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A truth and reconciliation commission for Sri Lanka?

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Hello Friends,

Most of us know about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission appointed by Nelson Mandela in South Africa in the post-Apartheid years.

According to Wikipedia-

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a court-like body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid. Anyone who felt that he or she was a victim of its violence was invited to come forward and be heard. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from prosecution.”

“The TRC, the first of the nineteen held internationally to stage public hearings, was seen by many as a crucial component of the transition to full and free democracy in South Africa. Despite some flaws, it is generally (although not universally) thought to have been successful.”

“Time” magazine’s Jyoti Thottam in her recent interview with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse had two questions about the possibility of appointing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Sri Lanka.

Would you be willing to have a truth and reconciliation commission?

I don’t want to dig into the past.

Many people feel that’s exactly what Sri Lanka needs.

Then you will have the north and the south fighting each other again. I don’t want to open up this wound.

It is obvious from the President’s response that he does not want to have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The reasons stated by the President for his stance cannot be dismissed lightly. Despite the good intentions behind such a move it may very well prove to be counterproductive given the acrimonious state of ethnic relations in the Country.

At the same time it is also pertinent to query whether the State is prepared or willing to face up to a Truth and Reconciliation as in the case of South Africa. Likewise are non-state actors like the “residual” Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) equally ready to face such a Commission?

More importantly are the people at large in a mood to present themselves before such a commission in a true spirit of candour , understanding, acceptance, remorse, clemency and reconciliation that is required?

There was an excellent article offering much food for thought in the “Sunday Island” of July 12th 2009 by Lilani Jayatilaka that focused on the lessons of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The article was inspired by Bishop Desmond Tutu’s book “No Future Without Forgiveness”. The book is on the findings of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission which Bishop Tutu chaired.

Lilani who is experienced in counselling emphasises how important it is for the people of this land to speak out about their grief, suffering and sorrow.

Reading and re-reading this article was an uplifting experience for me and I want to share it with you all.

Please read it with an open mind, reflect on what is said and comment if you feel you have something to contribute.

Let me reiterate that you don’t have to comment for the sake of commenting.

I note with sadness that despite many entreaties there are some readers who seem determined to convert this forum into an ethnic battlefield instead of channelling their energies towards the nobler causes of justice, equality, amity ,reconciliation and unity.

Once again I emphasise here that reconciliation in Sri Lanka is a necessity and not a luxury or choice as some seem to think.

Despite President Rajapakse’s views on a Truth and Reconciliation Commission this illuminating article by Lilani makes a very strong case for appointing such a Commission.

So dear Friends please read, reflect and comment

And please, please do not let the conversation deteriorate.……DBSJ
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Healing Memories-Lessons to be learnt from the South African Experience

By Lilani Jayatilaka

I just finished reading Desmund Tutu’s book “No future without forgiveness” on the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa of which he was chairman and was overcome by mingled feelings of exhilaration and hope, doubt and despair. Exhilaration, that in this world there can be men of the calibre of a Bishop Tutu or a Nelson Mandela among others, who could lead by example; who could be victimized by the system and still be strong enough when it was their turn to wield power, not to resort to retaliatory political action, but be able to extend forgiveness to their erstwhile tormentors, bringing healing not only to the victim but also to the victimizer and thence to the nation as a whole; Hope, that we who have suffered as much and who are poised on the cusp of a new order might follow the precept and example set by South Africa; Doubt as to whether the political will to forge a united Sri Lanka is strong enough to withstand the corrosive and divisive nature of the rhetoric spewed by the extremist Sinhalese and Tamils; and Despair, that concrete measures to put the right mechanisms in place seem to be very slow in coming into being.

The underlying philosophy governing the actions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa is that there can be no healing of memories unless the truth is allowed to prevail. There is a prevailing belief among many Sri Lankans that it is better not to dig too deep for the truth, for the process might unearth unpalatable truths which might strangle the peace process before it can even begin to draw breath. There is some basis for this fear. The cliche “Truth is the first casualty of war” holds as true for Sri Lanka as for any other place. The Sri Lankan government has lied to the people even as the LTTE has lied to the people, both here and elsewhere. You cannot uncover the lies of one without uncovering the lies of the other. And what do these lies consist of? As far as the state is concerned, some military truths relating to strategy, the numbers deployed and the numbers killed or maimed in action had to be obfuscated. Such truths in the hands of the enemy could have become a potent weapon to be used against the state. Likewise the LTTE too played the numbers game, distorting and subverting the truth for its own ends.

But there are other truths, which need to be uncovered now that the war against the LTTE is over. For instance, in the final phase of the war, the desire to see an end to this endless war, so tantalizingly within reach and to exploit its military advantage and decimate the LTTE leadership in a ‘once-and-for all” action before the outside world could cry foul, led the army into taking a ferocious final stand against the LTTE. The LTTE, trapped and manoeuvered into a small strip of land, built up a human shield of civilians to protect it from enemy fire and whose vulnerability could be used to rouse an apathetic world against the Sri Lankan government. Caught in the crossfire, many died like flies. Of the 300,000 who managed to escape to relative safety, quite a number are maimed or badly injured. Almost all of them have lost loved ones. Their bodily wounds may heal more quickly than the wounds in their psyche. Their bodily needs could be met by the influx of goods and good will flowing into the refugee camps from concerned people in the South, but their emotional and psychological needs may go largely unaddressed.

Since the wounds in a people’s psyche are not immediately or obviously apparent, they are largely ignored or designated as unimportant. Some cursory arrangements may be made for counselling, but in the context that access to these camps is restricted, such counselling would be akin to trying to empty the ocean with a thimble. Furthermore, counselling per se would be woefully inadequate to address the tremendous suffering undergone by these people or by the soldiers and their families and many others who have become victims of the war. It is true that every citizen of this land has suffered in one sense or another from the effects of the war. But there are those who need special attention or like the mythological Hydra which grew many heads in place of the one that was lopped off, the wounded psyche of the Tamils could sprout many heads to replace the one that was lost. To plaster over the truth, would cause these wounds to fester and erupt. Then like Humpty Dumpty, no one would be able to put the nation together again.

Right now there is a sense of euphoria that a protracted 30-year war with the LTTE is officially over-though even this euphoria is beginning to dissolve as quickly as the early morning dew in the light of other political, social and economic realities. For 30 years, the civilian populations on both sides of the ethnic divide have longed for and prayed for peace. But a just peace cannot be achieved through the practice of collective amnesia. Collective amnesia can be practiced collectively but never individually. We can forget the wrong done others as long as we are not the sufferers. But can a parent forget a child, or a child its siblings or parents? If we as a nation, because of our war-weariness, seek to suppress, hide or paper over the truth, we are shoring up for ourselves a mountain of problems that could swamp us anytime in the near future. As the philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it”.

