Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Burma: Government Forces Targeting Rohingya Muslims
HRWAbuses Follow Horrific June Violence Between Arakan Buddhists and Rohingya
AUGUST 1, 2012 
Burmese security forces failed to protect the Arakan and Rohingya from each other and then unleashed a campaign of violence and mass roundups against the Rohingya. The government claims it is committed to ending ethnic strife and abuse, but recent events in Arakan State demonstrate that state-sponsored persecution and discrimination persist.
Brad Adams, Asia director
(Bangkok) – Burmese security forces committed killings, rape, and mass arrests against Rohingya Muslims after failing to protect both them and Arakan Buddhists during deadly sectarian violence in western Burma in June 2012. Government restrictions on humanitarian access to the Rohingya community have left many of the over 100,000 people displaced and in dire need of food, shelter, and medical care.
The 56-page report, “‘The Government Could Have Stopped This’: Sectarian Violence and Ensuing Abuses in Burma’s Arakan State,” describes how the Burmese authorities failed to take adequate measures to stem rising tensions and the outbreak of sectarian violence in Arakan State. Though the army eventually contained the mob violence in the state capital, Sittwe, both Arakan and Rohingya witnesses told Human Rights Watch that government forces stood by while members from each community attacked the other, razing villages and committing an unknown number of killings.

“Burmese security forces failed to protect the Arakan and Rohingya from each other and then unleashed a campaign of violence and mass roundups against the Rohingya,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government claims it is committed to ending ethnic strife and abuse, but recent events in Arakan State demonstrate that state-sponsored persecution and discrimination persist.”
The Burmese government should take urgent measures to end abuses by their forces, ensure humanitarian access, and permit independent international monitors to visit affected areas and investigate abuses, Human Rights Watch said.
The “Government Could Have Stopped This,” is based on 57 interviews conducted in June and July with affected Arakan, Rohingya, and others in Burma and in Bangladesh, where Rohingya have sought refuge from the violence and abuses.

The violence erupted in early June after reports circulated that on May 28 an Arakan Buddhist woman was raped and killed in the town of Ramri by three Muslim men. Details of the crime were circulated locally in an incendiary pamphlet, and on June 3 a large group of Arakan villagers in Toungop stopped a bus and brutally killed 10 Muslims on board. Human Rights Watch confirmed that nearby local police and army stood by and watched but did not intervene. In retaliation, on June 8 thousands of Rohingya rioted in Maungdaw town after Friday prayers, killed an unknown number of Arakan, and destroyed considerable Arakan property. Violence between Rohingya and Arakan then swept through Sittwe and surrounding areas.
Marauding mobs from both Arakan and Rohingya communities stormed unsuspecting villages and neighborhoods, brutally killed residents, and destroyed and burned homes, shops, and houses of worship. With little to no government security present to stop the violence, people armed themselves with swords, spears, sticks, iron rods, knives, and other basic weaponry. Inflammatory anti-Muslim media accounts and local propaganda fanned the violence. Numerous Arakan and Rohingya who spoke to Human Rights Watch reached the conclusion that the authorities could have prevented the violence and the ensuing abuses could have been avoided.    Full Story>>>

