Feature Article

Sirisena's Commission ‘demonstrates’ deceptive investigations in Ampaa'rai

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 08 April 2015, 23:02 GMT]
A Sri Lankan military intelligence officer was present inside the hearing hall at Kalmunai in the Eastern Province when the SL Presidential Commission on Missing Persons held its hearings, which were chaired by Mr Maxwell Parakrama Paranagama, said Selvarajah Kanesh, the president of the organisation representing the families of the abducted and missing persons in Ampaa'rai district in an interview to TamilNet on Tuesday. In the meantime, Village officer (GS) in Aalaiyadi-vempu was deployed by the SL authorities to instruct the victims to appear in front of the Commission if they wanted to receive 100,000 SL rupees in return for accepting death certificates of the persons registered as missing following their appearance in front of the Commission. A large number of the victims have boycotted the sittings.

A protest was staged outside the secretariat of the Kalmunai Divisional Council (PS) where the hearings were held on Monday and Tuesday. The protestors demanded credible and independent investigations without the involvement of the Sri Lankan State.

Sri Lankan military intelligence operatives were deployed in large number at the protest site, monitoring the activists and the participants.

Selvarajah Kanesh
Selvarajah Kanesh
“This is the good-governance of the new regime,” commented Selvarajah Kanesh, who is also a politician attached to the Ampaa'rai branch of the Tamil National Alliance. He is the president of the welfare organisation for the families of the abducted and missing persons in Ampaa'rai district.

“We have just started working with registering the details. Within one month alone, we have received 521 complaints in Kalmunai alone. It is believed that more than 3,000 people have been subjected to forced disappearance in the entire district of Ampaa'rai,” he said.

“300 people have been reported missing at the village of Malvaththai alone. There are only 3,000 residents in that village. This alone tells the extent of the problem,” Mr Kanesh told TamilNet.

The members of the commission were ignorant and they were sleeping while the victims were witnessing in front of them at Kalmunai, he further said. “We didn't stop anyone who wanted to go and witness, but we requested the people to also join our protest,” he said.

Victims protest against ineffective investigations by SL presidential commission on missing persons
Religious representatives and representatives of Families of Abducted and Missing Persons in Ampaa'rai District at Kalmunai in Ampaa'rai
The commission was supposed to hear 112 witnesses at Kalmunai based on the earlier complaints registered with the commission. As the protest against domestic investigations gained momentum, the Commission also allowed those who registered their complaints on the same day to appear for hearings.

“The independent international investigations must be taken forward by the UN and Member States that supported the war efforts of the Sri Lankan State should not be part of the independent investigations,” Mr Kanesh said.

The two mainstream parties, the UNP and the SLFP, that come to power in the South and have done nothing in the 26 years between 1983 the pogroms and the war in 2009. “They never visited us in Ampaa'rai to listen to our complaints.”

Even now, a section of the TNA wants to give more time to the regime of Maithiripala Sirisena, but the Tamil people say that they have been witnessing such regimes for 26 years between the 1983 pogroms against the Tamils till 2009, he further said.

Religious leaders, Rev Fr A Kamalakumar and Sivasree K. Yogarajan kurukka'l, S. Premavathy, the president of Paa'ndiruppu Womens Organisation accompanied Mr Kanesh in handing over an appeal to Mr Maxwell Parakrama Paranagama, the chairman of the SL Presidential Commission.

Victims protest against ineffective investigations by SL presidential commission on missing persons
The delegation representing the victims in Ampaa'rai meets the SL Presidential Commission on Missing Persons to hand over its appeal

Victims protest against ineffective investigations by SL presidential commission on missing persons
Selvarajah Kanesh hands over an appeal to the SL Presidential Commission on Missing Persons
The appeal censured the Commission for failing to reveal its findings. The commission was unilaterally appointed by one side of the conflict and lacks credibility, the appeal said. It also pointed out the failure of the past commissions appointed by the successive SL regimes. “Tamils are not prepared to waste many more years in these futile exercises,” the appeal said.

The Commission has held its sittings in 6 districts, except Trincomalee and Batticaloa in the North-East last year. It has received more than 20,000 complaints, including 5,000 complaints of missing Sinhala soldiers, according to media reports in Colombo.

This year, the new regime extended the terms of reference, continuing the legacy of the Commission appointed by the former SL president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The SL Presidential Commission has only managed to go through around 2,000 cases within the past 18 months of its operation.

“This Commission would require 13 years to go through all the cases at this speed, which is totally unacceptable,” Mr Kanesh told TamilNet.

“Many of the mothers will not live so long till this commission completes its investigations. Many of the witnesses would be gone by then,” he said.

Last month, when sittings were held in Trincomalee, the Tamil civil society, grassroots politicians and the victims boycotted the hearings. However, a section of TNA politicians changed their position, causing confusion among the Tamils at the instruction of a Colombo-based nominated parliamentarian.



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