2nd December 2001, Volume 8, Issue 20

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issuespic1.jpg (18064 bytes) Like father like daughter

By Sonali Samarasinghe

No one denies that Chandrika Kumaratunga is a volatile leader, if leader she can be called. Not she to pour oil on troubled waters. Though her own self-promoting posters depicted her an angel of peace in 1994, it was she who in the guise of peaceful negotiations launched the oxymoronic war for peace. It was she who

stifled negotiations facilitated by the Norwegians. Rather, power has been her one impetus in life. To that end she has brought down the only surviving member of the JVP terror politburo — Somawansa Amerasinghe, the man together with other members of the JVP hierarchy responsible for the murder of her husband, for the murder of numerous intellectuals and political figures. Amerasinghe in his turn preaches divisive politics in an attempt to alienate the ultra nationalist element. To this end, Kumaratunga is willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of youths. To this end, she is willing to incite and nurture ethnic tension that has ravaged this country for eighteen years.

Yet Kumaratunga’s volatile, incendiary and self-serving nature is easily explained. After all she is her father’s daughter. Consider the circumstances, which presented themselves to his manipulation.

After independence, the Sinhalese lower middle class who traditionally held respectable positions in Sinhala society, felt they had been neglected during the colonial era and even after independence, demanded recognition and special status for their language and religion to compensate for past neglect. It provided the ambitious S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, himself a wealthy English educated Anglican, with his eyes on the 1956 elections, with powerful issues to mobilise popular support.

In the meantime, men such as Anagarika Dharmapala and Walisinha Harischandra were leading the Buddhist revival. This vulnerability of the newly independent state, suppressed cultures and religions, made it easy for elitist leaders to manipulate emotions to their benefit. The STC and Oxford educated Bandaranaike like others of his time was only too aware of this.

In 1939, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike publicly discussed the meaning of nationhood. "If the heart of a nation is," as he suspected, "the people, he did not know," he said, "of any country that had progressed to the goal of freedom by embracing all communities and all cultures in their activities."

In the same year he told a gathering, "I am prepared to sacrifice my life for the sake of my community — the Sinhalese. If anybody were to hinder our progress, I am determined to see that he is taught a lesson he will never forget." Bandaranaike at the time was favourably compared to Hitler says David Little in his The Invention of Enmity. Bandaranaike’s incendiary remarks fell on fertile ground. These statements were responsible for infusing Sinhalese nationalism with new colonial aspirations.

Tamil reaction was predictable. These were sentiments which completely undermined the confidence of the Ceylon Tamil, elite in the prospect of their culture being accepted on an equal footing with that of Sinhala Buddhists.

Bandaranaike throbbing as he was for power, continued delivering communalist speeches about the glorious history of the Sinhalese to the Sinhala Maha Sabha and on other platforms. Mind you, Bandaranaike himself was evidently of Tamil descent and Church of England to boot. Alas, by 1939, Tamil politicians were reacting and enunciating their own version of communalism drawing from its connections with South India. The rest as they say is history.

Kumaratunga is much the same. During the last election in October 2000, she was to ask a public gathering, "Tamils consist of 28% of the population. Do you want us to have them killed and thrown into the sea?" An inane yet deeply contentious remark which planted fear in the hearts of the Tamil people that such a thing were possible. A statement taken up by the foreign press as a manifestation of majority hatred against the minority. The remark was uncalled for and aimed at short term personal gain by confusing the voter.

The present election campaign has left a trail of blood with over 20 killed in election related violence as at the time of writing and well over 1200 incidents of which over 54% are major incidents of murder, attempted murder, and grievous hurt. Yet, Kumaratunga continues to preach hate. At Tissamaharama she advised her followers to "kill anyone who hits one of us." "There is no sin," she said, "in killing a murderer." In making these remarks she in effect told the people of the country that due process of law, accepted norms of natural justice, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty were to be cast aside. As she continues to preach the law of the jungle her once bitter enemy, younger brother Anura Bandaranaike continues to egg her on. The silence of her so called advisors has the worst effect on a woman capable of such hatred and revenge. It has encouraged her to such an extent that she has yielded completely to the illusion that she is an absolute monarch reigning over her serfdom. The recent rapprochement reached between brother and sister has only helped strengthen her resolve in taking the country down the warpath.

On election platforms Anura emptily promises that even if the UNF were to legitimately win the December 5 elections, He and his sister will see that they cannot rule the country. "My sister will prorogue parliament and hold elections every year," he boasted like an insecure schoolboy. The need to incite, the penchant to create confusion and sow hatred is obvious in the Bandaranaike psyche.

I’m reminded for a brief moment of those Lucky Luke comics which quoted resolute Indian chiefs saying "White man speak with forked tongue," while fixing a vitriolic goggle at the ingratiating invader. No one could have put it more succinctly.

Long before 1956, and the disastrous Sinhala only act, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike demonstrated that he will allow himself to be swayed by pockets of extremists and in turn manipulate emotions, in order to gain power. He, like his daughter, was not a responsible leader, but a man who incited mass hysteria and used the passions of the day to consolidate power.

This may be what politics is all about. But when a country has been so ravaged by a bloody war for so long, when a nation has suffered and died at the hands of terror, when a state has known only too well the folly of ethnic enmity, then it becomes the sacred duty of all politicians, to make peace the bedrock of their election platforms.

Yet Kumaratunga in a last bid for power has gone back to the politics of 1948. Then both Tamil and Sinhala political aspirants and leaders nurtured ethnic tension in Sri Lanka. They abused the natural feelings of nation building and euphoria that swept all newly independent states in Asia and Africa, and harnessed those feelings in order to mobilise ethnic tension. Bandaranaike was in the forefront of this move.

Be that as it may, since 1977, the Sinhala vote has been almost equally divided between the two parties and it has become imperative to corner the minority vote. This was done by continuously offering Tamil parties a larger piece of the political cake and by granting increasingly larger levels of administrative autonomy to the Tamil populous. Ironically, in the recent past, it is the Sinhala floating nationalist vote that has become the omphalos of the Kumaratunga political platform. She has thus reverted to her father’s tactics of playing the communal drum on the one hand and making a pretense of negotiations on the other.

