THE DISGUSTING BEHAVIOUR OF C. V. VIGNESWARAN AND OTHERS WHO COMMMORATED THE LTTE DEAD, AND THE EVEN MORE DISGUSTING CONDUCT OF THE PRESIDENT IN NOT PUNISHING THEM
Posted on May 24th, 2018

DHARSHAN WEERASEKERA, Attorney-at-law

As a Sri Lankan citizen and a lawyer, I am thoroughly disgusted with C. V. Vigneswaran the Chief Minister of the Northern Province and the rest of the crowd of Eelamists who according to the newspapers commemorated the LTTE dead at a ceremony held in Vellamullevikkal on or about 18th May 2018.[1]

I am even more disgusted with the conduct of the President who is the Head of the Government and inter alia Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, for not taking action to punish Vigneswaran and his acolytes for what they did.  I give below my reasons for the aforesaid view.

  1. WHAT IS WRONG WITH COMMEMORATING THE LTTE DEAD?

I wish to make quite clear that I am not against Tamils commemorating the LTTE dead in private.  For instance, if a Tamil man or woman in the North or East had a son or daughter who died in the conflict, a son or daughter who also happened to be a LTTE cadre, it would be absurd of me or anyone else to suggest that those parents don’t have a right to mourn their dead child, regardless of whether he or she was a terrorist.

Furthermore, our Constitution guarantees inter alia the right to freedom of thought and conscience,[2] which is understood to be an absolute right, meaning no derogation from it is possible for any reason.   So, I concede that if there are persons in Sri Lanka who for whatever reason mourn for the LTTE, persons who wish that the LTTE had won the war, those persons have every right to hold such views as long as they hold them in private.

What Vigneswaran and the rest of the Eelamists who gathered on Vellamullevikkal on or about 18th May 2018 did is quite different.  They made a public display, accompanied by various symbolic acts such as lighting of lamps, making of speeches, singing of songs, etc. of their sorrow that the LTTE was defeated.

That is quite different from privately mourning the death of this or that LTTE cadre, because, by the aforesaid symbolic acts, they were expressing their sorrow at the defeat of the LTTE Organization and what it stood for.  They were saying in effect that, they were sad that the Sri Lankan State won the war, which is the same as saying that they wish they were living in the State that the LTTE was trying to create!

If the above is what they are saying, and I can’t interpret their behavior in any other way, such behavior is disgusting on two counts.  First, whether Viggy and his pals like to admit it or not, they have benefited a great deal, and continue to benefit, from the Sri Lankan State.  Vigneswaran for one is a public official, so he draws a salary from the public coffers.  He also draws a pension from the public coffers.

If there were government servants in the crowd with Viggy, they are also drawing salaries or pensions from the public coffers.  If there were university students, they are being educated at the public expense, which is to say, the State.  So, if these folks (i.e. Viggy and his pals) want to publicly express their longing for an LTTE-run State, which is to say Eelam, they should have the decency to first give up the aforesaid benefits.

Vigneswaran is free to give up his salary, perks and pension.  Any government servants in the crowd are free to give up their salaries and pensions as the case may be.  And any university students can give their place to some other deserving Tamil, Sinhala or Muslim student who I am sure would be quite happy to attend Jaffna University, one of the best universities in the island.  Then, Viggy and his pals can at least claim something of a moral right to express disappointment that the Sri Lankan State defeated the LTTE.

Second, and more important, Vigneswaran and his pals are trying to portray to the international community that the Sri Lankan forces that defeated the LTTE were invading purported ‘Tamil Lands’ or  a ‘Tamil Homeland’ and they (i.e. Sri Lankan forces) have no inherent right to remain in those regions even after the victory.

If the above portrayal goes unchallenged, it will create a presumption in the minds of foreigners that in fact the Sri Lankan forces invaded a purported ‘Tamil Homeland,’ and are now occupying it against the will of the ‘natives.’  Nothing could be further from the truth, and the international community must be told in no uncertain terms that, a) there is no such thing as a ‘Tamil Homeland’ in Sri Lanka in fact or in law, and b) the Sri Lankan soldiers who defeated the LTTE were operating in their own country.