Ganesan Nimalaruban: A damning murder, funeral and silence



31 Jul, 2012

Photo credit: Vikalpa
It is very likely readers of Sinhala mainstream print media have no clue who Ganesan Nimalaruban was, or exactly how he died. A simple Google news or general web search suffices to highlight how poor even English mainstream media coverage has been over the controversy surrounding his death.
Vikalpa was present at the funeral of Nimalaruban. They note that aside from a few provincial journalists (whose news reports don’t make it to the actual print editions on the best of days) there were no other seasoned journalists from any mainstream newspaper present. Recall that the courts didn’t want Nimalaruban’s body to be released to his parents, citing that,
“his funeral arrangements could result in a violent situation in his home town of Vavuniya.”
Before his body was released, in an open letter to the President, senior Tamil politicians and civil society activists noted,
Your Excellency, we have been informed by the eye witnesses on the inhuman merciless attacks the deceased and his colleagues received in remand custody during the days following the Vavuniya incident on June, 29th. We also wish to bring to your notice that there are more inmates who have received serious injuries.
An account of how he came to be killed can be read here. The government and Police deny he was subject to torture. The Tamil National Alliance in early July “vowed it will take the issue of the Tamil detainee who was assaulted to death by prison officials, and the subsequent refusal to hand over the body to the family to the international fora”. After Nimalaruban’s parents filed a Fundamental Rights violation application and in a complete reversal of the government’s stand on the issue, the Attorney-General informed the Supreme Court that Nimalaruban’s body would be handed over to his parents on the 23rd of July.
Nimalaruban was laid to rest on the 24th of July. Vikalpa‘s moving photos and video tell their own story.
At around 3 minutes into the video, there’s an incredibly powerful, and deeply moving segment. The mother of the deceased has this to say in Tamil (translated from here),
Where is it written that you can be beaten to death? Which article is it written thus? I am not afraid of anyone. I don’t care who you are. Come and shoot me. I am not afraid. People need justice and the truth. The people who beat my son up are animals. My heart burns. Those who killed my son will suffer the same fate. I didn’t teach my son to steal or kill. My son’s father worked hard to raise my son. Nothing good will come to them. Shoot me, I am not afraid. Bullets can enter my heart. I will be in pain. But I am unafraid. I had my son after waiting twelve years. I enjoyed bringing my son up. If my child had done wrong, he should have gone to courts and received punishment. But what law has it that my child was tortured and killed? My son was hidden somewhere and killed. If you had killed my son in front of me, you would understand who I am. Now they have surrounded my house with thousands of guns. I have nothing. Come, if you can. From the hand that fed you string-hoppers, I now put ‘vaikkarasi’. Take me too, my son. My god, take me too and go.
We tweeted soon after Vikalpa published the story of Nimalaruban’s funeral,
If this is the first time you are reading the details of this story, seeing this video footage and photos and realising the full horror of what the government has tried to cover up, ask yourself whether this is a peace, three years after the end of war, we can really be proud of.



‘‘ඉදි ආප්ප කවපු මේ අතින් මම අද උඹට ‘වායික්කරිසි’ දානවා’’ අවසානයේ ගනේෂන් නිමලරුබන් නික්ම ගියේ ය.

Brutally murdered Nimalruban was buried, finally...

U.S. Department of State - Great SealBureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor 

International Religious Freedom Report for 2011

Sri Lanka 

Executive Summary

The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom and, in practice, the government generally respected religious freedom. The government did not demonstrate a trend toward either improvement or deterioration in respect for and protection of the right to religious freedom.
There were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Sporadic attacks on Christian churches by Buddhist extremists and some societal tension due to ongoing allegations of forced or deceitful conversions continued, although the number and scale of attacks were reportedly fewer than in recent years.
U.S. embassy officials conveyed U.S. government concerns about religious freedom issues, particularly attacks on churches, to government leaders and urged them to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. The ambassador and other embassy officials also discussed religious freedom concerns with religious leaders and regularly met with representatives of all the country’s religious groups to review a wide range of human rights, ethnic, and religious freedom concerns. The U.S. embassy supported interfaith efforts by religious leaders to promote a peaceful resolution of the underlying causes of conflict, and the U.S. embassy undertook a number of projects promoting interfaith dialogue and cooperative engagement.

Section I. Religious Demography

Approximately 70 percent of the population is Buddhist, 15 percent Hindu, 8 percent Christian, and 7 percent Muslim. Christians tend to be concentrated in the west, Muslims populate the east, and the north is predominantly Hindu.
Most members of the majority Sinhalese community are Theravada Buddhists. Most Tamils, who make up the largest ethnic minority, are Hindus. Almost all Muslims are Sunnis; there is a small minority of Shia, including members of the Bohra community. Almost 80 percent of Christians are Roman Catholics, with Anglican and other mainstream Protestant churches also present. Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Methodists, Baptists, Dutch Reformed, Pentecostals, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are also present. Evangelical Christian groups have grown in recent years, although membership remains small.