Consider. Kumaratunga plays the Sinhala nationalist element by feigning righteous indignation over a secret UNF-LTTE pact, and one which has been vehemently denied by the UNF leadership. Yet, only in 1998 did she, in an interview Time magazine say she was prepared to offer the northern province to Prabakaran who could use his guerillas as a police force without having to face elections for ten years. Ten years before, young Anura was commissioned by their mother Sirimavo — then leader of the opposition, to meet LTTE’s Dilip Yogi and cut a deal. As usual it fell through. In 1994, Chandrika’s own campaign was based on a deal with the LTTE. She unshipped a gust of over 40 letters to the LTTE leadership before negotiations fell through once more.

But the issue now is far deeper than mere untruths and forged documents as far as Kumaratunga goes. The moment she uses talks with the LTTE as a tool to sow hatred she closes another window of opportunity for a negotiated settlement. The incendiary remarks along ethnic lines by the Bandaranaike clan since the 1930s may have won the family short term successes in power politics, but it has systematically crippled a nation that was trying to get back on its feet as a multi ethnic society after nearly 450 years of foreign invasion.

Significantly, in 1971, the JVP attacks on police stations and the ensuing threat to the state, though crushed in a couple of months, set an example to the Tamil youth who would soon take up arms themselves. Yet Kumaratunga continues to condone old JVP guard Somawansa Amerasinghe as he like she, talks of marching a fifty thousand strong army to the north. As he talks of a third uprising and a willingness to take up arms if authorised by the UN. Again this is empty rhetoric, much like the fanciful Kumaratunga promise that she will see to it — Sri Lankan soldiers are given special positions in the UN forces. Whether she means the coalition forces now invading Afghanistan is still unclear.

No matter. As the nation goes to the polls this week the question is childishly simple. Will the nation vote for war or for peace?


Election related violence on the rise

By Frederica Jansz

At least twenty-five people have been killed this time as Sri Lanka witnessed one of the most violent election campaigns in its 53 years of post independence. Since the dissolution of parliament on October 10, 2001, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) and the Police Elections Secretariat have recorded over 1800 complaints of election related violence.

Of this figure, according to the CMEV, 927 fall into the category of Major Incidents, which include Murder (24), Attempted Murder (32), Hurt (182), Grievous Hurt (36), Assault (319), Threat and Intimidation (210), Misuse of State Resources (16), Robbery (38) and Arson (70). There have been 24 Murders that have been committed during the campaign - 07 in Colombo, 03 in Gampaha, 05 in Puttalam, 01 in Anuradhapura, 01 in Galle, 01 in Ratnapura, 02 in the Wanni, 02 in Batticaloa and 02 in Digamadulla.

The highest incidence of violence continues to originate in the Anuradhapura District (178) and Puttalam District (166). Gampaha (148), Digamadulla (138) and Kurunegala (113) follow close behind. There are also a large number of incidents linked to the use of fire-arms (351), of which the PA is allegedly responsible for 163 incidents and the UNP for 73.

On Saturday November 24, at Siyambalagaswewa junction, Serukelle, Anamaduwa, UNP supporters Adikari Mudiyanselage Priyadharshan Adikari and S. A.Samantha were attacked whilst pasting posters. They allege that S. A. Saliya Pushpakumara alias Shankar along with 15 others attacked them and then took them to PA candidate D.M.Dassanayake's house where they were further assaulted. Adikari's right hand was broken in this attack. They further allege that when D.M. Dassanayake returned home, he gave Adikari Rs 500/= and then left him and the other victims on the road.

Last Sunday, November 25, police were forced to impose a curfew at Balangoda in the Ratnapura district due to fierce clashes that broke out between supporters of the Peoples Alliance and the main opposition United National Party.

Thirty-four year old Kamal Jayawickrema, a supporter of the main United National Party was killed as a result of the clashes that broke out. The UNP allege that the Mayor of Balangoda, who is a member of the ruling Peoples Alliance, W. M. N. G. Weerasinghe, was also involved in the incident.

According to the CMEV, on seeing the fallen body of Kamal, a watcher at the Balangoda market, Suduge Mukkalage Tissa had reported the incident to the Police Mobile Unit. UNP supporters have been agitating in Balangoda town against the PA and the police. They allege that the PA is responsible for the murder and that the police are not commencing a proper investigation into the incident.

Meanwhile, a 22-year-old youth was shot dead at Anuradhapura on Sunday, November 25. Sources say the dead youth, M. Jayaratne was a supporter of the Peoples Alliance Chief Minister for the North Central Province, Berty Premalal Dissanayake. Three others were wounded in the incident.

According to election monitors, retired Police Sergeant Saratchandra and other UNP supporters who were travelling in a white van, are alleged to have blocked the path of a jeep which was carrying PA supporters including Jayaratna, near the Tissawewa cemetery. It is said that the UNP group then shot at the PA supporters. Several of the PA group were injured, including Jayaratna, K.A. Siripala, W.A. Asanka and Mohamed Nazar. Jayaratna later died in hospital, as a result of the injuries sustained in the shooting incident. When contacted by CMEV, P.B. Dissanayake at the PA office in Anuradhapura, blamed the incident on the UNP.

W.B. Ekanayake of the UNP office in Anuradhapura denied any involvement in the incident, and said that Siripala was a former convict who had created problems for them in the past with the cooperation of the police. The UNP alleges that the police is acting in a biased manner in this case. In many of the complaints received from the Anuradhapura District, there are also references to the involvement of members of local government bodies in the election campaign. For example, several PA and UNP members of Pradesheeya Sabhas in Anuradhapura (Galnewa, Kekirawa, Talawa) have been implicated in incidents of intimidation and assault.

In addition, there have been allegations made against the Chief Minister of the North-Central Province Berty Premalal Dissanayake, whose son Duminda is a PA candidate for the Anuradhapura District, regarding his involvement in incidents of intimidation and assault. Firearms have been used in many of these incidents, and the acts of intimidation have at times included destruction of property, robbery and arson.

Also on Sunday, November 25, in the north central province at Pallama, Poththukulama, Chilaw, supporters of Chilaw UNP candidate Janaka Soysa were attacked and one of them, Ajith Tilekeratne, has been admitted to the emergency ward of the Chilaw hospital after allegedly being beaten with a pole.

Polls monitors from the CMEV note that in a complaint to the Chilaw police, one of the UNP supporters T. Padmasiri Perera alleges that the attack was carried out by supporters of PA candidate D.M.Dassanayake. He had identified two of them as S.A. Saliya Pushpakumar alias Shankar and Kukul Upali alias Upali. It is further alleged that one of the attackers fired into the air with a T-56 and that the windscreen of the vehicle used by the UNP supporters and belonging to UNP candidate Janaka Soysa, a white Dolphin van, was smashed. The attackers are alleged to have arrived in a blue cab bearing No. 251 - 3615.