All they were doing is wresting control of a certain part of the country – i.e. the Northern Province and some parts of the East – from a band of criminals who had temporarily asserted control over those areas, and ensuring that the Constitution of Sri Lanka and laws that derive from same, and none other, prevail without let or hindrance in those areas.

If Vigneswaran and his pals are dissatisfied with that outcome, i.e., that the Constitution of Sri Lanka and laws that derive therefrom now operate in every inch of this country, and they want to live under laws other than those flowing from the Constitution of Sri Lanka, they can avail themselves of the right guaranteed under Article 14(1) (i) of the Constitution (‘Right to leave and return to Sri Lanka’) and leave Sri Lanka.  No one is stopping them.

To repeat, if living under the Sri Lanka Constitution and other laws of Sri Lanka is an unbearably horrible experience for Viggy and his pals, they are free to pack their bags and go.  For instance, they can go to their one and only real ‘homeland’ the Tamil Nad in India.  (Perhaps they will be happy there, and if they are not, they can always swim back or row back here again, the same way that I am informed on good authority many of their ancestors reached these shores in the first place!)

The point is that, they should let the people who like Sri Lanka, who wish to live under the Constitution and other laws of Sri Lanka, do so in peace and tranquility?  Instead, Viggy and his pals want to enjoy the protection of the Constitution and other laws of Sri Lanka when it suits them, and not when it doesn’t, and moreover, all the while work to undermine, deprecate and belittle the said Constitution and laws.

It seems to me that, they are like parasites, sucking the lifeblood of the State, draining the State of its vitality and energy, without putting anything of substance or value back into it, or worse, waiting to contribute whatever of substance and value they have to Eelam, if and when it is created!  As I said, it’s disgusting.  I’ll now turn to the even more disgusting conduct of the President.

2.0 THE PRESIDENT’S RESPONSE TO THE ACTIONS OF VIGGY AND HIS PALS AND WHAT IS WRONG WITH IT

From what I have been able to gather by reading the newspapers, the President’s response to antics of Viggy and his pals was, a) to make a purportedly unequivocal statement that Sri Lankan forces did not commit war crimes as alleged by the international community especially the UNHRC,[3] and b) to engage in various ceremonies such as almsgivings, lighting of lamps, etc, in remembrance of our fallen soldiers.  My problems with the aforesaid two responses are as follows.

a) The purportedly unequivocal statement that Sri Lankan forces did not commit war crimes

Even if the president made an unequivocal statement as alleged, it is completely meaningless, because the actions of the Government since 2015 – a Government of which Mr. Sirisena is the Head – clearly and unequivocally shows that the Government has accepted that war crimes were committed.  I shall give below just a few of the facts that support this conclusion.

The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in March 2014 authorized the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to undertake a comprehensive investigation into war crimes and other crimes allegedly committed during the war.  The final report of that investigation, called the OISL report (OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka) concluded that there was sufficient evidence to show that the State – as opposed to individual soldiers – committed war crimes.[4]

The report was released to the public on 16th September 2015, but forwarded to the Government one week prior to that.  The Government accepted the report without a single objection or qualification.[5]

Next, the aforesaid report became the basis for UNHRC resolution 30/1 of October 2015, drafted and tabled by the United States and co-sponsored by the Government of Sri Lanka.  Operative Paragraph 1 of the resolution clearly and unambiguously endorses without reservation the conclusions and recommendations of the OISL report (i.e. the report that claimed that sufficient evidence exists to show that the Sri Lankan State committed war crimes).

Therefore, by the act of co-sponsorship, the GOSL has also accepted without reservation the aforesaid conclusions and recommendations.

Next, at the March 2017 session of the UNHRC, the U. S. drafted and tabled a resolution that re-affirmed resolution 30/1 of October 2015.  The GOSL one again co-sponsored this resolution, which means that the GOSL re-affirmed its acceptance of the conclusions and recommendations of the OISL report (which said the Sri Lankan State committed war crimes).

