22 July, 2018

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We Do Not Need A Truth And Reconciliation Commission

By Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena –

Kishali Pinto Jayawardena

Kishali Pinto Jayawardena

Despite Sri Lanka’s most disgraceful history with a plethora of demonstrably useless Commissions and Committees established by successive Presidents, it is a matter for considerable astonishment that the Rajapaksa Presidency’s near desperate proposal of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the turn of this year, appears to have found support in some quarters of our society.

Need to be aware of our past history

One is uncertain whether such support derives from sheer naivete or whether this originates from vastly more complicated motives. Regardless, the outcome remains the same. Certainly it is not difficult to understand the official objective in floating such an idea. Besieged from all sides by increasing pressure towards accountability in regard to gross violations of human rights, the possibility of a South African-styled Truth and Reconciliation would have appeared to be manna from heaven, if one may be permitted to say so. But what occasions surprise is the support that appears to be extended by those who should know better and by those who are fully cognizant of our past history yet appear to blithely disregard such bitter experiences without a second’s thought.

The superficial nature of such engagements is well seen by the general absence of considered critiques into the functioning of Sri Lanka’s Commissions of Inquiry apart from a few exceptions. In other countries such as Guatemala which experienced waves of enforced disappearances and extra judicial executions to a similar extent as Sri Lanka, volumes have been written by academics, lawyers and judges on Guatemala’s Commissions, their positive and negative aspects and their impact on justice delivery. In contrast, Sri Lanka has had a pitifully different experience; commission reports have been written generally in secrecy and their impact has been negligible.

Each Commission effort a waste of public funds

Let it be said quite unequivocally that all of Sri Lanka’s past Commissions have essentially wasted public funds and raised expectations of victims of all ethnicities in the country only to cruelly and summarily dispose of their pleas without redress. Even where Commissions functioned with some degree of integrity as was the case with the three 1994 Commissions of Inquiry into the Involuntary Removal or Disappearances of Persons, their recommendations were disregarded in the main except for the payment of some amounts of compensation to affected persons. Money, it seemed, was the measure of grief. And in that sense, a salutary example was set by some who refused to accept money but cried out for acknowledgement of the deaths of their loved ones by the State. These were Sinhalese victims at that time. Decades later, their cries were eerily echoed by the Tamil ‘disappeared’ during 2009 and even in the post-war years.

Examples set by other Commissions were far worse. Presidential Commissions, including the commissions set up to inquire into the assassinations of Vijaya Kumaratunge, Lalith Athulathmudali and Denzil Kobbekaduwa were noted only for the singularly large numbers of police officers named in these reports against whom disciplinary action had been taken, but who later argued successfully in the then Supreme Court that the sanctions against them should be set aside as they had been reached by an unfair and unjust process.

In more recent times, we have had the 2006 Udalagama Commission to look into war time human rights abuses but which was wound up unceremoniously even before it completed its mandate. Its report remains, we would assume, in the wastepaper bucket in the Presidential Secretariat. And for its own part, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC, 2010) at least emphasized the deplorable deterioration of the Rule of Law but its ‘hard’ recommendations towards displacing this Government’s majoritarian and exceedingly authoritarian power base have been evidently disregarded. This is nothing to be unduly surprised at, one may well remark.

Not the first ‘Truth Commission’

This is not the first time that we have had a government in power trying to establish a ‘truth commission’ which insults the very name and purpose of such bodies. In fact, we had an ironically styled Presidential Truth Commission on Ethnic Violence under the Presidency of Chandrika Kumaratunga) which was appointed on 23 July 2001 to look into the ethnic violence during 1981 – 1984, with special reference to the period of July 1983, including the circumstances which led to such violence. The Commission was mandated to inquire whether any person, group or institution was directly or indirectly responsible for such violence, the nature and extent of the damage, both physical and mental, suffered by the victims of such ethnic violence and what compensation or solatium should be granted to such victims or to their dependents or heirs.

