IV- Focus on Sri Lanka – Canadian Parliamentary Hearings on Human Rights-IV -Review of the presentation by Dr. P. Saravanamuttu, Director, Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) Colombo, 21- Nov- 2013
Posted on March 20th, 2014

Review by: Chandre Dharma-wardana, Ontario, Canada; Dec-2013


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The separatist conflict in Sri Lanka and the souring of Canada against Sri Lanka.

Document – 4

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A review of the Testimony given by:

Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Executive Director (ED), Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), to the Human-Rights subcommittee, Canadian House of Commons, 21st Nov. 2013

The source material used may be accessed from the above link.

Our comments have been updated during Dec.2013-March 2014, two-years after the meeting, taking advantage of further information obtained subsequently. Our reactions are given in Light Blue shaded text .


Introduction

What if a distant country were to examine Canada’s governance, human rights etc., by holding sittings of a parliamentary subcommittee, and invite the heads of protest groups who demonstrated at the last G8/G20 meetings held in Huntsville, Toronto, Kananaskis etc., with thousands arrested in Toronto, and even heads of state allegedly bugged by the secret service? A picture of Canada differing vastly from its reality would be presented. This is largely what has happened at the hearings of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, in regard to Sri Lanka. The subcommittee has heard from mainly anti-Lankan NGO representatives and focused exclusively on the North, with just 1.06 million people, neglecting the remaining 19 million Sri Lankans and their concerns.

The structure of the HR-subcommittee hearings does not allow room for an in situ critique of the advocacy-politics presented by the Executive Director of the center for Policy Alternatives (ED-CPA), a Western-funded NGO based in Colombo and with strong policy overlaps with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). However, we believe that a balanced view of the Sri Lankan situation is extremely important in moving Canada away from its seeming hostility to Sri Lanka, as viewed by Sri Lanka and other SAARC countries. In consequence, Canada today has little capacity to influence and re-orient Sri Lanka’s evolution; Canada’s views are ignored by Sri Lanka and many other SAARC countries, and its visiting VIPs are regarded with great suspicion.

The presentation of the ED-CPA, using what appears to us to be half truths, unsubstantiated allegations, and inapplicable yardsticks increases this mutual hostile sentiment between Sri Lanka and Canada. Our comments presented , (shaded in blue), review the testimony of Dr. saravanamuttu, the ED-CPA.

The CPA is a Colombo-based NGO that began in 1996, and said to be for research and advocacy through which public policy is critiqued, alternatives identified and disseminated. CPA is claimed to be an independent, non-partisan organization which receives funds from international and bilateral funding agencies and foundations. We noted before, as may be revisited by clicking here, that CPA and similar organizations were funded by foreign organizations perhaps at the rate of 200 million rupees an year, ensuring that they could buy public opinion, journalist allegiance etc, to transform the political opinion of the country and align it towards the views of the foreign-funding agencies. The CPA seems to support, even after a traumatic three-decade-war, policies which are emotionally divisive. Some of these include the singing of the National Anthem in all official occasions both in Tamil and Sinhala, even though the Tamil population is significantly smaller (see discussion here) than the Arab population in France, or the Hispanic population in the US (~19%) where the respective National Anthem is not officially sung in Spanish or Arabic. Any proposal to officially sing the Marseillaise in Arabic would raise much anger and even violence in France, even though the Arab-French conflicts in Algeria are five decades older than the 5 years that elapsed since the demise of the LTTE.

The CPA stood for maximum power devolution to the LTTE, demanding that the Sri Lankan government seeks peace with the LTTE as an “equal partner”, irrespective of its brutality, extensive human-rights violations, cease-fire violations etc., as stated even when the Foreign Minister Kadirgamar was assassinated by the LTTE during the cease-fire period in 2005. A pillar of its advocacy was the claimed invincibility of the LTTE.

After the fall of the LTTE, the CPA contented that the 300,000 people who escaped from the LTTE in May 2009, held in quarantine/safety etc., as IDPs, in refugee camps (e.g., Manik Farm) were “illegally incarcerated” prisoners, and that the camps were “concentration camps”; it petitioned to courts that the IDPs should be freed immediately. Today most of the IDPs have been looked after. Initially, the CPA alleged that IDPs were abused inside the camps. However, subsequently, the CPA and its director have worked indefatigably, calling for an international investigation into Human-Rights abuses and atrocities allegedly committed during the last phase of the war, demanding the removal of the army from the North, and devolving as much power to the North as possible, beginning with “full implementation” of the recommendations of the LLRC (a committee that the CPA and other NGOs boycotted, and undermined far as they could).

Dr. P. Saravanamuttu is a descendant of the wealthy upper-caste land-owning aristocracy of the Tamils. One of his grandparents, Dr R. Saravanamuttu, a popular medical practitioner of the time, was one of the Ceylon-Tamil members of the 1931 State Council. Even when he was unseated on an alleged bribery charge, popular sentiment voted in his wife, Mrs. Naysum Saravanamuttu (a Colombo-Chettiar Tamil) back to the state council in 1932. Dr. Saravanamuttu became the mayor of the multi-ethnic Colombo in 1937, and also in 1940. His brother P. Saravanamuttu, (namesake of the ED-CPA) was the influential Tea and Rubber controller of Ceylon during the WW-II. He was a cricket-association president, with the P. Sara Oval or Colombo Oval of the Tamil-Union Club, named after him. Their family members have been holders of political power in legislatures under the British, in the Tamil congress in the 1950s, in the ITAK in the 1960, in the TULF in the 1970s, and also with the TNA during and after the LTTE. Hence, Dr. P. Saravanamuttu’s sympathy and advocacies of most aspects of TNA-Tamil politics are not surprising.

The Chair, Scott Reid, Conservative We are the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Today, November 21, 2013, is the fourth meeting of the committee.
Further pursuant to our study of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, joining us from Colombo, Sri Lanka, as a witness is Dr. Saravanamuttu. He is the executive director (ED) of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA).

Welcome, Dr. Saravanamuttu. Please feel free to begin your testimony. […]


Saravanamuttu, ED-CPA When one looks at the situation in Sri Lanka with regard to human rights, one key feature comes to mind. That’s the notion that Sri Lanka, as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and formally functioning democracy, albeit with flaws, is under serious threat at present. The directions of the threat are institutionalized militarization, the near collapse of the rule of law, and the culture of impunity with respect to human rights violations and rising religious intolerance.
At the present moment, the policy of the government with regard to governance in general is very much a focus on economic development which is highly centralized and in which any kind of discussion or relevance of civil and political rights in particular is seen as irrelevant at best and subversive at worst. This is seen particularly acutely in the north of the country, the province in which the last phase of the war was fought.

Surely, the biggest threat to democracy was the LTTE. That enormous threat has been removed, but the support for its objectives remains intact, esp. among the elite land-owning class of Tamils.
The eastern province war also ended only two years before the Northern province war. What matters most to the political agitation of Colombo-Tamil lawyers is where they hold property, viz., in the North, and there is less of a threat in the East.

In this respect, the government’s attitude toward reconciliation is very much an attitude of economic development and of forgetting and moving on. As some people argue, it is an attempt to build reconciliation on concrete, with a reference to a heavy emphasis on economic infrastructure.

Indeed, with regard to that emphasis on economic infrastructure, it is highly centralized. Mega economic development projects are designed and implemented from the centre, by the centre, without the participation or consultation of the civilians whose lives they directly impact. They see themselves somewhat as hapless bystanders in the decisions that affect their daily lives. This was attested to very firmly in the results of the Northern Provincial Council election on September 21 when the government’s campaign, based on economic development, was roundly and soundly defeated. The Tamil National Alliance won 30 out of the 38 seats in the provincial council.
As a consequence of all this, Sri Lanka is very much in what I would call a post-war situation, as opposed to a post-conflict situation. My definition of the latter is one in which the roots of conflict are not being sustained and certainly not being reproduced. Unfortunately, as I mentioned to you, with institutionalized militarization, with the collapse of the rule of law and the culture of impunity, and growing religious intolerance, there is both the sustenance of the roots of conflict as well as their reproduction.
Let me briefly take each one in turn.
The argument with regard to institutionalized militarization is one that has relevance across the country. The military is involved in the economy. It is involved in the educational sphere, where school principals are inducted into the national cadet corps, where security on university campuses is in the hands of the military, and where orientation courses for first-year undergraduates are run in military camps and by military officers.

Again, as I said, it is felt most acutely in the north, where the governors of the northern and of the eastern province are ex-military people. The government agents in certain divisions of these provinces are also ex-military people. According to some statistics, the presence of the military in these provinces, in the north in particular, is of a ratio of one soldier to every 10 civilians. The military is involved in governance in that it has the last word over development projects. It even goes to the extent of telling people in what language the national anthem can be sung. The military is present in private functions, from school prize-givings to sports meets. The military is involved in the economy, growing, buying, and selling vegetables, and running hotels, golf courses, etc.
Most importantly, it’s the overbearing presence and the intrusion into the lives of the people that is of particular concern. Only in April, some 6,300-odd acres of private land were taken over by the military for military camps as well as for business enterprises. As a consequence, more than 2,500 people are in court contesting that acquisition.

Militarization

It should be noted that in the Falklands, the ratio of military to civilians is 2 to 1. Given a population of 1,059,000 people in the Sri Lankan North (2012 census data), Mr. Saravanamuttu’s 1:10 ratio implies a huge army of 106,000 soldiers!. Such an army would need five times that many supporting staff, and half-a-million extra people should be obvious to any visitor, or to satellites. Here are some typical street views of jaffna showing no military presence.