The next day, on Monday, November 26, twelve people were injured when a hand grenade being carried allegedly by a supporter of the ruling Peoples Alliance exploded prematurely at Kotugoda Street in Kandy.

The incident took place near the Murugan Temple down Kotugoda Street. The injured were admitted to the Peradeniya Teaching Hospital. Kandy police say that investigations into the incident are underway. None of the perpetrators however have been remanded.

Violence erupted in the eastern province at Digamadulla also on November 26, at about 10.30 a.m. M.H.M. Jabeer was killed by shots from a T56 rifle, fired by an unidentified assailant on the main street of Saindamarudu. Jabeer had been returning from a visit to the office of UNP candidate 'Myown' Mustaffa when he was killed. The HQI of the Kalmunai Police Station, T.Y. Raji had told CMEV that Jabeer had been a target of the LTTE for some years and that he had recently returned to the country after several years abroad. Mr. Maqbool, the UNP coordinator for Kalmunai has denied the involvement of the LTTE and instead told CMEV that there were rumours implicating an SLMC candidate in the incident.

Twenty four hours later, on Tuesday, November 27 at about 2.30 a.m. in Puttalam a group of about 20 persons shot at the home of PA supporter Kingsley Kanagaratnam in Daluwa, Puttalam. W.M. Krishantha Kumara Perera, a private bus conductor who was inside the house at that time was killed. A vehicle belonging to Mr. Kanagaratnam (No. GC 2621) was also damaged in the incident. Meryl Nishantha, an eyewitness to the incident identified Manuel Silva and Douglas Silva as being among the group of attackers. They have been arrested by the police.

Another person identified by Nishantha, Jasmin Thahir, is evading arrest. They are all said to be supporters of UNP candidate Neomal Perera. OIC Sunil Samarajeewa told CMEV that the police had found 15 bullet casings at the site of the incident, and had made two arrests in this connection. The PA has demonstrated on the Puttalam-Kalpitiya road, calling on the police to take the suspects into custody.

Meanwhile, Neomal Perera, the UNP candidate for Puttalam informed CMEV about an incident of arson. The home of W.A. Linus Fernando at Maampuriya, Daluwa had been set on fire, allegedly by armed PA supporters. Perera called for heightened security in the area.

Linus Fernando when contacted by CMEV identified S. Devadasan, Liyanage Sunil, Ajith Serasinghe and Rupas Gamini as the perpetrators of the arson attack. According to him they are known PA supporters.

On Wednesday, November 28, violence erupted in the North. One person, an employee of the Jaffna University was killed and 20 others injured when a group of around 100 persons had attacked members of the Tamil National Alliance in Jaffna.

The incident took place at around 11 a.m. when the TNA candidates had been campaigning at Naranthanai in Jaffna. Four members of the Tamil United Liberation Front were also wounded in the incident.

Sources say that the attackers who carried knives and swords are believed to have been members of the Eelam People's Democratic Party, (EPDP) who have already been accused of ballot rigging at the last general election and pre-poll violence.

The TNA candidates contesting the Jaffna district Suresh Premachandran, Secretary General of the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front, M.K.Sivajilingam, TELO leader, Mavai Senathirajah and Jaffna Mayor N.Raviraj of the TULF were admitted to the Jaffna hospital.

Two grenades were lobbed at the male students' hostel of the Jaffna University Wednesday night around 9 p.m. Both grenades exploded inside the hostel compound. An undergraduate was wounded, student sources said. Windows in building and a section of the hall ceilings were shattered by the explosions. "The attack is clearly the work of the Eelam People's Democratic Party goons. The EPDP is attacking us for opposing their terror tactics to intimidate the people in this election," a Jaffna University Students Union spokesman told Tamilnet.

On Thursday, November 29, the Negombo office of UNP candidate Shanthini Kongahage was attacked by unidentified assailants. Shanthini is a candidate for the Gampaha district. The attack left her office in shambles destroying office furniture and other items at the premises.

A political stage arranged for UNP candidate M. A. Maharoof in the Trincomalee district also came under attack on Thursday. As violence continued to escalate two supporters of the ruling Peoples Alliance were stabbed to death allegedly by UNP supporters at Kirillawatta in the Nivitigala police area. According to reports a vehicle carrying PA supporters had been blocked by UNP loyalists. An argument ensued and fighting broke out resulting finally in the two deaths.

In a separate incident at Pannala, in the Kurunegala district another PA supporter had been killed in a shooting incident. Four others were reported to have been wounded in the attack.

Residence of the Diyawadana Nilame attacked

On Wednesday November 28, 2001, the residence of the Diyawadana Nilame, Neranjan Wijeratne of the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy came under attack. Devika Wijeratne the wife of the Diyawadana Nilame said her husband was overseas at the time of the attack and only their two children and herself were inside the house when a grenade was thrown at the house. A police and army guard were rushed to the scene of the attack. Neranjan Wijeratne recently went public accusing the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) of attacking the Sri Dalada Maligawa on February 8, 1989. He has challenged the JVP to prove that they did not attack the temple. The JVP in a subsequent media press release denied the charges. The UNF has accused the PA for the attack.


Tamil unity to combat divide-and-rule

By J. S. Tissainayagam

Another election is upon us. To some it might be coming too swiftly after the blood-drenched exercise in October last year, but to many it is an opportunity to influence change. Expecting change is a tall order, but the elections give Tamils an opportunity to take stock of the past and see where they are placed in the relationship between themselves, other social groups, and the state .

An important achievement of the past few months is that four Tamil parties have agreed to contest elections as an alliance. This is a rare display of unity is the first since the TULF swept the north and east on the platform of a separate state in 1977.

A decisive step leading to the disintegration of post-1977 Tamil unity was the introduction of the 6th Amendment to the Constitution demanding all parliamentarians to declare adherence to a united Sri Lanka. By insisting on this, then President J. R. Jayewardene thought that he had deprived the Tamils of the most important forum they to articulate their demands - parliament.

But this short-sighted policy fed the burgeoning armed militant movement, which marginalised parliament as the foremost forum of Tamil politics. Extra-parliamentary politics asserted itself and the period 1983 -1987.

Into this equation stepped India. Its interest was not the Tamils, but as to how its own security could be strengthened. Once India's objectives were accomplished however, the militants that it once armed, trained and helped to deploy, had to be de-fanged. This could be done in two ways. One was by depriving them of their military assets. Second was to place them on the path of parliamentary politics. Both these goals were achieved by the signing of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord of 1987.

