3 December, 2020

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The Pitfall Of Implementing LLRC Only In Part

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Recent incidents in Jaffna are a matter for concern.  Two such incidents have widely publicized and have attracted much commentary.  Both of them involve the civilian population and the security forces. One case has involved Tamil women recruits into the army and the other university students who were commemorating the war dead.  As a result of these incidents the political debate about inter-ethnic relations in relation to the government has taken a turn for the worse.  The good work that the government is doing in terms of post-war economic development and recovery is being negated in increased acrimony.  The cycle of political grievance, protest, repression and violence that culminated in internal war needs to be guarded against.   The experience of the past would suggest that the better way is through political reform that is mutually acceptable.

In its most significant observation, the final report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission appointed shortly after the end of the war by President Mahinda Rajapaksa stated that the political situation at has become basically similar to the situation that existed when the country obtained its independence in 1948.  The problem at that time was how to share political power equitably between the ethnic majority and minorities. This problem remains unresolved to this day.  In its voluminous report the LLRC has provided country with the vision and tools to make a break with its divided past.  There are more than 160 well thought out recommendations in the report of which about one half have been taken on board by the government in its LLRC Action Plan.  But even the half that has passed muster with the government has yet to be implemented in any substantial manner.

The LLRC report can be counted as among the major achievements by the government.  The LLRC was originally established by the government as a defensive measure.  It was to forestall an anticipated hostile UN investigation into the last phase of the war and human rights violations that allegedly took place at that time.  Due to its comprehensive quality the LLRC report has gone far beyond the original scope of what was intended or hoped for, as noted by its nationalist detractors.  Indeed, it has taken the centre stage of the international dialogue with the Sri Lankan government regarding post-war reconciliation.  The government is bound by the UN Human Right Council’s resolution of March 2012 to implement the LLRC report.  In March 2013 the government will have to report back to the UN about how well it has implemented the LLRC recommendations.

PARTIAL IMPLEMENTATION

Some of the LLRC’s recommendations are in the process of being implemented. The government has allocated over Rs 1 billion to implementing the LLRC recommendations, although it appears that the bulk of it is for physical infrastructure development in the North and East which bore the brunt of the war.   Explaining the background to the recruitment of over one hundred Tamil women into the army, the military spokesperson has been quoted as saying that the army was among the first state agencies which had taken cognizance of the LLRC report.  He had also explained that in order to implement the LLRC recommendations it was decided to recruit both Tamil men and women from the North into the army.  The affirmation by the Ministry of Defence that it is considering the LLRC report and implementing it is a welcome indication of governmental receptivity to taking the reconciliation process forward.

However, the debacle that ensued as a result of trying to implement the LLRC recommendations in an ad hoc manner has also become evident.  The LLRC recommendations are comprehensive and inter-connected.  It is unfortunate that the government has not given adequate thought to the enabling environment, within which individual recommendation can best be implemented.  Even the government’s action plan takes on board only about one half of the LLRC’s recommendations.  The other half is ignored.  These include such important recommendations as dealing with the problem of missing persons without which there can be no closure and healing to thousands of families who are missing their loved ones.   In the case of the army recruitment, several of the new Tamil recruits had to be sent to hospital after they had become seemingly possessed by evil spirits.

It appears that the problem here was one of miscommunication.  Media reports indicate that the women believed they were being offered administrative jobs in the military.  When they found out that they had been taken in to do regular military training, they wished to leave.  When they were not given immediate permission to leave, the mental trauma apparently led to group hysteria.  The problem is that the government had not acted on another LLRC recommendation that would have addressed the problem of miscommunication.  The LLRC has also recommended the full implementation of language policy to include action plans broken down to the community level and covering divisional and local bodies with targets that can be monitored with citizens participation (LLRC recommendation 9.241)

DETACHING POLICE

Among other important LLRC recommendations that have not been implemented are those pertaining to the withdrawal of the military from civil administration as soon as possible (LLRC recommendation 9.134).  Another is the relocation of the police department from out of the Ministry of Defence and the establishment of an independent Police Commission that would ensure that all police personnel act independently and maintain a high degree of professional conduct (LLRC recommendation 9.215).  it is unfortunate that these recommendations do not have a place in the government’s LLRC action plan. The incident that involved the security forces from entering into Jaffna University and assaulting students there might have been averted if these two recommendations had been followed.