Despite official statements to the contrary, there is restricted access to the refugee camps. Those few who are permitted to enter the camps to carry out their humanitarian work are actively discouraged from speaking to the refugees. The people in the camps have been carefully screened and all possible LTTE suspects have been taken elsewhere. The question that needs to be asked at this point is, if these are ordinary civilians, why does the state block communication with them? Is this not an infringement of their fundamental rights as law abiding citizens of this land? Or are they, in a travesty of justice, considered to be guilty until they can prove themselves innocent?

By preventing the refugees from communicating with the outside world, the state has effectively muzzled them. This action of the state begs the question-What is it afraid of? The only reasonable and logical answer to that is that the refugees will communicate truths which could prove embarrassing at best, and dangerous at worst, to the state. If this be the case, then it behoves the state to ask itself, whether peace won through the suppression of truth is a secure, leave alone, a just one. The only way it can be secure in such a context is to turn the nation into an authoritarian military state, thereby vitiating everything that is good and best in this land.

At the other end of the spectrum from collective amnesia is the kind of retributive justice practiced at the Nuremberg trials, where every detail of the war crimes committed during the Holocaust was carefully recorded and whenever and wherever possible, the perpetrators brought to book. This was not a viable option for South Africa. Nor is it for Sri Lanka. As Bishop Tutu explains so lucidly in his book, the political, economic and financial costs of such an exercise would destroy the nation more effectively and thoroughly than any terrorist group could have done. South Africa chose to follow the middle path between these two options. Collective amnesia would trivialize the sufferings of the suffering peoples of this land. As a counsellor, I know how important it is for a sufferer to tell his / her story.

As Shakespeare says in Macbeth, “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak / Whispers the o’er-fraught heart, and bids it break”. The ability to tell one’s story, to know that one is being listened to without judgement or condemnation, brings healing to the sufferer. The fear that prompts the state to gag the mouths of these sufferers is the fear that they (or others on their behalf) might seek retributive justice. If this were to happen, the nation would dissolve into confusion and chaos.

The LTTE is for all intents and purposes a defunct organization. Its leaders bar one or two exceptions have been decimated and cannot be held accountable for its crimes against humanity. The state on the other hand is a functioning body. It would be naïve in the extreme to claim that its hands are clean. Extra judicial killings, abductions and torture which have become a way of life, as well as its criminal disregard for civilian life in the last stages of the war, makes it liable to face retributive justice.

The world at large, horrified by the plight of civilians and the excesses of the state, egged on by the exaggerated, highly coloured and distorted accounts of the LTTE (made to seem credible because of the suppression of the truth by the state) has made many calls for such retributive justice. But what purpose would such retributive justice serve? In the context that both the LTTE and the State are guilty of war crimes, retributive justice which punishes the one and not the other, would be no justice at all. Moreover who would be the arbitrator in such a case? Certainly not the powers that be which call for retributive justice , because their hands are as gory as Lady Macbeth’s and they cannot therefore afford to tread the moral high ground. More importantly, it would be a pyrrhic victory indeed if in the pursuit of retributive justice, the nation were to collapse into anarchy and disarray.

The black South African leaders, former victims of the Apartheid regime, chose magnanimously to forgo retributive justice, averring quite rightly that it would serve no useful purpose, in favour of amnesty for all those who made a true and full confession of their crimes to the Commission. By this process they made it possible for the truth to surface; for the victims to apply closure to their wounds; and for the victimizer to become humanized for as Bishop Tutu says in his book, “The oppressor was dehumanized as much as, if not more than, the oppressed”. In South Africa as much as in Sri Lanka, a clear line of distinction cannot be drawn between the victim and the victimizer. Nelson Mandela’s party, the ANC was as guilty of human rights violations if not on the same scale or violence, as the apartheid government.

As Bishop Tutu stated “A just cause must be fought by just means; otherwise it may be badly vitiated…The end does not justify the means”. In Sri Lanka, civilians of every ethnic group have become victims of either State terror or the terror unleashed by the LTTE.

The moot question here is-Does the Sri Lankan state and those who claim to represent the Tamils (based locally or internationally), have the moral courage to face up to and admit its past mistakes, thereby opening a way for a new discourse among the people of this land, laying to rest past grievances and working together for a new and better tomorrow?

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com

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60 Comments

  1. What a wonderful article. I am famiiar to a certain level about South Africa’s truth & reconciliation commission but Lilani has succintly presented its finer points with appropriate applicability to Sri Lanka. If set up on correct lines and conducted genuinely I am sure it can play a positive role in Sri Lanka. But important thing is to do it right and honestly

    Thank You Lilani for this and of course DBSJ thanks for sharing this with us

  2. Many say the Truth and reconciliation commission was huge success in South Africa. But others particularly Blacks criticise it saying white apartheid proponents who confessed got away lightly due to Amnesty

    The idea is good but for Sri Lanka it must be adopted with prudent changes. Simply copying SA model wont do here. I agree with President that it can open a can of worms. But unlike him I am not rejecting the proposal. The TR commission can work if modified according to our requirements.

    Finally as your long time reader I feel sorry for you Jeyaraj. You are trying hard to provide a platform for positive thinkers who want our blessed land to be one of unity and amity. But many havent understood your intentions and are just fighting bitterly here

    But there are others who appreciate you and your work. Dont worry only a tiny minority are bickering but the large majority are praising yoi silently

    Dont lose heart and keep the conversation going

    We’ll get there DBS

  3. I dont know how exactly a Truth & reconciliation Commisssion will work in Sri Lanka. But I endorse the idea in principle. This article has been enlightening. Thank You

  4. THE WINNER CANT UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH.
    THEY ARE CAPABLE TO INSTITUTE WAR CRIME AGAINST THE OTHERS WHO ARE DEFEATED.
    THERE IS NO POINT IN OPENING THE OLD WOUNDS AS THE PRESIDENT HAS SAID.
    IF VP OR THE TOPS ARE ALIVE IT IS A DIFFERENT CASE.
    THE LTTE ENTIRE LEADERSHIP IS GONE AND WITH WHOM YOU CAN SHARE YOUR FORGIVENESS.

    LTTE FOUGHT AND DIED .
    THERE IS NO NELSON MADELA OR PIK BOTHA TO FORGIVE AND RECONCILE.
    NOW YOU CAN BLAME THE LTTE FOR THE SUNAMI,EARTHQUAKE AND ECLISE.

    AT LEAST FOR GODSAKE LEAVE THEM ALONE AT LEAST IN THEIR DEATH.

    FOR THE TAMILS WHO ARE ALIVE DO NOT WORRY ABOUT .
    THEY ARE ONLY 2 MONTHS OLD AFTER THE WOUNDS OF WAR.

