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Reparative approach Towards victims of armed Conflict

Global experiences and lessons for India

by Bhabani Sonowal and D. Dube

In recent years, relentless efforts have been made worldwide for repairing the past harms done to victims of armed conflict. There has been a paradigm shift in international human rights law to addressing the victims’ need for reparation rather than emphasizing punishment for the perpetrators. A rights-based approach has been adopted towards making amends for the harm caused to victims in the past. Reparation is such a rightsbased approach, a diverse complementary form of justice to restore the life of the victims/survivors by means of restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantee of non-recurrence of the violations upon the victims. Effective and inclusive response to violations during armed conflict and addressing those wrongs by way of reparation has become a priority within the international community to sustain peace and development in conflict-ridden countries. India, over the last few decades, has faced persistent violence perpetrated through armed conflict in regions such as Jammu and Kashmir as well as the North East. The lives of common people have been unsettled as a result of incessant killings, rapes and other brutalities. This article explores the development of reparation in the regime of international law and its implication for the victims of armed conflict. It underlines the initiatives of countries emerging from armed conflict in addressing the plight of victims by means of a reparative approach and argues that India needs to adopt a framework to reach out to those whose lives have been destroyed as the result of such violence and provide necessary reparation to them.

About Authors:

Bhabani Sonowal, Doctoral Research Fellow, Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India

D. Dube, Professor of Criminal Law at Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India

Theresa May resigns as Prime Minister

by our London Correspondent

British Prime Minister Theresa May this morning 24 May 2019 has offered to resign on 7 June 2019.

In an emotional speech outside10 Downing Street she stated she had tried her best to honour the will of the people who had voted at the Referendum for Britain to leave the European Union but even after three attempts could not get her deal through Parliament.

She took over from David Cameron three years ago and it has been a difficult job to get both the Brexiteers and the Remainers to accept the deal she negotiated with the European Union in December 2018.

It could take several weeks after June 7,2019 to find her replacement and until then Theresa May will remain as caretaker Prime Minister. The front runners now are Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, but anything can happen.

Britain elects a party and not a specific potential candidate and the leader of the Party who commands a majority in Parliament becomes Prime Minister.

Sri Lanka: It Is Time To Change Course

Why should our fellow countryman fear Muslims now? 

by Mass L. Usuf

It was indeed disheartening to hear on the television, from the lips of the president, about the various forces in the works sweating to trigger a communal riot. They may be the racist extremists or political parties both in the government and the opposition. A riot which will put the majority Sinhalese community against the beleaguered Muslim minority who still are trying to come to terms with the horrific incident of 21/4. I wish to reiterate here in clear words that the Muslim community has nothing to do with these bombers. We even have prohibited the bodies of these terrorist from being buried in our cemeteries. This indicates the extent to which the Muslim community abhors these degenerates who had hijacked the name of Islam.

To allay the suspicion of some of the Sinhalese people who wrongfully imagine that the Muslims within themselves like it, I wish to state do not entertain such unhealthy thoughts. We do not condone it even within the depth of our hidden inner feelings. This is against the religion of Islam and no Muslim in his proper senses can even remotely endorse this atrocity. Some have asked me if I would be happy if the attack was against Sinhala Buddhists. I responded saying that the same principles will apply. Islam does not permit the taking of innocent lives or desecration of places of worship or the wanton destruction of people’s properties. The justice system of Islam is against persecution and oppression.

Let me borrow a paragraph from the book Islamic Jurisprudence by the late Justice C.G. Weeramantry, “Individual dignity ranks high in Islamic law and the concept of human rights fit naturally within this framework. The Quran warns repeatedly against persecution, denounces aggression, warns against violation of human dignity and reminds believers of the need to observe justice in all their dealings. The warning against persecution occurs 299 times in the Quran” (Page 114).

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna

Unfortunately, there was also no scarcity for the theatrics of irrational theories babbled by some of the politicians both in the government and the opposition, after 21/4. As always, the public were also dished out the rudderless semantics and dialectics of some monks. They are a lot who are well known for their racial prejudices, empty threats and contentious speeches which, if heard without seeing the venerated robe, would hardly be acknowledged as that of a monk.