This is why the TULF that walked out of parliament over the 6th Amendment with its head held high, muttered a few apologies and returned, followed by members of the TELO, PLOTE, EPRLF and ENDLF. The latter had once been arms-wielding militants, but who were tamed on the insistence of India and brought into the parliamentary fold.

If India used the parliament to initially de-fang Tamil militancy, it was left to the politics of Sinhala hegemony to continue it. Southern politicians referred to the LTTE as 'terrorist,' while confusing Tamils by making false promises of this concession or that. And Tamil politicians danced cynically to that tune, knowing full well that nothing substantial would be achieved.

So let there not be illusions about parliament. Parliamentary politics was thrust upon the Tamils by India and southern politicians so they (Tamils) could be coaxed away from militancy and thereby divided. Parliamentary politics enabled the Tamils to remain divided between the LTTE that was carrying out an armed struggle, and the forces within parliament who claimed they had given up arms. What was worse, parliamentary politics created divisions between Tamil parties too.

What substantial benefit has parliamentary politics brought the Tamils? A prolonged, ruthless military campaign is taking place with 100,000s of civilians killed, maimed, raped imprisoned or rendered refugees. And all this time, Tamil parliamentarians sat in the House hardly doing anything.

Not only did they do nothing, but they connived with the south, either by abstaining or by voting with the government for the extension of the emergency and allowing the PTA to wreak havoc in Tamil society. They were expected to lobby against such an iniquitous legislation, but they never protested vehemently enough, which has lead to such laws to remain in our statute books today.

The conduct of Tamil politicians only enhanced the concept of divide and rule propagated by the south. Tamil MPs send 'urgent faxes' to the President when there are human rights violations, they pretend to 'intervene' on behalf of the abducted, and connive with governments to support constitutional drafts and other such devices dangled before them to bring about a 'political solution.'

The 'urgent fax' and the 'intervention' served to construe Tamil parliamentarians had faith in the southern polity to grant relief and justice to Tamils, whereas all the while, war and violence are the reality Tamils have known. This is not to say that 'urgent faxes' and 'interventions' are bad. But that has remained the strongest weapon of Tamil MPs.

The final stage in the divide-and-rule game was reached with the emergence of the EPDP. It was armed and controlled by successive governments not only to keep the hoax of parliamentary politics going, but to function as a extra-judicial armed group too, which could continue its divide-and-rule game without fear of armed reprisal. Despite the TULF waxing eloquent today about the depredations of the EPDP, both parties were supported by the south for the same reason, except that one was armed, while the other was not.

The south played politics intelligently. After the aborted peace talks of 1994-1995 it gained the moral high ground. Arguing that Tamils participating in parliamentary politics demonstrated handouts from the south could fulfil Tamil aspirations, there was a concerted effort both locally and internationally to brand the LTTE's armed struggle as 'terrorist,' and argue that arms was not the path for Tamils to win their rights.

Despite this truth prevailed because military operations in the north and east and the systematic human rights violations that accompanied them, united Tamils and made them victims without an effective voice in parliament. The beleaguered population was forced to turn to the LTTE because parliament offered them no solution, security or solace. Parliament became divorced from their day to day concerns both in the 'cleared' and 'uncleared' areas.

The question today is how do we make parliament relevant to the people caught up in the throes of a war. Parliamentary politics which southern Sri Lankans are comfortable with, where MPs promise development and jobs does not work in the north and east. An MP can build miles of road and give hundreds of jobs in the Tamil-majority areas, but the first will disintegrate if shell lands atop it, and the second will vanish if the recipient is detained under PTA or killed in the crossfire.

Parliament would only become relevant if the mass agitation for Tamil rights taking place in the north and east is properly represented to the central government. As mentioned above, the indiscriminate killing, disappearances, rape and torture has led to mass revulsion against the forces of the south, which has to find proper political expression. In other words, rather than the imposition the will of the Centre in Tamil areas which Tamil MPs carry out so efficiently, Tamil parliamentarians have to represent without distortion the politics of the Tamil-majority areas at the Centre.

The mass non-violent agitation expressing such revulsion has already begun. It is sporadic but gathering momentum. The ponguthamil elurchchi, earlier this year was a concerted expression of this anger, disguised as agitation to persuade government to enter talks with the LTTE.

Support for the ponguthamil elurchchi at a political level was given by the coalition of 10 Tamil parties. It was a united stand, by and large devoid of partisan interests and based on the lifting of the economic ban to 'uncleared' areas, de-proscribing the LTTE, a cessation of hostilities and Norwegian-brokered peace talks between the conflicting parties.

The same four points (they are not principles) are the rallying cry of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). The TNA is therefore nothing new in the political firmament as the forces in the south are trying to make it out to be.

Forces representing the north and east will be relevant in the future if they fulfil two vital requirements. They will have to be the democratic front representing mass agitation for a permanent peace. Secondly, they have to be a conduit to for international forces involved in the ethnic conflict.

The divide-and-rule strategy in the past was cleverly exploited by India and certain western embassies when they did business with the Tamil parties in Colombo. What they said was privy only to those parties and did not become part of the input in formulating any common Tamil strategy. The TULF, ACTC or EPRLF met the foreign diplomats in Colombo, or their foreign offices overseas, individually. It was an esoteric relationship and a relationship that led to much disunity and rivalry not only between the Tamil parties themselves, but the Tamil parties and the LTTE.

The fruits of Tamil unity are these: facilitating co-ordination that is vital if the mass agitation against the state is to find adequate expression in the central legislature, and to be a barrier in the games of divide-and-rule vested foreign interests play in Tamil politics. Finally, it also will help to nurse a new leadership to come up among the Tamils.

Fear of Tamil unity has begun to haunt the forces professing Sinhala hegemony in the south, hence the persistent condemnation by Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake and other Sinhala hard-liners who accuse the TNA of being politically effete and being pawns in the hands of the Tigers. Or other voices in the media demanding whether the TELO, TULF and EPRLF, all whose leaderships were destroyed by the LTTE, are not ashamed to break bread with the Tigers.

Those from the south who speak thus are not interested in the welfare of the Tamils. It was only by skilfully harking back to the inter-Tamil rivalry and exhorting them to stand firm against being used as a cat's paw of terrorism, that such dastardly forces carried out their task of divide-and-rule.

It is important that parliament and the paths of non-violence piously advocated by our peaceniks and the international community does not divide the Tamil community in the future. Tamils choosing their MPs on Wednesday will do well to bear this in mind.