It was also asked to recommend institutional, administrative and legislative measures to promote national unity and reconciliation among all communities. True to form, this ‘Truth Commission’ delivered its report on September 2002 with little to show for its original grand objectives other than as a useful historical record. It had minimal positive impact on public opinion and was viewed more as a weary account of familiar events rather than a spiritedly motivated investigation that may have acted as a catalyst to bringing about institutional and attitudinal change. No findings of prima facie culpability against any individual/state officer/politician were arrived at and no specific prosecutions were recommended.

Recognising our self serving blindness

At each and every turn, these clever diversion tactics of Commissions and Committee turned attention away from imperative legal and policy reforms, strengthening of the judicial system and restoring the constitutional balance of power which (make no mistake about this) are essential to handling Sri Lanka’s ‘accountability problem’ as is somewhat quaintly termed by some. And Sri Lankan governments, regardless of their political colour, are able to resort to these tactics time and time again and without challenge from this country’s so-called ‘intellectual’ community precisely because of this self serving blindness. Forget about Governments; we should be ashamed of ourselves.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    16

    Nor do we need your opinion .

    • 8
      0

      What an idiot who seems to have no pulse to feel how deep of the state corruption that is the current reality and the absolute suppression of dissent. You and the ilk are a curse for the nation.

      • 1
        1

        gonwahense what suppression of dissent. isnt that what you are doing now ?

    • 7
      0

      We need a commission to find out why our country is being run by thieves, criminals & barbarians?

      Just look around you. Who elected these people? Who are these peopel anyway?

      “we should be ashamed of ourselves.” Thanks Kishali. I have to agree with you.

      Cheers!

    • 0
      6

      Ok

      Since nobody have good plan to achieve Reconciliation, I give a Good Plan.

      First Sri Lankans should understand this is country as result of Sinhalese Buddhists though little influence by tamil countries like Chola and Pandya.

      Every one living in this country should respect mahawansha without that this is another piece of land.

      Every Sri Lankan should understand without monks and Sinhalese buddhists you would live in a country but not in Sri Lanka.

      Every Sri Lankans should respect monks and Mahawansha.

      Sihalese buddhists should not harm any one including themselves. Sinhalese buddhists should control the goverment and should thrown the rulers away if they dont resepct Monks and Mahawansha.

      If minorrites learn who really they are it will possible to achive reconciliation.

      May Sinhalese Buddhist Gods Protect This Country and Sinhalese Buddhists.

      • 1
        1

        get off the drugs please .

  • 10
    0

    .
    Firstly, we need a commission to find out why commissions fail.
    :-)

    • 2
      0

      They appoint commissions one behind the other,- SIMPLY ONE OF THEIR JILMART AKIN TACTICS, but the work each of them have finished/partly finished/ or not DELIBERATELY being kept away from transparent manner.

      So as you suggest, each of the commsion should accompany with a commission to inspect them and report it to the nation.

    • 2
      3

      then we need another commission to find out how they find out why commission fail.

  • 8
    1

    The latest ‘commission’ on the Welikada Prison Deaths is reported to have determined that “prisoners shot dead fellow prisoners” !!!!!!!!!!
    Beleive it or not.

    • 5
      0

      Justice:
      Why are you surprised? Don’t you remember the equally remarkable report of a government servant tieing himself to a jak tree? This is now the Land of the Thousands and Thousands of Miracles.

      • 0
        4

        Miracle of Allah, I think as a perverted muslim

      • 4
        0

        Palayang yako!

        Few more miracles in case if you have forgotten:

        Army major beating himself very badly in a club.

        Husbands of 89,000 Tamil women in North East committing suicide en mass.

        KP’s capture in Malaysia,

        MR single handedly annihilating LTTE.

        Only few months ago army found itself innocent of any war crimes in its own independent, credible investigation into war crimes.

        ………..

        ………..

    • 0
      3

      I believed because Prisoners are human beings so they can shoot.

      By the way I gave u a thumb down it was me first who did so.

  • 3
    1

    Another ploy to get through Geneva 2014. Nothing will come out of any commissions.

    • 0
      3

      What do u want to come out is it another thing like faeces come out from Anus.

      it’s me who gave u thumb down first.

