Trust deficit in the North – Reply to Jehan Perera
This is in response to an article written by Jehan Perera titled “ Reversing the growing trust deficit in the North” published in the Island on 23rd May. Jehan Perera is a regular writer to the Island news paper and all his writings are in line with the thinking of the Global Tamil Forum and the Tamil National Alliance. When the High Commissioner of UNHRC Zeid Al Hussein submitted his report alleging “ war crimes” against SL troops , Jehan was full of praise of it, followed by the GTF and TNA. Jehan Perera, as a Sinhala writer, regularly expresses his discontent regarding the “unacceptable delay” in releasing the land occupied by the military and the persistence of a culture of surveillance with a “heavy military presence” in the North. The TNA and the separatist Tamil Diaspora tell the same.
Before commenting on the contents of the above article, let me tell a story of a respectable professor Buddhist monk who had visited Abimansala ( Army hospital accommodating the critically wounded soldiers ) on the 18th May. For those who have forgotten , it was the day, exactly 8 years ago, our forces gained victory over the most ruthless terrorist Organisation in the world, the LTTE. The priest has visited a soldier with spinal injury, paralyzed below the neck and very sympathetically told him as to how genuinely sad he was. The soldier has smiled and said, “ why are you sad when I am not ?” and has continued, “Swaminvahansa, but I have only two worries, the first one is for not being there in the battle field when my colleagues killed Prabakaran. I am like this, like a vegetable, for the past 21 years, injured whilst fighting the enemy who tried to divide my country. But now I hear that there is an attempt to divide the country through a constitution but yet I cannot do anything to prevent it. That is my second worry”.
Jehan is a main Character amongst the “ Sinhalese” who promotes federalism through a new constitution and in his above article he agrees with the Prime Minister who said that the government cannot drag the new constitution making process any more. Jehan also says , for reconciliation, the government must win the trust of the people and win the referendum and pass the new constitution.
In a subtle way Jehan also justifies commemoration of the dead including the LTTE terrorists. He says there is a need for a memorial or a monument for those who lost their lives in the last battles and government should not prevent such an act. He and his colleagues involved in promoting “ inter- ethnic reconciliation” say that the mistrust of the government system and the security forces is evident in North.
As we are aware, the present government , in the name of an alien word called “reconciliation”, had implemented many a measure to “appease” the TNA and GTF mostly at the expense of the Sinhalese community. Starting from violating the constitution and allowing the national anthem to be sung in Tamil, dismantling Army camps without any security study at the mere demand of Tamil politicians, mollycoddling the Tamil student who, with a group of thugs, mercilessly assaulted the Sinhalese students in Jaffna University , to permitting Tamil politicians to commemorate the dead LTTE’ers. But what was the end result? Has the government approached even an inch towards “ reconciliation”? The UNP MP Vijayakala Mahesvaran refuses to hoist the national flag at State Functions in Jaffna. The CM of NP Wigneshwaran very openly says that the Sinhalese have no right to live in North and the Tamils should not marry Sinhalese. He also take part in protest marches in Kilinochchi against erecting Buddha statues. Never heard of Jehan Perera, head of the “Inter Ethnic reconciliation team” criticizing or protesting against such statements or actions, specially coming from a person who has studied, worked and lived with Sinhalese for 65 years before taking up appointment as the CM in North. Does Jehan and the likes believe that reconciliation is destroying the Sinhalese Buddhist identity and depriving only the Sinhalese the right to live anywhere in the country? How much they are paid by the Tamil Diaspora for supporting such “reconciliatory measures”?
Sri Lanka has been a Unitary country for the last 2500 years except for brief spells due to foreign invasions. Whenever there were attempts to divide the country, our ancestors have fought hard and protected it. During the 30 years of war against Terrorism too, the soldiers were killed and wounded trying to deny the separatists terrorists achieve their objective. The “ wounded” includes men like the above mentioned paralyzed soldier, whose only worry may be, is whether his sacrifice for the nation remains to be meaningful /worthwhile or not.
