This listening to interested parties and civil society is an exercise which is not new to Navi Pillai having listened to the Tamils of the diaspora and the anti Sri Lanka NGOs, Human Rights Activists, members of the Darusman Committee, and all that caboodle. This exercise of listening unless she is calm and equanimous will only confuse further her already confused mind about Sri Lanka.
But from what has been reported she seems to be asking the wrong questions, though she said at the out set that her visit is within the frame work of human rights. However, she should be intellectually cautious to elucidate the psychological essence from the answers the people give for the questions she poses.
Pillai should also keep in mind the American sponsored Resolution against Sri Lanka which begins:
That States must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, as applicable,
This is a strange statement inserted into the resolution by America, as it is the one Nation in the world today that leads the rest of the Western nation against “their” terrorism, which infringes the above “principle”.
It is in that light, where the very perpetrators of crimes against humanity are the ones who sit on judgment against Sri Lanka which over came thirty years of suffering by elimination a ruthless group of terrorists, that Navi Pillai should make her investigation to understand whether there is any reason why Sri Lanka should be held accountable for the elimination of terrorism.
Therefore, when she is listening to the people she should understand their mental attitudes, whether they are expressing their own views, whether the message they try to give contain facts or whether they are made up, and fictitious , whether they are hateful and baseless insinuations, they sham or lie, or whether they are just and sincere, etc.
The Sinhala majority are looked at by the Tamil people with bias and anger without justifiable reason for accusation of racism, chauvinism, and their discrimination towards the minorities. In order to gain insight into the real situation that existed before terrorism and exists after, Navi Pillai should also study the mental attitude of the Sinhala people. For that Navi Pillai should also meet the Sinhala civil society in the south.
Sinhala people despite all the accusations levelled against them are generous, friendly, forgiving and sociable. They have nothing against the Tamil people. They ask nothing of them other than to accept the Sinhala people as their compatriots, share with them the motherland which belongs to every one, extend to them an unbiased hand of friendship, and give up the notion that the Tamil people are different from the rest of the people and therefore they should have their own Tamil Eelam.
The riots of Sri Lanka were not begun by the Sinhala, but they were brought into to it through provocation by the Tamils of the North acting on their own or instigated by others with vested interest, meaninglessly murdering Sinhala police men and a businessman.
The ambitious Political leaders of the North in order to win over the Tamil voters portray the Sinhala people in the South as racists, against Tamil people, and that they deprive the Tamil people of their rights.
This bias began with some Tamil politicians asking for equal rights when Sri Lanka had just won Independence and was trying to build a nation of the people dispersed and communally separated by the Colonial rulers practicing divide and rule policies. The high caste Tamil political leaders who were mostly Western educated lawyers, liked this separation as it gave them a political leadership amoung the Tamil people and enhanced their social stature.
But after the elimination of the Terrorists Sri Lanka has evolved, and there is no discrimination against the minorities. The Tamil people cannot any longer complain that they cannot communicate with the Government in their own language as Sri Lanka follows a
tri-Lingual policy. Tamils have equal opportunities with the rest of the people in Sri Lanka. They have been provided with equal education opportunities. There are Tamil men and Women recruited to the Armed Forces.
The Tamil people are not segregated from the rest of the people. But now the TNA is trying to segregate the Tamils from the Sinhala in the North. In the South the Tamils live side by side with the Sinhala and the Muslims. They have acquired land and property in the south and have their own business premises. They work as doctors, teachers, engineers, scientists, businessmen and administrators every where in Sri Lanka. They have Kovils and religious places in the South as much as they have them in the North.
But yet the Tamil political leaders have brain washed the poor Tamil civilians to believe that they will continue to suffer as long as they are with the Sinhala and other Communities in a unitary state of Sri Lanka, therefore the Tamil civilians are trapped into demanding a separate Tamil Eelam State.
It is here that Navi Pillai should look closely into the 1st Clause of the US sponsored Resolution against Sri Lanka:
Calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the constructive recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and to take all necessary additional steps to fulfil its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans;
The difficulties of the implementation of the LLRC is not due to laxity or disregard for its implementation by the government, but the main obstacle for its implementation comes from the Tamil politicians- mainly the TNA and its supporters like Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu.
Therefore, it should not be taken as an unwillingness on the part of the Government. It is necessary that Navi Pillai does not give too much importance to what the TNA, and the Tamil Catholic Priests have to say about the government and their demand for a separate Province for the Tamils. None of them are interested in a genuine reconciliation of the Communities as they are the stake holders for a separate Tamil Eelam State.
The Catholic Priest Fr. Emmanuel has no interest what so ever for the reconciliation of the Tamil and Sinhala Communities, and the Catholic Priests in the North follow him and they are all for separation. Therefore, Navi Pillai cannot get anything important for her search for the truth of what happened or is happening in the North. All what they do,show or speak about are with a view to separate and not to reconcile.
Outwardly the Tamil politicians will say they do not want a separate Sri Lanka, but a separate Provincial area for the Tamil speaking people, amounts to separating the Tamil people from the people of other Communities.
But why should the Tamil people in the North be separated from the rest of the people. It is a retrograde idea, we in the 21st Century, should have progressive ideas. It is time that Sri Lanka which has come out of a ruthless terrorism because of the separatist idea of the past go forward. The idea of a separate Province for the Tamils being inculcated into the minds of the Tamils of the North would be an impediment for the Tamil people to fall in line with the other communities for a progressive march forward.