    LEAVE THEM ALONE AS THEY ARE WAITING FOR THE TOILET AND FOR WATER SO MANY HOURS.ANYTHING YOU GIVE THEM IS A CAKE NOT BREAD.

    S.AFRICA IS A SUCCESS STORY OF ACHIEVING THE RIGHTS OF THE BLACK.
    SRILANKA IS JUST THE OPPOSITE.
    ANY FORGIVENESS IS BASED ON THE OLD WOUNDS.
    SO LET THEM REST IN PEACE.
    GOOD BYE.

  5. ” No Future without Forgiveness”- I just wonder how much people understand from this profound phrase.
    It will never be understood until the consciousness of some of the hardliners ( from both sides) are completely revamped. The living symbol of the end result of extremism is on display in the IDP Camps.
    The hellbent Eelamists and the hardcore Sinhalese can bend infront of those limbless civilians and ask for ‘forgiveness’. Don’t worry, they will forgive you.

  6. I am a keen believer in setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for Srilanka and have blogged on this topic here before. TRC has been suggested by many for Srilanka, including former US vice president Al Gore, in his book Assault on Reason. He in fact goes one step further and encourages the two parties to look into solutions out side the box.
    Many agree with you DBSJ that reconciliation is a necessity and not a luxury, Truth then is ground-zero for reconciliation around which post conflict nation building evolves.

    Truth here is not meant in the legal context of proving beyond reasonable doubt, but, as a path way for meaningful communication between the two communities.

    Some wounds need to be opened up to be cured as we have seen in the past, many patch up jobs on these wounds have failed miserably leading to more conflict and devastation.

    In initiating such a process in Srilanka requires exceptional leadership from the Sinhala polity, and strangely this seems to be coming from the JVP rather than the two major parties. Where as the two main parties are only keen on the next general elections, as they have been since 1948.

    Along with Truth another key ingredient for Reconciliation is Trust. It seems the Sinhala government is still fighting an imaginary war by treating the IDPs as POWs, expanding the military and intensifying the HSZs around Army camps in the North and East. For many Tamils the fate of IDPs is where reconciliation starts and ends, many Tamils in the Diaspora believe on a Zero IDP target before any meaningful corporation with the GOSL for investment and redevelopment.

    So this how it works for me Zero IDP > Trust > Truth > Reconciliation!!

  7. Dear Jeyaraj,

    I have been following your writings only very recently. I have admired you and I do have my respect to you.

    But, at the same time, I also disagree with you in some fundamental ways.

    First of all, in my understanding, you strongly work for a united Sri Lanka and you will be happy if all the minorities in the country will be treated equally.

    As being a Eelam Tamil, I can tell you that we, the Eelam Tamils, need a place where we could feel like a “HOME”. By knowing the Sri Lankan history very well and as being a realist in this real world, I would like to tell you that the majority of the Sri Lankan population, of course the Singhalese, will never ever accept and treat the Tamils as equal. It will never happen. If you believe, that will ever happen, then I would say that you are “naive”.

    As a human being, I do not hate a one single human being because of his/her nationality, race, religion, caste, etc, etc. Futhermore, I do respect Buddha and I have always been a great admirer of the young Hindu Siddardha. A picture of Buddha is hanging on a wall in my home – always.

    I do not hate Singhalese. Indeed, I come from Trincomalee and I have had a Singhalese girl friend and some Singhalese friends in my young days. I do even respect Singhalese people since we share common religion, culture, etc, etc.

    But, I still strongly believe that we, the Eelam Tamils, need a HOME. Weather it should be within a UNITED Sri Lanka or as a separate land of Sri Lanka, will be depend in the minds and the hands of the majority of the Singhalese people, who never ever wanted to accept and respect Tamils as brothers and sisters. Therefore, our dream for a “HOME for Eelam Tamils” will never die.

    I – on the behalf of my people – would sincerely like to apologize to all those – our Muslim brothers and sisters, our Up-Country Tamil brothers and sisters and to the families and friends of the killed/injured innocent Singhalese people for the “great miseries” that happened to them in the past.

    Our dream for a “Tamil Home Land” will never die.

    With love and respect,
    J.Shanker M.

  8. For this to work, first there must be the realisation that we are of the same human race and even more of the same family of Sri Lanka. Only then can our hearts reach out to all those who suffered and continue to suffer. Only then can violence, victimisation and revenge come to an end.
    Once suffering ends then will come a period of realisation followed by reconciliation and finally forgiveness. This process cannot begin as long as people are being held captive and killings of opponents is going on in the South. It seems that the end is still not in sight.

  9. I dont agree with a Truth and Reconcilliation as stated by the writer. what has worked for SA does not mean it can work here. The next is that there will be people to say ‘See I told you so – the Tamils were a segregated community!.

    For those who lived in the south as me and for those who lived in the North the Truth is always there. Who is going to account for the hundreds or ordinary sinhalese murdered in the name of Tamil Nationhood and self determination and who is going to account for thousands who died in the north following their leader.

    let the past lie low and let weeds cover the graves of the misdoings of the past. no need to dig up. Sow seeds of reconcilliation and peace. Both Germany and Japan has become economic superpowers after the end of WWII. The Tamils need to know that they have other heroes to look up to – Muralitharan, Gnanams and other great business leaders ( I am leaving political one out on purpose ). We in Sri Lanka are constantly bombarded with good intentional bad advise. A National unity day to remember all those who died would be the best at this time giving all communities to reflect on the lost loved ones. for all those who died in vain. Others will fan up hatred saying they did not die in vain but lets carry on with the struggle collect more money create more mayhem.

    Thanks but no thanks – the truth in this case will be opening up a can of worms. I wonder if the writer reads the serialised list of atrocities committed by the LTTE being published daily – if thats not enough to digest. At S Thomas we have an avenue for the dead. All young men who left behind children and wives in the name of Sri Lanka. no doubt the countless LTTE graves show the same. The way forward is Forward dont look back in this case its not one community that was marginalised like SA but an entire nation thrown to the dogs of war.

  10. The scenario in Sri Lanka is very different to that of South Africa.
    In South Africa there was a change of regime after the end of the civil war.
    The white supremacy was there before the end of the civil war.But after the civil war the blacks were in power and everybody agreed that both sides resorted to human rights violations.

    It was really the magnanimity of the black leaders that led to the truth and reconciliation commission.

    There was no possibility of a cover up in South Africa.
    In Sri Lanka the trend is to blame everything on the LTTE.

    The government in Sri Lanka is reluctant for any kind of investigation.
    There is only one version and that is the version givien by the Government.

    The government seems to have a monopoly on truth.
    Then where is the space for truth and reconciliation?.

