Appeal to President and Prime Minister by Dr. Victor Rajakulendran

Her Excellency, Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumarathunga

The President of Sri Lanka

His Excellency, Ranil Wickramasinghe

The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka

Your Excellencies,

Re: The current power struggle between both of you

I am making this appeal to both of you at a time when your country, which is my country of birth too, is at cross roads. We all know that the future of this country depends on the political move, each one of you is going to make in the coming days and weeks.

Your Excellency the President, you took over the responsibilities of the Defence ministry, Information ministry and the Interior ministry without consulting or even informing the Prime Minister (PM), while the PM was away in Washington to meet President Bush. Then you prorogued the parliament for 2 weeks with the hope of luring enough MPs from Prime Minister’s party to your side and form a government of your liking. But you realised quickly that your plan would not work, when the Prime Minister produced to you and the speaker of the house a proclamation signed by at least 129 MPs, pledging support in the parliament to Prime minister’s government. Then you floated the idea of forming a government of reconciliation and reconstruction with the participation of all the parties in the parliament. You thought if you succeed in this venture, not only you could dilute the parliamentary power your rival, Prime Minister, holds now, but also it is feasible to get the 2/3 votes needed in parliament to change the constitution. We all know that you badly need a change in the constitution to transfer the executive power from the President to the Prime Minister. This you need badly because you cannot contest for the Executive Presidency more than twice. Therefore if you want to remain in power, you need to change the existing Executive Presidential system to an Executive Prime Ministerial system.

Your Excellency the Prime Minister, you returned from Washington to a hero’s welcome by your fellow countrymen. This gave you an assurance that the mandate for peace, people of Sri Lanka gave you at the last general election still remains. Therefore you took a tough stand with the President and told her that you cannot proceed with the peace process unless the three ministries the President took over are handed over to you. You also have rejected the President’s idea of forming a National Government of Reconciliation and Reconstruction.

Your Excellencies, as a result of both of you taking an uncompromising stand on resolving the power struggle between the two of you, the Norwegian facilitators have put on hold their facilitation, until both of you settle the dispute between yourselves. This has plunged your country into an uncertain future, which is going to cost your country a lot. Now under pressure from the international community and especially due to the influence of the Sri Lankan business community, both of you have agreed to work out a way to run the government with consensus between both of your sides on major issues such as the ethnic issue. Both of you have agreed to try this with the help of a committee elected by both of you. However, your Excellency the President, you have now given an ultimatum of December the 15th to reach this innovative way of running the government. Your Excellency the President, although you have not stated what you will do if an agreement is not reached by that time, it is obvious that you will try to dissolve parliament and call for a general elections. This is why you decided to form an alliance with the Marxist party, the JVP now, which is the third major Singhalese party in parliament. You were reluctant to form an alliance with the JVP all this time, because of their controversial economic policies, their anti-European sentiments and their opposition to share power with the Tamils.

Your Excellencies, both of you had got the mandate from the people to find a peaceful solution to the Tamil problem. Your Excellency the President, you received this mandate in 1994 presidential elections. You not only failed to fulfil the aspirations of those elected you but also pursued a “War for Peace” strategy and led a bloody military campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which failed miserably.

However, your Excellency the President, you proposed a new constitution in 1995 to change the unitary system of government to devolve powers to the regions as your way of settling the Tamil problem. Your Excellency the Prime Minister, you were in the opposition in parliament then and you opposed it, complaining that the President is trying to give away too much to the Tamils. Now after more blood letting and economic diasters your government is trying to settle things with the LTTE with a Federal system of government. Your Excellency the President, because this proposal is favoured by your rival Prime Minister, you are now opposing it saying that what the LTTE has proposed as an Interim Self-Governing Authority will lead to partitioning of the country.

Your Excellency the President, in your 1995 draft new constitution didn’t you propose to give the Regions the powers of taxation? Didn’t your proposal allow the Regions to domestic and international borrowing? Didn’t it allow for a Regional Police Service headed by a Regional IGP? Didn’t it specify that State land and its alienation or disposal was to be a Regional Power? Didn’t it talk about a High Court in every Region? If you agree to these, then what is the big concern you are raising now about the LTTE’s proposal for an Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA)? How can you justify ISGA as the cause for your concerns? Don’t you see some hypocrisy in the concerns you are raising now about the ISGA?