  • 4
    1

    just came back after attending a wedding, a Tamil girl marrying a Sinhalese boy.

    Hindu wedding followed by Buddhist Poruwa Ceremony

    Followed by dinner, drinks and dance and laughetr and chat etc .

    Infusion of two communities at its best.

    IF this can be done at a small family and friends level …I am sure it can be escalted at a national level.

    If there is a will from the politicians

    • 2
      1

      This is what Rajapakse is forcing on TAMILS.

      • 0
        2

        sorry mate I am not a Rajapakse fan….but this was a love at first site mariage.

        anyhow Rajapakse cant force who marries whom.

        So just do not blame everything on Rajapakse…then we will lose credibility

    • 0
      4

      Who is that toy boy ?, Why don’t want Sinhalese Girls ?, Sinhalese Society should reject these kind of male.

      By the way I hve givn u thumb down for fiction writing here. If you want to write fiction there are panty full places on the web find them. Rather misleading us with jokes.

      • 1
        0

        you are living in a fictional world.
        just come out of your closet.

        • 0
          0

          rajasH,namal should marry a tamil girl.Then ethnic problem solved.

    • 1
      0

      Rajash, Agree with you. But on a mass scale our politicians will not allow it. Reconciliation will switch the voters minds away from ethnic rivalry to good governance issues. Loss of votes there.

  • 2
    0

    This is because it is well known the Jokers of the current Regime are the greatest liars in the entire Universe. These Jokers, even by mistake do not reveal the truth and as we all know they never honour their promises or what they promise and usually end up doing the opposite. Intimidation,threaten, assault, disappearances and murder rules the Country. God save former democratic Sri Lanka.

    • 0
      5

      //This is because it is well known the Jokers of the current Regime are the greatest liars in the entire Universe.

      But they can’t make people laugh rather they make them cry.

      //These Jokers, even by mistake do not reveal the truth and as we all know they never honour their promises or what they promise and usually end up doing the opposite.

      ah ha

      //Intimidation,threaten, assault, disappearances and murder rules the Country.

      really !

      //God save former democratic Sri Lanka.

      former democratic Sri Lanka, where was it ?

  • 3
    0

    Appointing a committee or a commission as a facetious democratic tool to fool the people has been made a fine art in Sri Lanka. Sometimes these arrangements are made to make sure no action is ultimately taken and there are other instances such as the Press Commission that recommended what the government wanted- nationalisation of Lake House. The PSC to impeach CJ Shirani Bandaranayake is another such recent instance.

    The basic assumption is that we as a people do not care enough about issues and give the impression that we can be easily fooled. There will an issue some day that they will care enough about. That is the day our politicians will have to repent.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 0
      6

      The solution is simple since Tamils like you know how to do this better than Sinhalese.

      You people should established former separate Tamil country by combining tamilnadu and take all Tamils in Colombo there. India really want to cheat your people they need Tamilnadu to be a part of India. Breakout from that establish new one. This is really problem for both u and me and other Tamils and Sinhalese.

      • 1
        0

        Mohamad Ela

        “You people should established former separate Tamil country by combining tamilnadu and take all Tamils in Colombo there.”

        I should say you are a maverick. Thanks for your advice.

        That is only apart of the solution. When the Tamils leave they should also take their Sinhala speaking brethren with them.

        I hope this is acceptable to you.

        • 0
          2

          and Most of the muslims are not arabics there are just tamils slaves who brought here by English.

          For example if u are a decendent of a arabs u should speak arab well like Mauritius Arab Muslims. Now dont tell anything here the land behind north and east from india is only belongs to Sinhalese Buddhists other part is for tamils. its there country so when they come to our part they should take Visa and we have no reason to visit there except our great temple nagar vihar.

          • 0
            0

            Mohamad Ela

            All what I am saying is please take all those descendant of kallthonies, including Tamil and Sinhala speaking back to South India.

