In contrast to promises it made before coming to power, the Sri Lankan government of President Maithripala Sirisena has recently taken a tougher, pro-Sinhala nationalist position in its dealings with the Tamil people.
On November 28, the Sirisena government, which now has been in power for nearly three years, evoked the Prevention of Terrorism Act to arrest Tamils who had organized events to honor the memory of the fallen soldiers of the Tamil rebellion.
Maaveerar Naal has been observed annually since 1987 on November 27 to commemorate the day the first Tamil Tiger soldier was killed in action in 1982. The annual commemoration continued even after the rebellion was put down in May 2009. During the presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa (2005-15), the event was observed in secret, as it was clear that the government would punish participants. But in November 2016, it was observed openly and was allowed to proceed.
The event in 2016 was attended by Tamil parliamentarians and politicians. The Sri Lankan government’s inclination to allow Tamils honor their sons and daughters killed in battle was widely regarded as a goodwill gesture toward the Tamil people and a signal to the world at large that the new regime was democratic in its approach.
However, last month, the Sri Lankan security forces actively engaged in intimidating people attending commemoration events across the northeast of the island – the Tamil homeland. Participants were photographed, people were warned that any display of Tamil Tiger symbols including photographs of the fallen in uniform was illegal, and there was a menacing army presence outside the premises where the commemoration events were conducted.
The very next day, Sri Lanka’s state minister of defense, Ruwan Wijewardene, ordered the Terrorism Investigation Division, notorious for its use of torture, to investigate and arrest those involved in organizing the commemoration.
The heavy-handed response to this year’s Maaveerar Naal by the Sirisena government comes in the wake of several other setbacks in the efforts to bring about an end to the conflict. These include the absence of any progress in respect of a 2015 UN Human Rights Council resolution to investigate war crimes committed during the latter stages of the civil war; delays in introducing a new constitution addressing the question of self-rule for the Tamil people; and the continuing specter of torture of Tamils taken into custody.
The UN resolution of 2015 was primarily focused on establishing a mechanism involving foreign judges in a local investigation probing war crimes committed during the latter stages of Sri Lanka’s civil war. This was a further dilution of earlier resolutions calling for international investigation.
In March this year, Sri Lanka was given another two years to implement the proposals, but there is little evidence of any progress. On the contrary, Sirisena has stated categorically that he will not make any “war hero” a suspect in cases of alleged war crimes. Addressing the Sri Lankan expatriate community in South Korea on November 28, he was dismissive of the UN resolution, stating: “There won’t be electric chairs, international tribunals or foreign judges. That book is closed.”
The Sirisena government that replaced the Rajapaksa regime had agreed to address the root cause of the conflict via a new constitution to share political power with the Tamil people. The Tamil National Alliance, which had been in negotiations with the government, had understood the new constitution was to be “outside the unitary constitution amounting to federalism in substance.”
However, Sirisena has since stated categorically that he would never “betray the country” by introducing a federal constitution. This would mean that a new constitution, if implemented, would be unitary, ensuring that political power continues to reside with the majority Sinhala people. As it was this majoritarian rule that was the root cause of the conflict in the first place, a new unitary constitution is unlikely to resolve the conflict.
Early last month, an investigation by The Associated Press found that more than 50 Tamil men had been raped, branded and tortured by the current government. The men were accused of trying to revive the Tamil Tigers rebel group and were tortured between early 2016 and July of this year, the report said.
There is some confusion as to whether the perpetrators were from the police or the army. Captors had identified themselves as members of the Criminal Investigation Department, a police unit that investigates serious crimes. But some of the victims thought their captors and interrogators were soldiers.
Back to the future
Almost three years after promising to address the issues that gave rise to the conflict and two years after co-sponsoring a resolution calling for a probe into the alleged war crimes, the Sri Lankan government has reverted to type, pandering to ultra-Sinhala nationalism. The situation in late 2017 appears to be no different to what prevailed before the conflict erupted into war in 1983.
LTTE moneys work at large. In any place of the world allowing terrorist groups to remember their fallen terrorist. All the freedom and peace enjoy by general Tamils in the country will always destroy by power hungry racist politicians fooling innocent tamil population of the country. Associated press also better look after matters in France without messing others affairs.