If the GOSL had any objections to the OISL report and its conclusions, it could have raised those objections before the resolution was adopted.  To my knowledge, no objections were raised.

Finally, I turn to the report of the UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review on Sri Lanka, which was completed in December 2017, and taken up for discussion during the Council’s session in March 2018.  Chapter 3 of the report (Paragraphs 119 – 130) sets out the ‘Voluntary Commitments of the Government of Sri Lanka,’ which is to say they are commitments that the Government has accepted without question.  Paragraph 128 is as follows:

‘Fulfill commitments contained in Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 towards the operationalization of the Office of Missing Persons, and the establishment of a truth-seeking commission, an office for reparations, and a judicial mechanism with a special counsel.’[6]

As mentioned, the above report was released in December 2017, and taken up for debate in March 2018.  That means, as of March 2018, the unequivocal position of the GOSL was that is accepted without question the recommendations of resolution 30/1 of October 2015, which in turn was based on the conclusions and recommendations of the OISL report, which to repeat found that the Sri Lankan State committed war crimes.  So, either Mr. Sirisena is unaware of any of this, in which case as Head of the Government he is inexcusably negligent, or he is lying.

And yet, he has the nerve to stand in front of a gathering that, to the best of my knowledge, included the Service Chiefs, decorated officers and men and women of the armed forces, combat veterans, and perhaps most poignant, the fathers and mothers of fallen soldiers, and say with a straight face that the Government’s position in regard to international allegations that our troops committed war crimes is that no such crimes were committed.  As I said, it’s disgusting.

b) Lighting lamps, giving alms, etc. in remembrance of the fallen troops

The newspapers also published numerous photos of the President lighting lamps, participating in almsgivings, etc. in remembrance of our fallen troops.  That’s admirable.  On the other hand, the President is required and indeed empowered to defend the Constitution and other laws of Sri Lanka and in general to protect the country from all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

It is not in dispute that, roughly 29,000 Officers and men and women of our armed forces died during the war with the LTTE, with a further 15,000 completely disabled and thousands of others wounded.  Those valiant men and women made that enormous sacrifice in order to protect the country from its enemies, in this case a domestic one, and to prevent such enemy from creating a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka.

If there is the slightest possibility that the aforesaid enemy or the ideology which fed such enemy is being revived, it is the moral as well as legal obligation of the President to make sure such efforts are stamped out.  Even a fifteen-year-old can understand that, commemorating the LTTE, including making statements conveying the impression that it is a tragedy that the LTTE lost the war sustains and nurtures, or has the potential to sustain and nurture, the ideology that nourished the LTTE.

Therefore, reason and common sense suggest that the best and most practical way for a President to honour our fallen troops is do everything in his or her power to hold persons responsible for such commemorations, or any other actions that in effect celebrate the ideology of the LTTE, accountable under the law.  Under the circumstances, the President could have, indeed still can, do the following three things:

  1. He can haul Vigneswaran before the Court of Appeal under Section 3 of the 6th Amendment o the Constitution.

Section 3(1) of the 6th Amendment or Article 157(a)(1) of the Constitution as amended states:

‘No person shall, directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka.’[7]

As explained earlier, Vigneswaran and his pals publicly commemorated the LTTE, and in doing so made sure to convey to the outside world that they are very much in sympathy with the LTTE’s ideology, including its ultimate goal of creating a separate State within Sri Lanka.  Isn’t that ‘indirectly’ supporting separatism for the purposes of Section 3 quoted above?

I am not the Supreme Court, so I cannot pronounce on the matter. But, Mr. Sirisena as President can instruct the Attorney General to file an indictment against Vigneswaran.  Section 3 makes provision for a trial before the Court of Appeal.  So, why doesn’t Sirisena do this, and we can all find out what is and isn’t possible under Section 3?

Viggy might still wiggle out, i.e. the court might say Viggy’s actions don’t violate section 3, but nevertheless the section will be interpreted, and this will make it easier to resort to it on future occasions, say, when Viggy and his pals try other tactics.  What’s the use of having constitutional provisions purportedly to protect the country from separatists, if we never test them?  On the other hand, if the court finds Viggy guilty, he’s finished, and so are his pals!  Either way, Mr. Sirisena will have done an enormous service to the country.

