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Sri Lanka: We do not have freedom in the country and not even in the parliament – R.Sampanthan

by

Sampanthan

TNA Leader Sampanthan’s Speech to parliament 28 Nov 2013

” Out of the 12 Tamil Members elected to the Eastern Provincial Council, 11 were from the Tamil National Alliance and of the 32 Tamil Members elected to the Northern Provincial Council, 29 were from the Tamil National Alliance. It was virtually a clean sweep of the Tamil vote, indicating beyond any manner of doubt, the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people for an acceptable political solution granting the people of the Northern and Eastern Provinces substantial, genuine political autonomy within the  framework of a united, undivided Sri Lanka. ”

(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am happy to follow the Hon. Minister of  External Affairs, the Hon. (Prof.) G.L. Peiris. His Excellency the President in  his capacity as  Minister of  Finance has presented his 9th Budget. When he presented his 9th Budget,  he  had also  assumed  duties as  Chairman of the Commonwealth. This would, no doubt, entail additional  duties and responsibilities, which hopefully would have a beneficial impact  on governance in  this country.

The Budget has been formulated so as to satisfy most segments in this country  in some way to keep them generally happy. I do not see any particular effort being made to address wasteful expenditure in the country; that there is a great deal of waste in this country of the wealth of the common people is without question.  I am sure the people would much prefer such wasted  resources being more  beneficially utilized so as to benefit them.

The issue of enhancing  our exports,  in my view, could have been given greater attention because eventually, the future of our economy in its various aspects is going to largely depend upon how much  we are  able to earn in foreign exchange. In passing, I might say that running casinos may not be the most sensible way to address this need.
 

At the earlier stages,  the manifestation of the LTTE  inevitable and even justified

With these few preliminary observations, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I wish to address  some of the serious issues  that afflict  this  country.  Governance in this country is  based on the premise that this country was for a long period, around two-and-a-half  to  three decades afflicted with a serious menace, the LTTE, and the assumption  that the physical elimination of the LTTE  has restored peace and normalcy with equity and justice. Nothing, I submit,  can be further from the truth. The LTTE was the  manifestation of a grave  problem that had long existed in this country from shortly after Independence consequent to justice and  equity not being meted out to all its peoples on  equal terms. The incipient phase of this manifestation in the form of the LTTE occurred only in the late ’70s,  almost three decades after the country attained  Independence.

At the earlier stages,  the manifestation of the LTTE  seemed  inevitable and even justified. It was  the several aberrations, primarily the adoption by the LTTE of an authoritarian approach  and the disrespect for democracy  and human rights that tarnished the image of justification and eventually resulted  in several countries  the world over, branding the LTTE  as  a terrorist organization.

It is those countries which so banned the LTTE and which indeed crippled the LTTE thereby,  that are now stating  quite clearly that there must  be a political  solution because these countries realize that there were valid causes for the conflict to emerge, that the said valid causes continue and are a recurring phenomenon and that unless there is a political solution that addresses these causes effectively, there can be no  reconciliation.  The Sri Lankan Government, on the contrary, seems to think quite erroneously that with the physical demise of the LTTE, peace and normalcy have returned to the country, however spurious such a claim maybe, and that everything is indeed hunky dory. This is the quagmire in which Sri Lanka is presently entangled and Sri Lanka, it appears, needs a great deal of assistance to disentangle itself from this situation. This basic reality, in my submission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, needs to be borne in mind in addressing the current situation in Sri Lanka.

Genuine reconciliation is not possible unless there is credible accountability

Judging by what is happening in this country today, Sir, I would think that there are two critical words that have a bearing on the future of this country and those words are “accountability” and “reconciliation”.  Genuine reconciliation is not possible unless there is credible accountability.  Unfortunately, one observes impunity in every area of activity moving towards authoritarianism. The treatment of the Tamil people is worse than what it has been ever before. Since the LTTE, an armed Tamil organization, has been defeated, anything can be done to the Tamil people in whatever field, and they have to accept it, however unjust such actions maybe.  This is the attitude currently prevalent.  The position, I might repeat, Mr. Deputy Speaker, has never been as bad as at present ever before.  The primary cause for this is the all-pervasive military environment in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, even from the positions of the Governors of those provinces to a military Government Agent, the ubiquitous involvement of the military in every sphere of activity, a general sense of fear even amongst Tamil Public servants to do the right thing by the Tamil people and the Tamil people feeling utterly helpless and destitute in this deplorable situation.

