June 11, 2011 Comments Off on The government is scared of the Tamil people…
■ Jude Lal Fernando is a research fellow and lecturer in Buddhist-Christian dialogue at the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin. He is a member of the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka (IFPSL)
May 20, 2010 Comments Off on ICG, war crimes and asylum seekers continue in the media
New York Times (20/05) – New Accusations of War Crimes in Sri Lanka
Hindustan Times (20/05) – Sri Lanka ‘donor fatigue’ warning
The Hindu (19/05) – MF team visits war-torn Northern Province of Sri Lanka
Time (19/05) – Report: The Sins of Sri Lanka’s Great War Victory
AlJazeera (19/05) – Sri Lanka marks victory anniversary
SBS (19/05) – Deported Sri Lankans ‘beaten and killed’
The Age (19/05) – Sri Lanka not safe for deportees: group
BBC (19/05) – Sri Lanka former Tamil Tiger ‘mass wedding’ planned
** GoSL propaganda machine stoops to a new low: AFP (18/05) – Rain ruins Sri Lanka celebrations marking Tigers’ defeat
BBC (18/05) – Sri Lanka ‘donor fatigue’ warning
Amnesty (17/05) –UN must investigate Sri Lanka Rights Violations
May 17, 2010 Comments Off on Barbarous GoSL's "reconciliation" farce
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2010
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
SRI LANKA: Indigenous insensitivity and the reconciliation commission
The BBC Sinhala Service reported today of a press conference held by the Minister of Media, Keheliya Rambukwella. At this press conference he was questioned on the announcement by the government about a commission for reconciliation and lessons learned. He was questioned as to whether the commission will be something like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa.
The Minister’s answer was that the South African experience and the bringing of Norway as mediators and the like are all alien experiences to Sri Lanka. He said that, in this particular instance, the government will look to an indigenous approach, something home grown, something of Sri Lanka’s own to the issue of reconciliation and lessons learned in terms of the recent conflict.
As this is the position of the government it is worth examining the indigenous approaches to truth and reconciliation to the Sri Lankan context. From various approaches through government commissions there is overwhelming agreement that all the commissions appointed so far, have failed to address the serious questions that have been affecting Sri Lanka in the conflicts in the recent past. The commissions have been condemned by international organisations such as Amnesty International as well as by local human rights groups who have published extensive reports and analysis on the workings of these commissions.
From the point of view of mandate as well as the selection of the commissioners and the work they have carried out, it is not difficult to form an opinion that these commissions were not meant, first of all to engage in a genuine investigation to find the truth of what has happened, or to address the problems of law and morality concerned. They did not deal with the ways to avoid the possibility of the recurrence of similar incidents in the future.
In fact, all such commissions to date have been exercises of denial. Their purpose was to create confusion in the minds of the people at times when the people are seriously expressing concerns about the problems that are a result of these conflicts such as forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, abuse of power, illegal arrest and detention and many other forms of arbitrary use of power which has caused enormous suffering to the people.
Therefore any repetition of the immediate past in terms of truth and reconciliation would be to repeat the traditions of denial, instead of trying to achieve anything positive. Then we should go back and ask as to whether there are / local traditions of truth telling in the midst of conflicts. I think it is not difficult at all to answer that question.
Sri Lanka’s ancient tradition is set on a caste based social structure. The political scientist and the sociologist all agree that the centuries of social organisation of Sri Lanka was based on the hierarchical model of caste. Caste does not recognise the equality of human beings and is based on the legal premise of disproportionate punishment for different categories of persons. While any crime against the upper layer is considered the most heinous, any violence to the lower layers of society are not considered crimes at all. Such was the caste doctrines in India and such was the doctrines that have been deeply entrenched in the Sri Lankan psyche. The country does not have tradition of truth telling and seeking reconciliation after periods of crises.
Some may argue that the religion of Sri Lanka is Buddhist and Buddhism has a rich tradition of truth and reconciliation. That Buddhism has that tradition is undeniable. It is one of the greatest traditions in terms of seeking truth and reconciliation.
However, this is not the living tradition of Sri Lanka in terms of social relationships. Even the monks themselves are divided into castes and the deeply entrenched tradition of cast remains in the Sinhala and Tamil communities. Therefore in the living reality of Sri Lanka, there has never been a time since the Polonnaruwa period at least, when there was a tradition truth seeking and reconciliation.
Therefore talking of a commission in indigenous terms is clearly dangerous. The first time this was introduced into the political discussion in Sri Lanka was in the 1972 Constitution and it was called an autochthonous constitution. What was this indigenous, autochthonous constitution? It displaced the supremacy of the parliament. In fact, this constitution destroyed whatever had been built in terms of freedom of expression and the duty of the judiciary to protect the individual from the arbitrary actions of the state.
