‘Human rights’ may be a new phenomenon for many Sinhala Buddhists – SB and for some Tamils including a few members of the diaspora. I have seen many participants in UN human rights forums in Geneva without any basic knowledge of human rights. But to the outside world, they claim to be human rights activists and defenders. This crowd never wanted to educate themselves in human rights nor grasp a wider knowledge by listening to experts and lectures of scholars.
Since the independence of then Ceylon/Sri Lanka and the birth of UN human rights mechanisms, the SB, especially thugs blessed by politicians in the South and the Buddhist clergy,started to violate human rights by physically attacking innocent Tamil politicians in Sri Lanka. Beginning with small scale violence, it ended up in war crimes and genocide. Massacres, mass murders, ethnic cleansing, and the use of rape as a weapon of war against the Tamils became a norm.
As far as literacy rates are concerned, Sri Lanka enjoys a higher ranking than several countries. A crucial question to ask though, is -‘What are the children in the South taught in school’? As far as Southern Sri Lanka is concerned, other than a small minority population of Christians, Saivites (Hindus) and Muslims, all others are strong SB. Most of these children are taught that anyone other than SBis evil, subhuman and equal to an animal. In other words, they are taught in school that human rights are only for them.
Here I would like to give a few examples. The ‘gun culture’ or the killing culture was started in Sri Lanka by SB in the early 1900s. In 1915 Muslims in Sri Lanka were the first victims, and were physically attacked by them for no reason. Then in the 1970s SB youths known as JVP – Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People’s Liberation Front) started an armed revolution to overthrow the government. This started up again, by the same JVP in the late 80s, and horrifying human rights violations took place in the island. As a consequence tens of thousands of youths were‘disappeared’ in the South –these killings and massacres were carried out by the Sri Lankan security forces.
During this period several SB politicians, especially then Members of Parliament Mahinda Rajapaksa, Mangala Samaraweera and a well-known leftist Vasudeva Nanayakara went abroad including to the then UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva and to the EU in Brussels. They organized meetings and lobbied against Sri Lanka. These political leaders called for international pressure on Sri Lanka.
It is not surprising that the JVP youths who introduced armed culture to Sri Lanka causing bloodshed,attempting to overthrow two governments, were given amnesty within a short period. The JVP’s horrendous human rights violations were well documented – Buddhist monks, academics and others especially in the South were killed by the JVP.
These three SB politicians also requested British people – in their term Suthaas (whites) to help the mothers of those who were disappeared and killed.
North and East
Now I turn to the situation in the North and East of the island of Sri Lanka which has been the homeland or hereditary land of the Tamils for thousands of years. The question of the promised land of the Tamils will be dealt with in detail in a different article.
In 1833, during the British rule then in Ceylon, the independently existing Tamil Kingdom was amalgamated with two Sinhala Kingdoms. This was done under the pretext of facilitating easy administration by the British. Existence of the Tamil Kingdom cannot be disputed by anyone. The colonial masters of Ceylon/Sri Lanka –the Portuguese, the Dutch and then the British were all witnesses to this fact.
Since the final stages of British colonization up to the present day, the Tamils from the North and East have been losing everything – day by day, inch by inch; their political rights, livelihoods, land, economy, etc. After 1948, Tamils demanded their political rights through peaceful,non-violent means, for more than thirty years. Their efforts consistently met with violent reprisals by the State. This multi-layered repression resulted in Tamil youths laying foundations for an armed resistance in the North and East in the late 70s, and eventually the war started in 1983.
Unfortunately, as had happened to the JVP in the South, thousands of Tamil youths were arbitrarily killed and disappeared in the North and East by the Sri Lankan security forces. This eventually ended up in war crimes, ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Tamils for which Sri Lanka is today answerable to the international community via significant resolutions initiated and passed by the UN Human rights Council.
It is worth comparing the atrocities that took place in the South with the atrocities that were carried out in the North and East by the Security forces, with the blessings of the politicians from the South.
When the JVP youths tried to overthrow two governments and mercilessly killed hundreds of Buddhist clergy, academics and others, the above mentioned politicians played a key role in the name of human rights to find justice for those ‘disappeared’ and detained without trial in prisons. When the Tamils in the North and East were in the same situation, the SB leaders who had spoken about human rights and sought financial help for the mother’s front in the South,not only kept silent, but they were the ones who gave full power to the security forces to wipe out the Tamil youths.
