Dr Vickramabahu Karunarathna –
The Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered the Sri Lankan military to take “full control” of the relief centers, opened up for Upcountry Tamils displaced by the landslide, which affected the Meeriyabedda estate in Badulla district. Accordingly the army will control the feeding, health and “entire management” of the displaced victims. Immediately Lieutenant General Ratnayake visited the Koslanda Sri Ganesha Tamil Vidyalaya and the Poona gala Tamil Vidyalaya centers and made arrangement for the take over. While this takeover happened in the south, in the north a United Nations official was stopped from entering the North, due to the Ministry of Defence’s newly re-introduced travel restrictions. Latter requires all foreign citizens to seek prior permission from the Ministry to enter the Tamil region in the North of the island. Beth Crawford, the country representative for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), was turned away at Oman Thai check point. Crawford, who was appointed to Sri Lanka in July 2013, was reportedly on her way to Kilinochchi to mark World Food Day, on the invitation of the Northern Provincial Council Agriculture Minister P. Aingaranesan.
The Tamil leaders claim that Sri Lankan government’s re-introduction of travel restrictions to the North, preventing all foreign citizens from entering the region without prior written permission from the Ministry of Defence, is aimed at stopping Tamils from giving evidence to the UN inquiry. One leader said “The fact that the travel restrictions on foreign passport holders to the North have come at this juncture, is not a surprise at all. The government would have been observing closely and its intelligence sources would have revealed that the Tamil victims of the most heinous crimes are very eager to give evidence to the OHCHR Investigation into Sri Lanka (OISL). The only hesitation Tamils have is with regards to how the evidence can be submitted whilst maintaining secrecy. One of the safest ways would be to transfer the evidence through diplomats or foreigners who would be most likely to be able to get the evidence out of the country safely”.
Even in the Sinhala dominated south there is a strong criticism against the admission of the security forces to handle social management problems. It is a sign of fascistic style of politics to handover civil administration to military officers, who listen to commands from the top instead of referring legislation relevant to the social problem. On the other hand the military regiments are introduced as saviors of the people for any emergency.
At the same time military leaders including the Defence secretary enter the minds of the people as socio political leaders, to be called in the event of an emergency. Instead of removing the security forces from the civil society after the end of the war, they have become indispensable apparatus to be used in construction, production and civil administration. They are not de-mobilized; no, they are intensely mobilized and deployed allover the island.
Against this severe criticism the government has put forward lame excuses. the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) coalition party’s general secretary said recently that Travel restrictions have been placed on the North to prevent foreign elements funding another war against the Sri Lankan government. Minister Susil Premajayanth added that the lifting of the European Union ban on the LTTE could be due to the campaign of pro-LTTE diaspora who believe in separation and stressed that the government had a responsibility to prevent another war. The minister added that “the pro-LTTE diaspora is very much active in the EU and pushed for the ban on the LTTE to be lifted. The Government has a responsibility to prevent another war from taking place and so such security measures have to be taken.” Most Tamil leaders expect this fascistic action of the government to open the eyes of the global capitalist powers. “These measures taken by government of Sri Lanka only highlight the pressing need for the UN to seriously consider, as the next step, the need to find the means of creating direct access to the greatest reservoir of evidence of the mass crimes committed against the Tamils, which is the people on the ground” one Tamil leader said. Unfortunately global capitalism is satisfied with the development programme carried out by the government. The real protest against the militaristic fascist styled government has come from the mass protest in the south. It is growing fast, as admitted by the government when it produced a budget with different clips to satisfy every body in the Lankan society.
– This article was first pubished in The Ceylon Today
[Original Photo: 65th Independence Day celebrations in the northeastern town of Trincomalee. AFP PHOTO]