President should dissolve Northern Provincial Council on Genocide Claim

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena

It cannot be a coincidence that immediately following the visits to the North by US and British officials that the Northern Provincial Council has passed a Resolution claiming genocide by Sri Lanka. What needs to be reiterated is that the common enemy of Sri Lanka and its people was the LTTE which was militarily vanquished by the Armed Forces in May 2009.

If anyone holds a candle to a terrorist movement banned by 32 nations including Sri Lanka they need to be held culpable for aiding and abetting terrorism. This is an international rule applicable to all. Accusing of ‘genocide’ is a very serious allegation and must be substantiated with evidence. To claim genocide where are the dead? who are the dead and to claim genocide how can that be collaborated with population statistics? These claims that have been taking place need to be seriously dealt with because these are coming between all initiatives to create a peaceful and harmonious Sri Lanka and for all communities to work towards developing the nation and not dividing it. It is therefore suggested that the President of Sri Lanka take this NPC Resolution as a threat to the National Security of Sri Lanka and dissolve the NPC and relook at the 13th amendment for if it does not provide the service to the people of Sri Lanka and is an unnecessary cost the provincial council system needs to be abolished altogether and with the new constitutional changes being drawn up whether 13th amendment should be kept needs to be seriously addressed.

Background to 13th and PC system

Following the signing of the India-forced Indo-Lanka Accord in 1987, the Sri Lankan Government was compelled to make amendments to its Constitution and introduce the 13th amendment on 14th November 1987 and incorporate a Provincial Council system under Provincial Councils Act No 42 of 1987. As per the Indo-Lanka Accord, Sri Lanka was required to merge the North and East provinces (North-East Provincial Council). NE held its first election on 19 November 1988 with Indian-backed Varatharaja Perumal elected as Chief Minister. The Provincial Council did not last long for Perumal declared a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (coincidence that it was timed with the withdrawing of the IPKF from Sri Lanka) resulting in then President Premadasa dissolving the Province and bringing under the State of Sri Lanka. The Accord required a referendum to be held by 31 December 1988 in the Eastern Province to decide whether the merger should be permanent but also allowed the country’s President the provision to postpone such. On 14 July 2006 the JVP filed three separate petitions with the Supreme Court requesting a demerger of the 2 provinces. A historic verdict came on 16 October 2006 the Supreme Court ruled that the proclamations issued by President Jayewardene were null and void and had no legal effect and both provinces were formerly demerged on 1 January 2007.

The suffering because of LTTE

It is imperative that the people of Sri Lanka and the world realize that LTTE was the common enemy. LTTE killed other Tamil political movements, their leaders and their cadres, LTTE has killed a sitting President, Opposition candidates, over 10 leaders of political parties, 7 cabinet Ministers, 37 Members of Parliament, 6 Members of Provincial Councils, 22 Members of Pradeshiya Sabhas, 17 Political Party organizers, 4 mayors including Alfred Duraiappah who became LTTE’s first target in 1975. LTTE has also killed foreigners including the former PM of India, Rajiv Gandhi. Besides killing innocent civilians (Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims) LTTE has put to death its own cadres including the injured and child soldiers who disobeyed orders or attempted to flee. fname=Facts_about_the_LTTE_ 20120221_02

Therefore, it has been unfortunate that the political establishment of Sri Lanka has not correctly pointed out to the international community that Sri Lanka’s Terrorism by LTTE was a factor that ALL the citizens suffered from. This next brings up the question of RECONCILIATION. Given that it is a terminology adapted by the West, again the political establishment of Sri Lanka should have asked why Sri Lanka need to reconcile with terrorists because the military fought and defeated terrorists and not Tamils. Which next brings us to the question of grievances of the Tamils. It is essential that grievances of Tamils should not and cannot get unnecessarily entangled to the conflict and its outcome. Grievances of Tamils must have a basis and we are continuing to ask what Tamils are constitutionally, legally denied that ONLY Sinhalese are enjoying. As far as we can see there is absolutely no discrimination that we can think of. Nonetheless, the Northern Province has been repeatedly claiming that the North is a Tamil Homeland and that Sinhalese are not allowed in the North and this chant has been continuing ever since the TNA took reigns of the Northern Province. The self-determination they are claiming demands a separate state because of Sinhala discrimination but reserves a right for them to continue to live among the Sinhalese. Now does this not look odd?