The truth is that as far as the SB politicians are concerned, whatever happens to Tamils is justified as dealing with terrorism, so no quarter, bloody-mindedness and no amnesty for those suffering in prisons for decades.
A question for politicians in the South
Here is my straight-forward question to Mahinda Rajapaksa, Vasutheva Nanayakara, Mangala Samaraweera and a few others who travelled abroad to find justice and financial help to address disappearances that took place in the south.What is your contribution to seeking justice for the disappeared in the North and East and how do you see the struggle of the mothers of the disappeared in the North and East?
Mahinda Rajapaksa was the main culprit who is personally responsible for tens of thousands of disappearances in the North and East. For the human rights community, he is known as a dictator. At the end of the war,he was the one who said,‘soldiers fought,holding human rights declaration in one hand,and their gun in the other hand’.I advise him to consult a good psychiatrist.Furthermore, we can’t ignore the disappearances that took place during the Presidency of Chandrika Kumaratunga and others.
Vasutheva Nanayakara, has not condemned nor spoken a word about the disappearances in the North and East, either in the parliament or in any public meetings. Itis acknowledged that his good friend Mahinda Rajapaksa was the cause of disappearances in the North and East. Those days he was for the right to self-determination of Tamils. Now…..?
Mangala Samaraweera acaused and is causing many disasters for the whole Tamil population. He plays a smart diplomacy by using some Tamils who seek name and fame, and have a slave mentality. He used the label of terrorism and caused serious damage to the Tamil struggle for political rights, yet today he pretends to be a man for Tamil rights. Here I recalla Tamil proverb:“as long as there are people who can be fooled, people who fool also exist”.
One of Mangala Samaraweera’s latest achievements is that being the Minister of Information, he has requested certain media to prevent publishing my articles. This is nothing new compared to what he said about me and the late Dr. Jayalath Jayewardene in an interview in 2001. During that period he was the Minister of Information under Chandrika Kumaratunga.
During Chandrika’s period in the late 90s, when late Dr Jayalath Jeyawardena faced serious harassment and death threats, his party the UNP or Ranil Wickremasinge could not help him. We as ‘Tamil Centre for Human Rights – TCHR’ took up his case with the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva and worked on his behalf. Concerning this matter, our archives speak volumes. However our involvement in Dr Jayalath’s fundamental rights issue annoyed Chandrika and her late uncleRatwatte. Then their Minister of Information Managala Samaraweera held a press conference and spoke utter lies about myself and late Dr Jayalath.Daily News, 22 November 2001 –“Conspiracy comes out”
Mr Minister or Good Governance – GG, where are the Tamils’ rights now? When you request the media not to publish my articles where is freedom of expression?GG is no better than dictator Rajapaksa’s white vans and land grabs.
These were the people who told the international community that once ‘terrorism’ was wiped out, they would give all sort of rights including the ‘Thirteen Plus (13+)’solution to the Tamils. Now,nearly ten years since the ‘end of the war’, nothing positive has happened for the suffering people in the North and East. During these ten years, they have lost even what they had during or before the war.
Foreign Judges and Lawyers were in Sri Lanka
Toresume – firstly,for the vast majority of SB, human rights for Tamils don’t exist in their vocabulary. Secondly,if foreigners should come to resolve the disappearances in the South and to help the mothers’ front financially, why can’t they allow the same to find justice for the disappeared in the North and East?
Just to remind everyone in the South – when a Commission of Inquiry was appointed by Sirimavo Bandaranaike in 1963 to inquire into the political aspects of the Bandaranaike assassination, two out of three judges were foreigners. They were Justice Abdel Younis from Egypt and Justice G.C. Mills-Odich from Ghana.
Buddharakitha Thero and H.P. Jayawardene, the first and second accused in the assassination of Bandaranaike were represented in the Supreme Court by Phineas Quass, QC from Britain.
According to the courts, the fourth Prime Minister of Ceylon/Sri Lanka, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was assassinated by a Buddhist monk on 25thSeptember 1959.
Read the Commission of Inquiry into the assassination of Bandaranaike, and you will understand how many foreign Judges and Lawyers were involved in this inquiry in Sri Lanka.
Considering the many facts given above, I repeat, when it comes to matters concerning the Tamil people of the North and East, the vast majority of SB looksat everything in an entirely different manner. It’s nothing other than racism.
There are hundreds of reasons why the people of the North and East cannot expect any political rights or justice through any government headed by a SB. They are racist but they play clever diplomacy in their interactions with the international community. The people in the North and East have no hope that someone like P.W. Botha or Frederik W. de Klerk of South Africa will be born among SB in Sri Lanka.