Your Excellencies, for the last 10 years the political future of Sri Lanka was in the hands of both of you. Both of you have demonstrated very clearly that none of you have come out of the notorious political syndrome that has existed from the time of independence in your country. That is the lack of much needed political bipartisanship, which is needed in handling key issues the country is facing. Not only the bipartisanship was lacking, but also the party in opposition has been always undermining the government’s attempt in resolving any major issues, mainly the ethnic issue. Although both of you were childhood playmates, both of you have demonstrated that you are not in anyway inferior to the Senanayakes, Senior Bandaranayakes, Jeyawardane and Premadasa in political bickering.

Your Excellency the President, you have called on all the party leaders to put the country first when you called them to form a Government of Reconciliation and Reconstruction. Are you prepared to set an example to these leaders? Your behaviour during the last few weeks does not seem to demonstrate this.

Your Excellencies, time is running out for your country to make use of this last opportunity to keep your country in one piece. The International Community has done its part and watching both of you for them to decide what to do next. Therefore in the name of that almighty, I appeal to both of you to put an end to the political bickering and put your country first, talk to each other and go into the history as great leaders who changed the course of Sri Lanka’s future, rather than as leaders who paved the way for the division of the country.

May that almighty lead you and guide you in the days to come.

Yours truly

Dr. Victor Rajakulendran

Sydney

AUSTRALIA

CC:

Hon. Jan Peterson, State Secretary, Norway

Hon. Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London

Hon. Javier Solana, Secretary General, EU

Mr. Colin L. Powell, Secretary of State, US Department of State, Washington DC

Ms. Yoriko Kavaguchi, Foreign Minister, Japan

Hon. Alexander Downer, Minister Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia

Mr. Yasusi Akashi, Japan Special Peace Envoy to Sri Lanka, Japan

The “Wisdom” of Mr. H.L. de Silva by Shan Suntharam

Ostensibly, it was an address to mark the 50th anniversary of his call to the Bar by Mr. H. L. de Silva, who was described as a constitutional “luminary.” Thus, the expectation was of feast of constitutional wisdom distilled from fifty years of immersion in the law. However, gleaning from the excerpts appearing in TamilNet, it was, rather, a Sinhala chauvinistic interpretaion of the equally flawed constitution that has been imposed on the unwilling Tamil nation.

In his speech de Silva beats the reactionary drums of war even more furiously than the Buddhist “monksters” and other assorted Sinhala armchair warriors. That he is using the occasion and his legal reputation for base partisan and racial political purposes is only too obvious, not only from the tone and content of the speech, but also from the patronage provided by the PA through its point-man, Kadirgama. We must take the speech as a political one of the extreme kind, despite the academic reputation of the speaker.

If anyone ever wondered where Kadirgama got his much over-used word “sovereignty,” the spanner-in-the-works expression “core issues,” or Kumaratunga’s favorite, “War for Peace,” look no further than to the excerpts of de Silva’s speech. He seems to be the wellspring of all the reactionary thoughts and ideas that shape the mind of not only the PA politicians, but also the violent fringe of the Buddhist monksters, the JVP and the Sinhala Urumaya. Throughout his speech he uses words which should have universal meaning to strengthen his chauvinistic argument. To Mr. de Silva, nation = the Sinhala nation, peace = the supine acceptance of injustice by the Tamils/the surrender of the Tamils to the Sinhala army, sovereignty = Sinhala hegemony over the Tamils, state = the Sinhala government, a united Sri Lanka = Sinhala rule over the whole country, territorial integrity = Sinhala claims to all Tamil ancestral land, war for peace = war on Tamils for peace for the Sinhalese.

De Silva shows a frightening contempt for human life: “Is the absence of violence the paramount value and preservation of human life the all important consideration, whatever the consequences? If that be so, is the destruction of the territorial integrity of the State and the humiliation and subjugation of a significant section of the Sri Lankan nation deemed a trivial matter, of little consequence or value?” Mr. de Silva is saying that if the Sinhala leaders pay any regard to the prevention of violence or the preservation of human life, then 1.) the “territorial integrity” of the (Sinhala) state will be destroyed, 2.) there will be humiliation and subjugation of a significant section of the Sri Lankan (read Sinhala) nation and 3.) some unknown party is treating such destruction of the Sinhala state as trivial vis a vis (Tamil) human lives. Can you believe that de Silva is the preeminent advisor to the PA government!

