MR. RAJAPAKSA, IF YOU WANT CAPTURE POWER DO IT IN SOME OTHER WAY, WE HAVE NO PROBLEM – SAMPANTHAN

MR. RAJAPAKSA, IF YOU WANT CAPTURE POWER DO IT IN SOME OTHER WAY, WE HAVE NO PROBLEM – SAMPANTHAN


Image courtesy of Asian Mirror (file photo).

Sri Lanka Brief17/11/2017

By R.Sampanthan.

Mr. Speaker, I want to commence my speech by congratulating the Finance Minister, the Hon. Mangala Samaraweera who has presented his first Budget at a time when the country’s economy is in much difficulty. The Hon. Minister is an old, sincere Friend who has always been very progressive in his views on many crucial issues, particularly on the resolution of the National Question. Various Proposals made by him in this Budget are aimed at ameliorating the living conditions of segments of society deeply affected as a result of the Conflict, facilitating reconciliation and infusing hope in the lives of such people and help them towards resumption of normal life. It could be that much more needs to be done but, it must be acknowledged that there is a reasonably good beginning and that while whatever can be done under the current Budget Proposals should be implemented by the relevant ministries as early as possible. Much more, in fact very much more, needs to be done to which also attention must be paid as we go along.

A country’s economy is dependent on a number of factors. Our country and our people have been endowed by nature with many advantages. We are strategically located in the Indian Ocean Region. We can exploit our location to our economic advantage; we have vast opportunities in this area to which we need to pay much attention. To achieve all this, our economy needs to be healthy domestically.

 

We inherited a healthy economy when we achieved Independence. We were envied by other countries. We have frittered away those advantages. If a country is plagued with diseases which we bring upon ourselves, a country’s economy cannot be healthy. We all know the diseases that have afflicted our country: lack of unity, disharmony caused by inequality, injustice, discrimination and exclusion have been our main ailments. Legitimate political aspirations and demands for equality, inclusion, democratic empowerment were met with violence against unarmed civilians. Political commitments were not honoured, the rule of law was not enforced and these harmful developments resulted in counter violence and eventually an armed conflict of unexpected and unprecedented proportions which lasted several decades. We have spent very heavily on fighting a war that could have been well avoided if commitments made to democratic Tamil leaders were honoured and if there was reasonable political accommodation of legitimate Tamil aspirations on the indisputable basis that Sri Lanka is a multilingual, multi-ethnic pluralist society. The recognition of that reality was paramount for there to be national harmony and peace.

Expenditure on Defence continues to be our main commitment, both during the War and even several years after the War has come to an end. All this has had a very adverse impact on the Economy. In more recent years we have become a country in chronic debt. Egocentric policies and projects have been pursued irrespective of other considerations. We need massive investment. Without endangering our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, our doors and windows need to be opened to massive Foreign Direct Investment. Domestic investment should be encouraged to the maximum. We need to build a strong export-oriented economy. We have ample opportunities to achieve this objective.

We have vast nearby markets that we can avail ourselves of, if we can get our act together. I might mention, Sir, at this point of time that there seems to be a view in this country that foreign direct investment and even local investment is to a large extent being impeded by some corrupt persons who are demanding consideration to be able to award such opportunities to people interested in undertaking such projects. I think, it will be sad if that is the truth and I think the Government has a responsibility by the country to ensure that such corrupt activities do not become a hindrance to investment that brings about development in the country and raises the living standards of our people. We appear to have substantial international support. We should not linger, we should make decisions early and implement them. The Government should do what needs to be done.

We need to look after our people who are engaged in self-employment in every sphere – whether it be agriculture, fisheries, livestock development, small and medium scale industries or whatever. They constitute the bulk of our people. We cannot ignore them. We need to look after the poorer segments of our society. They need to be helped. For our efforts to succeed we need harmony, reconciliation, peace and stability in our country.

We are currently engaged in framing a new Constitution. Success in framing a new Constitution is a pre-requisite to successful economic progress. If we are able to frame a new Constitution and bring about stability, permanent peace and harmony amongst our people, the potential for economic development would be immense. That achievement in itself would receive such favourable recognition both domestically and internationally so as to infuse vast economic development and benefits for our people; the prospects otherwise could be dismal. It is unfortunate that we are hearing discordant voices in regard to the framing of a new Constitution and that these voices are emanating from persons who should know better. Since this is fundamental to the future of this country, particularly our economy you will permit me, Mr. Speaker, to deal with this issue somewhat explicitly. I do so because I think that the people of this country need to be educated on all aspects of this issue, both past and present. This is also fundamental in the interests of this country.

The position being taken by our former President, Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa both in Parliament and in the country, promotes disharmony amongst the people of this country. If he is against power being devolved, he should frankly say that power should only be exercised from Colombo as he sought to do under the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Such arrangements can perhaps be more beneficial to individuals in power, but it is certainly not beneficial to all the people in this country, who would participate more directly in the exercise of power, if power is devolved. Mr. Rajapaksa makes out that there are efforts to divide the country. I say categorically, Sir, that is absolutely false. The Proposals clearly state that the country will be undivided and indivisible. We have consistently, publicly stated this position. He should not, on a false basis, once again seek to divide the people of this country. That is not what we expect from a senior political leader. Such conduct, I state, is unbecoming of a senior political leader, particularly when the current President and the Prime Minister without in any way compromising on the future of Sri Lanka as an undivided, indivisible country are endeavouring to unite all the people in this country for the benefit of the country’s future.

It will be necessary, Sir, in the course of my speech, to refer to a few matters pertaining to the Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa and what he had to say when he was in power and when he endeavoured to resolve this problem. He addressed the inaugural Meeting of the All Party Representative Committee called the “APRC” and the Multi-Ethnic Experts Committee on 11th July, 2006. It will be relevant to see what President Mahinda Rajapaksa had to say when he addressed that joint meeting of the Multi-Ethnic Experts Committee and the APRC.

I will read just a few sentences, Sir, to indicate what his thinking was at that point of time. He said, I quote:
“Our objective must be to develop a just settlement within an undivided Sri Lanka.”
That is what we are trying to do now. He further said, I quote:

“People in their own localities must take charge of their destiny and control their politico-economic environment. Central decision-making that allocates disproportionate resources has been an issue for a considerable time. In addition, it is axiomatic that devolution also needs to address issues relating to identity as well as security and socio-economic advancement without over-reliance on the Centre.”
He went on to say, Sir, I quote:

“Any solution must be seen as one that stretches to the maximum possible devolution -”
He further went on saying, I quote:

“Given the ground situation, given the background to the conflict, it therefore behoves on particularly the majority community to be proactive in striving for peace and there must be a demonstration of a well-stretched hand of accommodation.”

This is what President Mahinda Rajapaksa said, Sir, when he addressed the APRC and the Multi-Ethnic Experts Committee. I want to ask him very respectfully whether currently we are engaged in any process that is in anyway different. We all are yet concerned about finding a solution that is reasonable to all the people in this country within the framework of an undivided and indivisible Sri Lanka. When Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa made this speech, nobody said he was dividing the country. What is being done now is what he wanted to do.
The next matter I want to refer to, Sir, is the Joint Statement made by President Rajapaksa and the Secretary-General of the UN. The Secretary-General of the UN came to Sri Lanka just after the end of the war on the 23rd of May, 2009. The Joint statement reads as follows. It states, I quote:

“President Rajapaksa and the Secretary-General agreed that addressing the aspirations and grievances of all communities and working towards a lasting political solution was fundamental to ensuring long-term socio-economic development.”
Finding a political solution was fundamental to ensuring socio-economic development.
It further states, I quote:

“President Rajapaksa expressed his firm resolve to proceed with the implementation of the 13th Amendment, as well as to begin a broader dialogue with all parties, including the Tamil parties in the new circumstances, to further enhance this process and to bring about lasting peace and development in Sri Lanka.”

He was interested in doing that in the interest of ensuring further economic development of the country for the benefit of the people of the country. What is the difference between what is now being done and what President Mahinda Rajapaksa endeavoured to do in 2009 when he made the Joint Statement with the Secretary-General of the UN?

Sir, Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother, Mr. Basil Rajapaksa, at that point of time, a powerful Minister, went to India in October, 2008. He had discussions with the Indian leaders and at the end of those discussions with the Indian leaders, there was a statement issued.
It states, I quote:

    “Both sides discussed the need to move towards a peacefully negotiated political settlement in the island including the North. Both sides agreed that terrorism should be countered with resolve. The Indian side called for implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment and greater devolution of powers to the provinces. Mr. Basil Rajapaksa emphasized that the President of Sri Lanka and his Government were firmly committed to a political process that would lead to a sustainable solution”.

That is what the all-powerful Basil Rajapaksa said when he went to India in 2008, before the war came to an end.
Prof. G.L. Peiris, the then Minister of External Affairs, went to India, Sir, between 15th and 17th of May, 2011. Having had discussions with leaders there, there was a statement made. It states, I quote:

“Both sides agreed that the end of armed conflict in Sri Lanka created a historic opportunity to address all outstanding issues in a spirit of understanding and mutual accommodation imbued with political vision to work towards genuine national reconciliation.
In this context, the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka affirmed his Government’s commitment to ensuring expeditious and concrete progress in the ongoing dialogue between the Government of Sri Lanka and representatives of Tamil parties.

A devolution package building upon the 13th Amendment would contribute towards creating the necessary conditions for such reconciliation.”
This is what Prof. G.L. Peiris, the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka said when he went to India in 2011, after the war had come to an end.