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom. The constitution states, “Every person is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.” The constitution gives a citizen “the right either by himself or in association with others, and either in public or in private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice, or teaching.” The constitution accords Buddhism the “foremost place” and commits the government to protecting it, but does not recognize it as the state religion.
The Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs has four departments that work specifically with Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian affairs. According to the legislation defining their mandates, each department should formulate and implement programs that inculcate religious values and promote a “virtuous society.” During the year, the Department of Buddhist Religious Affairs gave financial assistance to maintain temples in remote areas and conducted religious school tests and teacher training examinations. It also assisted in the conduct of Buddhist ceremonies at national events. The Department of Christian Religious Affairs developed infrastructure facilities at places of worship and provided financial assistance to churches in need. It also conducted evaluation of teachers of Christianity. The Department of Hindu Religious Affairs gave financial assistance to reconstruct temples destroyed during the conflict in the north and east, developed Hindu Aranery Schools (religious-based primary schools), and conducted seminars and workshops for teachers of Hinduism. The Department of Muslim Religious Affairs organized Muslim religious events, contributed towards development needs of Islamic institutions, and issued identity cards for Islamic clergy. It also issued letters of recommendation for students seeking education in Islamic studies in foreign countries.
Religious groups are not required to register with the government. To conduct financial transactions and open bank accounts, however, they must be incorporated either by an act of parliament under the Companies Act, as a business, under the Societies Ordinance, or under the Trust Ordinance. Until the 1960s, most churches were either Catholic or Anglican and were incorporated by acts of parliament. Beginning in the 1970s as new Christian groups—including evangelical groups—began to emerge in the country, it became more common to register churches under the Companies Act. Due to allegations that evangelical churches have engaged in “unethical conversions,” the government has become reluctant to register new religious groups as companies. Evangelical groups reported that they found it increasingly difficult to register new churches or to reregister under the Companies Act. Registration under the Societies or Trust Ordinances limits these churches’ ability to conduct certain financial transactions.
Matters related to family law, including divorce, child custody, and inheritance, are adjudicated according to the customary law of the concerned ethnic or religious group.
Religion is a mandatory subject in the public school curriculum. Parents may choose for their children to study Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, or Christianity. Students who belong to other religious groups can pursue religious instruction outside the public school system. All schools follow the Department of Education curricula on the subject, which is compulsory for the General Certificate Education Ordinary/Level exams. International schools that follow the London Ordinary/Level syllabus may opt not to teach religious studies in schools.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Buddhist Poya days; Hindu Thai Pongal, New Year, and Deepawali festivals; Islamic Hadji and Ramadan festivals and the Birth of Prophet Muhammad; and Christian Good Friday, and Christmas.

Government Practices

There were reports of abuses of religious freedom. Although the government publicly endorsed religious freedom, in practice there were problems in some areas.
While the number of attacks against Christians continued to decline and efforts to pass anti-conversion legislation reportedly declined, some Christian groups occasionally complained that the government tacitly condoned harassment and violence aimed at them. Police generally provided protection for these groups at their request. In some cases police response was inadequate, and local police officials reportedly were reluctant to take legal action against individuals involved in the attacks.
Some Christian groups, in particular newer denominations, reported an increase in complications obtaining local permission to construct church buildings. A Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs circular issued in September directed that the ministry must approve construction or maintenance of a place of worship. Such approval often was difficult to obtain for evangelical Christian groups in majority Buddhist towns and villages. There were credible reports that several evangelical Christian churches received letters and verbal instructions from local authorities ordering their closure because they did not procure approvals to build churches or maintain existing places of worship, and at least two had closed. Places of worship of other Christian denominations, including Catholic and Anglican, did not receive such orders.
Several smaller congregations were denied permission to register with the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs as churches during the year, reportedly because they were not members of the National Christian Council. This prevented them from obtaining authority to solemnize marriages. The National Christian Council is an umbrella organization representing traditional Protestant churches. They coordinate often with the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), which represents the newer denomination churches. The government has used membership in the NCC as an administrative obstacle to newer denominations. Local authorities sometimes did not want these groups operating in their districts due to allegations of unethical conversions and pressures by local Buddhist groups.
Some evangelical Christian groups reported incidences of governmental discrimination in the provision of services. Advanced-level public schools require all students to take a course in religion. Some government schools with small numbers of Christian students told their parents there were no teachers available to teach Christian-based religion classes, and therefore their children would be required to attend Buddhist religion classes instead. There also were reports of government schools refusing to enroll Christians on the basis of their religion.
Most religious workers in the country were indigenous. Foreign clergy may work in the country, but for the last three decades, the government has limited the issuance of temporary work permits. During the year work permits for foreign clergy were issued for one year rather than five years as in the past, but they could be extended. In the past it was regular practice for many foreign religious workers on development projects to use tourist visas to gain entry without encountering problems with immigration authorities.
There also were reports of government troops setting up Buddhist shrines in Tamil areas of the north, with some Tamil groups claiming this was a sign of government-sponsored Sinhalese colonization of former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)-held areas. For example, the number of Buddhist statues, viharas, and stupas on the A9 highway reportedly increased throughout the year.
The government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) noted that it heard reports that “the military had cancelled religious services to remember persons killed or missing and even some of the priests had been threatened and intimidated for their attempts to commemorate those killed in the conflict.” The LLRC stated that “community leaders and religious leaders should be free to organize peaceful events and meetings without restrictions” and recommended the government “ensure that such rights are not arbitrarily restricted or violated by any state institution, especially by the security forces and the police.” The LLRC also recommended that the government “take immediate steps to remove any remaining restrictions on visiting places of worship with the only exception being made in respect of the restrictions necessitated by mine clearance activities. This should also include access to places of religious worship within the High Security Zones.”
In May authorities dropped charges and released Sarah Malanie Perera, a national resident who had previously lived in Bahrain for 19 years prior to her return to the country. She had been arrested in April 2010 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act because of a book she had written with a description of her conversion to Islam. Perera returned to Bahrain following her release.