The attitude seems to be that the Tamil people must be made to realize that it is only by supporting the Government, that they can expect equal or just treatment. If they do not, they will be punished. The Tamil people are too resilient a people to put up with such insult and indignity; the consequence is that their suffering continues and the question is, for how long can this continue?

A genuine political autonomy within the  framework of a united, undivided Sri Lanka
 
This is demonstrated, Sir, in the electoral verdicts in the Provincial Council Elections in the North and the East conducted in 2012 and 2013 respectively, despite the most troubled conditions, despite numerous difficulties and deficiencies faced by the Tamil people.   

Out of the 12 Tamil Members elected to the Eastern Provincial Council, 11 were from the Tamil National Alliance and of the 32 Tamil Members elected to the Northern Provincial Council, 29 were from the Tamil National Alliance. It was virtually a clean sweep of the Tamil vote, indicating beyond any manner of doubt, the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people for an acceptable political solution granting the people of the Northern and Eastern Provinces substantial, genuine political autonomy within the  framework of a united, undivided Sri Lanka.

This was the platform, Sir, on the basis of which the elections were conducted in both the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The Tamil people are beginning to increasingly think that though this is their clear democratic verdict consistent with their democratic wishes ever since  Independence, their verdict will not be respected and that they will be punished for not supporting the ruling party. Is this not, Mr. Deputy Speaker, unbridled authoritarianism? The highest institutions at the national level such as an independent higher Judiciary, independent civilian institutions such as independent Election Commission, independent Human Rights Commission,  independent Public Service Commission and independent National Police Commission, independent Judicial Service Commission, independent Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption are suborned and made ineffectual by the nullification of the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution and the abolition of the Constitutional Council depriving the people of this country, in particular, the badly-affected Tamil people of equality, equity and justice at the hands of these institutions manned by independent and impartial persons.

The judgment delivered by the new Chief Justice  is a grave denial of provincial autonomy 

The hasty and vindictive, purported impeachment of the Chief Justice, Dr. (Mrs.) Shirani Bandaranayake in violation of all principles of natural justice, I submit, for the reason that she upheld the provisions of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution relating to provincial autonomy immediately after she delivered the said Judgments, are clearly indicative of the true authoritarian attitude of the current Government.

On the vital issue of powers pertaining to State land, the judgment delivered by the new Chief Justice by the Court presided over by him, who was appointed by this Government after the impeachment and who prior to such appointment was an adviser to the Chief Executive and other Senior Executives and which judgment is inconsistent with other judgments delivered by the Supreme Court thus far pertaining to State land, has been a grave denial of provincial autonomy and is in keeping with the present Government’s current thinking on the vital issue of  State land. This demonstrates the true position.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, Elections to the Northern Provincial Council have been held more than four years after the conflict came to an end. The elections were held on account of intense international pressure. The question of elections being held was even included in the last resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in March, 2013. While it may be said that nothing brazen happened on election day, fortunately, there were international and also national observers of the election process. The Northern Provincial Council Election was discussed at international fora. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was due to be held shortly. The international spotlight was on the Northern Provincial Council Election and therefore, as I said, nothing brazen happened on election day. It was not, however, without serious blemish.  I will deal with this issue, Sir, in the course of the debates on some other vote.

 The people are waiting to see what would happen at least in the Northern Province

However, I must record that strenuous efforts were made to frustrate the democratic wish of the Tamil people. But, the people were resilient and through their peaceful vote they demonstrated their strength.  I want to on the Floor of this House, express to our people our strongest admiration of the determined resoluteness that they demonstrated.