The Foreign Minister of India was in Sri Lanka from 16th to 19th of January, 2012. He had discussions with the Government, with the President and with the Prime Minister. This is what he said, Sir, when he concluded those discussions with the President and the Prime Minister. He made this statement in the presence of Prof. G.L. Peiris, the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka. What the Foreign Minister of India said was, I quote:

“The Government of Sri Lanka has on many occasions conveyed to us its commitment to move towards a political settlement based upon the full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution and building on it so as to achieve meaningful devolution of powers.

We look forward to an expeditious and constructive approach to the dialogue process. We believe that continuation of the dialogue between the Government and the TNA would pave the way for a political settlement including under the rubric of the Parliamentary Select Committee.”
So, this was the situation that prevailed at that point of time.
When President Mahinda Rajapaksa was in power, when President Mahinda Rajapaksa issued a Joint Statement with the Secretary-General of the UN, when Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s External Affairs Minister went to India and when the Foreign Minister of India came to Sri Lanka, there were statements made in the presence of one another. Maximum devolution, meaningful devolution of power, is what they wanted to concede. What is being done now by the present Government through the process of the Constitutional Assembly and the Steering Committee and Subcommittees is to do the same within the framework of a united, undivided country.

Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa who is now present in this House, Sir, as President also appointed the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission comprising of many distinguished people in this country, from all communities mostly from the Sinhalese community. What did they have to say? I am quoting, Sir, from Paragraph 8.222 of the LLRC Report. They said, I quote:

“All parties should recognize that the real issue of sharing power and participating in Government is the empowerment of the people and making the political leaders accountable to the people. This applies to Sri Lanka as a whole and includes the needs of citizens of all communities, Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and others. The effective functioning of the democratic system which fulfils these needs, together with a consensual framework of devolution will, by virtue of attributes and institutions intrinsic to it, also provide the answer to the grievances of minorities.”

I also want to quote, Sir, Paragraph 8.225 of the LLRC Report which said, I quote:

“The Commission wishes to underline the critical importance of making visible progress on the devolution issue, in order to ensure the success of any process of lasting and sustainable reconciliation. The Commission therefore recommends that the present opportunity be utilized to launch in good faith an effort to develop a consensus on devolution, building on what exists – both, for maximum possible devolution to the periphery especially at the grass roots level, as well as power sharing at the centre. This consensus should be one that will enable peoples’ participation in governance decisions affecting them and avoid costly and unnecessary duplication of political, bureaucratic and other institutional structures that hamper efficient, cost effective and transparent governance.”

These were the recommendations of the LLRC. Why did you not implement them? You were the President. You appointed the LLRC comprising of very distinguished people of this country and why did you not implement the recommendations of the LLRC? In fact, if you had recommended the implementation of the LLRC, all that happened in Geneva and the UN Human Rights Council, would not have taken place. It was your failure to implement the recommendations of the LLRC that resulted in the Geneva process being started.
LLRC went on to make some other relevant observations, Sir, which I think, I should refer to and place on record. I refer to Paragraph 8.303 of the LLRC Report and this is what it said. I quote:

“The process of reconciliation requires a full acknowledgement of the tragedy of the conflict and a collective act of contrition by the political leaders and civil society, of both Sinhala and Tamil communities. The conflict could have been avoided had the southern political leaders of the two main political parties acted in the national interest and forged a consensus between them to offer an acceptable solution to the Tamil people.

The LLRC pointed out that the reasons for the continuance of the conflict was the inability of the Southern leaders to come to a consensus in regard to a political settlement relating to the Tamil people. LLRC went on to blame the Tamil political leadership too. I will not refer to that. It is not relevant in this context. But they also attacked and blamed Tamil political leadership for not having quite cooperated in the matter of evolving a political solution. But the fact of the matter was that they pointed out that the main reason for the non-evolution of a political settlement was the lack of capacity on the part of the two main political parties to arrive at a reasonable consensus.

Eventually, Sir, I refer to paragraph 8.306 where the Commission wanted its recommendations implemented. I quote:

“The Commission strongly feels that if these recommendations are not expeditiously implemented, the all-important effort towards reconciliation and lasting peace may not be achieved and the country will continue to face an uncertain future.”

That is what the Commission said that if you do not implement the recommendations, the country will face an uncertain future. Why were the Commission’s recommendations not implemented? Why did President Mahinda Rajapaksa fail to implement the recommendations of the LLRC?
I want to refer to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s election manifesto when he contested the election in 2015. I quote what he said in the manifesto,

“We have been battered for 36 years by the 1978 Constitution which was thrust upon our people and country, without an appropriate debate or discussion. We must also collectively acknowledge that our Constitution is now further distorted due to the various amendments over the years, some of which are not consistent with others. Therefore, instead of amending the Constitution further with piece-meal changes, I will take action to formulate a new Constitution that reflects the people’s ideas, aspirations and wishes within a period of one year.”
This is what President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in the election manifesto that he will frame a new Constitution. He further said, Sir, I quote,

“I will first submit the Draft Constitution which will consist of the proposals of these groups,-
He wanted certain groups appointed, experts and so on.

-for the Parliament’s approval in accordance with the Constitution. Thereafter, I will present the Draft Constitution to a referendum seeking the approval of the people.”

Nobody is now endevouring to do anything else. We are trying to frame a Constitution with a Steering Committee, Subcommittees, experts, public representations received. The whole matter is being considered at the Constitutional Assembly where things have been debated and it must be approved by Parliament by two-thirds majority and also approved by the people at a referendum. We do not want anything done behind the back of the people. So, why is President Mahinda Rajapaksa opposing what he himself proposed. When he contested the Presidential Election in 2015, he stated certain things. Why is he opposing what he himself said at that point of time?

Then, Sir, there was a Resolution in Parliament on the 09th of March, 2016. There was a Resolution to convert Parliament into a Constitutional Assembly. The Constitutional Assembly was to become a committee of the whole Parliament and we were to commence work on the framing of a new Constitution. That Resolution had been circulated amongst the Members of Parliament and it was adopted in Parliament on the 09th of March, 2016. I want to ask President Mahinda Rajapaksa, if you were opposed to framing of a new Constitution, why did you not come to that Session of Parliament and oppose that Resolution? Why did you not come and say the country does not need this? Why are you trying to stir communal feelings now? Why did you not oppose it at that point of time?

I am sorry, Sir, that this is not the way to get about resolving the problems of our people.

Now, the Local Authorities Elections are going to be held and you want to win the elections; you want to defeat the Government. Okay, that is your political activity; nobody can complain about that. But, in order to achieve that, you are trying to stir communal tension in this country by stating that through this Constitutional process, an effort is being made to divide the country. If that was your position, why did you not come to Parliament when the Resolution was adopted and oppose that Resolution? You did not do that.

I am sorry, Sir, that this is not the way to get about resolving the problems of our people. Now, Sir, we have a situation where there has been a Resolution adopted at the UN Human Rights Council in October, 2015 and that Resolution in paragraph no. 16 states, I quote:
“Welcomes the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to a political settlement by taking the necessary constitutional measures, encourages the Government’s efforts to fulfil its commitments on the devolution of political authority, which is integral to reconciliation and the full enjoyment of human rights by all members of its population;..”

This is the Resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council, accepted by this country. Do you want that Resolution violated? You have given a commitment to the UN Human Rights Council that you will do certain things in regard to constitutional making, constitutional measures to ensure reconciliation and peace in Sri Lanka. We know that prior to 2015, throughout 2012, 2013 and 2014, our position in the United Nations became worse. We reached a point of time when this country could have been subjected to economic sanctions and this country could have been in dire difficulties. That did not happen because under the new Government, there was a new direction. I want to ask you, are we not obliged to follow the commitment that we have already made to the UN Human Rights Council.

I want to, Sir, finally quote a statement made by the “Friday Forum” which is a civic body comprising of people of all communities – highly educated, highly respected persons of rectitude, people like Prof. Savithri Gunasekera and several others – and this is what they say in a statement they issued recently; the Statement issued on the 21st of August, 2017.

I want to merely refer to certain matters which I think, are very important. I am happy President Mahinda Rajapaksa with whom I have had a very strong personal relationship over the years is present and will listen to me.

It states, I quote:
“A new constitution has been mandated by the people and law makers must give it the highest priority. Any attempt to subvert this process for cheap political gain by those elected by the people, cannot and must not be tolerated. We urge the Prime Minister and members of the Steering Committee to ensure that the draft constitutional proposals are put before the Constitutional Assembly within the next three months at least, and are also made available to the public. We also urge all representatives of the people in Parliament, both in government and the opposition, to consider the proposals positively and in the best interests of all the people of this country. We acknowledge that the task of drafting a new constitution is not an easy one, given the multi-ethnic-religious constituency of the island nation. It is nonetheless imperative that the process is followed through to the end, and the voice of the people, made clear at the last two elections, be heard. ”

Before I conclude, Sir, I want to merely refer to certain matters which I think, are very important. I am happy President Mahinda Rajapaksa with whom I have had a very strong personal relationship over the years is present and will listen to me. I would appeal you to cooperate. We need your cooperation. You are a very senior political leader in this country. You command much respect amongst the people of this country and we will want you to be a party to the making of a new Constitution. I would appeal to you to support this endeavour.