  11. In principle a truth and reconciliation commission is a great idea. But the timing has to be right. Right now there is too much euphoria and chauvinism among some quarters and too much anger and disappointment among others. These people are just not ready to reconcile.

    We need some distance from the events of 2009 to get a good outcome from a TRC.

    Jeyaraj I salute you for standing firm and keeping your focus on reconciliation and national unity.

  12. You ought to understand that the situation in South Africa was totally different to what happened in SriLanka.

    ANC were fighting A White minority administration that denied the majority, their basic human rights.ANC won their rights through negotiation with their adversary and both sides needed each other to move the Country forward.

    The LTTE purported to fight for rights of a minority , most of whom enjoyed equal or better standards of living than the majority, until the so called Eelam struggle started.

    Also, we have too compare the mode of operations of the two outfits. These were totally different.ANC did not engage in suicide attacks on civilians or wanton destruction of public property such as Airports and Government Institutions..The LTTE never wanted a negotiated settlement.

    A Truth and Reconciliation commission there fore is not relevant to SriLanka.Every one knows the Truth about the LTTE and their dastardly acts.There is nothing to reconcile with them or their supporters.
    The President is absolutely correct in saying so,

    What SriLanka needs is rapid resettlement of the innocent civilians who are languishing in refugee camps. This has to be followed by speedy development of the Infrastructure such as Roads, Electricity Sanitation etc.Also incentives must be provided in the form of financial assistance and Tax concessions for the Private Sector to open up genuine businesses in the North and the East to provide gain full employment to these refugees.
    This is the best form of reconciliation that one can wish for SriLanka.

  13. What ever the good intention of the writer of this article a commision similar to the South African model is historically irrelevant. After all Appartheid was officially abolished at the time of Tutu’s commision.
    Can any one claim the end of LTTE is the end of Sinhala communalism in the island.
    Sri Lanka could be defined as an Appartheid state keeping its 300,000 citizens in concentration camps.

  14. In Srilanka a terrorist situation existed where arms were used against an elected government, whereas in SAfrica, a foreign minority used arms to subjugate the native majority. So any comparison is meaningless. Bishop Tutu and Mandela have done a disservice to S Africa by pushing the western agenda..all that has happened is the two of them were cleverly manipulated by the west to continue the domination of SAfrica by the Boers. They are a disgrace to the native population who continue to be downtrodden..Mandela is hailed by the west, given birthday bashes lasting weeks in London and New York, and Bishop Tutu hailed as a great leader by the Church authorities. These two men have forsaken SAfrica. Look at their cricket..still a white team, look at their economy..in the hands of the whites. So, what has the Truth and Reconciliation Committees achieved? Perpetuate the white grip in the country. The locals be damned.

  15. The differences in opinion held by the different communities on the conflict are to a large part based on myths each sides leaders have promoted. A truth & reconciliation commission would go some way towards tearing down these myths in which one side was a pure, angelic fighter and the other side progeny of the devil. The truth is both parties to the conflict have been vile – many innocents of all communities have suffered great loss at their hands. A fair, open accounting of the atrocities will help each community see how the other has suffered at the hands of their champions and understand why we need to change the politics of the past and build a more open, accepting society.

  16. Dear Mr DBS Jeyaraj,

    Thanks a lot for reminding us about the possibilities of Peace through the TRCs. In fact our justice system is modeled after the eye for an eye system in some ways. We cant see beyond punishments. Hence there is a need for a Restorative Justice system that can heal.

    This healing is only possible is there is an open minded enquiry into the past. It is a process where the wounds are re-opened only to be cleaned and hasten healing.

    We also dig deep to acknowledge the pains and suffering people have undergone. Once this is recognized then there is scope for progress.

    But unfortunately the current system calls for punishment for crimes. The frequently asked questions are: Who did what? Whose mistake is it? and What should be done?

    Instead in a situation like this it would be better to ask: Who is affected? Who takes responsibility? What are the needs of the affected people? and What can be done to heal.

    This puts the focus on the human aspects rather than the legal aspects. There is hence a dire need for positive alternative systems that can bring lasting peace

  17. A truth and reconciliation commission for Sri Lanka? Yes they should. But it has to be initiated by the political leadership of both SLFP and UNP with the blessing or endorsement by Sangha and subsequently supported by the minority political and religious leaders. The civic groups & concerned citizens must continue their advocacy.

    But it is an uphill task under the present regime unless there is enough pressure from their own advisors ( local and foreign ) and supporters. For example see below how the IDPs resettlement issue is being handled by the statements they( MR,BR, & Mahinda Samarasinghe ) have been giving since 17th May :

    1.

    Mar 17, Colombo: Following the conclusion of the successful rescue of all the civilian population in the war zone Sri Lanka government said today that their next target is to commence the resettlement of those as soon as possible in their original homes. Speaking at a special press briefing held in Colombo this morning Minister of Human Rights and Disaster Management Mahinda Samarasinghe said they will begin the resettlement process in North immediately. He said that the government expects to begin the resettlement process with the development of the area.
    “Demining is not enough to commence the resettlements, we have to improve the economy of those internally displaced persons before resettling,” the Minister added. ….contd.

    2.

    Displaced will remain in camps till Tigers are filtered out

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009
    Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told Parliament today that some LTTE cadres had infiltrated the ranks of IDP, and until they were filtered out, the displaced people would be kept within the welfare camps.
    Fresh after a tour in the welfare camps and villages in villages, Minister Samarasinghe was delivering the conclusion speech on the debate on the displaced civilians. He said that the government was determined, as far as possible, to provide shelter, water, sanitation, food, healthcare, education and other ancillary services for these people. The Minister said that he was particularly concerned that human rights were adequately catered for.

    3.

    * Sri Lanka to resettle 3,000 IDPs next month
    Tue, Jul 21, 2009, 06:20 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    July 21, Colombo: Sri Lanka government today announced that they have taken steps to resettle more Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), sheltered in the welfare villages in Wanni at the beginning of next month under the government’s 180-day resettlement program.
    Addressing a special meeting held this morning at Vavuniya District Secretariat, the senior advisor to the President, parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa said that all the arrangements are now in place to resettle the displaced persons.

  18. Chandrika Bandaranaike, when she was President, wated to set up a Truth and Reconcilliantion Commission, but her efforts were scuttled.

    Even though the facts that would come out would be unpalattable for the extremists of both sides of the divide, if Sri Lanka is to move forward as a nation,with respect for each others pain and aspirations, then we must have a TRC.
    One side must be able understand and reflect on what the other experienced.

