri Lankans to move towards reconciliation. We recognize the importance of learning lessons from our history, in order to move forward as well as prevent further conflict and violence. Thus, our willingness to come before the LLRC and assist the LLRC by working with the Kacheri and Grama Sewekas to make it better known amongst our people.

We appreciate the positive response of the LLRC to our request to visit Mannar district and meet people here who have been seriously affected by the war, especially the last phase of war from 2006-2009. However, Mannar being a district that tens of thousands of people have been affected by war for 3 decades, we are disappointed that the time allocated to listen to our people is very small. We request that special period of time be allocated for further submissions by the public even after the formal sessions of the LLRC are completed.

We also believe that it is crucial for any serious effort towards reconciliation to go back into our history beyond February 2002, as roots of the conflict and reasons for the war that caused so much pain, destruction and polarization dates much further. Infact, the LTTE, other armed Tamil groups and the war are not the cause, but only results of the conflict. Although LTTE and other Tamil armed groups have caused much suffering, their actions were prompted by the failure of successive governments to respond favorably to Tamil’s efforts to resolve their problems through peaceful and political means. While acknowledging the part played by LTTE and other armed groups in the suffering of the people, we wish to point out that the state military and their secret agents are feared more by the people and are held responsible for much of their woes.

In order to achieve genuine and lasting reconciliation, we believe it is crucial to address roots of the conflict and war, primarily issues affecting Tamils such as recognition of their political reality, language, land, education and political power sharing.
B. Importance of truth:

We are convinced that recognizing in public the objective truth of the events of destruction that has taken place during the decades of war and violence is indispensable for any attempts at reconciliation. Although establishing the truth is not explicitly mentioned in your mandate, we believe you will share our conviction that there can be no genuine and lasting reconciliation without truth. In particular, the truth about violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, such as enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, torture, bombing and shelling of civilian’s spaces including hospitals and religious institutions etc. must be publicly acknowledged bearing also in mind the principle of “Command Responsibility”. We note that except in one case (rape and murder Krishanthy Kumarasami) no perpetrators have been convicted for numerous crimes such as extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention, rape and sexual abuse. It is our belief that this culture of impunity over the years, led to more and more crimes against Tamil civilians during the course of the conflict. Measures such as forgiveness, amnesty are only possible when there is genuine acceptance and repentance of wrongs done and the truth is acknowledged.

It is our earnest appeal that the LLRC will give high priority to establish in public the truth of what has happened in the course of conflict and war.

C. Importance of political solution:

It should be recognized that Tamil people along with other inhabitants are part of one Sri Lanka, while having their own identity, culture, language, religion and traditional habitation. This reality in Sri Lanka has to be duly recognized by the government, considering also international law and practices in resolving conflict through political processes. Basic principle of power sharing and rights of minorities must be legally entrenched in the Constitution. The constitution and legal system must not favor and should not leave any room to be even perceived as favoring majority or any one community or religion.

We believe that this process should be done with full participation of all communities, with the assistance of Sri Lankan experts as well as drawing on relevant international experience.

We acknowledge that this will be a long process. We note that several such processes initiated in the past had been abandoned, including the All Party Representative Committee appointed by the present President. Political solution could be carved out taking into consideration previous attempts at a political solution and relevant amendments made to the constitution.

We believe it is crucial to take initial steps immediately, with a clear time frame for completion of the process and implementation of the final political solution.

D. Immediate issues to be addressed

While a political solution to the conflict is essential, we would like to highlight several immediate issues that need to be addressed to ensure that we move forward on the path to reconciliation. Without addressing these needs, people affected by the war will not be able to move towards reconciliation and neither will they have any confidence or hope in any reconciliation process initiated at macro level.

Below are some such concerns with some practical suggestions:

1. Enforced disappearances:

We are submitting herewith a list of 100 persons that have disappeared as reported by their loved ones. (Annex 1 – parts I and II) The actual numbers would be much more. Existing mechanisms such as the Police, National Human Rights Commission and previous Presidential Commissions that many family members had complained to, have been unable to assist the families of the disappeared people. We are particularly worried that there is no news about two Tamil priests from the North who disappeared in this period, namely Rev. Fr. Jim Brown and Rev. Fr. Francis Joseph, although not from the Mannar diocese. Fr. Jim Brown’s case was even part of the mandate of the previous Presidential Commission of Inquiry in 2006.

Suggestions:

1.1 Establishment of a special fast track mechanism that is independent of state institutions and will be perceived as independent by affected families.

1.2 In cases where it is clearly established that the person cannot be found, processes for death certificates and compensation should be expedited.

1.3 Procedures for applying for same should be simple, time bound and should be made public.

2. Remanded LTTE suspects:

We are submitting a list of 274 persons who have been reported to us as being remanded. We are again aware that the actual number of persons in detention is much more than we present. There are thousands of LTTE suspects detained in prisons all over the country, such as in Welikeda in Colombo, Bogambara in Kandy, Jaffna, Batticaloa, Vavuniya, Anuradhapura etc. Almost all are Tamils. Most are detained purely on suspicion of links to the LTTE, with no charges brought for years. Others have been charged, but their trials are going on for years. Some of those, such as those detained in Omanthai under the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID), have been denied access to lawyers, ICRC and National Human Rights Commission and right to participate in religious services. Their relatives face a lot of problems visiting them and are often compelled to talk in inhumane manner through wire mesh, with more than 10 at a time in congested small room. There is no centralized list of detainees in each detention centre that relatives could refer to.

It is very important also to identify and pay special attention to vulnerable groups with special needs, such as those with young children and physically disabled.

Suggestions:

2.1 A centralized, comprehensive list of detainees should be made public – with names, places of detention as well as record of transfers, so families are made aware of the whereabouts of their family members. The list should also provide the reasons for detention and under which legal provision they are being detained.

2.2 Unhindered access to detainees, by their families, religious leaders, lawyers, ICRC and other statutory bodies and individuals.

2.3 Release all those who are not charged or detained in accordance with the legal framework and expedite the cases of those who have been charged.

2.4 A proper screening process should be in place to identify special cases, such as those with young children and with physical disability and provide special assistance they need.

3. Extrajudicial killings:

We present herewith a list of 166 people who had been reported to us as killed during the last phase of the war, from Mannar district. (Annex 3) This number is not complete. Thousands of persons have been reported killed during the three decade old war from the North and East, most of them, since 2007 and particularly in the last five months of war in 2009. This includes a large number from the district of Mannar. Rev. Fr. Pakiaranjith, a priest of our diocese was also killed on 26th September 2007 in Vellankulam Road near Thunnukai, while he was taking assistance to displaced people. Hundreds of civilians from the Mannar district have also been deliberately killed by the military at the beginning of the war in early 1980s, such as the mass massacre at 11th mile post on the Mannar – Medawachiya Road on 4th December 1984.

Based on eyewitness testimonies, we believe thousands of people would have been killed in the last five months of war between January – May 2009 and we believe a large number of these people are also from the Mannar district.

Based on information from the Kacheris of Mullativu and Killinochi about the population in Vanni in early October 2008 and number of people who came to government controlled areas after that, 146,679 people seem to be unaccounted for. According to the Kacheri, the population in Vanni was 429,059 in early part of October 2008 (Refer Annex 4 and 5). According to UN OCHA update as of 10th July 2009, the total number of people who came out of the Vanni to government controlled areas after this is estimated to be 282,380 (Refer Annex 6).

Suggestions:

3.1 All killings should be formally acknowledged

3.2 The number of civilians killed during the last phase of the war should be made public

3.3 Due clarification should be made regarding what happened to 146,679 people, which is the discrepancy between the number of people who came to government controlled areas between October 2008 – May 2009 and the population reported to be in Vanni in early October 2008.

3.4 Processes for death certificates and compensation should be expedited.

3.5 Procedures for applying for same should be simple, time bound and should be made public.

4. Rehabilitation of civilians affected by war

Thousands of civilians have also been injured, some seriously during the course of the war, especially in the last few months of war in the North in 2009. Many suffer permanent physical disability and are unable to get about their daily lives, including education and livelihoods without special assistance. There are also many who are traumatized due to being eyewitness to the war and having family members killed and made to disappear after being detained by the military, being admitted to hospitals etc.

Suggestions:

4.1 All civilians physically affected should be offered needed special care and assistance.

4.2 All those who are in need of trauma counseling should be offered opportunities to receive trauma counseling and psychosocial support.

4.3 Government should facilitate and assist religious groups and NGOs to collect correct data in order to provide these services, including financial assistance where needed.

