By S. V. Kirubaharan –
In another few days, President Maithiripala Sirisena will celebrate his 1st year in office. What does this mean for the people?
With the arrival of President Sirisena, on 9th January, a new government was formed under the Premiership of Ranil Wickremesinge. Looking back over this one year of regime change, what has it brought to the victims, the people, especially to the people in the North and East?
Before continuing, I would like to say that in September 2014, I wrote an article titled “Common Presidential Candidate & Ethnic Conflict”. I was very clear that the people were tired of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tyranny, but if the Tamils in Sri Lanka were looking for justice, Rajapaksa should come back to power. I said this with the experience of, and the lessons understood as, a suffering Tamil over several decades.
India, which looks at short term gains, was disturbed by my article. As long as corrupt Indian decision-makers remain, India won’t understand Sri Lanka’s policy on it. Sri Lanka will keep neither China nor Pakistan away. Sri Lanka prefers to engage with all three – China, India and Pakistan, but preference depends on the ruling party. Buddhist chauvinists like Rajapaksa would prefer to be closer to China and Pakistan than India. In the meantime Americans also have their interest in Sri Lanka.
Some said that it was foolish to suggest that Rajapaksa should continue as Executive President for the third term. However, what I wrote proves right today. “………Otherwise it is preferable for Mahinda Rajapaksa to win the President election for the 3rd time and let the international community continue its scrutiny on Sri Lanka. This should be the way forward on the ethnic conflict, reconciliation and the UN investigation.”
Also I said that, “The forthcoming presidential election should not be missed by any Tamils who understand diplomacy and the suffering of innocent people. They should vote for the candidate who is open, frank and transparent. Now the question is how will Tamils benefit from the new President?”
I am neither a supporter of Rajapaksa nor do I agree with his policies. But if any Tamil thinks that there should be international involvement in any political settlement to the North and East, there should be a Sri Lankan government which is against Western interests. This logic led me to the conclusion that it would be better to have Rajapaksa for a third term. What has happened within the last year proves I was right.
To clarify what the people in the North and East have achieved within the last year – Chief Ministers of the North and East should speak out about the regime change, with facts and figures.
After thirty years of armed struggle and more than six decades of political struggle, the people cannot be expected to be satisfied with relatively petty achievements like having a civilian Governor of the North, less harassment, a smoother or better journey from Colombo to Jaffna, and listing and de-listing of individuals and organisations, etc. The people in the North and East suffered the worst horrendous violations during the conflict – a bit longer is not a big deal. They lost their kith and kin, properties, assets, peace of mind, self-respect, etc.
As far as the civilian Governor to the North is concerned, I have already disclosed the hidden side of him. Now-a-days, everyone can see his true colours through his statements and activities. Is there any difference between this so-called civilian Governor and the earlier Military Governor?
Firstly, this so-called civil governor was not the choice of President Sirisena. This person had already been chosen by Rajapaksa to replace the military governor. Secondly, if the earlier military Governor had not resigned, this so-called civilian Governor would not have been appointed by Sirisena.
Today, what the present government is doing in the North and East is all an ‘eye wash’ to influence the international community. The people and most Members of Parliament – MPs from the North and East are not happy with the so-called government of national unity, formed on 21 August 2015.
The government of ‘national unity’ is also known as ‘Good governance’, in Singhalese, ‘yahapalayanaya’. The Minister of Justice says that he will not allow anyone to arrest the former Defence Secretary. Here, where is the independence of the judiciary and the policy of non-interference of Good governance?
Although deemed a government of ‘national unity’, is there a single Tamil political party included in this government from predominately Tamil regions – the North and East? In Sri Lanka, national unity means, unity between the two main political parties, predominantly Sinhala Buddhist. Is this fact known to the world?
TNA in shambles
Rajapaksa’s government used all sorts of tactics to divide the people in the North and East, members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – LTTE, the diaspora and others. But the present government has made a big break-through within the major Tamil political party, the Tamil National Alliance – TNA. Now this party is in shambles – problems between parties, problem between individuals, and problems between Members of Parliament themselves. Is this the reason why the people in the North and East voted for a regime change?
The de-listing of individuals and diaspora organisations is another issue. In my view, to remain proscribed would have been better for international lobbying, than being de-listed. The present government seriously considered the matter and got two fruits with one stone. By de-listing they put an obstacle in the way of the best on-going international lobby and at the same time, they successfully applied divide and rule among the diaspora. When they spoke about de-listing I predicted that they would de-list, but that they would add new names. They did this.
Certainly I was not on the list. I was told that my name was on Gotabaya’s assassination list. It may still be there! However, Managala Samaraweera and some dim-witted diplomats who served in Geneva, London and in Libya wanted to add my name. But my consecutive presence since 1990 in the UN Human Rights forums prevented them from doing so.
It is ridiculous that the organisations which were de-listed show appreciation of the government. This is where the divide and rule policy has been successful. How can some individuals be ungrateful when lavish entertainment has been offered by President Sirisena and Managala Samaraweera? We thought some were near to God but in fact, they are closer to Satan! They collect others’ personal data to use whenever someone is against their activities or opinion.
Why did Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the UN and Thomas Shannon, the US under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, visit Sri Lanka very recently? Why is the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, along with the UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon waiting to visit? They all understand the agenda that Sri Lankan government has – no idea of implementing the last resolution to which it is a co-sponsor. Let this pressure pour in from every nook and corner.
Chandrika Kumaratunga who is the ‘king maker’ of this so-called government of national unity recently said that the Government will accept foreign technical assistance in the domestic process, but will not have foreign judges! This will not surprise anyone who follows Sri Lanka closely. This is how the Tamils have been manipulated and cheated since 1948.