A U-tube video, Jaffna street, March 2014, where is the military?
(click to enlarge)   →
Street view 1 of Jaffna; do you see soldiers? (click to enlarge) → Street view 2 of Jaffna; do you see soldiers?   → Street view 3 of Jaffna; do you see soldiers? (click to enlarge)   →

Many statements of NGO spokespersons, including those of the ED-CPA, are empty of empirical content, but blown up to support advocacy agendas.
According to a statement made in Geneva (Jan. 2014) by Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Secy. to the President, there are some 12,000 soldiers in the North, giving a ratio of 1:88, that is, the ED-CPA had exaggerated the figures by a factor of nearly 10. Even if we argue that the government is under-stating figures, Mr. Saravanamuttu’s hyperbole stands in the extreme.
As Mr. Saravanamuttu has admitted, most of the 1:88 ratio soldiers are in civilian work, and not soldiering. So the actual militarization is even less. We have dealt with the topic of Militarization when it was raised previously by HRW, AI and DFA in their testimonies. However we review the question again, rather briefly, within the contexts raised by ED-CPA.

(i) Institutionalized militarization or absorption into civil society?. What the ED-CPA calls ‘institutionalized militarization’ is simply the use of the military for doing civil engineering and service sector tasks, designed to gradually re-acustomize the army personnel into civilian life, and reabsorb them in to society. We named this civilification in previous documents. Every general, be it Napoleon in France or General Giap in Vietnam realized that one cannot leave an army to idle after a military campaign, nor can the army be arbitrarily disbanded and sent back into civil society. Soldiers are people who have learned to blow up bridges, shoot people, lay mines etc. They have to be gradually brought back to civil life. Referring to soldiers returning from Afghanistan, Mr. Steven Harper renamed this ‘the transition from helmets to hard hats’ . The soldiers are employed to do civil works, not only in the North, but in every part of Sri Lanka including in Colombo. So, if that is militarization, the ED-CPA is misusing the word.

Soldiers are used to repair roads in the areas destroyed by the LTTE This is surely not militarization, but what has been termed the “civilification” of the military!
(click to enlarge)   →
Mobile grocery “Kadaigal” service offered by army became popular while normal supply chains were coming up. The Colombo NGOs criticize this as “militarization” but do not step in to provide such services.
(click to enlarge) →
The NGOs complain that there are no officers to serve in Tamil. Here are new recruits to the army. Such recruitment for army, police and civil services was not possible till May 2009 as the LTTE prevented such recruitment by harassing and even assasinating recruits.   → The new Tamil-speaking army recruits have helped to build this giant X-mas tree in Killinochchi. Even this has been criticized as “militarization” by Colombo NGOs. This town was known in ancient times as “Giranikke”, i.e, a forest of Nika trees serving sanctuary to Parrots. (click to enlarge)   →


The ED-CPA, based in Colombo and well-known for his organization’s attempt to even label the housing of the IDPs who escaped from the LTTE as an “incarceration” has been very critical of this de-militarization of the army by using the military for civil purposes. However, many Tamil writers closer to the land have spoken and written favourably of it. For example, Sebastian Rasalingam welcomes the Army Shops because they do not practice caste discrimination, as is the case with shops run by Traditional Tamil Entrepreneurs.
See
Army ‘Kadaigals’ in the North – Bane or Boon?, Rasalingam, Nov-2011
They are in fact a great boon to the war-ravaged North where able-bodied people, technical people, or even masons and carpenters are in short supply, while houses, culverts, bridges, water pipes, railroads, causeways, power lines, highways etc., are all in ruins, as the Tigers destroyed as much as possible when they retreated, to ensure that civilians cannot go back leaving them without a human shield. The army has its corps of engineers etc. Clearly, the use of the soldiers here is eminently sensible. The use of the army for de-mining is a very appropriate operation

There is also a strong need for maintaining security in this war-ravaged area in the North, close to the bellicose Tamil Nadu; this was discussed in our critique of the testimony by the DFA officials. There we also pointed out the logic of the state doing capital-intensive reconstruction (that Saravanamuttu derides as “Concrete”, while lauded in the press conference by Canadian MPs Joe Daniels and Chungsen Leung). Smaller development works can go to the private sector. We also pointed out how the banking, business and tourism sectors are expanding rapidly, while agriculture is returning to the Jaffna peninsula, with the opening up of the A9 main highway and the railway destroyed by the LTTE.

Other aspects of what the ED-CPA incorrectly calls “institutionalized militarization” were shown to be nothing but demilitarization by “civilification” in our critique of the HRW testimony at the section accessed by clicking here.


Saravanamuttu, ED-CPA There is a very powerful intrusion into the daily lives of people. There are also allegations of continuing human rights violations by way of abductions and disappearances, and in particular, with respect to assault.

Gender-based violence accusations have also been made against the military. The vast majority of them are hard to verify, insofar as there are cultural inhibitions on the part of victims and witnesses and their coming forth with hard evidence in respect to these cases, but such violence certainly does take place.

If you move from the question of institutionalized militarization to the collapse of the rule of law, you find that in a huge number of cases of egregious human crimes, violations in which there have been prosecutions, in which there have been indictments, there haven’t been convictions. People are taken in, charged, and released on bail.

As usual, the ED-CPA has made these declarations, but fails to give comparable figures to show if (i) the abductions, disappearances, assaults, etc., have decreased or increased since the end of the war, (ii) how they compare with neighbouring countries in South Asia, (iii) how they compare with, say, the disappearances of 800 native women in Canada in peace time, alleged assaults, repetitive use of tasers, police intimidation etc., in Canada, or the even more serious allegations against US law-enforcement agencies where the majority prison populations are people from black, Hispanic or native origins.
It is needed to establish a fair yardstick before judgment is made. But the ED-CPA has established nothing. His only strength is his having a large well-funded organization that allows him to make statements.

There are two cases in particular which were identified as well by the presidentially appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission: the killing of five students on the beach in Trincomalee in the east, and the murder of 17 humanitarian workers in Muttur in the east as well. We have had any number of investigations with regard to this, but no convictions.

The ED-CPA is aware how the investigations into these cases under the aegis of the International Independent group of Eminent persons (IGEP) were compromised, probably deliberately, by NGO lawyers themselves. Mr. Desmond Fernando, closely connected with the CPA and other NGOs was one of the lawyer appearing on behalf of a group of civil society organizations including the CPA, Home for Human Rights, INFORM, Law and Society Trust, Mothers and Daughters of Lanka, Rights Now-Collective for Democracy and Sri Lanka National Commission for Jurists, etc., many of them being western-funded NGOs.

Desmond Fernando declared that a minister had told him confidentially that the minster “knew who was the killer” or words to that effect, but refused to either become a witness, or declare what he knew. Furthermore, Dr. Nesiah, a member of the commission of inquiry, was revealed to be linked to the CPA, while the CPA was itself a party to the case as seen by clicking here for the news report. In effect, in the view of many observers, the CPA associates deliberately derailed the proceedings and used the opportunity to accuse a government minister while refusing to present any evidence to support it!

Meanwhile, the French NGO (Action Contra La Faim, ACF) who had recklessly ordered its local officials to stay in the danger zone, while withdrawing its own “non-native” officials, refused to appear in front of the IGEP investigating matters. Mr. Desmond Fernando also failed to appear in subsequent hearings. Academics like Prof. Gerald Peiris, and distinguished Jurists also began to accuse the so-called IGEP where their impartiality came into extensive question, as seen by clicking here for the relevant press reports and also clicking here for more, establishing the break-down in public confidence in the IGEP. Furthermore, Mr. Bhagavati, the chairman of the IGEP had absented himself from most sittings. Finally, the IGEP also withdrew, realizing that their loss of credibility, and the non-functionality of their scrutiny.

According to the ACF report,all the local recruits to ACF were Tamils. Furthermore, they “happen to be” Christians although Muttur (moodu-thora) is almost a 99% Muslim region! The recruits had expressed the dire need to leave the area as the LTTE were moving in. But the ACF had orded them not to “vacate post”. There is every reason to believe that the LTTE, or Muslim home guards equipped with LTTE weapons moved in and killed the recruits.
French Journalists Anne Poiret and G. le Gouil claim to have an “important witness” who heard a message send on Muttur police station radio in Sinhala on the morning of 4th August 2006, around 7:30 am, “giving an order to the military stationed in Muttur to kill all persons who wore civil clothes and spoke Tamil”. At this time there was no effective police station there in the war zone, and the Army used only encrypted messaging for its communications. Similarly, other allegations used by the ACF are all based on unsubstantiated “leaks in the press” etc.

Furthermore, a subsequent police inquiry, presented before the courts, established ballistic evidence to show that lethal shots had been fired with LTTE bullets. There has been no means of identifying the LTTE assassins who carried out these acts which occurred in 2006. The case against other alleged individuals was finally closed in 2014 by the Attorney General due to lack of evidence. The ACF bosses declined to be present at these court hearings.
The CPA and its agents like Desmond Fernando, and ACF bosses should take a large part of the blame for this miscarriage of justice, while the ACF should be held accountable and tried in France for its irresponsible actions. Academics like Prof. Gerald Peiris, Jurists like Gomin Diasiri and S. L. Gunasekera who participated in the case have written analyzes that Mr. Saravanamuttu can avail himself, if he so wished, to present an impartial picture of the matter.