The people are waiting to see what would happen at least in the Northern Province. Will the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution under which the Elections were held be fully implemented in letter and spirit? Will it be the commencement of a process that will lead to an acceptable, reasonable, workable and durable political solution in keeping with the several commitments that this Government has made since assumption of power and other Governments have made before? This remains the million dollar question.

Around a million Tamils have already fled the country. They constitute the Tamil Diaspora in different parts of the world. It is the view of most Tamils that it is the deliberate thinking and policy of this Government that rather than enabling the Tamils to live as equal citizens in this country, they should be harassed to such a degree in every conceivable way that they are compelled to leave the country themselves. If that were to happen, Sir, without the Tamil people, there can be no Tamil issue and the Sri Lankan Government would have solved the Tamil issue as it desires, towards the achievement of which, we feel, on the basis of what is happening on the ground, the Sri Lankan Government is currently working very assiduously.

The word “reconciliation” is bandied about quite frequently in this country. The Government claims to be seriously committed to bringing about reconciliation between the different peoples. May I ask, Sir, how many places of religious and cultural importance to the minority peoples in this country – the Tamils, the Muslims and the Catholics – have been desecrated, damaged and destroyed recently? Everyone knows about it. Some of these acts clearly seem to have overt or covert official sanction. Can the Government honestly state that it has taken appropriate action in regard to any one matter? Will this not encourage impunity on the part of the offenders? Will this not encourage the offenders to think that the arm of the law will not reach them and that they have the support of the Government?
How much of land belonging to the Tamil people in both the North and the East is being arbitrarily expropriated by the Government for military and other purposes, causing immense pain of mind, deprivation and suffering to the Tamil people? Can such actions bring about reconciliation? This seems to be a fundamental question that needs to be addressed.

Joint Communiqué issued by His Excellency the President and the Secretary-General of the UN

This brings me, Sir, to the issue of accountability. The issue of accountability mainly revolves around how the war was conducted, particularly in its final stages. The Sri Lankan Government’s position is that a humanitarian operation was conducted on the policy of “zero civilian casualty”. In fact, I remember that just after the war was over, a rather prominent Minister of the Government said that the war had been concluded without causing a single casualty. There was a Joint Communiqué issued by His Excellency the President and the Secretary-General of the UN shortly after the war came to an end. It was issued on the 23rd of May, 2009. The Communiqué, in regard to accountability, stated, I quote:

 “Sri Lanka reiterated its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, in keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations. The Secretary-General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Government will take measures to address those grievances.”

 
This joint commitment made by the President of Sri Lanka and the Secretary-General of the UN is today being pursued in order to ensure that the Sri Lankan Government addresses the question of accountability and the UN is holding the Sri Lankan Government to that commitment. Subsequently, the Secretary-General to the United Nations appointed a Panel of Experts comprising of three eminent persons to conduct certain investigations and give him some advice in regard to how he should deal with the question of accountability. It is a long Report, Sir, that contains very revealing information, but I will read just one paragraph from that Report. In page ii, that Report states, I quote:
“The Panel’s determination of credible allegations reveals a very different version of the final stages of the war than that maintained to this day by the Government of Sri Lanka. The Government says it pursued a ‘humanitarian rescue operation’ with a policy of ‘zero civilian casualties’. In stark contrast, the Panel found credible allegations, which if proven, indicate that a wide range of serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law was committed both by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Indeed, the conduct of the war represented a grave assault on the entire regime of international law designed to protect individual dignity during both war and peace.”

 LLRC recommendations incorporated in the Resolutions of the UN HRC  have not been quite implemented yet

I will not read any further from that Report, Sir, for lack of time.

Then, we have the LLRC Report released by some eminent persons from this country who were appointed by the Government. I will comment on the LLRC Report, particularly in regard to their recommendations pertaining to a political solution before I conclude my speech.

There were several other matters that were referred to in the LLRC Report, many of which have been incorporated in the two Resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2012 and March 2013. Very unfortunately, those recommendations of the LLRC incorporated in the Resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council do not seem to have been quite implemented yet.