5. Rehabilitation of ex-LTTE cadres

We welcome the release in batches of ex-LTTE cadres. But there is no clear official number for those being detained and rehabilitated.[2] There is no transparent classifications and distinctions between those alleged as ex-combatants and others who were not in the frontlines (e.g. cooks, medics, admin staff etc.). There is also no clear indication about how many ex-combatants would be charged, and under what laws, with different Government MPs saying different numbers at different times.[3]

We have also been told by several ex-LTTE cadres who had been released that they had not received any serious rehabilitation, such as counseling and livelihood skills. Those who have been released after rehabilitation have reported that their freedom of movement has been restricted and several have been reported as threatened and even abducted after release.

Suggestions:

5.1 Ensure freedom of movement and security of those released after rehabilitation

5.2 A comprehensive programme to address the psychological needs of ex-LTTE cadres and those rehabilitated and reintegrated should be implemented by the Government in partnership with agencies who have expertise in the area.

5.3 There should be an independent authority/body to monitor the rehabilitation and reintegration of detainees, so as to ensure that proper rehabilitation is conducted, and if the reintegration process is taking place effectively. (e.g. facilitate family units to re-start their lives etc.,)

6. Permanent housing, Livelihoods, Healthcare, Education and Transport:

We appreciate the fact that most people displaced during the war have been allowed to go back to their villages. We particularly appreciate the efforts made to demine these areas. However, although many people have returned to their villages, they are not able to live in dignity.

Almost 20 months after the end of the war, most of displaced people still have no housing and live under tarpaulin sheets. Others live in makeshift and temporary houses, mainly cadjan and tin sheets. There is no comprehensive housing scheme in place. We are also disturbed that a limit of Rs. 325,000 has been placed as the amount that should be spent for one permanent house for houses being built by The North East Housing Reconstruction Program (NEHRP). Based on present construction costs, it would be difficult to complete a good quality permanent house within Rs. 325,000. Further, we are also concerned that only few agencies are involved in building permanent houses, which we understand is due to undue restrictions and formalities of the government.

In this context, we were relieved and happy to hear about the offer of the Indian government to build 50,000 houses. We believe it is essential that the Government of Sri Lanka cooperates fully with the Indian government to ensure that people without housing can benefit in full from this generous offer.

Newly resettled people also lack assistance to restart livelihood (fishing / farming / shops etc.). The large number of shops runs by the military and businesses started by people from other parts of the country are negatively affecting the ability of local people who are trying to restart their lives through small shops and restaurants.

People also lack water supply, nutritious food – including milk foods for children and education facilities, health care and transport facilities are inadequate.

Although we are allowed to extend our services to affected people at the moment, we have faced restrictions in earlier in our (Catholic Church) attempts to provide some such services and facilities and have received reports from NGOs who are ready to provide such services about restrictions presently in effect by multiple government bodies such as the Presidential Task Force and Ministry of Defense.

Suggestions:

6.1 Government should assume primary responsibility to provide decent permanent housing to displaced people who have now returned to their own villages.

6.2 Government should ensure that religious groups and NGOs who are willing to provide assistance and services are able to do these without long and complicated procedures.

6.3 The Indian government should be given the opportunity to build the 50,000 houses they have committed themselves to build, without leaving space for any local politicians, government officials and middlemen to engage in any corrupt practices.

6.4 High priority should be given to provision of quality healthcare, education and transport facilities to newly resettled areas such as Manthai West, Madhu and Musali divisions.

6.5 Due compensation should be paid to properties damaged, and a simplified, fast and transparent procedure must be put in place for this process.

6.6 No limitation should be placed on the amount to be spent on building permanent houses.

7. Creating a positive environment for displaced Muslims to return:

The forced evacuation of the Muslims in 1990 by the LTTE is a sad event in the conflict and we are happy that good number of them is able to return back to their places of original habitat. All the displaced Muslims of the Mannar district must be allowed to return freely and must be assisted by relevant authorities to be reintegrated into the communities in Mannar. We are relieved that Muslim people were not subjected to extrajudicial killings, disappearances, arbitrary arrests that most others who stayed in Mannar have been subjected to.

Suggestions:

7.1 A favorable environment should be created to ensure the return of Muslims who want to come back and they should be provided all facilities that returning people are entitled to.

7.2 Dialogue between Tamil and Muslim communities as well as community and religious leaders is important to ensure both communities can live in harmony.

7.3 Government must ensure that resettling Tamil and Muslim communities get equal level of assistance and support, and avoid creating situations where one community is seen as the favored community, as this will only cause further tensions.

8. Demographic changes and land colonization:

While we welcome efforts to resettle and assist displaced people to return and resettle, we are alarmed at reports that there are plans to handover land to large number of people from outside the district. We have also received reports that several individuals and groups from outside the district are already occupying lands (e.g. in Musali division) and these seems to be done with blessings of a Government Minister.

There is suspicion amongst historical inhabitants in the district that these are part of a government plan to bring about demographic changes in terms of ethnic and religious composition of the districts and the Northern Province as a whole. Such efforts in the past have been a key factor that led to the conflict, war and violence and as we try to move towards reconciliation, it is crucial to learn lessons from the mistakes made in the past and not repeat such mistakes.

9. Occupation of land by military:

We appreciate the fact that the Government and the military had handed back some of the Church land that had been occupied by the military. However, we are disturbed that civilians in some areas are unable to go back to live in their own lands due to occupation of their houses and land by the military, such as in Sannar and Mullikulam. Land owned and administered by us (Catholic Church) in Mullikulam have also been taken over by the Navy without prior information or consultation with us (Catholic Church) and the people about alternative arrangements. There are no alternative arrangements offered as of now to those evacuated.

Suggestions:

9.1 Priority should be given to allow people to live in their own lands

9.2 Occupation of land by the military should be a last resort only, and in this case, provision of alternative land and in consultation with those affected and due compensation is also essential

10. Militarization and politicization of the civil administration:

Almost 20 months after the end of the war and after more than a year since the resettlement process started, we are disturbed that there is a heavy military presence in Mannar district particularly in recently resettled areas of Manthai West, Madhu and Musali divisions. This is something most Tamil civilians fear and not happy about, due to the many negative experiences they have had in the past. Many activities and decisions that should be attended to by civil authorities are still being handled by the military.

We have also seen an alarming level of interference in the civil administration of the Mannar district by politicians of the ruling party. Appointments and transfers to important positions in the civil administration including crucial areas such as healthcare and education etc. are controlled and monopolized by politicians, completely by passing the official procedures.

The culture of political patronage seems to have engulfed the Mannar district as it is in rest of the country. This has also caused a fear and tension amongst the majority Tamil community, who feel they are being marginalized in favour of those known to influential politicians of the government.

In this post war era, it is worrying that Governors to both the North and the East are former military commanders, as it is natural that senior military officers would operate based on military perspective rather than civilian perspectives.

Suggestions:

10.1 Military presence should be minimized and should be to the extent required.

10.2 Military should remain in barracks and camps and not in public places unless it’s required for security purposes.

10.3 Government Ministers and the Governor should not exceed powers vested in their office by law and in particular should not interfere in matters that are under the purview of the civil administration.

10.4 Transfers and appointments in the civil service should follow the established procedures devoid of any influence and interference of politicians.

10.4 Civilian administration should be strengthened and administrative, development and rehabilitation functions should be handed over to civil authorities with relevant expertise and experience.

11. Freedom of Religion, Expression, Association and Movement:

Almost 20th months after the end of the war, it is disturbing that restrictions on expression, association and movement that are not in force in other parts of the country and communities are being imposed on recently resettled Tamil people. On several occasions, the military had cancelled religious services to remember and pray for civilians killed or missing and even some of our priests have been threatened and intimidated for their attempts to commemorate those who were killed during the war.

While celebrations for the war victory had been held under government patronage, no efforts have been made by the government to express solidarity with families of those killed, missing and injured in the war, by observing a National Day of Mourning.

Attempts to protest peacefully about land occupation and lack of basic facilities had also drawn threats and intimidations.

Church organizations and NGOs have been instructed in writing and verbally by the Government Agent of Vavuniya and the Army in Mannar that no events should be organized without inviting the military.

Restrictions on travel still remain and even last month, some overseas visitors were prevented from visiting people in Manthai West division.

Such restrictions make Tamil people in these areas feel that they are living under military rule and cannot enjoy the rights and liberties that people in other parts of Sri Lanka enjoy. Restrictive measures for peaceful and humanitarian activities also create further tensions and distance between the Government and Tamil people, and should be avoided in order to move towards reconciliation. Travel restrictions on foreign nationals who are interested to help resettled people deny these people opportunities to get further assistance.