Vanitha Diri Maga: Political manifesto for women

By Kumeri Wickremasinghe

It is estimated that women constitute 51% of Sri Lanka's population. Obviously, they are the majority sex in comparison to the 49% of men inhabiting this country.

Conceptually, there is a tendency to locate women in relation to the family, as firmly ensconced in the domestic sphere of the home. However, women are 'the backbone of Sri Lanka's economy' through their vital contributions via the garment industry, migrant labour and the plantations sector. As such, they are the primary foreign exchange earners for the national economy. But, women are not solely confined to these sectors. In fact, women perform the bulk of agricultural work in the fields; they dominate the education and nursing services; while also being active in other fields such as in small and large scale production, in trading and business, in the administrative community services, in the hospitality sector etc.

However, at higher decision making levels, women's representation is very sparse. Apart from a few prominent women, a majority of women are not seen in high profile public life or in decision making at high levels or in politics, especially in comparison to men.

At the same time, women's presence in the development and sustenance of this country is rarely acknowledged. Usually, governmental policies and development plans tend to assume that women's interests are the same as men's in that, male and female citizens have to be targeted as 'people.' However, doing so, results only in men's interests being fulfilled. This is because of the fact that women's experience of life is completely different to men.

Women have different needs, aspirations, and priorities when compared to men. Their roles and responsibilities in life are different to that of men. Aside from the economic work performed by women to sustain themselves and their families, they are also responsible for domestic work and the care and maintenance of their families (with or without their volition). Women are also expected to perform other roles and responsibilities at the community level - such as being involved in religious and cultural ceremonies/rituals, maintaining kinship relations and in establishing social interactions.

Yet, these multiple functions of women are not accounted for in development and welfare programmes. Nor are the specific characteristics and behaviours expected of women considered in formulating national policies and projects.

For instance, there are certain learned characteristics and codes of conduct of women that may constrain their activities and contributions to societies (women might not go out at night without male accompaniment due to the fear of violence/and not report crimes such as rape due to notions of shame and fear). Consequently, there are many occasions when even the laws of the country are unable to give relief to women - due to the above reasons.

At the same time, there are other social, cultural, legal, political and other impediments that prevent women's full participation in life on equal terms with men. There are certain laws that discriminate against women both in their conceptualisation and application, or there may be gaps in the law that do not recognise women's interests and safety.

Vanitha Diri Maga (the UNP women's manifesto) has been formulated by women for women after taking into consideration the requests and needs of women in various sectors - farmer women/those in industries/migrant women/estate women/NGOs/women activists etc. The United National Party has accepted their recommendations for inclusion in their policy framework for the country spanning the next six years. It is a significant achievement for women's rights that the party has seen fit to devote a separate manifesto in addition to the party's general manifesto to articulate their commitments to the women's constituency.

The Vanitha Diri Maga manifesto, strives to address areas where women's specific needs require fulfillment. Moreover, it isolates special categories of women as being exposed to particular vulnerabilities, such as women migrant labour, female headed households, war widows, women in conflict areas, women abused within the family and outside, working women in the zones and other industries, and unemployed women - especially in rural areas.

On the whole, the women's manifesto combines a broad policy framework and specific plans of action and strategies that focus on the following areas.

At national levels

Firstly, the UNP women's manifesto undertakes to remove or amend discriminatory laws that are contrary to Fundamental Rights and thereby ensure that women are not treated inequitably or unequally in relation to the law of this country. For example, this would mean the revision of state land settlement laws (which currently favour men) to ensure that there is no discrimination against women. And the recognition of both husband and wife as 'heads of households' so as to ensure that development benefits are not targeted solely to men.

The Women's Charter of this country was passed by parliament in 1993. Yet, up to now, action has not been taken to endorse this legislative bill through the required changes at policy and implementational levels. The UNP manifesto pledges to implement the women's charter so as to promote the enjoyment of women's rights as human rights, and to ensure the fulfillment of women's needs and aspirations.

Women's council

In addition, there are plans to establish a women's council comprising 50 women members who will represent the different interests of women. This is in recognition of the fact that there are no effective policy/implementation mechanisms to look after the specific interests of women at the level of the legislature.

This council is to act in a consultative capacity to parliament on bills and policies affecting women. It is envisaged that it will exercise the powers and functions of a committee of the whole parliament. Furthermore, a women's executive (comprising five women members) will be established by law to ensure the implementation of laws and measures to secure women's interests.

As noted earlier, currently, there is a lack of women in decision making. In order to rectify this gap the UNP proposes to appoint suitably qualified women to all government regulatory and policy-making boards, co-operations, councils, and advisory boards etc.

Political representation

So as to increase women's participation and representation at the highest decision making level - in politics, there will be a requirement that all recognised political parties include a minimum of 25% women in all their central decision making bodies within three years. It is hoped to ensure that other political organisations, trade unions, village level community organisations follow suit with a similar requirement of at least 25% women members.

Most importantly for women, it is proposed that political parties include a minimum of 25% women on their nomination lists for local authority elections over a five year period.

The VDM policy framework also refers to promoting women's participation in the political process by creating an environment that would empower women to enter the political arena without fear or shame.

It is also envisaged that policy measures at national integration under a UNP government will not only serve to eliminate discrimination and inequality in regard to ethnicity, language, culture and religion, but also in regard to gender.

Violence against women

Women face violence because they are women (in the home and outside). And unlike men, women face gender-specific forms of violence such as rape, wife beating, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, etc.

The Vanitha Diri Maga pays special attention to the issue of violence against women and proposes to implement a plan of action designed to create consciousness with regard to the social, legal, and medical aspects of violence against women (and children) so as to minimise instances of violence. Actual support for abused women (and children) will take the form of programmes and services such as protection and shelters, counseling, and legal assistance. It would also involve introducing regulatory legislation on alcohol and substance abuse (as over 60% of households are affected by alcohol and drug related violence). Furthermore, the UNP means to ensure that taverns and bars are set up only with the consent of the community in the area.

Domestic violence

In line with many other countries (particularly in the west), which take violence against women to be a grave offense, the manifesto pledges to introduce new laws and amend existing laws to recognise domestic violence as a specific criminal offence. This would provide abused women with the necessary legal opportunities to redress this most abhorrent form of violence against women. At the same time, laws against sexual harassment will be strengthened (especially in workplaces and public areas) so as to discourage this gender specific demeaning habit.