The assault on the students occurred when a group of students lit lamps on the day formerly commemorated by the LTTE as their Heroes Day.  This year LTTE Heroes Day coincided with a Hindu religious day in which the dead are remembered by the lighting of lamps.  Usually these remembrance services are held in temples and the homes of people.  But this year the students decided to conduct a remembrance service in the university premises where they were resident.  The coincidence of LTTE Heroes Day and the religious remembrance gave rise to suspicion on the part of the government that the real purpose was to keep the memory of the LTTE alive.

As the university is a state institution, and the war ended little more than three years ago, the university staff ought to have been mindful of the concerns of the security forces and that they might believe it was within their scope of protecting national security to disrupt the remembrance service.  There was also evidence of opposition political backing for the remembrance service.  There was a lack of responsibility in their failure to guide the students in relation to the possible consequences. Several students were arrested and some have been sent to rehabilitation camps where former LTTE cadres have had to spend time.  This is a severe punishment to them.  In addition, the breakup of the lamp lighting service within the university was done in a reportedly brutal manner.  This has caused bitterness within the Tamil community.  Even if the government felt that the memorial service within the university premises could not be tolerated, the use of the police rather than the army to deal with the problem would have been the better option.

The wisdom of the LLRC report is that it offers the way to address Tamil nationalism politically rather than militarily, and thereby strengthen the process of national reconciliation.  Another one of the LLRC recommendations that did not make it into the government’s LLRC action plan was to set aside a separate event on National Day to express solidarity and empathy with all victims of the tragic conflict and pledge collective commitment to ensuring that there should never be such bloodletting in the country again (LLRC Recommendation 9.285).  Along with the rest of the LLRC recommendations that did not find their place in the government’s LLRC action plan, detaching the police department from the Ministry of Defence and setting up an independent Police Commission to guide it are matters that need to be taken up by the government if it is serious about ending the spiral of ethnic polarization and paving the way for national reconciliation.

CORRECTION

With reference to my article titled Reintegrating People in Northern Development that appeared in the Island on 27.11.12, and the observation regarding the Jaffna Municipal Council elections that were held in August 2009. Those elections were contested by the TNA.  They were not boycotted by them.  The election to this prize municipality was won by the government with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote and with the EPDP playing the leading role.

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Latest comments

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    The attack on the university students in Jaffna is an act of suppression.The more the Tamil youth are suppressed the more would they become inclined to look on VP as a martyr and MR as the oppressor.What is the use of talking about reconciliation while giving the Tamil youth every possible reason to hate the government and the Sinhala people? After all if I like someone, if I respect someone even without a rational basis for my sentiments, what can others do about it? Am I not entitled to my beliefs whether they are right or wrong so long as they do not harm anyone? We have to win over people. How can we ram our views down the throats of other people?

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    Both these incidents are the work of the TNN and Mr Sambandan ,the leader is the main culprit.

    Universities are funded by the Tax payers for smart students get degree so that they get a better opportunity to earn a living and to pay back something to the society as gratitude.

    Instead if they want to celebrate the heroics of a Terrorist and enage in subversive activities they should use TNA property and TNA resources.

    Same apply to our JVP as well.

    Mr Perera to put a spin and link these subversive activities to LLRC is obviously giving the anti Govt Agents a helping hand in appreciation of their support

    These TNA members stirr shit, set these naive students to confront the authorities and come back to their safe havens in Sinhala land.

    Surely the Govt wouldn’t waste money on Military fitouts if these women were going to join the Civil Service.