We have a number of other cases like these. We had a case recently, after the end of the war, in which in the deep south a British humanitarian worker was killed and his partner was brutally raped. Because of CHOGM, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and because of the earlier visit, the longest country visit paid by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to Sri Lanka, there has been a certain attempt at moving towards indictments and convictions, but it remains to be seen how far they will go.

The response of the government to these egregious violations seems to be to set up commissions. If you take the question of enforced and involuntary disappearances, of which Sri Lanka has one of the highest number of cases recorded with the working group in Geneva, you will find that at least four to five commissions have been appointed by this very government itself, but the reports have not been made public. Therefore, we have no idea whether or not the recommendations have been implemented, but we can safely assume that they have not, because the problem continues.

The ED-CPA may not be aware that in Canada too “the response of the government to these egregious violations seems to be to set up commissions”, even when pressurized by the UN (see National Post, Oct. 15, 2013 report). The inquiries usually conclude that no further inquiry is necessary (e.g., about missing aboriginal persons, click here to read March 07, 2014, CBC report). In cases where an inquiry is mounted, the victim groups have walked away (click to read more, The Star, report on Dec 17., 2012) claiming that the inquiry is already too one sided (as happened in regard to police conduct regarding sex workers and others who disappeared from East-side Vancouver.

Families and friends of the murdered and missing women burn sage and march through the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver B.C., 2010 (Photo courtesy: nofutureface) Such demonstrations draw attention to the problem of ever growing missing aboriginal women in Canada. Two leading Vancouver Downtown Eastside women’s groups have withdrawn from the B.C.’s Missing Women Commission (2011), calling it a “sham inquiry”. How many Canadians even know or recognize even the existence of such a problem? (click to enlarge)   →

It continues also for the families of the disappeared. On any number of occasions, including when meeting with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and also when trying to come to Colombo at the time of CHOGM to deliver a petition to take part in an exhibition on human rights, and in meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, ordinary civilians have been intimidated, threatened and prevented from participating in such events by the military.

The culture of impunity is widespread. It extends even into the south, where you have a number of cases in which local politicians associated with the ruling party got off scot-free in incidents that involve sexual assault, attempted murder, bribery, etc.

Once again, we point out that the ED-CPA is not telling us what yardstick he is using. If he puts out the numbers and compares them with any of the post-conflict countries after five years, Sri Lanka stands out with very high marks. The claim that Sri Lanka has “one of the highest number of cases recorded with the working group in Geneva” is merely a result of the fact that there exists well-funded NGOs sponsored by the West in Sri Lanka to report even village protests regarding polluted water to Geneva! We can take numbers from Canada (but not reported to Geneva), and make some computer-modeling adjustments to allow for the fact that Canada has not been under civil strife for 40 years, and that Sri Lanka’s population density would be approximated if most of Canada’s population were compressed to a 150 km wide strip between Ottawa and Oshawa, and see that the properly-scaled Canadian figures and Sri Lankan figures are in the “same ball park”.

The Hon. Mr. Cameron is unfortunately regarded as displaying histrionics to assuage the BTF (British Tamil Forum); he has no credibility in Sri Lanka. Further more, just as the small Northern population (1.06 million) has its HR concerns, the much larger southern residents (19 million) have their equally valid HR concerns, war widows, police intimidation etc. Why did Cameron, Deepak Obhrai, and other western VIPs only go North, ignoring 90% of the Sri Lankans? It is to echo the Tamil-separatist Diaspora claim that the Tamils are “discriminated”? Is it surprising that the Sri Lankans treat Cameron as irrelevant and Saravanamuttu as an externally funded component of Disapora agitation?

David Cameron, UK prime minster visited Jaffna during the CHOGM sessions in Nov. 2013, driven by UK Eelamist-Tamil voters to showcase the problems of the Tamil-speaking people (1,06 million) living in the North, while ignoring the 19 million people in the south who had faced a 30-year onslaught from the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). The Canadian PM, mired in a Senate scandal, and strongly subject to Eelamist Tamil Diaspora pressure, had already declared that he will boycott the CHOGM and did not participate. (click to enlarge)   →

These “ordinary civilians” that the ED-CPA refers to are claimed by southern political observers to be like the pre-mounted pressure groups who demonstrate when the G8/G20 meetings (and similar heads meeting) take place in Toronto or Seattle. The activists who wanted to meet the G8/G20 heads in Toronto were met with disproportionate force (click here to read more), much more violently than anything accorded to those who tried to meet with Cameron or Pillay. Some attempt is being made now, in the context of the CHOGM, the high commissioner’s visit, and the pending sessions of the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2014, to clean up, as it were; however, there are big questions as to whether this is merely being done as a cosmetic exercise to deflect criticism, or whether there is something much more serious and honest intended here.
I suppose that ultimately the whole question of the independence of the judiciary was epitomized by the process of impeachment of the chief justice earlier in the year, which was declared unconstitutional and illegal by all the apex courts of this country, the court of appeal and the supreme court.

Nevertheless, the government steamrollered it, and we now have a bizarre situation in Sri Lanka whereby there are in effect two chief justices, or to put it another way, one de jure and one de facto.

There has been a breakdown of trust as far as the judiciary is concerned and with militarization too. As a consequence, ordinary civilians do not have the level of confidence and trust required to enjoy the fullest measure of their rights as far as the institutions of governance and justice in the country are concerned.

Once again it is useful to compare the problems arising from the politicization of the Judiciary in Sri Lanka with that of, say, Canada. In Sri Lanka, politicization took place under the J. R. Jayawardena government, and under subsequent governments, but the CPA (founded in 1996) had no criticism of them as their policies were aligned with those of the CPA.
In Canada, an analysis in 2005 found that nearly 2/3 of federal judicial appointees had donated funds to the party in power, and Vic Towes of the conservative party even criticized Irwin Cotler’s appointment of (his own chief of staff) Yves de Montigny to the federal court. The bench was “in the hand of the government” through patronage appointments. But once Vic Towes became the Justice minister, he himself continued the old patronage system; finally, when he left the government, he got himself appointed to the Manitoba Court of the Queen’s bench at a salary close to $300,000 an year.

In Sri Lanka, the patronage system is less well oiled, and often the “wrong person” gets into powerful places, and the political process kicks off in a more uncouth manner than in Canada to yank out that person. However, just as politicians in a war-torn country are individuals of questionable integrity, even chief justices come in various shades, when they and their spouses need to avoid any semblance of wheeler-dealing. The Chief Justice was accused of haveing many undeclared bank accounts; the financial dealings of her spouse were also under the spot light. The country is still in a post-war situation where the fear of enemies, real or imagined, and NGO-funded groups trying to create “Arab-spring” type regime changes seem to have griped the politicians. Thus, alleged political connections of the chief justice have also cast a shadow on the issue. Dr. Saravanamuttu, being the Executive Director-CPA, is aware that his organization was also claimed to be close to the ex-Chief Justice, and that his NGO is viewed by the public as a hostile foreign-funded “fifth-column” organization that for decades played apologist to the LTTE.

Contrary to narrative of the ED-CPA, the present situation is that a Bench comprised of five Justices of the supreme court ruled unanimously that the writ issued by the Court of Appeal nullifying the impeachment (i.e., dismissal of the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake) was null and void, with the full text available by clicking here. Even critics of the government have ended up admitting that the new ruling is “technically corrected”.

This is also amply demonstrated in the rising tide of religious intolerance. We’ve had over the last five years a series of attacks on Christian places of worship. New fundamentalist evangelical churches have been attacked. Most recently, egregious attacks have been made on the Muslim community, involving mosques, prayer halls, prayer meeting places, as well as retail establishments. There has been Goebbelsian propaganda and hate speech injected into the public discourse by extremist Buddhist organizations, on the grounds that the Muslims are going to over-populate the country and that the country will cease to be a Sinhala country. They have targeted in particular the halal certification of products by the Muslim community in conformity with their faith.

Now, in none of the instances of attacks on mosques, on prayer halls, and on retail outlets has there been any indictment and conviction. In one particular case, the police announced that the owner of the establishment appealed that no indictment should take place, because it would bring the country into disrepute and because people allegedly involved in the act were also people in robes, that is, monks, and therefore, it would be unwarranted and unnecessary criticism of the situation in Sri Lanka. The police proudly announced this as an example epitomizing communal harmony and amity but did not take any action whatsoever.

There are on record now more than 150 acts between January 2013 and September 2013 targeting the Muslim community. This begs the question how acts of violence of this nature can happen without any action being taken by the forces of law and order, without any categorical condemnation by the government and by the politicians of these kinds of actions. People therefore point to the instance in which the brother of the president, who is the defence secretary in charge of the entire national security apparatus, was invited as the chief guest to the inauguration of a leadership academy by one of the key groups involved in perpetrating these attacks against the Muslim establishment, namely the Bodu Bala Sena, or force for Buddhism, otherwise referred to by the acronym BBS.

Put all these things together and you find that Sri Lanka, in terms of human rights, is facing a very critical situation at the present moment. The public at large, the polity, the citizenry do not have full enjoyment of their rights. They are treated rather as subjects, given that the structure of power is also dynastic. The predominant ideology of the day is very much triumphalist and majoritarian. It is underpinned by this militarization. Therefore, we seem to be moving away from that example of a formal functioning democracy and a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society to something that is much more homogenized, centralized, and controlled, and one which in this respect moves away from that idea of a boisterous, vibrant, dynamic democracy.