 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa was in power from 2005 to 2015 which is for ten years. He was in the earlier Government of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga between 1994 and 2005. So, he was in power for almost 20 years. There was a Presidential Election and there was a Parliamentary Election in 2015. The people of this country did not elect him as the President; the people of this country did not elect him as the Prime Minister. Compared to the votes he received in 2010 at the Presidential Election and at the Parliamentary Election, the votes he received in 2015 diminished considerably, diminished seriously. The people very clearly did not want him elected as President or as Prime Minister. That was the verdict of the people. That must be respected. People have elected an SLFP President; President Maithripala Sirisena. People have elected a UNP Prime Minister; Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. What does that mean? The people want the two parties to work together for the benefit of this country. The people’s verdict is the clearest indication that the people of this country want the two parties to work together and that is what they are doing. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, you are a senior Member of the SLFP. I held your father in high esteem, the late Mr. D.A. Rajapaksa because he was one man who crossed the floor of Parliament with Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike when Mr. Bandaranaike crossed over. There were other senior leaders like A.P. Jayasuriya and several others in Parliament but they did not cross over with Mr. Bandaranaike. But, your father crossed over with Mr. Bandaranaike. Mr. Bandaranaike did not expect that. Mr. Banadranaike is supposed to have turned round, seen him coming and said, “I thought that was my shadow”. For that reason, from that date onwards, I held your father in the highest esteem. We would like to hold you also in the highest esteem. You must support the making of a new Constitution. I say to you, Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa, that is your fundamental duty; you must not fail in that duty. That is something which this country needs, unless you want this country to go back into darkness. If you want this country to emerge into light and move forwards, we must make a new Constitution for this country which unites our people, makes us all Sri Lankans, enables us to live in Sri Lanka, our country, as a united people in an undivided, indivisible, perpetually indivisible Sri Lanka. You must do that.

  • As I said before, Sir, if you want to capture power, capture power in some other way, we have no problem. But, do not use the Constitution as a means to come to power

As I said before, Sir, if you want to capture power, capture power in some other way, we have no problem. But, do not use the Constitution as a means to come to power. That should not be done. I want to make an appeal to all SLFP Members. You all belong to a party started by Mr. Bandaranaike. We have supported your party at several elections. We have supported your Presidential candidates. In March, 1960, the Federal Party voted with the SLFP to bring down the UNP Government. We did that. When Mr. J.R. Jayewardene contested Mr. Hector Kobbekaduwa – Mr. Hector Kobbekaduwa was the opponent of Mr. J. R. Jayewardene in the 1982 Presidential Election – the people of Jaffna voted for Mr. Hector Kobbekaduwa.

So, do not think we are against you. Please do not be against us. I am appealing to the genuine SLFPers, please support the making of this Constitution. That is your fundamental duty. That is something you must do in the interest of this country. Do not let this country down. Join in the making of the Constitution. All of us must get together and work for the betterment of this country to make Sri Lanka a prosperous country, which we all would very much desire.

I thank you, Sir.
( Speech made by Hon Sampanthan in Parliament on 15th Nov 2017)

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New torture claims falter in the light of Lord Naseby’s revelations 

New torture claims falter in the light of Lord Naseby’s revelations

  • I hope and pray that, as a result of this debate, the UK will recognise the truth that no one in the Sri Lankan Government ever wanted to kill Tamil civilians
  • Tamil asylum seekers in Europe have alleged that white-van abductions, rape and torture at the hands of Sri Lankan police and army personnel continued even after the war’s end
2017-11-18
The Associated Press (AP) story on a new set of torture allegations by Tamil asylum seekers come just a month after Lord Michael Naseby presented in the British parliament, the most damning evidence yet, that his government lied, or at the very least concealed the truth, when it partnered the US in bringing a 2015 Human Rights Council resolution against Sri Lanka targeting the conduct of its armed forces during the last stages of the civil war. In a heartfelt appeal Naseby told the House of Lords “I hope and pray that, as a result of this debate, the UK will recognise the truth that no one in the Sri Lankan Government ever wanted to kill Tamil civilians.” He called on his government to “act to lead the international community to recognise what the truth really was,” and asked the US and UK to “remove the threat of war crimes and foreign judges that overhangs and overshadows all Sri Lankans, especially their leaders.”
Naseby’s speech put paid to the Darusman report’s guesswork figure of 40,000 civilians killed. Several sources he cited, estimating the number to be in the range of 7000 to 8000 were already known. What was new was the material he had elicited, with much effort, from the Commissioner of Information under the UK’s Freedom of Information Act. This was from dispatches to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from UK’s own Defence Attaché in Colombo, Lt. Col. Anton Gash from 1st January to 19th May 2009. Though it was heavily redacted it showed that the UK government must have had a good idea of the ground realities contradicting the negative propaganda that was in circulation at the time. Gash had told Naseby in January 2009 that “he was surprised at the controlled discipline and success of the Sri Lankan army and in particular the care that it was taking to encourage civilians to escape and how well they were looked after, and that certainly there was no policy to kill civilians.”
However, Harrison’s key witness, a woman referred to in the documentary as ‘Nandani’ was later exposed as having lied
But according to an AP report of 08.11.17 Tamil asylum seekers in Europe have alleged that white-van abductions, rape and torture at the hands of Sri Lankan police and army personnel continued even after the war’s end and under the present government, with cases reported from early 2016 to July 2017. Photographs show scars on the bodies of the victims allegedly caused by burning with iron rods to look like ‘Tiger stripes.’ The report does not seek to answer the question as to what might motivate rape and torture of Tamils by security forces in a post-war context where the LTTE is no longer a threat. Witnesses are reported as saying relatives secured their release through a bribe.
The 52 cases AP examined were from testimonies gathered from Sri Lankan Tamil men by the ‘International Truth and Justice Project Sri Lanka’ (ITJP). The ITJP is headed byYasmin Sooka, the human rights lawyer who was part of the three-member panel of experts (POE) appointed to advise former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on accountability issues in Sri Lanka (the Darusman panel). One of the points emphatically made by Lord Naseby was that the war crimes allegations faced by Sri Lanka flowed from this flawed POE report, and that the misconceptions created by it were in need of ‘urgent attention.’

ITJP’s project director is Frances Harrison, a former BBC correspondent who produced a documentary in 2013 titled ‘Sri Lanka’s Unfinished War’ presenting cases of 12 Tamil men and women who said they were raped in detention by Sri Lankan security forces that year. Based on these testimonies Harrison suggests that rape by Sri Lankan forces was ‘widespread and systematic.’
However, Harrison’s key witness, a woman referred to in the documentary as ‘Nandani’ was later exposed as having lied. According to a 2014 report published online in ‘Eye Sri Lanka’ by the ‘Dead and Missing Persons Parents Front,’ the authors said they had traced and spoken to Nandani’s mother and sister living in Jaffna, and found that their story contradicted details related by Nandani in the documentary. For example Nandani told the BBC that she had been ‘picked up’ from her home in early 2013 by men in uniform who raped her, and that her mother had tried to stop the men from taking her but they had pushed her to the ground. But the authors’ investigations revealed that Nandani had left for the UK in 2012 and had been living in Colombo for the previous six years, not with her mother in Jaffna. Pointing out the inconsistencies the report gives details of Nandani including about her marriage to a pro-LTTE activist living in the UK since 1995.
What is more astounding is the report’s exposure of what it calls “an organized racket taking place to make money from asylum seekers.” It describes how “They are trained on what to say, they agree to be subjected to physical torture which a medical officer endorses as being recent and proof to claim them victims while alleging the perpetrator to be the Sri Lankan military.” The forms of torture that the asylum seekers must agree to, include being burnt with cigarette butts, being beaten with hot metal rods and being cut and scarred. The minimum cost of this operation is said to be sterling pounds 5000-6000 ‘plus various other charges.’ The report gives names and photographs of places in the UK where ‘legal advice’ is offered on how to obtain these ‘services,’ and gives the address and photo of one of the locations where the burning and scarring is carried out – a house they say is owned by a man with close links to the TRO (Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation).
It would come as no surprise if the pro-LTTE diaspora fuelling the Sri Lankan war crimes lobby sought to discredit Lord Naseby’s revelations.
“Dr. Alison says that the over 200 cases cannot be faked. She is correct. There is nothing to fake. Even the pain Nandani describes is very real. What needs to be made clear is that the pain was not caused in Sri Lanka or by the Army but in the UK. The scars are really inflicted but not without consent. That consent comes with the assurance of obtaining asylum” says the report, which can be retrieved from http://www.eyesrilanka.com/2014/10/07/witnesss-accounts-on-sri-lanka-asylum-seekers/
The authors called for an investigation by UK authorities noting that it should shock the British public that such things happen as “a systematic profit making practice within a chain of irregularities granting asylum.” If their story is true, would it not help explain how activists like Sooka and Harrison continue to have caseloads of Tamil asylum seekers alleging torture even AFTER the war’s end – with doctors’ corroborating that their scars are RECENT?
Adding to the scepticism borne out of Eye Sri Lanka’s report, in April this year the UK Court of Appeal ruled that a Sri Lankan asylum seeker allowed himself to be tortured with hot iron bars to support his bid to stay in the UK. Rejecting the claim that he was ill treated in Sri Lanka the court said he probably consented to the torture as part of a ruse called ‘self-infliction by proxy’ or SIBP, adding that a clandestine doctor might have anesthetized him while heated iron rods were placed on him.
The AP report strangely fails to mention this case. By any accepted norms of journalistic practice it should have done so in order to allow readers to come to their conclusions based on relevant information.
It would come as no surprise if the pro-LTTE diaspora fuelling the Sri Lankan war crimes lobby sought to discredit Lord Naseby’s revelations. What IS surprising is the lukewarm response to his speech by the yahapalana government – with the honourable exception of State Minister of Foreign Affairs Wasantha Senanayake who made a well-composed statement during the adjournment debate on the subject.
It’s worth asking if the government’s reticence comes from the realization that seizing this opportunity to reverse the damage, would mean having to admit that it blundered in co-sponsoring resolution 30/1 in 2015, and all that followed.
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In light of Dr Nalaka Godahewa’s Speech At The UNHRC In Geneva – Part II

In light of Dr Nalaka Godahewa’s Speech At The UNHRC In Geneva – Part II

Pre-colonial and colonial rule
 
Pre-colonial Lanka was a very hierarchical feudal society, characterised by regional kingdoms and a mixture of conviviality between the Tamil and Sinhalese feudal nobility in which caste consideration trumped issue of religion and ethnicity. Tensions arose because of inter dynastic rivalry, not ethnic rancour. Capitalism in the Island did not come out of local conditions but was imposed by the colonial masters to suit their economic and structural interests. The elite of all communities ploughed and consolidated their wealth and social positions on the margins of this colonial enterprise. Hence, they were dependent on the patronage of their colonial masters.
The British in particular were very astute in exploiting the cleavages in the social fabric of Lanka, consisting of long standing caste, commercial and political interests of the elite. Amongst the Sinhalese these were the differences between the more entrepreneurial Sinhalese in the littoral regions and the landed gentry in the ‘up country’. The differences amongst the Tamil elite was that of religious based between the Christian and Hindu elites. It was only when the democratic base of the country was widened that ethnic issues became important, as it became a sure fire means of gaining political office.
 