Abuses by Rebel or Foreign Forces or Terrorist Organizations

The U.S. government has listed the LTTE as a Foreign Terrorist Organization since 1997. The LTTE victimized Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians.
In 1990 the LTTE expelled tens of thousands of Muslim inhabitants, virtually the entire Muslim population in the area, from the northern part of the country, many from the town of Jaffna. Although most of these persons remained displaced and lived in or near welfare centers, some members of this community continued resettling in Jaffna during the year. It was unclear how many individuals would eventually return, given the long period of time which had elapsed since their original departure. Many younger members of this community felt few ties to the north and expressed reluctance to return there.
The government worked with UNHCR and UNOPS to assess the needs and durability of resettlement of this displaced Muslim community and other internally displaced persons (IDP). The Presidential Task Force further requested that domestic and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) focus greater attention on the Muslim IDP population largely residing within welfare centers in the Puttalam area and to redirect some level of existing IDP program support—mainly shelter-related—so that Muslim IDPs could be resettled to their original home areas.
The LLRC noted that displaced Muslim IDPs had a significant effect on the process of reconciliation and recommended that the government create a uniform policy, to include an assistance package of financial assistance and other material support, aimed at the resettlement of these IDPs and/or their integration into host communities.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

There were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Discrimination based on religious differences was much less common than discrimination based on ethnicity. In general, members of the various religious groups tended to be tolerant of each other’s religious beliefs. However, prior allegations by Buddhist extremists of Christian involvement in “unethical” or forced conversions continued to be a source of tension between the two communities. Christians denied the charges, responding that persons freely underwent conversion. Some groups also alleged that Christians engaged in aggressive proselytism and took advantage of societal ills such as general poverty, war, and lack of education. Christians countered that their relief efforts were not aimed at converting aid beneficiaries.
There were reports of Buddhist monks or local residents in villages not allowing Christians to bury their dead in public cemeteries.
In a statement issued to the local press on November 11, the Jathika Hela Urumaya called upon the government to enact legislation to “ban fundamentalist Christian groups in the island” by reintroducing the 2004 anti-conversion bill in parliament, despite a Supreme Court ruling that some sections of it were unconstitutional.
Christians, particularly those from evangelical denominations, sometimes encountered harassment and physical attacks on property and places of worship by some local Buddhists who were opposed to conversion and believed Christian groups threatened them. The number and severity of the attacks reportedly diminished somewhat during the year. The NCEASL reported attacks on Christian churches, organizations, religious leaders, and congregants; many of the attacks were reported to the police. Credible sources confirmed some of these attacks.
Camillus Roshan and S. Thanaruben of the Alliance Development Trust, the relief and development arm of the NCEASL, were attacked by an unidentified group on October 19 in Vavuniya. Police arrested three suspects in connection with the assault. The suspects were held in custody for 14 days and released on bail. The case was ongoing at year’s end.
On August7, the pastor of the National Gospel Church in Ratnapura was warned by a group of Buddhist monks to leave the area. The church ceased meeting for worship services due to these threats. In December, the pastor and a church worker were attacked by a group of people. The pastor did not file a complaint with the police, fearing they would favor the monks in the case because of the monks’ significant influence in the village. Since the August 7 threats, the pastor has minimized his church activities and limited visits to his congregation due to fear of further harassment.
On July 19, a group of approximately 50 persons threw stones at the homes of five Christian families, causing damage to the houses. They also shouted threats against Christians. The group then broke into a grocery shop owned by one of the families and assaulted the owner. Police filed a case in the Welimada Magistrates Court against several of the assailants for assault and causing damage to property, and a hearing was pending at year’s end.
On June 5, a group of 200 people forcibly entered the Prayer Tower Church in Puttalam and assaulted one of the church members. The police filed action jointly against both the attackers and the church on a count of breach of peace in the Marawila Magistrates Court. The church was compelled to come to a settlement, promising to limit its worship services.
On March 3 unidentified persons threw two fire bombs at the Jeevanalokaya Church in Hambantota. No one was injured in the attack. The pastor of the church continued to receive threats following the incident. The officer in charge led investigations into the attack but no arrests were made. The pastor and his family continue to live in the village.
In a statement published November 4, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, head of the Catholic Church in the country, accused what he called “American fundamentalist churches” of converting large numbers of Buddhists and Catholics through inducements. In his statement, the Cardinal called upon the government to control the spread of these churches. The NCEASL wrote to the Cardinal requesting an opportunity to discuss these issues, but received a response declining the invitation.
On October 26, a group of Catholic priests, members of the parish council, and their lawyer asked police to destroy a monument to disappeared persons in Gampaha. They alleged that the monument, which had stood for 11 years, was on church land unlawfully. A group of Catholic priests who work on human rights issues supported the monument remaining in that location. The case was ongoing at the end of the year.
In October 2010 a group of approximately 35 persons, led by six Buddhist monks, entered the premises of the Church of the Four Square Gospel in Kalutara. The intruders disrupted a worship service, threatened and assaulted the pastor, and destroyed furniture and musical instruments. The church lodged a complaint with the local police station and filed a case with the Kalutara Magistrate’s Court. The case was pending at year’s end.
In September a group of Buddhist monks destroyed an unofficial Muslim shrine in Anuradhapura, a UNESCO world heritage city sacred to Buddhists. The demolition was denounced by Muslim and Sinhalese leaders. Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa criticized the monks’ actions and assured Muslim leaders of the government’s commitment to protect Islamic holy sites.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

