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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Erase the Illegal Armed Groups

 In the expression of its intentions as in the profession of its earnestness, the credibility of the Sri Lankan Government is now at its lowest. The world knows it well and the Tamils know it best. The President is unaware of it and the government is oblivious to it. A sensitized, vocal and articulate international community has an obligation of great moral dimension.

The UN Human Rights Council meeting scheduled for March 2012 in Geneva, will be a very potent forum to take on Sri Lanka in its vice like grip and mandating a course without leaving a choice.

Accountability and implementation responsibility for LLRC recommendations, Sri Lanka cannot be allowed to shirk.

Primary in the hierarchy of compulsions is to dismember the illegal armed groups (IAG).The groups vexing the Tamils for far too long have been fostered by the government for an inordinate length of time.

It is said that the longest journey starts with a single step. Implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Report can commence with such a step. Optimum leverage can come from this easy move. This would be a prudent strategy if there be honest motivation.

Eliminate these venal formations. This is what the Tamils cry in chorus. Lessons learnt point to this compulsion. Path to reconciliation lies through it. If you are earnest, prepare to demonstrate it now. To the ears of the government, this is the call of the Tamils.

The response of the President and the government has hitherto been insolent nonchalance. Tamils can’t drive sense. The international community can. The Geneva Conference of March 2012 provides a timely occasion.

The Ceasefire Agreement delivered a strident call in February 2002. “Tamil para military groups shall be disarmed by the Government of Sri Lanka by D+30 days the latest”. The parties to the Agreement decided so being fully aware of the violent nature of the over mighty subjects and their debilitating effect on the peace process. Ten years (10) are now past. What has been done? Nothing.

Inaction nourished the growth of a veritable monster, forcing the LLRC to state in the Interim Recommendation of November 2010 as follows. “It was brought to the attention of the Commission that despite the end of the conflict, significant issues of law and order still remain.

The Commission recommends that specific measures be introduced to ensure the maintenance of law and order in these areas, particularly the disarming of any illegal armed groups. The Commission regards this as a matter of the highest priority.” It is now 15 months since the Interim Report was handed over. What has been done? Nothing.

Calculated and persistent inaction evoked an angry reaction from the LLRC. In its final report it says the “Commission is of the view that had timely action been taken with regard to the Commission’s Interim Recommendations, serious incidents… may have been averted.”

It continues to say “the Commission reiterates the importance of giving full effect to all of it’s Interim Recommendations concerning illegal armed groups. The Commission regrets that full effect has not yet been given to it’s Interim Recommendations” It is now obligatory for the Government to overcome all acts of past default, initiate investigations, complete the legal process and punish the offenders.

Three months are now past. What has been done? Nothing.

Is any action contemplated? No. To drive sense, a stern UN resolution with prescribed time lines together with sanctions more stringent than for Iran would alone work. The Commission has taken note of the several complaints against the EPDP and urges a full investigation regarding these allegations.

The leader of the EPDP when questioned, delivered a body blow on the Commission with the words “after the rains there is wetness”. The point made is that even after war ends, bloodletting is inevitable. A contrived explanation for willful murder.

What temerity! An armor of impunity that years of immunity has given. Witnesses have affirmed that the land is drenched in blood and all fingers point to one person and exclaim “not all the perfumes of Arabia…”

The mood of the Tamils is discerningly captured when the LLRC states, restates and reiterates strongly and sternly that the Government should take immediate action to disarm persons with unauthorized weapons and also prosecute them.

The Commission records that it was stated before it, that armed groups caused intolerable suffering to the Tamil people and still continue their underground activities of kidnapping, ransom, murder and robbery unabatedly.

They were also conniving with the Government in order to continue the emergency regulations which suited their underground activities. Tamils witness to the atrocious conduct, direct their wrath at the most pernicious of the groups – the EPDP, though none of the other groups – TELO, PLOTE, EPRLF, ENDLF, TMVP – are absolved.

What is disconcerting is that the Government has buttressed this particular group with the support of the military and vested it with the aura of a partner in governance. An arsonist remains sheltered under government’s roof. Who is this person?

A criminal with a record of murder and abduction who had an arrest warrant from the Government of India. A criminal identified so by the LLRC to face the due process of law. The continued presence of this offender in the cabinet is a constant reminder that the Government is complicit. Where is probity in governance? It is non est.

Crime is heinous. Condoning it is sinful. On this unconscionable platform the Sri Lankan regime is arraigned. Eliminate the groups, Tamils say. We have come to stay, the groups declare. So we nurtured, so we will foster, the government insists.

Herefrom emerges the clarion call to the UN for international intervention. Herein lies the significance of the Geneva meeting. The quest of the Tamils is for justice.


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