It is an indisputable fact that the Tamils did have a large presence in the professions, especially in medicine, engineering and the public service. This is not because of discriminatory policies of the colonial government, which many Sinhala nationalists contend but because of their geographic location and American missionary education. The north and east with no mountains and hardly any rivers belie their verdant fields. The soil is infertile compared to the south, yet many people live and farm there. There are no large-scale industries. Agriculture at the subsistence level is the mainstay. Apart from farming and fishery, the educational industry and establishments really sustained the people in the north and the east, especially its elite, enabling them entry into the coveted public service and the professions.
 
The Sinhalese elite on the other hand found a lucrative niche in rubber and coconut plantations and trading alcohol, in particular toddy. The Sri Lankan economy largely relied on the plantation sector, dominated by tea followed by rubber and coconut, and on a burgeoning public sector. Post-independence governments were faced with the long-term decline in agricultural prices, increasing population and growing welfare system; this put pressure on the economic well-being and the social fabric of the country.
 
The solutions offered by the political and business elite were not adequate to meet the expectations of a burgeoning population, festering resentments against the seemingly well-off non-Sinhalese and the political masters in the majority community. These resentments were exploited by the two major parties, the SLFP and the UNP, who shamelessly outbid each other in their commitment to the redressing of Sinhala grievances in order to gain government. Bearing the brunt of this were the Tamils. What follows below is an elaboration and exploration of the consequences of this dismal policy of economic inequity coupled with communal rancour which Dr Godahewa conveniently leaves out of his diatribe/discourse.
 
The plantation economy
The colonial plantation economy helped develop transport and communication infrastructure. However, it led to many political, economic and social issues that are left yet to be resolved. The plantation economy needed large tracts of land and cheap labour. Land was acquired through the Crown Lands Encroachment Ordinance of 1840, Grain Tax of 1885 and the Waste Land Ordinance of 1897. Land without title deeds were made crown property and sold to British planters. This can be compared with the usurpation of aboriginal land by virtue of ‘Terra Nullius’ law in Australia. Under the Grain Tax regime, the British expelled the impoverished peasants. Using the Temple Lands Registration Ordinance of 1856, the British also acquired Temple and Kovil lands. In the meantime, some feudal chiefs acquired large tracts of land as ‘nindagam’s.
 
By this time, the colonialists had destroyed the neighbouring South Indian economy and the unemployed were enticed to work on the plantations on false promises. The British colonial masters, who were suspicious of the Sinhala peasants preferred the already subjugated Indian labour. Hence, they brought in a large population of Indian labour to the island and dumped these unemployed among the landless peasants in the upcountry. The emerging pro-colonial capitalist class supported this import of Indian labour to the island. Inhuman methods of transportation, unhealthy living conditions and diseases brought death to many hundreds of them.
 
In the meantime, the need for administrative labour was satisfied by developing a local subservient class from all communities to serve the British rule. They were willing to follow their mores and traditions and learn English to serve the colonial administration. Consequently, some Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims as well as Burghers did not want to topple the colonial status quo. However, most of the population did not offer the British, the obedience they wanted; for the British to achieve their objectives, the resistance of the ‘natives’ had to be broken.
 
Colonial education
 
In the pre-colonial era, Buddhist monks provided education in the temples primarily to a small Sinhala elite in the south. Pirivenas were typically reserved for lay people who wished to become monks. Similarly, Brahmans or educated Vellalars provided education in Hindu Kovils in the north. Both communities had a privileged caste system and families. They received special training in various trades. Knowledge was transferred along caste centric family lines.
 
With colonization came the European form of education to the island. The aim was to prepare students to serve the colonial administration. Traditional education also continued in the south and the north, yet most people remained illiterate. Despite this limitation, they were capable of being successfully engaged and gainfully employed. During the Portuguese rule, missionaries established about 100 schools for fostering Roman Catholicism in the low country. The Dutch then set up a primary schools’ system to support the missionary efforts of the Dutch Reformed Church. The British, who followed them, closed down many Dutch schools at the beginning, but soon government-funded schools and Christian schools started expanding.
 
Despite this expansion, the uneven nature of education became more prevalent. Christian organizations dominated the private school system and, English, their medium of instruction, offered the best road for advancement. Being concentrated in the southwest, these schools attracted mostly Christian and Tamil students. Institutions that used Tamil and Sinhala as medium of education continued to function as elementary schools. English exclusive secondary institutions were attractive to males of elite families, who aspired to, and did fill positions in the colonial administration as junior partners in the colonial enterprise.
 
Language and religion
 

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Breaking Down the Interim Report: On Proposals for Devolution and the State

Breaking Down the Interim Report: On Proposals for Devolution and the State

Featured image courtesy Daily Mirror

GROUNDVIEWS-on 

October 30 marked the beginning of a Parliamentary debate around the recently released draft interim report on constitutional reform by the Steering Committee in the Constitutional Assembly.
In order to better inform the commentary around the debate, Groundviews is releasing a series of short videos deconstructing the content of the draft interim report. View the second in this series below, framed by a short list of frequently asked questions around the constitutional reform process.

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“A unitary state could have features and attributes of a federal state and vice versa” – could you give some examples of this?

The United Kingdom could be considered a unitary state because it has been governed by the UK Parliament, which has ultimate power. However, devolution was introduced in 1998, and is a continuing process which has granted more and more powers to the regional governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As a result, the UK is more devolved than many federations.
On the other hand, countries like the United States and Australia are considered leading examples of federalism because they have strong, autonomous state governments. However, the central governments in these countries retain extensive powers which make it very unlikely to impossible that their states can, for example, secede or break away.

If this is the case, why is there such controversy around these terms?

These terms have acquired political significance which might be different to their legal meaning. A survey conducted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives in October 2016 found that 58% of Sinhala respondents understand the term unitary to mean “one united and indivisible country”. [1]The use of “federalism” creates the fear that Sri Lanka can become divided as a country with different provinces breaking away, and the use of “unitary” is seen as a guarantee that the country will remain undivided.
But looking at the two terms in practice shows that they are simply different ways of governing a country, and the differences between the two are not always clear cut. State practice on unitary and federal states shows how these terms are continuously evolving. Countries have often developed hybrid systems to deal with exactly the kinds of challenges in accommodating diversity that Sri Lanka faces today.

Most importantly, a state’s sovereignty and territorial integrity isn’t automatically guaranteed by the use of a single word to define it – there are other, more crucial factors both within and outside a constitution which can impact a state’s existence more.

Several parties, such as the JHU, the Joint Opposition have said the draft Interim Report supports a federal state. Is this true?

No. The Interim Report only puts forward several proposals on the composition of the State. While these proposals further devolve certain powers to the Provinces, the Central Government retains vast powers, which makes it difficult to say that the proposals support a federal state.

These proposals are based on observations made by the Steering Committee, following a public consultation process spearheaded by the Public Representations Committee for Constitutional Reform (PRC). Copies of this report were given to members of the Steering Committee as well as to the Constitutional Assembly for their consideration.

What is the reasoning behind the proposals put forward on devolution in the draft Interim Report?

Sri Lanka has seen several attempts since the late 1980’s to increase devolution. There are several government documents including the draft constitution of 2000 which envisaged a system of government with more devolution. The Interim Report’s proposals are the latest attempt at formulating proposals on how devolution of power can work in Sri Lanka. The report contains options, some of which have been borrowed from previous proposals and a few new proposals.

Apart from the principle of subsidiarity, explained in the video, the province has been suggested as the primary unit of devolution. This has been broadly accepted by Chief Ministers, Provincial Councils and various Sub Committees. There have also been proposals put forward for Community Councils – to ensure that the rights of minority communities will be protected at different levels of government. Local Authorities have been proposed as a third tier of government under Provincial Councils, subject to uniform legislation prescribed by the Central Government.

The report also suggests that the division of powers between the different levels of government be clear and unambiguous so it proposes a national list, a provincial list and a local government list marking out the subject areas each tier of government should and can have responsibility for.


[1] See Table 2:1 “Opinion poll on Constitutional Reform” (2016): http://www.cpalanka.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Opinion-poll-on-Constitutional-Reform_Final_Oct-16.pdf

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Accommodative and conciliatory approach of TNA

Accommodative and conciliatory approach of TNA


By Manekshaw-2017-11-04

The speech made by Leader of the Opposition and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) R. Sampanthan at the Constitutional Assembly debate on the Steering Committee Interim Report in Parliament was more accommodative and inclusive in his approach with a broader outlook than the stance taken by the first Tamil Leader of the Opposition and Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) the late Appapillai Amirthalingam during his parliamentary days.