I am puzzled by de Silva’s pronouncement as to consequence (2), namely, “there will be humiliation and subjugation of a significant section of the Sri Lankan nation.” Tamils are fighting for their dignity, self-preservation and freedom from subjugation, so he cannot mean by “significant section” the Tamils. I believe he means the groups of Sinhala colonists who, under the aegis of the Sinhala state, illegitimately appropriated Tamil land. A man who expresses so much indignation about the possibility of a small group of transgressors losing their privileges has not seen fit to mention the thousands of Tamils massacred in the Sinhala south under the sovereignty of the Sinhala government, nor does he mention the million Tamils bombed and killed or living as refugees.

De Silva cannot open himself to new and productive kinds of relationships between ethnic groups and nations. Look out, Mr. de Silva, the world is full of countries like Mayalsia and Singapore, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Serbia and Croatia, Timor and Indonesia which were once united in a single state. For that matter, does Mr. de Silva regret Ceylon’s secession from the British Empire?

Ironically, the two countries that intrusively admonish the Tamils not to ask for independence, India and the USA, have been , when it was advantageous for them, the cause of the break-up of countries – Panama from Colombia, for instance, and East Bengal from India.

The Sri Lankan government did not lose control of Tamil territory for want of harshness of atrocities, rather inspite of and partly because of these. Mr. de Silva is old enough to know as an eye-witness all the Tamils’ peaceful political struggles, during which they were severely physically and mentally abused by the ever-compassionate Sinhalese. He must also have been an eye-witness to the periodic slaughters by the Sinhalese of helpless Tamils. He also knows that the Tamil youngsters took up arms because the “sovereign” power not only failed to protect the Tamils, but was also complicit in that large-scale, organized violence against the Tamils. Is it not, therefore, better to die bravely standing up to the tyranny than to be cut to pieces just for being Tamils or peacefully demonstating for one’s rights? Is not the LTTE, as the Tamils defenders, “according to just war doctrine entitled indeed obliged in the circumstances it was placed to wage war against ‘the agressors’ to defend itself and protect the citizens…”(in de Silva’s own words). The LTTE quite literally turned the aggressors’ arms and artillery against them.

The last paragraph of de Silva’s speech quoted in TamilNet is very telling. In justifying “the acts of vengence” by the government, he concludes “the acts of prevention of wrongdoing also have benevolent objectives and purposes.” Mr. de Silva thus cinched the case for the LTTE.

The 2Ks (Kumartatunga and Kadirgama), while touting “sovereignty,” were going about begging every country that would listen to them to aid Sri Lanka with money, arms, military advisors, bomber pilots and other mercenaries, clearly demeaning the country and detracting from its sovereignty vis a vis the international community (as it has lost it vis a visthe Tamils). It should be realized by Sinhala politicians that if they want the peace process to go anywhere, they should stop chanting unproductive mantras such as “sovereignty,” “unitary state” and “territorial integrity.” As regards the constitution and its sanctity, Mrs. CBK said not long ago that the consitution is not a Bible or something; the people should be able to change it when they want.

Sri Lanka’s constitution is like a double keyed box in which the stolen rights of the Tamils are locked up, with each key held by the UNP and the SLFP. These two should come together to open the box or else it will surely be broken into.

It is now the right thing to break out of the stifling confines of the sterile legalism of a flawed and fraudulent constitution and approach peace negotiations with an open mind in order to devise a modus vivendi for the two nations (Tamil and Sinhala) so that a permanent peace may prevail between them.

 

Observations of the UN HRC re Sri Lanka

This report comes to us thanks to the Tamil Centre for Human Rights http://www.tchr.net. Note in particular reference to impunity, disappearances, torture, and the PTA.