Suggestions:

11.1 People, community leaders and religious leaders should be free to organize peaceful events and meetings without restrictions.

11.2 The government should declare a national day of mourning, to remember civilians who have been killed in the war.

11.2 Visitors from outside the district and from overseas should be allowed to freely visit their friends and relatives in recently resettled areas without having to obtain prior permission from the Ministry of Defense.

12. Fears of Sinhalese – Buddhist cultural domination:

We are deeply disturbed that some signboards in villages in Manthai West are only in Sinhalese and that some roads names have been given Sinhalese names. These are seen as indicators of “Sinhalization” of traditional Tamil areas and these are things that should be avoided if we are to move towards reconciliation.

Building a Buddhist place of worship (Pansala) in Murunkan Town where there was a Hindu Kovil is something that has caused a lot of concern, particularly as there is no Buddhist population in this area. Erections of Buddhist statues in prominent public places in many new locations in the North have also made our people fearful of Buddhist domination of majority Hindhu, Christian and Islamic areas.

While being deeply respectful of Buddhism and believing in religious freedom for all religious communities all over the country, we believe the erection of Buddhist statues and places of worship in public places in the North, will not help in reconciliation efforts and infact, may lead to further tensions and polarization amongst different religious communities.

E. Conclusion:

We hope due notice will be taken of concerns we had raised and practical suggestions made. We reiterate that key three elements towards reconciliation are:

1. Acknowledging the objective and total truth of events that had happened throughout the conflict and war, particularly in the closing stages of the war
2. A political solution to the ethnic conflict, that will also ensure good governance and rule of law, drawn up in a participatory manner within a specified time frame

3. Addressing of immediate concerns (such as of people who had been affected and suffered doe to the war.

We stand ready to further assist and collaborate with the LLRC and the Government of Sri Lanka towards achieving these goals and offer our prayers and blessings towards the success of such efforts.
________________________________________________________

Foot Notes:

[1] The Diocese of Mannar comprises the administrative districts of Mannar and Vavuniya. For the purpose of this submission, only the Mannar district is covered

[2] For example, in an interview with the Sunday Observer of 1st August 2010, Minister D. E. W. Gunasekera was quoted as saying there 7000 ex combatants in custody out of an initial number of 12,000 at the end of the war. However, the Minister was quoted in the Divaina of 15th Sept. 2010 as saying 4000 out of 12,000 had been rehabilitated and released implying a number of 8000 that remained detained. On 10th August, Government MP Rajiva Wijesinghe was quoted by IRIN as saying 6900 continue to be detained out of an initial number of 11,000 LTTE fighters that were detained.

[3] Minister Gunasekera pointed out in his interview to Sunday Observer of 1st August that about 1100 were “hardcore tigers”. However, the Divaina of 15th September reported the Minister as saying only about 700 could be charged. MP Rajiva Wijesinghe however quoted a different figure of 600 that will face charges and long term rehabilitation in IRIN news of 10th August.

[1] Government administrative centres)

[2] “Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width” published by him on 20 February 2012

[3]Paradise lost MUST be regained” by Professor Sir Hudson McLean, Scotland.

[4] http://www.hrw.org/news/2007/04/15/sri-lanka-letter-pope-benedict-xvi-situation-sri-lanka


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 1
    1

    Excellent piece of factual representation. I am reminded here of the saying of Napoleon, ‘The world suffers a lot, not because of the violence of the bad people, but because of the silence of the good people’. It is about time the proper Sinhalese in Sri Lanka stood up and fought the actions of these half Sinhalese of Portuguese descent like Max Silva and crowd who support the scum in this society holding power like the Hora Rajapaksas who are nothing but murderers and rogues.

    • 1
      0

      It seems that this terrorist going by the alias Gamini can’t write an article without dragging my name.May be my comments as an independent analyst is not sweet music to his ears.Anyway it’s nice of the Tamil Tiger terrorists to have found a retired out of work Doc,to be its mouthpiece.With the resolution frozen in the Colombo morgue deep freezers,this Doc character has come to give us a bit of light entertainment.Thank you all mighty god for creating a clown in the form of ole Doc Brian!Replying to this crazy nut is not worth the time.I will make just one single comment on this jerk’s post.He says that the Tamil Tiger terrorists brought back the Madu statue to Madu after the war.Bloody stupid idiot.The terrorists made a hasty retreat to Kilinochchi after the fall of Mannar.It was the security forces that rescued the statue.This ole Doc has got his bloody rusty wires crossed.Ole Doc Brian without wasting our precious time,better enroll into a nut house in Australia and consult a shrink to check the loosened nuts in your out of date rusty brain.This bugger is making these accusations because he was kicked out of Peradeniya University.A bloody time waster!

      • 1
        1

        Well, well, well, if it isn’t Min(imum intelligence, Maximum pandam) Silva again!

        Have you outgrown the rock from under which you first emerged because if you haven’t it will be in the interests of civilization for someone to stick you under it again. Unless of course, that will preclude your collecting the pieces of silver that you still do for calling such as Brian Senewiratne names!

    • 0
      0

      dear gamini people like descent portuguse MAX SILVA helped government to defeated terrorism you know how many descent portugues lead their including percy mahinda rajapaksha why dont you give your mom to MAX to have some one better than defeated VALU.

      • 1
        0

        Suz, I have no objection, for you or your mother holding for Max. As I told you before please write in English for all to understand.

      • 0
        0

        Suz,
        Gamini’s mom is not in my preferred age group.It’s strictly under 30’s for me.In fact i had to refuse MIA’s gestures the other night.It will be a great idea to put Gamini’s mom in touch with ole Doc Brian.I am sure that the mom will help us in straightening the old bugger’s private affairs,so that the bugger will have other things in mind without feeding us his crap.Gamini,i am sure that your kind mom will give the old jerk,some real shocking fun so that the geezer will be just a heartbeat away from the all mighty god.

      • 0
        0

        Borukaraya,
        It’s not me calling any names you stupid.It’s Doc Brian’s own son who is enlightening us of what a sadist this doc Brian is.Of course for you terrorists,Doc Brian is a god sent gift.Birds of the same feathers flock together!

    • 0
      0

      You stupid,why quote a looser,Napoleon?Haven’t “Velu”made any such bright ideas?

      • 0
        0

        Max, I have a common mongrel bitch for you for service. The only thing is whether she will approve you, as she is better cultured than you.

  • 0
    0

    It is pertinent to note as to who allowed MR to close the doors of the North and the East for all Independent observers, the NGO’s including the UN and staged this War Drama, where thousands of innocents have been killed from both sides. Why did the US, India and the Tamil Nadu Politicians keep quiet allowing MR to do as he pleased. Not only they kept quiet, but even assisted MR financially and materially. Now unable to extract devolution to the NE from MR everyone is in a pickle.

    • 0
      0

      Gamini,you are wrong.As an independent observer i am allowed to roam freely in the north.The doors are widely opened for independent analysts like me.

      • 0
        0

        Max…
        Please god’s sake don’t ever call me your self as an analyst..
        (Bcoz you are a psycho and not an analyst.. )
        This is like Mervin Silva calling himself a Doctorate…
        You people are a disgrace to education..

    • 0
      0

      Yes Gamini you are right, all international politicians are rogues they scratch each others back for their political survival (an exclusive rogue club).

  • 1
    0

    The writer obviously doesn’t get it that “Professor Sir Hudson McLean from Scotland” is a non-de-plume! Hilarious.

    • 1
      0

      Hello Dr. Senewiratne,

      Somewhat off-topic, but I came across your idea of a “peace plan” for Sri Lanka on scribd, sometime ago. I have to say, some of the points you outlined therein are spectacular, and would be more beneficial to the welfare of the island than a dozen LLRC reports. In particular, making the island a weapons-free state and making Sanskrit part of the standardized curriculum of public schools are excellent ideas. Although I disagree that the curriculum should be tri-lingual (we should follow the Singapore model; Tamil and Sinhalese can be learned at home). A core course in economics would also be beneficial; it would help future generations to understand the nature of global integration. Might I recommend you begin a blog to highlight these vital issues. As an aside, being a long-time follower of Thomas Szazs, I agree with your view that the “profession” of psychiatry is a joke. Keep up the good work!

      • 1
        0

        Thanks for the endorsement of my Peace Plan, Observer. You might be interested in how this peace plan was received in Australia, especially by the supporters of a separate state “solution”.