According to international norms and standards civil society members should be neutral and not supportive of a government that violates human rights.Indeed, civil society must provide critique of such a government. But civil society in Sri Lanka, especially from the South is blindly supportive of the present so-called GG, under the pretext that, if dictatorial Mahinda Rajapaksa comes to power, no one will have any voice at all. If so, what has this civil society done on accountability and reconciliation to address the suffering of the people in the North and East? The majority of them are doing nothing other than paying lip-service to the GG.
I was told that some Tamil speaking members of civil society in Colombo are closely working with the National Intelligence Bureau – NIB and Terrorist Investigation Division – TID, for gathering information on those working hard to look for their loved ones in the North and East. These activities are not known as ‘human rights’ – they are ‘human wrongs’!
I take this opportunity to ask so-called progressive Sinhalese and Tamils with a slave mentality, to show a single area where this GGor other governments in power have done any good to the people in the North and East.
This reminds me of a story told by the Chief Minister of the Northern province Mr Wigneswaran. He said that during his schools days at Royal College, when as small boys they were playing marbles, senior students came and confiscated all their marbles. When the small boys begged or pleaded for their marbles, the senior students returned only one or two to please them. But it is clear all the confiscated marbles belonged to the small boys. Today this is the story of Tamil political rights in Sri Lanka in a so-called democratic country. This cannot be understood by virgin Tamil politicians or Tamil political apprentices.
In other words, what the virgin Tamil politicians and political apprentices are trying to achieve from a SB government, is equivalent(to quote a Tamil proverb‘யானைபசிக்குசோழப்பொரி’)to getting “Pop-corn for a hungry elephant”.
Accountability and the OMP are in a dilemma. In a few years or months these will come to a standstill. Experts and scholars have written and predicted enough about the shortcomings of the OMP. It has no teeth. This is another bluff like other Commissions and investigations. It will have its own death sooner or later.
Upcoming 40th session of HRC
I take this opportunity to disclose what I heard from some diplomats in Europe. As the Presidential and Parliamentary elections are coming up soon in Sri Lanka, the so-called GG is preparing to withdraw their co-sponsorship of the UN Human Rights Council resolution. This is the habitual tactic of any SB government. They play hide and seek with the international community to buy time. So- called GG had three peaceful years without any pressure from the international community. As usual, now they are going to twist their tongue during the 40th session of the HRC, due in March 2019.
When the resolution was passed with Sri Lanka as co-sponsor, I told many VIPs and spoke in many meetings within the UN, that this type of tactic has been used for more than seventy years (70) by Sri Lanka to buy time. Now they have achieved buying their time. Let’s see what civil society in the South is going to do about it.
However Sri Lanka is answerable to the following resolutions which were adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in the past – 19/2 of 22 March 2012, 22/1 of 21 March 2013, 25/1 of 27 March 2014, 30/1 of 1 October 2015 and 34/1 of 15/03/2017.
The other impending possibility is that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s group or party will win in the next parliamentary election. If everything worksin their favour, Rajapaksa may even win with a two third majority. But winning the Presidential election is a difficult one for Rajapaksa’s family because it fully depends on the votes from the North, East and Up-country.
In November 2005 Rajapaksa won the Presidential election because there was a boycott in the North and East, and in January 2010 due to obvious vote-rigging. There were several complaints about the vote-rigging in the 2010 Presidential election which have not been investigated even today by the so-called GG. Where is then Election Commissioner Mr. Dayananda Dissanayake who quit the country soon after the Presidential election in 2010? Will he let the cat out of the bag?
It is believed that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s family has already formed a shadow government with an idea of taking revenge on certain individuals who are serving in the present government or are supportive of the present government. A red list has been prepared by them.Sarath Fonseka, Chandrika Kumaratunga, Mervyn de Silva and many others may end up as life-time jail birds. Some academics supportive of Rajapaksa are waiting like foxes to fill the posts in New York, Brussels, Geneva and Russia.
Soon, the time is coming for the present members of the GG to regret. They have failed to investigate and punish the culprits who played havocduring Rajapaksa’s regime. This includes Rajapaksa’s family as well.
An academic who was a minister in many different governments is working on the legal processes involved in taking revenge. Rajapaksa’s shadow government is preparing to shake the dust off many crime files on which they took no action during Rajapaksa’s presidency from 2005 to 2015.This will pave the way for half of the members in the present GG to seek asylum in foreign countries.