We have discussed at length these allegations of religious intolerance, esp. of Muslims, in our critique of the presentations of officials of the Canadian Department of Foreign affairs. Those notes can be revisted by clicking here. There we compared the numbers for Sri Lanka with those of England and Canada, and we found that the level of intolerance is, given the circumstance, comparable to what is found in “advanced societies” enjoying decades of peace. It is simply that Mr. Saravanamuttu is using an unrealistic yardstick which does not even hold in more evolved, peaceful societies.

As the UN high commissioner noted in her final press statement when she left Sri Lanka and in her oral statement to the Human Rights Council, we are heading in an authoritarian direction here. Some of us would disagree and say that we are already in an authoritarian state, in which things in that respect are not very good as far as human rights are concerned, and something badly needs to be done about it.
That is why sections of civil society look yet again to the UN Human Rights Council sessions in March 2014 and the possibility of yet another resolution on Sri Lanka that will push and persuade our government to take human rights more seriously.
Thank you.

We have also dealt with the strident inquisitional approach of Ms. Navy Pillay, in our link to our notes on religious intolerance previously. Fortunately, at the UNHRC in Geneva, Ms. Pillay has corrected her more glaring errors, while the substantial slant arising from her selected presentation of partial truths has not been corrected. The document even lists the Waliweriya protest by a mob against alleged pollution of drinking water, and its unfortunate mishandling by the armed forces. In fact, we see that the High Commissioner Navy Pillai has collected every incident it could find, without any understanding of what happened, and perhaps giving the impression that it was a common occurrence for the army to shoot people at demonstrations! The British police did shoot innocent people in London during the July 2005 emergency and killed an innocent Asian-looking Brazilian. Police shootings in Arab occupied HLMs in the “quatier Nord” of Paris hardly make headlines. But here we are not discussing countries emerging from the Longest Terrorist war in a century.

The possibility of creating “peoples uprisings” and “Arab springs” in Sri Lanka, with the help of externally funded NGOs, militant factions of the TNA, etc., and the timing of the event, are military fear-factors behind some of this. This is not surprising in a country after 40 years of war, and having foreign-funded NGOs still operating in the country and supporting regime change. The Executive Director-CPA, being a long-standing political activist, understands all this very well but prefers to say something else.

David Cameron’s remarks at the CHOGM were also interpreted by Sri Lankans in the light of regime chnage

As for accusations of attacks, discrimination and rape of women, it is best to let Arun Thambimuttu, the prominent Tamil MP from Batticaloa (Madakalapuwa) speak out. Referring to a statement issued by the UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) on the international women’s day accusing the Sri Lankan military of raping of women, Tamil speaking women during the conflict, as well as during the post-conflict period and systematic continuing abuse of women by the military, particularly in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, Tambimuttu pointed out this was all part of its strategy to justify Channel-4 News allegations regarding the same. Had those now representing the GTF genuinely felt the need to protect Tamil speaking women, they should have opposed the use of females in combat while Prabhakaran was alive. In fact, they should have urged the LTTE at least not to use women and children as human shields during the final phase of the conflict, Tambimuttu said…. that women and children wouldn’t have been safe if the LTTE hadn’t been defeated.read more
As far as we know, the CFA led by Saravanamuttu, or the TNA led by Sampanthan, had not criticized the LTTE for such violations.


The Chair, Scott Reid, Conservative Thank you very much. Colleagues, we have time for six-minute rounds of questions and answers…. At any rate, Mr. Sweet, you are free to begin questioning.
Conservative, David Sweet Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, ON. Thank you very much, Chair. Dr. Saravanamuttu, we’re glad to have you here. Your testimony is very powerful and compelling.
You talked about the institutionalization of militarization. Your statement was about the overwhelming intrusion of the military, and then toward the end your words were that the citizenry do not have all their rights.
From our last witnesses there was an observation that the reason there isn’t significant protest toward the government is that there have been so many years of fighting that the vast majority of the citizenry are prepared to tolerate this move toward authoritarianism.
Do you concur with that statement?
Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives, As an Individual If one looks at the elections that have taken place since the defeat of the LTTE, general and presidential elections in 2010, and subsequent provincial council elections and local elections, it is very clearly the case that the president and the ruling coalition have won considerable majorities.
Now, certainly there is a great deal of appreciation and gratitude toward the government and the president for having ended the war, for having defeated terrorism. However, there are sections within that community that are engaged in certain activities and are particularly targeted.
I think everyone lives different realities. If one is working in the press and if one dares to criticize the government, one would then be reminded of the number of journalists who have been killed, or who have fled the country, the self-censorship, which is the context in which the media operate in the country, or alternatively, the white vans that come and -disappear- people. It depends very much on what the individuals or sections of society are doing, and in which part of the country they are living.

The “number of journalists killed” is usually given as 19 as claimed by the Committee for the protection of Journalists (CPJ). But it is rarely mentioned that 18 of these were LTTE military-journalist cadre who died in combat. Only Lasantha Wickremasinghe’s death remain an open question, with fingers pointed even at Gen. Fonseka’s men. We discussed all these in detail Click to read more.
We also discussed the claims regarding white vans, disappearances, and compered them to the level of disappearances in Canada, a society that has enjoyed peace for decades, unlike Sri Lanka. Click here to read more.

Certainly, we can say, too, that with reference to the results of elections in the north, it’s a very different story.

The ED-CPA seems to suggest that unlike the 19 million people in the south who support the government, the 1.06 million people in the North do not. In reality, we know that the class of people who came to power in the North in 2013, namely, absentee landlord Tamils who live in Colombo, have come to power in all elections e.g., 1931, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1965, 1970, 1977, 1989, 1994, 2000, 2004, 2010, and also in 2013. That is, there has been no real democracy evolving in the north, with constant rule by one set of elits. In the south, the ruling party has been often unseated, and right-wing and left-wing parties have alternated in power.
At the 2010 Presidential election, Candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa obtained over 30% votes in the North. Yet, at the provincial elections, the land-owning class of the TNA and the CPA who have been in power for over a century won yet again.
So, what is clear is that the thirty-year war has prevented new political leaders arising within the North itself. All dissenting opinion was assassinated by the LTTE, while the landed aristocracy headed by Sampanthan collaborated with the LTTE. The land-owning Colombo-tamil aristocracy, to which Mr. Sarawanamuttu belongs, still controls the North. We need at least one more generation for proper democracy to happen in the North. The solid infra structure and roads (derided as “concrete by Mr. saravanamuttu) will open up the North to modernity and unseat the old landed aristocracy before long.

Conservative; David Sweet Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, ON. Is there a sense today that the general population is becoming wise to this, that the present regime is basically using its political capital? There have been so many years where the citizenry have been exhausted from fighting that the regime is using this to blur the lines between the judiciary, the military, and the legislature. For lack of better words, are people waking up to the fact that they’re being slowly led down the path to authoritarianism?

ED-CPACentre for Policy Alternatives, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu I think so.
Again, since 2009 and the defeat of the LTTE, we’ve had popular demonstrations against government policy that have been met by the army and special forces using live ammunition, shooting to kill, and killing demonstrators. We’ve had it in 2011, 2012, and again in 2013. Villagers were demanding clean water. Three of them were killed, and scores of them were brutally assaulted as well.
There is, I think, a recognition that the authoritarianism is spreading toward the rest of the country too, but it is by no means a critical mass. The government does keep reminding the people that it is the government that defeated terrorism, and insists, therefore, that there be gratitude and appreciation that ought to be given to it. It constantly reminds them of this great achievement.
Conservative; David Sweet Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, ON Yes, and certainly my observation is that they do this with a reckless disregard, with impunity.
The day before yesterday, I read the news report of how the government responded to Prime Minister Cameron’s comments, that rather than taking any of them seriously, it just brushed them off because he wasn’t following the right diplomatic protocol.

It is not just that the government did not take Cameron seriously, but the vast majority of people in the country did not take him seriously. The North has 1.06 million people, while the south has over 19 million people. In the eyes of most Sri Lankans, Mr. Cameron went to visit ONLY the newly installed TNA government of the North, and inquired only of the HR abuses, Army prsense, land issues, war widows etc., of just one set of people. There was a war in the Eastern province as well, and the civil war casualties (soldiers who died, with grieving families) came mostly from the south.
Mr. Cameron’s acts would be comparable to a G8 Prime minister heading directly to an aboriginal reserve and taking up issues like why Aborigine are 12 times more likely to get Tuberculosis, or of alcoholism than white Canadians, why there are disappearances of Native women etc., etc.
It was a show put up for the benefit of the Tamil Diaspora voter, since mr. Cameron knew that his display will have not move the government or public opinion.
Given that the TNA worked with the LTTE until their demise, the people have not forgotten, even though the government decided to bring them into main stream politics in the name of reconciliation. It was much worse than General Charles de Gaulle shouting “Vive le Quebec Libre”.
Furthermore, most Sri Lankans know that Mr. Cameron has even refused to release the Chilcott report, and yet he is hypocritical enough to complain that the Sl-govt has not yet implemented the LLRC report fully.

