||Like father like daughterBy 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 Kumaratungas volatile, incendiary and self-serving nature is easily
explained. After all she is her fathers 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. Bandaranaikes incendiary remarks fell on fertile ground. These
statements were responsible for infusing Sinhalese nationalism with new colonial
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
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 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.
Im 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
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 fathers
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
LTTEs Dilip Yogi and cut a deal. As usual it fell through. In 1994, Chandrikas
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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 crches for children), resulting in working women
juggling their multiple roles and responsibilities. Consequently, crches/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
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
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
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
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.
John Cushnahan MEP
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,
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
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
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
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
A warm welcome for a murderer
November 27, 2001.
Mr K. C. Kamalasabayson, P.C.,
Attorney General's Department,
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
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.
cc. Mr. Rienzie Arsecularatne, P.C.
Additional Solicitor General.