Tamil Diaspora Must Seriously Contribute To Rebuild The Country

 - Father S. J. Emmanuel

The change in the political environment in Sri Lanka recently saw the head of a leading Tamil diaspora group visiting the country, his first visit since a ban on him was lifted. The President of the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) Father S. J. Emmanuel told The Sunday Leader there are some ‘good changes’ to be seen in the country, yet a lot more needs to be done.He also called on the Tamil diaspora to not just visit Sri Lanka for a holiday, but seriously contribute to the rebuilding of the country.

by  Easwaran Rutnam

Q: How did you feel, returning to Sri Lanka after so many years?

A: My last visit was in Feb 2005 soon after the Tsunami to distribute help to all coastal areas from Point Pedro to Kalmunai. Since I scan all newspapers of Colombo daily, I was not surprised to see some good changes, such as freedom of movement and of views. After the long conflict and war, a lot needs to be done. I think the present government has a unique chance to build up all that was lost.

 

Q: Do you see and feel real change on the ground?

A: I have not visited the South, but the North devastated by war has some form of peace mixed with fears, frustrations and uncertainty. Fears, because of the large military still withholding people’s lands and limiting livelihoods of people; frustrations are seen through prolonged protests against promises unfulfilled with respect to missing persons and incarcerations of innocents without trial.

 

Q: What led you to visit Si Lanka when some others in the Tamil diaspora still feel it’s not safe?

A: My long self-exile was caused by the then-media misunderstanding my role as a Catholic priest giving voice on behalf of my victimized people. When churches and schools were bombed and innocent people were dying in large numbers, as a Christian priest and vicar general, I spoke out against the bombings. This was seen as supportive of the LTTE which was fighting a war against the state forces. But the South and all media saw it as supporting terrorism, and abused me with all lies.

Now there is a change of government for the better. The former government had even a web page in which I was falsely portrayed as a terrorist and an enemy of Sri Lanka. But the new government, supported to power by us too, invited me to come back and help Sri Lanka towards recovery and reconciliation. It has delisted some in the diaspora but not all. I wish soon others too be delisted to enable the diaspora in rebuilding Sri Lanka as an island of peaceful coexistence.

 

Q: Could you tell us who you met while in Sri Lanka and what key message you conveyed to them?

A: I met government leaders, some High Commissioners, Church leaders and some civil society leaders who I thought will help towards reconciliation and peace. In all meetings I asked their help not to lose this unique chance towards a solution of the national conflict and pave the way for a peaceful coexistence of all people.

 

Q: There is a concern among some groups in the North that the process to draft a new Constitution has ignored the aspirations of the Tamils. What is your understanding of the situation?

 A: The drafting of a new Constitution undertaken by the present unity-government is not an easy one-party majority achievement, as happened earlier drafting of constitutions. Here the new government is trying to get the consensus of all the parties in parliament as well as all sections of the people.

The interim draft is the first step towards achieving the goals of a peaceful coexistence of all peoples reconciled with one another and progressing in all aspects of life. It has some good points and does not contain all aspirations of the Tamil people as well as of the Sinhala people. Hence open discussion to move forward towards a win-win solution must be aimed. Those who view it selfishly only on one side are disappointed, but we have to understand the difficulties on both sides, without losing hope make the best out of these proposals.

 

Q: Can this government be trusted to deliver justice for alleged war crimes?

A: Justice for alleged war crimes! Yes we too have worked hard to get the whole past examined on the basis of truth, justice, accountability, transitional justice towards reconciliation. Although the SLG has finally cosponsored and agreed to the UNHRC resolution, it is weak in explaining to the people and making it acceptable to them. Internationally the SLG is able to hold a good face, but on the ground progress is very slow and minimal. More has to be done to enlighten and win over the extremist forces in the south

 

Q: This government is still protecting former military officers who were involved in the war and have been accused of committing war crimes. Should there be pressure to investigate those officers as well or should the past be in the past?

A: Although the President as head of the state forces promises protecting them as past heroes, but such blanket cover of impunity for all, including the alleged criminals, will not do good for the county. The new Army commander seems to have a different and better idea of justice for the alleged criminals

 

Q: Following your visit what role do you see for the Tamil diaspora in Sri Lanka?

A: The Tamil diaspora must not only visit Sri Lanka for a holiday, but seriously contribute to the rebuilding of the country, especially the marginalized victims of the North and East. Instead of building only their old schools or temples/churches, they should help the marginalized poor and invest in projects to offer jobs for our youth.

10 Comments for “Tamil Diaspora Must Seriously Contribute To Rebuild The Country”

  1. speaking sense,on the right track.

  2. Gos

    Bloddy LTTE s**t priest. You got blood on your hands. Go away and don’t try preaching your hatred towards SL by propagandist myths. Bombimg schools and churches indeed !!! Where when ?? Don’t want the likes of you b*****ds ruining the future of SL. There are only men, women and their children here to contend with and no other human categories OK boyo !

  3. Abey

    I cant read what’s in his inner mind but going by what he says, as a Srilankan, Iam very thankful to him for the sentiments expressed and the supporting the Govt at this crucial stage. I hope extremists in both sides of the divide learn from his change of heart

  4. sanjeeva

    welcome back, father. very few people are aware that the GTF sent a team of medical experts to Sri Lanka when it was affected by floods in 2017. a team of doctors and para-medics visited the southern province with medical assistance. that was one of the best things which happened in the recent past, to bridge the gap between the two communities, you are most welcome to your own motherland. we shall work together for the upliftment of our communities and bring peace among them.

  5. Tamil diaspora was distroy country now they want help develop the country remember Christian is not allowed kill the peoples, you against to the cristyan religan, you are SATAN killing company chairman.

  6. ranjit demel

    good luck to you fr.emmanual.i wish a federal set up in s.l. with police and land rights for the states, ,but iam against merging north p. with east p.if it comes soon i wish to live in the northen state because iam fed up with the sinalale corrupt crimminell politicians, and wish to live peacefully with less corruption.

  7. Dadaddaaggyaggydaaggyddddsd

    Tamil Diaspora Must Seriously Contribute To Rebuild The Country and not only that Catholics must seriously begin to worship Velupillai Prabakaran.

    It was S.J.Emmanuel who stated Prabakaran was like Jesus Christ and the suicide bombers were like Christian martyrs.

    Catholic Church of Sri Lanka did not mind the break up of Sri Lanka but thry were concerned about the tremors that would cause the basis of the Catholic faith by this statement of S.J.Emmanuel.

    Now what business has he in any part of Sri Lanka????

  8. i totally agree with father EMMANUEL. From day one I knew that Father Emmanuel was not involved directly or indirectly with LTTE terrorists. Mahinda Rajapakse and his family thought otherwise. Today we can see vast amount of improvement in North and East. There is lot to be done. I think the government is keen in finding a solution of tamils problem. Sadly opposition in the name of JO is always there to destroy peace. MS has lot to do to convince Sinhala people his agenda. It is going to be a big battle to over come.

  9. Dadaddaaggyaggydaaggyddddsd

    Amir… you must be seriously hallucinating.
    Amir are you talking through your posterior or exterior????

    ranjithdemel as the thesawalame law prevails you can sleep under a tal tree.
    Those who are praising Emmanuel have gone bonkers.

  10. Tarrin Constantine

    This one has blood in his hand. After supporting Pirabakaran now he is trying to please the Sri Lankan government. This kind of people should be tried for war crimes before Rajapaksas.

    This Catholic ‘priest’ is misusing his power. May be he has depression or dementia. Hope these kind of people will fade away soon and leave the poor people to continue with their life.

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