Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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GoSL On a Hot Tin Roof

Reporting from Vanni, Part XII

by K. Mylvaganam, July 12, 2007

And the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which represents the Tamils in Sri Lanka is not invited. It constitutes 22 members of parliament and got nearly 90% of the Tamil votes in the last election. Such a democratically elected body is excluded from the APRC, which is to draft proposals to solve the ethnic problem of the Tamil community.

The government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is being targeted by several countries and Human Rights Organisations. Sri Lanka is rated as a Pariah State for the atrocities committed by its armed forces and its Tamil paramilitary stooges that long for crumbs from the state.

It is an open secret that the Tamil paramilitary elements are paid, protected and armed by the Sri Lankan Army (SLA). Hence, for all violations of the law committed by these elements in the government-controlled areas, the GoSL has to take the responsibility. This is well illustrated by the Tamil Proverb “Eithavan Irukka Ambai Nokal Aakaathu" (Not to blame the arrow when the shooter is there).

From a practical point of view the paramilitaries are an extended arm of the SLA, if not part and parcel of it. They do not act on their own, but on the direct orders of the SLA. The GoSL turning a blind eye to the actions of the paramilitary forces only goes to confirm this. For a bereaved woman whose husband or son or daughter has been abducted and brutally murdered, it is immaterial whether it was the army or its stooges that committed the offense. For her, the future is blasted and, naturally, she will hold the GoSL responsible for the gruesome murder.

Several International Humanitarian Organisations like Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) that operates from America, and many others have condemned the Human Rights violations taking place in Sri Lanka and pointed out the complicity of the GoSL in all those violations committed in the areas under government control.

The International Community (IC) is fully aware that the appointments of “Commissions” to investigate and inquire into such violations are nothing but eyewash. Such actions are meant to buy time and the matter faces a natural death eventually. Hardly a report is put out by these commissions. And even if a few do present reports, they are pushed under the carpet, never meet the eye of the public and no action is taken against the perpetrators. The so-called Commissions to deal with human rights abuses that have been appointed so far have been a sheer waste of tax-payers’ money. Even the Select Committee’s reports are not given the importance they deserve, despite the matter being raised in Parliament often by the opposition.

The government seems to be immune to all forms of criticism, irrespective of whether they are originated locally or internationally.

To cite a striking example, I may refer to the commission appointed by the government to inquire into the killings that took place in 16 different incidents since Pres. Rajapakse's election. Foreign experts named as International Intelligent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) from different countries were invited as observers. This group is headed by Justice Bhagawathi, a retired judge of the Supreme Court from India. The group leader issued an interim statement to the effect that the Attorney General of Sri Lanka was interfering with the inquiry unnecessarily and that there was no transparency and no witness protectionBut the Attorney General retorted in strong terms these allegations leveled against him. Justice Bhagawathi reiterated his point of view, but no action has emerged from the commission to rectify his concerns. This illustrates how all the commissions have functioned in the past.

Another example is the President’s approach and instructions to Minister Tissa Vitharana the chairman of the All Party Representative Conference (APRC). According to an English weekly, at a cabinet meeting Rajapakse even ordered the minister that nothing contrary to a “Unitary State” should be uttered by him publicly.  Here I wish to point out that the nomenclature of this body is not fitting, as many vital parties are not participating, especially the United National Party (UNP), which is the main opposition party in the parliament. It has said publicly that it was washing hands with the APRC from the 15th instant.. And the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which represents the Tamils in Sri Lanka is not invited. It constitutes 22 members of parliament and got nearly 90% of the Tamil votes in the last election. Such a democratically elected body is excluded from the APRC, which is to draft proposals to solve the ethnic problem of the Tamil community.

If the TNA is not even invited to the APRC, who is there in the APRC to present the grievances and the aspirations of the Tamil community? This is very similar to holding a court hearing without listening to the views of the accused.

Appointing commissions of varying types is not going to produce any results as the commissions of the past prove my statement. Let me just present a few of these commissions of recent origin, which the readers will easily remember. We have a Ministry for Human Rights, the Human Rights Commission, the Mahanama Tillekaratne Commission and the notorious Presidential Commission to investigate into the 16 cases of murder under the observation of IIGEP. All these commissions have been used to buy time from the public and the world, hoping the crimes will be forgotten eventually and thus safeguard the perpetrators from being punished. Even the Select Committee reports are ignored, despite the opposition parties pressing for action off and on.

The cost of living and the fear of war spreading to the entire country are making the people and the International Community loose their patience. The “Thoppigala Stunt” was another attempt to deflect the attention of the masses, but how long are they going tolerate it? The JVP is threatening a massive general strike. Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriarachchi are forming the SLFP (M) is gaining momentum. Unconfirmed reports say that the CWC and the SLMC have given the green light to support the SLFP (M). In the event of a no-confidence motion being presented in parliament, even the JVP could be counted in. Once it is established that the magical figure of 113 is achieved, then several SLFP members including some ministers are expected to vote in favour of the motion. More will surely desert the sinking ship, fearing legal proceedings against corrupt parliamentarians when the opposition comes into power.

Many political analysts are predicting a downfall of the government and expect the Rajapaksha quartet to be in deep trouble sooner or later.

Then the Rajapaksha Quartet will be dancing on a Hot Tin Roof – that is if they do not run away from the country - but the Ghost is sure to follow.

What You Sow is What You Reap.