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE(CPR/CO/79/LKA/Future)

79th session

CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER

ARTICLE 40 OF THE COVENANT

Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee

SRI LANKA

1. The Human Rights Committee considered the combined fourth and fifth reports of Sri Lanka (CCPR/C/LKA/2002/4) during its 2156th, and 2157th meetings, held on 31 October and 3 November 2003 (see CCPR/C/SR.2156 and 2157) It adopted the present concluding observations during its 2164th meeting (CCPR/C/SR. 2164), held on .6 November 2003.*

Introduction

2. The Committee notes that the report was submitted after considerable delay and combines the fourth and fifth periodic reports of Sri Lanka. It notes that the report contains detailed information on domestic legislation and relevant national case law in the field of civil and political rights, but regrets that it does not provide full information on the follow-up of the Committee’s concluding observations on Sri Lanka’s previous report. The Committee expresses its appreciation for the discussion with the delegation, and notes the answers, both oral and written, that were provided to its questions.

B. Positive aspects

3. The Committee welcomes the conclusion, on 24 February 2002, of a cease-fire agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, and expresses the hope that the implementation and monitoring of the agreement will help to achieve a peaceful and lasting solution to a conflict which has given rise to serious violations of human rights on both sides.

4. The Committee welcomes the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission in March 1997. It notes that the Commission has begun to play an active role in the area of promotion and protection of human rights in the peace process. It expresses the hope that the Commission’s monitoring and educational activities, including those projected under the Strategic Plan for 2003-2006, will receive appropriate resources.

5. The Committee notes the measures taken by the State party to improve awareness of human rights standards among public officials and members of the armed forces, and to facilitate the investigation of human rights violations. These measures include improved human rights education for all law enforcement officers, members of the armed forces and prison officers, the establishment of a central register of detainees in all parts of the country and the creation of the National Police Commission.

6. The Committee welcomes the State party’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Covenant in October 1997, and the training workshop on the procedure under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant co-organized by the National Human Rights Commission and the UN Development Programme in December 2002.

C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations

7. While taking note of the proposed constitutional reform and the legislative review project currently being undertaken by the National Human Rights Commission, the Committee remains concerned that Sri Lanka’s legal system still does not contain provisions which cover all of the substantive rights set forth in the Covenant, or all the necessary safeguards required to prevent the restriction of Covenant rights beyond the limits permissible under the Covenant. It regrets in particular that the right to life is not expressly mentioned as a fundamental right in Chapter III of the Constitution even though the Supreme Court has, through judicial interpretation, derived protection of the right to life from other provisions of the Constitution. It is also concerned that contrary to the principles enshrined in the Covenant (e.g. the principle of non-discrimination), some Covenant rights are denied to non-citizens without any justification. It remains concerned about the provisions of article 16(1) of the Constitution, which permits existing laws to remain valid and operative notwithstanding their incompatibility with the Constitution’s provisions relating to fundamental rights. There is no mechanism to challenge legislation incompatible with the provisions of the Covenant (articles 2 and 26). It considers that a limitation of one month to any challenges to the validity or legality of any “administrative or executive action” jeopardizes the enforcement of human rights, even though the Supreme Court has found that the one-month rule does not apply if sufficiently compelling circumstances exist.

The State party should ensure that its legislation gives full effect to the rights recognized in the Covenant and that domestic law is harmonized with the obligations undertaken under the Covenant.

8. The Committee is concerned that article 15 of the Constitution permits restrictions on the exercise of the fundamental rights set out in Chapter III (other than those set out in articles 10, 11, 13.3 and 13.4) which go beyond what is permissible under the provisions of the Covenant, and in particular under article 4(1) of the Covenant. It is further concerned that article 15 of the Constitution permits derogation from article15 of the Covenant, which is non-derogable, by making it possible to impose restrictions on the freedom from retroactive punishment (article 13(6) of the Constitution).

The State party should bring the provisions of Chapter III of the Constitution into conformity with articles 4 and 15 of the Covenant.

9. The Committee remains concerned about persistent reports of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees by law enforcement officials and members of the armed forces, and that the restrictive definition of torture in the 1994 Convention against Torture Act continues to raise problems in the light of article 7 of the Covenant. It regrets that the majority of prosecutions initiated against police officers or members of the armed forces on charges of abduction and unlawful confinement, as well as on charges of torture, have been inconclusive due to lack of satisfactory evidence and unavailability of witnesses, despite a number of acknowledged instances of abduction and/or unlawful confinement and/or torture, and only very few police or army officers have been found guilty and punished. The Committee also notes with concern reports that victims of human rights violations feel intimidated from bringing complaints or have been subjected to intimidation and/or threats, thereby discouraging them from pursuing appropriate avenues to obtain an effective remedy (article 2 of the Covenant).