        I first started working on suggestions for a lasting peace in Sri Lanka in 2002, just before the cease-fire agreement. It was in response to my parents’ support of a separate Tamil State, and they were the first people I shared it with. I also sent a copy to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, but that was in 2003, after I’d been released from involuntary detention as a mental patient in the Princess Alexandra Hospital, where my father, Brian Senewiratne had worked for over 20 years as a consultant physician. He had declared that my Peace Plan for Sri Lanka and all my other work on human rights abuses by the medical profession was evidence of a “serious psychotic illness” along with my claims that he was working a propagandist for the Tamil Tigers.

        In 2008 I reviewed the peace plan and reduced the suggestions from 40 points to 35 points with a shorter commentary. This is the version I posted on Scribd some months ago. I did not do much with my peace plan until April 2011, when I saw the promotion of Gordon Weiss’s version of events on Australian TV. I decided to record a version of the Peace Plan for my You Tube site. You can see it here:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAkLVReimbw

        To cut a long story short, a week later police came to my house unannounced and uninvited, handcuffed me in this room (my study) and took me to the Princess Alexandra Hospital. There I was injected in the leg and rendered unconscious by a Tamil-speaking “nurse” in the casualty department and woke up in a locked ward. I was discharged after 3 days, but my father contacted the hospital saying I had been “discharged too soon”. Police came to my house again and forced me to go with them to the Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital. This time I was locked up for two months, and injected against my will with drugs that made me slur my speech and shuffle when I walked. I was placed under the “treatment” of an Indian Tamil psychiatrist by the name of Subramanian Purushothaman from Tamil Nadu. This man maintained that my accusations against my father – namely that he worked as a propagandist for the LTTE – was evidence of the “paranoid delusions” of “schizophrenia”. Since then I have been placed on an Involuntary Treatment Order requiring me to subject myself to fortnightly injections of the “antipsychotic” drug Rispiradone (a treatment for schizophrenia).

        So you can see, observer, why I am aware of how mental illness labels can be used to control dissidents.

      • 1
        0

        Hello Again Romesh,

        I’m must I say I’m surprised that your peace plan had such wide-ranging ramifications (assuming of course, that your claims hold water). My own view of the matter is such that I am not fundamentally opposed to a two-state solution (although I am equally amenable to a federal setup). One must first of all take into account that “Sri Lanka” is a false entity, created by the colonial powers to consolidate their territorial gains. Many remnants of the linguistic, ethnic, and even caste/class divides that existed 200 years ago still reverberate loud and clear. A unitary/Centrist political model will not, by itself, overcome these barriers – example: Sri Lanka has actually stagnated since May 2009.

        My opinion of the matter is that this being the 21st century, there is no harm in going with a radical (albeit peaceful) solution. From this point of view, dividing the island into two can be seen as a sort of novel experiment. The Tamil diaspora would be the key investors in the so-called Tamil Eelam. Since most of them are of a Western temperament, one could expect that the Tamil Eelam adapted Western political models. Similarly, one could expect a secular, demilitarized Tamil Eelam, which is in stark contrast to the fully militarized Buddhist-theocracy in the South, where monks dictate public policy. Now, for what’s it worth, I am not a Tamil by any means, but the above ideas transcend ethnic boundaries for the very simple reason that they are more likely to reach fruition within the framework of a separate Tamil nation, than within the throes of a (Southern) Sinhala-Buddhist dictatorship . The reality is that the South of Sri Lanka is not progressing but regressing, whether it be in the economic, political, or religious spheres. Utimately, the notion of a Tamil Eelam encompasses much more than a mere racial dimension. In fact, the ideal scenario would be for everyone who is fed up with (Southern) Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony to work together and form a separate nation. It’s unfortunate that, up to this point in time at least, only the Tamils (with a few exceptions such as your father and myself) have been able to see the potential value of such an idea.

        To put the above into context, let me end by saying that the points in your peace plan will never be implemented in the island. Again, the reason is that the thinking of the average Sinhalese person (in the South of the island) is regressive, not progressive. In fact, the reality is that Sri Lanka is quickly becoming another Burma, with the majority of the peasant population buoyed by hollow anti-Western sentiment and the prospect of ethnic hegemony.

    • 0
      0

      Dr Romesh,don’ you now that this Doc Brian is a nut?If i can lay my hands on this clown,the first thing i would do is to drag the bugger to Angoda nut house,in the interest of the public.A bloody crazy nut at large.If that is the wish of the all mighty god,there’s nothing we could do about it.

    • 0
      0

      Sorry I meant nom de plume – a “pen name”. Good one, “Professor Sir Hudson”!

    • 0
      0

      Observer,
      There’s no doubt that you are crazier than i thought before.What the hell are you uttering?You say that you are not “Fundamentally opposed to a two state system”.WHAT?Who the hell are you?Who cares about what you oppose and not?Your old lady might care about what you think.A bloody joker.Hey,you stupid come out of that sweet day dream of yours.You’d better concentrate on from where your next meal is going to come.Anyway i will inform Obama of what you think.Hope that you won’t keep Obama waiting on the corridors.Till then get on with your job.That is in licking Gordan Weiss’s dirty toes.One of these days i will give you a hard knock on your silly head so that you would come out of that day dream. “Two state system”.We will give you one in Nandikadal style.Bloody day dreamer!

  • 0
    0

    Sadly these bitter truth need to be accepted but we have no one to turn except God.

    Truly president Rajapaksa is a hypocrite, who does not practice what he preaches in the Media, it is like a man smells very badly , everyone round him smells that odor but cowards to point that, somebody from faraway inform the people that their president has a very bad smell, instead of listening & rectifying his bad smell he goes to reprimand his accuser.

    • 1
      0

      Why didn’t your god come to the rescue of your terror boss Prabakaran?

      • 0
        0

        Stupid Max you lack knowledge to understand a persons stance, your comments are vulgar arrogant thuggish just like your King Mahinda, You are the only unruly thug in this CT forum, I am not Pro LTTE & dont like Prabakaran, this is the usual slogan you & your bosses henchmen s direct at dissent, I hate dictators, even after the war victory your boss Mahinda could not bring rule of law & good governance.

      • 0
        0

        Jim,
        There’s a certain language and style that terrorists understand.That stuff about “I don’t like Prabakaran,is a ruse”.With terrorism failing the latest smooth trick being giving us this intellectual crap.The problem with you defeated terrorists is that you have the right to call a head of state any name that you think is good enough,but when it comes to you,it’s taboo.You come in all sizes and shapes.Intellectuals.Drs.professors,journalists,priests,human rights activivts etc.A damned set of fraudsters!

  • 1
    0

    Brian Senewiratne is a prostitute. He had his debts paid by the Australian branch of the LTTE. he will say and do anything if he gets paid for it.
    None of these so called Christian clergymen ever told the LTTE that murdering innocent civilians including infants was wrong. This is not just an anti Buddhists movement. What about the hundreds of Muslims who were murdered?
    Sunila Abesekera, Pakiyasoth Saravanamuttu or Sunanda Deshapriya have no professions. They are confired to be donated fed Non Govermental frauds. They go around and spend time earning their next buck and where would they be if they had to say that Sri Lanka is making progress and the Chinese are going to be involved in all the development? Sunila is too ugly to be walking the streets so her best bet for her next meal at Clancy’s is to pretend that someone in the country is badly off. The women? Our women get education and if they are harrassed the police are available and the courts in case they need to proceed. The Children? Sunila said she wanted to get children off the streets and educated while she takes little girls and spends her time in debauche. Pakiyasothy is using his connevtions with the Rosmead place cows Sunetra and Chandrika to keep up his living style. Dancing at their parties with them. Bloody lecheer should go out and try to get a proper job. He might not be able to do that with his bogus accent and his forged education documents! You vcan but a Doctorate from an LTTE para-legal in London anytime if you have the money!

    • 0
      0

      A bloody 80 year old prostitute whose only clients are the Tamil Tiger ghosts!Hey Australia,there’s a bloody nut of an ole Doc in your neighborhood!

      • 0
        0

        Min(imum Intelligence) Silva
        “Prostitutes” get paid for their services. Don’t you look in the mirror when you shave each morning? Or are you the kind of eunuch who lacks facial hair?

      • 0
        0

        Borukaraya,
        It’s most unfortunate that,that beautiful daughter of “Velu”is no more.Otherwise she would have given you a detailed account of hair not only on my face but other discreet parts of the body.

    • 0
      0

      Good that we don´t have not so many [Edited out] like you.

    • 0
      0

      Good that we don´t have not so many [Edited out] like you

  • 0
    0

    Brian first patch up with your Biological son who is living in Australia before trying to talk about others. As your old paymasters are no more you are trying to get the good reverend open his purse strings for you.

