‘Patriotic political parties should stand together’
The UNP after a prolonged silence has thought it necessary to issue a
statement on the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation
Commission (LLRC). Apparently the statement echoes the concerns of the
unpatriotic parties working against the sovereignty of Sri Lanka, rather
than representing the interests of the minority communities in Sri Lanka
- particularly the Tamils and Muslims.
Deputy Minister of Technology and Research Faiszer Musthapha
UNP in criticising the LLRC report states that its findings to the
effect that the Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA) is conceptually flawed, is
untenable. In support of this argument, it implies that the Commission
had relied on statements of Javeid Yusuf, and the University Teachers
for Human Rights of the Jaffna University.
The UNP had conveniently suppressed the fact that the Commission had
also considered vital facts placed before it by very knowledgeable
persons on the subject including Austin Fernando the former Defence
Secretary at the time of signing the CFA.
He had stated that, “the CFA was structured on demarcating the
territory of Sri Lanka into LTTE-controlled and government-controlled
areas. This had the effect of undermining the territorial integrity of
the state. It was also contended that the attempts to demarcate ‘no-go’
areas/exclusion zones in respect of the movement of the Sri Lanka Navy,
off the coast of certain parts of the Eastern sea port, allowed the LTTE
to facilitate illicit smuggling of weapons and war material”.
In addition, the Commission had before them the statements of Bernard
Gunatilleke, the first Secretary General of the Secretariat for
Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP - the Government Peace
Secretariat) and Jayantha Dhanapala among others. Thus, it would be seen
that the LTTE which only had a de-facto administrative command in a
specified area had been given de-jure status.
Hence, the cease-fire agreement is not only conceptually flawed, but
also had bargained away the sovereignty of the nation. It would be
remembered that the then Head of State was required to obtain permission
from the LTTE hierarchy to visit the sacred Madu Church premises.
The UNP statement attempts to imply that, the Mahinda Rajapaksa
government failed to hold direct talks with the LTTE after the election;
but the fact is that shortly after winning the Presidential election in
November 2005, the Mahinda Rajapaksa government re-commenced the stalled
talks with the LTTE.
In 2006, the LTTE delegation flew to Norway for talks with the
government of Sri Lanka, as facilitated by the Norwegian government, but
they refused to attend the negotiating table on the flimsy excuse that
the LTTE was not satisfied with the government of Sri Lanka (GOSL)
Then again, in October 2006 the LTTE refused to proceed with talks
until the GOSL agreed to open the A9 highway, knowing very well that the
government would not agree to grant it, for security reasons.
It is not only amusing, but also hilarious that the UNP talks of
so-called positive effects the CFA had on Sri Lanka’s economy. It is an
accepted fact that the LTTE exploited the cease-fire period to increase
its military strength. The Ministry of Defence in its publication
titled, ‘Humanitarian Operation - Factual Analysis (July 2006 - May
2009)’, (p37) states, that there is documented evidence to the effect
that the LTTE built “stockpiles of weapons and ammunitions, engaged in a
large-scale recruitment drive to markedly increase its strength”.
It is during the CFA period that the LTTE acquired aircraft adding a
new dimension to its warfare by resorting to aerial attacks. These
attacks were aimed at several military as well as economic targets.
Further, the government was compelled to procure defence systems and
counter-attack military equipment, of which the costs were enormously
high. Therefore, the impact caused by the CFA on the Sri Lankan economy
has been disastrous.
The aim of the UNP either to wilfully or otherwise appease the pro-LTTE
elements, both internationally and domestically, is well demonstrated in
the fact that the statement of the UNP had conveniently forgotten the
trauma of the minority Muslims and even the Sinhalese, who were a
minority in the North and East.
Has the UNP forgotten or wilfully omitted the plight of Muslims who
yet undergo trauma, consequent to the ethnic cleansing programme of the
LTTE? The most striking example of their dream of creating a mono-ethnic
state under the guise of the liberation of Tamils is the expulsion of
the 75,000 Muslim residents from the Jaffna Peninsula.
The LTTE ordered the Muslims to leave within 48 hours and a total of
nearly 600 Muslims had been massacred.
The effect of the LTTE ethnic cleansing programme is aptly
demonstrated by the fact that the Sinhala civilian population in the
Northern Province which stood at nearly 20,000 in 1981 had been reduced
to zero, a few years later.
The reference to the so-called ‘Report of the UN Panel of Experts’ is
yet another instance of the UNP’s subordination to the LTTE line of
action after its military defeat. In the first instance, it must be made
clear that there was no report of any UN Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka,
probing into our domestic issues.
It is the report submitted by a committee headed by Marzuki Darusman,
appointed by the UN Secretary General to advise him on certain matters.
The UN General Assembly, Security Council or any other arm of the UN had
not appointed any commission to probe into matters concerning Sri Lanka.
Peace and harmony
The UNP laments that “no meaningful steps were taken to investigate
the deaths and the disappearances of the civilians which were reported
to the relevant authorities together with credible information”. The
appointment of the LLRC is only the beginning of a process of
reconciliation and addressing issues, if any, for long lasting peace and
Therefore, the findings of the LLRC will have to be addressed over a
period of time. Already the President himself has declared the
commitment of the government to implement the recommendations of the
The LLRC report is very clear that any reported human rights
violations be probed. Vide Chapter 9.37 which states, “(Investigate the
specific instances referred to in observation 4.359 vi (a) and (b) and
any reported cases of deliberate attacks on civilians. If investigations
disclose, the commission of any offences, appropriate legal action
should be taken to prosecute/punish the offenders)”.
The report of the LLRC has already been hailed by the international
community including the Western bloc countries such as Canada. What the
international community requests of Sri Lanka is to implement the
recommendations of the LLRC. As anybody could see, this process is
The Sri Lanka Army has already appointed a court of inquiry to probe
into matters mentioned in the LLRC report.
The government has already appointed the Police Commission. Hence it
is clear that the government is committed to implementing the
recommendations of the LLRC as expeditiously as it could.
Therefore, the duty of all patriotic political parties and Sri
Lankans should be to stand together to create a Sri Lankan identity and
safeguard the integrity of the country and the sovereignty of the
people. However it is a pity that the UNP, rather than aligning itself
with the patriotic forces has chosen to provide ammunition to the