  1. The President can ask the Supreme Court for an Advisory Opinion on the Legality of UNHRC resolution 30/1 of October 2015.

Only the President can invoke the consultative jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 129 of the Constitution.  Judging by the fact that Mr. Sirisena invoked the said provision in early January to find out if he could stay in office for 6 rather than 5 years, it is clear he knows of the existence of the provision.  So, why can’t he use it to ask the SC about an issue that, overall, is far more important to the country, especially the armed forces?

If the SC decides that any of the provisions of resolution 30/1 violate the Constitution, it will be the firmest possible basis for Parliament to revisit the legislation establishing the Office of Missing Persons and also Ratifying the Convention on Enforced Disappearances, two devises that can be used by Sri Lanka’s enemies to amass false evidence against our troops.

  1. If there were government servants or university students at Viggy’s event, the President can instruct the relevant ministries to take administrative action against them.

For instance, he can have the government servants in question be sacked or transferred, and the students expelled.  Let them drive tuk-tuks or fish off the Jaffna Lagoon for a living.  Why not make an example of at least a few of these rotters and wanna-be terrorists?

The point is this.  As President, Mr. Sirisena could have taken any of the aforesaid concrete actions, indeed he still can, to honour the troops, especially those who fell in battle.  He has not done so, and instead has chosen to make a show of lighting lamps, and such like things.  I find that disgusting, or at any rate, disgraceful.

Dharshan Weerasekera  lives and works in Colombo.  For constructive criticism and/or questions about this article or any of his other work, he can be reached at:  [email protected]

[1] I am relying on the report of this incident in the ‘Divaina’ of 20th may 2018.  The relevant article in Sinhala is titled, ‘Uture koti semaruma jayatama,’  Divaina, 20th May 2018, page 1

[2] Article 10 of the Constitution

[3] I am relying for this claim on an article in the Sunday Times of 20th May 2018, titled, ‘SL Military Did Not Commit War Crimes: President.’  It reports on the President’s speech at the Ranaviru Commemoration ceremony at the National War Memorial at the Parliamentary Grounds.  However, the quotes attributed to the President in that article do in any way show that he unequivocally rejected the allegations that Sri Lankan troops committed war crimes.  But, it is quite possible that the original Sinhala version of his remarks conveyed such an unequivocal meaning, and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

[4] See for instance paragraphs 5 and 6 of the OISL report,  A/HRC/30/CRP.2, www.ohchr.org

[5] See for instance, Note Verbale No. UN/HR/1/30, 15th September 2015, www.mea.gov.lk

[6] A/HRC/37/17, 29th December 2017, para 128, www.ohchr.org

[7] Article 157a(1) of the Constitution

6 Responses to “THE DISGUSTING BEHAVIOUR OF C. V. VIGNESWARAN AND OTHERS WHO COMMMORATED THE LTTE DEAD, AND THE EVEN MORE DISGUSTING CONDUCT OF THE PRESIDENT IN NOT PUNISHING THEM”

  1. nilwala Says:

    Agree wholeheartedly with the author about this disgraceful behavior of both Wigneswaran and Prez. Sirisena in their spineless lack of the kind of leadership that both Sinhala and Tamil people need and look for….STRONG & HONEST LEADERSHIP.
    The Prez makes remarks that are nothing but platitudes when he talks of “NEVER” letting the Army be accused of war crimes….when he does not admonish, let alone sack the Foreign Minister Samaraweera for co-sponsoring UNHRC Resolution 30/1, in which the Defense Forces are blamed for having won the terrorist war against the LTTE and accountability is sought from the Army.
    Nor does he raise a finger to warm Wiggie who as Chief Minister, Northern Prov. does not lead the Tamil people into what would provide them the peace that would enable prosperity and success, but instead fans the flames of ethnic hate through a day of mourning about “GENOCIDE”, when he, as a legal eagle knows (or does he?) that the term CANNOT be applied to what went on in Sri Lanka during the Eelam wars. Here is a man who made the best of it in the South, from and among the Sinhalese, in a career that took him to the top of the legal profession as the Chief Justice. SHAME ON THEM BOTH!!

