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Did Mahinda’s Views on 13 A Plus Change Due to Gotabhaya’s Rejection of Entire Provincial Council System?



Dr.Vickramabahu Karunaratne

Finally the President agreed to have provincial council elections, without any changes to the constitution. However, it is clear to everybody including Indian rulers that Mahinda did not try to honour his promises to India.

He showed, at least to those who are serious that he is not prepared to solve the national problem in the country. He wanted to avoid giving effect to 13A. Blame for this attitude cannot be imputed to the JHU and Weerawansa’s Party.

Some people believe what changed Mahinda after the war could have been, due to one reason and that one reason alone: Gotabhaya’s rejection of the entire Provincial Council system itself. They argue, though US and India could have been important to Mahinda over and above the JHU and JVP as revealed, no one can be more important to Mahinda than Gotabhaya, not just because he is his brother, but more so because he won the war for Mahinda to enable him to remain as President after the war. I do not believe in such superficial conclusions.

Friends, kith and kin, are important to the variety of populism that Mahinda is practising; but he was against Tamil liberation and never was sympathetic to the idea of devolution of power. Obviously he played his cards well to get the support of the Indian leaders for the ferocious war he launched. This he accepted with some promises in return. But that is a tentative promise and in the course of time with vigorous development programmes that could change the demography of the island, another way out is possible. That was his programme, and he rapidly tried to implement it and expected substantial results that could counter the 13th Amendment.

However there is a real fascist- styled regime in the Tamil homeland area. I got an opportunity to visit the East with Azath Sally last week. It was a remarkable experience. We started from the Amparai district, near Kalmunai. There, relatively speaking, the situation was normal. I did not see a presence of the army, in any threatening manner. People freely moved and talked openly.

The fact that the Muslim people there did not really experience a military repression there as in other areas in the East, is perhaps the explanation for this positive behaviour. They readily participated in the meeting and it flowed into the streets. It was a large crowd that listened to us with much enthusiasm.

The Police was co-operative and there was no conflict or disturbance. However as we moved towards the North things started to change. We were expecting a peaceful meeting at the place near Valaichchenai, as arranged. However a power beyond the control of the police was able to arrange a picket at the same place, condemning us as terrorists and traitors. Thousands who came to the meeting naturally were provoked and demonstrators were chased out. When we arrived, there was a mass unrest and it took some time to settle down. We were taken in a march to the place arranged and Azath addressed the crowd.

People complained that police was unable to keep law and order as the military was involved in organising the picket against us. Behind the façade of normalcy paramilitary forces operate undermining the police actions and civil administration. In the day time police is on duty and administration functions as usual. However towards the dusk, like vampires, the paramilitary takes over and structural changes are made as dictated by the political authorities. We travelled to Kinniya in the Trincomalee district at night, followed by unidentified motor cyclists.

At Kinniya the situation changed from bad to worse. The organiser was threatened with death if the meeting was allowed to take place. Threats were recorded in the cell phone and the police undertook to investigate, but warned us to be careful. I could understand the problem faced by the police under a military regime. On the following morning we saw the army had a heavy presence in the area where the meeting was arranged. Though police permits were given, the person who agreed to let his land be used for the meeting was threatened and he was asked to withdraw his consent. Deployment of police and military in the area converted it to a kind of battle ground in preparation. People were warned to keep off.

However we arrived at the scheduled time and after an intense discussion with police superiors we were allowed to hold the meeting; of course without proper loud speakers. Standing on a chair I could see that there was a large crowed gathered to witness this road side meeting! All of us were able to address the crowd and we condemned the oppression and the violation of democratic rights. Before arriving I expected some difficulties but I was under the impression that the East is relieved of military repression. I visited the North several times recently and I had to face attacks arranged by political paramilitary organisations.

The TNA members of Parliament have continuously complained about the military operations that exist in the North. But now I know that the situation in the East is no better in spite of a Provincial Council functioning there for several years!