Nothing but a separate Tamil state of Eelam had been the ‘manthra’ of the TULF from the time the Vaddukoddai Resolution was adopted in May 1976.

As the only surviving incumbent Tamil parliamentarian of the era of A. Amirthalingam along with his position of national importance as Sampanthan in his speech in Parliament last Wednesday had categorically denounced separatism and emphasized on a new Constitution assuring unity in diversity in the country.

The views expressed by Sampanthan clearly highlighted his statesmanship and made the countrymen realize that if the Tamil question was not found a durable solution during his period it would continue to remain a ‘headache’ in national politics.

From the time the present Constitution was introduced with the Executive Presidency in 1978, it has been described as ‘draconian’ by whoever remained in the Opposition.

While the Tamils were critical of the Constitutions which were drafted from the time the country gained Independence, stating they failed to fulfil their political aspirations, the two main treaties the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact and the Dudley-Chelvanayakam Pact along with the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 had also failed badly in resolving the Tamil question.

Leader of the Opposition Sampanthan emphasizing in Parliament on the need of unity in diversity focused more on the national interest than on confining himself only into the political aspirations of Tamils.

It is important to understand that Sampanthan also being the Leader of the TNA as well didn’t express his views from a comfort zone as certain constituent parties in the TNA already expressing their disappointment over the Constituent Assembly’s Steering Committee Interim Report.

However, the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK) being the flagship of the TNA the premier parliamentarians of the party such as Mavai Senathiraja and M. A. Sumanthiran along with several other ITAK parliamentarians from the North and the East stood by the stance taken by their leader Sampanthan on seeking maximum possible devolution within a united country.

Despite realizing the gravity of the Tamil crisis which had led to the three decades of a ruthless separatist war, the manner nationalist elements flexing their muscles will not only make the ethnic question an everlasting political problem in the country, but even make the international community put more pressure on Sri Lanka to act in a constructive manner in resolving the ethnic crisis.

Pablo de Greiff

From the time Sri Lanka cosponsored the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution in 2015, the international community’s focus on the Island Nation has increased significantly and the UN experts, who had visited the country in the recent past including the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparations and Guarantees of Non-recurrence Pablo de Greiff who was in the Island last week, have expressed their disappointment over settling the humanitarian issues as well as the political process to strengthen peace and reconciliation.
Pablo de Greiff even warned Sri Lanka that he would submit an extensive report on the negative aspects on his findings during his Sri Lankan assignment at the UNHRC sessions next year in Geneva.

In the meantime Sampanthan’s confidante and the TNA Parliamentarian Sumanthiran in his address in Parliament citing the historical evidence based on the legends in Sri Lankan politics such as the late Prime Minister S. W. R .D. Bandaranaike, Leftist stalwarts Pieter Keuneman and the late A. Vaithyalingam taking a positive stance on federalism.

Sumanthiran also went on to say that even before Sri Lanka gained independence the Kandyan Chiefs in 1930 remained supportive of a Federal system in the country.

While pointing fingers at the nationalist political forces in the South for derailing any constructive move to find a durable political solution to the Tamil question, it is important even to remember how the Tamil extremists had remained a threat to the political efforts which were put forward locally as well as to the endeavours made by the international community in bringing an end to the separatist war by finding a healthy political solution to fulfil the political aspirations of Tamils in the North and the East.

So the international community extending its support towards defeating Tamil extremism which emerged in the form of an armed struggle will not tolerate political extremism in the South remaining a stumbling block in resolving the post-war humanitarian crisis as well as in strengthening peace and reconciliation through a constructive political settlement.

The speeches made by Leader of the Opposition and TNA R. Sampanthan as well as M.A. Sumanthiran in Parliament last week on bringing out a new Constitution acceptable to the Tamils were accommodative and conciliatory in every way while warning on the grey areas to be taken into consideration.

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STRUGGLE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN SRI LANKA: PROGRESS DESPITE A DIFFICULT LEGACY

STRUGGLE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN SRI LANKA: PROGRESS DESPITE A DIFFICULT LEGACY

Sri Lanka Brief17/11/2017

By Dr Harsha de Silva, MP, Deputy Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs.
At a time when the world seems to be struggling mightily to put human rights at the forefront of a global discourse burdened by conflict, fear of terrorism and radicalisation, and real or perceived security threats of various kinds, mechanisms like the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Right Council gain an added importance. The UPR was enacted in 2006 by the General Assembly of the UN as a process in which the human rights record of every member state is scrutinized by fellow member states and its adherence to obligations in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments is tested.

Sri Lanka is reporting under the UPR mechanism for the third time this week in Geneva, with previous reports occurring in 2008 and 2012. Following more than three decades of conflict and a subsequent government which had a dubious record on human rights, I am happy to represent a government which has made vindication of human rights central to its policies. Considering the difficult legacy, it was always to be expected that the process was never going to be easy. However, there are many signs of progress on the front of human rights we were proud to present in Geneva.

On 1 November, the government launched Sri Lanka’s National Human Rights Action Plan 2017-2021, which outlines our vision for human rights during the next five years. The plan, informed by wide consultations, contains feasible, actionable and relevant action points pertaining to ten thematic areas – Civil and Political Rights, Prevention of Torture, Rights of Women, Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and Returning Refugees, Rights of Migrant Workers, Rights of Persons With Disabilities, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Rights of Children, Labour Rights and Environmental Rights. The goals set out in the plan are clear, and they will strengthen the existing national mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights through substantial constitutional, legislative, policy and administrative frameworks. The recently enacted budget clearly shows we are serious about seeing this plan through, and have created effective ways of monitoring and evaluating its implementation.

The National Human Rights Commission (HRCSL) has been further strengthened with the appointment of independent commissioners by the Constitutional Council. The HRCSL has the authority to entertain complaints and conduct investigations regarding infringements or imminent infringements of fundamental rights, and to provide for resolution by conciliation and mediation. It also monitors the welfare of persons in detention. The government has progressively increased resources allocated to the commission as one of the key human rights institutions and will continue to support and safeguard its independence.

We have consulted and listened to the people on how to go about addressing the needs resulting from the decades of conflict and suffering.

These extensive consultations carried out by the Consultation Task Force comprising an 11-member all-civil society group inform our approaches to reconciliation and dealing with the past. We have also adopted the National Policy on Reconciliation based on the feedback we received from communities and multiple other stakeholders.

As one of the key measures aimed at addressing the suffering of the families of the missing persons, the government enacted legislation for establishing the independent and permanent Office on Missing Persons (OMP), and it came into operation on the 15th September 2017. On 20th October 2017, the Constitutional Council advertised, in all three languages, calling for applications to fill the seven posts of Commissioners. This Office is mandated to take all necessary measures to provide for a mechanism to address the issues and concerns related to missing persons. We cannot claim to be a society where the rights of all citizens are equally respected if we are blind to the suffering of mothers still searching for their children. In the budget for 2018, we have proposed setting aside 1.4 billion Rupees for the operation of the OMP for next year.

An office is to be established to address reparations to the victims of the conflict, and the draft legislation prepared by experts in this regard is currently under discussion. Meanwhile, the Government has already paid Rs. 574 million and Rs. 605 million in 2017 and 2016 respectively, as compensation for victims, through the Rehabilitation of Persons, Property and Industries Authority (Sri Lanka) – REPPIA. A draft law for a TRC is also under consideration. The government remains firmly committed to developing a domestic mechanism to address justice and accountability on alleged human rights and humanitarian law violations. The architecture of the mechanism will be devised taking cognizance of our commitment to fight impunity, as well as of all relevant factors that shape Sri Lanka’s constitutional and political context.

The security forces have continued to progressively vacate lands in the Northern and Eastern Provinces that had been occupied for military use and strategic security reasons and appropriate compensation will be provided where release is not feasible due to security reasons. At the end of the conflict the security forces were using approximately 88571 acres of state lands and 30, 337 acres of private lands. Of this, as at 31st October 2017, the armed forces had vacated 57,278 acres of state lands and 24,675 acres of private lands in the Northern and Eastern provinces. 604 more acres of state lands and 294 acres of private lands have been earmarked for release by the end of this year.Appropriate compensation in consultation with the persons concerned, will be made in connection with private land that cannot be released for security or strategic purposes such as land around the Palaly airport in the North.

In 2016, a total of 11,253 houses (Rs. 8,963 million) were handed over to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and an additional allocation of Rs. 4,785 million has been made in the 2017 budget for the construction of 5,732 houses. In the next year’s budget, we have proposed an allocation to support the construction of 50,000 brick and mortar houses in the North and East. It is clear for all to see that our commitment to redressing those affected by the conflict in all areas of our country is rooted in action, not only words.

Amongst many other positive developments, the government endorsed the ‘Declaration of the Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict’ on 12th January 2016, including by ending impunity for such crimes. To address the specific issues faced by Women Headed Households (WHH) who have been identified as a vulnerable social group, the Cabinet of Ministers approved a National Action Plan on WHHs in October 2016 which focuses on health and psycho-social support, livelihood development, protection, social security, support services systems, as well as national level policy formulation and awareness building.

Regulations and measures have been put in place to eradicate child labour to ensure the full enjoyment of the rights of the child. Various initiatives are underway on this front, including the concept of Child Labour Free Zone initially piloted in the district of Ratnapura, successfully eradicating child labour in that district. The success of this project has now been replicated in all the 25 districts in the country.

