and Rohana Wijeweera
raked through the PCs they oppose
free vehicles taken from councils
ruling party benches in most PCs
to topple govt. if PCs given due powers
Dilrukshi Handunnetti and Ranjith
in the dark, a politically pressurised
President Mahinda Rajapakse has suddenly
stumbled upon the 13th Amendment, and found
it to be the most desirable premise to work
on to achieve peace in this country.
once a staunch detractor of the
constitutional amendment has stood his
ground despite the move taking both the
local and international community by
the 13th Amendment - an offshoot of the
Indo-Lanka Peace Accord of 1987, has now
been reduced to a dusty, orphaned document,
it remains the only agreement that binds the
LTTE as much as it does the Sri Lankan
government to devolve power from the centre.
the time of its introduction, it was
rejected as being flawed by Tamil political
parties, the main opposition SLFP and the
JVP. Once again, the 13th Amendment has
risen from the ashes to the cry of a
resounding 'nay' from the Tamil political
parties, who refuse to accept it even as a
basis for talks.
is strange however that the JVP too rejects
it, having weaseled their way into the
provincial councils through the mid 1990s,
where they currently bear the fruits of the
council's mere existence. The JVP in fact
has threatened to topple the government if
the President proceeds to implement the 13th
Rajapakse himself appears a victim of
amnesia, as it was he who stood under the
famous Pettah Bo tree in 1987 to breathe
furious epithets and personify the 13th as
the 'devil incarnate:' an attempt to
separate the motherland and subvert Sri
equal exhibition of sweet irony is that
despite holding their role as the chief
antagonist of the 13th Amendment, the JVP
has chosen to profit from it, possibly
illegally, by diverting all the perks and
privileges of the provincial councilors to
the party infrastructure and then not paying
taxes on the income received.
is a distinctly worrying - though barely
cited possibility that the Marxists will go
back to their roots, dragging Sri Lanka
further down the path of racially divisive
and bloody carnage, as they did less than 20
in the early '90s the SLFP and the JVP were
'partners in crime,' doing everything in
their power to scuttle the implementation of
the 13th Amendment and the role of the IPKF
in eliminating the LTTE. The SLFP as the
main opposition party, and the JVP as a
Marxist outfit struggling desperately at the
time to shed their militant image,
ultimately elicited an election promise from
President Premadasa to drive out the IPKF
and bid the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord good
1988-89 insurrection - produced, directed
and enacted by the JVP - had much to do with
the Indo Lanka Peace Accord, the 13th
Amendment and the establishment of
protests were vast and ruthless, led by
fire-breathing radicals who caused the
country to grind to a standstill. President
Premadasa suffered the pains of having to
steer an ungovernable country in his
unenviable post at a time in history when
his efforts were being opposed, and those
who carried out his orders butchered by the
JVP's vicious rebel movement. He caved in
and sent the IPKF packing home.
down the spine
same hand of the JVP intervenes today,
ironically when President Rajapakse is at
the helm of affairs, to denounce the 13th
Amendment and calling for its rejection once
more. The prospect of being on the receiving
end of the coups he helped orchestrate
against Presidents Jayewardene and Premadasa
at the hands of the JVP no doubt sends
shivers down the spine of our macho
his political differences with President J.R.
Jayewardene, the founding leader of the Sri
Lanka Mahajana Party (SLMP), Vijaya
Kumaratunga too was assassinated for his
open support of the UNP engineered
provincial council system.
JVP issued warnings against anyone
contesting the provincial polls, and those
who advocated power devolution or expressed
support for the new system were declared
traitors. The PCs, as far as the JVP was
concerned was a blatant Indian expansionism
operation, and had no place in Sri Lanka.
is important to recognise that the JVP
remained militantly opposed to any form of
power sharing at the time and viewed
devolution as a derogation of power, putting
political theoreticians like Marxism founder
Carl Marx to shame with their own 'superior'
founder Rohana Wijeweera, whose dream was to
create a Marxist state via popular
revolution, utilised the 13th Amendment
controversy to maximum effect. Seizing the
opportunity to cause the administration
system of the country to collapse, Wijeweera
ditched his earlier support of India to
capitalise on the chaos.
