Feature Article

Criticism emerges in Jaffna over USA training SL military, IC soft-pedalling Tamil genocide

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 28 September 2016, 23:18 GMT]
In spite of all the accusations against the Sri Lankan government of war-crimes and other atrocities committed during the war, USA and other governments continue to have naval and military exercises with the Sri Lankan forces, as they also had these trainings with the SL military during the regime of the Mahinda Rajapaksa, said Rev Fr S.V.B. Mangalarajah, the chairman of the Commission for Justice & Peace of the Catholic Diocese in Jaffna in a follow-up video interview to TamilNet after the Ezhuka Thamizh uprising held in Jaffna. The implied message coming from the veteran human rights activist based in Jaffna was that the international community and its approach towards the national question of Tamils in the island was lopsided and unless that problem is seriously addressed by Tamils, the SL Government and the South would not deliver anything substantial for Tamils.

“I don’t know what reason they have for these [military] exercises. Recently, there was a massive-scale exercise with Americans and some other foreign forces,” the veteran human rights activist based in Jaffna for a long time told TamilNet.

“We don’t see it as a positive sign for a peaceful future,” he said adding that the governments in the international community go ahead [with these relationships] irrespective of the [emotions prevailing among] the local people.

Tamil people have been frightened by these ‘live fire’ exercises, Fr Mangalarajah said.

The international community ignored the resolutions passed by the elected Northern Provincial Council and the State Assembly of the neighbouring Tamil Nadu State Government that demanded for international investigations on Tamil genocide. While giving recognition to genocides elsewhere, the International Community has ignored the genocide committed in the island, some times with far worse intensity when compared to some other cases that have received due recognition, he said.

Tamils are subjected to many types of genocides and they are concerned about the cultural genocide against them, the chairman of the Commission for Justice & Peace of the Catholic Diocese said.

By allowing the SL State to proceed with its local mechanisms, which have failed to accord equal say for Tamils in deciding how the investigations should be conducted, the SL State is continuing to deceive the real victims and escape from the international scrutiny on the protracted genocide, the veteran human rights activist opined.

The crime of genocide will gain serious attention and what has taken place on the ground would only come to light when international experts and international judges conduct an investigation beyond the domain of State control exercised by the Sri Lankan government.

The Tamil people on the ground feel that the SL Government has “not accomplished any substantial progress with regards to addressing their grievances”, he said responding to a question on the talk of so-called ‘reconciliation’ and the TNA leaders lying low in articulating Tamil aspirations.

The SL government will only satisfy the demands coming from the Sinhalese, he said. Even though the TNA hopes for a new constitution to resolve the Tamil question, the people on the ground have so far not given even a hint as to what is going to come in the constitution, he added.

“The majority of the people in South are opposed to everything, no devolution, no federalism. I don’t think the government will go against them.”

Under these circumstances, there is no chance for any positive ‘U turn’ on the part of the SL government, the veteran rights activist said adding that the remaining two or three months in 2016 would not bring anything substantially as far as the grievances and aspirations of Tamils are concerned.

There is no point in TNA parliamentarians asking Tamil people not to disturb their silence, he said.

The Colombo government is unable to even sort out the small matter of releasing the Tamil prisoners or transferring their cases to the courts in the North-East, Mangalarajah said referring to the prisoners waging a hunger strike at the moment.

The Office of the Missing Persons, has no real mandate to produce anyone in the courts and it is just another eyewash on the side of the SL government, he added.

“Imagine the situation of 15,000 to 20,000 relatives of persons subjected to forced disappearances having to go to Colombo to address the OMP while a few families of political prisoners numbering around 100 are already having great difficulties in doing that.”

“First of all, we have a lot of apprehensions regarding the OMP. Even if they are sincere about [what they claim to do], they should at least have considered basing their office somewhere in the North or East, preferably one in North and the other in the East. There are equal number of persons, who have been reported missing in both the districts, he said.

The SL government has failed to give any credible role to the affected party, which has a right to voice its concern and defend itself with equal status with Colombo, he said.

The Northern Provincial Council has not been allowed to exercise its power he said citing the recent controversy of Colombo attempting to establish a saltern at Kearatheevu.

“The local people say that the saltern would destroy their livelihoods and the ecosystem. Similarly, there were also a move to establish a hotel at Kauthaari-munai in Poonakari (Pooneryn). The local government or provincial council do not know anything about it,” he said.

Every time, when the Chief Minister reacts, those in the South call him an extremist. But, the Chief Minister reflects the hearts and minds of the people, Fr Mangalarajah said.



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