By R Sampanthan –
The adjournment motion to the speaker.
I hereby give notice that I shall move the following motion at the adjournment of Parliament on 20th February 2013:
On 15th February 2013 the Association for the displaced people of Valikamam North staged a Satyagraha – a token hunger strike at the Tellippalai Durgai Amman Temple premises in Jaffna from 8am to 4pm to demonstrate against their being prevented by the Sri Lankan Government and the Sri Lankan armed forces from resettling on lands owned and historically possessed by them from which they had been evicted on grounds of security during the war. This land is amonst the most fertile lands in Jaffna and these people have been prevented from using their own lands for over 23 years. despite the war having ended almost four years ago and despite security considerations not being applicable any longer and despite undertakings given by the Sri Lankan Government to the Supreme Court that these people will be resettled on these lands, this has not happened and the Sri Lankan armed forces are strenghening their possession on a part of the said land. The Tamil National Alliance and many other political parties and civil society organizations were invited to join the fast in solidarity with them. TNA MPs, Mavai Senathirajah, K Premachandran, A Vinayagamoorthy, A Adaikalanathan, Sivasakthy Anandan, E Saravanabavan, S Shritharan and M A Sumanthiran participated at this hunger strike. Other political party leaders, Dr Wickrmabahu Karunaratne, Mano Ganeshan, Azath Sally and others joined the fast. Hon Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremasinghe too joined the hunger strike at about 10.30 am.
At about 11.30 am the Leader of the Opposition addressed the people. As he began, a few persons disturbed him. Hon Mavai Senathirajah asked them to be quiet. When the Leader of the Opposition finished speaking and was leaving the place, the same persons who tried to disturb him, started shouting at the people saying: it is finished, now go home. They spoke with a heavy Sinhala accent, and also started to attack the people around them. The people repulsed this and pushed them away from those performing Satyagraha and they tried to run. One of these persons was caught by the people and handed over to the Police. Another ran to an army camp located closeby. The Police took the arrested person away, but when they went near that army camp, army personnel interfered and released him from the custody of the Police and took him away. The faces of at least two of these attackers are now in the public domain.
It is clear from the above incident that the armed forces in Jaffna are continuing to aggressively interfere with normal civilian life and are terrorising the people. On 16th June 2011 the army attacked another peaceful assembly at Alaveddy in Jaffna, not far from the present location. There were five Members of Parliament belonging to the TNA at that meeting. So far no one has been arrested in connection with that incident, although the Government promised action when I raised that matter in Parliament. The Police continue to file information saying unidentified men in army uniform attacked the TNA meeting and that investigations are going on. No progress has been made for the last One and a Half Years. Armed forces personnel interfered with the elections to the local authorities in the Northern Province and Provincial Council elections to the Eastern Province. Complaints were made to the relevant authorities but no action has been taken. The present incident was clearly committed by the army personnel and confirms that the oppressive military rule is continuing to date. The Police is not able to counter the army’s illegal actions.
Mr Speaker, this incident demonstrates to the country and the world at large that the rule of law has broken down in the Tamil areas. There is no right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly; there is no right to freedom of opinion and expression; there is no right to equality before the law and the equal protection of the law for the Tamil People. The Police are either totally powerless or are co-conspirators in this assault on democracy and fundamental freedoms of the Tamil People. The army is certainly pursuing an oppressive agenda against the Tamil People. Not only have they grabbed the lands belonging to the Tamil People, but they attack anyone who dares to question them. Armed forces are arrogantly confident that the arm of the law will never reach them and act with a total sense of impunity.
In these circumstances I move that the Government should take immediate steps to bring the perpetrators of this assault on fundamental freedoms and democratic rights to justice immediately and restore the rule of law that has completely broken down in the Tamil areas in the North and East. We also ask that as per the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, the strength of the armed forced, particularly in the North, should be substantially reduced as the only effective way to curb the oppressive presence and the high handedness of the armed forces and to enable the Tamil People to live in their historic habitations with self respect and dignity.
Member of Parliament, Trincomalee
Leader, ITAK Parliamentary group.
19th February 2013