    During the peace accord certain non-governmental agencies were able to take the parents of soldiers who died on the battlefields to the North. They intereacted with the people living there. Similiarly, they organized to have people from the north visit the south. They met and stayed in the homes of sinhalese. At the end of the programme everyone of them was thankful for that experience, because they were able to empathise with each other.

    A healing process is a must, if we are to move forward.

  19. South Africa’s TRC came into being only after the oppressed black people had gained their political power. TRC there served to ensure that the majority black people did not use their newly gained power to abuse the rights of their former tormentors.

    In Sri Lanka, the situation is totally different. The oppressor is continuing to be in power, nearly totalitarian power, so much so that 300,000 Tamils are still in military internment camps and thousands remain maimed, held incommunicado, etc. Given that such a regime is still in power, a TRC would end up a farce just like the many commissions that simply served the purpose of providing cover to crimes and exonerating criminals.

    So I have to say forcefully that it is not the time for TRC. A TRC should come only after regime change, even if it takes many years.

    It is time for action. I see that the Tamil diaspora is acting rudderless on what action they can take; maybe they are taking a break to see how the IDP issue is handled. That is understandable; in fact it is necessary to focus on the IDP and prisoner issues.

    Regardless, now that the IMF loan is going to be granted as a consequence of global power games, Tamils need to look at other options. Tamils need to see if they can cultivate some ties with China and make their case. It is in times like this that the loss of people like Shanmugathasan, even Amirthalingam–though he wasnt a Marxist, is deeply felt. We need a new generation of educated, capable leaders, both on the grounds and in the diaspora.

    Mr. Rajapaksa is rather flippant about not opening the wounds. It would have been credible if he had proactively helped the IDPs and treated the political prisoners humanely. The wounds are still open so there is no question of reopening them.

    Ms. Jayatilaka is very disingenuous in saying …both the LTTE and State are guilty of war crimes, retributive justice which punishes the one and not the other, would be no justice at all. Moreover who would be the arbitrator in such a case?

    Well, the LTTE didnt simply go and hide, but was eliminated. That is, capital punishment has happened already. Why should the regime be allowed to go unpunished for its crimes?

    There are international court systems that will impartially punish war criminals.

    It is when justice system fails that people feel they have to take the law into their own hands. When Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne was killed, many Sinhalese rejoiced; the same with Premadasa, even though both were killed by the LTTE. The reason is simply that both had too much blood on their hands and the system didnt ensure justice.

    Moreover, the basis of justice system is always retributive. Why not let a murderer go free because simply punishing him now will not bring back to life his victims? The civilized world takes revenge via an orderly process, using courts and due process. But it is still revenge, and all justice is retributive.

    The war criminals embedded within the current regime will face justice, no matter how long it takes; no matter how it happens.

  20. DBS,
    This war has left you quite confused.

    Please sort out yourself first, and then commend your views to others.

  21. It sounds a wonderful concept and may have played a part in heeling South Africa’s wounds between rivals parties in the post-apartheid era. Sri Lanka is different.

    I’d like to think, we have moved on – the Sinhala community that suffered under the LTTE brutality has already forgiven the LTTE. Karuna Amman once a rebel leader (who led the killed thousands of unarmed civilians and 700 surrendered police officers) is now a government minister. Other minor LTTE carders are being re-habilitated. This is quite different to how people are being treated by the US in Guantanamo bay.

    As for the non-combatant Tamil community – I haven’t got the slights clue as to what they are thinking. The real Lankan Tamils are in IDP camps. What can they be possibly thinking? Truth and Reconciliation – or get us out and give our lives back?

    If you live in a plush European country in a comfy house and drive to work – Truth and Reconciliation sounds bliss. Just the thing – Bring it on !! If you are crammed in to a mini fortress with no outside contact, and stand in queues for food, water and toilets this is non-issue. Lets give these people back what they lost – their lives. Re-examining the crimes done by will only server to create hatred towards one another. We had that for 30 years, Lets move on

  22. I totally agree with this idea, just like south africa it is needed in sri lanka, but only after all the people are settled back in their homes, not stuck in concentration camps.

    This should be part of it, alas, I do not think the singhalese are capable of telling the truth, its not in their nature, I stray dog and a singhalese are one and the same, they pick up, use and muniplate any situvation to their own advantage. This may exist in other races as well, not from my vast experience of humanity around the world, the singhalese and the stray dog are one and the same.

  23. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission will work only if there is a change of regime in Colombo, since both parties to the conflict are guilty of war crimes and human rights’ violations. If Ranil Wickremesinghe were to become Prime Minister, then a Truth and Reconciliation Commission will make sense.

  24. There is nothing to reconcile. As long as Tamils want to carve out a ghetto for themselves the Sri lankans have to fight them. Sl issue is nothing comparable to apartheid in SA.

  25. Dear Mr. DBSJ,
    Truth telling and reconciliation processes at the minimum need either a supportive political leadership or a society that is ready and willing to undergo the pain associated with them. The former seems to be out. How do we find out if the latter exists?

    I take your point about the need for us to acknowledge and face the pain, dislocation, and destruction that has saturated (and continues to saturate) our lives. But I am not sure that it is possible to set up an effective commission in Sri Lanka without some kind of political transition or massive societal demand.

    If we cannot or do not want to set up a commission right now, what other avenues are there for Sri Lankans to acknowledge and lament the violence that we have experienced and perpetrated, both directly and indirectly?

    Thank you for all your efforts both here and elsewhere in resisting the forces of fear and terror.

  26. I do not feel it is appropriate to establish a Truth and recopncilliation commission in Sri Lanka. I just had a glance of Lilni’s article. Immediately I understood what she was writing. The case of Africa is entirely different from Sri Lanka. No need to explain the differences.
    What is important now is to build the country, particularly North and East and give the people of Sri Lanka to live in peace. I think the people are aware that the Sinhalese people in the South were most feared of the LTTE for Terrorist attacks. Several villagers were junted and slaughtered by the LTTE. A commission is not necessary for the people of all communites to come together.

  27. South Africa and Sri Lanka are two different stories.

    There is no Nelson Mandela in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka still ruled by war criminals. Add to the misery, corruption is in all levels. How are we going to establish such Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

    This is not the first time, we realised the need for such commissions. Since 1958, need for such commission existed. But nothing was done or simply ruling elite ignored due to ,the fact that establishing such commission would serve no benefit to them.

    Now, SL is going backward in terms of democratic principles and equality. It is just dream hoping for TRC when MR is in power.

  28. There are no human rights in Sri Lanka, especially if you are Tamil. All the reconciliation talk is useless and irreverent when the problem still exists. I don’t think South Africans were reconciling while the problem still raged on.

