| Reporting by Robert Evans; Edited by Michael Roddy
( January 8, 2012, Canberra, Sri Lanka Guardian) Bandula Jayasekara: “He refers to the origin of the Sri Lankan flag. There are 192 flags flying at the UN and only the Sri Lankan flag has given a place to the Tamils. Not even India. The design of the Sri Lankan flag came out of consensual agreement signed by Tamil and Muslim community leaders immediately after independence. Haigh’s claim that neutral symbols were rejected is a bizarre fantasy not substantiated by the historical facts.”
National flag of any country represents the country and its heritage as rallying device that integrates all communities. However, In Sri Lankan, flag minorities are shown on percentage based allocation on the flag, rather than equal basis as is common elsewhere including the United Kingdom. The fact is that the first Sri Lankan (then Ceylon) flag (1948-1951) was not quite popular among the minorities as it only depicted a lion which was derived from a Sinhalese flag. But the flag came under several amendments and included green and orange colours to represent the minorities.
Flag of Ceylon from 1948–1951
It is self evident racist flag that segregates the minorities from the majority communities. It symbolises inbuilt and institutionalised racism in that country. The use of a lion with a sword is rather a violent symbol compared to the nature of flags in other countries and for country that profess Buddhism, and depicts aggression towards the minorities. The “Tamil and Muslim community leaders” who agreed to the revised flag must be turning in the graves for what has befallen on the communities since 1951!
Not a single Buddhist country in the world carries sword and Buddha dharma in the same flag as Sri Lanka does. Yes from that aspect Sri Lanka is unique!!!!
Bandula Jayasekara -Error 2: Both at the grassroots and highest political level Sinhalese have shared power. After independence in 1948 every cabinet had Tamil and Muslim ministers. If Haigh cares to go back to his text books he may learn the difference between sharing power and separatism.
Response: There is a difference between true power-sharing and being merely represented in the government. It is true that since 1948 minority community politicians have been in the government. However in a true power-sharing the majority does not rule; rather, all communities, whether defined by ethnicity, language, religion or even ideology, participate in government on the basis of proportional or even equal representation. Important decisions can be taken only by mutual agreement – each community has a right of veto, as the Roman consuls of yore (Power Sharing: Concepts and Cases- UNESCO- http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/beirut/05478.pdf).
Mr Bandula can you honestly claim that since 1948 there was true power sharing in Ceylon/Sri Lanka?
Let us look at the history since 1948:
1950 – Disfranchising a section of Tamils of their citizenship
“In 1948, at independence, the Tamils had 33% of the voting power in the legislature. Upon the disenfranchisement of the estate Tamils (in 1950), however, this proportion dropped to 20%. The Sinhalese obtained more than a 2/3 majority in the Parliament, making it impossible for the Tamils to exercise an effective opposition to Sinhalese policies affecting them…” Ethnic Conflict and Violence in Sri Lanka – Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists, July/August 1981
1950 -State sponsored colonising of the Tamil homeland with Sinhala people
“…Tamils have objected to State colonisation schemes which import large numbers of Sinhalese into traditional Tamil areas. The Tamil concern about colonisation is related to insecurity about their physical safety and to fears that Tamils will become a minority in their traditional homelands. The government maintains that since Sri Lanka is a single country citizens may freely move into any part of the country and that it is necessary to transplant some populations to more productive areas. The Tamils answer that they are not opposed to individual migration but only to large scale government colonisation schemes which change the ethnic composition of an area…
Virginia Leary on State Colonisation of Traditional Tamil Areas – Ethnic Conflict and Violence in Sri Lanka – Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists, July/August 1981
1956 – Introduction of Sinhala as the official language
Official Language Act was adopted in 1956 providing that ‘Sinhala Only’ shall be the official language. In the eyes of the Tamils, they were discriminatory provisions adopted by the majority population which placed their language in an inferior position, (and) required them to learn the majority language… It also became more difficult for Tamils enter government service.
And since then:
– Introduction of standardisation to discriminate Tamils students seeking University admission,
– Discrimination of Tamil language speaker’s public sector employment,
– Repeated dishonouring of agreements entered into with the Tamil parliamentary political leadership,
– Removing the constitutional safeguards to minorities provided in the original constitution altogether,
Mr Bandula is this your concept of power sharing?
Bandula Jayasekara – Error 3: Sri Lanka had 30 years of terrorism. The international community banned the Tamil Tiger terrorists, led by Prabhakaran, ”the latest Pol Pot of Asia” (James Burn, The New York Times, June 25, 1995). Moderate Tamil leaders have condemned Prabhakaran as the ”Tamil tyrant who killed more Tamils than all the others. If Haigh were to remove his anti-Sri Lankan blinkers he may see the reality in a better light, and it is 2012 and not 1994.
Response: Mr Bandula how convenient that you have selective amnesia in relation to Sri Lankan State Sponsored Terrorism against people of that country? Have you forgotten the pogrom against the Tamils in 1956, 1958, 1977 and 1983? Have you also forgotten the pogrom against the Sinhala youths after the first JVP uprising in 1971 where more than 30,000 Sinhala youths were massacred by the state security forces?
This is one example of what is being said about the leader of the government you serve:
American diplomats believed that the Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, was responsible for a massacre last year, Wiki Leaks said on Wednesday.
US Ambassador Patricia Butenis was quoted as saying in a January cable: “There are no examples we know of a regime undertaking wholesale investigations of its own troops or senior officials for war crimes while that regime or government remained in power.”
“In Sri Lanka this is further complicated by the fact that responsibility for many of the alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, including President (Rajapaksa) and his brothers and opposition candidate General Fonseka,” she said, according to Wiki Leaks.