There is graphic photographic evidence in the form of several videos that have been released by Channel 4,  the authenticity of which has been accepted by many.  But, I must say that the authenticity of same has been denied by the Sri Lankan Government.  I would think that the videos released by Channel 4 are a professional execution of duty by an intrepid media.  We have known, Sir, the world over that media is sometimes quite independent and quite intrepid –

ගරු දිනේෂ් ගුණවර්ධන මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு  தினேஷ் குணவர்தன)
(The Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena)
There is no credibility.  Channel 4 is a dubious channel.

ගරු ආර්. සම්පන්දන් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு ஆர். சம்பந்தன்)
(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
– and will not bow to any form of intimidation or harassment –

ගරු දිනේෂ් ගුණවර්ධන මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு  தினேஷ் குணவர்தன)
(The Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena)
Hon. Member, there is no credibility.

ගරු ආර්. සම්පන්දන් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு ஆர். சம்பந்தன்)
(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
Okay.  You can say that.  – [Interruption.] Sir, if I might move on to my –

ගරු දිනේෂ් ගුණවර්ධන මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு  தினேஷ் குணவர்தன)
(The Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena)
It is not a media agent.

ගරු ආර්. සම්පන්දන් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு ஆர். சம்பந்தன்)
(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
Okay.  You are entitled to your say. – [Interruption.]

ගරු දිනේෂ් ගුණවර්ධන මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு  தினேஷ் குணவர்தன)
(The Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena)
It is not independent. They are paid to do a job.

ගරු ආර්. සම්පන්දන් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு ஆர். சம்பந்தன்)
(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
May I carry on, Mr. Deputy Speaker?  I am moving on to my next point.

නියෝජ්‍ය කථානායකතුමා
(பிரதிச் சபாநாயகர் அவர்கள்)
(The Deputy Speaker)
Yes, Hon. Member.

ගරු ආර්. සම්පන්දන් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு ஆர். சம்பந்தன்)
(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
My Friends, as Members of the Government and citizens of this country, are entitled to have their say; we respect what they say; we do not deny you the right to say it; but, please do not deny me the right to continue with my speech.  I am a senior Member in this House; I am an elderly person; therefore, please do not disturb me.  – [Interruption.]

ගරු දිනේෂ් ගුණවර්ධන මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு  தினேஷ் குணவர்தன)
(The Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena)
You are a senior Member. We respect you because you do not say the same thing as the Hon. Sritharan.

Out of 80,000 missing in numbers 40,000 could be tigers what about others ?
 
ගරු ආර්. සම්පන්දන් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு ஆர். சம்பந்தன்)
(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
Sir, after the war was over, certain questions were raised about the manner in which the UN authorities discharged their duties and it was decided that the UN must conduct its own internal investigation in regard to the manner in which the UN performed its duties.  There was a panel appointed by the Secretary-General to go into this question of how the UN performed these duties and there was a report.  I would refer to some parts of that report.  It states that it has estimated that there were 360,000 persons or more crowded in a small part of the Vanni in Northern Sri Lanka.  Almost 280,000 survivors who came out were subsequently kept in military-run camps outside the area of conflict.  The difference is 80,000.  What happened to those 80,000 people?  Half of them may have been LTTE cadres, that is even too much.  The other half must have definitely been civilians.  What happened to them?  That is a fundamental question.

The report goes on to say, I quote:

“The UN’s failure to adequately counter the Government’s under-estimation of population numbers in the Wanni, the failure to adequately confront the Government on its obstructions to humanitarian assistance, the unwillingness of the UN in UNHQ and Colombo to address Government responsibility for attacks that were killing civilians, and the tone and content of UN communications with the Government and Member States on these issues, contributed to the unfolding of dramatic events.”

Ultimately it goes on to recommend, I quote”

“Sri Lanka’s peaceful and stable progress will require a process of accountability and reconciliation and a political solution to the long-standing grievances of all communities, as well as a response to ongoing and new concerns, and prevention and protection in the future. Working closely with the Government of Sri Lanka, the UN needs to take on this further challenge.

This is what the Panel appointed to oversee the actions of the UN  agencies in Sri Lanka in their report said.