ED-CPACentre for Policy Alternatives, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Absolutely, yes. It’s very much a kind of response that offence is the best form of defence. They will try to draw very much on the innate nationalism of the people and confuse the love of country for loyalty to government.
Conservative; David Sweet Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, ON I asked our officials this a couple of days ago, but they weren’t aware. Are you aware that there was a program going on of, for lack of better words, reprogramming the LTTE members after they were disarmed? Is this going on, and do you have any particular concerns about that action?
ED-CPACentre for Policy Alternatives, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu There were rehabilitation programs of LTTE surrendees, of cadres who surrendered…[Technical difficulty-Editor]…. Some of them, the majority of them in fact, have now been rehabilitated and sent back into society. One of the challenges, though, that they face is there is still a certain suspicion and mistrust among the community with regard to them. There is concern that they have been used as informers by the military as well. Most recently there have been allegations, and I emphasis they are allegations, that there has been abuse in the rehabilitation process, although for the most part, the rehabilitation process was seen to have been conducted quite fairly.
Conservative; David Sweet Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, ON. That was the sense I was getting from your initial comments. That is a good thing because, of course, when they’re under their control, they are at a vulnerable stage in that rehabilitation.
Is there public sympathy towards the 40,000 war widows? Is the government treating them justly? What is their disposition at the moment?
ED-CPACentre for Policy Alternatives, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu I think the interesting point here is that, first, given the control and flow of information we have in the country, the government control in respect of it, and the self-censorship on the part of the media, I don’t think many Sri Lankans will actually know that figure.
Second, there are no special measures being taken with regard to what are now female-headed households in terms of regaining livelihoods.
Third, there are obvious survival strategies that have to be pursued by these women in a context of high militarization, and there are all sorts of allegations in terms of sexual abuse as well.
One of the key demands at the end of the war was the whole question of the government giving precise information with regard to how many surrendees there were, how many detainees there were, whether these people were -disappeared-, whether they are traceable, or whether they are dead. These women after all at the end of the day need to know whether they are actually widows or not, whether they inherit property, whether they can get married again, and all of these questions. There are practical dimensions to this as well as questions of emotional and personal closure.

For the actual situation regarding “war widows please click here to read more.

Conservative, The Chair Scott Reid Thank you. We’ll go to our next questioner, Mr. Marston. I gather you will be splitting your time in some way with Ms. Sitsabaiesan.
NDP; Wayne Marston Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, ON. Yes, thank you for that consideration. I appreciate it because many of the Sri Lankan diaspora are in the member’s Scarborough-Rouge River riding, so it’s important to ensure there’s a direct access via this committee.
Doctor, I want to thank you. When you talked about the elections in the north, overall what is the validity of the elections? Are they being interfered with? It’s almost as if you alluded that in the north they were running a little better than the ones in the south, or maybe I misread that.

ED-CPACentre for Policy Alternatives, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Yes, what happened in the elections in the north is that, during the election campaign, there were a whole lot of acts of intimidation, threat and intimidation of citizens by the military in uniform and in civilian clothing as the civil defence force. This is not dissimilar to the type of thing that happened when Navanethem Pillay, the UN high commissioner, visited and those people who went to talk to her were also given this same treatment. There was a fair amount of this kind of intimidation. In that respect, it took place in a context of institutionalized violence. The very presence of the military in certain districts of the north, such as Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi, is particularly intimidating, given the numbers and given the role it plays. Furthermore, we had the situation earlier on in the year when, given the ratio of military to civilians I mentioned earlier, you had the distribution office of the key regional newspaper, the Uthayan newspaper in Kilinochchi, destroyed. You had the printing press of this newspaper in Jaffna again burned down. You had meetings of the Tamil National Alliance disrupted. None of this would happen unless there is collusion and complicity by the military-
NDP Wayne Marston Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, ON Perhaps I could jump in for a second. The actual structure and operation of the election machinery, do you feel that was straightforward, or was that interfered with?
ED-CPACentre for Policy Alternatives, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu As far as the electoral process, as far as the Department of Elections were concerned, the conduct of the election in that respect was fine. What was an actual impediment and what marred the integrity of the electoral process was the violence that I have been alluding to. I think it was the popular backlash against that violence which produced a result that reflected the general will of the people.
[…]


Conservative, The Chair Scott Reid Ms. Sitsabaiesan, please.


NDP; Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough-Rouge River, ON. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Dr. Saravanamuttu, for joining us.
You have spoken a lot about the ongoing militarization of the communities in the north and the east, and the country in general. Mr. Sweet spoke of the 40,000 war widows. From the community members and from some of the newspapers you mentioned, I gather that the number is actually higher. I’ve heard that it’s 90,000 widows.
Can you expand a little bit about the ongoing culture of impunity on the island, and how it is affecting the women and the ability of these women to continue their lives? Do they have real access to a form of livelihood to be able to run these households? As you mentioned, they are mainly women-led households on the island right now. How is the culture of impunity affecting it and the ongoing militarization in the community?
The rest of my time is all yours.
ED-CPACentre for Policy Alternatives, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Thank you. I think the figure of 40,000 is with regard to the female-headed households in the northern province. I think the collective figure for both the north and east is about 90…[Technical difficulty-Editor].
In terms of how this affects the women, I think the first point is with regard to their particular status within society, which has a whole lot of social, cultural, and economic implications.
In terms of their access to resources, there are no special provisions being made for women in particular with regard to rebuilding houses and getting on with their livelihoods looking after children. There are no special provisions that are really being made for them, so that creates a problem.
There is also the question about inheritance of property. There is a raft of issues associated with ownership of land, with the whole question of land that was owned by one particular family that, when they were displaced, was taken over by members of another community. It goes on like that, and that has an obvious impact.
Again, there is no special provision being made to focus in particular on the land issue and to expedite resolution of land conflicts. There have been attempts to come up with land circulars, etc., but they have been weighted very heavily in favour of the central government. In fact, in one case we as an organization went to court to get it struck because we felt it had discriminatory effects.
As far as the women are concerned, they are facing a lot of challenges and hardships in this respect. As I said, because of the cultural inhibitions, the full picture in respect to sexual abuse does not come out. A number of cases, we are told by civil society organizations on the ground, are not being reported.
Most recently there were also allegations, as far as three villages in the Kilinochchi district were concerned, of forced sterilization, of women being given contraceptives without their consent and without their being told what was actually going on. All of these things are happening at the present moment.
I think what is actually required is for there to be an honest acknowledgment of what’s going on, so measures can be taken to redress it. By pushing it aside and not acknowledging it, nothing is happening. That, of course, further nurtures frustration, anger, and disappointment. 1:30 p.m.

For the actual situation regarding “war widows please click here to read more. Note that “allegations” are being reported, (in a post-wart setting, where the LTTE proxy party, viz., the TNA is there to carry on the LTTE battle via other means). Then in the next sentence Dr. saravanamuttu claims that “All of these things are happening at the present moment”.
Similar allegations have been raised by the aboriginal women of the “idle no more” movement, here in Canada, as a part of political agitation.

NDP Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough-Rouge River, ON Thank you.


Conservative; The Chair Scott Reid Thank you, Ms. Sitsabaiesan. […]
Conservative; Nina Grewal Fleetwood-Port Kells, BC Thank you, Chair, and thank you Dr. Saravanamuttu. In your testimony you said that the UN high commissioner was in Sri Lanka and sent a statement to the Human Rights Commission that Sri Lanka is headed towards an authoritarian situation. Has any action been taken by the UN after that statement was sent?
ED-CPACentre for Policy Alternatives, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Yes, the high commissioner came in August of this year. She spent a week in Sri Lanka, which apparently was her longest single-country visit in any part of the world. That particular statement comes from the media conference she had at the end of her visit. What she did do, and this is a requirement of a March 2013 resolution on Sri Lanka, was give an oral report of the situation in which she reiterated the remarks that she had made in Sri Lanka at the end of her visit. There is to be a complete report in March 2014 on progress made on the resolution of March 2013. There is then the possibility of a further resolution being made.
The UN, apart from assisting in the development activities of the country, has not taken any further steps. There is a human rights advisory section to UNDP that is based in Colombo, but the government resists any attempt to have a field office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights or to engage the UN more proactively in the human rights situation. What the government has done, on the other hand, was to come up with further commissions. This may well turn out to be more of a cosmetic exercise to deflect criticism in March 2014 than a serious and sincere effort to deal with the situation.

For comments on the visit of the UN High commissioner Ms. Navy Pillay please click here to read more.

Conservative Nina Grewal Fleetwood-Port Kells, BC From my understanding, the Sri Lankan government has invested in many development projects over the last several years. Has this development contributed to the process of reconciliation and developing national unity?

ED-CPA, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu The focus of the development projects of the government has been on economic infrastructure, a lot of road construction, that kind of thing. The argument has been that, particularly in the north, there has been insufficient or no consultation with the people concerned to ascertain what their priorities are. They are largely fishermen or farmers by occupation. Therefore, there is this concern that infrastructure and tourism, which is the other emphasis in the government’s economic policy, are being designed and implemented to serve the needs of people outside the provinces. There is a fear that if there isn’t an investment in persons, the people required for these economic development activities will come from outside the province, possibly resulting in demographic change under the guise of development. This would be an instance of sustaining sources of conflict to reproduce sources of conflict.

The view expressed by the ED-CPA is directly contradicted by (i)the observations of the Canadian MPs Hon. Joe Daniels, Hon. Chungen Leung, and Marlene Gallyot found. on their visit to Sri Lanka. Ms. Marlene Gallyot was even able to speak in Tamil and talk to the locals.
Similarly, the well-known Toronto Tamil Journalist DBS Jayaraj, following his visit in November 2013 says “To use journalistic parlance, the story today is not of conflict or confrontation, but that of the post-war renaissance, people-to-people reconciliation and ethnic amity. In my own small way, I want to reflect and record this shift. read more. We can quote other independent (i.e., known to be not supporters of the government) observers and academics who hold a very different view to that of the ED-CPA who has a track record of supporting the the agenda of the TNA and the land-owning Tamil political class.