  29. DBS,
    Commisions have no teeth. I have attended presidential Commissions of Inquiry into atrocities by the security forces, into NGOs, into Mossad Commission (Victor Ostravsky, a former Mossad agent who wrote that Sri LANKANS LOOKED LIKE APES and that Isrealis trained the LTTE and Sinhal soldiers side by side in Israel).
    Premadas actually set up a commission wasting vast amounts of money and nothing came out of it.
    Commison of Inquiry into Kokkadicholai Massacre in 1990 brought zilch.
    To date none of these have been made public.
    Public money was spent to pay for the seven member commission since the ’90s at the rate of one and a half lakhs of rupees per day at the BMICH and these commissions went on for 18 months.
    Those who profted were the judges.
    Had the reports been made public some individual or an internationally funded NGO had to take the perpetrators to court and nobody bothered.
    We don’t need any commissions. We need justice from the international court of justice. Nothing more and nothing less.

  30. rwanda has also followed the south african model. more than a million tutsis were massacered by the hutus, but the rwandan president who is a tutsi did not punish the large majority of the perpertrators who are living back among the people whose kith and kin they killed.
    i personally would like a full independent investigation of what happenned, because we are all in the dark because of the news blackout. based on this the guilty will have to be punished. nobody is above the law. not for me these modern truth and reconciliation ideas. i believe in the old saying ” do the crime and do the time”. however i may be wrong because new ideas are always difficult to get used to because we have got into a certain set mindset.

  31. Dear All,

    Most of the readers actually think that the Truth and Recnciliation is subject to events in 2009 to present. How far do we travel to the days of the british divide and rule? Unlike SA both communities have suffered here. I know many who have lost a loved one . THEY WANT TO MOVE ON!!! they dont want to open wounds for their children and say so and so killed your mom while she was at work. Moms gone …

    People ,, dont foregt putting the blame on MR or VP is not going to help. WE all are to blame for what happened.

    Even now I ask. What is your problem? is the language problem still there? Is UNI education still and issue.? Do you not have a right to elect your own town council and memebers of parliament? Is there restriction on setting up business for tamils? Are you barred from owning land? Are you barred from selling land? What about the thesavalam law – is it fair on the others?
    Cmon. we can discuss these issues here.

  32. I am sorry – i forgot to add this to my reply. The only form of apartheid is the caste system amongst the sinhalese and the tamils which is still practised. How do you practise in European countries. do your children sit together in schools but dont come home? Can someone answer me this?

  33. South african truth and reconciliation commission allowed the criminals to escape the justice. Best model is Ruwand, first they abolished the mention of ehtenic origin in the birth certificates and i.d cards.Paul kagame makes the Ruwandans think them as Ruwandans not tutsi or hutu.The srilankan presidant must follow Ruwndan presidant,but Mahind follows Piraba.

  34. Truth, Reconciliation, Forgiveness are born from a loving heart; Not from political reasoning. The limbless civilians and combatants (of both sides) who took the brunt of this evil war, wouldn’t have a clue even of what you guys are talking about.

    Until their lives ( that are in piecesnow ) are restored to peace, the talk of T&R is a waste.

    One will never understand pain, unless it is experienced

  35. 35. brown flore

    Yes agreed, MR is Sinhala VP. One of the UK newspaper descriped that GOSL is the carbon copy of LTTE.

  36. There are plenty of NGOs waiting to jump on the band wagon in post LTTE era.
    In fact, some of the Tamil diaspora such as the British Tamil Forum which waved flags and demonstrated now want to be included in this peace process.
    They could get some of the western NGOs to give them grants for cottage industries of the Tamil diaspora for peace and reconciliation.
    These are mushrooming willynilly.
    Immigration solicitors benefited the most when asylum seekers converged on the west.
    Now that Legal Aid is tightened they are looking for other ways of making money; at the expense of innocent hard-working Tamils.
    The West should be wary of these vultures who prey on hard-working Tamils who only because cannot converse in English have to depend on those who speak a smattering of English but who can sway the West into imparting funds in the name of assisting vulnerable Tamils.
    This scourge and not what the Rajapakse govt. is doing needs to be dealt with pronto.

  37. Obviously, the T&R Commission will not happen in SL, at least not under the Rajapaksa regime. Why do you think Tiger leaders like Nadesan who were ready to surrender were killed? To prevent inconvenient truths about state behaviour from coming out, that’s why. Otherwise, captured Tiger leaders could have been used to stage public confessions and apologise for Tiger atrocities, which would have gone a long way in healing bitterness felt by Sinhalese towards Tamils. No, the state is not about to voluntarily reveal its atrocious secrets.

    Everything that the Rajapaksa regime has done and said (with media in tow) is geared towards ensuring that Sinhalese antipathy towards Tamils is further fed and perpetuated–not at aiming for reconciliation between communities. Tamils are being kept caged in IDP camps in sight of soldiers and guns so that the Sinhalese majority will continue to be enabled to see innocent Tamil civilians as criminals, as enemies of the people. The camps are designed to normalise an attitude that Tamils are only fit for humiliation, that they are not human.

    Truth and reconciliation will happen naturally if and when minorities are given equal rights and respected as citizens.

  38. There still are a lot of hidden weapons left, for example the soldiers found one TON (!) of weapons a few days ago. One must also let the government eradicate the LTTE remnants and sleeper cells via the white vans. Empeoror Rajapakse is a national hero who had the courage to stand upto the whole world. There is no point for people to grumble about him as it was Pirapaharan himself who bought MR into power. I for one agree for a limited devolution of power, but there should be a zero tolerance with regard to tamil separatism as is hapenning now. Only once the hidden weapons have been found, and the remnants of the LTTE have been executed can the people be resettled.

  39. Truth and Reconcilliation Commission might be useful to inquire into the conduct of the Tamil Diaspora who were the main cause for the continuation of the war all these years. I wish to see many of the expatriates, especially the professionals such as doctors, lawyers, Accountants, Dental surgeons, Real estate agents etc. in the dock of the TRC to explain how and why they funded this war and how they all personally gained by this.

    Having questioned the expats first, TRC can decide to go further!

  40. The TRC is an unwanted body at the moment when feelings are running high. You will neither find out the real truth nor be able to reconcile anyone. It might b necessary to the future generations to know what happened. But then what is the use.

    Currently the need of the country/nation is good governance coupled with real democracy in its real sense.

    The “people” must be able to rule themselves. They must have the power to make decisions as regards their lifestyle that does not adversely affect the freedom of the other persons. There should not be “professional” politicians and “politics” must not be made a “profession” The mindset of the people of the old “Gan Sabah” or “Village Committees” must be brought back. Serving the people must not be a means to “make” money. Then and only then we will have good governance in the country. When there is good governance in the country, “TRC” will just sprout-up without anyone’s knowledge and reveal the “truth” since reconciliation would have already occurred. Everyone must work towards this end.