The content of the verbosities most of the time clearly revealed a strain of opportunism and sometimes blissful ignorance. In this context, admiration to the Leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Anura Kumara Dissanayake for his pre and post situational analysis. Speaking in parliament, the other day, he placed the blame for the dastardly attack, on the government and the Muslim representatives. The JVP leader however, stopped short of wanting the Muslim representatives out of the august assembly. Benevolence one may call it towards a fellow member, the reason however, has a deeper ramification. His argument was that if there was no Muslim representation in parliament, then there is the potential for any undesirable entity to fill the gap of being the spokesman for the Muslims. He cited the experience of the Tamil people whose spokesman became the LTTE.

Do Not Fear The Muslims

My dear Sinhalese brothers and Sisters, we intend no harm to you. Let us unite to eliminate the curse of terrorism from society. If your little finger is cancerous, you will have to remove it. This cannot be done with emotions of hate, vengeance or retribution; That is not the path to tread. The way forward is by rationalising the issue and taking appropriate measures. The Muslims have throughout the centuries been a peaceful community. Everyone knows about this. They had never resorted to taking up of arms against the government nor against any other co-communities.

Why should our fellow countryman fear Muslims now? This fear was systematically indoctrinated by some of the media during these few weeks which only caused the distancing of the Muslims from the other communities. The fear that has been driven into the psyche of the people is such that parents are not sending their children to schools. Did not our children attend school during the 30-year war?

Diseased Minds

As alleged by some of the Islamophobics, if the Muslims had expansionist plans, they should have implemented it by now. The Muslims, after all, had been living in this island for more than a thousand years. Or, as these sickos allege that Islam teaches to kill the disbelievers, by now there should not be any disbelievers in this island. Take the so-called boycott of Muslim businesses. Do not they understand that these businesses too contribute to the economy of this country? Do they not know how many Sinhalese people earn their livelihood working in Muslim establishments? Can these diseased brains be called patriots or, those protecting the Sinhala race? Member of Parliament Mr. JayampathyWickremaratne at a media conference (13.05.2019) expressed his surprise at even professionals subscribing to these attitudes. It is time to correct course.

Let those sinister media outlets know that the direct and indirect loss it has caused to this nation by its irresponsible reporting is incalculable. The people of this country are suffering not so much because of the attack but because of the fear psychosis that was gradually fed into the hearts and minds of the innocent masses. In addition, those racist extremists prostituting in the social media cannot under any circumstances be identified with those who love this country or their race.

Na hi verenaverani

Take a lesson from the KalayakkhiniVatthu of the Dhammapada. This refers to the story of a man who had two wives and the past rivalries of these two women. The Buddha told them about their past feuds as rival wives and made them to see that hatred could only cause more hatred, and that it could only cease through friendship, understanding and goodwill.

Dhammapada Verse 5
Na hi verenaverani
averena ca sammanti

“Hatred is, indeed, never appeased by hatred in this world. It is appeased only by loving-kindness. This is an ancient law.”

It is time for people to sit and reflect for a moment on this unwholesome volcanic eruption within themselves more fully, seen in the social media. The depth of enslavement is overwhelming for some people where seemingly hate and prejudice have diseased their right-thinking mind. We must remind ourselves that we are living in a society where there is something called civilised conduct, law and order, democratic principles and so on. We are different from the animal world because we are endowed with faculty.

In this context, of the Noble Eightfold Path, the one that stands out is Sammavaca (Right speech). This is further classified as musavadaveramani (abstaining from false speech), pisunayavacayaveramani (abstaining from slanderous speech), pharusayavacayaveramani (abstaining from harsh speech) and samphappalapaveramani (abstaining from idle chatter). Sadly, those shackled by evils thoughts hardly practise veramani (abstention).

In his exposition of the contemplation of the state of mind, the Buddha mentions, by reference to cetasikas, (mental factors) sixteen kinds of citta (consciousness or a state of mind). See, The Way to the End of Suffering by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Of the sixteen, the following states of the mind are clearly visible amongst those who harbour hate. The mind with lust, the mind with aversion, the mind with delusion, the cramped mind, the scattered mind, the unfreed mind.

Entertaining negative thoughts of hate, animosity, revenge, suspicion and cynicism does no good for that person as an individual and for the country as a whole.

