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Rajapaksa's Agenda is to Turn Ceylon into a Monolithic Sinhala-Buddhist State

by Tamil Creative Writers' Association, Toronto, March 15, 2012

It is now clear Mahinda Rajapaksa simply has no stomach to offer any rights to the Thamils by way of true reconciliation. There is no Thamil National question now. Thamils who dare to raise their voice in protest are branded as traitors to the Motherland or LTTE rump or separatist terrorists. His agenda is to transform the state into a monolith Sinhala - Buddhist state where national minorities have to live at the mercy of the dominant race and religion. And the armed forces will be used as an instrument to impose Sinhala - Buddhist hegemony over the Thamils and perpetuate political power of the ruling dynasty.

Press Release

The Hindu newspaper ( March 15, 2012) carried a news item titled " UNHRC resolution: Govt. to keep in mind implications" by its correspondent Vinay Kumar. Unfortunately, the Hon, Minister quoted in the article got some of his facts wrong or he has been misinformed. We wish to put the record straight.

Tamil Creative Writers Association logoThree years after the war, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has done practically nothing towards reconciliation or win the confidence of the Thamil people. A total of 282,360 internally displaced people are awaiting re-settlement in Vanni and 26,281 (7,273 families) in Valigamam North in Jaffna peninsula. A further 7,000 IDPs are kept in Menik Farm since May, 2009. The reason for not re-settling the IDPs is due to army occupation of private and state lands declared as High Security Zones (HSZs) and used to build army bases, cantonments and luxury quarters.

Statement by Hon. Minister

Stressing that it was a result of India's assistance programme and constructive engagement with the Sri Lankan government that a modicum of normality was beginning to return to the Tamil areas in Sri Lanka, he said there had been progress given the withdrawal of emergency regulations by the government there and the conduct of elections to local bodies in the Northern Province.

REALITY

Contrary to the claim by the Hon. Minister that emergency regulations have been withdrawn, the government has introduced simultaneously new set of laws under Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to replace the draconian laws that gave sweeping powers to Sri Lanka Police and Military forces to arrest and detain people without any charges indefinitely. The military camps set up in civilian areas in the districts of Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Jaffna will continue to be there even in the aftermath of the withdrawal of emergency. The president issued four proclamations dated August 29 to incorporate new regulations under the PTA, which provides for extended detention without trial. Another proclamation allows the continuation of the ban on the LTTE, and the continued detention of Thamil youth as “LTTE suspects” in the so-called rehabilitation camps. The government ended the state of emergency not out of a new-found concern for democracy, but to blunt international criticism of its war crimes and abuses of democratic rights prior to the 18th session of the UN Human Rights Council that began on Monday in Geneva.

Statement by Hon. Minister

The Minister said India had emphasised to Sri Lanka the importance of a “genuine process of reconciliation” to address the grievances of the Tamil community. Pointing to his visit to Sri Lanka in January, he said Colombo had assured India of its commitment in pursuing a political process through a broader dialogue with all parties, including the Tamil National Alliance, leading to the full implementation of the 13 Amendment to the Constitution so as to achieve meaningful devolution of powers and genuine national reconciliation.

REALITY

The Hon Minister is not telling the truth. On January 17 Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna stated that in a discussion held that day, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had assured him the government was committed to the 13 th amendment plus approach. He said he had discussed this with President Rajapaksa just that morning, Krishna elaborated. “The president assured me that he stands by his commitment in pursuing the 13th Amendment plus approach, the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, and building on it, so as to achieve meaningful devolution of powers." he stressed. By his side stood Sri Lankan counterpart, G.L. Peiris, who remained stoically silent on the subject. The only time he alluded to it was when he endorsed the Indian minister’s assertion that there was no fixed timeframe for the president’s pledge to be fulfilled. Unfortunately, on January 29 President Mahinda Rajapaksa denied that he ever told Hon. Minister Krishna, he would go beyond the 13th Amendment to the Constitution as a solution to the ethnic problem. Responding to a question at a breakfast meeting with heads of print and electronic media at Temple Trees whether he had promised India to go beyond the 13th Amendment, the President said: "Oh, No! How can I make promises like that? I have referred the issue to Parliament. I have nominated government representatives to the PSC. But unfortunately, neither the UNP nor the JVP has nominated theirs. (http://ceylon-ananda.blogspot.com/2012/01/by-ravi-ladduwahetty-president-mahinda.html)

Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa has said that only (Thamil) politicians in the Northern and Eastern Provinces demand land and Police powers, not the people in the North and East provinces. The people wanted land to cultivate and carry out their livelihoods and protection from terrorism and abductions. The Government would provide these necessities of the people. However, he pointed out that the Government DID NOT have any intention to devolve land and Police powers to the provinces. Mahinda Rajapaksa is toying with the idea of amending the constitution to take away land and Police powers from the provincial councils. The 13th Amendment is based on the Indo-Ceylon agreement signed between the Prime Minister of India and President Jayewardene of Sri Lanka. Sadly, the Indian government has shown complete indifference when the government demerged the Northern and Eastern province in breach of the Indo-Ceylon agreement. (http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/shrilanka/timeline/index.html)

Statement by Hon. Minister

“We will remain engaged with them through this process and in the spirit of partnership, encourage them to take forward the dialogue with the elected representatives of the Sri Lankan Tamils.”

REALITY

Unfortunately, Mahinda Rajapaksa has called off the talks sine dine with the TNA insisting that MR. Sampanthan sends the names of MPs who will participate in the Parliamentary Select Committee which has not been constituted yet. Obviously, Hon. Minister has deliberately gave the House wrong information or impression that talks are taking place between the GoSL and the TNA. Government Spokesperson and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that the Government's stance was that the proposed PSC has to decide on the political solution to the ethnic issue. He said there was no logical reason to continue with talks with the TNA since matters discussed with the TNA would also have to be discussed and decided at the PSC. (http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/shrilanka/timeline/index.html)

In short the Indian government is hell bent to amend the draft text of the Resolution sponsored by the US to keep the UNHCR out of the process. India wants to remove any shred of a mention of international monitoring, even if it is to be achieved through technical assistance provided by the Office of the Hugh Commissioner for Human Rights. Indian delegation in Geneva is engaged in intense negotiations with both the US and Sri Lankan governments involved. It should be observed that US resolution has already been watered-down to accommodate concerns expressed by some countries. Mahinda Rajapaksa has given the run around for the last 3 years and during the war he promised to come with a home grown solution to resolve the ethnic conflict. He now says in tongue in cheek that there are no majority and minority communities in Sri Lanka, the country belongs to all. It is like saying in an ocean there are no big fishes or small fishes all can co-exist peacefully. But, in reality the big fish will swallow the small fish to survive.

Mahinda Rajapakse is refusing to implement the powers over land and Police devolved to the provincial governments in 1987. He is toying with the idea of amending the constitution to take away those powers from the provincial councils. The 13th Amendment is based on the Indo-Ceylon agreement signed between the Prime Minister of India and President Jayewardene of Sri Lanka. Sadly the Indian government has shown complete indifference when the government demerged the Northern and Eastern province in breach of the Indo-Ceylon agreement.

It is now clear Mahinda Rajapaksa simply has no stomach to offer any rights to the Thamils by way of true reconciliation. There is no Thamil National question now. Thamils who dare to raise their voice in protest are branded as traitors to the Motherland or LTTE rump or separatist terrorists. His agenda is to transform the state into a monolith Sinhala - Buddhist state where national minorities have to live at the mercy of the dominant race and religion. And the armed forces will be used as an instrument to impose Sinhala - Buddhist hegemony over the Thamils and perpetuate political power of the ruling dynasty.

Thamil Nadu political leaders should not be deceived by the smooth talking Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krishna who still appears to have a soft corner for Sri Lanka despite being at the receiving end of insults and innundoes by the Sri Lankan political extremists and chauvinists.