    Finally as your long time reader I feel sorry for you Jeyaraj. You are trying hard to provide a platform for positive thinkers who want our blessed land to be one of unity and amity. But many haven’t understood your intentions and are just fighting bitterly here. It is also regrettable to note that no viable solution has been put forward by you or advocated by you.

    With your ability, you should work towards a solution and give priority to it than for a TRC. Hope you will consider my humble request.

  41. to comment 35-brown flores

    i agree with you MR is followng VP. look at the moustache. in an interview he had said VP was from the northern jungle and he was from the southern jungle. it required one jungle man to kill another jungle man{provided the man they killed was the real fellow. the very light scars on the jungle mans face was not there on the fatso they killed, and the ear lobes were different. fatsos is upwards while jungle mans is normal.i hope iam wrong }

    to comment 40-don jayasuriya
    you are still in war mode. to make 300000 people to suffer including babies, for the reasons you mentioned is cruel and inhuman. what happened to the ltte was the wrath of god. when he loses his patience , thats it. if MR wants to follow VP that is his privilege. look at the tsunami. where did it strike. aceh, southern sri lanka, mullativu, troublemakers who wont allow others to live. during the bush administration the amount of natural and financial disasters in US, now subsiding because a good king has taken over
    wont you people ever learn. we are all at the mercy of the almighty. hasnt srilanka had more than its fair share of misery. god selected this tiny nation because he realised there was a lot of arrogance and cruelty. the meek shall inherit the earth.as long as there are people like you and bad kings like MR misery will continue. do you expect to defeat god too.

  42. Most of you who compare MR to VP is off their heads.
    basic fact – MR is elected, MR has only 12 years, VP had 30. Mr won the war and VP lost. Guys you can behave like sore losers but remember this is getting you nor me anywhere. the most well said is by JeyJeyapalan #36 which I re write here :

    ‘Truth, Reconciliation, Forgiveness are born from a loving heart; Not from political reasoning. The limbless civilians and combatants (of both sides) who took the brunt of this evil war, wouldn’t have a clue even of what you guys are talking about.

    Until their lives ( that are in piecesnow ) are restored to peace, the talk of T&R is a waste.

    One will never understand pain, unless it is experienced’.

    Well said JeyJeyapalan.

  43. It is imperative that truth be told in due course of history. It is a duty towards our posterity. The clamour of “accountability” should die down for the idea to emerge effectively.

  44. In 1948 there was the neurenburg trials to punish the defeated Nazi’s after WW2 for their crimes. But in South Africa conditions specific to the circumstances meant the defeated Apartheid govt could not be punished in the same lines, as both the ANC and the Apartheid MPs needed to tolerate each other in Parliament. Therefore the war crimes tribunal in the likes of neurenburg trials became the truth and reconciliation commission in SA.

    It is not the case in Sri lanka as the LTTE is no more. If at all there could be a war crimes tribunal against the senior members of LTTE now in captivity. Any Truth and Reconciliation commission would only serve to facilitate those who want to push the Govt to a war crimes tribunal. They also hope the bad publicity the Govt will attract will help to propagate their objectives when the IDPs are finally resettled.

    Should anyone think the SLA and the Govt has not evaluated every possible scenario, think again! A separatist movement will never ever have even the slightest chance of even dreaming of a beginning in the NE again. What do you think the troop build up is for?

  45. The tamils are burutalized to the maximum possible. I do not know who hates who. But If we are civilized, let the people go to their homes and let them move freely. Let them decide whom to love and whom to hate. As a state, police can keep the law and order. No one is going to harm any one any further. We had enough. What I’m afraid of is, tamils cannot be brutalized any further because they are at the maximum possible, but singaleese can be subjected. Three brothers can hold atleast 30 years of precidency, if you let this fashion goes on even god cannot save you.

  46. As a Tamil I lived in colombo for 19 years among sinhala community what i have realised Sinhala people are not bad as other hardcore Tamil people say.

    There is no point of view having a reconcilation ,it is more than 2 months GOSL is not a fool to leave the traces. This war against LTTE was really well planned by all countries who have the same problem like SL.In my knowledge for China-Myanmar for Russia-Chechnia Ifor India- so many communites who are against government.

    LTTE was the strongest and well organised among them,Its obvious they dont need a problem.,And also for a country like SL you cant do what you think and what you like,Even though you really want to help or make a change you will be abducted or killed that is nature of all these corrupted countries.

    And Tamils have to think untill there is a Tamil Nadu we cant event think about a small village in our controll.So there is no solution just shut up do what we can to lead your life end of the day we will get used to it.Thats all.
    becoz there is no one to help now coz now East is more powerfull than west. so no western countirs can come and help like what happened Kosova.

  47. We can forget the wrong done others as long as we are not the sufferers. But can a parent forget a child, or a child its siblings or parents? If we as a nation, because of our war-weariness, seek to suppress, hide or paper over the truth, we are shoring up for ourselves a mountain of problems that could swamp us anytime in the near future. As the philosopher George Santayana said, Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

    Truth is one thing, Reconciliation is another, commissioning to seek redress is another thing. Some people think revealing truth is opening the can of worms then the truth will not be revealed. Others who are afraid revealing truth would embarrass them or harm them will not allow the truth to be revealed. Those who are in power and the international neighbours fall into this category, hence there will be immense international and diplomatic pressure in revealing the truth. Most of the LTTE leadership is killed as per the reports, then the truth of the dead ones is not going to harm them and those who are hiding will not come forward to reveal the truth. Those who are in captivity have no voice to speak the truth.

    From all corners truth is not going be glorified as it is intended to be. Hence the firstt casualty of the TRC is the truth itself.

    Next about reconciliation, to reconcile, both parties should be free to express their feelings towards to each other and most importantly in equal footing to be considered equal partners of the reconciliation process. This only could be achieved if there is enough international pressure, especially form the neighbours to have the parties in equal footing. The international sanctions against apartheid South Africa in one major factor towards this. But I do not see such a geopolitical existence, other than cry form Human rights organisations.

    Actions national and internationally are not being conducive for a reconciliation process.

    The last is the Commission. If truth cannot be revealed and if there is no ground to hold both parties equal, what the commission for? As all other commissions it would be an eye wash.

  48. Excellent idea.Unfortunately TRC would not work in Srilanka.Mahinda Rajapakse is no Nelson Mandela and we do not have some one of Bishop.Tutu’s calibre to lead a TRC.
    However we would benefit from a Nuremberg style trial which should be held in Weerakatiya.
    Cheers,
    Siva.