Cruel Realisation

As a community, the Muslims have awakened to the cruel realisation that the recent terrorist attack underscores the need for vigilance amongst our community. As patriotic citizens of this country, the Muslims have voluntarily taken it upon ourselves to be on the alert to identify any untoward behaviour or occurrences among the Muslim people. Without doubt, there is no Sinhalese or Tamil person who would like this fledgling nation after a three-decade war, to return to the path of violence and mayhem. It has to be emphatically stated that the Muslim community as a whole never desire our country to be embroiled in another conflict.

At testing times like this, we have to remain united as one nation and one people. This was the message His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith repeatedly gave to his people and to the Sri Lankan citizens. This same message was reiterated by Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army. It is high time that those harbouring views of narrow racialism, hatred, suspicion and majoritarian perception rid themselves of these meaningless trivialities.

It is only a united people that can stand as an insurmountable force not only against any potential terrorists but, also, to face whichever countries aiming to destabilise our motherland.


India Reposes Faith on One Man with Huge Expectations

While India has multiple problems faced by the people in economic and social sphere, the utmost desire of the people is to see a corruption free India.

by N.S.Venkataraman

2019 Parliamentary election in India is unique ,since it has not been a contest between political parties but a contest between one man and several others who are pledged haters of the single man. People reposed faith on the one man and gave him a second term as Prime Minister of India.

It is now necessary to view this scenario in an objective and dispassionate manner, without becoming emotional or carrying the love or hate for the one man to unreasonable level.

During the last five years of Mr. Modi’s Prime Ministership, even his worst adversary was not daring enough to doubt or question his personal integrity and discipline and the capability to do hard work to fulfill his responsibility.Ofcoure, some attempted to do so during the election campaign, which boomeranged. This quality was that which impressed majority of the voters, who preferred him over anyone else.

While India has multiple problems faced by the people in economic and social sphere, the utmost desire of the people is to see a corruption free India.

Corruption has become so deep rooted in government machinery, public life , educational institutions , health sector and even in religious centres , apart from gradually creeping into the personal life of individuals. Certainly, corruption has become the order of the day. Widespread corruption is a vicious cycle and it appears that no one can escape from it. When things deteriorate to such an extent that no one can get anything done without paying bribe money, then it becomes necessary to earn bribe money to pay the bribe demand.

Even the poorest of the poor people often find that they have to pay bribe to change the residential address in the ration card or get “free treatment” provided in the government hospitals. They need money for all these unsavoury demands. This is, perhaps, why people take bribe money from political parties to vote for them or take money to attend meetings organized by political parties or other agencies. In these circumstances, who can blame whom for the corrupt conditions?

People are disgusted with the corrupt conditions in the society and want a Prime Minister who would eradicate corruption unmindful of the consequences. To meet such expectations of the people to root out corruption, the Prime Minister has to be a man with highest level of personal integrity and commitment to the cause of rooting out corruption.

In the five years of his Prime Ministership, Mr. Modi ensured that none of his ministers would indulge in corrupt practices. Mr. Modi clearly understood that to effectively root out the corruption, transparency in administration is vital and systemic changes are needed. There is no short cut.

With this sole objective, he initiated several proactive measures, to ensure that corruption would become a difficult and painful exercise. While Mr. Modi has not entirely succeeded, the majority of the people believe that he has made earnest attempts and his attempts are work in progress.

It is true that many known corrupt persons are roaming free in public life and Mr. Modi has not been able to punish them and put them in jail, as the judiciary proceedings are time consuming and part of investigating machinery itself are suspected to be having corrupt elements and there are doubts even about the integrity of a few judges, particularly at the lower level of judiciary.

How to fight corruption in such circumstances ? This is the challenge before Mr. Modi today and there are huge expectations from the people that he would do the needful, with high level of determination and by waging an unbending fight against the corrupt elements everywhere.

During election campaign, extremely abusive language was used by several opposition leaders against Mr. Modi and the media was not entirely neutral and objective in viewing the developments. Several unsubstantiated allegations were made in section of media to tarnish the image of Mr. Modi.

Opposition leaders understood that Mr. Modi’s highest strength is his personal integrity. Perhaps, they thought that without demolishing this image of Mr. Modi amongst the people, they cannot defeat Mr. Modi. This is why Mr. Modi was called a thief , which must have deeply hurt Mr. Modi in his mind.. Of course, Mr. Modi reacted with dignity, even though in the heat of the election campaign, he has to use strong language to rebuke the critical comments.