What is this new constitution? How would it divide the country if enacted? The main Sub Committee in it was Centre Periphery Relations Sub Committee chaired by former PLOTE member and MP Dharmalingam Siddarthan. His report commences stating that the “ unitary” nature of the country is an impediment to the smooth functioning of the Provincial Councils. The Steering Committee report is released and the two main recommendations are the removal of the powers of the governor and abolishing the concurrent list. For eg. if the CM of the NP passes a law detrimental to the State’s interest such as removing Buddha statues or dismantling all the military camps, the governor can prevent it by exercising the Executive Powers of the President .If the CM of the EP wants to pass a law permitting the Muslims in the East to marry girls under the age of 12 or clearing 500 acres from Kumana sanctuary to build luxury flats, the central government can interfere and stop it as the subjects such as marriages and environment etc comes under the concurrent list. Hence removing the powers of the governor and abolishing concurrent list would very clearly make the country Federal as the nine provinces could then make their own laws with the Center having absolutely no control. One can just imagine how men like Wigneshwaran who already has a contemptuous attitude towards the Sinhalese and the forces, would behave if the new constitution is enacted. This is the situation the GTF and the TNA want to achieve and it is exactly what the separatist NGO’s including Jehan lobby for, in the pretext of “reconciliation”.
Jehan also says that memorials should be held in North for those who were killed in last battles. Those killed in last battles were mostly terrorists. Terrorism is killing the innocents to achieve a political aim. Hence whether the cause for terrorism is justifiable or not terrorism cannot be justified. LTTE ‘s reign of terror resulted in deaths of innocent Sinhalese in border villages, innocent devotees at Sri Maha Bodhi, innocent Buddhist monks at Aranthalawa, innocent Muslims praying at Kaththankudi mosque, Tamil academics and Tamil politicians, it’s own cadre, and innocent Tamils escaping from their clutches. SL troops fought and defeated such an outfit and Jehan recommends to erect monuments for the dead terrorists!! It is hilarious that when the Indian government which nurtured the LTTE stands firm in not allowing the Tamil Nadu politicians any type of commemoration of LTTE, our government cancels the victory parade and allows the Tamil politicians to commemorate the dead LTTE cadre. It should also be mentioned that the TNA, or the CM Wigneshwaran or the Jaffna University who commemorated the dead did not bother to say even a silent prayer for all the Tamils killed by LTTE! So much was their “concern” for their own people.
Those who promote the cancelation of the victory parade should be reminded that the Allies are still celebrating the victory over Germany and Japan in spite of the colossal destruction caused to those countries by them. Eleven million German civilians/soldiers who were captured were killed after the war in which half of them were starved to death. Yet they have not stopped victory day celebrations just because it hurts the feelings of the Germans. But the SL troops rescued 300,000 Tamil civilians under heavy enemy fire. Eleven thousand six hundred terrorists who were captured were rehabilitated and released to the society. The SL troops, risking their lives, then demined 495,000 AP and 5000 Anti tank mines strewed by LTTE for the Tamils to resettle. They constructed nearly 8000 houses for their Tamil brethren spending their own money! The government resettled 295,000 Tamils within a very short period after providing them with all the basic facilities. Where were Wigneshwaran or Sampanthan or Jehan Perera and his reconciliation team at that time, who now complain about the military presence in North? Those who have deserted the area or who were hiding under the bed when the LTTE were using innocent Tamil children as cannon fodder and hundreds of thousands of innocent Tamils including pregnant women as human shields, should hide their faces in shame without emerging from nowhere after the war and grumbling about military presence and trust deficit in North.
The governments come and go. The politicians would stoop to any level to be in power. But what about the citizens in the country? Should’nt they be patriotic and duty bound to protect their Motherland? Former Wyoming Senator Alen Simpson, in an interview about journalism, had said “ journalists are there to replace skepticism with patriotism”, and when asked whether he argued that the journalists ought to be American first and reporters second , his answer was “ I sure as hell do”
Patriotic Sri Lankans including writers do not wish the country to be federated. They respect the soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect the country. If someone promotes a constitution which divide the country and recommends memorials for terrorists , he surely is not a patriot but a traitor. A traitor is a person who betrays his own country. Like in terrorism there is no middle man in treason. Either you are a traitor or you are not. Treason, in any country, if proved beyond any reasonable doubt, is an offence punishable by death.
Rear Admiral ( Dr.) Sarath Weerasekera VSV, RWP, USP
President, National War Heroes Front