  49. commisions in sri lanka were, are and will be white elephants as many of you agree. there will be so much talk but nothing meaningful will result.

    regarding reconcilliation i have a personal experience of a reconcilliation program i participated as a uni student during ceasefire time. it was organized by YMCA and it involved uni students, about 5-10 from various universities in SL, including eastern university and jaffna university. we had nice 2 weeks stay at Jaffna YMCA and it was an eye-opening program for most who participated since that was the 1st time they ever came to jaffna. eventhough it was organized by YMCA, there was no emphasis on religious activities as one may suspect. but it was full of activities and sight-seeing, including jaffna cathedral, nallur kovil, buddhist temple in jaffna and a mosque, jaffna railway station, a high security zone (i can’t remember the name of the area but KKS cement factory belongs to that area) and a fishing village in point pedro, to name a few. interestingly we had opportunity to speak with ordinary people, both tamils and muslims and tamil speaking students helped with interpretations. one night each of us had to stay with a tamil family, of course, of the jaffna students who participated. there then the real language problem emerged. mostly apart from the student, we didn’t know to speak with the family members.
    in the final day of the program we had to stay in killinochchi and learn the life there, but unfortunately, karuna revolt happened and due to uncertainity in the situation we had to return to south. during this program, all of the sinhala students among us realised the real nature of war and its impact on tamils, and they openly confessed their feelings. all our attitudes changed for good.

    from my life experience i understand the value of these reconcilliation programs. the older generation had been through so much and they find it difficult to forgive and forget. but we can achieve a lot using the younger generation. they are easy to mould.

    IMO, no amount of policy changes or law enforcement can bring true reconcilliation unless people from both communities interact with each other. our religious organizations, schools and national youth council can do a lot in this regard. i’m so pleased that YMCA takes initiative in such programs, may be because there are people from both communities within the organization. i’m awaiting to see such programs held by buddhist organizations as well.

    just because sinhalese are asked to learn tamil and tamils are asked to learn sinhalese reconcilliation won’t happen. i realised the real value of learning tamil when i couldn’t speak with my tamil friend’s grand mother who adores me a lot but knows only tamil. true reconcilliation will happen when north and south interact effectively. then people understand that others are also human beings and should be trated respectfully. the impression we are given by elders regarding sinhalese/tamils change. no amount of policy changes or 10 commisions can’t bring such an effect. when reconcilliation happens, when people interact with each other, truth surely will emerge.

  50. Senadhi seems to be of the idea that reconciliation between ordinary Tamils and Sinhalese is necessary. It’s not because there has never been a true divide, merely an artificial one exploited by politicians, particularly Sinhalese politicians.

    I remember in 2002 we met a lad from Jaffna in Negombo. He and a group of friends were cycling around the whole country to spread the message that Tamils wanted peace. He complained that he had got no media attention at all, but in some respects this was justified; it was a non-story. Almost nobody in Lanka wanted a renewal of the conflict. The renewed war was the result of a direct decision by VP.

  51. Stephen Jones wrote
    “The renewed war was the result of a direct decision by VP.”

    That is nonsense. Although the LTTE played its part in resumption of the war, the renewal of the war was primary the decision by the Sri Lanka state (and here the then UNP govt and the current regime are to blame) to exploit militarily the split in the LTTE.

    By that I mean, the SL state was able to wage war against the LTTE by proxy using the newly-split Karuna group. Sure, they could have done this previously too using EPDP. But militarily, EPDP were insginificant unlike the Karuna group.

    Everyone knows that after the split, the SL state, in particular military intelligence used the Karuna cadres to attempt to weaken the LTTE. All this was done covertly while the SL state pretended to stick to the ceasefire. Not that the LTTE were sticking to the ceasefire either but unlike the SL state, the LTTE couldn’t use proxy groups to wage war. Nobody would believe the proxu groups. So the LTTE’s resumption of the war in 2005 was direct response to the covert war being waged by the SL state. All that does not matter now, but lets get the facts straight.

  52. The call for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in SL at this stage is a joke. It reminds us that those Sinhalese with supposedly enlightened or moderate views still do not get the point. The underlying cause of the problem has to be addressed.

    The TRC was set up in South Africa after the underlying problem, Apartheid was abolished. If you think the underlying problem in SL was LTTE terror, then you are living in fantasyland. The call for a TRC is an insult to the great moral voice, Desmond Tutu. I would love to know what he thinks of this ridiculous idea. Considering he strongly opposed Sri Lanka’s inclusion in the UN Human Rights Council last year, I think we all know what his answer would be.

    I think the “joke” is on those who read this piece and missed the forest for the trees……..DBSJ

  53. the renewal of the war was primary the decision by the Sri Lanka state (and here the then UNP govt and the current regime are to blame) to exploit militarily the split in the LTTE.

    Simply not true. The UNP government actually allowed the LTTE cadres to cross government to retake the East from Karuna. The reason was that they wanted a single representative to negotiate with.

    What happened next was that Prabakharian, having won, instead of being happy with a return to the status quo, proceeded to hunt down those who had supported Karuna. As a result they were obliged to reform and go under the protection of the Lankan military.

    As DBS has said on many other posts here, the decision to return to war was taken by Prabkharian in 2004. He had also been persuaded that Balasingham was a Norwegian agent, and that the Tamil diaspora in the West would be able to swing their governments towards tolerating an independent Eelam. The assassination of Kadirgamar was intended to weaken Lankan support in the West, as was the decision to root for the election of Rajapakse. When Rajapakse proved recalcitrant in starting the war, the LTTE started a campaign of provocations which successfully forced it.

  54. I think the TRC will be a step forward for an united Sri Lanka if and only the oppressed Tamils had won their freedom and decided to forgive the oppressors of the Sri Lankan military and the Indian military for the warcrimes and just any gross human rights violation that had been perpetrated on the innocent Tamils.

    In this case it is like the Allied forces trying to institute a TRC after defeating Japan by detonating two atom bombs on it. The severity of the crime is that of America by wantonly killing thousands in one blast when they knew fully well the Jap forces had been miliitarily defeated.

    The comparison of Japs and USA is only to use as another analogy of the ANC coming to power in post-apartheid SA. The victory was achieved through negotiations and international intervention of a political kind.

    In Sri Lanks it is a post atom bomb situation and not a post- apartheid situation.

    No one would have wished the Bosnian, Croatians and Kosovans to live ina united yugoslavia after a truth commmission, but they only thought of initiatina a war crimes tribunal against the perpetrators of those heinous crimes of genocide.

    Simillarly we cannot expect to have a TRC but a Truth commission if not a Warcrime Trial here in Sri Lanka

  55. I am not here to praise you for anything.I just wonder what you’re planning to achieve with your useless solutions.Who are you to speak for us the Tamils?We don’t need you traitor.

    And what’s the solution the LTTE has achieved for the Tamils other than destruction?…………DBSJ

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