The Sunday Leader

Rajapaksa Group Rouses Racists – Bimal Rathnayake

by Thushari Nathaniel

JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake is of the view that the OMP bill passed last Tuesday is a step taken in the right direction and that the government should have established a truth and reconciliation commission right after the war ended to deal with the grievances people had at the time. Instead, he said, the government let them fester. In an interview with The Sunday Leader he said that mistrust they have in the central government now deepened. He added that it is not so easy now to erase that notion from the minds of the Tamils.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q: The Office of Missing Persons (OMP) bill was passed last Tuesday and the JVP was in favour of the bill. What is your view on the OMP bill?

A: We do need such a law and state mechanism to deal with issues of missing persons. Since 1971, thousands have disappeared without a trace. These disappearances have taken place within periods of numerous struggles. However justice has never been served to them. Although their families have complained to the police, military establishments and numerous other organisations, so far none of these cases have been properly investigated and no clear verdict has been given as to what actually has happened to them.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance to have such a State mechanism to investigate the thousands of disappearances, as most of them have been done by past governments. We also believe that having such an institution will be very helpful in the future as well in similar situations. We in fact supported this bill because of these factors.

 

Q: There are allegations that the OMP does not have to abide by the country’s laws. Do you agree with this claim?

A: None other than the Rajapaksa clan, who broke every law in this country, went above even the judiciary and even threw out the chief justice according to their whims, no one make these allegations. Bills first passed by the Supreme Court before they reaches parliament. The Supreme Court has not highlighted that the OMP bill will go against any of the country’s laws. It is well within the legal framework of the country. However, although OMP has no issues concerning the laws of the country, we identified three issues in this bill which may cause political issues. So we pointed those issues out and they were amended.

 

Q: What were these issues?

A: The OMP was given the authority to enter into agreements with local or foreign organisations. We wanted that phrase removed and the government amended it. The next was that the OMP had been given the authority to inspect any institution or premises that they believe holding someone. We wanted that clause amended too, because it would be used to disrepute any organisation or institution for political reasons.

The other one was that when relatives have given the OMP information on a missing person or information that a person is being detained at a particular location, the OMP could can go there and return claiming nothing was found. Hence we forwarded an amendment to that clause that in the event the OMP enters a location to investigate, within 24 hours from they entry, they should submit a report to the IGP on their investigation. With this amendment, they cannot raid any place without proper information; neither can they investigate it for whatever reason.

This too was amended. The other was that the OMP was given the provisions to gather funds. However, we felt that a State institution need not gather funds from external projects. This clause too was amended because of our objections. With those amendments, this act was approved and passed properly.

 

Q: Are the JVP satisfied with the work carried out by the government so far?

A: No, we are certainly not completely happy with the actions of the government. This OMP bill too was something that should have been done right after the war. Disappearances also occurred. However, other issues that took place during the war cover a wide spectrum. During that period the government security forces as well as non-governmental forces were said to have harassed people. Some people had to face difficulties from certain foreign forces as well. Also certain factions of people harassed other factions of the community.

That is why right after the war, on May 27, 2009, we suggested that the government should establish a truth and reconciliation commission. Had they done that, any victimised person/s could have come to the commission and they could have taken action as per the judiciary of this country providing justice to such people.

Now what has happened is the government is trying to treat the wound without properly cleaning it. Therefore, setting up this OMP will not cure overnight all the grievances that the Tamil people suffer. Geneva suggested even the OMP act. It is something that this government has to do. Had we done this earlier, no foreign country could have interfered in the affairs of our country.

 

Q: Don’t you think that the Tamils too should make an effort to achieve reconciliation?

A: I think that the general public has no issue in this regard. The Tamils too don’t want any divisions or separate States. But just like in the South, in the North too, extremists operate. They want the State separated for their own political survival.

For example, certain Tamil leaders who are unable to share the water from the Iranamadu tank want the central government to divert water from Moragahakanda to the North – this they know is a sheer impossibility. But they are just doing it to indicate that they are the ones fighting for the rights of the Tamils in the North. But the people I think are smarter now, and they will not get hoodwinked by these cheap tactics.

Some of these extremist Tamil parties contested the election, and but they got defeated. This clearly shows how they see these extremist leaders. Similar to those in the North, the Rajapaksa group in the South is also doing the same.

 

1 Comment for “Rajapaksa Group Rouses Racists – Bimal Rathnayake”

  1. sam

    OK. if speaking for the country your race and religion is racism in your opinion so be it we are proud to be so. YOU people didn’t have any national feeling when you burnt people and damaged public property so how can you all speak no one takes you people seriously

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