The State party should adopt legislative and other measures to prevent such violations, in keeping with articles 2, 7 and 9 of the Covenant, and ensure effective enforcement of the legislation. It should ensure in particular that allegations of crimes committed by state security forces, especially allegations of torture, abduction and illegal confinement, are investigated promptly and effectively with a view to prosecuting perpetrators. The National Police Commission complaints procedure should be implemented as soon as possible. The authorities should diligently enquire into all cases of suspected intimidation of witnesses and establish a witness protection program in order to put an end to the climate of fear that plagues the investigation and prosecution of such cases The capacity of the National Human Rights Commission to investigate and prosecute alleged human rights violations should be strengthened.

10. The Committee is concerned about the large number of enforced or involuntary disappearances of persons during the time of the armed conflict, and particularly about the State party’s inability to identify, or inaction in identifying those responsible and to bring them to justice. This situation, taken together with the reluctance of victims to file or pursue complaints (see paragraph 9 above), creates an environment that is conducive to a culture of impunity.

The State party is urged to implement fully the right to life and physical integrity of all persons (Art 6, 7, 9 and 10, in particular) and give effect to the relevant recommendations made by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the Presidential Commissions for Investigation into Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. The National Human Rights Commission should be allocated sufficient resources to monitor the investigation and prosecution of all cases of disappearances.

11. While noting that corporal punishment has not been imposed as a sanction by the courts for about 20 years, the Committee expresses concern that it is still statutorily permitted, and that it is still used as a prison disciplinary punishment. Moreover, despite directives issued by the Ministry of Education in 2001, corporal punishment still takes place in schools (article 7).

The State party is urged to abolish all forms of corporal punishment as a matter of law and effectively to enforce these measures in primary and secondary schools, and in prisons.

12. The Committee is concerned that abortion remains a criminal offence under Sri Lankan law, except where it is performed to save the life of the mother. The Committee is also concerned by the high number of abortions in unsafe conditions, imperiling the life and health of the women concerned, in violation of articles 6 and 7 of the Covenant.

The State party should ensure that women are not compelled to continue with pregnancies, where this would be incompatible with obligations arising under the Covenant (article 7 and General Comment 28), and repeal the provisions criminalizing abortion.

13. The Committee is concerned that the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) remains in force and that several of its provisions are incompatible with the Covenant (articles 4, 9 and 14). The Committee welcomes the decision of the Government, consistent with the Ceasefire Agreement of February 2002, not to apply the provisions of the PTA and to ensure that normal procedures for arrest, detention and investigation prescribed by the Criminal Procedure Code are followed. The Committee is also concerned that the continued existence of the PTA allows arrest without a warrant and permits detention for an initial period of 72 hours without the person being produced before the court (sec. 7), and thereafter for up to 18 months on the basis of an administrative order issued by the Minister of Defense (sec.9). There is no legal obligation on the State to inform the detainee of the reasons for the arrest; moreover, the lawfulness of a detention order issued by the Minister of Defense cannot be challenged in court. The PTA also eliminates the power of the judge to order bail or impose a suspended sentence, and places the burden of proof on the accused that a confession was obtained under duress. The Committee is concerned that such provisions, incompatible with the Covenant, still remain legally enforceable, and that it is envisaged that they might also be incorporated into the Prevention of Organized Crimes Bill 2003.

The State party is urged to ensure that all legislation and other measure enacted taken to fight terrorism are compatible with the provisions of the Covenant. The provisions of the PTA designed to fight terrorism should not be incorporated into the draft Prevention of Organized Crime Bill to the extent that they are incompatible with the Covenant.

14. The Committee is concerned about recurrent allegations of trafficking in the State party, especially of children (article 8).

The State party should vigorously pursue its public policy to combat trafficking in children for exploitative employment and sexual exploitation, in particular through the effective implementation of all the components of the National Plan of Action adopted to give effect to this policy.

15. The Committee notes with concern that overcrowding remains a serious problem in many penitentiary institutions, with the inevitable adverse impact on conditions of detention in these facilities (article 10).

The State party should pursue appropriate steps to reduce overcrowding in prisons, including through resorting to alternative forms of punishment. The National Human Rights Commission should be granted sufficient resources to allow it to monitor prison conditions effectively.

