( An open letter to the President Mahinda Rajapaksa )
| by V. Anadasangaree
(December 26, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Pardon me for this letter which may cause you some embarrassment. I do not feel happy writing this since I feel that you may not take its contents seriously. This is yet another letter coming to you from an aged patriotic responsible citizen, yearning for absolute peace in the country, for whom his country and its people are his first priorities. I was born and bred in Lanka and wish to die in Lanka as a Lankan. The purpose of writing this is to put certain matters on record and to see whether I can convince you and win you over to my thinking on some of these matters. I am duty bound to do so.
|File Photo :- AFP/Getty File|
First of all I plead with you to stop saying that you have unified the country under one flag, which is far from the truth. In-spite of the LTTE’s presence and dominance in parts of certain districts in the North and the East and in the District of Mullaitheevu and Killinochchi, administration of all the districts in the country were and are still in the hands of the District Secretaries and Heads of all the other Departments, in the country. The country was never divided to get unified. Furthermore the Government did not wage a war with another country but only suppressed a massive rebellion organized for a specific purpose. For a period of more than quarter of a century the country’s entire population irrespective of their race or religion, lived in permanent fear and tension and attended to their day to day business, with no certainty of returning home alive. There was loss of life and property all over the country on a large scale.
But Your Excellency will agree that it was the people in the North and the East who had suffered the most, the people of the Districts of Mullaitheevu and Killinochchi in full and of the other districts in parts. The sufferings the people underwent, three to four lakhs squeezed into a small area, where people had hardly a suitable place to cook their meals and to take shelter in the night cannot be describable in words. This situation prevailed for two or three months. The period from March to May 2009 was the worst. Men, Women and Children, the sick, the old, the expectant mothers with hardly any privacy, many shared a small area. The continuous rain with minor floods and snakes from flooded low lying areas reached places where the humans had taken up residence. All those were in addition to the hardships they underwent for years, without electricity for their homes or even street lights. The children studied with the help of bottle lamps and with limited supply of kerosene, they had to depend on coconut oil or margosa oil. One can imagine what a lot of difficulties these people would have had to get their various requirements. Amidst this, they had to hide their children to prevent conscription. Their fundamental rights, freedom of speech, of association were all denied to them with their human rights highly eroded. Even the most hard hearted person would have wept listening to their stories. They had no more tears to shed. They lost their dear ones. Some had lost all the others in their families. Their houses razed to the ground. Hardly one house could be seen with the roof. Even two and half years after the people were resettled, they are still not ready to accommodate a visitor or a relation. Most people are living in starvation. They have no income. In many homes women had become breadwinners of their families. Mothers with grown up girls live in fear and tension. There are more than 90,000 widows in the North and the East. There are thousands of orphans too.
The situation has not improved much. Most children who were forcibly recruited by the LTTE are no more. There were tombs built for every one died in combat. There were thousands buried at various places. You don’t find even one tomb left. As a father you should feel the pains of the parents who lost a son, whose tomb had been destroyed by the armed forces.
You are handing over newly built houses for the war heroes. I welcome the decision and would have praised you if you had built houses for the innocent families who lost their houses due to the bombing and shelling. The Housing Ministry has completed several thousand houses for houseless, a move I very much welcome. Everyone must have a house of his or her own. But if you had ordered reconstruction or rebuilding of all houses damaged due to the bombing and shelling I would have very much appreciated as a good and right step taken by the Government.
The fighting is now over. The guns had ceased firing. You have successfully suppressed the rebellion. There is absolutely no chance of the revolt reviving. Although the war was won by Sri Lankan soldiers, the assistance needed came from various countries. Credit should also go to the countries that helped Sri Lankan Forces in all respects. Have those countries no right to expect you to heed to their advise as well. If the neighboring country India had not helped us, our Forces would have got eradicated and the rebels would have won. As a country to country, both Russia and China helped Sri Lanka to defeat the rebels. With that they must stop. They have no moral rights to put up army camps and equip them in the North. This may boomerang on your Government one day. China and Russia and all the others who helped Sri Lanka have a moral duty to help you to solve the country’s problems. This is their duty. But they should not help the Government to bring an ethnic group, in Sri Lanka, under the subjugation of the Government.
Your immediate task now should be to win over the Tamils. You should not forget that the civilians in Vanni had given enough support to the Government Forces for their liberation, being so fed up with arms. The people of the North and the East want a gun-free atmosphere to live in peace for which all countries that supported the Government to win, should give full cooperation to bring back absolute peace in the Country.
In relation to the ongoing talks with the T.N.A I have some comments to make. Devolution of powers, under the 13th amendment, relating to the police and the land, I wish to point out that this is nothing new and is being debated over and over again. It is surprising that although more than 15 rounds of talks had taken place with the T.N.A, finality had not been reached in these matters. I read your speech in Parliament referring to the difficulty you will have in going to your village, if these two powers are conceded. If there are any special reasons for your reluctance to concede these two matters and the withdrawal of the army from the North and the East I suggest that, you should accept them in principle and work out a solution taking into consideration your reservations.
Furthermore, when the war was at its high pitch, 13th amendment and more was offered as a solution, but if we now go back after the war is over, the country will lose its credibility as a Nation.
The country had lost so much. The Tamils had suffered enough and these two matters along with the withdrawal of the army should be worked out to the satisfaction of both parties. I do not think any right thinking Sinhalese will object to a final solution based on this. I am positively sure that without these powers devolved, no solution to the ethnic problem is possible.