Quite recently, in fact on 25th September 2013, the Secretary-General of the UN has made a statement at the UN General Assembly in regard to this matter.  I quote:

“In a rare admission of “systemic failure” of the UN, its Chief has said  the world body had failed during the final stages of the ethnic war in 2009….

Ban made the remarks while addressing the  UN General Assembly’s 68th session –  where Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was also present.

The Secretary-General said  as an immediate first step, he will organise a senior-level team to give “careful consideration” to the report’s recommendations and advise him on the way forward. “Other action will follow in short order.”

I am saying this because as Sri Lankans we all need to be concerned with this developing situation. It would be rather short-sighted to think that everything is hunky-dory, that everything is moving along quite well and that there is nothing that we have to do. We must realize that this matter is possessed in the UN and it is being pursued in the UN in different fora and it is a matter that needs to be very carefully examined and scrutinized in this background.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, not only the present High Commissioner, even the former High Commissioner, Madam Louise Arbor was very much involved in Sri Lanka.
The present UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has come up with several statements that commenced when the war was in progress, that were issued after the war was concluded. She has been to Sri Lanka recently, had a press conference here and issued a statement. She has subsequently made an oral statement at the UN. She is due to issue a written statement in March 2014, and we need to be conscious of the fact that various issues have been raised by her even in those statements that she has issued.

Uncover responsibility, including recognition of command responsibility IIGEP 

I might also before I refer to the LLRC Report refer to a very interesting thing that happened some years ago. There was an International Independent Group of Eminent Persons comprising of eleven eminent persons from different countries the world over. They were appointed to oversee the work of a Commission that had been entrusted with the task of investigating certain grave violations of human rights such as the murder of 5 students in Trincomalee, 17 aid workers in Mutur and so on.
These eminent persons, Sir, withdrew at a certain point of time and before they withdrew, they had a Press Conference on the 14th of April, 2008 when the war in the Northern Province was in progress but had not reached its height yet. They were asked about what the relationship was between the conduct of a war against an organization which had been banned a terrorist organization and the question of human rights, and they were asked for their comments in regard to that matter. The 11 Members of the Commission presided by Justice Bhagwati, the former Chief Justice of India, had persons from several other countries and this was their unanimous view. It states, I quote:

“All Members of the IIGEP are keenly aware of the security situation presently prevailing in Sri Lanka. The Government is faced with an insurgency in which the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam conduct their hostilities through ruthless methods, not sparing the civilian population. Sections of popular opinion suggest that human rights and respect for the rule of law should take second place to measures necessary to repel these hostilities…”

ගරු අල්හාජ් ඒ.එච්.එම්. අස්වර් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு அல்ஹாஜ் ஏ.எச்.எம். அஸ்வர்)
(The Hon. Alhaj A.H.M. Azwer)
Hon. Member, what about the human rights of the Muslims killed in Kattankudi and Bikkhus killed in Aranthalawa? Talk about them also. Do they not have human rights?

ගරු ආර්. සම්පන්දන් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு ஆர். சம்பந்தன்)
(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
The IIGEP rejects this opinion. They go on to state, Sir, I quote:
“Summary executions, massacres, disappearances, wanton destruction of property, and forcible transfer of populations can never be justified. No efforts  should be spared to uncover responsibility, including recognition of command responsibility, for such actions. The IIGEP has, however, found an absence of will on the part of the Government of Sri Lanka in the present inquiry to investigate cases with vigour, where the conduct of its own forces has been called into question.”

This is the view, Sir, of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons.
ගරු අල්හාජ් ඒ.එච්.එම්. අස්වර් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு அல்ஹாஜ் ஏ.எச்.எம். அஸ்வர்)
(The Hon. Alhaj A.H.M. Azwer)
Sir, I rise to a point of Order.
නියෝජ්‍ය කථානායකතුමා
(பிரதிச் சபாநாயகர் அவர்கள்)
(The Deputy Speaker)
Hon. Azwer, what is the point of Order?