the killings began, the UNP government had
to struggle to maintain order in the
country. During the two-year JVP insurgency,
some 6,577 persons were butchered out of
which over 500 were police and armed forces
personnel. The vast bulk of those who
suffered the wrath of the Red brigade in the
south were innocent civilians.
glance at the box on this page of the JVP's
victims will reveal to readers a frightening
truth when the calibre and position of those
killed is taken into account. Not even the
LTTE in its decades long war has managed to
rack up such a combined total of southern
school principals, doctors, Buddhist monks,
politicians, intellectuals and public
service officers. Even if the LTTE figures
are comparable to those of the JVP, remember
that the LTTE have been at it for over 30
years - the JVP accomplished comparable
butchery in just under five years.
slaughtered Buddhist monks included Ven.
Pohaddaramulle Premaloka Thero, Ven.
Kotikawatte Saddhatissa Thero, Ven.
Wewaltotha Pannadassi Thero, Ven.
Thiranagama Ratanasara Thero and Welimada
School Principal, Ven. Indrasumana Thero.
the UNP legislators brutally wiped out were
Keerthi Abeywickrama (Deniyaya), Jinadasa
Weerasinghe (Tangalle), G. V. S. de Silva (Habaraduwa),
Lionel Jayathileke (Kuliyapitiya), W. M. P.
G. Banda (Welagedara), Merrill Kariyawasam (Agalawatte),
Daya Sepali Senadhira (Karandeniya) and
Lesley Ranagala (Borella).
UNP Party Chairmen, Harsha Abeywardene and
Nandalal Fernando were also killed in quick
politicians representing other parties, the
JVP elimination list includes SLMP Leader,
Vijaya Kumaratunga, S. B. Yalegama (Matale),
Indrapala Abeyweera (Kalutara), Devabandara
Senadheera and Hector Jayasinghe (Deraniyagala).
scholars put to death by the JVP violence
include Vice Chancellor, Colombo University,
Prof. Stanley Wijesundera and Prof.
Patuwatawithana, their sin being their
dedication to make the institution run
despite the raging violence outside.
police officials assassinated in the line of
duty include DIG Terence Perera and DIG
Bennet Perera. Public servants were not
spared. Pharmaceutical Corporation
Chairperson, Gladys Jayawardena was executed
by the JVP for importing Indian medicine for
sale to the public.
were not spared either. Veteran broadcaster
and pioneer Chairman of ITN, Thevis Guruge,
popular broadcaster, Premakeerthi de Alwis,
presenter/singer, Sagarika Gomes and several
others were given JVP death sentences for
reasons best known to them.
JVP's current leading role on workers'
rights and trade unions is almost
hysterical. Trade union leaders such as L.W.
Panditha, Gamini Medaragedera and several
other labour activists were either shot, cut
to pieces or burnt alive in the JVP's
years on, the JVP is well settled into the
provincial council system in which name they
committed their butchery. In fact some of
the government controlled councils survive
on the basis of JVP support of the SLFP led
councils. Not only does the JVP help protect
the council system, which they not long ago
denounced as an Indian white elephant, their
relationship is largely symbiotic.
the JVP, a militia cum political party that
survived in the jungles and whose education
lay more with bullets than books, the
provincial council system served as a
threshing ground. It was in the councils
that several senior JVP members began their
political careers before elevating
themselves to the national arena.
Weerawansa, Sunil Handunnetti, Bimal
Ratnayake and Vijitha Herath form part of
the pack that cut their political teeth at
the provincial level.
why the doublespeak does not fit. Given the
fragile power balance in the provincial
bodies, today it is the JVP that sustains
the SLFP led provincial administrations by
functioning as the UPFA except in the
is most interesting is that while sustaining
the system today and making their own party
richer for the experience, both politically
and materially, the Marxists also speak
against the PCs and call for the rejection
of the same when the President now goes
through the motions of implementing the 13th
Amendment which gave birth to the councils.
at the JVP antics of attempting to fool all
the people all the time one can't but also
remember how the party helped the government
survive the third reading of the
budget and soon thereafter launched
street protests over the high cost of
JVP has publicly stated that its provincial
councillors do not personally draw any perks
or privileges from the councils, a move that
sounds very benevolent and noble if one
fails to read the fine print. They state
that all such privileges and moneys are
utilised for the benefit of the party.