In order to create consciousness about these legal amendments, there will be concentrated sensitisation efforts targeting law enforcement agencies and the judiciary - on all forms of violence against women (including sexual harassment and domestic violence).

It is well known that pornography promotes violence against women and children in addition to degrading women. The Vanitha Diri Maga promises to initiate strict measures to combat pornography and other pornographic material.

At the level of law enforcement, it is imperative that women have the capacity to report crimes of violence to the police. Currently, when women approach the police to report domestic violence in particular, they are advised by male police officers to go home and make up with their husbands. Consequently, the manifesto recognises the importance of strengthening and expanding the network of women's desks to cover all police stations in the country within four years. Further, women are to be assured of protection and courtesy at police stations and at checkpoints.

Along with awareness raising measures it is vital that legal and other deterrents (such as informing the employers of violators, refusing them entry into the police or armed forces), are taken to combat violence against women. At the same time, it is necessary to counsel and rehabilitate those convicted of assaults on women and girls. The above measures are undertaken by the Vanitha Diri Maga.

At the core of the UNP women's manifesto is the commitment to establish a network of women's centres. A minimum of one women's centre (Vanitha Diri Piyasa) per electorate will be established for the purposes of redressing the numerous problems and obstacles faced by women as women; such as domestic violence, the problems of women headed households, the issues of the families of migrant women workers, obstacles facing war widows and those living in conflict areas, legal and administrative problems faced by women in regard to dealings with governmental and other institutions etc.

These centers will include women police officers to record complaints of violence and abuse; women doctors to provide medical services to injuries; and women lawyers to give additional support, should the victims wish to take further action against their abusers. The centre is expected to liase with appropriate government authorities and NGOs to implement the various aspects of this programme.

Economic empowerment

Women are discriminated against in accessing credit and other development benefits such as training, extension services, technology etc. The UNP women's manifesto recognises the importance of economic empowerment for women and the right of all women (as well as men) to an income of their own. The manifesto pledges to establish schemes to promote additional avenues of income for women.

There are plans to provide self-employment opportunities and relief to women small entrepreneurs through easy access to bank credit and raw materials. This would require that banks increase women's credit levels and initiate special schemes for women, and provide special business consultancy services to women to strengthen their position in accessing loans. There would also be the provision of special credit to women's societies and savings and credit collectives at village level.

These are to be strengthened further by providing agricultural extension schemes, new agri-technology and other forms of diverse skill training to women in rural areas (in particular).

At government level, it is to be ensured that government and provincial funded village development schemes involve the interests and participation of women. Of all development projects at least 25% of projects are to be of direct benefit to women. Additionally, local authorities will also implement development schemes that include and benefit women.

Female headed households

Special attention is paid to the marginalised category of single parent households (around 20% - 25% households in Sri Lanka are headed by women due to reasons of death, desertion etc., of male partners). The Vanitha Diri Maga plans to provide relief through special schemes to low income, women headed households, such as concessionary loans and housing etc. It is hoped that additional programme supports will empower them economically and socially.

In acknowledgment of the service rendered by migrant women workers to this country, the manifesto aims to offer special services to migrant women's families within the country, by providing social workers to oversee the conditions of their families. At the same time, it is hoped to extend the support of female doctors and lawyers to the Sri Lankan embassies in labour receiving countries, to assist migrant workers with their problems aboard.

Benefits for working women

For workingwomen, the Vanitha Diri Maga visualises workplaces and working conditions that are fair, and workspaces that reflect the needs of women. To oversee women's labour concerns and workplace issues, a woman Deputy Commissioner of Labour will be appointed.

At the same time, government agencies and private enterprises will be encouraged to implement schemes to promote an overall increase in the numbers of women at middle and upper managerial levels.

Certain women dominated vocations (such as nursing, teaching, and secretarial occupations, estate labour, janitorial labour etc.), where there are no prospects for advancement will be restructured to include promotional ladders as a complimentary measure.

Women are often underpaid and overworked; and sometimes, they work under appalling work conditions. The manifesto wants to ensure that workplaces provide the required facilities/benefits, and conform to acceptable working conditions for women. In addition, measures will be taken to facilitate the provision of board and lodging for working women in women dominated spheres of work.

The VDM manifesto recognises that there are no support systems for what should be family responsibilities (such as crŠches for children), resulting in working women juggling their multiple roles and responsibilities. Consequently, crŠches/daycare centers need to be promoted in and around workplaces and at village/town levels. Needless to say, these must conform to acceptable standards.

The UNP women's manifesto appeals to all women at a personal level, by highlighting the obstacles faced by women on a day-to-day basis, and which they have reconciled themselves to as being unsolvable. These include the provision of safe and efficient transport systems that do not expose women to sexual harassment and other forms of violence. For instance, this would allow a woman to go out to see a drama in the evening, or visit relatives without the need to be accompanied, even at night. Other measures include compulsory education for girls up to 16 years, equal inheritance rights for sons and daughters and the abolishment of the debasing practice of giving dowries.


When violence murders democracy

The head of the European Union election observation team John Cushnahan says unless the political leaders pull this country back from the brink in the final days of the election, the general election will be perceived to be tainted and tarnished.

In a statement on the developments so far, Cushnahan states what he experienced on his recent visit to Jaffna underlines the fundamental challenge their mission faces in coming to an assessment of the integrity of the electoral process in Sri Lanka.

"Firstly, the heartfelt sympathy of our delegation to them and everyone who has suffered from any violent incident. I witnessed at first hand the tragic consequences of the use of violence in the electoral contest in this country. After the incident in Kayts one person is dead, the life of another hangs in the balance, and many others were injured including two candidates who, as part of the democratic process, presented themselves before the electorate.

Those who carried out this murder and similar attacks elsewhere are murdering democracy itself. Since this election was called there have been over 1,400 incidents of election related violence reported resulting in a number of deaths and serious injury.

The statistics that are available point the finger at the country's two main parties. Whatever the truth of these allegations, I accept that there are many people of goodwill in these parties who want nothing more than a free and fair election. However, their leaders must bear a major responsibility for the actions of their candidates and supporters. As we move into the final days of this election they must pull this country back from the brink, or they will have allowed a situation to continue where their general election will be perceived to be tainted and tarnished.

It must also be stated unequivocally that the government in power has a particular responsibility in this matter. It has a political and moral obligation to ensure that the entire security forces of this state are mobilised to eliminate violence from the political process. Furthermore the police also have a particular responsibility to ensure that the rule of law is impartially enforced.