ගරු අල්හාජ් ඒ.එච්.එම්. අස්වර් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு அல்ஹாஜ் ஏ.எச்.எம். அஸ்வர்)
(The Hon. Alhaj A.H.M. Azwer)
Sir, it is very pertinent to ask, Sir, this question at this moment as he is speaking about the violation of human rights. What about the Muslims in Jaffna, Muslims in Kattankudi, Bikkhus killed in Aranthalawa and people killed in Kebithigollewa? Why do you, as a responsible leader, not talk about them?

නියෝජ්‍ය කථානායකතුමා
(பிரதிச் சபாநாயகர் அவர்கள்)
(The Deputy Speaker)
That is not a point of Order.


ගරු අල්හාජ් ඒ.එච්.එම්. අස්වර් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு அல்ஹாஜ் ஏ.எச்.எம். அஸ்வர்)
(The Hon. Alhaj A.H.M. Azwer)
No, he must – [Interruption.]

නියෝජ්‍ය කථානායකතුමා
(பிரதிச் சபாநாயகர் அவர்கள்)
(The Deputy Speaker)
Hon. Sampanthan, you continue with your speech.

ගරු ආර්. සම්පන්දන් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு ஆர். சம்பந்தன்)
(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
I must be allowed to speak in this House. If this Member cannot behave, you must name him and send him out. -[Interruption.] I would appeal to the Chair.

නියෝජ්‍ය කථානායකතුමා
(பிரதிச் சபாநாயகர் அவர்கள்)
(The Deputy Speaker)
Order, please! Hon. Azwer, let the Hon. Sampanthan speak. – [Interruption.] Yes, Hon. Sampanthan.

ගරු ආර්. සම්පන්දන් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு ஆர். சம்பந்தன்)
(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
Sir, I should be entitled to speak. We respect the Chair.

ගරු අල්හාජ් ඒ.එච්.එම්. අස්වර් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு அல்ஹாஜ் ஏ.எச்.எம். அஸ்வர்)
(The Hon. Alhaj A.H.M. Azwer)
I am entitled to ask a question.

ගරු ආර්. සම්පන්දන් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு ஆர். சம்பந்தன்)
(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
Sir, I wish to draw the attention of the House to a salient feature. All this does not do good to the country. -[Interruption.] This  is being watched by the whole world, where even the Members of Parliament of the Opposition cannot speak in this House. You are doing to the country immense damage. Mark you, today the whole thing is televised and the whole world can see it.

ගරු අල්හාජ් ඒ.එච්.එම්. අස්වර් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு அல்ஹாஜ் ஏ.எச்.எம். அஸ்வர்)
(The Hon. Alhaj A.H.M. Azwer)
Yes, I am also talking about that.

ගරු ආර්. සම්පන්දන් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு ஆர். சம்பந்தன்)
(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
Sir, I wish to draw the attention of the House to a salient fact. There is a link between the violence against the Tamil civilians and the non-evolution of an acceptable political solution.

We have had anti-Tamil pogroms in this country in 1956, 1958,  1961, 1977,  1981 and in 1983. There was no LTTE until 1983. There was no violence on the part of the Tamils. There was not even retaliation by the Tamils when they were attacked. Why did this happen?

ගරු පී. පියසේන මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு பொ. பியசேன)
(The Hon. P. Piyasena)
Sir, I rise to a point of Order.

නියෝජ්‍ය කථානායකතුමා
(பிரதிச் சபாநாயகர் அவர்கள்)
(The Deputy Speaker)
What is your point of Order?

