Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga last week delivered a scathing attack on the government’s handling of the former IDPs at a discussion held in the South Asia Policy Research Institute in Colombo.
“You may be satisfied with it (reconciliation process), but I am not,” she said responding to Professor Rohan Gunaratna, who was the guest speaker.
Prof. Gunaratna earlier in his address outlined the government’s achievements in post war transformation in the spheres of humanitarian assistance, social and economic developments and political engagement.
“I don’t know whether it was necessary to keep250,000 civilians in detention for two years?” Kumaratunga quizzed. She recalled that the government leaders at the time justified the move, arguing that it was necessary to identify the terrorist cadres among the civilians.
“This is the first time I am speaking about these things. I didn’t want to be called myself a terrorist and get lifted by a white van,” she said. She added that the state media described her as a ‘terrorist’ after a statement she made in India. recently.
Recalling her handing of the developments in the aftermath of the recapture of Jaffna in 1995, when the LTTE took an approximately 450,000 Tamil civilians with retreating Tiger cadres, she said, “I told the army to go to borders (forward defence lines), use loudhailers and invite people back to Jaffna. “We let everyone come; even the LTTE cadres could have come; only exception was they couldn’t bring in weapons. So what?” the former president quipped.
Criticizing the government’s handling of reconstruction in the north east, she said she didn’t agree with the argument that the local administration couldn’t be run effectively with a civilian leadership in place, an explanation offered by the government for appointing military officials to run the civil administration in the north east.
“When we captured Jaffna, we didn’t get the army to run the reconstruction. We appointed civil servants who were Tamil to run the administration, and invited international NGOs to participate in development activities. We rebuilt the Kilinochchi hospital, knowing very well LTTE cadres would be treated there.”
She referred to a “land grab” by the military and said according to her sources, the military is taking over large chunks of land in the north. “Even when I was the president, the JHU and other extremists tried to convince me that the solution to the (ethnic) problem was to settle Sinhalese on the borders of Jaffna.”
During her reign, the JHU had planted Buddha statues in several ‘hundred per cent Tamil and Muslim villages’ in the East. and burned 100 odd churches during the same period, she added.
“I found out who was doing that. I arrested 60 odd members of the JHU. All that ended with the arrests.”
She referred to a huge pandal that has been put up at the entrance of Kilinochchi, which read as “Budusasuna Bebalewa”. It is still there, she said. And for the sake of a couple of foreign diplomats who were in the audience, she translated the inscriptions in the pandol into English: “Let Buddhism flourish” courtesy: LakbimaNews