Navi Pillai should also meet those Tamils who ran away from the terrorists who were keeping them as a human shield and came to the safety of Armed forces which rescued them. She should ask them who fed them when they were finally in the camps, ask them who gave them clothes, and provided other necessities .
Because Ms.Navi Pillai, the 300,000 or so Tamil men women and children who were rescued by the Armed Forces had to be given three meals a day and provided them with other necessities of life. The Sinhala people from the south prepared packets of meals and handed them over to the Army, which had them transported by air to the North, where the IDP camps were located. The Sinhala people collected clothes and other necessity for the IDPs and had them transported by air.
Everybody is asking for accountability, violation of human rights, but nobody asks how these 300,000 IDPs were looked after. While the people in the South were providing food and other amenities, the terrorists sent a suicide bomber who blasted herself in the midst of the rescued Tamil civilians killing many including the Soldiers who were helping them.
Ms.Navi Pillai, during the week you will be in Sri Lanka , do not be like a “detective” collecting only evidence against the Government of Sri Lanka and its Armed Forces as to how the Tamil people were inconvenienced, put in danger, or how their human rights were violated by them, because there were many more acts of humanity done by the Armed Forces you accuse for war crimes.
The Armed Forces helped the people they rescued by carrying the old, the wounded or the children in their arms, and on hand made stretches. They fed them with their own rations going without meals themselves, some of them died shot by the terrorists when they were in the act of saving a disabled, or a wounded Tamil man , woman or a child running away from the terrorists.
Those acts and tragedies have also to be taken into account when you finally make your report. Those acts of kindness and humanity of the Armed Forces nobody will come forward to tell you. Therefore, you have to seek out such IDPs who were rescued by the armed forces and ask them appropriate questions to extract the truth. It is important as those act are not compatible with the accusation of war crimes
The Armed Forces that the TNA says should not be in the North, are very much needed in the North, to avoid another spate of terrorism. That is probable only because the Tamil politicians like those of the TNA fan the fires of hatred against the Sinhala and keep alive the anti Sinhala bias.
After the World War America and its allies have permanent armed forces(NATO) stationed in Germany, Japan, and in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere, and the British have their Armed forces permanently stationed in Cyprus and Gibraltar.
Sri Lanka after having suffered for thirty years from terrorism that began in the North to carve out a separate Eelam State, should also have permanent army camps in the North and the East to protect the country and the people against a recurrence of such a situation.
Ms.Pillai should also ask the Tamil civilians how much they know of the Sinhala people, and how have they come to know of the Sinhala people . Because many Tamil Civilians in the North have not gone to the south and had no contact with the Sinhala to know about them, they merely repeat what the Tamil politicians like those of the TNA keep telling them- brain washing them against the Sinhala.
Therefore, your visit to Sri Lanka will not give you the essential information to form a valid opinion, unless you probe into the thoughts, attitudes, and the nature of the people who give you “evidence” . It is that which will give you a clue to understand why the Tamil people in the north are complex and unable to understand the reality of living together with other communities, as they do in the South, but parrot about a separate Eelam State because the TNA MPs had been telling them .
That is why it is necessary that in the North too there should be a mixture of Communities as it is in the South quite contrary to what the TNA MPs profess, which is for their own political benefit and not for that of the poor Tamil civilians of the North. The Tamil people of the North would be better off living side by side with the members of other Communities instead of the forced segregation proposed by the TNA.
Navi Pillai should not fall into the trap of red herrings that will be thrown before her to distract her attention from real issues. Media freedom is one such, if she were to collect one days publication of all news papers and tabloids, she will find all those journals carry items attacking the government, the President and the Ministers. All news papers do that in complete freedom without any censure. But yet they complain that the government denies press freedom.
Disappearance of persons, attacks on journalists, are the issue that are continually raised, and attending to those issues will not get you any where. Navi Pillai should instead see the overall development plan, where no one is discriminated for religion, language or communal difference.
She should see who are really making the reconciliation process difficult. She may observe that in Sri Lanka there is a climate of peace where all communities could live together happily and the difficulties for such unity come from the Tamil politicians and from the Tamil Diaspora, and some Catholic Priests.Lastly with regard to the last clause in the US sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka:
3. Encourages the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant special procedures mandate holders to provide, in consultation with, and with the concurrence of, and the Government of Sri Lanka to accept,, advice and technical assistance on implementing the above-mentioned steps;, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to present a report on the provision of such assistance to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second session.
Navi Pillai knows that Sri Lanka fought against a ruthless terrorism for three decades. No one came to “ advice or give technical assistance” to Sri Lanka Government or its Armed Forces in the difficult task of ending terrorism in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka after elimination of terrorism, went through an unprecedented period of a development process , and came out of the state of a developing country to become a middle income country, all that was without “ advice or technical assistance” from any one. And Sri Lanka wants none of it now.
Therefore, Navi Pillai would have understood after her visit to this Island that Sri Lanka needs no ones advice or technical assistance now to develop the country, reconcile the people and progressively go forward as an Independent Sovereign State.
It is time that the UN Human Rights Council is told that Sri Lanka should be left alone to reconcile the people and implement the recommendation of the LLRC, and that it had not in eliminating terrorism committed any violation of human rights and that its Armed Forces have done a heroic job of work first in the elimination of terrorists, and secondly in the Sri Lanka’s development plan.
Finally Navi Pillai should demand the UN Human Rights Council that it should not allow US and its allies to systematically pass resolutions against Sri Lanka calling for accountability and accuse its Armed Forces for war crimes, for which there is no evidence what so ever.