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The Hindu | January 20, 2013 | Chennai :: DMK president M. Karunanidhi has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to take steps to ensure that the Sri Lankan government gave up, what he called, its programme of erasing Tamil language, culture and religion. He sought their help in putting an end to alleged drive by Sri Lankan authorities to rename Tamil villages with Sinhala names.
In identical letters to Dr. Singh and Ms. Gandhi, Mr. Karunanidhi said many more such tactics were being employed by the Sri Lankan government. “Tamils in Sri Lanka are living in an oppressive environment,” he alleged.
Bringing to their notice “disturbing developments” in Sri Lanka vis-à-vis the Tamils, he said: “The Sri Lankan government is now carrying out an intensive and systematic programme of erasing the Tamil language, culture and religion and diluting the concentration of Tamils in areas where they have historically been predominant. This manifests itself in the renaming of Tamil villages, redrawing of village, district and town boundaries, demolishing Hindu temples, non-allocation of funds to resettle and rehabilitate internally displaced Tamil families.”
He said: “The Sri Lankan government is also not allocating funds to schools, hospitals and other infrastructure where the Tamils live predominantly. It is also promoting Sinhala settlements on Tamil land and Sinhalese take over of the economic life of Tamil areas, which impoverishes the Tamils, and the deployment of army camps to intimidate them.” India had a moral obligation to stop this as it involved the eradication of a great culture and ancient religion in our backyard, he said.
Giving details, Mr. Karunanidhi said 89 villages had been renamed with Sinhala terms and 367 Hindu temples had been demolished. There were 148 mini and 13 main army camps in Mullaitivu district alone.
In Amparai district, the Tamil heritage village ‘Potthuvil’ was renamed as ‘Pothuvila’, and ‘Thirukovil’ was renamed as ‘Srikovila’ and ‘Tharavaikulam’ as ‘Tharakkulam’ while ‘Vagarai’ became ‘Vagara’ in Batticalao district and Nilaveli was renamed as Nilvaella, and Alankulam as Gemburuweva in Trincomalee district.
In Jaffna district, Vaddukottaii was renamed as Battakote and Paruththiththurai as Pethuruthoduva, and Nainatheevu as Nagatheeba. With name change, Kilinochchi became Granika, Mullaitivu Mooladoova and Vavuniya, Vannimava, he said.
Paper No. 5371| January 20, 2013 | Dr Kumar David | South Asia Analysis Group :: Dumb is used to describe a person who is bereft of brains, and of course its literal meaning is to be deprived of the faculty of verbal articulation.
Not many people fit both definitions at the same time, but the Government in Delhi has managed a Double First! The international community (IC) has expressed itself in no uncertain terms and the governments of the United States, UK, Canada, and even Australia in low key because of other sensitivities, International Commission of Jurists, UNHCR, International Crisis Group, Asian Human Rights Association, Bar Associations of several countries including UK and even Indian newspaper leader writers. There has been universal condemnation and expressions of shock at the flagrant violation of the constitution, an unheard of kangaroo-trial of a Chief Justice (CJ), a witch-hunt, and finally a lynching by Executive President Mahinda Rajapakse and the sycophant parliament that kneels before him. Through it all Delhi has remained brain dead and voiceless!
The common explanation is that India has enough on its plate both internally and with Pakistan and China that is does not want anymore and does not wish to intervene in the internal affairs of a neighbour. This is unacceptable when matters go so much out of hand that the fabric of democracy is ripped and freedom of life and liberty of the people of Lanka imperilled. Don’t take my word for it; here are abbreviated extracts from what an international body located in Geneva, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, with no particular axe to grind on behalf of CJ Shirani Bandaranayke, stated on 18 January.
“The removal of the Chief Justice through a flawed process is gross interference in the independence of the judiciary and a calamitous setback for the rule of law in Sri Lanka. Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayke was served notice of her dismissal and removed from her chambers and official residence on 15 January, in spite of a Supreme Court ruling that the parliamentary procedure to remove her violated the Constitution. Sri Lanka has a long history of abuse of executive power, and this latest step appears to strip away one of the last and most fundamental of the independent checks and balances.”
The jurist sworn in by the President as the new Chief Justice on 15 January, the former Attorney-General and Legal Advisor to the Cabinet, Mr. Mohan Peiris, has been at the forefront of a number of government delegations to Geneva in recent years to vigorously defend the Sri Lankan government’s position before the Human Rights Council and other human rights mechanisms. This raises obvious concerns about his independence and impartiality, especially when handling allegations of serious human rights violations by the authorities.
Just this morning we have received alarming reports from the Independent Bar of Sri Lanka of a series of death threats, acts of intimidation and even a couple of reported murder attempts against lawyers who have been supporting Chief Justice Bandaranayke, and the rulings of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal on her case”. END QUOTE.
And this is by no means the strongest statement made by international commentators; it seems that the Government of Canada has decided to boycott the Commonwealth Heads meeting scheduled for late this year in Lanka and has been backed by the Canadian Bar Association in the decision.
It would be too repetitive to summarise what has happened in the last four months or to add to the avalanche of criticism. Indian readers will find a good cross section of views and comments and a ball-by-ball commentary of events on the Colombo Telegraph website (www.colombotelegraph.com/). Those who do not have time to go to original sources must take my word for it; flagrant trampling underfoot of the constitution, a rushed, botched “trial” by a parliamentary select committee that violated the norms of natural justice, and a comedy in parliament where a government Minister (Vasudeva Nanayakkara, MP) even shouted “We have told the judiciary to go to hell.”
And why did Rajapakse fling the Chief Justice out? The reason is that when the Divineguma Bill came to the Supreme Court for determination of its constitutionality, a three judge bench presided over by the CJ decided that it was inconsistent with the constitution and would need a 2/3 majority for passage. I discussed the Bill (now enacted) in this column on 26 October 2012 (“Queer happenings in Serendib”; Paper 5265) and pointed out that thereafter 64% of the budget of the Sri Lankan government is controlled by departments and/or ministries under three of the siblings (Mahinda, Basil and Gothabaya Rajapakse). The fourth sibling Chamal Rajapakse, parliamentary speaker, steered the impeachment through the House. His Master’s Voice cabinet ministers have now been instructed to tout his name as the next Prime Minister. Even a hat-trick is not enough for these power gluttons; they want all four top-order slots. >>Read details here.
Suresh Premachandran also said in a telephonic interview that the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa was not sincere in having a dialogue with the elected leaders of the Tamil community.
“One could understand a certain Sri Lanka policy India followed when the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) was there,” the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) member told IANS here.
“Now that the LTTE is no more, India must change its (Sri Lanka) policy,” he said. “Otherwise the Sri Lankan government’s attitude will not change.”
India solidly — both tacitly and openly — backed Colombo when the latter waged war on the LTTE, leading to its destruction in May 2009.
Since then, however, the Rajapaksa government has gone back on some of the promises it made to Indian leaders on pursuing a path of reconciliation with the Tamil community.
And Tamil leaders say that India is not putting enough pressure on Sri Lanka to implement what it told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh including on providing genuine autonomy to Tamil areas.
According to Premachandran, Sri Lanka was emboldened vis-a-vis the democratic world because of the support it gets from China.
“They (the regime) don’t care about the US and Europe, and they say they can manage India too,” said the MP, whose TNA is the main Tamil voice in parliament and which was earlier seen as the LTTE’s political arm. “They feel that with China with them, they can manage the UN too.” >>Read details here.