What Sri Lanka is proposing or waiting to implement is not at all what was stipulated in the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council – UN HRC. The members of the UN HRC, especially the main sponsors – the United States, United Kingdom, Montenegro, and Macedonia are answerable to the victims and others.
This is the beginning of the Sri Lankan government’s pulse-studying exercise. They are testing the water to see how many countries or how many members in the UN HRC and how many international organisations will question them regarding the resolution.
In my last article in October 2015, “Sri Lanka breaches agreements & promises” I wrote that, “…….The attitude of the present government especially after accepting the resolution, gives the impression that either Sri Lanka reckons it does not need to implement the resolution or that the main sponsors including India have given a secret assurance to Sri Lanka, that there is no need to fully implement this resolution! We will know the correct answer to these questions only by March 2017.”
In fact, we do not have to wait until March 2017 for the answer. We can see it now itself.
From a war crimes investigation, it was watered down to a hybrid process, then from hybrid to local investigation with foreign judges, lawyers and prosecutors. Now it is purely domestic! The next step is to say that no-one other than the LTTE committed war crimes in Sri Lanka.
Well and good, let this so-called government of national unity do whatever they like. The two main political parties have been used to this type of manipulation and cheating since 1948. If there is no proper independent international investigation alongside the resolution passed in the UN HRC – all victims should boycott this investigation. Their boycott should be with the support of the international community, international organisations, all Tamil political parties and civil society in the North and East. I have my reservations about the civil society in the South because there are elements which support Buddhist chauvinism and work for blood money.
There should be no reservations about the boycotting of the local investigation. The victims will never ever find any justice under a manipulated local investigation. Now is the time for victims to be strong and protest with the support of those who are for justice in Sri Lanka.
Through a domestic process, the intention is to protect their so-called ‘war heroes’ who raped, carried out summary executions, and committed violations with impunity. They need the help of certain powers to do this. Also, they said during the election campaign that, whether Rajapaksa won the Presidential election or not, they would never allow Rajapaksa and other leaders to be tried for war crimes. We presume that the international community noted this awful state of affairs?
Manipulated local investigation
When we talk about a boycott of a local investigation, some may argue that it is better for the victims – witnesses, kith and kin, to relate what they saw and what happened to their loved ones. This is true from a psychological perspective and important for re-building lives. But such relating of personal stories needs to take place within a wider context of a genuine political and justice process. The victims have done enough telling of their experiences in the past – with no Justice process in place.
If the victims attend the local investigation, which is totally against the UN HRC resolution, it will endorse the local investigation. Therefore the victims must be very careful about their next move.
Currently the only option is to boycott the manipulated local investigation. If anyone attends it, Sri Lanka will use this to inform the international community that the victims too prefer the local investigation. If they miss this opportunity to take a firm stand in favour of their own rights, they will regret it for their whole life.
Considering the past, has anyone found any justice for the victims of hundreds and hundreds of atrocities – like large scale killings, assassinations, massacres including Vantharumoolai, Saththurukkondan, Kokkaddicholai, Mylanthanai, Kumarapuram in the East, the Bolgoda Lake killings in Colombo; disappearances in the North and East including 600 people buried in mass graves in Chemmani in Jaffna, bombing of Navaly St Peter’s Church, and so on? All these and many other heinous incidents had no inquiry other than some eye-washing statements to the international community.
Today we are being taken for a ride yet again because the idea of bringing back Rajapaksa for the third term was not taken seriously. We know it was not the decision of the people in the North and East. They were forced by the TNA to vote for Sirisena.
Today some TNA MPs express their grievances in parliament, due to the government reneging on their promises. TNA MP, Selvam Adaikalanathan says “we are asking the government to talk to us about the political solution, but they are ignoring our request”; MP Sumanthiran says that, “the government is going away from the promise that they gave to the international community”. TNA MP, Mavai Senathirajah says that the government and the President have gone away from their promises on Land and political prisoners. If so, why do the people of the North and East still trust or believe this government?
Rajapaksa had a two-third majority in parliament and never settled the ethnic conflict. He took India and the international community for a good ride. The present so-called government of national unity consists of a President, Ministers and MPs who justified everything done by Rajapaksa in the past. If so, one has to ask whether the present President and the government will genuinely be for accountability and reconciliation. Who is fooling whom?
If the present government takes any serious initiative to settle the ethnic conflict and have foreign judges, lawyers and prosecutors – that will be the day when this government will collapse. Then this government would have to look for the support of the TNA to remain in power. Hope the TNA will not make the same mistake they have made in the past. TNA should realise that without a two-third majority nothing will happen on reconciliation. Therefore when this government collapses prematurely, the TNA should not help them to remain in power. Let this government face a new election and India, US and others seriously consider the realities in Sri Lanka.
My predictions never went wrong. When Rajapaksa’s family was on the moon and ignoring others’ opinions and behaving like Monarchies of Sri Lanka, on 24th October 2010, I wrote an article in the Sunday Leader, “Kataragama to K.K.S.” (South to North)
I said the following, “……………. But in our experience many politicians — presidents, prime ministers and monarchies have fallen into to the ‘laws of motion’ of Sir Isaac Newton – To every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction and everything which goes up has to come down because of the ‘gravity’ of the earth. Let us wait and see the future of the Rajapaksas and Sri Lanka.”
Lastly, the Rajapaksas are very good at finding identical personalities! For example, they found someone similar to President Maithiripala Sirisena. Let’s wait for the day when the whole world will laugh at the Rajapaksas and Sri Lanka for their boasting and scandalous achievements!