            • 0
              0

              Non of the Sinhalese will not be sent to South India. But Tamil speaking Muslims must be sent because they belongs to there. Without Sinhalese this is not a country, no civilization here, This country was civilized 600 years before Islam was created at that time Arabs were tribes. So here its belong only to Sinhalese. All non Buddhist Sinhalese must convert back to Sinhalese Buddhism.

      • 0
        0

        “…should established former separate Tamil country …”

        at last accept there was a seperate Tamil country …

        in fact there was a Tamil continent …google and you can find it

        • 0
          2

          Yeah but on those days most of the time it was belong to different tamils people thats y its tamil country. Chola, Pandaya, Chera. And all they are stinking like spoiled carcasses. All are power greedy like dogs. Cholas are worst, they are pirates. They didn’t want only Sri Lanka but also Bali and other countries of those days. Pandayans were women suppliers to Sihalese kings who are like toy boys in fact they should marry Sihala women. Cheras are considerably ok. And all know that Sinhalese are powerful and unbeatable. Thats why Pandayans seek help from Sinhalese buddhist people.

          If muslims want to comment here that Muslims were powerful than all others its completely wrong. Those tamils land never captured by Muslim empires so they are powerful than muzzies but Sinhalese small armies control rameshwaram more than 30 years so we are the greatest ever.

          We are peaceful but throughout the history we were harassed by power hungry stray dogs. Commit war crimes against us. That why Sinhalese did all. Our people live in fear because of those wild dogs but they learnt that can’t do nothing to us. Main reason why Sinhalese Buddhism is tolerate war for some extent. Since We(Peaceful Sinhalese People) were harassed we wanted to stopped them. And now Tamils use war as a treasure. Tamils never seek asylum in Tamilnadu they want Australia, UK and USA. Tamils have no respect to their religion, culture or race thats why they loose their so called Tamil subcontinent (Which was famous for piracy and other atrocities)

          Every citizen should respect Sinhalese Buddhism and Mahawansha. If those were not here this is not a country. If you cant respect them please leave this country. The uniqueness of Sri Lanka is Sinhalese Buddhism and Mahawansha. It’s the culture of the country. it’s the future of this nation. Every time when you wave Sri lanka flag it respect Mahawansha and Sinhalese Buddhism. If you don’t like please leave don’t just stay here because you are not accepted in somewhere else.

  • 2
    0

    Truth stays silent in mass graves all over Sri Lanka until exposed and truth established.

    “A Truth And Reconciliation Commission” is a dance over these mass graves in merry making by the state and the perpetrators.

    The cruel regime wants the world reconciled to this reality and move on as if everything is fine hereafter!

    • 0
      5

      Those mass graves has been built by English colonials.

      • 1
        0

        Mohamad Ela

        “Those mass graves has been built by English colonials.”

        Don’t you think those graves were dug by LTTE?

  • 1
    2

    At that time, Mandela had to that because of so many reasons.

    If sri lanka chooses to do even LLRC, that is simply stupidity.

    • 0
      4

      nice comment, really appreciate your effort to make people understand about the situation.

      It me who gave u thumb up first keep doing this.

      • 1
        0

        Mohamad Ela, Whats with your thumb going up incessantly?

  • 2
    0

    I agree with Kishali.

    When Bill Clinton was president he was brought down on his knees on the Monica affair. That is how USA legal system is. equal even if you are the president.

    What we need in Sri Lanka is the legal system to be impartial and independence and let run properly. Not controlled by President or politicians. If legal system doesn’t work correct it and make it better.

    These commissions are set by politicians to take the people and the world on a ride. We have a president who boasted himself that he took India and Manmohan singh on ride on the 13th amendment.

    • 0
      4

      //I agree with Kishali.

      Kishali Pinto Jayawardena is not hot as much as you see.

      “Clinton ==> Monica” was affected to Mr Clin after he was thrown out of Power

  • 2
    0

    What Truth and Reconciliation when we wallow in Lies and Conflict?

    • 0
      3

      What to do dude ?. Its similar in every country disappearings in USA is a common thing.