  • 0
    0

    What has the “First Lady” to say about her Catholic Peers facing a
    “White van” ride. Even if she comments for the Bishop, this poor lady of course cannot file a divorce – Constitutionally she is debarred.

    • 0
      0

      The “First Lady” has biceps bigger than that of an elephant on steroids. Vegetable prices are going up, meat prices are going up, but the “First Lady’s” eating habits have proved to be most inelastic.

      • 0
        0

        Observer,Haven’t you got over with your nutty sexual habits yet?Pl accompany Doc Brian to the nearest nut house.A bloody set of whining defeated Tamil Tigers!

  • 1
    0

    Dr. Brian should be congratulated for his tenacity to write such a lengthy indictment on the human rights violations and state terror in Sri Lanka. OMG. However, Bishop Rajappu is in no danger of being assassinated or “White Vanned” as of now, before this article was written, and without the Boshop’s approval for it to be published. The innocent Bishop, who highlighted the dead and missing Tamils at the LLRC 18 months ago, with numbers of 146,000 has not been in any more danger, than the other ordinary Tamil Catholic priests. The Bishop does not need such publicity, and should be allowed to do his earthly job, which is serving the lord and his people. Tamil politics and activist, immaterial whether they are related to Sunethra or Chandrika, should not drag him into any of their articles in this manner. In fairness to the Rajapakses, they are not that insane to approve the murder or kidnapping of a Catholic Bishop and disciple of the Pope. Although, there were tens of thousands of Tamil children killed in 2009 by the Rajapakses and Fonsekas. Those who are still in a state of denial, please be aware that the investigations have just begun, and the international community have just been made aware of the horrible atrocities that took place in Sri Lanka. The facts are undeniable, and allowing the independent international fact finding mission and investigations is the “sane’ thing to do, if they think that nothing extra ordinary that has happened in the way the war was executed, and won.-
    Tamils For Justice.

  • 1
    0

    WARNING CITIZENS OF AUSTRALIA,A MONSTER GOING BY THE NAME OF DOC BRIAN AT LARGE.I am shocked and dumbfounded after reading Dr Romeshe’s comments.Now there is no doubt that this Doc Brian is not only a nut but a psychopath and a world class bastard.How can a man with a sound mind inject poison to his own son?This bugger is sick.A real doctor of horrors whose services are useful to the Tamil Tiger psychopaths.The Srilankan community in Australia should be vigilant of this monstrous scoundrel.This is no joke,but serious as a matter of life and death.If anyone finds this monster loitering in your neighborhood,don’t approach him,but shoot the bastard in the head.Extremely dangerous monster.No wonder the renowned terrorist Donald Gnanakone compliments the rascal.It’s high time that in the name of peace that these criminals are shot at sight.It is your right to blast the heads of these monsters.

  • 0
    0

    Max Silva:
    How can anyone as dumb as you become “dumbfounded?” You are already there, man. You are so brave, particularly with a bunch of murderous racists paying your keep. After all, it must be nice to practice your brand of racist rhetoric while shielded by democratic freedoms! Perhaps, you are the piece of ….. that people referred to when they said, “The more you trample s..t, the more it spreads!”

    As for anyone else being a “bastard,” you should probably check with your mother to ascertain YOUR status, or do you even know HER identity?

    • 0
      0

      Borukaraya,
      There’s no Sh.t to trample anymore.Dear “Velu” collected all the Sh.t that was left and took it along with him to hell.But now i see a bit of Tiger Sh.t left in Europe and the US.Very soon our peace loving Tamil brothers and sisters will trample such sh.t,until it turns into fertilizer and export it to Nandikadal to help grow roses.As for my heritage, King Juan Carlos will be in a better position to explain in detail.Borukaraya,don’t mess around with royal blood.Bloody time wasters!

  • 1
    0

    Dear Max,

    I don’t want anyone shooting my father on sight (or anyone else, for that matter). I do think he should be arrested and charged with crimes against humanity, as I have made clear in my various internet posts and communications with relevant authorities including the Governments of Australia and Sri Lanka and the International Criminal Court. I took these serious actions when I discovered more of the truth about what he had done over the past 40-or-so years. I believe in truth and justice but I don’t believe in vigilante violence.

    • 0
      1

      Romesh,
      It is really sad that you have to pour out your family “grievance” in a public forum such as this.
      I am sorry to say this Perhaps, it reflects the character of you..
      I told you this once before and am telling once again. Romesh, your father is a good man, no doubt. You must consider yourself a lucky man to have this gentleman as your father. Brian is fighting injustice and please try to understand that.

      • 1
        0

        Gowrie,
        He is a good man for you because he is a stooge of you bloody terrorists.Accordingly that barbaric monster Prabakaran was also a “wonderful man”.What bloody injustice?He is a damned psychopath.A bloody waste of time replying to these defeated sobbing Tiger terrorists.

      • 0
        1

        I think Dr Brian gave a great reply to this Max character, red it here!!
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/un-human-rights-council-meeting-another-farce/

    • 0
      0

      MAX

      SINCE WHEN YOU CHANGED YOUR NAME TO SENEWIRATNE. YOU ARE REPLYING TO SOMETHING I WROTE TO ROMESH SENEWIRATNE.WELL..I CAN’T EXPECT ANYTHING ELSE FROM MAD MAX, FOR SURE. IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY, KEEP REPEATING A LIE IS NOT GOING TO MAKE IT TRUE.KEEP TRYING MAX! A GOODMAN IS ALWAYS A GOODMAN. GANDHI WAS A BAD MAN TO THE BRITISH AND MANDELA UNTIL THE 90’S WAS A BAD MAN TO THE WHITE SUPREMACY IN SOUTH AFRICA TOO..A GOODMAN LOOKS BAD IN BADMAN’S EYES. ITS NO SURPRISE WHY BRIAN LOOKS BAD TO YOU…

      • 0
        0

        This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
        We welcome debate and dissent, but personal attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), persistent trolling and mindless abuse will not be tolerated. The key to maintaining the website as an inviting space is to focus on intelligent discussion of topics.
        In short:
        • If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems.
        • Don’t be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humour we know you possess.
        • Take some responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you’re participating. Help make this an intelligent place for discussion and it will be.
        CT

  • 0
    0

    Dear Dr Romesh,
    I respect your views.But will he ever be arrested somewhere in the world?In the meantime it will be dangerous for the whole society as long as he is on the loose.Even his pro Tamil terror ideas are full of hate and venom.It’s the duty of peace living citizens to make an citizen’s arrest.For the sake of humanity somebody must drug this sadist and fly him to Srilanka to face trial.Having already made contacts with the Tamil Tiger terror outfit,it’s a matter of time before he strikes in a gruesome manner.A sadist nut on the loose!

  • 0
    0

    Max Silva- Are you trying to out do Mervyn Silva? Do not forget Newton’s second law. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That would apply to you as well, and Tamils cannot be intimidated outside the country. So stop your immature ranting and raving. I have no idea, who you are nor do I want to know, but your racist-chauvinist rantings won’t work with me or other Tamils. What is the going rate in Colombo? I live in Los Angeles where the 2 Rajapakse brothers also came to live many years ago. Yoy Silva must be a real “Ponnaya” supporting the state terrorist who are now being investigated by the United Nations, USA, and the international community!!!! lol.

    • 0
      0

      Dear Mr Gnanakone,
      I applaud your concern for human rights for Tamils in Sri Lanka. When did this concern for human rights manifest itself?

      Were you protesting to the LTTE to let the “people” be released from held as human shields in the Vanni in 2009?

      What was “Tamils for Justice” doing in 2006 as the LTTE launched its “final war” against the Sri Lankan state?

      Did you obey the LTTE’s demand for one child from each Tamil family by sacrificing at least one of your children to help achieve Eelam in Sri Lanka? If you did not, why not?