ගරු පී. පියසේන මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு பொ. பியசேன)
(The Hon. P. Piyasena)
அவர் கூறுகின்றார் கலவரங்கள் காலத்துக்குக் காலம் ஏற்பட்டன என்று. LTTE ஐ உருவாக்கியது இவர்கள்தாம், தமிழ் மக்கள் அழிவதற்குக் காரணமாக இருந்ததும் இவர்கள்தாம்.  யுத்தத்தின் கடைசி காலத்தில் தமிழ் மக்களை வெளியேற முடியாமல் தடுத்து வைத்துக் கொண்டு, அந்தத் தமிழ் மக்கள் கொல்லப்படுவதற்குக் காரணமாக இருந்தது இந்த LTTE . அவர்களை வளர்த்துவிட்டவர்கள் சம்பந்தன் தலைமையிலான கூட்டணியினர். அங்கே பல ஆயுதக் குழுக்களின் சகபாடிகள் இருக்கின்றார்கள். இவர்கள் விஷமத்தனமான பிரச்சாரங்களை வெளிநாடுகளுக்குப் பரப்பிக் கொண்டிருக்கின்றார்கள். யுத்த காலத்திலே மக்கள் கொன்றுகுவிக்கப்படுவதற்குக் காரணமாக இருந்தவர்கள் இந்த LTTE இனர்தான் என்பதை நாங்கள் கூறிக்கொள்ள வேண்டும். “உள்ளதைச் சொன்னால் உடம்பெல்லாம் புண்” என்பார்கள். இந்த நாட்டிலே வரலாற்றுத் துரோகத்தைச் செய்யும் TNA க்களும் அவர்களுடன் சம்பந்தப்பட்ட கும்பல்களும் அந்தத் தமிழ் மக்களின் வாக்குகளைப் பெற்று, அவர்களை ஏமாற்றுவதற்கு, சீரழிப்பதற்கு முனைந்து கொண்டிருக்கின்றார்கள். அவர்களுக்கு ஆதரவாக ஒருசில தீய சக்திகள் தேவையில்லாமல் கூக்குரலிட்டுக் கொண்டிருக்கின்றன.

නියෝජ්‍ය කථානායකතුමා
(பிரதிச் சபாநாயகர் அவர்கள்)
(The Deputy Speaker)
Hon. Piyasena, I think you are delivering a speech. It is not a point of Order. Hon. Sampanthan, you may continue with your speech. -[Interruption.] Order, please! Hon. Azwer, please sit down. – [Interruption.] Hon. Piyasena, please be quiet. Let the Hon. Sampanthan speak.

ගරු ආර්. සම්පන්දන් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு ஆர். சம்பந்தன்)
(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
Sir, before I commence speaking, may I say that 10 minutes of my time had been taken and you will kindly bear that in mind.

As I said before, there was not even retaliation by the Tamils. Why did all this happen? Why were the Tamils subjected to violence in the earlier period? Was what happened in 2008 – 2009 a repetition of what happened earlier in a much more virulent form as a result of the armed struggle of the LTTE?  Was it the policy of this Government to decimate the LTTE at the same time to beat the Tamils down into political submission?

The entire world helped the Government against the LTTE, politically, diplomatically and militarily. They helped with vital intelligence information. Over a dozen LTTE ships carrying arms were destroyed by the Government consequent to information given to the Government by important countries. LTTE was banned in over 30 countries. They were crippled in the whole of Europe; in the whole of America. They were crippled in important countries in Asia, like in India. They were banned in India. Were all these countries conspiring against you? Did they not help you to finish the war against the LTTE successfully? You made commitments to all these countries in regard to a political solution. You now want to renege on those commitments. Why should they turn against you? Why should they conspire against you?  

 Eventually, almost 290,000 came out. Your estimate was 30,000 

Let us look at your own conduct while the war was in progress. At its height, you estimated that there were only 30,000 people in the Vanni. We estimated that there were almost 400,000 people in the Vanni.

Eventually, almost 290,000 came out. Your estimate was 30,000.  How did the number increase to 290,000? -[Interruption.] NGOs were evicted; INGOs were evicted; the UN was evicted; the ICRC was evicted from the conflict zone in September 2008. They could not execute their humanitarian and protection mandates.  The international and domestic media were kept out. They could only go on guided tours. Members of Parliament were kept out. I wrote to the President and wanted approval for all the Members of Parliament of the TNA to go to Vanni. We could not go. The civil society could not go. People who came out of Vanni, out of the conflict zone were confined to camps, in which they were detained. They could not interact with their relatives or their friends. Why did you have to maintain all this secrecy?  Why did you have to insist on this lack of transparency? Was it because you were trying to hide something? Were you not hiding the fact that Tamil civilians were being  massacred? Was not that the reason you took all these steps to prevent any information going out?