U.S. embassy officials conveyed U.S. government concerns about religious freedom issues, particularly attacks on churches, to government leaders and urged them to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. The ambassador and other U.S. embassy officials also met frequently with representatives of all the country’s religious groups to discuss a wide range of human rights, ethnic, and religious freedom concerns. The U.S. government strongly supported political reconciliation, and the embassy supported interfaith efforts by religious leaders to promote a peaceful resolution of the underlying causes of the conflict.
U.S. government agencies in the country undertook several projects to promote interfaith dialogue and cooperative engagement, including interfaith panel discussions, workshops, and other events. These events involved key regional religious leaders and reached several thousand participants. For example, the embassy held interfaith panel discussions at Martin Luther King, Jr. exhibitions throughout the year, as well as at a May 26-May 30 advanced training program on nonviolence and peace-building for university students. The U.S. government also sponsored a project that provided a grant to a local NGO for training and support for interfaith dialogue and community engagement through 80 community and religious leaders in the northeast, east, and central regions. The ambassador and other embassy officials also regularly participated in religious conferences, ceremonies, and other events around the country.

Buddhism in the West

by Kishore Sherchand

The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism. ~Albert Einstein
(31 July, 2012, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) Many in Nepal, my country of birth, have basic understanding of Buddhism. I came to the US in 1979 and then again in 2006. I have tried to study how Buddhism is practiced in the US. I found people practicing Buddhism with great enthusiasm as compared to my fellow Nepalese back home. I have been more than a little disappointed with this observation in the past. Also, I put some sort of uncomfortable questions when we don’t dare to adore some of Buddha’s teachings. The major reason for this subdued approach toward Buddhism has been the action of erstwhile rulers of Nepal, who tried to effectively banish Buddhism by expelling everyone who practiced Buddhism; and who threatened Buddhist monks and nuns with the choice of disrobing or leave the country.

Buddha’s ideas were based on his observation of human behavior starting with his experience when he ventured outside his palace and saw an old man, a sick man, and a dead man. Buddha taught that any human being can attain Buddhahood provided he or she follows the Eightfold Paths which are included in the Four Noble Truths. His teachings of the Four Noble Truths which included the Eight Fold Path are:

1. There is suffering in the world.
2. Suffering occurs because of too great an attachment to one's desires.
3. By eliminating the cause-attachment-you can eliminate suffering.
4. There is a method to eliminating the cause, called the Eightfold Path, a guide to "right" behavior and thoughts. The Eightfold Path is a moral compass leading to a life of wisdom (right views, right intent), virtue (right speech, conduct, livelihood), and mental discipline (effort, mindfulness, concentration).