  • 0
    0

    An excellent article. If you see the comments againn from these idiots we can see the intelligence of our society

  • 0
    0

    Max,
    It seems that the fish market(Petah) closed yesterday..or, have you run out of pen and papers Max? you spend so much time writing comments to defame Dr.Senewiratne. Please allow me to say this to you one more time..If anyone needs a bed in Angoda hospital its you, no doubt. Not any bed but a permanent bed is what you need. You don’t even know who Brian’s mother is, and calling him a “B*****” is sheer madness and that proves you are not socially viable and that you should be admitted to Angoda straight away..Calling someone a ” B****** ” is defamation and that’s an offence unless you can prove it. I will not use abusive language to address you.
    Oh yes! Rajapakshe and his goons are getting away with genocide and getting away with defamation is nothing at all for you.huh?
    //”If anyone finds this monster loitering in your neighborhood,don’t approach him,but shoot the bastard in the head.”// I am not surprised this comes from you, why? We can’t expect anything else from some one who is associated with Rajapakshe , can we?This sentence alone tells me you work for this Rajapakshe murderous thugs clan..This is exactly what Rajapakshe brothers and his supporters are good at, which is..shooting in the head at point blank.. They will shoot anyone who opposes them like Lasantha Wickramadunge and the endless list of victims at point blank..
    Have you watched your ” Excellency” the terrorist video clip which I posted last time? Here..exclusively for you. watch it again. Monkey state terrorist Rajapakshe.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSHmmFeZITA
    Do you want us to call the terrorist Rajapakshe as “The Excellency”. Fine..One suggestion though.firstly, you start calling these notorious dictators Hitler, Mussolini, Milosevic, Gadaffi, Saddam Hussein, Franco, Assad, Mubarak, Ceaucescou and so on as “The Excellency” .Then we will think about calling this genocidal president as “The Excellency” too.

  • 0
    0

    This nut Dr. Romesh should be put into an asylum and not any other hospital

    • 0
      0

      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
      We welcome debate and dissent, but personal attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), persistent trolling and mindless abuse will not be tolerated. The key to maintaining the website as an inviting space is to focus on intelligent discussion of topics.
      CT

      • 0
        0

        Max..
        you are doing a great job..
        You help the people who read your comments to understand how barbaric the regime supporters are in their words and deeds..

        In my life.. i’ve never seen any one mentioning about another’s mother in a comment section…

        you have done..

        I feel sorry for your mother.. who bore you in her womb for ten months..

        Please don’t ever insult any one’s mother..

  • 0
    0

    Gowrie,you mentioned genocide and asked me to refrain from pouring out my “family grievance” in this forum. “Roger”, you suggested that I be locked up in an asylum. Please allow me to explain myself and my actions.

    I was drawn to write in this forum because I discovered in his article that my father mistakenly thought that the Lankaweb writer “Professor Sir Hudson McLean” was a real Scottish professor and knight. “Hudson McLean” is a pen name (nom de plume). I found this funny, and expressed my amusement. Then “Observer” complimented “off topic” (in his words) certain suggestion in my 2002/2008 Peace Plan for Sri Lanka, prompting me to tell him how my father (who authored the title article on Rayappu Joseph) responded to the Peace Plan in 2002 and since then. This is not a “family grievance” Gowrie – it’s a debate and a discussion.

    As for my father being a “good man” I think you should first familiarise yourself, as I have, with the various speeches and interviews on You Tube in which he clearly praises the LTTE and fails to criticise their many crimes. Furthermore, he has, without due diligence, published photographs and other evidence of violent atrocities (including dead, tortured children) which he blames on the Sri Lankan government rather than the likely culprits, the LTTE. The gruesome nature of these photos and the fact that my father had access to them through sources in the “Tamil Diaspora” and that these same photographs have surfaced on various Tamil Eelam/LTTE websites suggests a close association between my father and the LTTE.

    As for genocide, the ideology and actions of the Tamil Tigers were clearly an example of race-based genocide (with religious dimensions). Specifically the LTTE and its overseas backers used the Christian Churches to spearhead an attack against young Tamil Hindus, by arming them, radicalizing them and brain-washing them into sacrificing themselves for the Tamil Tiger hierarchy. They created a cult of suicide by cynically distorting the cultural values of the Tamil people (such as respect for ones elders and self-sacrifice in the line of duty). It is common knowledge that they also genocided Singhalese (especially Singhalese Buddhists) and Muslims (even if they spoke Tamil). Tamil Eelam was always a racist idea, and one that inevitably leads to genocide of non-Tamils.

    Hence my surprise, “Observer”, that you are not against a separate state for Tamils. I am! My Tamil grandfather Winslow Alagaratnam, who was Director of Irrigation in Sri Lanka was trilingual and fiercely patriotic, like many of the educated gentlemen of his generation. Increasingly the population of Sri Lanka is becoming tri-lingual again. Observer, I think the educational system can help in promoting this tri-lingualism, and am pleased to hear senior members of the Buddhist clergy suggesting that Buddhist monks (especially novices) also learn Tamil. My suggestion that Sanskrit be taught in schools was alongside the suggestion that Singhalese, Tamil and English be taught throughout the island. This is now official government policy (through patchily implemented) and such a progressive policy only became possible after the defeat of the LTTE and reclaiming the land that had been violently seized by the LTTE for their cruel militarized “state”.

    This land was re-claimed for all the people of Sri Lanka, who seem to be united in their desire to live in peace and harmony respective of race, religion, colour or creed.

    The divisiveness shown in the comments my father’s articles in Colombo Telegraph have generated do suggest that there is still some healing and reconciliation to do. But making false accusations against the Government of Sri Lanka (that they are or were committing genocide) doesn’t help.

    • 0
      0

      Romesh:

      I support a federal solution, just as much as I do a separate state. The main thing is that allocation of resources, with a few exceptions, is best handled at a micro (community) level). Ownership of private property (property rights) should be respected. These are the optimal conditions for economic development. What is happening now is that GOSL has basically commandeered all the property (including land) in the North and East. Some of the best land has been sold to the highest bidder (China), for development of hotels. Other portions of land have been earmarked for expansive military infrastructure. As I said, property rights are non-existent; so long as the PTA and ER are in place, anyone can lose their land (legally) at a moments notice.

      The above scenario is occurring under the framework of a robust militarization (refer to the defense budget as a % of total GDP). Unfortunately, the average Sinhalese person, due to long-standing suspicions of Tamil aspirations for “separation” has no qualms about the total and absolute militarization and colonization of the North and East. I don’t see the colonization ending any time soon; the parallel I would draw is with the Israeli colonization of Gaza and the West Bank. The Israelis claim it is their destiny based on biblical mythology; similarly, the Sinhalese-Buddhists use Mahavamsa mythology to justify their hegemony over the whole island. It is unfortunate, of course, that such ethnocentrist thinking prevails in the 21st century, but it does. People like Prabhakaran assumed that such thinking will hardly change over time, and I would concur. My own view of the matter is that certain nihilistic aspects of Buddhism have combined with a feudalistic mindset producing the rather unique brand of Sinhala-Buddhist ethnocentrism that we see today. In other words, part of the resistance to “change” – to adapt new models – are due to cultural factors.

      Now, what is interesting about the LTTE is that it was always progressive, unlike its GOSL counterpart. In overthrowing the caste system, in letting women join its ranks, in having an armed forces that did not engage in any sort of religious practice. That is why I have always found the idea of a “Tamil Eelam” interesting. In my view, it would have encompassed ideas and methods which did not have much (if any) following in the South. The bureaucratic and cultural red tape which has held back innovation and progress in the South would not have been there in the Eelam. I say this because Eelam would have been funded by the Tamil diaspora, who are in one sense Western. But I think we can settle for as much, with just a federal model. If GOSL is willing to remove the military and the bureaucratic red tape, the Diaspora can still invest in their federal state.

      But as I said, I do not forsee an end to Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism. It is ingrained into the cultural psyche of the South. The Germans and the Japanese, though they were nationalist, were always advanced in their ways of thinking. So that it was not difficult for the Americans, after World War II, to depose the Japanese emperor and put in place a Constitution which led to major land reforms and the rise of Japan as a world superpower. Similarly, for the Germans, fascism was just a temporary idea; even during the reign of the Reich, 6 attempts were made to assassinate Hitler. But as I said before, Sinhala-Buddhist ethnonationalism is closer to the type practiced by the Israelis; I do not know if there is any remedy for it. So when Prabhakaran claimed that it is impossible to negotiate with the Sinhalese on good faith, the reality is that he was probably right.

      • 0
        0

        Observer.

        Thank you for the reply and explanation of your position regarding the Tamil Tigers and Prabhakaran, who you seem to have considerable admiration for. You say the LTTE was always “progressive” unlike the Government of Sri Lanka, which you accuse of being regressive and “ethnocentric”. You also draw a parallel between the Israeli settlements in Gaza and the Sri Lankan colonization schemes. While I appreciate your perspective regarding this colonization I disagree with you. I also disagree with your analogy regarding the Israelis and Sri Lankans.