On the question of missing persons, we have made several appeals to the Government, that there must be some finality and these poor mothers, wives and children should have some peace. Have you acted with sensitivity? I will deal with that question when I deal with some other Votes. This cannot go away and will not go away. Things will only get worse. Nobody seeks revenge.  I want to say that very frankly in this House. But, there must be justice. There must be equity. That must prevail. This cannot be swept under the carpet. This cannot be left only in the hands of those who are denying justice and equity. So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is a very grave situation, which needs to be addressed. Please do not find excuses in the Tamil diaspora and Tamil Nadu. Those are disingenuous excuses, which no one will accept. Please do not deceive yourself.

Sir, before I conclude, may I refer to the LLRC Report. In regard to a political solution, I think it is import that this matter be placed on record.

Paragraph 9.184 states, I quote:

“The Commission takes the view that the root cause of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka lies in the failure of successive Governments to address the genuine grievances of the Tamil people.”

Paragraph 9.185 states, I quote:

“A political solution is imperative to address the causes of the conflict. Everybody speaks about it, though there is no agreement about the diagnosis and the prescription.”

Paragraph 9.186 states, I quote:

“The grievances of the Tamil community have figured prominently in the discourse on the ethnic conflict and its causes.”

I now want to move on to another paragraph. Paragraph 9.236 states, I quote:
 
“The Commission wishes to underline the critical importance of making visible progress on the devolution issue, in order to ensure the success of any process of lasting and sustainable reconciliation. The                   Commission therefore recommends that …..”

නියෝජ්‍ය කථානායකතුමා
(பிரதிச் சபாநாயகர் அவர்கள்)
(The Deputy Speaker)
Hon. Member, you have only one minute left.

ගරු ආර්. සම්පන්දන් මහතා
(மாண்புமிகு ஆர். சம்பந்தன்)
(The Hon.  R.  Sampanthan)
Okay, Sir.
“…the present opportunity be utilized to launch a good-faith effort to develop a consensus on devolution, building on what exists – both, for maximum possible devolution to the periphery especially at the grass   roots level, as well as power sharing at the centre. This consensus should be one that will enable people’s participation in governance decisions affecting them and avoid costly and unnecessary duplication of political, bureaucratic and other institutional structures that hamper efficient, cost-effective and transparent governance.”

Para 9.237 states, I quote:
“To this end, the Government must take the initiative to have a serious and structured dialogue with all political parties, and those representing the minorities in particular, based on a proposal containing the Government’s own thinking on the form and content of the dialogue process envisaged.”

The LLRC wants the Government to come up with its own proposal in regard to the proposed political solution to enable a constructive dialogue.

I might, at this point say, Sir, that bilateral talks took place with the Government from January, 2011; we had 18 rounds of discussions. At the third round in March, 2011, we placed our proposal for a political solution within a united and undivided Sri Lanka, in writing, before the Government

Delegation.  They committed to come up with their own proposals. Up to date, they have not come up with their proposals. They did not attend the talks fixed for 17th, 18th and 19th of January, 2012 and they were responsible for the talks being abrogated.

They have appointed a Parliamentary Select Committee. Important alliance partners in the Parliamentary Select Committee have made several statements in regard to the Parliamentary Select Committee. We do not have trust in that Parliamentary Select Committee. We think that the Parliamentary Select Committee has been appointed at the instance of important alliance partners to scuttle the prospects of a political solution and not to arrive at a political solution. We do not have any trust in that Parliamentary Select Committee; we cannot take part in that process.

So, I want to say, Sir, very clearly, I have been disturbed in this House once again, today. I am sorry to say, Hon. Deputy Speaker, that such disturbances were permitted. Consequently, my speech has been interrupted; my speech has been disturbed; my trend of thinking has been disturbed and I think Members in this House are entitled to speak with greater freedom. But, we do not have freedom in this House, we do not have freedom in this country and I want this message to go to the whole world. I want all members in the international community to know that this is how we, minority Members, are treated even in this House.
Thank you.
SCD

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