Conservative Nina Grewal Fleetwood-Port Kells, BC Like many other countries around the world, Sri Lanka experienced an economic recession in 2008 and 2009 and has since worked towards regaining positive economic growth. What effect does the current economic situation have on the reconciliation process and the general attitude towards human rights violations? Has it been conducive to economic growth?

Executive Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives, As an Individual Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu I think the feeling in the country at large is that it has been insufficiently inclusive. Certainly with the emphasis on economic development in the north, I think the verdict of the people was registered in the result of that Northern Provincial Council election in September of this year.
At the end of the day, I think we have an unprecedented opportunity here, because of the defeat of terrorism, to move ahead with economic development. What will be key in that respect is foreign direct investment to bump up our growth figures into double-digit figures. That has yet to happen. We are targeting something like 2.5 million tourists by 2016. There is insufficient evidence to say that we will definitely be meeting that kind of target.
I might mention, of course, the view that outside of Sri Lanka there is a pot of money that belongs to the Tamil diaspora that should be tapped. However, I think there are reservations on the part of the Tamil diaspora of sending money to Sri Lanka that would end up in the coffers of the central government to pay for interest on loans that were probably taken to buy arms in the war, or used for other development projects. Also, there are still…you know, if the Tamil diaspora were to come and invest in Sri Lanka, that they should also be offered dual nationality, so that they won’t have to pay the taxes that, for example, foreign nationals are supposed to pay when they come into the country.

The economic crisis would have hit the country extremely hard, but for the fact that much of the investment is coming through Chinese companies. Meanwhile, the west has done what it could to worsen matters, by removing trade advantages for Sri Lanka’s garment- and other industries.
The government has not waited for the money from the Tamil diaspora, but spend over 80% of its development budget in the North, while this money has come from the tax payers in the south. Defence analysts have claimed that the Canadian fund raising for Tiger terrorism was in the range of 1-2 million dollars a month for over two decades. And yet, after the end of the LTTE, there is none coming, and blanket “dual-citizenship” is being demanded for this diaspora by the TNA, while the Center for Policy Alternatives have worked neck to neck with groups claiming that there is a genocide of Tamils going on in Sri Lanka even today. The ED-CPA knows very well that many members of the Diaspora are organizing “boycotts” of Sri Lanka, not just regarding trade, but also even with respect to sports like cricket. How can such hostile groups justify dual citizenship for themselves? However, the Northern population is just 1.06 million, while the south has ~19 million. The economic dynamo of the south, and the amicable qualities among Sinhalese and Tamils noted by the journalist D. B. S. Jeyraj will carry the North forward.
The ED-CPA should note that the government has, in the name of reconciliation, decided to ignore the seditionist co-habitation between the TNA and the LTTE during the Eelam war, and not put them on trial. Instead, they have been absorbed into civil life.

Conservative Nina Grewal Fleetwood-Port Kells, BC Thank you.


Conservative The Chair Scott Reid Thank you, Ms. Grewal. Professor Cotler, you are next.
Liberal Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your presentation, Dr. Saravanamuttu, and for the work of the centre in particular.
[…] One of the things I find most disconcerting is not only the spate of human rights violations but really the accompanying culture of impunity, and the need to achieve accountability if we’re going to achieve reconciliation.
First, what can the international community do? What’s the most effective exercise or action the international community can take with respect to combatting the culture of impunity in order to move toward reconciliation?
I’m referring, for example, to such things as the implementation of the recommendations by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as decided upon by the UN Human Rights Council.
As a related question, what influence does Canada have in Sri Lanka, and how, in your opinion, could such influence be used to combat the culture of impunity, to promote accountability, and to move us towards reconciliation?

Executive Director, CPA Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu At the present moment, the forum in which the international community has been focusing on Sri Lanka has been the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The two resolutions of 2012 and 2013 have taken as their reference point the presidentially appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and the recommendations that came out of that.
What the resolutions have noted is that on the question of accountability, there were gaps and shortcomings in that LLRC report and the recommendations, but with regard to the more governance-oriented and human rights-oriented recommendations, they’re very satisfied with it and ask for speedy implementation. The international community is on record as saying that more needs to be done beyond the LLRC, too, in respect of accountability.
The response of the Government of Sri Lanka has been very much to have military courts and come out and say, -Look, these accusations are baseless and there’s no factual backing to them.- No action has been taken, but this of course is a rather weird situation, insofar as the main accusations are against the military, and the military seems to be investigating its own case. There is, therefore, the need for pressure and persuasion to be brought to bear on the Government of Sri Lanka to have independent investigations.
These independent investigations, if there are insufficient resources within the country and insufficient and inadequate trust in the credibility of institutions within the country, too, then call upon the international community to assist, and to participate as well, in that accountability mechanism; for example, if we were to go down the route of some sort of model or hybrid, no doubt, of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that there be very definite international monitoring of the progress, or lack thereof, made by that mechanism in respect of truth and reconciliation. Without the international dimension, and mandated by, say, the Human Rights Council, or better still by the Security Council, but there are international political implications which might well prevent that from happening, without that international component, there isn’t going to be anything that’s going to happen here.
On the second point in terms of the influence of Canada, I think that as a consequence of Sri Lanka taking over the chair-in-office position for the Commonwealth for the next two years, and given the declaration at the end of CHOGM in respect of human rights and rule of law, etc., Canada, as a key and influential member of the Commonwealth, should exert its influence to ensure that the declaration is not just a piece of paper and hot air and rhetoric, but that all countries do adhere to that. Whether it be within the framework of the Commonwealth or in the Human Rights Council, Canada can bring its offices to bear on countries it has good relations with to inform them and make them more aware of what’s going on in the country at large.

Now that the CHOGM has happened, we see that Canada had absolutely no influence, and the final CHOGM declarations reflected none of the strident concerns presented by Canada by its absence at the CHOGM. Even if the Primier had been present, this would not have been taken seriously by the Sri Lankan public which is aware of how (a) Canada has uncritically accepted the narrative of the Eelamist loby of the tamil diaspora; (b) allowed the Tamil Tigers to collect funds for the LTTE for decades, in spite of clear recurrent notifications by the RCMP, CSIS, as well as the US. In our document cansl0.html, accessed by clicking here we have explained fully how Canada is viewed by Sri Lanka, and several other SAARAC nations. It will now take many years to erase the “Ugly Canadian” image acquired by us.
Even the choice of witnesses heard by this subcommittee is not inspiring, with recognized experts, e.g., the McKenzie institute, past high-commissioners etc., who could have presented a balanced view, not included in the hearings.

Certainly, I think with regard to bilateral relations the point is continuously made that human rights protection is absolutely integral to meaningful reconciliation and unity.
Liberal Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC I thank you for your two fulsome answers on both those questions.
Let me ask you a question, if I may, relating to the question of accountability. It has to do with the involvement, of course, of the CPA and your public interest litigation involvement with regard to the issue of the removal of the former chief justice of Sri Lanka and the replacement by the former attorney general.
How might the removal of the former chief justice impact on the whole question of accountability and reconciliation?
ED-CPA, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu I think what that impeachment process did was to create in the minds of the people a sort of completion of state capture. I think it confirmed to people that the judiciary, which they may hitherto have felt was an independent arm of the state and a protector of the rights of citizens, was also now being turned not into something that was executive friendly but into something that was very much an extension of the executive. The credibility of the judicial process, the trust and confidence of citizens in the judicial process, I think, has been more than just dented by that farcical impeachment process.

ED-CPA has presented one version of the facts, i.e., based on half-truths. It is clear that the removal of the chief justice was not done in the best manner possible. On the other hand, keeping her in that position also would have been unacceptable, given the allegations that were appearing in the public domain about her multiple bank accounts, and her spouses alleged financial transactions as well as political links to critical groups. There was also this fear, real or imaginary, of “regime change”. We gave a detailed d discussion that can be accessed by clicking here

Conservative The Chair Scott Reid Thank you. That finishes that round of questions.
Mr. Schellenberger, you are next.


Conservative Gary Schellenberger Perth-Wellington, ON
Thank you, Doctor, for your presentation. I must say that what happens when you get to be one of the last people to ask questions is that so many of the questions you had have already been answered.
The CPA conducts public interest litigation on language rights issues. Can you explain how language rights fit into the broader reconciliation process in Sri Lanka? How well are minority language rights respected in your country?
ED-CPA, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu The constitution of Sri Lanka, since 1987, states that there are two official languages in the country, that is, the Sinhala language and the Tamil language. From 1956 to 1987, Sinhala was the only official language of the country. Now, very little had been done, and very little is being done in terms of making sure that the official language provisions of the constitution in the law are actually implemented on the ground, that is to say, to ensure that Tamils…[Technical difficulty-Editor]…to be able to make statements, and can make statements at police stations, for example, in Tamil, and that when they deal with state officers, they can deal with them in Tamil. In fact, in the north, in particular, where you have a heavy military presence and you have police officers, etc., who do not speak Tamil, it only accentuates and exacerbates the divide.