WSWS interviews tortured Tamil political refugee

By Athiyan Silva 
30 July 2012
In April and May of 2009, the war waged by successive Sri Lankan governments since 1983 against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was coming to its brutal end with the crushing of the latter by the army.
President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government and its military intelligence, aided by Tamil paramilitary groups, began round-ups in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps of anyone who had “even a small connection” with the LTTE.
More than 11,000 Tamils were arrested, many of them women and youth. After a few days of screening in IDP camps, they were separated and given minutes to gather their belongings before being sent to so-called rehabilitation centres.
According to the government, 5,000 of these prisoners have been released. But they remain under close military surveillance. More than 6,000 people are still in secret camps and the so-called rehabilitation centres. They have not been charged with any crime, but most have been in detention since the end of the war. Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), political prisoners in Sri Lanka can be held indefinitely without trial.
In May 2009, President Rajapakse boasted that the war was over and “LTTE terrorism” had been eliminated, but the arrests of “LTTE suspects” continue in the north and east, which are under military occupation. Last April 21, in the Trincomalee district, the security forces rounded up around 160 Tamil males and females from their houses for questioning. Thirty-eight people were detained under the PTA. They will be put through a year-long process known as “rehabilitation”.
Amnesty International reported on March 14, 2012: “People released from detention have remained under surveillance by intelligence forces. The Sri Lankan Army continues to have a large presence in the north and is deployed for civil policing. The Special Task Force (STF), an elite police commando unit with a history of human rights violations, remains active across the country. Former detainees have been harassed and rearrested, and physically attacked. Killings and enforced disappearances of newly released detainees have also been reported”.
Last week, WSWS reporters in Paris interviewed a former Tamil political prisoner, now 28. A few months ago, to save his life, he came to Europe as a political refugee. For security reasons we do not give his name. He was held in several different “rehabilitation” centres.
The former detainee first told us about his early life, “I was born in Uruthirapurm in the Kilinochchi district. The area was under the control of the LTTE up to 2008. I studied at the high school. I have two brothers and one sister. My father was a shopkeeper. My mother was a housewife. My parents, like other parents, were always concerned with our studies and a better future for us. But the civil war turned life upside down.
“When the LTTE took control of the Vanni region, Kilinochchi was the LTTE administrative capital. The Sri Lankan military used heavy artillery weapons and war planes and bombing to capture Kilinochchi and the Vanni region where our house was. In 2007, my father was wounded and lost his leg. He died a few months later. Then we moved to the Mullaitheevu district, which was the last stronghold of the LTTE.”
He continued: “Indiscriminate bombing killed and wounded many people. At the end of April 2009, my mother and sister and I finally decided to go to Vatuvasal, a government-controlled area. The army sent us to Omanthai military camp, where the Tamil paramilitary groups operate. I was beaten by the Isaiyaruvi, part of the Karuna Group. Karuna had been in the LTTE before defecting to the army in 2004. They suspected me of being an LTTE supporter. Then the army sent me to ‘Menik’ detention farm with my mother and sister. [In the final stages of the war in May 2009, nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians were detained in this detention farm. It is believed to be the largest detention camp in the world in the twenty-first century].
“Twelve days later, soldiers and Karuna group men came to our tent and arrested me in front of my mother and sister. They cried and defended me as much as they could, but to no avail. They detained me for four months in ‘Nellukkulam rehabilitation’ centre.
“The conditions were very bad. There were 2,000 detainees in the camp. It was overcrowded; everybody had to wait in line for long hours to receive water. The food they gave us was not good, only rice with ‘sambar’ (a type of gravy), sometimes fish curry or meat curry. We slept on the floor. They gave us just one and a half litres of water to wash. There were only about 10 toilets for 2,000 detainees. The whole day, you could see long queues for drinking water and the toilet.
“Then they transferred me to the ‘Gamini maha vidyalayam’ centre. I was with 600 other detainees. I was there for nearly four months with the same treatment. Then they transferred me to the ‘Pampai madu’ centre. It is in a jungle area. About 2,000 men and 1,000 women were detained separately in this centre. I was there until April 2010.
“Finally, they transferred me to the Vavunia Tamil School centre. It was worse than the others. There were 400 of us. The Rajapakse government would show it to foreigners and tell them ‘This centre is to give an education to the detainees.’ But the reality was different. We could never speak to one another, just give each other a look and then walk on. I believe many intelligence people were planted among the detainees. Because of the bad treatment carried out by military intelligence, finally, I decided to commit suicide. That was the only option for me.
“When I was in these ‘rehabilitation camps’, several times military intelligence took me to Joseph military camp in Vavunia for interrogation. They relentlessly beat me and tortured me. One day, I asked them: ‘Former LTTE leaders such as Karuna, K. Patmanathan…and the Eastern province chief minister Pillaiyan are closely working with Rajapakse government without any trial. Why do you torture and imprison us? We are innocent’”.
It is no accident that this young man, like many other political prisoners, was fingered by the Karuna and other Tamil paramilitary groups. They represent the Tamil bourgeoisie, which collaborates with the Sinhala bourgeoisie while preaching Tamil separatism, in order to divide the Tamil and Sinhala working class.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and other Tamil bourgeois parties, including the remnants of the LTTE, claim to defend the rights of detained Tamils, but their demand, “Charge them, or release them”, accepts the legitimacy of the mass detentions.
The interview shows that the Rajapakse government’s propaganda about “rehabilitation” is fraudulent.
As social tensions sharpen in Sri Lanka, the government resorts more and more to Sinhala chauvinism to divide the Tamil and Sinhala working class. For decades, anti-Tamil chauvinism has been the chief ideological tool of the ruling elite to shore up its rule. The government is also stepping up its efforts to intimidate the Tamil diaspora, which continues to accuse President Rajapakse of committing war crimes.
The Socialist Equality Party, Sri Lankan section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, demands that all political prisoners be immediately and unconditionally released.
Govt. trying to issue death certificates for the missing

