Harim Peiris

Political and Reconciliation perspectives from Sri Lanka

  • December 2010
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Raul Gandhi, the UN and US Express Concern regarding Sri Lanka

Posted by harimpeiris on December 28, 2010

India and the US helped us fight our war on terror, through crucial political support and intelligence sharing. From mid 2006 to May 2009, Indian intelligence information was essential for our Navy to intercept and sink the LTTE resupply vessels, while US political support and nod of ascent was necessary for all the weapons supplies we received from Israel and Pakistan, two significant US military aid recipients.

 Friends express concern

When friends who helped you fight your war, express serious concerns regarding your post war conduct, it places certain constraints. Recently Raul Gandhi, expressed concern over the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka, while fifteen US Senators wrote to Hillary Clinton urging an international inquiry on Sri Lanka. Meanwhile the UN is planning to send their Panel of Experts, or its general secretary to Sri Lanka. Even political analysts sympathetic to the government have observed that the international space for Sri Lanka has shrunk significantly after the war, when compared to during the war.

Sri Lanka cannot dismiss India, the United States and the United Nations of which we are a member nation, as enemies who wish us ill. Secondly geo political reality would indicate that we ignore the combination of the sole global superpower, the regional superpower and the only multilateral global body at our peril. Hence we have government spokes persons indicating that India, the US and the UN are uninformed and have their facts wrong. The international community which has more than the Sri Lankan State media for their information are likely better informed than those whose sole access to news and views is our state media.

 

LTTE no more & war time TNA like Iran

During the war, we had an enemy the world loved to hate. The child recruiting, human rights abusing and terrorizing LTTE were easy to hate and designated as terrorists worldwide. The end of the war thorough the destruction of the LTTE, suddenly eliminated a terrorist group and left the Tamil people represented not by Prabhakaran and the LTTE but by the genial R.Sampanthan and the TNA. While trotting out the TNA as a rationale for continuing with the Emergency laws may be thought of having currency in Sri Lanka, it merely sounds ridiculous internationally. The TNA during the war, was a little bit like our new found friends the Iranians. Iran has an elected President and other political leaders and then an unelected “Supreme Leader” an Ayatollah. The elected leaders in position, rank and power are below the Supreme Leader. The TNA was similar during the war period. They were the elected leaders, but there was the unelected supreme leader of the armed LTTE and the elected but unarmed TNA was subservient to the unelected supreme leader. Quite like Iran.

 

The issues

So what are the issues concerning Sri Lanka’s friends in the international community. The government needs to look no further than what its own Tamil allies in the Tamil party’s forum (TPF) having  been telling them.

  • A political solution to the ethnic problem should be found within a united Sri Lanka enabling the Tamil people to participate in their own governance in the North & East. Implementing the 13th amendment an important first step.
  • The IDPs released for resettlement have not been provided with basic facilities nor compensated.
  • A large number of Tamil prisoners are detained under Emergency Regulations and the PTA and not indicted. A complete list of all those Tamils who are in custody must be released.
  • The military presence is continuing at war time levels in the North. The artillery range High Security Zones prevent people from resettling on their private lands. Outsiders are permitted to access these lands.
  • Involvement of the security forces in civil administration and public affairs creates impediment in the resumption of a civil administration.
  • Establishing settlements of security force’s families will drastically alter the demographic composition in the Northern and Eastern provinces of the country.
  • Local Tamil youths have been ignored in appointments to the posts in Government institutions in the North or as labour in government projects.

The real issue is why the government of Sri Lanka is stonewalling on addressing these issues. The influence of a handful of majoritarian ethno religious nationalists should not be allowed to prevent the essential reconciliation measures that are needed in the post war period.

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