ED-CPA has NOT presented the fact that the government’s attempts to implement the Tamil language in predominantly Tamil-spoken areas (e..g, Northern province) were jeopardized by separatist groups. Attempts to devolve linguistic power (e.g., in the Banda-Chelva pact in 1957, and later proposals by subsequent prime ministers) were rejected by Tamil nationalist who asked for “Arasu” (a separate Tamil kingdom) and Sinhala nationalists who feared that devolution was a first step to separatism. The Tamil minority did nothing to win the trust of the Sinhalese, where as the estate Tamils and Muslims followed a different path (of non-confrontation) and achieved their political objectives. It should also be noted that the North has a population of 1.06 million mostly Tamil speakers, while the rest of the country has ~19 million, mostly competent in Sinhala.

The TULF militants, the TNA and LTTE militants threatened, attacked, or assassinated Tamil translators, police officers, civil servants etc., for cooperation with the government by implementing bilingual services, instead of “fighting for separation”.

The private sector, and NGOs can provide the needed translation services.

Sri Lanka has now launched on an ambitious “trilingual policy” where Sinhala, Tamil and English are all “official languages”, even though even Canada, after 40 years of “bilingualism”, and billions of dollars spent, still remain 80% uni-lingual. The situation in Sri Lanka is not comparable to Canada, since the Tamil population is only ~10% of the total population, and a good fraction of these Tamils are actually very competent in Sinhala. So the bleak picture presented by the ED-CPA is simply the narrative of the elite-Tamil pro-separatist class that has led the Tamils since independence.

There is a Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration, too, which is a national ministry, but it has a paltry sum of money allocated to it in the national budget, which again reflects the importance with which this issue is being perceived and taken by the government. Earlier this year we had a situation where the military in the north were telling schoolchildren that they couldn’t sing the national anthem in the Tamil language and that it should only be sung in Sinhala.

First of all, the majority community looks upon this as a case of “school children” being used as political pawns in a bigger game. In reality the TNA wants, not just school children singing songs, but the “official anthem” sung in Tamil at official events.
The suggestion of the ED-CPA (allow the national anthem in both languages) seems eminently reasonable to Canadians who have both French and English versions. But this similarity fails when we look at the demographic proportions, as well as the fact that Sri Lanka is still in a post-conflict state where part of the small Tamil minority (about 1.06 million against a total population of 20 million) launched a 30-year military secessionist campaign. The motives of their leaders are still suspect.
Demographically, the situation is similar to the Arab-speaking population in France demanding the right to sing the Marseillaise in Arabic at official functions. The ED-CPA is an experienced politician who knows very well that the demand is designed to heighten the tension between the communities, and justly their claims for redress through international intervention.

What I am trying to point out to you is that here is an issue that common sense simply tells us could be one that will bring communities together. It does require a diligent investment of a certain amount of resources to ensure that the state speaks to its citizens according to the laws enshrined in the constitution, and does not, in effect, alienate them by forcing them to be signing papers and documents, for example, in a language they do not understand. This is an area that will go quite far in ensuring there is conversation, dialogue, and communication among the communities, which will of course only enhance reconciliation and unity.

The citizens are “not forced to sign papers in a language they do not understand”. Now that the LTTE is vanquished, the government is recruiting officers, civil servants, court clerks, translators etc., who are competent in the languages concerned. Previously, this was not possible as the separatists threatened and kidnapped any officers who offered such services as government employees.
Some leaders of the TNA (currently in power, and ideologically associated with the Center for Policy Alternatives) opposed the training of Sri Lankan Officers for Tamil-language services (in Tamil Nadu), and made representations to Chennai politicians. One exception, Mr. Anandasangaree, stated that “a large number of Tamil police officers had been killed by the LTTE over a period and now only a handful of them were left. “Although recruitment is open to all communities, Tamils, from the North in particular, do not apply at all. A negligible number of Tamils apply from the Eastern Province and, one by one, they are also killed(by the LTTE). A few years back all police officers in the Eastern Province were ordered to lay down their arms and were asked to assemble at a given point. The Tamil officers were asked to run away. The remaining Sinhalese and Muslim officers, numbering over 600, had been shot dead and buried in mass graves,(by the LTTE)”.
Mr. Anandasangaree said the irony was that all VVIPs, including Tamil Members of Parliament of the Tamil National Alliance, were given security by the police, most of whom were Sinhalese. The Tamil public (e.g., Dr saravanamuttu) often complained that there were no officers who knew Tamil in the more than 200 police stations in the North and East.
In recent times, a number of Sinhalese officers had also been killed by the LTTE. “There are thousands of vacancies in the police force for Tamils. Unfortunately, no one applies. It is more correct to say that no one is allowed to apply by the LTTE. Those who defy them and apply, face the consequences one day or the other,”Click here to read more of the report published in the Hindu.

Conservative; Gary Schellenberger Perth-Wellington, ON What do you see as the most promising avenues for promoting reconciliation and accountability in the country?
ED-CPA; Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu I think the most promising avenue is this. In my meetings and exchanges with people in the north, for example, they make a very simple point. They say the government is saying that we are all one people now, that we should not be talking about being Sinhala, Tamil, and Muslim, or whatever, that we’re all citizens of Sri Lanka, that we all belong to one country and we’re all equal citizens. They make the point that equality has to be founded upon self-respect, dignity, and mutual respect, and in order for them to have that mutual respect, etc., they can’t be told to forget about what happened to them. There needs to be an acknowledgement of what happened. What follows from that is we can debate the various mechanisms and processes, but what they want is an acknowledgement by the state, by the government, of the situation they went through and which they have come out of. It is only on that basis, on the basis of that acknowledgement, that they can even begin to think of themselves as equal citizens.

However, doesn’t the Executive Director, CPA, think that this acknowledgment should be mutual? As the Hon. Mr. Ananadasangaree of the TULF had stated (see link in previous paragraph), the TNA leadership had colluded with the LTTE in seditious acts. It has not acknowledged its role in supporting the LTTE; it has not condemned the acts of the LTTE where innocent Tamil, Sinhalese and Indian politicians, civilians, journalists etc., were assassinated by Prabhakaran and his gang. The TNA leaders have go so far as to claim that Prbhakaran is a hero.
The TNA leaders demand, for 5% of the population, official status for signing the Anthem in Tamil, and continue to raise issues that should be in the back-burner until tempers have abated. Today, it is the time for providing housing, jobs, health and education to the Tamil people who were freed from the LTTE. The TNA, as well as the ED-CPA, instead talk of “dignity”, and demand acknowledgment of “crimes” by the Victor of the conflict, while refusing to face their own very guilty role in the conflict.

Conservative, Gary Schellenberger Perth-Wellington, ON. I know you’ve already commented on the media and how they are treated by the government right now, but how do you feel the media can contribute to creating an environment that is favourable to reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka? I know you do have concerns about the respect of freedom of the press. How do you, in your own words, feel that the media may be able to be involved in this act?
Executive Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives, As an Individual Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Irrespective of what the government has done and is doing and the issue of self-censorship, I think the media need to look inwards and ask themselves whether they are part of the problem or part of the solution, as it were. The media don’t adequately report on the extent of human rights violations in terms of the problems faced by citizens in accessing the law, the problems faced by their living in a militarized context.
As I said earlier, for example, how many ordinary, average Sri Lankan citizens would even begin to understand that there are 90,000 or 100,000 female-headed households in the north?
For example, we did a survey recently and found that only 30% of those surveyed-it was a national survey-actually knew about the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. If that is the overarching priority, reconciliation and unity, the government also should be putting its resources behind making everyone aware of the requirements of reconciliation and of unity. This is one way of bringing people together. The media in that respect can do a lot more.

How many Canadians know about the commissions of inquiry, reports of investigations, etc., about the 800 missing aboriginal women, or missing women in East-side Vancouver, or the Royal Commissions on Aboriginal affairs etc., etc? Click here to read more. In fact, the 30% that Dr. Saravanamuttu cites is surprisingly high. Many Canadian-voter turnouts barely rise over 30%, even after weeks of intense campaigning and TV debates.
So, the Executive Director-CPA has completely unrealistic yardsticks and his capacity for objective judgment, always critical of the Sri Lankan situation, is seen to be lamentably flawed. Any student of public awareness would have stated that if 30% of the public in a developing country where much less than 30% have TV and access to modern media know of the LLRC commission, then that is amazingly high.

Conservative, The Chair, Scott Reid, […] I understand that Monsieur Jacob and Madam Sitsabaiesan once again will be dividing their time. […]
NDP Pierre Jacob Brome-Missisquoi, QC Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would like to thank our witness for being here with us this afternoon.
My first question is as follows: as a civil society organization, just how free does your organization feel in commenting on and challenging what the Sri Lankan government, police and military do? More specifically, do the threats from armed non-state groups worry you?
ED-CPA, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu As an organization, the Centre for Policy Alternatives has faced a number of challenges in the work that it does, but we feel very strongly that we need to continue to do it, to take a public role in respect of the defence of these rights, and hopefully that provides some insurance against a backlash.
For example, I personally have received death threats. I am constantly subjected to a campaign of vilification in the state media. The government has put up posters around the country condemning me and accusing me of being a secessionist and a Tiger, an LTTE sympathizer, for taking stands that they do not agree with. They named us as well in the charges of impeachment against the chief justice.
The space for civil society is shrinking considerably, and there are only a few organizations that are willing and able at the end of the day to stand up, but we are, in the public discourse, controlled by the powers that be. In terms of government, we are seen and branded as traitors, as agents of foreign powers, as supporters of the LTTE, etc., so there is always the risk, the danger, the possibility of being detained at airports, taken in, -disappeared-, threatened. There is also the everyday reality of being castigated as traitors and agents of a foreign power in the state-controlled media.

