TNA in its statement dated 14th March 2012 titled ‘Broken Promises’, signed by Mr. R. Sampanthan, has inter-alia stated as follows:
| A statement issued by the EPDP
( March 18, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) “Despite the LLRC identifying the EPDP as an illegal armed group and recommending that armed paramilitary groups be investigated and disarmed, Minister Douglas Devananda (Leader of the EPDP) – whose attitude was condemned by the LLRC as being inimical to the rule of law – continues to function as the Cabinet Minister for Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development. In fact, in a further show of disdain, he was chosen as a member of Sri Lanka’s delegation to the ongoing 19th UNHRC sessions.” (Para 3.13)
It is regretful to note that Mr. Sampanthan has either not read the LLRC report in full or has just placed his signature on a misleading statement prepared by someone else. Nowhere in the LLRC report has the EPDP been identified as an armed group now. What has been stated is that armed groups such as EPDP, PLOTE and EPRLF were allowed to retain arms after they joined the democratic process by successive Governments but were required to give up their arms consequent to signing CFA and they became vulnerable given the fact that LTTE was permitted to openly carry arms. (Para 2.16 of LLRC report).
Mr. Sampanthan or the authors of the ‘Broken Promises’ has failed to identify that the leader of the EPRLF referred to as one of the group that was carrying arms before the CFA is Mr. Suresh Premachandran, spokesperson of TNA. Suresh Premachandran, the human rights vendor of the day, has escaped the condemnation of the LLRC because the period during which he committed atrocities (as leader of Mandayan group hunting LTTErs) falls beyond the mandate of the LLRC.
With regard to specific allegations made against the EPDP in the LLRC report, the EPDP has categorically denied those allegations and has repeatedly stated that the LLRC has erred in its observations in this regard. We give below the actual facts in this regard.
In Para. 5.72, 5.75 and Para. 5.76 of the LLRC report it is reported that:
“During the Commission’s sittings in the Jaffna district, a complaint was made by a mother alleging that her son was abducted in May 2007 involving a “white van” with two EPDP cadres following them on a motorbike. The woman also claimed to possess the number of the van and when she visited the EPDP office several times they have repeatedly requested her “to be patient”. In another case reported to the Commission in Jaffna, a woman claimed that her husband and his two brothers were abducted by the “EPDP and Army men in civilian clothes”. Their whereabouts are still unknown.”(Para 5.72)
“The Commission sought clarifications from the TMVP and EPDP political leadership regarding specific allegations that were attributed to their respective groups. Whilst acknowledging that there are illegal activities attributed to their parties, their contention was that their names are being used by unknown parties. In this regard, it is appropriate to mention that the leader of the EPDP made the observation that the ruthless internecine warfare encouraged by the LTTE necessitated certain Tamil groups to carry weapons and that although the LTTE engineered conflict is over, some residual activity could remain for some time. He stated that “after heavy rains, some wetness” (Para 5.75)
“The Commission is constrained to observe the attitude manifested by the leadership of the TMVP and EPDP in their explanations provide little or no consolation to the aggrieved parties, and tends to militate against any meaningful reconciliation process.”(Para 5.76)
The transcript of the oral statement given by the leader of the EPDP before the LLRC is available in the ‘LLRC Archives’ website (http://www.llrcarchive.org/2010/09/douglas-devananda/). Nowhere in the transcript it is stated that the commissioners sought clarification from the EPDP leader during the course of his submission about the incidents referred to in Para. 5.72 above. Whereas, in Para. 5.75 of the LLRC report it is stated that the Commission sought clarification from the EPDP Political Leadership regarding specific allegations that were attributed to the Party. Thus, it is convincingly evident that the commissioners have erred in arriving at their observation given in Para. 5.76 of the report.
Similarly in Para 8.187 e & f of the LLRC report it is stated as follows:
“The Commission wishes to specifically highlight the following instances brought to its attention by a number of representers.(Para 8.187)
e. Several representers complained about acts of extortion that were being committed by members of the Eelam Peoples’ Democratic Party. When the leader of the EPDP was questioned he stated that, “after the rains there is wetness.” The Commission regrets to note that this approach by the EPDP leader does not augur well in fostering respect for the Rule of Law.
f. The Commission is of the view that since there are several complaints gainst the EPDP there should be a full investigation regarding these allegations. Absence of an investigation would create a sense of impunity.
What really transpired during the oral submission as stated in the transcript is as follows:
Palihakkara: “Thereafter you strongly opposed all their practices. Now the LTTE is no more. When we visited the North one of the persistent complaints that the IDPs and the Tamil people told us was that the LTTE’s practices continue, like abductions and also asking for kappam, extortion. So what are the measures that you would suggest that can be taken to prevent this? Because it is a serious problem, because all the Commissioners were told by so many people that these terrible practices continue, and they don’t know who is doing that.”
Devananda: “Now the rain has ceased, but the spray is still there. The wetness is still there. But that situation has now gone down. Rain has ceased, but the spray and the wetness of the rain still remains. There are the remnants of the LTTE that are still there. But it has now diminished a lot.”
It is obvious from the above that there is wide discrepancy in what really transpired when the leader of the EPDP gave evidence and the paraphrases stated in the report as being the conversations between the commission members and the leader. The commissioners never asked Mr. Devananda that there were complaints of extortion by the EPDP, although they have stated so in their conclusion; another blunder by the commissioners.
Besides, leaking of this part of the LLRC report to the media prior to tabling of it to the Parliament makes us to believe whether the whole exercise is done with any ulterior motive of tarnishing the image of EPDP and its leader.