        The claim you make about the Tamil Tigers embracing women’s rights because they allowed women into their ranks is outrageous. They encouraged women and girls to sacrifice themselves for the male leadership of the Tamil Tigers and garlanded them with cyanide capsules as an “honour”. They are the ones who had an ethnocentric view, not the Government of Sri Lanka, nor the people of the rest of Sri Lanka. The actions of the Tamil Tigers in driving out Singhalese-speaking people and Tamil-speaking Muslims out of “Tamil Eelam” had genocidal intent. This is what the Germans did to “Non-Germans” during the Second World War. Also, the claim that the Tigers did not engage in any religious practice is false and misleading. It is well known that the senior leadership of the Tigers was disproportionately “Christian” (mainly Catholic) and that they spent much time and effort attempting to demonise Buddhists and Buddhism. They also massacred Buddhist pilgrims, Buddhist monks and Muslims, in addition to “sacrificing” Tamil Hindus on the altar of Prabakharan and his henchmen.

        If you look at the various Tamil Tiger websites today you can see continued attempts to glorify and idolise Prabhakaran. It appears to me that though the Tamil Tigers military wing was defeated, the propaganda and fundraising wings remain extremely active. It is therefore justified for the Sri Lankan Government to be vigilant about a resurgent Tamil Tiger threat, and take appropriate precautions against it.

        At the same time the Sri Lankan government should be commended for it’s success in repatriating and resettling people in the North and East (including Tamils, Muslims and Singhalese). The release of hundreds of thousands of Tamils from IDP camps shows the falsehood of those who alleged that these were Nazi-style concentration camps designed to genocide Tamil people. The efforts to make Sri Lanka fully trilingual by 2020 should also be commended. It is up to us the make sure that the island is not divided along religious, racial or linguistic lines. Learning each other’s languages is a good starting point.

      • 0
        0

        Romesh,why waste your valuable time on a lost cause,the Tamil Tiger terrorists,Who had its last journey at Nandikadal?I can understand the fury of Observer.What a shame that we couldn’t even give a decent funeral to the terror thug”Velu”?

      • 0
        0

        Hello Ramesh:

        Regarding colonization, I invite you to look at the demographic data for the East, as compiled by the Sri Lankan Government itself, and come up with an informed opinion: http://www.uthr.org/Reports/Report11/appendix2.htm. In 1921, the % of Sinhalese in Trincomalee was 3.8%. By 1981, that percentage had increased to 31.8%. That is an increase of 28%, all made possible by state-sponsored colonization of traditional Tamil lands . Where state-sponsored, as discussed in detail by UTHR, can involve chasing out Tamils from a particular village, bringing in exclusively Sinhalese settlers, and building various army facilities in the direct vicinity of the exclusively Sinhalese settlements, and subsidizing the Sinhalese settlements with government money. Ironically, it is these illegal settlements – such as Kent and Dollar Farms, populated by Sinhalese convicts! – that were the subject to many a so-called LTTE “massacre.”

        Motivations are important. It is not difficult to extrapolate the motivation for state-aided colonization:

        “All wars are fought for land.. By settling the (Sinhala) people in the Maduru Oya we were seeking to have in the Batticaloa zone a mass of persons opposed to a separate state.” Sinhala Mahaveli Ministry Official, Herman Gunaratne in the Sri Lanka Sunday Times, 26 August 1990

        By the way, the goal of GOSL is to colonize the North, the same way it colonized the East. That is one reason for the full-scale militarization. In order to further accelerate this process, NGO’s (who are viewed as a potential source of interference) have been severely restricted in terms of mobility and access to locals. Furthermore, development funds meant to aid Tamils is often diverted to (Sinhalese) colonization schemes.

        Regarding your claim of the LTTE and Tamil women, I again defend my earlier point – that the LTTE was progressive in regards to gender equality. A woman in the South can barely board a bus without being harassed; women in the North, meanwhile, were carrying guns and performing remarkable feats on the battlefield. But this gender neutralization in the North would not have been possible, had the LTTE subscribed to traditional Tamil values. The history of the LTTE confirms this.

        Regarding hostility towards Sinhalese and Muslims, in all my limited interactions with the Tamil diaspora, I have not come across such hostility. The main concern of the diaspora was to highlight abuses by the State.

        Regarding Christian bias in the LTTE, again, this is merely propaganda.

        Regarding the chasing out of Sinhalese and Muslims from Jaffna and Batticaloa, at least they did not massacre those two groups of people, such as happened in July 1983.

        Contrary to my earlier perceptions, it seems that your perceptions of the LTTE are rather skewed. I invite you to interact with the Tamil diaspora and see that Eelam is not some bizarre racist idea, but a balanced one, and one which can set a good example for people in SL, who have become immune to corruption.

    • 0
      0

      Romesh
      The last thing I want to do is hurt anyone. Sorry Romesh! I never said that you should be locked up in an assylum. Please can you read my comments again. Here it is
      “Romesh,
      It is really sad that you have to pour out your family “grievance” in a public forum such as this.
      I am sorry to say this Perhaps, it reflects the character of you..
      I told you this once before and am telling once again. Romesh, your father is a good man, no doubt. You must consider yourself a lucky man to have this gentleman as your father. Brian is fighting injustice and please try to understand that.”
      Now where it says that you should be locked up. You see!. Perhaps, this tells the state of your mind. I am sorry you seem to be confused.You confuse someone else’s comment with mine just as you are confused with state terrorism and LTTE freedom fight.
      “My father did that to me, my father did this to me is not exactly what we call “discussion”. It is pouring out “grievance”.
      You accuse your father of having a close association with LTTE and the reason given by you is that he has access to those gruesome pictures. This is absurd. I hope you are sharing the same planet with us Romesh..These pictures are all over the net for goodness sake! You can view them with a click of a button from any corner of the world. One doesn’t need association with LTTE to have access to these pictures. Ms.Navaneetham Pillay has access to these pictures too. Don’t tell me she has association with LTTE. Pathetic!. This, again, tells me the state of your mind. You are not thinking clearly. Had you grandfather Alagaratnam been alive today, he would have been in solidarity with Tamils struggle just like your father.

      • 0
        0

        Gowrie, I didn’t accuse you of saying I should be locked up in an asylum. If you read my comment carefully, you will see that I was addressing another commentator (Roger).

        I don’t accuse my father of being involved with the LTTE because of the photographs he included in his DVDs, alone. Not by any means. You obviously haven’t looked at the various speeches that are posted on You Tube where he clearly declares his support for the Tamil Tigers and declares them to be the sole legitimate voice of the Tamil people. His speech in Toronto, Canada is before a large crowd waving LTTE flags and photographs of Prabhakaran. Frankly, I think I know more about my father and his activities than you do.

        My grandfather, Winslow Alagaratnam would never have supported a murderous regime like the Tamil Tigers. You are clearly in denial about the atrocities committed by the LTTE against the Tamil people (as well as the Singhalese). Supporting an organization that garlands Tamil girls with cyanide is not something decent people should do.

        I think it is you who are confused, my friend.

    • 0
      0

      Romesh
      I did not say your grandfather would be in solidarity with LTTE. All I said was he would have been in solidarity with the Tamil struggle. You see my friend, I am here talking about “Tamil struggle”. You are talking about LTTE. Your perception of anyone talking in support of Tamil cause is a terrorist is wrong. You have no idea what being oppressed means. For you oppression is another word in the dictionary. Sinhalese mindset is being born as a Tamil is a crime and Every Tamil talking about freedom is a terrorist. Romesh, I do talk about freedom, does it make me a terrorist? If it does,fine you can, by all means, call me a terrorist. Then it makes your mother a terrorist. It makes YOU a 1/2 terrorist. because your father is married to a Tamil makes him 1/4 terrorist. As your father often says LTTE was not the problem but the cause of the problem. Just watch this video below. When a Sinhalese pick up the gun to protect his land it is called “defending his land”. but when a Tamil pick up the gun to protect his land and his property, it is called “terrorism”. This can only be justified by people like you but not by your father or people like me. Watch this please. Here we have a terrorist ruling the country.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSHmmFeZITA

      • 0
        0

        Gowrie,

        I watched the video link you provided. I had seen it before and checked who uploaded it: “tamilmahan”. The link connected to a group called “Tamils Against Genocide” which has published numerous clips, including an interview with my father in Canada from 2006. I also watched the Tamils Against Genocide clip featuring the notorious American lawyer Bruce Fein who was originally employed by “Tamils for Justice” but defected to a rival (better paying) group called “Justice for Thamils” before being lured with more money by the Canadian Tamil Congress connected (?funded) Tamils Against Genocide. This information regarding Bruce Fein was from the website of Donald Gnanakone who founded Tamils for Justice and had first employed Bruce Fein as the organization’s attorney.