  2. Dilrook Says:

    There is little the president can do. If Vigneswaran is removed and the NPC is dissolved, elections must be held. The war excuse no longer applies. In that event TNA will win even bigger with a far worse Chief Minister (Ananthi Sasitharan). Sacking or expelling those officials will disrupt the north to the point of clashes and more grilling of Sri Lanka at the UNHRC and possibly riots too.

    Action must be taken at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court for the stated reasons. This is disrupted by the presence of the executive presidency.

    Sri Lanka has already stated at the UNHRC it will only implement those provisions of 30/1 that don’t violate the Constitution. 30/1 itself supports it! 30/1 upholds Sri Lanka’s soverignty and territorial integrity at the start. This is a good opportunity for Sri Lanka to implement only those provisions that are not in violation of the Consitution and dump the rest.

    NPC elections should not have been held in 2013 or 2014 as the north was not ready. Vigneswaran should not have been appointed to the post of Chief Minister after he refused to take oath from the Northern Governor. Government should have insisted on it. Now it is too late.

    Section 3(1) of the 6th Amendment or Article 157(a)(1) of the Constitution as amended states:

    ‘No person shall, directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka.’

    High profile terrorists and separatists including KP and Karuna should have been punished for this crime to deter others. Political opportunism prevented it. There is nothing called “rehabiliation” in law that saves someone from prosecution! Rehabilitation may be part of the punishment after (emphasised) prosecution by a court. Otherwise it means nothing. Forgivance of sins and crime may be part of a religion but certainly no part of Sri Lanka’s law.

    There is no way to punish Vigneswaran while protecting KP and Karuna – far worse separatists and terrorists. Those who harboured these terrorists must also be punished as that is a crime too.

  3. Charles Says:

    Vigneswaran SHOULD BE ARRESTED under the relevant sections of the Constitution. He has no right to be the Chief Minister of NP. He speaks to create dissension between communities by making false statements, and that is a criminal act.

    There had never been genocide in Sri Lanka except perhaps by the terrorists who removed Sinhala and Muslims from North and East to make North and East a Tamil only territory. Even there the word genocide is not the correct word to use.

  4. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Sri Lanka needs a leader with a spine who has the guts to say get lost to these bogus human rights champions who
    bully small countries. Puppet vairapala narisena’s poodle mongol should’ve said put the house in order in syria and
    come to us. Strongman Putin kicks these human rights monkeys’ backsides all the time and they just disappear with
    tails between their legs.

    We don’t depend on handouts from these human rights monkeys any more. So why can’t these idiots
    have a spine? Look at Deuterte in the Philippines. He told these human rights monkeys to get lost when he was
    getting rid of druggies and bogus human rights monkeys just disappeared. Mother Lanka is being messed up by
    these enemies within and outside all the time thanks to these traitors vairapala nariseana and the traitor chief
    die hard catholic token Buddhist bay gal karaya mega thief mega thakkadiya Batalande Wandakaya Pol Pot
    [email protected]_leech wickrama Sinhala killer,church acolyte pxke lapaya, church acolyte suamnthirana, pigneshwaran, sad
    ali (not enough children to be sad?), xxxxhim, kabir hashih etc. etc. etc. So many traitors as her sons and
    daughters poor Mother Lanka!

  5. Cerberus Says:

    The truth about the C4 video is that the LTTE killed captured soldiers and then made a video, dubbed it in Sinhala and showed it as the doings of the GoSL. The West went along with it because they wanted to humiliate and remove the Rajapaksa Govt. Please see the original video undubbed and the dubbed one in the link below under CH4 – UK. Please download the videos since the link will be removed soon.

    http://www.terrorinlanka.com

  6. Cerberus Says:

    Let us not forget the history.

    https://www.facebook.com/arjuna.perera.58/videos/10155853908551032/

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