It is a great tribute to the maturity of Indian voters, 30% of whom belong to lower income group and do not have access to high quality education, that they could see the situation in the proper perspective and decide that corruption free India is the urgently needed and desirable goal for the country.

Mr. Modi would surely know this and he has to move on with great speed to meet the expectations of the people. Any strong anti corruption move by Mr. Modi will be resisted by vested interests and he should face and tackle such conditions by constantly interacting with the people and explaining his policies.

It is rumoured all over India that the second term as Prime Minister would be the final term for Mr. Modi and he would not seek reelection again. Those who understand the man think it would be so. Mr. Modi has nothing to lose by waging a strong anti corruption drive, where deep fear would be created in the mind of corrupt people that they cannot escape punishment for their misdeeds. The extent of success of Mr. Modi has to be reflected by the extent of fear created in the mind of the corrupt elements to whichever party or profession that they belong to.

People of India fervently hope and believe that Mr. Modi would rise upto the need and expectations of the country men to eradicate corruption and this hope is the root cause for his massive victory in the 2019 parliamentary election.

Sri Lanka: Anarchism never could provide a solution to terrorism

To defeat the cruel aims of terrorism, we must have to follow the practices of democracy, coexistence, proper education, decent media, efficient administration and economic development.

by Indi Akurugoda

Terrorism can be simply defined as the use of violence and intimidation against civilians in the pursuit of political aims. Except this, terrorists can extend their violence and intimidation against political authorities, political leaders, civil society organizations and private businesses as well. The extremist religious, ethnic and political opinions show a significant tendency in transforming easily into terrorism. The people’s will and the government support towards such extremist opinions can be resulted in strong and widespread terrorist movements.

In a different perspective, political authoritiespossibly can develop unlawful connections with terrorist groups. At the same time, governments and political leaderstend to use military and police to promote state terrorism. This could appear in various ways,such as anarchist rule, authoritarian policy processes and undemocratic governing practices.Simultaneously, this state terrorismtends tomerge with media terrorism, the unethical and indecent media practices that definitely could lead to spread violence and intimidation upon civilians.

In the aftermath of the brutal terrorist attack by Islamic extremists on April 21, 2019 aiming a number of prominent Christian churches and luxury hotels, several hidden characteristics of the Sri Lankan political and social arena have suddenly been re-appeared. Significantly, a major group of people started exhibiting the pictures of dead bodies of the victimized innocent civilians on social media and calling to justify the previous authoritarian Rajapaksa regime. This group of people was missing the enjoyment of the death fantasy and cruel happiness since the regime change in January 2015. The sudden outreach of such group can be identified as a disgusting attempt to justify the extremist political opinions of the Rajapaksa regime and to clear the ground to re-establish their anarchist power structures upon the bloodstreams of innocent civilians.

Clearly, the Sinhala Buddhist extremists have fueled up to force the government to release the imprisoned monks who accused of violent behavior and intimidation. The destructive and violent extremist movements of these monks to diminish the unity and coexistence of the country resulted in imprisoning them under the Sri Lankan law. In the immediate aftermath of bomb attacks, the authoritarian politicians who unconditionally supported and sponsored these murderous extremist monks have suddenly been appeared as heroes and started justifying their previous regime rule. Sadly, most of the Sinhala and Buddhist people who represent every social stratum have shown their support to such extremist monks and politicians to justify ethno-chauvinism against the Sri Lankan Muslims. They started spreading utter hostility upon Muslimstreating them as ultimate opponents.

Another group of people who voluntarily support the above hostilityis the Sinhala diaspora live in Europe. Although most of them do odd jobs in Europe, they dream to obtain permanent residency or citizenship in such European countries. Until the bomb attackson April 21, 2019, they underestimated their motherland through overexaggerating their “luxury” life in Europe. It is interesting to observe their instant patriotism upon Sri Lanka after the bomb attacks. The loudest demand to boycott products and shops of Muslimshave emerged from this diasporic group. Incredibly, while living abroad, they try to pretend as great political analysts promoting a “Sinhala Buddhist only” Sri Lanka (It is important to note that these people are totally anti-Western though they earn doing odd jobs in Western European countries). This group of people attacks the peaceful coexistence in Sri Lanka and continually abuse the valuable and meaningful Buddhist sermons and teachings.