provincial councillor is entitled to a
salary of Rs. 29,000, a fuel allowance of
Rs.7,000, a duty free vehicle permit for
vehicles upto a value of US$16,000, an
entertainment allowance of Rs.500, a land
telephone line allowance of Rs.10,000 and
the services of a secretary, driver and peon
at government expense.
provincial councils in which the JVP is
represented were hesitant to discuss any one
party specifically, but confirmed to The
Sunday Leader that all JVP provincial
councillors do take all the benefits they
are entitled to.
that the JVP has 72 provincial councillors,
the tax payers provide 72 secretaries,
drivers, phone lines and peons to serve a
political party of equal barbarity to the
LTTE. Having collected the money and the
perks the JVP has now come out publicly and
warned the President that they will topple
the government if the 13th Amendment is
implemented. Now is that confusing or
JVP's opposition to the 13th Amendment would
have attracted much more credence if they
were to renounce these perks and privileges,
and return the money contributed to the
party in the 31 months since the 2004
Provincial Council elections at which their
current members were elected.
we were to do the math, 72 councillors
sending their salaries and allowances to the
party would contribute a monthly sum of Rs.
3.348 million to the JVP coffers. Over 31
months, this amounts to a round sum of over
Rs.103 million that the 13th Amendment has
made for the JVP.
JVP's 72 vehicle permits from the provincial
councils valued at US$16,000 each, grant
them a tax concession for vehicles of a
value up to US$ 1.152 million. In terms of
lost state revenue, the double cabs sported
by most JVP members are liable for a duty of
200%. The total tax saving to the JVP for
the vehicles they have imported with their
permits lies in the ballpark of over Rs.
including tax concessions and hard cash, the
JVP has raked in a total of over Rs.356
million from the amendment they are swearing
JVP's sudden anti-India stance and anti-13th
Amendment stance comes at a time when
President Rajapakse is making almost flirty
overtures towards India inviting the giant
neighbour to play a powerful role in ending
the ethnic conflict.
JVP's opposition to the implementation of
the active constitutional amendment makes a
mockery of the oath sworn by all their
parliamentarians to uphold the constitution,
and lands the nationalist party in bed with
their arch-rival the LTTE, in opposing the
13th Amendment and the provincial councils
that have brought it such profit.
'tears' 13th Amendment apart
Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe lashed
out at the 13 Amendment in the
aftermath of President Mahinda
Rajapakse hailing it as a credible
solution to the ethnic conflict.
a media conference, Amarasinghe was
quoted as having said that the
patriotic masses including the SLFP
had together rejected the Indian
force-fed 13th Amendment way back in
said, "JR was forced to sign the
Indo-Lanka Agreement. There was no
legitimate parliament then to adopt
the 13th Amendment. What was present
then was the parliament that had
extended its period by an illegal
referendum held in 1982.
13th Amendment was adopted as a
solution for the northeast question.
The question has not been resolved.
Provincial councils have been in
existence for 20 years. But the
question remains. Hence, this is not a
solution. It is a new question."
further said, "Today the security
forces are resolving the problem. In
such a background attempting to
activate the 13th Amendment won't be
successful. India violated sovereignty
of this country and got the Indo-Lanka
Agreement signed under emergency
regulations murdering 147 people who
demonstrated against it."
recalled that the then SLFP Leader,
Sirima Bandaranaike sat with the
patriotic forces under the Bo Tree at
Pettah for a sathyagraha against the
Indo-Lanka Pact and claimed that the
SLFP existed in the present context
because it took the correct stand of
opposing the pact.
called upon President Mahinda
Rajapakse to act according to Mahinda
Chinthana policies without bringing in
devolution proposals which are against
the mandate given.