Tuesday, 31 July 2012 
The TNA says death certificates are being issued to missing persons in the North.
TNA parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran said that families of missing persons in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi are being given death certificates for their missing family members.
He has said the army had asked 30 families of missing persons in Mullaitivu to the police station in the area and had collected personal data about the missing persons.
He has observed that after getting the details the families had been given a form to place their signature and they were provided with a death certificate for their missing family member afterwards.
However, Premachandran has said that some families have refused to accept the death certificate saying they needed a proper inquiry to be held to their loved ones.
He has noted that inquiries should be carried out into the missing persons instead of just issuing death certificates.
Lankan officials at Olympics deserve Gold Medals - Gayantha

by Zacki Jabbar-July 30, 2012,

Sri Lankan officials, at the ongoing London Olympics, should be given gold medals for being the highest contingent at the games, percentage wise, the UNP said yesterday.

Only seven athletes were representing the country, but thirty officials had accompanied them, the UNP’s Media Spokesman Gayantha Karunathillaka MP, told a news conference in Colombo.

He said that the fiasco being enacted in London was nothing but an extension of the ‘Mahinda Chintana’ which propagates the squandering of public funds.

The sports officials attending the Olympics are following the example set by the President and his jumbo Cabinet, who frequently travelled abroad on tax payers’ money, while the poor were struggling to make ends meet, Karuanthillake observed.

The government, he said, had instituted disciplinary action against some Pradeshiya Sabha members while ignoring the corrupt and lawless conduct of persons holding higher positions.

The MP noted that the "Big Fish" were allowed to go scot free, since they have the capability of embarrassing the Rajapaksa regime.

After the war had ended President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the country would occupy the first three places in precedence. But, today the first place has gone to high interest loans, the second to imposition of taxes and the third position to lawlessness, Karuanthillake said adding that the nation had been mortgaged for generations to come and it were future generations who would have to pay the price and not the President, his Ministers or officials who were the decision makers.

TNA should check Colombo using PCs to hoodwink Geneva: Guruparan

TamilNet[TamilNet, Tuesday, 31 July 2012, 07:00 GMT]
Retracting from statements following Shiv Shankar Menon’s recent visit, about holding Northern Provincial Council (PC) elections in September, Colombo plans to hold it in 2013 February to time an escape showcase at Geneva in March. The PC tactics of Colombo to hoodwink the world that Tamils are contented with the unitary model should have been countered by TNA actions on September this year’s Eastern PC elections itself. But they have decided to directly participate in it. They should at least now indicate in the manifesto the Tamil rejection of the unitary model, their aspirations for a combined North and East and solutions based on recognition of the nation of Tamils and its right to self-determination, for the people to vote with a cause and to tell the world of that cause, said civil activist Guruparan Kumaravadivel of Jaffna University’s Law Department, speaking to media on Monday. 