You seem to gear your comments to discredit the author rather than sticking yourself to the true facts. For example, you mention the South China Sea as a point of contention but you know USA was the one who instigated this issue. This is just a way to show China who is the boss around the world. The lawyers who came on the defense of the Phillipines were Americans paid with a loan from the USA’s government. On earlier dates after the veredict, USA used to say she was advocating for the Phillipines and blah blah but now that tthe Phillipines has taken a step back since Duterte took over his country. I thought the logic step would have been for USA also to do that- step back. Unfortunately, that is not happening. She continues with this fabricated issue. It makes me wonder about her real purposes.
On the other hand, USA thinks can do anything she wants around the world. It seems like the internatonal laws don’t apply to her. They apply to every one else but not to herself. Syria and Iraq where she has been defeated so badly is a good example. The governments from those countries have told USA to get out frrom their territories repeated times but according to USA General Mattis they will keep some militatry basis. Again, that is going against Internationa laws.
Then, the USA congress has set many antoi china laws and commissions such as the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (UCESRC) who wants the United States to block Chinese state-owned companies from carrying out takeovers in their country: http://money.cnn.com/2016/11/17/investing/us-commission-china-state-owned-companies-takeovers/index.html
if that doesn’t classify as anti-China, then, I will never know.
"President Maithripala Sirisena has recently taken a tougher, pro-Sinhala nationalist position in its dealings with the Tamil people"
I sincerely hope so. I hope Sirisena is finally coming to his senses. For the last 2500 years of Sri Lanka’s recorded history she was a Buddhist theocracy where the Sangha (Buddhist order) and the King shared and ruled the kingdoms of Sri Lanka and did a darned good job of it.
India initiated the 3 human rights charges she brought to the UN, against Sri Lanka after Rajapakse soundly defeated India funded Tamil Tigers. India failed all three times as the regional nation either abstained or voted in favor of the Rajapakse government. India lost the elam war and her human rights campaign. What a loser.
Honoring statues of Prabhakaran and his Tamil Tigers who perfected and used the sucide vest the most up till then, killed 2 leaders of 2 nations (Rajiv Gandhi of India and Ranasingha Premadasa of Sri Lanka) scores of other politicians, business leaders and citizens, Attacked Sri Lanka’s holiest shrine. the Dalada Maligawal, used thousands of child soldiers and child suicide bombers that they brutally expropriated from panicked and fear filled Tamil Families. and at the end of that terrible war had a human shield of Tamil men women and children that some peg at close to 500 thousand to stand between their worthless lives and those of the Sri Lankan military.
Here in the US Confederate statues of men who were far more noble in character and objective have been torn down from New Orleans to Baltimore. This is after the civil war of 1861 ended in 1865 or over 152 years later.
Not only Sri Lanka had to fight the Indian backed Tamil Tigers but after the war had to fight Tamil Nadu’s chief Minister Jayalalithaa over the Katchacheevu island which the Indian Supreme Court settled in Sri Lanka’s favor.
In addition to that this crazy Tamil Banshee Jayalalithaa went on a rampage to have Sri Lankan dignitaries barred from India and some of them including cricket teams face stone pelting by Indian Tamils. This was on top of India’s human rights charade where she lost all three times.
But that did not stop. During elections Rajapakse was acccused of trumped up charges and he lost. India’s hand in that could be drawn from the arrest of a RAW agent during that momentous election.
Whatever frustrations Tamils have for being captured under New Delhi is their business. I suggest become an independent Tamil nation and break from New Delhi. Leave the Sri Lankan Tamils alone for they are doing far better than their Indian counterparts.
It also must be mentioned that after the war ended in 2009 fishermen from Tamil Nadu wouldl routinely invade the territorial waters of Sri Lanka where fish was plentiful and had not suffered the ecologically damaging methods used by Indian Tamils in Indian waters which had depleted the fish population.
It became a routine aspect for the Sri Lankan coast guard to stop an armada of Indian Tamil fishermen using high powered boats. The area they were exploiting…. was around the Jaffna peninsula which directly hurt Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen. This should be noted in order to expose the fake concern for Sri Lankan Tamils by Indian writers.
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