16. The Committee expresses concern that the procedure for the removal of judges of the Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeal set out in article 107 of the Constitution, read together with Standing Orders of Parliament, is incompatible with article 14 of the Covenant, in that it allows Parliament to exercise considerable control over the procedure for removal of judges.

The State party should strengthen the independence of the judiciary by providing for judicial, rather than parliamentary, supervision and discipline of judicial conduct,

17. While appreciating the repeal of the statutory provisions relating to criminal defamation, the Committee notes with concern that State radio and television programs still enjoy broader dissemination than privately owned stations, even though the Government has taken media-related initiatives, by repealing the laws that provide for state control of the media, by amending the National Security Act and by creating a Press Complaints Commission (article 19).

The State party is urged to protect media pluralism and avoid state monopolization of media, which would undermine the principle of freedom of expression enshrined in article 19 of the Covenant. The State party should take measures to ensure the impartiality of the Press Complaints Commission.

18. The Committee is concerned about persistent reports that media personnel and journalists face harassment, and that the majority of allegations of violations of freedom of expression have been ignored or rejected by the competent authorities. The Committee observes that the police and other government agencies frequently do not appear to take the required measures of protection to combat such practices (articles 7, 14 and 19).

The State party should take appropriate steps to prevent all cases of harassment of media personnel and journalists, and ensure that such cases are investigated promptly, thoroughly and impartially, and that those found responsible are prosecuted.

19. While commending the introduction since 1995 of legislation designed to improve the condition of women, the Committee remains concerned about the contradiction between constitutional guarantees of fundamental rights and the continuing existence of certain aspects of personal laws discriminating against women, in regard to marriage, notable the age of marriage, divorce and devolution of property (articles 3, 23, 24, and 26).

The State party should complete the ongoing process of legislative review and reform of all discriminatory laws, so as to bring them into conformity with articles 3, 23, 24 and 26 of the Covenant.

20. The Committee deplores the high incidence of violence against women, including domestic violence. It regrets that specific legislation to combat domestic violence still awaits adoption and notes with concern that marital rape is criminalized only in the case of judicial separation (article 7).

The State party is urged to enact the appropriate legislation in conformity with the Covenant without delay. It should criminalize marital rape in all circumstances. The State party is also urged to initiate awareness-raising campaigns about violence against women.

D. Dissemination of information about the Covenant (article 2)

21. The fifth periodic report should be prepared in accordance with the Committee’s reporting guidelines (CCPR/C/66/GUI/Rev.1) and be submitted by 1 November 2007. The State party should pay particular attention to indicating the measures taken to give effect to these concluding observations. The Committee requests that the text of the State party’s fourth periodic report and the present concluding observations be published and widely disseminated throughout the country.

22. In accordance with rule 70, paragraph 5, of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the State party should provide information, within one year, on its response to the Committee’s recommendations contained in paragraphs 8, 9, 10 and 18. The Committee requests the State party to provide information in its next report on the other recommendations made and on the implementation of the Covenant as a whole.

Open Letter to SL President by Dr. Victor Rajakulendran

An open letter to Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumarathunga

Her Excellency,
Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumarathunga
President of Sri Lanka
President’s House
Colombo Sri Lanka

Your Excellency,

I have been watching closely you and your unusual, unacceptable actions during the last few days, living far away from you in this Southern Continent of Australia but linked very closely by heart and mind to your beloved country, Sri Lanka. I have written to you openly several times, but under completely different circumstances. I thought if I do not write to you now and let you and the International community (IC) know some of the hidden truths that have gotten buried under the rubble you have created during the past few days, I would be failing in my duty to humanity.

Your Excellency, you prorogued parliament for two weeks and took over the responsibilities of 3 important ministers of your rival Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe’s (RW) government. You tried to re-impose the emergency regulations you used to govern the country from 1994-2001. Due to the pressure from the International community, you retracted this action and are now trying to bluff that you did not have that intention but were getting prepared in case the situation warranted that. But the truth is that, even if you had imposed the emergency regulations, you would have had to depend on RW’s government for the regulations to be approved by parliament. Otherwise the emergency would have lapsed after 10 days from the day you proclaimed it.

Your Excellency, you have justified all these actions that you have done to safeguard the security, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. Anyone would appreciate your actions if there were threats to all those, as you have claimed. If there were such threats, why you did not discuss these things face to face with the Prime Minister, warn him and then do what you have done? Why did you initiate all your actions while the Prime Minister was on an important mission in Washington to meet with President Bush?