  • 1
    0

    Your hindsight into the outcome and the results of the commissions and it’s repercussions are indeed now history.what you have failed to gather is these ‘commisions ‘ were an eyewash just to please all those Countries and Organisations which have been at the throat of Sri lanka.
    and as to why,the Major powers or Organisations are quiet or unable to move and take actions against all those ‘alleged ‘and some factfull violations is because these Countries themselves are the biggest war criminals and instigators of the worst crimes of war in the name of peace.You cannot condone what has happend in Iraq,Afghanistan and Palestinians in the recent past and also to what extend the ‘arab spring ‘ which was prompted by the powers that be has impacted on the respective masses.
    Very soon, another disciple of the US and UN and the Euro Community is on the verge of attacking another middle east entity on the same false notion of harbouring ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction ‘, whereas those WMDs’are merely inside thier heads or between their pants !
    My point is don’t measure the sri lankan issue by a different standard..the World bodies are only helping and guiding the Srilanka regime of the past and the future to learn how to avoid being answerable to all resolutions and embargos’ it may have to face.
    When there countries to pump in millions or billions of dollars to strengthen this regime notwithstanding the socio or economic standings and as long ‘greed’pervails,you and your kind willkeep on writing and we the sufferers’will keep on replying,while ‘those who are concerned ‘will make ‘hay while the sunshines ‘.
    if i may share a quote ‘ If i kill a man,i am Murderer..and if king kills men,he is a Conquerer ‘.
    So.Let the World leaders set an honest example.

  • 0
    0

    We shall need KPJ, Basil F’do0, Rayappu, Savundranayakam, Emmanuel and the likes on that T & R Board panel.
    Set Liars to catch a Liar…

  • 0
    0

    Mohamad Ela nice name change from Ela Kolla

    • 0
      0

      Are you agree with me that saying Cholas are Pirates ?. Piarcy was a major source of income of Cholas. Tamil scholars are less credible. Different research papers say different things. One say cholas invade Sri Lanka because tamil sellers were looted here (Best things they should do ask protection from Sinhalese kings) and another say one chola had a dream to invade whole island and his son succeeded with it.Considering Tamils they respect only their family related people not even Tamils. Pandayans defeated Cholas then replace all Chola names with Pandaya names. They tried to erase their names from the earth. Are u agree with me that Sri Lanka is a country because of Sinhalese ?, I am impartial than you that’s y I told you that North and East most of the time belongs to Tamils. But as a racist you are not agree with me. To have better reconciliation minorities should accept that Sri Lanka is a country due to Sinhalese Civilization. Most of the wars against Sinhalese in history started by Tamil kings. Tamils are worst than English colonials. The current Muslim Buddhist arguments were started by Muslim clerics. I agree some Muslim clerics are against them. Reconciliation in Sri Lanka is one sided all the things of Sinhalese have to be given up. 90% of the conflicts in Sri Lanka have been started by minorities.

      Without Mahawansha and Sinhalese Buddhism this is not a country. If anybody does not like it please leave this country. You shoul not be here since you are not accepted by another one. Seek Asylum in Tamilnadu not USA, UK, Australia. Respect your heritage.

  • 0
    0

    Author financed by NGO…what to expect?

  • 0
    0

    The most important commission that should be established is a commision called CBPC(Cost and Benefits of past commissions).This commission headed by a retired judge or public official will do a detailed cost benefit analysis of all past commissions.The detailed report of this commissions findngs will be given to the president and he will wear his specs and look studious and intellectual while reading it and photos taken and published all over for local as well as international media.

    Kishali is griping a lot of the past commisions and she is right.The truth and reconciliation commission should be an international independent one and not commisioned locally.Instead of sorting the root cause of the problem which is that local commissions are useless she is trying to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    The advantage of a this type of commission over a war crimes investigation is that it will enable better chances of reconciliation between the two communities.Punishment is not necessary because civil wars are non recurrent one off events that materialise due to poor governance.Naming and shaming is better than punishemnt because the next step is reconciliation because the two peoples have to live together again in a small island.Governance issues can be sorted out through vehicles such as the LLRC etc so that these kind of stupid civil wars don’t occur again.

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