Furthermore, there is another group that reflects a mania of exaggerating war heroism. Since the end of the war in May 2009, these people have not received any chance to promote their favorite war heroism. The hidden agenda of this sudden mania can be identified as a reaction to force the government to release the military and intelligence officials who are accused ofmurders and human rights violations.

Surprisingly, most people have intentionally forgotten the major incidents happened to the duty conscious military officials during the post-war period.General Sarath Fonseka was imprisoned under false accusations and court-martialed for committing military offences. He was cashiered from the army, having been stripped of his rank, medals and decorations, and his military pension was forfeited. Military officials were recruited to clear trash in municipal council areas, clean drainage lines and to sell vegetables and coconuts. Karuna Amman, the former LTTE militant who is accused ofmassacring of 600 police officials,was appointed as a minister and as a deputy president of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. The list is quite long and these are some prominent incidents only. So, at the time of these incidentswhere were the people who have suddenly awakenedat present to promote war heroism? Did they findmore importance of protecting the authoritarian regime at that time than promoting war heroes?

Today, the state-sponsored terrorism which took place during the post-war period has been totally forgotten by a majority of people in Sri Lanka. It can be identified as an opportunistic and intentional forgetfulness. Independent journalists and social activists were murdered in public;several brutal attacks and disappearances were reported; political oppositions were threatened; and a “white van phobia” was created to suppress the independent thinkers and social movements. The innocent civilians who protested,demanding justice were brutally killed; many prisoners in the jail located in the capital city were shot dead. Where were the maniac patriots when the rulers of the previous regime were using the military and police to fulfill their authoritarian agendas? Now they seem attempting to crown such murderous anarchic rulers as saviors of the country and rejecting democracy and human rights demanding blood to blood.

Within this chaotic context, it is a relief to see the groups and individuals who reject the extremist ethno-chauvinistic political views and promote democracy, pluralism and coexistence in Sri Lanka.

The April 21 tragedy can be interpreted as a result of the anarchist initiatives occurred when the present Executive President ousted the legally elected Prime Minister and empowered the rejected political forces on October 26, 2018. It is important to remind the politicians,including the President,who try to escape from their responsibilities, that they represent a major force which fueled the extremists and drove the country towards an anarchic rule underestimating democratic values.Now these extremists are trying to intimidate citizens; grab power stagnating the state mechanism; and to exaggerate the situation to discourage people adjusting to normalcy. Anarchism never could provide a solution to terrorism. It could fuelstate terrorism and extremist terrorism at the same time.

To overcome the present chaos, we need to get rid of the emotional, depoliticized, opportunistic and extremist positions, and to identify real facets of terrorism. The terrorists do a little; but we are the people who continue to carry on their rest of the cruel expectations illogically and uncritically to harm the society. The emotional, depoliticized, opportunistic and extremist groups are the mostdestructive forces of the society. The illogical and uncritical media significantly contribute these forces. In the final analysis, intentionally or unintentionally they destroy the society through wide spreading terrorism. Undoubtedly, the advantage of all these destructive actions rests with the undemocratic, authoritarian and opportunistic politicians.

If we continue staying at the homes fearfully, keeping the children without sending to schools, escaping from offices, boycotting products and shops of Muslimsand spreading hatred feelings against the other religious and ethnic groups, we definitely fulfill the aims of terrorists. When we fulfill such aims, the advantage goes to the murderers who appear as political saviors.

Terrorism, however, is a global phenomenon. The world processes have not declined due to its consequences. To defeat the cruel aims of terrorism, we must have to follow the practices of democracy, coexistence, proper education, decent media, efficient administration and economic development. This is the best and the only alternative we have at the moment.

Dr Indi Akurugoda, Department of Public Policy, University of Ruhuna

India: Chowkidar Narendra Modi Wins

India election results: Elections were held on 542 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats and a party or alliance needs 272 seats to form government

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP has crossed the halfway mark on its own steam and leads showed a NDA sweep in the national elections within two hours of counting of votes. The BJP is doing well in most states, including the three heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, wrested by the Congress in December. It is also ahead in Karnataka - a state the Congress rules jointly with HD Kumaraswamy. The Congress is ahead in Punjab and Tamil Nadu, where it joined hands with the DMK. Elections were held on 542 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats and a party or alliance needs 272 seats to form government.