Even in Canada, where there has not been a thirty-year war, Muslim organizations, aboriginal protest organizations, student-protest organizations, most civil-rights groups, gay-rights groups, pipe-line protest groups, and even well-established Labour unions find that they are visited by the RCMP, and such visits can be intimidating. It is common belief that even the phones of the G20 leaders were tapped. Wi-Fi outlets at airports have been tapped.
Canadian scientists have found, during the days of the Soviet Union, that when visiting Russian scientists were presented (by some individuals X,Y) with freely available Canadian textbooks, then X,Y were visited by the RCMP for allegedly “transferring atomic secrets” to the enemy!
If Canada had an NGO funded from outside, and playing apologist to the FLQ at the time, demonstrating in Geneva against Canada demanding sanctions against it, and pushing a separatist program stridently even today, such an NGO would face much worse censure and intimidation, official and unofficial, than those faced by the CPA, even from a peaceful Canadian society.

[…]
NDP Pierre Jacob Brome-Missisquoi, QC Mr. Saravanamuttu, I am going to ask you a second question. Your organization recently conducted a survey on democracy in post-war Sri Lanka. Could you talk to us about the results of that survey?
ED-CPA, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Yes. Thank you.
The results of such a survey do show that the views of people in respect of the institutions and governance are not particularly complimentary, particularly as far as the politicians are concerned. There is also a view that comes out that people feel they’re not as well off economically as they were before, insofar as there were specific questions that asked them about the quality of food they buy and consume. They were also asked if they forgo medical treatment in certain cases because they can’t afford it. The proportions of those respondents have increased.

The Executive Director, CPA should know that Canadian people’s views of governance, and their politicians, ranging from Rob Ford to Many Mayors in Quebec, and the PMO office mired in the Senate scandal, etc., are also “not particularly complimentary, particularly as far as the politicians are concerned”.
The survey conducted by the CPA had no mechanism for taking account of the strong degradation in the terms of trade produced by the economic downturn that began in 2008, when it slowly spread to the Japan and China in more recent times. The trade sanctions on the garment industry introduced by Europe, and sanctions on oil purchases from Iran etc., the loss of buying power by the west etc., are important. If the increase in the cost of living is also being blamed on the government by the ED-CPA, it is precisely why the CPA has lost credibility in the eyes of Sri Lankan observers.
This subcommittee of the house of commons would do better to consult IMF reports, SL-central bank reports, as well as reports issued by SAARC economic think-tanks instead of depending on the “surveys” of the CPA.

What was also interesting is that you asked me earlier about language. For example, over 70% of those people who responded felt that being Sri Lankan meant also knowing the Sinhala language. An equivalent number also felt that the official language of the country was Sinhala. At one level you have some misunderstandings and misconceptions about what the law of the land is. You have concerns with regard the economy and with regard to physical security. You don’t have an overwhelming feel good factor that comes out of the survey as far as the population at large is concerned. I must stress that this was a survey that was done roughly in August and September. It’s always likely that opinions could have shifted one way or another.

If the CPA were to conduct a survey in Canada, even 100 km west of Ottawa, over 70% would argue that being a Canadian would imply knowing English. If you specifically ask them about French, they may concede that to be acceptable in Quebec, but “not here in Ontario”. The situation would be worse in Alberta. of course, there are the more knowledgeable and open-minded individuals. In times of tension (e.g., during the Partie Quebecois referanda), the numbers who would concede would drop sharply.
In Sri Lanka, just after a 30-year separatist conflict, the Executive Director, CPA is showing extreme political naivety in expecting higher levels of open-mindedness. If the CPA survey had been conducted exclusively in Jaffna, the answer may have been that Tamil should be the language of Eelam, but that it has nothing to with Sri Lanka. On the other hand, a survey among the Tamils in the hill country may have elicited the answer that being Sri Lankan implies knowing Sinhala.
The Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is well known for conducting naive surveys that ignore the cultural and ethnic tapestry that constitutes Sri Lanka. In the end its “policy alternatives” for the North, and for the country turn out to be those advocated by the English-speaking land-owning upper class Tamils who live in Colombo and have a reputation for not knowing Tamil (except the rude Tamil used to address lower-caste domestic servants).

 


NDP Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough-Rouge River, ON Thank you, Dr. Saravanamuttu.
I want to ask you about land grabs and changes to the living arrangements. I know there was a redevelopment. What I’m hearing on the ground is that there is redevelopment happening and housing complexes are being built. I’m also hearing there’s recolonization of military families in these new houses that are being built and that the IDPs are not being put into these new houses that are built. What I’m hearing is that there is further permanent militarization of communities. Is this true? What is the reality on the ground that you’re seeing and hearing being there? Are land grabs also happening?
ED- CPA, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Certainly the land grabs are happening. The most egregious one was the situation in which over 6,300 acres of private land was taken over in April of this year. There’s a whole judicial process relating to that. The army is going to be stationed in permanent camps in the north and east. Families are going to be brought in as well. Housing and infrastructure is going to be constructed for them. For housing for the internally displaced persons, as you probably know, the Indian government is giving a grant of some 50,000 houses, of which only 1,000 have been completed and handed over at the present moment. The others are in the process of being constructed.
There were concerns about the beneficiary lists with regard to that housing as well. Certainly, there are still internally displaced persons who are living with host families and who are effectively living in transit camps. The condition with regard to housing is still quite acute.

[…] NDP Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough-Rouge River, ON […] You said there were concerns about the beneficiary list. Is that because we don’t know who is on that list, or is it because it may or may not be people who are internally displaced or because it’s people who are being moved from other parts of the country? […]
ED- CPA, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu It could be both. The lists of beneficiaries have to be given by the Government of Sri Lanka. The Government of Sri Lanka in this context involves the military. These were lists that were compiled before there was an elected provincial council. There is certainly a series of allegations about people being brought in from outside of the northern province, of priority being given to relocation and resettlement of Sri Lankan citizens who have Sinhala ethnicity who resided in the northern province but were displaced as a consequence of the war. That allegation has been made. Likewise, with regard to favouritism in terms of Sinhala fishermen coming up to do seasonal fishing in the northern and the eastern provinces, those allegations continue to be made. There is a whole raft of issues, as a consequence, that come under this fear that demographic change will be effected under the guise of development and national security.

The Executive Director of the CPA is widely perceived to be partisan to the Tamil Ethnic Nationalists, and his narrative mentions “favouritism in terms of Sinhala fishermen”, “resettlement of Sri Lankan citizens who have Sinhala ethnicity”, etc., but he is at least careful to state that these are allegations.
What else would you expect, after four decades of war that was fought for land and livelihood?
The ED-CPA mentions “citizens who have Sinhala ethnicity who resided in the northern province but were displaced as a consequence of the war”, but does not say what actually happend, viz., the act of “ethnic cleansing” executed by the LTTE to establish their “exclusive Tamil homeland”. Unfortunately, the TNA which is once again in power (since the 2013 election) continues to hold to the concept of a Tamil homeland, as the elitist land-owning class who has been continuously in power has done since 1948 and even before.
The land grab that he talks of occurred centuries ago. Today, the rich land lords who own the properties in the North live in Colombo, London, Toronto or New York. The poor Tamils of the North continue to work in their lands. That is why the “low-caste” Tamil author Sebastian Rasalingam has stridently written demanding that a redistribution of the land in an equitable basis and wiping out the endemic caste discrimination etc., are the basic needs of the North. Click here to read: Land reforms in the North and East of Sri Lanka, Rasalingam, Island newspaper, Oct-2011. The Center for Policy Alternatives holds such land reforms as its anathema.

NDP Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough-Rouge River, ON Thank you so much, Dr. Saravanamuttu.


Conservative, The Chair Scott Reid […]
Colleagues, at this point the meeting is adjourned.


 


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One Response to “IV- Focus on Sri Lanka – Canadian Parliamentary Hearings on Human Rights-IV -Review of the presentation by Dr. P. Saravanamuttu, Director, Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) Colombo, 21- Nov- 2013”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    This Tamil RACIST woman has a BIG GRUDGE against SL.

    “The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillai, has equated the government of Sri Lanka with that of North Korea during a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister, Yun Byung-se at the onset of the ongoing 25th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

    Well informed sources told The Island that Pillay had demonstrated her hostility towards Sri Lanka when the top level South Korean delegation met her during the high level segment. Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris, too, had been in Geneva during the high level segment of the session. Sources alleged that it was a calculated move to influence South Korean government to throw its weight behind the US-led resolution against Sri Lanka scheduled to be taken up next Thursday (March 27).

    South Korea is a member of the UNHRC comprising 47 countries divided into five regional groups.

    Alleging that Pillay had been campaigning openly in support of the US resolution, government sources said the former South African official was pursuing an agenda of her own.

    Responding to a query, sources recalled the circumstances under which Pillay compared the human rights situation in Sri Lanka with that of Russia. She declared spending more time on Sri Lanka than Russia due to deteriorating situation here.

    Ms. Pillay’s offensive meant that she was prejudiced and therefore Sri Lanka couldn’t accept her office playing any role in an external investigation into atrocities allegedly committed during the conflict here, a high ranking Sri Lankan government official said.

    External Affairs Ministry official said that Sri Lanka had never faced an attempt to compare Sri Lanka with North Korea even at the height of the northern war.”

    -island.lk

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