        Bruce Fein presents a history of Sri Lanka that is distorted, and includes graphic photographs of the Jube 8, 2006, murder of Dr Moorthy Martin, his wife and two young children in what is described in the TAG (Tamils Against Genocide) presentation by Bruce Fein as the “Vankaalai Massacre”. Fein goes on to suggest that this was equivalent to the horrific My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. He goes on claim that a genocide of Tamils began in 1948, making the exactly same claims that my father, Brian Senewiratne, makes in his speeches and presentations (including the DVDs he’s been marketing). What’s more, the same photographs of the dead wife and hanging corpses of Dr Martin’s children were included for “shock value” in my father’s DVDs (the contents of which can be seen on You Tube).

        These are truly monstrous images, and whoever did these acts should be charged with the crimes and imprisoned for life (if not executed). It is important to consider the possibility that the killings, torture and mutilations of these people was conducted by the Tamil Tigers for propaganda reasons. The fact that the LTTE-supporting propagandists have used these photos for what are clearly propaganda reasons increases the likelihood of this possibility. The source of these photographs needs to be ascertained.

        Bruce Fein also makes claims of genocide and suggests that this is similar to the genocide of Jews by the Nazis during the Second World War. As a Jewish American he should be ashamed of himself for making this spurious comparison – which I note has been made by other hard-line elements in the Sri Lankan “diaspora” (itself a term adopted from the global Jewish migration in the face of Nazi persecution). In actuality, the only policies similar to the Nazis were those of the Tamil Tigers (who even adopted the Nazi idea of cyanide suicide capsules and the careful construction of an icon that would be worshipped by his followers – Hitler in Nazi Europe and Vellupillai Prabhakaran in the case of the Tamil Tigers). The Tigers were also, like the Nazis, intensely militaristic and were guilty of oppression, persecution and cruel and degrading treatments of any people (Tamil or not) who opposed them.

        My grandfather, according to you, would have supported the “struggle” of the Tamil people. I assure you, he would not, for the simple reason that he did not regard the Tamil people as “struggling” – discriminated against, yes, struggling, no. He was too wise and literate, too steeped in knowledge of Sri Lanka and the British Empire to fall for the trick of Divide and Rule. He knew, as someone who had been promoted to the Directorship of the Irrigation Department and later President of the Ceylon Association for the Advancement of Science that there was no genocide against the Tamils that started in 1948, as the TAG lawyer Bruce Fein claims in his propaganda exercise.

        Fein goes further and suggests that charges of genocide, torture and crimes against humanity should be brought against Gotabaya Rajapakse, Basil Rajapakse and Sarath Fonseka, arguing that the threat of filing these charges could be used as a bargaining chip to achieve a ceasefire (the LTTE-backers in Canada and the USA, who employed Mr Fein knew that the LTTE were going to be defeated militarily). This appearance of Bruce Fein was uploaded to You Tube on 3 March 2009, when this defeat was imminent.

        The fact is that Mr Fein is a crook and his appearance for TAG proves it. The fact that his chronology of supposed “genocidal acts” by the “Sin-halese Boo-dists” since 1948 contain the same false and misleading claims and contain the very same photographs as Brian Senwiratne’s propaganda DVDs suggests that they were “reading off the same script” – that of Mr Donald Gnanakone in the USA who admits to having provided Bruce Fein with the information he used (when he employed him to represent Tamils for Justice).

        Gowrie, you are foolish to support the actions of such people thinking they are supporting the Tamil people or, as you put it, the “Tamil struggle”. If you abandon this way of thinking and learn to understand the Singhalese people and their culture (and that of the many Tamils who are enjoying life in a unified island freed from the clutches of the Tamil Tigers) you will no longer need to struggle.

        As for your facetious statement that I have not experienced oppression…you are an unsympathetic, judgmental man. I won’t bother trying to explain it to you – you may accuse me of “pouring out grievances”.

        One last point. Your statement that I must be 1/4 terrorist, because my father is one, and my mother 1/2 terrorist because she is married to one is patent nonsense. Terrorism and religion are learned, not inherited or acquired through marriage. We all must take responsibility for our own actions – including you. You have supported Prabhararan in what you have written in this forum. This does indicate that you are a supporter of terrorism (though terrorism is only one of the crimes committed by the LTTE – they also committed acts of genocide, mass-murder, induction of suicide, biological warfare, psychological warfare and chemical warfare). It does not make other Tamils guilty of terrorism – the main victims of the LTTE terrorism were the Tamil civilians who struggled to survive under their domination. Most Tamils do not support the LTTE and never have. Many who did support them at one stage abandoned this support and turned against them when they found out the truth about the Tamil Tigers. It’s not too late for you, Gowrie.

  • 0
    0

    Brian first solve the problems in your own home, and especially with your son before trying to talk about others problem and welfare.Dont sing for the LTTE for your supper.

  • 0
    0

    Romesh

    Thanks for calling a spade is a spade. Keep the good work up.

  • 0
    0

    Donald Gnanakoon

    Hmmm. You are talking about the subject human right violation. Where were you on the same subject for last 30 years? Too busy raising funds for civilised LTTE. Get a life dude.

  • 0
    0

    Roger

    Expressing the truth is not a reason to admit an intellectual to a nut house.

    Your suggestion seems like typiacl order from your beloved leader VP who perished in mud bath for sins he gathered over 30 years.

    • 0
      0

      These terrorists still can’t come to terms with the elimination of Tamil Tiger terrorism.All of a sudden they have come to realize that there is something called human rights.Now the LTTE terror thugs remaining abroad are playing god and trying to pull the wool over the eyes of others.

      • 0
        0

        tamil terrorists crying for their master in the hell. let them keep crying.

  • 0
    0

    This Romesh Seneviratnas revelations maybe true or untrue, but he should not go against his own father in public, not worth calling him a Doctor.

    • 0
      0

      Jim, my name is spelt Romesh Senewiratne (not Seneviratna). You and I have different ideas about what his right and honourable. You think I should not criticise my father publicly. Others share this opinion, no doubt. But in my view the magnitude of his crimes and the fact that I know more about them than anyone else has compelled me to break my long-standing silence on these matters.

      The fact is that the pen is mightier than the sword, and in my peaceful philosophy countering propaganda with the written and spoken truth is a courageous and appropriate thing to do. I do think that respecting ones parents is a good principle to work from, however some parents, especially abusive ones, are not worthy of respect. Do you suggest that abused children should keep their stories to themselves? My medical training and experience as a family doctor tells me that speaking out against one’s parents is sometimes necessary.

      • 0
        0

        Family disputes are best left at home (since it is impossible for an outsider to form an unbiased opinion). For the record, your father should be commended for speaking out against injustices. It is only when a majority of the majority become cognizant of the abuses directed at the minorities, that tangible change will materialize. So in that sense, we could say your father is ahead of his time.

      • 0
        0

        *to not form an unbiased opinion. Unless of course, said family has been in the public limelight.

      • 0
        0

        Jim and observer are of the view that Romesh shouldn’t criticize ole Doc Brian in public.On the other hand earlier they made a big fuss on my replies.Some even suggested that i should be completely taken off from CT,not that i care two hoots about it.The problem with the “sole representative” is that criticism in what they believe is right is not to their liking.The former “sole representative in terror” has made a right U-turn and become the “Sole representative of human rights”.That’s a damned hilarious kind of HR,where views not to their liking are not tolerated.It’s called “Tiger Genes”.No matter how hard you try to portray yourselves as HR activists,once a terrorist,always a terrorist.No more tiger stripped clothing,but only white clothing but still your hairless rotten tiger tail is showing.Criticizing this ole Doc Brian who is nothing but a joker of a nut is taboo because he is a choir boy of the defeated Tamil Tiger terrorists.When will the defeated Tamil Tiger terrorists ever learn?

  • 0
    0

    Any culture, any religion, criticizing the parents – especially at an advanced age – is not a good thing. It implies that the person doing the complaining has some kind of mental imbalance (although the solution is not to take 3 or 4 different pills a day). These disputes should be resolved in private. The best thing for Dr. Brian and Romesh is to put the politics behind them, and find some sort of compromise.

    • 0
      0

      AS a dutiful son,Romesh must immediately admit this Doc Brian character to the nearest nut house in the interest of maintaining peace. Of course he should be provided with tons of blank paper and dozens of pencils to keep him occupied.

  • 0
    0

    A song for our beloved Brain

    If you are calimed to be a sinhalese, it will not hard to understand the mening of this song.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ez75qQZe6LM

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.