That indigenous tradition was continued in the 1978 Constitution. This created the indigenous dictator. Sri Lanka abandoned the liberal democratic constitutional model altogether. The separation of power concept was given up in favour of the absolute power of the executive president. After that came the undermining of the judiciary on an unprecedented scale and also the undermining of the parliament. All these are aspects on which enough has been written in detail and the purpose of this statement is not to go into the details of that discourse. But the fact that this indigenous tradition is a tradition of dictatorship and authoritarianism and the suppression of the rights of the individuals is quite clear.
The problem that Sri Lanka faces is one of an indigenous tradition of the total suppression of people which has been the cause of the violations that Sri Lanka is trying to deal with now. The development of the indigenous tradition of suppression also provoked the indigenous traditions of rebel movements which also resorted to the most barbaric modes of violence. Both in the south in terms of the JVP rebellions and in the north in the Tamil movements culminating in the liberation tiger movement saw, the barbaric use of violence. Thus the indigenous traditions of the state using barbarous violence and the local rebels using also using violence are what the country has seen in the past.
What the Minister’s statement clearly indicates is that this commission is going to be a farce. It is going to be a repetition of the traditions of denial, the suppression of truth and trying to strengthen the local suppression that has been going on with the help of the people who are willing to support that tradition. Therefore it will not be a surprise that the so-called commissioners would be those who have a long record of being engaged in the suppression of all attempts of people to seek justice and find ways of dealing with a barbarous, indigenous past.
Please also see:
SRI LANKA: The Asian Human Rights Commission cautiously welcomes the move for the appointment of a commission for truth and reconciliation
SRI LANKA: A new commission for restorative justice to deal with difficult past practices of abuse and violence
SRI LANKA: How genuine will be the proposed Commission for Reconciliation?
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
Posted on 2010-05-14
Back to [AHRC Statements 2010]
May 17, 2010 Comments Off on The Tamil freedom struggle's human side
At 9:22 p.m. on March 14, 2008, members of the RCMP’s counter-terrorism squad in British Columbia pulled over a gray Mazda 3 and arrested the driver for financing terrorism.
It was a first for Canada.
For more than a decade, Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers rebels had fundraised in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver to finance their liberation struggle, but this was the first time anyone had been criminally charged over it.
That case ended yesterday in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver when Prapaharan Thambithurai, a 46-year-old Sri Lankan-born Canadian from Maple, Ont., was sentenced to six months to be served at an Ontario prison.
Justice Robert Powers said refugees from war-torn countries should be able to resettle in Canada free from the pressures of the homeland. But Thambithurai’s wife, Uthaya, insisted her husband had “nothing to do with any terrorist activities.”
While Thambithurai’s guilty plea means there will be no trial, court documents and interviews show the case revolved around a single $600 donation. But such donations all added up: federal officials estimate that Tamil rebel bagmen raised $10-to $12-million a year in Canada in much the same way.
A home satellite installer from the suburban belt north of Toronto, Thambithurai flew to Vancouver on Air Canada on March 11, 2008, documents show. He rented a compact car from Avis and spent the night at the Quality Inn Airport Hotel.
It was a homecoming of sorts. Thambithurai had lived in Vancouver after fleeing Sri Lanka, where his brother was shot dead by the army, his wife said. He studied accounting at the University of British Columbia and became president of the Eelam Tamil Association of B.C. More
May 12, 2010 Comments Off on Press TV on Refugee Debate in Australia
May 10, 2010 Comments Off on SL: The 50,000 widows of war
BBCSinhala – Nearly 50,000 widows in the east
By P Sivaramakrishnan
Neary 40 percent of them were widowed as a result of the war, says the minister
The Government of Sri Lanka says that around 50,000 widows are living in the eastern province alone.
Deputy Minister for Women and Child welfare MLAM Hizbullah told the BBC Tamil Service that nearly forty percent of those were widowed as a result of the decades-long war between the government forces and the LTTE.
Many of these widows are less than 40 years of age according to the statistical survey done by the government says the minister.
“This is a matter of great concern” says Minister Hizbullah, who was the women’s affairs minister in the provincial government until recently.
The government of Sri Lanka has claimed that the eastern province was liberated from the clutches of the now militarily defeated LTTE by mid 2007 during the first phase of the final war against the Tamil Tigers. More
May 5, 2010 Comments Off on MIA's "born free" star: genocide is real life
Ian Hamrick, the star of MIA’s controversial ‘Born Free’ video has spectacularly defended the violence in the gory promo. Hamrick’s mum and dad (a retired policeman) also gave the go ahead for the twelve year old to apppear in the video.
“She was trying to show violence to end violence”, said the ginger-haired, twelve year old actor.
“The video is definitely not for kids, but it’s for the adults and people in different countries that are doing the genocide in real life, whether that be to Italians or Africans. Wherever it’s from, it’s still genocide”.
You can watch the controversial clip on Xfm now.