further the leader of the JVP said,
"A totally peaceful and
democratic atmosphere is necessary to
adopt a constitution. The masses
should be able to express their
grievances. At present there is no
such atmosphere. To resolve this
question we, as the JVP, put forward
democratic centralisation. Arbitrary
centralisation or arbitrary division
can never resolve this problem. What
these proposals try to do is to
arbitrarily divide. We have a road map
to solve this question," he
added, "The devolution proposals
that have been presented don't resolve
any issues of the Tamil people. What
happens is a few leaders would enjoy
power and privileges. The ordinary
masses will receive nothing. Hence,
the JVP will take measures in all
fields including economic, political
and legal spheres to defeat these
by the JVP during 1987-1992 over the
members of army personnel
members of police personnel
as government informants
Socialist Front supporters
Government Intelligence Reports)
destroyed by the JVP
Government Intelligence Reports)
or nothing for the renegades
policeman stands guard at the
EPDP compound in Valachchenai
weeks into campaigning for the local
government polls in Batticaloa, the violence
is infact down, at least in some parts of
recent fact finding mission by PAFFREL said
that violence had recorded a decline since
nominations closed on January 25.
was general agreement that the security
situation had improved, particularly with
reference to the levels of violence. The
opening of shops in the town till past 8
p.m. suggested that the people felt secure
enough to move about at night. The presence
of armed groups on the streets had been
reduced," PAFFREL said in its report.
drop is relative, there are still killings
and other abuse that are reported but on a
lower level than a fortnight back. The
violence and intimidation of a fortnight
back hang over the coastal town like gloomy
clouds on the horizon ready to explode
anytime with thunder and lighting.
was up just before nominations and now there
is a lull. It is probably a good
development," Manoranjan Rajasingham,
the PAFFREL district coordinator for
Batticaloa told The Sunday Leader.
drop however has been effected by default,
mainly due to the absence of any major
rivalry among Tamil parties. The TNA having
pulled out, the Pillayan led TMVP appears to
be having it easy.
TNA's absence is a major factor for the lack
of violence, especially in the Tamil areas.
I think there was a lot of pressure on them
just before nominations," Rajasingham
the relative peace in Tamil dominated areas
like Batticaloa may be undone by the
violence that has appeared in Muslim
dominated areas, especially, Valachchenai,
south of Batticaloa. The SLMC did not bail
out of contesting the polls like the TNA or
the UNP, and is now having to face the fire
of Muslim politicians with government
backing like Minister Ameer Ali in
to M. L. M. Hisbullah, Ali has flexed his
muscles to manoeuvre the trusties of the
Ottamavadi mosque. The committee has been
dissolved and an
interim committee is in place now.
The reason behind the move is one Lebbe
Hajiar, who headed the dissolved body and
who had shifted support
from the UPFA to the SLMC. He is also
the chairman of the Ottamavadi Pradeshiya
Muslim parties is where the contest is high
and you can see that from the
violence," Rajasingham said.
is also no guarantee that the lull in
violence in Tamil areas will hold till
elections on March 10. The main fear that
has remained is the presence of armed Karuna
presence of armed TMVP cadres in particular
has been a serious threat to the prospects
of free and fair elections," the
PAFFREL report said.
no one has forgotten what it was like just
prior to nominations.
"Even a few weeks ago, there
were reports of virtual anarchy in the
district, with armed groups openly on the
prowl, most of them allegedly in league with
the government, but with the LTTE also
capable of infiltrating back into the
district from which they were so recently
before the storm?
the time being at least armed members of the
TMVP have been kept indoors, especially in
the town areas. "We don't see them any
more, not in the towns, but we have no idea
how the situation is in the interior,"
is possible that violence and election
malpractices will surface as the election
campaign gathers momentum, as the armed
groups have not been disarmed, and this
possibility needs to be guarded
against," the PAFFREL report warned.
elections are a valuable staging point for
the TMVP in its quest to gain legitimacy. It
knows that very well and with the absence of
the TNA it also knows that it has the best
TMVP officials, on the other hand, pledged
to give their fullest support to the conduct
of free and fair elections. They argued that
the elections were important to them as they
hoped to gain democratic legitimacy through
them. But they expressed apprehension that
other parties might seek to disrupt the
elections," the PAFFREL report said.
is just a month to go for the elections and
there is so much riding on it, especially
for the TMVP.
says it is now vulnerable
TMVP, contesting in its first
elections since it was formed by LTTE
renegade Karuna Amman, has had a
history of controversies prior to
contesting the polls in the east.