I have to say that it was a source of great disappointment that following the high level of violence in last year's contest so few prosecutions were made. How is this possible? Our team will be anxious to monitor the progress of investigations not only during our stay here but following our return to Europe. The reason for doing this is quite clear - impartial enforcement of the rule of law is an important cornerstone of democracy.

The second issue I want to address is our assessment of the current election. My experience in Jaffna and the experience of other members of my team elsewhere has highlighted the widespread concern that many things have already happened in this campaigns so far which raise serious question marks about the integrity of this electoral contest. I have passed on a number of suggestions to the commissioner for elections which I hope he will act upon to protect this.

I would appeal to all the political parties to assume their collective responsibility and to give moral leadership to take whatever action is necessary that this election upholds the fundamental principles of democracy.

Throughout our mission we have been warmly received by the people of Sri Lanka who have made it absolutely clear to us that all they want is a free and fair election. We owe it to them to ensure that this happens. I hope the leaders of the political parties listen to their people."

The Sunday Leader replies:

We are grateful to Cushnahan for his clarification of the EU observers' mandate. We accept that they are not here to police or interfere with the election: indeed, such a role would be unacceptable to the Sri Lankan people. Nevertheless, it is important that they recognise the full significance of the role they do play. The October 2000 general elections were marred by widespread violence, with even the venerable high priests of the Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters openly declaring the result a fraud. In an unprecedented twist, they were joined in this condemnation by two powerful government Ministers, Rauf Hakeem and D. M. Jayaratne, in addition to almost all independent polls monitors. When the EU monitors reported that this farcical election, though affected by violence, "did to a reasonable degree reflect the political will of the electorate," many people, especially those disenfranchised by the violence, thought their conclusion bizarre.

What must be remembered is that Sri Lanka's proportional representation system of election is extremely finely tuned. A few dozen votes either way, and the result in each district (and therefore the whole country), could turn out very different. This was in fact the case in the November 2000 presidential election in the United States, which was decided by a few hundred votes. What credibility would George Bush have if there were credible reports of ballot stuffing in Florida?

Worse still, the People's Alliance government used the EU report's endorsement of the result to whitewash its shameful conduct of the election. That is why we referred to the "EU's betrayal": it allowed the government to brush aside the mountain of evidence of election fraud and take cover behind the EU's (albeit qualified) endorsement. We hope the EU observers will be more circumspect this time around, and bear in mind that it is primarily the people of Sri Lanka who should stand to benefit from their most praiseworthy efforts, and not their government, whichever government that may be.

********

The right of reply

Sir,

Your editorial in last week's Sunday Leader (November 25) is based on false assumptions and I would like this opportunity to put the record straight regarding the purpose of the EU's election observation mission to Sri Lanka.

The National Commission for Elections in Sri Lanka invited the European Union to send an observation mission to the October 10 parliamentary elections in 2000. They issued another invitation to the EU for the December 5th election.

The mission to Sri Lanka was established on November 12, and will remain in the country until December 12. The shortened timeframe for the mission reflects the fact that these elections were not scheduled which has resulted in a team of 48 observers and not 42 as you state in your article.

The EU observer mission operates totally independent of Sri Lanka's Electoral Commission, the Sri Lankan government or any other body. The EU has provided the entire funding for the mission.

The EU election observation mission has the three specific objectives:

  • Conduct a comprehensive and national analysis of the electoral process, and to offer an impartial, balanced and informed assessment of the election;
  • To produce an informed statement, including recommendations for improvements in the process for future elections on the basis of data collected during the observation of the electoral process, including the campaign period, the polling and counting process, and immediate post-election events;
  • By the presence of observers, to reduce tension, minimise instances of fraud, intimidation and violence and hopefully give confidence to contestants and voters to participate freely.

It is not the EU election observation mission's role to police the election, to interfere with the electoral process or to take sides. It is not the election observation mission's role to 'rubber-stamp' election results 'and high tail it back to Europe' as you sarcastically put it in your article.

Myself and my deputy had no hesitation in returning to Sri Lanka when asked by the European Union to undertake this mission. The election observation mission has and will conduct itself in a non-partisan way at all times. I have every confidence that the people of Sri Lanka respect and understand our role.

Yours faithfully,

John Cushnahan MEP

Chief observer

EU Election Observation Mission


Anura taken to task

UNP Colombo district candidate Ravi Karunanayake has decided to take Anura Bandaranaike to court for alleged defamatory statements made by the latter while Speaker.

Karunanayake accused Bandaranaike of being partial to the People's Alliance and President Chandrika Kumaratunga at a UNP group meeting following the speaker's refusal to accede to opposition proposals on the resummoning of parliament following prorogation and numerous other issues.

The criticism by the former UNP MP earned him the wrath of Bandaranaike who threatened to take Karunanayake to court. The Kotte UNP member rose to the challenge daring Bandaranaike to so do. Karunanayake said he was prepared to meet Bandaranaike in court.

However, Speaker Bandaranaike backed down from the challenge, opting instead to question Karunanayke's credibility through a statement issued from his office.

Karunanayke now claims his allegations were proved correct by Bandarnaike himself with the subsequent crossover and has decided to sue the former speaker for Rs. 500 million in damages for defamation.

The UNP member who last week issued a letter of demand to Bandaranaike through his Attorney G. G. Arulpragasam told The Sunday Leader, if Bandaranaike does not respond positively to the letter of demand, he would file action before parliament convenes.

Following is the full text of the letter of demand:

Anura Bandaranaike Esqr.,

No. 65, Rosmead Place,

Colombo 7.

Dear Sir,

I write on the instructions of my client Ravindra Sandresh Karunanayake of No. 1291/6, Rajamalwatta Road, Battaramulla.

I have been instructed by my client to state that on or about 1st of October 2001, you through your coordinating secretary (information) issued a statement to media and the same was published in pages 1 and 8 of the Daily News newspaper of 2nd of October 2001, under the heading "Speaker doesn't wish to be involved in mudslinging."

I have been instructed by my client to state that in the said statement issued by you, you have referred to my client who is also known as Ravi Karunanayke and made several statements which are defamatory of my client per se and by innuendo.

I have been instructed by my client to state that you issued the said statement and/or caused to be issued the said statement with the full knowledge that such press statement would be published in the print and electronic media throughout the country and you issued such press release with the intention to give the widest publicity in the electronic and print media, particularly the media controlled and owned by the government.

I am instructed by my client to state that you have no right to have issued a statement from the speaker's office and thus you misused your office as speaker for personal and malicious purposes. Thus, I am instructed by my client to state that you disgraced and abused the office of the speaker.

