by Wakeley Paul, Esq.
Taraki, in a column in the Virakarasi on November 21, 2004, has highlighted the utterly inequitable distribution of wealth to the NE by Sinhalese governments. The following are highlights of this highly illuminating work
1] The first budget of the UPFA government of November 18, 2004 has allocated next to zero money for development of the NorthEast
2] For the past 15 years, next to no financial resources have been allocated to the NE, except to Trincomallee and Amparai, where there is a substantial Sinhalese presence because of enforced colonization
3] The Government Agent of Jaffna has complained that not a penny has been allocated for the development of the Jaffna District
4] No funds have been for allocated for crucial water resources in certain areas that need them desperately
5] No funds have been allocated for small or medium businesses in the region, nor do they have any access to loans
6] Foreign Capital Assistance for large businesses has not been made available in this region
7] A mere 50 lakhs of rupees is made available for distribution among all the Tamil MPís in the current budget, which money is used by them for maintaining Temples and building sports stadiums
8] The Tamils, who are masters at saving, have had their bank savings used by the GOSL to fight the war against the Tamils in the NE, as well as for other Sinhalese development projects
9] The LTTE demand to rectify this imbalance by demanding the creation of an INDEPENDENT ADMINISTRATION IN THE NORTHEAST TO REBUILD AND REHABILITATE THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE TAMIL HOMELAND was denied by the Sinhalese politicians on the ground that Section 148 of the Constitution allocated the task of the disbursement of the national wealth and allocation of resources to the Sinhalese-dominated Parliament
10] The XIIIth Amendment, however, provided for a Financial Commission to allocate wealth to the regional provincial councils, but such a Commission was never formed. This caused Varatharaja Perumal, who demanded allocations by such a Commission, to flee to India and ask for a separate state.
More recently an article published in the TamilNet on May, 13, 2005, outlined Mr Tamilchelvanís complaints to Mr Hans Brathskar, the Norwegian Ambassador, on a recent visit of his to Kilinochchi. In that interview, Mr Thamilchelvam emphasized the fact that the Tsunami aid management has masked and overshadowed the more fundamental commitment under the 2002 Cease-fire Agreement (CFA) to restore the region to normalcy from the ravages of the long-standing civil war. There is instead a total lack of normalcy due to the continued military occupation of the region, which was to have been minimized by the agreement that is now 3 years old.
The military continues to embargo the movement of essential goods and materials, thereby undermining the development activities of local and international NGOís. Arbitrary restrictions have been placed on the movement of cement and other vital construction materials.
There has been a failure to implement the terms of the cease fire agreements in the following respects, which has resulted in severe frustration and violent protests at military checkpoints in Jaffna & Batticaloa:
- ARTICLE 2 PROVIDED FOR WITHDRAWAL OF THE MILITARY FROM PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND PRIVATE HOMES AND LIFTING OF RESTRICTIONS ON FISHING AND FARMING WITHIN 160 DAYS. Many public buildings and private homes remain occupied and there are still numerous restrictions on fishing and farming.
- PLACES OF WORSHIP AND SCHOOLS WERE TO BE EVACUATED, WITIN 30 DAYS, some of which are still occupied or have camps immediately adjacent.
- IN ORDER TO PREVENT HARASSMENT OF PEOPLE IN DENSELY POPULATED AREAS, CHECKPOINTS WERE TO BE REMOVED FROM SUCH AREAS. Many checkpoints remain and more are being installed.
- The GOSL and its army are also taking advantage of the shadow war to interfere in the affairs of the NorthEast with military force.
In short, while not downplaying the importance of Tsunami relief, Tamilchelvan emphasized that it should not over-shadow and outweigh the commitments of the GOSL under the cease fire agreement to restore to region ravaged by years of civil war to normalcy. It is time, that the International community took note of the GOSLís tardiness in failing to honor the obligations of the three year old CFA.
Posted May 16, 2005