Pillayan-led group has been and is
still being accused of carrying arms
in the east and of abductions and
party last month said that its high
rankers had decided not to allow its
military cadres into the civilian
areas until the polls are over.
media spokesperson, Azad Moulana told
The Sunday Leader that the decision to
restrict its armed cadres to the
jungles had made them vulnerable to
he said that all 134 candidates had
been provided security by the police.
candidate has been provided with two
policemen. Those who believed that
their lives were in danger had
requested for more security. I believe
that their security has been
increased. I do not know as to how
many have been appointed additionally
to the candidates," Moulana said.
the TMVP is satisfied with the
security provided to its members and
to the areas where it would contest.
LTTE has been and still is the main
threat to the TMVP.
said that so far, the situation has
been calm and there were no signs of
the elections being postponed.
the possibility of attacks by the LTTE
was not completely ruled out by
are several other groups who do not
want a free and fair election. The
situation now is conducive to hold
elections. However, the LTTE and the
other groups may try to sabotage the
polls," he said.
also said that the possibility of
clashes between the parties contesting
the local government polls were very
minimal due to the heavy security
measures taken by the forces in the
do not think that there would be
clashes, mainly because of the
security measures taken in the area.
The forces are present in each and
every road. Therefore, the chances are
very minimal," he said.
us there is no contest - SLMC
the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC)
contesting the Batticaloa local
election on March 10, it is much more
than a mere election. It is a matter
of pride. In fact, they feel it is the
SLMC's presence that confers some
legitimacy upon the government's
exercise to cloth the TMVP in
democratic garb and adds an element of
we abstain at a time when the UNP and
the TNA have opted out, this becomes a
one horse race. Not that it isn't
already. It is not only because the
TMVP works in alliance with the
government and keeps every other
political outfit at bay. It is because
of the TMVP being also allowed to
brazenly carry arms making all other
contestants ineffective before their
armed state. But some local bodies are
in predominantly Muslim areas and we
would not allow anyone to bulldoze
their way in. We will contest,"
said a determined SLMC Leader, Rauf
the spate of abductions that marred
the pre-nomination phase, with some 63
abductions being reported in three
months, the SLMC believes that their
candidates are the worst affected.
the calling of nominations, Batticaloa
has experienced 28 more abductions,
and 12 of them are candidates.
"Ten of them are Muslims. Doesn't
that say something," said M. L.
M. Hisbullah, a SLMC strongman who
makes Kathankudi his base.
to him, there are SLMC defectors
having a 'free for all' thanks to the
government's blessings. "True,
our candidates are intimidated and
harassed by the TMVP and others. But
our own party men who stayed behind
with the government are now active in
a violent way," adds Hisbullah.
PAFFREL calling upon the government to
make a credible demonstration of its
capacity and commitment to control
violence and dispel fears among the
people regarding the possible use of
arms by some contesting parties, the
government's response had been only to
declare its willingness to keep the
doors open for former militant outfits
to enter mainstream politics.
have done it with a host of Tamil
political parties and with the JVP.
The doors need to be kept open this
time as well," notes UPFA
Secretary, Minister Susil Premjayanth.
SLMC's Rauf Hakeem disagrees.
"What the government does is not
to keep any doors open for such
transitions but allow various warlords
the election augur much hope for the
SLMC, given the conditions that
prevail? Not really. Hakeem is clear
at the same time, allowing warlords to
capture political power in local
bodies without even a fight is not
something the SLMC wants to contribute
to. "Things have been made easy
for paramilitary groups posing off as
political outfits by the decision
taken by the UNP and the TNA. It is
only the SLMC's presence that adds
some credibility to an exercise which
is otherwise designed to cloth the
TMVP with political power,"
Minister of Resettlement, Rishad
Bathiudeen feels things are not as bad
as they are made out to be.
"There is enhanced security for
candidates. Moves are afoot to given
more security to political offices in
the area," he says.
for his main concern, the refugees who
are eligible to vote on March 10, he
believes special mechanisms will be
put in place.
this impatience is useless. This is an
area that is being resettled. There
may be some loopholes but the
government will ensure a mechanism
that provides the refugees with an
opportunity to cast their vote,"
for the violence predicted, he
believes it is part of the experience
of a district that is yet to
completely resettle. But he does not
believe that polls should have to be
postponed until normalcy is restored.
"Normalcy becomes a possibility
when elections are duly held and power
is transferred to the local people. It
is a sad mistake to stay away from the
contest," he notes.