Mr Bandula it is right time you lean simple lesson in life. People inside a glass house should not throw stones at others!!!
Error 4: Referring to South Africa and East Timor he says that ”the truth will be out [about] the treatment of Tamils in Sri Lanka”. I don’t know in what part of Sri Lanka he was when he was deputy high commissioner but if he had his ear to the ground, as every diplomat should, he would have understood or tried to understand how terrorists were destroying my country.
What was he doing when the terrorist tyrant Prabhakaran forcibly kidnapped under-aged children on their way to school and thrown as fodder into a futile war? In the name of separatism he ruled with an iron fist, killing all peace-makers, including India’s Rajiv Gandhi. He decimated the entire Tamil leadership in mainstream politics. Sri Lankan Tamils were only liberated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Sri Lankan security forces. It is time Haigh took a reality check on the ground situation in Sri Lanka.
Response: Mr Bandula, it is for you to wake up and face reality of Ceylon/Sri Lanka history. Anyone who is subject to long term discrimination and suppression will first to win their rights through peaceful movements. Tamils did that between 1948 and 1978. As more and more of their rights and land were taken away the trigger came when education discrimination was introduced. Youth saw no future for them in Sri Lanka. This no different from the underlying reasons for the Southern Sinhala students taking up arms due to lack of opportunity for them.
Haven’t you read the numerous reports about Sri Lankan human rights abuses and violations compiled by UN agencies, Amnesty international, International Crisis Group, International Elders Group, ICJ and even GoSL’s own LLRC?
Bandula Jayasekara: Last but not the least he picks on my comments about the remnants of the pro-LTTE lobby penetrating Australian borders in the guise of asylum seekers. This is a fact known to Sri Lankan and Australian intelligence units. Besides, people-smuggling has been a common tactic of the LTTE to pack Western electoral constituencies with pro-LTTE agents who in turn can influence decision-makers at the highest levels to push an anti-Sri Lankan agenda. I forgot to mention the other hidden agenda: they exploit the available social security systems to collect money to finance their violent politics – a violation of Security Council resolution 1373.
The Sri Lankan government put an end to the violent ”human rights” (which Haigh is promoting heavily) record of the LTTE when it crushed them in May 2009. With all the infirmities that can exist in a post-war situation the Sri Lankan government has established a sound record of rehabilitating LTTE cadres and settling nearly 300,000 internally displaced people who were dragged from village to village, without food, water, shelter and medicine by the LTTE.
Response: Mr Bandula, if ever there was an extraordinary example of extremely muddled thinking and rationalisation of complex issues, your response to Mr Haigh will get the highest accolade. You should be congratulated for that!!!
GoSL and its cohorts are masters of deception. By repeatedly lying and introducing the word terrorism in all responses, they think they can escape scrutiny and act with impunity.
You mention about Rajiv Ghandi’s assassination. But you failed to mention that first attempt to assassinate him was made by a Sinhala naval sailor, Wijemuni Vijitha Rohana de Silva who served a short term and pardoned.
Can you answer one question? How come GoSL has embraced LTTE people like Karuna, KP, and Douglas Devananda some of who are wanted in India on murder charges or were active militants or terrorist as you call and given them with ministerial posts?
Bandula Jayasekara: Peace may not restore ideal conditions overnight. But post-war Sri Lanka has taken the great leap forward to restore peace, dignity and self-respect to all citizens which were never available under the horrors of needless terrorism. These facts make it clear that Haigh’s knowledge of Sri Lanka is not that hot as it claims to be.
Response: Mr Bandula, as a servant of GoSL it is your duty to be a propagandist for your master. However it does not mean you could assume that the readers are gullible. In case you have missed this article on how glorious is Sri Lanka under Rajapakse Brothers Inc.
Sri Lanka’s government has made it all but impossible for victims of human rights abuses to get justice, a Geneva-based human rights body that monitors legal matters said on Thursday.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), grouping 60 prominent judges and lawyers from around the world, said the judiciary in Sri Lanka was under increasing attack and its independence was threatened.
“Victims and survivors of major human rights violations do not receive redress, and perpetrators are not brought to justice,” the ICJ declared in a 150-page report, “Authority without Accountability: The Crisis of Impunity in Sri Lanka.”
“The absence of justice removes an important deterrent to future perpetrators,” said the report, compiled by the body’s Asia Director Sam Zarifi.
The administration of President Mahinda Rajapaksa had sought to evade demands at home and abroad for justice for victims of “serious violations of international law” by both sides in the long civil war that ended in 2009, the report added.
With recent physical attacks on judges and judicial officials in the country adding to the problem, the ICJ said Sri Lanka was in “serious breach of (its) international obligation to protect and promote human rights”.
Earlier this month a senior High Court judge who heads a key commission that appoints and transfers judges and magistrates was pistol-whipped by gunmen after complaining of official pressure on the body.
International human rights groups assert that such attacks and death threats against even mild critics of the Rajapaksa administration are carried out by government supporters or specially-trained hit squads.
After the latest incident, Rajapaksa condemned the attack and ordered the police to bring its perpetrators to justice, an official statement said. Police said they had launched a special operation to arrest the culprits.
The 30-year-long civil war between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels who at one time controlled large swathes of the north of the island state is estimated to have left tens of thousands of people dead or injured.
International investigators, whose findings have been rejected by the Sri Lankan authorities, have said the army committed large-scale abuses and was responsible for many civilian deaths in the final stages of the war.
The ICJ said that the failure to submit those abuses and others committed by the Tigers to a court was a symptom of the overall lack of accountability in the country, where rights groups say abductions and attacks on media are also common.