Tamils were living under iron rule of the LTTE who had its own courts, own laws, own police, own banks, own taxing systems and no Tamil could open their mouth against the LTTE. Democracy for Tamils under LTTE was to say yes to all that LTTE wanted. No sooner the LTTE was defeated against much advice the former Government decided to hold elections and allow Tamils to exercise their franchise and they did so by voting the LTTE created TNA. Many of its members were selected by LTTE when it was formed hurriedly following 9/11 when the LTTE overseas brains were apprehensive how the world would apply ‘war on terror’ to the LTTE.

Democracy in the North – after LTTE defeat

  • Presidential elections held in January 2010
  • Parliamentary elections held in April 2010
  • Local Government elections March 2011
  • Provincial council elections held in September 2013

With the North under the political wing of the LTTE influenced by the LTTE diaspora fronts that are now banned it is prudent that we remain alert to the links LTTE has formed over the years. From emerging from the India induced incubator LTTE today is heavily influenced by foreign players that are using the LTTE and its political wing to advance their agendas with a compromise element that would satisfy their future agenda. We have been warning of a pan-Christian state grounded in the North as a Asia look out, an economic hub and the platform with which the West will balkanize India and work towards Russia and China. These are serious security concerns for Sri Lanka and for other nations of Asia for it means future conflicts being nursed already.

Nevertheless, petty political gains have ignored State action against the TNA and its Resolutions.

Other examples of TNA-ruled Northern Provincial Council posing a threat to the National Security of Sri Lanka

  • February 2012 – TNA leader Sambanthan writes to 47 member states of UNHRC urging support for Resolution on Sri Lanka views/archives/8927
  • Ever since NPC was formed the TNA has been demanding police and land powers without delivering a service in the areas they have been allocated. At the inaugural session in 2013 the Chief Minister Wigneswaran reiterated demand for land and police powers and he has been continuously claiming militarization and colonization though he had asked TNA members to use the word ‘genocide’ with caution knowing the legal implications of its use. A brave citizen has come forward to lodge a case citing penal code section 120 violation by TNA “Whoever by words, spoken or intended to be read, or by signs; or by visible representations, or otherwise, excites or attempts to excite feeling of dissatisfaction to the President or to the Government of the Republic, or excites or attempts to excite hatred to or contempt of the administration of justice, or excites or attempts to excite the People of Sri Lanka to procure, other than by lawful means, the alteration of any matter by law established, or attempts to raise discontent or dissatisfaction amongst the People of Sri Lanka, or to promote feeling of ill-will and hostility between different classes of such People,  shall be punished with the simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years”.
  • January 2014 NPC passes Shivajilingams Resolution seeking international inquiry into the Sri Lankan government’s acts of “ethnic cleansing,” and rejecting Sri Lanka’s own inquiry mechanisms. Another resolution called for building a monument at Mullivaikkal, in Mullaitivu, in memory of civilians killed in the final military assault on the LTTE in May 2009 (most believe this a covert way to honor dead LTTE)
  • April 28, 2014 – NPC passes Shivajilingam’s Five Resolutions
    1. International Investigation against Sri Lanka for crimes against Tamils during the war. Special gratitude to US, UK, Macedonia, Mauritius and Montenegro for leading the Resolutions at UNHRC calling for investigation of crimes against humanity committed in Sri Lanka
    2. Gratitude to countries who supported the UNHRC Resolution in March 2014 – Argentina, Austria, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Montenegro, Peru, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sierra Leone, Macedonia, UK, US and gratitude for those that voted down attempts to remove section calling for an international investigation. Gratitude for Japan and Philippines inspite of abstaining
    3. Appreciation to UNHRC Members for supporting independent international investigation for crimes against humanity by Sri Lanka
    4. Assistance from International Community to permanently resolve the Tamil National Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka. Enable a NEW CONSTITUTION FOR SRI LANKA with assistance from International community recognizing self-determination of Tamil people and offering at a minimum a federal set up for a sovereign Tamil nation constituting merged Northern and Eastern provinces.
    5. NPC condemns the banning of 16 Tamil Diaspora organizations and 424 members of Tamil Diaspora through Sri Lanka Gazette notification.
  • August 2014 – 33 TNA Provincial Councillors from North and East Write to Navi Pillay Requesting UNHRC to look into all the past violations against the Tamil people at least from 1974 when the killings of Tamil people by the Sri Lankan forces started and looking into genocide of the Tamil people. Note the letter has been cited in a complaint to the police by a citizen of Sri Lanka citing Penal Code violation section 120 which the Sri Lanka police are currently investigating.
  • February 2015 – Northern Provincial Council passes resolution “Since then, Tamils across Sri Lanka, particularly in the historical Tamil homeland of the NorthEast, have been subject to gross and systematic human rights violations, culminating in the mass atrocities committed in 2009. Sri Lanka’s historic violations include over 60 years of statesponsored anti-Tamil pogroms, massacres, sexual violence, and acts of cultural and linguistic destruction perpetrated by the state,” (can migration and settlement from invasions be called Homeland?)