Guruparan Kumaravadivel 30 07 2012

Guruparan Kumaravadivel
Guruparan Kumaravadivel
Earlier on Saturday, more than 100 prominent members of the civil movement in the North and East have come out with a statement of similar lines addressed to the TNA. Mr. Guruparan was one of its signatories.

Speaking to media, Guruparan said that the TNA leader Sampanthan speaking in Batticaloa recently had dropped the word Federal for the first time. Instead, he talked about a non-descriptive, non-unitary solution as the ultimate goal and 13-plus as a starting point. His differentiation between them is not clear. If the 13-plus is different from non-unitary, then the question comes whether the TNA has accepted to work within Colombo’s unitary constitution as the starting point. If the 13-plus is beyond unitary, then whether it is also the ultimate non-unitary goal, asked Guruparan.

Further summary of comments and observations made by Guruparan to media:

Our concern is that the TNA knowingly or unknowingly could become collaborators in leading Tamils into a trap harping on wordplays on the 13th Amendment. 

In recent times, sections in the TNA try to discredit the civil society movement as sectarian and minority. But the significant growth could be seen in the numbers and wider representation in the current civil society statement. 

In the aftermath of a silenced armed struggle, if any one says solutions would come through electoral politics alone, they are not honest, Guruparan said, pointing out to the primacy of a civil movement. 

TNA doesn’t have a policy of coherence in denouncing LLRC-based solutions, due to pressure from India and the USA. It is sad that we don’t have a bold leadership of principled stand. 

India and the USA could not go on telling for ever that the 13th Amendment is the base for a solution if Tamils are firm, clear and consistent in their denouncement. 

Our engagement with the USA and India shouldn’t be a blank cheque but a critical engagement. The statements they make on guaranteeing state in the island are to pressurise Tamils to agree to their agenda. But we have to think from our point of view. 

The election in the East is a good opportunity for the TNA to come out with a basic policy on the accommodation of Muslims and for a common working programme. They should have worked on it much earlier but even now it is not too late to clarify to the Muslim politicians and especially to the Muslim public that in what way they are different from the Sinhala polity, Guruparan said.

* * *

Welcoming the refreshing outlook of the Civil Society Movement and commenting on Guruparan’s views, another academic in Jaffna said that the international and local adversaries and detractors of the Tamil struggle know well that the Eezham Tamils at the moment have no alternative other than voting for the TNA in any elections. They make the best use of the weakness to project distortions in the cause of Tamils to suit their agenda. Tamils have to be prepared with alternatives as stand by.

Commenting on what Guruparan had said on Muslim-Christian contention over fishing in Mannaar, the academic commented that it is part of a larger conspiracy making all fishing communities on either side of the waters between Tamil Nadu and the island to be at war, for obvious reasons of ‘other plans’ in the waters, and the culprits could be easily identified. As industry and commerce minister, Rishard Badurdeen’s engagements with Indian investors and CEOs, was reported by Xinhua last week.

On building understanding between Tamils and Muslims, the academic commented that the Muslim leaders expect changes in Tamil outlook. Most of the expectations are confined to the model of ‘minorities’ coming together. 

The academic continued: 

“India, International Community of Establishments and outfits of theirs such as the International Crisis Group etc also promote such a ‘minority’ outlook primarily to distort the national question, escape from appropriate solutions and to serve agendas such as a regime change if the current regime is not up to the mark in serving their interests.

“Sections of activists who have taken up the ICG-genre agenda also argue in the same lines that the Tamil-speaking peoples and Muslims are divided in the island, Tamils have failed in making the Muslims feel that they are part of the Tamil nation. Similar problems exist with the case of Up-Country Tamils of Indian origin. A large part of the Tamils today have gone away from the North and East. Therefore, there is a need for Eezham Tamils to restructure their cause.

“What is ostensibly forgotten is that the Eezham Tamils have a clear case of historical sovereignty, earned sovereignty and remedial sovereignty in the North and East of the island.

“The feeling of nation doesn’t simply come. It comes through a long historical legacy, geographical belongingness and above all through a legacy of struggle or war. 

“When the Eezham Tamils have the evolution and need for such a feeling it should not be rejected. Similarly, if any people feel that they are minorities no body has the right to force them to merge into a nation. 

“The success of Eezham Tamils and Tamil-speaking Muslims lies in finding an understanding about devising a secular, inclusive and alternative model for the affected country of North and East in the island. If the TNA is incapable, the civil society of Tamils and Muslims should start working on those lines,” said the academic commenting on Guruparan’s media briefing.
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