Your Excellency, can you deny that you are only interested in holding on to power at any cost? Can you deny that if the constitution of the country is not changed in the next few months to get rid of the Executive Presidency, if you want to stay in politics, the chances are there for you to remain only as an ordinary Member of Parliament? Can you deny that the only way to change the constitution now is to form a national government involving all the parties represented in parliament?

Your Excellency, the International community (IC) may not be aware of this, but we Sri Lankans all know that, whether it is RW or you, you all use the process of finding a solution to the ethnic problem as a means to hang on to power. In that respect, RW’s political future depends on the success of the current peace process and your political future depends on scuttling the peace process and installing a new or amended constitution that gives the executive power to a Prime Minister and not to the President. This is partly because you cannot contest for the Presidency next time, which office is up for grabs in just over 12 months time. RW is pushing forward the peace process because he wants to be a successful leader when he contests the next presidential election. You do not want a presidential election in future in Sri Lanka. You only want to see an election that will elect members to a parliament where the Prime Minister alone has the executive power. This is why you have appealed to everyone to put the country before the party and come together to help you to form a National Government of Reconstruction and Reconciliation (NGRR). You and I are fully aware that, then only, you could change the constitution to get rid of the executive presidency and transfer that power to the Prime Minister, which position you could aspire to hold in the future.

Your Excellency, a NGRR is what we need in Sri Lanka to implement whatever is agreed between RW’s government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) through the current negotiations. However, the way you have approached the whole issue and the way you have appealed for the establishment of a NGRR as a cover up for the political mess you have created during the past few days is not in any way going to help towards that end. Instead, it is going to discourage even the innocent political parties from joining hands with you to form this proposed NGRR.

Your Excellency, in the television address you made to the nation, you have mentioned that the LTTE have not yet given up their call for a separate state. Your Excellency, I am surprised that you have not understood the LTTE’s open stand on this. The IC knows very well that the LTTE have only suspended their call for a separate state and are considering an alternative settlement under a federal arrangement with an International guarantee. If the IC has recognised the right for self determination of the people of Quebec, Bougaineville, East Timor and Southern Sudan, how can you expect the IC to accept your complaint that the LTTE have not yet given up their call for a separate state? Your Excellency, the IC does not depend on you and your adviser, Mr. Kathirgamar, to know about the LTTE anymore. The IC has met directly with the LTTE leadership to know enough about them. They have observed their behaviour very closely for the last two years to study them in detail.

Your Excellency, your adviser, Mr. Kathirgamar, is a person who works for his personal interest. His worry now is that all the lies he told and false propaganda he carried out overseas when he was your Foreign Minister are being proved wrong through the current peace process. Therefore, he has an interest to scuttle this peace process to prevent him being unmasked. Therefore, relying on him for advice will put you more into trouble rather than enhancing your chances for a political come back.

Therefore, Your Excellency, if you really want all the political parties to put the country first, you need to set the example first. You need to reconcile with RW and his government for what you have done during the last few days. Re-instate the status quo that was there before RW left for Washington. Then, with the help of the IC, you should appeal genuinely to all the parties to join you, to form that NGRR to settle the Tamil problem. If you could do this, then you could convince everyone that you are genuinely interested in solving the problems your country is facing at the moment. Then only the political parties can jointly make decisions in solving the Tamil problem and other problems your country is facing.

I hope and pray that wisdom would prevail at the end.

God Bless you and your country.

Sincerely yours

Dr. Victor Rajakulendran
Sydney
AUSTRALIA

CC:

Hon. Jan Peterson, State Secretary, Norway
Hon. Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London
Hon. Javier Solana, Secretary General, EU
Mr. Colin L. Powell, Secretary of State, US Department of State, Washington DC
Ms. Yoriko Kavaguchi, Foreign Minister, Japan
Hon. Alexander Downer, Minister Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia
Mr. Yasusi Akashi, Japan Special Peace Envoy to Sri Lanka, Japan

A Nudge for Sri Lanka Peace by Boston Globe editorial

UST WHEN it appeared there was a chance to resolve the conflict between minority Tamils and majority Sinhalese on the island nation of Sri Lanka, President Chandrika Kumaratunga seized the occasion of a visit to the White House this week by her political rival, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to sack four Cabinet ministers and suspend Parliament.