    Surprised Mr Perera thought otherwise.

    Even Law grads joining Military service in Western countries have to do compulsory training and nothing sinister about it.

    Again the culprits twho got these Women Soldiers “possed” are the TNA Kattadiyas.

    Remember they even created Grease Yakkas not long ago.

    Govt wouldn’t have prepared a report unless they want to implement it.

    But these LTTE and now the TNA supporters hijacking it and demanding instant results is amusing, especially when the TNA Leader Mr Sambandan has consistantly avoided fronting up to the PSC to disscuss a political solution.

    TNA and TNGTE who seem to work hand in hand are only interested in Separation.

    They know that only a Western Military intervention on their behalf is the only avenue.

    These are part of their main plan to prepare a landing strip.

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    I would say LLRC is not implemented at all. Mere eyewash to saatisfy the IC. Tamils in Jaffna are under military rule. University students are been abducted by the army without any legal basis.

    Military intelligence yesterday (Dec. 16) arrested three more students of Jaffna University. All residents of Polikandy, they had been handed over to Vavuniya camp, their relatives had been told upon inquiry.

    Meanwhile, Jaffna university officials said the defence secretary had rejected their request to free the four undergraduates arrested earlier and detained at Welikanda rehabilitation camp.Led by vice chancellor Wasanthi Arseratnam, a university team met the defence secretary three days ago.

    When pointed out that the other students would not participate in lectures until their colleagues were freed, the defence secretary has told them that they would be released only after rehabilitation, Prof. Kadiragamanathan Kandasmy, who attended the discussion, told BBC Tamil Service.

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      “Rehabilitation” by arrest and imprisonment by the army under the PTA – removal of which was recommended by the LLRC – does not happen in other civilised societies.
      “Rehabilitation” is being used as a ploy to impose extrajudicial punishment – forced imprisonment – on citizens for their political and social beleifs – in this case,to punish students for mourning their kith,kin,friends and relatives who died in the war,on both sides.
      The ‘minister’ – Gotabaya,has to approve each individual case,under the PTA.
      This is oppression of citizens for perceived insult/defiance against the state, and for political beleifs.
      Law Enforcement,a function of the police,has been taken over by the army.
      Recruitment of women under false promises and coercion to the army,and preventing them meeting parents after admission to hospital in a catatonic state amounts to inhuman treatment.
      Something inhuman has been perpetrated on them.
      Law Enforcement, a function of the police,has been usurped by the army.
      Meanwhile the government has stated that Human Rights are enforced,at the UNHRCouncil.

  • 0
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    The article by Jehan Perera is timely and serve the purpose of telling the government that all that has been done so far was negated by these recent incidents of assaulting the students by the army and police within their place of study and mental trauma created by secret recruitment of Tamil women to the army by false promises.

    These two incidents are typical examples of how the military treat the ethnic minorities with the complicity of the police. It is not only the problem of language but the victorious attitude of enforcing authority to the extent of enslaving alienated communities.

    That shows cosmetic cementing will never bring about genuine reconciliation. The elected representatives of the ethnic minorities should be brought in to build bridges. The militarisation and Sinhalamisation by the MoD has been counter productive. We hear today that circulars were sent to local councils only in Sinhalese language.

    What we witness is one step forward followed by two steps backward. To put an end to the negativity there must be a political solution of power sharing based on all communities are equal.

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    Good story writing but the question remains why NPC and Jokehan refused to sign the Civil society submission to the UN periodical review of March 2013. How many faces these guys have ?

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    “We have plans to recruit males as well and very shortly they will be recruited. We thought of giving priority to women because the very existence of Tamil female soldiers in the Army would be an ante-dote to false propaganda against the Army” – http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2012/12/16/tna-wants-full-access-to-women-recruits/

    Implementing LLRC or trying to shut up the diaspora?

    If the diaspora should shut up, implement the other parts of LLRC, NOT recruiting to the already overmilitarised body of Sri Lanka.

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