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Sri Lanka Reaffirms ‘Very Firm Commitment’ To Resolution 30/1 At UPR In Geneva

Sri Lanka Reaffirms ‘Very Firm Commitment’ To Resolution 30/1 At UPR In Geneva

By Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka –NOVEMBER 17, 2017
Sri Lanka’s head of delegation to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, Dr. Harsha de Silva, making his presentation to the UPR Working Group, said with reference to Resolutions 30/1 and 34/1, “I wish to reaffirm our firm commitment to ensuring their implementation”. He also said that the Unity government had ended the “acrimonious relationship that the former Government maintained with the Human Rights Council, by calling for repeated votes every year”, by cooperating to achieve a consensus and co-sponsoring the resolutions on Sri Lanka instead.

Secretary to the Foreign Ministry, Prasad Kariyawasam, responding to questions from member states, echoed this assurance when he said that Sri Lanka’s “commitment to implementation of Resolution 30/1 remained very firm”.
 
According to media reports, before the Sri Lankan delegation left for Geneva to attend the Review of Sri Lanka’s human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council, head of delegation Dr. Harsha de Silva said that Lord Naseby’s findings that the numbers of civilian deaths during the last stages of the war could well be under 8000 rather than 40,000 or more, was of no direct relevance to the UPR process.
President Sirisena had himself written to Lord Naseby, in addition to the letter sent by State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Vasantha Senanayake, thanking him for his efforts, indicating that the President views Lord Naseby’s revelations as relevant and welcome.
 
The President’s letter dated 2nd November 2017 was tabled in parliament by State Minister Vasantha Senanayake on the 14th of November and appears in the Hansard of Nov 14th as a footnote to his speech. It is curious that the fact that the President had written to Lord Naseby to thank him did not appear in the media and that the Sri Lankan delegation to the UPR chose not to appraise the Council of the contents of Lord Naseby’s revelations. Even more curious, there is reliable information that while Lord Naseby is aware of the President’s gesture, the letter itself has not yet reached him, being strangely held up by someone, somewhere.
 
Sri Lanka’s renewed “very firm commitment” to Resolution 30/1 (of 2015) and 34/1 (of 2017) without any reservation whatsoever, will do nothing to deter the mythical figure of 40,000 from continuing to be repeatedly quoted in the global media.
 
The question remains for the citizens of Sri Lanka if this is also the view of President Sirisena, who has recently stated that the armed forces will not have to face a judicial inquiry based on unsubstantiated allegations. 
 
To recall some of the commitments in Resolution 30/1, the following paragraphs include some provisions that Sri Lanka reaffirmed its commitment to the implementation of:
Takes note with appreciation of the oral update presented by the United Nations High Commissioner to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh session, the report of the Office of the High Commissioner on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka and its investigation on Sri Lanka requested by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 25/1, 2 including its findings and conclusions, and encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations contained therein when implementing measures for truth-seeking, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence;”
 
The Operative paragraphs of the Resolution includes the following:
 
“Welcomes the recognition by the Government of Sri Lanka that accountability is essential to uphold the rule of law and to build confidence in the people of all communities of Sri Lanka in the justice system, notes with appreciation the proposal of the Government of Sri Lanka to establish a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, as applicable; affirms that a credible justice process should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for their integrity and impartiality; and also affirms in this regard the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators;”
 
“Also encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to introduce effective security sector reforms as part of its transitional justice process, which will help to enhance the reputation and professionalism of the military and include ensuring that no scope exists for retention in or recruitment into the security forces of anyone credibly implicated through a fair administrative process in serious crimes involving human rights violations or abuses or violations of international humanitarian law, including members of the security and intelligence units;”
 
Despite Dr. Harsha de Silva’s assertion about the previous regime’s relationship with the Council, taking a vote in the Council is not considered “acrimonious” and is a legitimate and often used mechanism for ascertaining the majority view of the Council, although there may have been other indicators of an “acrimonious relationship”. As for Resolutions 30/1 and 34/1, when the country concerned co-sponsors a resolution, other countries don’t object to their adoption, although dissenting views were expressed at the time by some states.
 
In the official written submissions which form part of Sri Lanka’s review, there were a number of references to Resolution 30/1 by Governments, Special Rapporteurs and NGOs alike. This Resolution and the discourse surrounding it had been deeply influenced by the inclusion of the figure of 40,000 deaths by the Darusman panel and led to calls for Universal Jurisdiction to be applied by all member states of the UN, by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
 
In addition, several NGOs referred to the following in their written submissions:
  • Foreign participation in judicial mechanisms
  • Hybrid mechanisms
  • International investigators, forensic experts, defense lawyers
  • War crimes
  • Mass killings and rape
  • Crimes against humanity
  • Genocide committed against Tamil people
As such, it could reasonably be thought that any evidence that helps to established that the genocidal figure of 40,000 was indeed a baseless allegation and that credible sources including the British Defense attaché had in confidential communications suggested it was less than 8000 including combatants, would most certainly be directly relevant.
 
‘Transitional Justice’ which first made its appearance in Resolution 30/1, is supposed to apply when ‘massive past abuses’ are alleged. The ‘security sector reforms’ which form part of TJ surely flows from such an assumption as well.
 
At the UPR, the US, France, Germany, Canada, Ireland, Australia and Denmark were among others who recommended the implementation of 30/1, but they needn’t have worried. Canada was one of the countries that mentioned foreign investigators, judges, investigators and prosecutors.  Several countries mentioned Transitional Justice and the OMP.
 

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A ‘Blue frog’ croaks from an abandoned well ! Not only media Institution even journalists shall be stifled ! (video)

A ‘Blue frog’ croaks from an abandoned well ! Not only media Institution even journalists shall be stifled ! (video)

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News -15.Nov.2017, 9.50AM)   SLFP Matara district organizer Nalin Ranaweera suddenly convening a special media briefing on the 13 th said , or rather croaked like a frog in the well  that if the programs of president Maithripala Sirisena are not given publicity or his  sordid biddings are not carried out by any media , not only the media Institution even those journalists of the Institution shall be fastened with a red label , and a ban be imposed.

This ‘frog in the well’ foolish (dis)organizer  who does not know even what he is talking about went on to insist that if the laws are not strong enough , new laws shall be enacted by  the Telecom Regulatory Commission (TRC) to impose bans on the news websites and suppress  them . This ‘frog in the well’ imbecile who knows only to croak did not even know it is the parliament and not the TRC that enacts laws.

(Dis)organizer Nalin Ranaweera confirming he is still a frog inside  an abandoned well croaked with all his might there are no charges of robbery against anybody in  the SLFP , and   except the president  there is no room for any other leader while adding ,if Sirisena is not there , there will neither be a good governance government nor a prime minister(P.M.).

Hereunder is the video footage of the buffoon , the lackey of president Sirisena who claims latter’s suppression of the media  is justifiable

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by     (2017-11-15 04:30:04)
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The State withers away The third of four articles delving into the Left movement in Sri Lanka

The State withers away The third of four articles delving into the Left movement in Sri Lanka

Somewhere in the late eighties, with the collapse of communism, the world that had hitherto been split into two camps shifted into an “Us versus Them” dichotomy of a different sort, this time between the multilateralists and the unilateralists. As Prof. Nalin de Silva so eloquently put it, the world didn’t become multi-polar, which means, obviously enough, that history didn’t end. Fukuyama was wrong, Huntington wasn’t. Superpowers had been built on the assumption that there was an enemy to be fought, somewhere, and it could include entire continents and cultures and civilizations. We were promised that life would get simpler. It didn’t. The truth is, it couldn’t.
Vijaya Kumaratunga
2017-11-17
Today the multilateralists have, for all intents and purposes, sided with the unilateralists. Vast wars are embarked on, vast sums of money are spent on weapons, and what was described by Eisenhower as the military-industrial complex has expanded so exponentially that no number of leaked documents can do justice to its scope. Life couldn’t get simpler because the idea of two superpowers fighting against each other, or keeping the peace with each other, insured the rest of the world against one country, one empire, gaining a monopoly over everyone else. Once that was out, things could only get more complicated. Sadly, for better or for worse, that is what has transpired today.

It was a dangerous time

Right after the end of the Second World War, when the Soviet Union began to be demonised and considered as the Enemy, down to the eighties and nineties, when the promise of a world free of bloodshed and conflict was aborted, despite the collapse of communism, by the commencement of the Gulf War, aggression was largely based on rhetoric, because both sides of the global polity knew, at least to an extent, that fighting against one another would mean suicide as far as they, and the world in general, were concerned. That is why we look back at the sixties and seventies as the era of James Bond fighting unseen global elites who want to flare up war between the Communists and the Free World so as to appropriate power for their members. As far as history, literature, and propaganda went, it was a dangerous time to live in, but it was also a nostalgic time, the time of spy novels, irresistible conspiracy theories, and the Profumo Affair.
Obviously, the tactics, the strategies, and even the philosophy guiding the movement against the Global Left changed during the eighties. The West has, for whatever reason, been shy
about calling out its opponent in clear-cut, cohesive terms
Obviously, the tactics, the strategies, and even the philosophy guiding the movement against the Global Left changed during the eighties. The West has, for whatever reason, been shy about calling out its opponent in clear-cut, cohesive terms, which is why it tends to smother those opponents with politically correct slogans; the Evil Empire, Drugs, and of course Terror. As historians have pointed out, after all, even the American Civil War has been smothered with such feel-good slogans and labels (the best of them, and in fact the most mythical of them, being the “War against Slavery”) that people don’t know the real intentions behind Lincoln’s campaign against the slaveholders. There was and is nothing different in the way the West, the Free World that is, sought to endear itself to nations that were springing out of communism and socialism. One way of suffocating the Global Left in this regard, therefore, was the empowerment of a Global Anti-Left. That came about in turn with the rise and institutionalisation of the NGO intelligentsia.