The chance to end Sri Lanka’s devastating 20-year civil war should not be missed because of political gamesmanship or personal petulance. President Bush, whose spokesman reiterated US support for the peace process in Sri Lanka yesterday, should engage more directly in that process. He could do so by inviting Kumaratunga for a White House visit. Under the Sri Lankan Constitution, she has more power than her prime minister, and she resents his upstaging her in Washington or at the United Nations.

The opening for a negotiated peace came Saturday, when the group known as the Tamil Tigers proposed an interim self-governing authority for the Tamil areas in the island’s northeast. This is a landmark offer. If the government of Sri Lanka responds by negotiating an agreement acceptable to both sides, the cease-fire that has been in effect since February 2002 may finally become the prelude to a lasting peace.

Such an agreement could facilitate the resettling of Tamil war refugees and reassure Sinhalese that the Tigers have truly abandoned their original call for an independent Tamil nation. And if Tamils see they can live securely within a unified Sri Lanka, enjoying political autonomy in the northeast, they might permanently renounce both the means of war and the goal of independence.

The war has taken the lives of 64,000 people and set back the Sri Lankan economy. Extremists on both sides have disfigured relations between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities and among Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims. In the high-security zones of the northeast, where the Sri Lankan Army occupies some Tamil areas, there has been a terrible toll on civilians.

The reality is that the Tigers already control most of the Tamil region of the northeast. So it is in the interest of the Sri Lankan government to treat the Tiger proposal as a basis for negotiating an accord that would enable displaced Tamils to return to their homes and settle down peacefully, abjuring violence.

The political drama staged by Kumaratunga repeats a pattern of politicians prolonging the conflict by appealing to popular fears. The Tamil Tigers have come forward with an offer worth debating and improving. Bush could do his part by having Kumaratunga to the Oval Office and telling her to serve her people by making peace.

Boston Globe Editorial

11/6/2003

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2003/11/06/a_nudge_for_sri_lanka_peace?mode=PF

…And It Is Time for Action in Colombo by Editorial column in ‘Liberation Tigers’

The Tigers have submitted their proposals for an Interim Administration, appropriately and succinctly titled, the Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA). The formulation meets the basic requirements to contain within itself the powers that are necessary to administer the Tamil homeland. Also enshrined are provisions for all the people to be represented.

Democracy, human rights and amity between communities have taken pride of place, while secularism too finds an important place in the proposal for an ISGA. These proposals usher in a welcome change to provide an effective administrative mechanism in the political history of this island. This document, in its preamble, makes passing reference to the oppression the Tamil people were subject to and also highlights the political deceptions and marginalisation that the Tamils faced.

Interim self-governing powers have been basically formulated, having in mind the bitter experience and the tragic history of the Tamil nation. Interim powers have been sought to ensure that the Tamil people are safeguarded from discriminatory governance and allowed a return to normalcy. The intended interim administration would ensure the economic uplifting, allow the gainful utilization of the funds that pour in and provide effective measures to carry out resettlement and rehabilitation of the Tamil people affected by war.

The international community has been sought, in the same way as in the cease-fire agreement, to ensure a conflict-free administration. This brings about a binding on the Colombo regime to implement what is agreed upon, unlike in the past. Above all, powers relating to use of land and sea would ensure a secure and safe livelihood for the Tamil people with dignity.

Providing for Muslim and Sinhala representation in the interim authority and their participation in governance will no doubt allay the fears of these communities.

Freedom and dignity have been assured to all the inhabitants without discriminating on the basis of race or religion. The support of the international community has been sought to make the proposals a reality.

The question that looms large in the Tamil psyche is whether Colombo will accept these proposals. The UNF government has, in its manifesto, promised handing over the interim administration to the LTTE. Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe is on record that he will consider the proposals favourably.

Whether the prime minister’s assurances to resolve the Tamil national problem have sincerity of purpose, or otherwise, is yet to be seen. The time has come for the Tamil people and the international community to test the veracity of the protestations of intent.

It is the LTTE’s wish that the Colombo regime accept these proposals as a foundation to resolve the Tamil national problem through peaceful political negotiations.

04 November 2003

from http://www.lttepeacesecretariat.com