I have been further instructed by my client to state that you issued the said statement with animus inujuriandi and with express malice in that:

(a) my client criticized your conduct as he was entitled to do so as a member of parliament and a member of the Untied National Party.

(b) you have identified my client as a 'close and intimate friend' of the editor of The Sunday Leader, which newspaper exposed your conduct in several newspaper articles and you have up to date, not denied the contents of such articles.

I am instructed by my client to state that in the said statement you have stated inter alia that my client has crept into the UNP recently after having ruined several political parties and is now attempting to ruin the UNP.

I am instructed by my client to state that the said statement is false and is false to your knowledge and is per se defamatory of my client.

I have been instructed by my client to state that on the contrary, my client has been largely responsible among others to foster the popularity of the UNP.

I am instructed by my client to state that my client's popularity will be manifested by the voters.

On the other hand, I have been instructed by my client to state that although you accused my client and crept into the UNP after having quarrelled several political parties and is now attempting to ruin the UNP, it is you who:

(a) crept into the UNP when your own mother favoured your sister who subsequently became the chief minister of the western province, prime minister and the president;

(b) slandered your mother and your sister in public;

(c) attempted to ruin the political party founded by your own father;

(d) used your ancestral house - the Horagolla Walawwa - to a propaganda base to attack the party which your father founded and who used the same house to criticize your mother who was the mistress of that house and against your sister who grew up in that house.

(e) attempted to ruin the UNP and having failed to do so, crept into the People's Alliance, which will be ruined by you.

I am instructed by my client to state that the said statement issued by you and published by the government owned/controlled Daily News throughout the country and abroad held out my client to public hatred, contempt and ridicule and as a result, my client has suffered loss of reputation and damages, which my client estimates at Rs. 500 million.

In the circumstances, I am instructed to and hereby demand the said sum of Rs. 500 million forthwith.

In the event of your failure to pay the said sum of Rs. 500 million within one week form the date hereof, I have further instructions to institute legal action against you for the recovery of the sum of Rs. 500 million and interest thereon, together with cost of suit.

Yours faithfully,

G. G. Arulpragasam

In a separate letter to the Attorney General K. C. Kamalasabayson, Karunanayake called for an investigation into the past crimes of JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe with a view to preventing him from fleeing the country. (See box)

The attorney general will this week write to IGP Lucky Kodituwakku to investigate Karunanayake's complain.

A warm welcome for a murderer

November 27, 2001.

Mr K. C. Kamalasabayson, P.C.,

Attorney General,

Attorney General's Department,

Colombo 12.

 

Dear Sir,

RE. MR SOMAWANSA AMARASINGHE

It has been widely reported in the print and electronic media during the past week that Somawansa Amarasinghe, a member of the politburo of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, a proscribed organisation in the period 1987-1991, returned to Sri Lanka on November 22, 2001. He left Sri Lanka in 1991 and has since been a refugee in the United Kingdom. His return to Sri Lanka was pursuant to a temporary passport being issued to him by the Sri Lanka High Commission in London. According to newspaper reports, Amarasinghe is currently resident at the JAIC Hilton Hotel in Union Place, Colombo 2, as a state guest, and has a bodyguard comprising some 50 personnel from the police.

On November 23, 2001, Amarasinghe addressed a JVP rally at Kalutara. His speech was widely reported in the newspapers and also relayed almost in toto by the state television networks. In the course of this speech, Amarasinghe acknowledged the crimes committed by the JVP 'patriots' in the 1987-1991 period and justified these in the context of their being 'acts of war committed in a time of war'. He went on to state that the JVP would not 'kick aside' its glorious history.

Sir, I am sure you are better aware than anyone else the heinous crimes committed by the JVP during the period under reference. With the blessings and under the guidance of their politburo, so-called JVP 'patriots' slaughtered thousands of innocent citizens of Sri Lanka including government ministers, public servants, professionals including doctors and lawyers, and innocent members of the public whose only 'crime' was to ignore the JVP's 'curfews' and orders not to watch television. It was commonplace for JVP 'patriots' to decapitate their perceived opponents. Among those who were massacred included no less than 24 plantation managers and numerous public officials including the renowned journalist Themis Guruge and physician Dr. Gladys Jayewardene. Some of the victims had their heads displayed on parapet walls. Even decent burials were denied to their victims, with orders going out to the families that the body could not be carried more than shoulder high.

President J. R. Jayewardene spoke for all Sri Lankans when he referred to the JVP's sadistic carnage as acts of bestiality committed by animals. The JVP went so far even as to murder in cold blood Vijaya, the father of Yasodara and Vimukthi Kumaratunga and late husband of the present president of Sri Lanka. In her statement made to the police immediately after that assassination, Kumaratunga clearly stated that she suspected the JVP of carrying out the murder. Dozens of banks were robbed, their security guards being gunned down; hundreds of factories were burnt down because their owners and workers refused to obey JVP orders to strike; thousands of homes were torched, often with their occupants locked inside. JVP 'patriots' even raided the intensive care units of the nation's premier hospital in Colombo and unplugged life-saving devices alleging that these were 'capitalist tools,' committing the patients to death. And all the while the JVP's leader, Rohana Wijeweera, was living a life of idle luxury in a plantation at Ulapane purchased with his ill-gotten loot robbed from the people of Sri Lanka.

It is a telling indictment of the judicial process in Sri Lanka that not one person has been held accountable for these crimes and brought to justice. Now, Somawansa Amarasinghe has arrived in the country and taken full responsibility for the JVP's violent, cowardly and murderous history. He came here expecting to receive a hero's welcome from the public. Yet, within days of his arrival, he was condemned not only by the venerable maha nayaka theras of the Malwatta and Asgiriya chapters for denying that the JVP attacked the Dalada Maligawa, but also by the Diyawadana Nilame. Amarasinghe's continued denial of the JVP attack on the Dalada Maligawa tantamounts to calling these most venerable mahanayakes liars.

Given the hostile reception he has received, it has now been reported that Amarasinghe intends once more to flee the country, and thereby justice. I am therefore addressing this letter to you to request you immediately to take action to investigate Amarasinghe's role and complicity in the horrible crimes committed by the JVP in the period 1987-1991. I also urge you to take action to ensure that he does not flee the country once again in order to evade justice.

Yours faithfully,

......................................

(Ravi Karunanayake)

cc. Mr. Rienzie Arsecularatne, P.C.

Additional Solicitor General.

 

 

 

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