The New Left

This was the fatal contradiction at the heart of the Old Left; its susceptibility to the machinations of outside parties that had no interest, much less enthusiasm, about prolonging the leftist ideals it stood for. That contradiction was by and by the outcome of the discrepancy it reflected within itself between, as I mentioned last week, the stated aims of an equal society and the largely bourgeois ethic of the leadership it helped prop up. In Sri Lanka radicalism was, until the emergence of the New Left, limited to the “saadukin pelena wun” rhetoric of the Communists and Trotskyites, whose lasting achievements to the political sphere of this country can’t be discounted (they were, after all, behind the drive this country tried to move with towards an industrialised society, something the colonial bourgeoisie could not attempt, much less achieve). Unfortunately with the dissolution of the Old Left’s credibility courtesy of the 1971 insurrection, it felt rather abandoned. It needed to make a comeback. That comeback came about when we substituted an ethnocentric project for a class-oriented one within the Left Movement.
Vijaya was the Southern politician that the North had been looking for, and he was the perfect foil to the then ascendant New Left, which as I observed last week was doing a pretty good job of being cultural nationalists and fervent Marxists
Hidden beneath the sloganeering of that movement was one key concept that the NGO intelligentsia was able to, inadvertently, pick up; the withering of the State. In Marxism that refers to the means by which a society of equals could be attained. It indicated an absence of not just class barriers, but also class consciousness, and it had to be preceded by a society that privileged the State as a necessary evil. What this meant, clearly enough, was that the State was always an instrument, and never an agent that could act on its own. When the intelligentsia intruded on the Left Movement in this country, it made use of this concept, or theory, and helped propel a private sphere that would remain independent of the State while making the State its primary instrument. The main channel through which this contortion could be realised was the Old Left, and the main method through which the Old Left could be made to yield to the contortion was the substitution of ethnicity for class. After 1956, after 1971, the single most significant political phenomenon in this country, for me therefore, is the emergence of the federalist-devolutionist discourse.

Vijaya Kumaratunga

The man chosen to head this movement was Vijaya Kumaratunga. There were several advantages to be gained by having Vijaya. Firstly, he was popular. He courted voters in both the South and the North, and at a time when Sinhala politicians were considered as parvenus by the top rung of the LTTE, he was amenable even to the likes of Prabhakaran. (The fact that his funeral was attended by members of the LTTE attests to this.) As I have pointed out elsewhere, he was adamant in considering the war against the Tamil Tigers a chauvinist government-led project against the Tamil people. For the supporters of the conflict, it was the only way through which centuries of inter-ethnic disparities could be corrected (this is true of the Sinhalese and the Tamil equally), but for the likes of Vijaya, it was nothing more than a “jaathivadi yuddhayak”, a term he used during a television interview. Vijaya was the Southern politician that the North had been looking for, and he was the perfect foil to the then ascendant New Left, which as I observed last week was doing a pretty good job of being cultural nationalists and fervent Marxists.
Liyanage Amarakeerthi in an otherwise critical piece on Gunadasa Amarasekara and the politics of the Jathika Chinthanaya contended that the problem with our political parties and the NGO sphere was their inability to produce engaging, original thinkers. With respect to the latter I think the problem goes deeper; the truth is that our NGO sphere has been unable thus far to produce an sincere enough thinker who can go beyond the monolingual elite and capture the hearts and minds of the monolingual masses and/or the bilingual middle class. They have failed to do so even today. A careful perusal of Susantha Goonetilake’s book Recolonisation shows clearly that these intellectuals were well equipped with the language of the coloniser. But they couldn’t acquaint themselves properly with the cultures they were involved with, Sinhala or Tamil.
Amarakeerthi himself noted this: “Writing mainly in English, they could not really reach out.” This explains, to a considerable degree, the cynicism with which we regard those self-styled leftists academics, who write one piece after another justifying the policies of this Government and any Government that has supported their fundamentally flawed views on majoritarian hegemonies and chauvinism. I call them flawed not because they don’t merit scrutiny – no one can deny that a hegemony based on Sinhala Buddhism does exist in Sri Lanka – but because they don’t go beyond lambasting it by trying to find out reasons for the hegemony and its wide appeal among the people of this country.
In Sri Lanka radicalism was, until the emergence of the New Left, limited to the “saadukin pelena wun” rhetoric of the Communists and Trotskyites, whose lasting achievements to the political sphere of this country can’t be discounted
What happened after the bheeshanaya is interesting to reflect on. The Vijaya Kumaratunga Front (the United Socialist Alliance) collapsed almost immediately after the man’s tragic murder at the hands of a New Left operative. The party that he and his wife had created congealed into an influential political movement, one that immediately forced the Old Left it had been associated with to be its vassal. Chandrika Kumaratunga, in what was seen as a landslide victory, swept into power promising change (based on the federalist-devolutionist discourse that the USA was premised on). It’s a testament to her foresight, her vision, and her policies that not even two presidential terms by her then most serious contender from the SLFP, and a potential third (which didn’t materialise), could erode her ideological sway. What we see today therefore is a return to that political discourse, though minus the Old Left, which has bifurcated between her (the Jayampathy Faction) and her erstwhile contender, Mahinda Rajapaksa (the Vasudeva Faction).
Where this has led us to, and what it means for the New Left, I will explore next week.
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Early Inhabitants and the rulers of the island Sinhaladvipa/Sinhale were Saivaite Tamils

Early Inhabitants and the rulers of the island Sinhaladvipa/Sinhale were Saivaite Tamils

The first Tamil Nadu (Chola) invasion took place during the rule of Vankanasika Tissa (111 AD-114 AD) when Karikala Cholan invaded the Anuradhapura kingdom and took away a large number (12,000) of captives to work as slaves on the irrigation project he was building at Kaveri River in South India.

 