What is genocide

The term genocide originated in 1944 by a Polish-Jewish lawyer (Raphael Lemkin) with reference to the Nazi policies against the Jews. The UN used it after the Holocaust defining genocide as an intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. In 1946, the UN General Assembly Resolution affirmed genocide as a crime under international law and went on to in 1948 to adopt a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In 2006, the UN Security Council Resolution 1674 assured protection to civilians in armed conflict against acts of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In 2008 the UN Security Council Resolution 1820 included ‘rape and other forms of sexual violence to constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.’

Given these terminologies

  • The 1915 massacre of 1million ethnic Armenians
  • 1945 millions of Jews massacred by Germans
  • 1975 Khmer Rouge executions of 1.7m to 2million Cambodians
  • 1990 killing of 1million Tutsi’s in 100 days by Hutus
  • 2003 and beyond situation in Darfur with an estimated 300,000 dead and over 2.7m displaced can be defined as genocide.
  • The genocide by colonial invaders upon lands that they captured and people they brutally killed and the lands they took over from the indigenous races in Americas, Africa, Australiasia and Asia continue to evade investigation for genocide. Between 16th to 19th centuries 8.4million to 112million population declined in the nations that colonials invaded (80% of their population). Spanish conquest of Americas left 8m indigenous dead. Portugual colonial expansion in Africa left over 80 indigenous tribes extinct. Belgium genocide of Congo under Leopold II of Belgium reduced 60% of Congo’s population.

Has there been a systematic killing of millions of Tamils in Sri Lanka?

None of those claiming genocide can give evidence to substantiate their claims. Not even names of the dead have been given except to run a global campaign claiming between 40,000 to 125,000 dead. So far no one has presented names, whereabouts, their identities – absolutely nothing except claiming the dead.

Nevertheless, LTTE’s attempts to ethnic cleanse the Sinhalese and Muslims from their original habitats can be proven with names of victims, with locations of attack with dates – this ethnic cleansing started out in early 1980s and continued for decades. Right of freedom of movement and right to residence is applicable to all citizens and the TNA or the NPC have no rights to refer to the North as original Tamil homeland forgetting that Tamils arrived via South Indian invasions and settled down over time alongside the Sinhalese who were living in the North and historical and archaeological documents suffice to prove this.

What should President Sirisena do?

President Sirisena must address the nation and the international community to declare that no such genocide has ever taken place in Sri Lanka. This must be done to put an end to this nonsense of passing resolutions causing unnecessary friction among communities. The Sinhalese and Muslims have been victims of LTTE terror and no one seems to care about the injustice to them over 3 decades.

The examples shown by the manner that the Northern Provincial Council has been functioning over the few years that it has been functioning shows that the NPC is attempting to arouse communal flames. None of the other provinces have passed resolutions demanding action against the LTTE because they have left it to the State Government to do so given that LTTE and those connected remains a national matter.

The President should immediately demand a report from the Governor on the Resolution claiming genocide by the NPC.

Chapter XVIIA, 154 sets out details on the establishment of Provincial Councils. Under Public Security 154J ‘security of Sri Lanka is threatened by war, or external aggression or armed rebellion, the President may give directions to any Governor as to the manner in which the executive power exercisable by the Governor is to be exercised. (the present Resolution claiming genocide and previous claims of such is causing undue pressure internally and externally to Sri Lanka and this poses a security threat). 154K stipulates that if the Governor or any PC fails to comply or give effect to directions the President by law can take action. 154L stipulates that the President has the right to make a Proclamation to dissolve the Province.

The NPC must be requested to apologize to the nation for bringing Resolutions that they are well aware are false and baseless with nothing to substantiate except to create tensions amongst communities. That the NPC has been indulging in this over a period of time through examples show that President Sirisena has to not only consider dissolving the Northern Provincial Council but seriously relooking at the 13th amendment in view of the national security threat to the nation.

If President Sirisena can take a call on 13th amendment deciding to repeal it would make him achieve what previous leaders were unwilling to do.

– By Shenali D Waduge