Views expressed in this article are author’s own

( November 17, 2017, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) During the early historic period (6th century BC to 3rd century AD), Lanka/ilankai (as first mentioned in the Ramayana) was a part of South India separated by a shallow sea and was only a walking distance before the sea levels rose. Even today, one of the ancient bridges that was linking South India to Sri Lanka can be seen in the NASA shuttle images. During that period, irrespective of whether they were Yakkhas, Nagas, or any others, all these tribes were Saivaite Dravidians (devotees of Lord Siva, Saivaism is a sect of Hinduism/Brahmanism prevalent in Sri Lanka before Buddhism). The Naga tribe not only lived in both Sri Lanka and South India but they were also moving back and forth between Sri Lanka and South India. All the ancient rulers of Sri Lanka before the arrival of Buddhism were also Saivaites (followers of Saiva Siddhantam). The Pali chronicles leave us in no doubt that the worship of Siva was prevalent in Anuradhapura and elsewhere in the island. The numerous occurrences of the personal name Siva in the Pali chronicles and in the early Brahmi inscriptions also support this. As per Ramayana, even the Yaksha king Ravana was believed to be a Dravidian chieftain and a strong devotee of Lord Siva.
During the early period (before Buddhism), the Island of Sri Lanka was not a Dhamma Deepa of Buddha but a Siva Bhoomi (Land of Siva). As confirmed by Dr. Paul E. Pieris, in the ‘five corners’ of the island Lanka, there were five ancient historical Ishwaram temples of Lord Siva (Nuguleswaram, Munneswaram, Koneswaram, Tondeswaram, and Katheeswaram). Sri Pada/Adam’s Peak was originally known as Sivanolipatha Malai (sacred footprint of Siva). Even today, if they dig/excavate deep in any part of Sri Lanka, the archeology department could find Statues of Lord Siva, some of them that were already found are kept in museums while many got disappeared/lost. There was NO Buddhism in Sri Lanka until Emperor Asoka’s missionary monks led by Mahinda Thero converted the Saivaite Dravidian/Tamil King Muta Siva’s second son Tissa (brother of Maha Siva) to Buddhism in the 2nd century BC (Tissa/Tisa is the Buddhist name, his real Saiva name is not known. However, Thisan is a Sangam age Tamil name found in Keezhadi excavation). For accepting Buddhism, Emperor Asoka (who assumed the title Devanampiya Piyadasi which means “Beloved-of-the-Gods”) gave king Tissa a similar title Devanampiya.
Following the king Devanampiya Tissa, a large number of Saivaite Dravidian tribes in the island embraced Asoka’s Buddhism, Aryanised/Prakritised their speech, learned to write using Asoka Bhrami script, adopted the Lion symbol (the Indian Lion which represents the accomplishment of Buddha) and the Dhamma Chakra (also called the Asoka Chakra), accepted the Asoka Buddhist culture and implemented Asoka’s technology to build Stupas, Chaityas, Viharas, Sangharama, and so on. The authors of the early Brahmi inscriptions in the island which are in the Pakrit language were almost certainly Buddhist monks (even the Buddhist Sangha in Tamil Nadu had used Pakrit/Pali language in preference to Tamil in their writings). These inscriptions mainly record the donation of caves to the Buddhist Sangha. The language of these inscriptions should not be assumed to be that of the common people. Even though the written language started only after the invention of the Brahmi script, Tamil was a spoken language thousands of years before it was put to writing and is one of the ancient living languages in the world. The word ‘Tamil’ occurs in Sangam poems/literature dating back to 300 BC (has survived to the modern date) to denote a language and an ethnic group. About the same period, its derivate ‘Damila’ in the Prakrit language occurs in early inscription from Amaravati and in the Pali Chronicles of Sri Lanka as a section of its population. (Refer Dr. K. Indrapala, The Evolution of an ethnic identity: The Tamils of Sri Lanka, page 4). It should be noted that there is no Elu/Hela/Sinhala literature prior to the 8th-9th centuries AD.
However, after his conversion to Buddhism, Devanampiya Tissa’s proclamation that he was the Maharajah of Sri Lanka (with Asoka’s blessing and support) and his efforts to force the people of the country to accept Buddhism was rejected by the Vanni Chieftains (early historic Vanni Chieftaincies encompassed Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara, Puttalam and Kathiragama hinterlands). They were strong devotees of Lord Siva who refused to accept Devanampiya Tissa as their overlord and resisted his effort to impose Buddhism on them. Saivaite Dravidian rivalry against Buddhism began in 177 BC during the reign of his youngest brother Sura Tissa. Two Saivaite Tamils, Sena and Kuttaka (Damila horse merchant’s sons, none of the Pali chronicles describe them as invaders) defeated Sura Tissa in battle and conquered Anuradhapura and ruled it for 22 years. Anuradhapura was under Saivaite Tamil threat for the next 149 years ending in 88 BC. Eight Saivaite Tamil kings ruled Anuradhapura for a total of 82 years during that period. The Mahavamsa does not call any of them invaders (other than Ellala). The history scholars who studied/analyzed the Pali chronicles and the historical records in Tamil Nadu for any reference to any invasion (either Chola or Pandyan) during the same period failed to find any evidence. They feel that these rulers were native Saivaite Dravidian/Tamil Vanni chieftains who rebelled against the imposition of Buddhism. However, the chieftain who ruled Jaffna/Nagadeepa accepted Devanampiya Tissa’s overlordship and converted to Buddhism. Even though Mahavamsa says that Ellala was a Chola Prince, the folk drama popular among the native Tamils ‘Ellalan Koothu’ says that he was the son of Sena, one of the first native Tamil rulers of Anuradhapura. Even Dutugemunu had to conquer not just one Tamil Saivaite king (Ellala) but 32 Tamil chieftains around the Anuradhapura Kingdom. Pandara Vanniyan was known as one of the last native Saivaite Tamil Vanni chieftains who challenged the British rule. The Mahavamsa by trying to discredit those native Saivaite Tamils who rebelled against imposing Buddhism (by portraying them as foreign invaders) did only the opposite, it confirmed their existence as Tamil rulers/chieftains from ancient time.
During the 5th century A.D, Ven. Mahanama thero and a group of scholarly Buddhist monks of the Mahavihara in Anuradapura observing two groups of people, the Tamil speaking Saivaites and their converts (Buddhists) speaking the new language (Prakrit), wrote the Pali chronicles with the motive of projecting the Theravada Buddhists as a separate ethnic group, ‘the Sinhalese’ (who will protect the Buddhist dharma in the island Dammadvipa/Sinhaladvipa – the ‘chosen land’ of Buddha where Theravada Buddhism will prevail for 5000 years) and the Tamil Saivaites who did not convert to Buddhism but was posing a threat to Buddhism were projected as ‘enemies or invaders’. That is how ‘Sinhala’ originated and became the ‘guardians of Buddhism’ and the non-Buddhist (Saivaite Tamils) became ‘invaders’. The Mahavamsa goes to the extent of openly declaring that killing is a virtue in defense of Buddhism in its description of the victory of the Buddhist prince Dutthagamini over the Saivaite king Ellala. By trying to interpret the cooked up and concocted stories (mostly picked up from Ramayana, Mahabaratha and the Jataka tales and modified) including the invasion theory that was mentioned in the Mahavamsa, the European (colonial) orientalist scholars (English & German) who translated the Mahavamsa in the 20th century AD made the antagonism even worse by generalizing all the Saivaite Tamil rulers as ‘invaders’. Their historical writings were only based on uncritical acceptance of the Pali chronicles and they were only interested in their Aryan cousins in this part of the world. They did not make any attempt to study/analyze or translate the old Tamil texts. It is on this European orientalist’s misinterpretation that the Sinhalese base their exclusive claim to possession of the whole island. Today the myth has become the truth and the Sinhalese believe it as gospel. They are brainwashed right from birth to believe the myth that the whole of Sri Lanka is a ‘Sinhala-Buddhist country’ and the Tamils are ‘invaders’ who do not belong to Sri Lanka.
The first Tamil Nadu (Chola) invasion took place during the rule of Vankanasika Tissa (111 AD-114 AD) when Karikala Cholan invaded the Anuradhapura kingdom and took away a large number (12,000) of captives to work as slaves on the irrigation project he was building at Kaveri River in South India. While Mahanama Thero (King Dhatusena’s uncle and author of Mahavamsa) was whipping up Theravada Buddhist Nationalism by portraying the Tamils as invaders and foreigners and portraying Dhatusena’s struggle to liberate Anuradhapura from 27 years of Tamil Rule as a heroic act, Dhatusena’s favorite son Moggallan fled to Tamil Nadu and returned with a huge Tamil army and defeated his half-Dravidian/Pallava step brother Kassapa in 491 AD. The first Chola rule in the island of Sri Lanka began only in 993 AD when Raja Raja Cholan sent his Chola army which conquered the Anuradhapura Kingdom. After Raja Raja Cholan, his son Rajendra Cholan continued by adding the island as one of the provinces of the Chola Empire known as “Mummudi-Chola-Mandalam”. Sri Lanka remained a Tamil Nadu (Chola) colony under the rule of Raja Raja Cholan and his son Rajendra Cholan for eight decades (993AD –1077AD). It was Rajendra Cholan who later abandoned Anuradhapura and established the Poḷonnaruwa Kingdom.
On the other hand, the arch-enemies of Cholas were the Pandyans/Pandu of Madhura in Tamil Nadu who were the close allies of the Royal house of Sri Lanka from the beginning of Sri Lanka’s history. It was the Pandyans/Pandu kings who ruled Sri Lanka most of the time. They were not invaders but invitees. Even in the Vijay story, the Pali chronicle says, king Vijaya and his men took wives from the Pandyan/Pandu Capital ‘Dakshina Madura’ which means southern Madura. From King Pandu Vasudeva to Parakrma Bahu, most of the Saivaite as well as Buddhist Kings and their Queens of Sri Lanka were from the Tamil Pandya dynasty. The Deepavamsa calls King Pandu Vasudeva (504-474 BC) as Pandu Vasa (a Pali or Prakrit equivalent of Pandya Vasa meaning one from the Pandyan country i.e., A Pandya by his nationality). It was the tradition of the early Buddhist writers in Sri Lanka to twist the Dravidian/Tamil names (of kings and places) sometimes out of recognition in transforming them into Pali or Prakrit (later Sinhala) forms. After the death of Pandu Vasudeva (Pandu Vasa) his eldest son Abhaya (Prakritised form of Apayan in Tamil means ‘he who averts fear’) became the lawful king. Abhaya’s son, King Panduka Abhaya aka Apaya Pandyan received help from his ancestral city of Madhura in planning the city of Anuradhpura. King Panduka Abhaya gives his son a Saivaite Tamil name Muta Siva (elder Siva) and King Muta Siva’s son was Devanampiya Tissa who promoted Emperor Asoka’s Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The Mahavamsa calls them either North Indians (may be because Buddhism came from there) or invaders from Tamil Nadu. If you study/analyse the Pali chronicles, most of the BAHU kings of Sri Lanka are having Pandyan connections or rather they are all from Pandyan descend. Whenever the Pandyan/Bahu kings of Sri Lanka such as King Parakramabahu was waging a war against the invading Cholas, it was Pandya – Chola war which the present day historians have misinterpreted as Sinhala – Tamil war.
Today the names of the old Pandyan kings (such as Kula Sekara, Chandra Sekara, Vira Wickrama, Parakrama and so on) are adopted by the Sinhalese (not Tamils) and they have succeeded in misrepresenting the Pandyan/Tamil foundations of Sri Lankan civilization as Sinhalese. Most of the rulers of the island Sri Lanka were either native Tamils/Vanni chieftains, or Dravidians tribes (Nagas), or Pandyans/Pandu or Cholas or at least half Tamils. Even the Pali chronicles do not call any of them as Sinhala Kings. Even the last four kings of Kandy were Dravidians from the Nayaka (Vaduga) dynasty that ruled Madurai (Tamil Nadu). The Kandyan Sinhala Buddhist Maha Nayaka Theros of the Maha Sangha (Asgiri and Malwathu) had to overlook every Sinhala-Buddhist in the country to import Dravidians from the Nayaka dynasty that was ruling Tamil Nadu with Madurai as their capital from 1529 until 1736 to sit on the Kandyan throne. However, today the Maha Nayaka Theros of the Maha Sangha insists that the leader of the country (President/Prime Minister) should be a Sinhala-Buddhist. By quoting from Lord Valentia’s Travels and from an article of Joinville which was published by the Royal Asiatic Society of Ceylon, Mudaliyar Simon Cassie Chitty wrote in 1838, “The Singhalese, though forming a distinct nation, and differing in their religion, language and manners from Tamils, had no kings of their own race, but of the latter, and according to Lord Valentia and Joinville ‘a Singhalese cannot be a king of Ceylon; that is every person born of a Singhalese father or mother is excluded from the throne’.” Even though the Saivaite Tamils were living in many parts of the country such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa (a capital built by the Cholas), Padaviya, Kurunegala, Puttalam, Tissamaharama (where Tamil Brahmi potsherd inscription were found) and so on, it was only after the 12th century CE that the island became more divided politically and geographically between the two languages/religions with the Jaffna kingdom being established in the North East, closer to the Tamil mainland.
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