Growing concern over new Constitution
Posted on September 18th, 2016

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe Courtesy  Ceylon Today

President Maithripala Sirisena recently said if former President Mahinda Rajapaksa won his third term or had the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam leader Prabakaran survived Eelam War IV, then achieving lasting peace is not possible. It is an interesting observation on three counts. One is that though the former President gave political will to end the war against terrorism, he did not bring peace to the country. The other is, he and the terrorist leader together were the obstacles to peace – thereby equalizing the war winning leader with the notorious terrorist. Finally, this opinion offers the impression that lasting peace is a step away.

However, recent events (and the not so recent, such as the UN Human Rights Council Commissioner Zeid’s remarks), which took place almost back-to-back, seriously challenge this notion. It is indeed a very curious comparison that outgoing United Nations’ Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made. He in one breath lamented that the UN was unable to prevent the genocide in Rwanda, a year later in Srebrenica and again in Sri Lanka. Though the government disagrees any disparaging remarks were made, discerning analysts strongly assert that he indeed accused Sri Lanka of committing genocide.
Genocide is a very serious accusation. If a clarification is not sought urgently and misconceptions rectified immediately, the implications can be far reaching and extremely adverse to Sri Lanka.

Special appointment

Recently, MP Wimal Weerawansa, on special appointment, visited the Malwatte Chapter Prelate Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thera. There, he too emphasized the danger that lies ahead, if it was established that genocide was committed in Sri Lanka. The new Constitution in the making, he warned, will do away with existing laws to pave the path to reach such a conclusion.

“Though the drafting of the new Constitution,” explained MP Weerawansa, “is an ongoing process, we feel it is already finalized. I don’t think they’ll directly touch the status awarded to Buddhism by the Constitution. However, distracting us with such threats, the Constitution may be changed according to the needs of our detractors.”
The prelate had pointed out that MP Weerawansa had only a suspicion. He responded that his fears are founded on a number of facts. The speeches made by the Tamil National Alliance leader Sampanthan in the North is one factor.

Federalism as a solution

“At one point he states,” said MP Weerawansa, “that the new Constitution will fulfil our long cherished hope and give federalism as a solution”.

“Jayampathy Wickramaratne who is involved in the drafting of the new Constitution, also said a constitutional solution will be given to the Tamils, at a diaspora event. Likewise, if we look at the history of the people involved in the process and their ideology, it is reasonable to be concerned.”
He assured the prelate that as long as the new Constitution does not lead to separatism or harm the country, he will not object.
“The danger is,” he says, “the need for a new Constitution arose in the Geneva agreement. It has been definitely pledged in Geneva by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera to establish a special war crimes tribunal through a special law to probe into war crimes allegations.

“The debate on this issue is, President Sirisena is against foreign judges. Geneva and the diaspora are however insisting on foreign judges. Yet, no one had said anywhere that a war crimes tribunal will not be established.

Hybrid court

“Now, once this tribunal is established, who will function in it? According to the documents, the agreement is a hybrid court with foreign judges, foreign investigators and foreign prosecutors. Though President Sirisena is against foreign judges, whether his opinion or if the agreement with the international community will hold sway we don’t know yet.

“Whether foreign judges participate or not is besides the point. We currently don’t have the laws for war crimes that they have agreed upon to investigate. What we have are laws against crime, which does not include war crimes.
“So, new laws are now being drafted to include war crimes, to be effected retrospectively. The current laws restrict this agenda, which is what the new Constitution is trying to overcome.

“For instance, a camp of many acres in Kilinochchi was recently removed. It was amidst an LTTE burial ground – especially during the final battle days. On some future date, if the areas were excavated, then all the buried dead bodies would surface.

War crimes

“This could lead to the accusation that a war crime had been committed. If the judgment was given that a war crime had indeed taken place, just like Kosovo was separated from Serbia, a UN resolution could be passed to divide Sri Lanka.”
When the prelate pointed out that the public opinion had been sought in the drafting of the new Constitution, he explained it was a process headed by the Lal Wijenayake Committee.

Wijenayake was a Provincial Councillor from the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) for almost 15 years. Then, during the previous administration, he had to leave the party.

“My party didn’t like my sharing the platform with the [then] Opposition United National Party leaders,” he explained to Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka in 2012.

He said they are extremely biased against the military. According to him, “I don’t know whether everyone has realized the severity of the ongoing militarization process. There are several retired military officers who have been appointed as Provincial Governors. Some others – including serving military officers – have been posted as diplomats to various countries. This not only violates the fundamental values and core principals of a democratic system, it even goes further in violating international laws. This is because many of the officers have been accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

War against terrorism

He overlooks two main factors. The North and the East were a terrorist hotbed for 30 years. Since the conclusion of the war against terrorism, nearly 14,000 LTTE cadres had been released. This number does not include the sympathizers of separatism who escaped the terrorist net. The bottom line is that there is a considerable, battle-hardened force now living in these areas.
General Daya Ratnayake explains that before normalcy regains, the first social aspect, then economic aspect and finally the political aspect must be established.

“Immediately after a conflict,” he explains, “people are disorganized. Except in the Jaffna Peninsula, almost 99 per cent of the people were displaced and they were living in welfare centres. Reuniting them with their families and resettling them in their homes is the social aspect. Then, providing them with livelihood opportunities and the necessary support is the economic aspect. Once these two have been achieved, people need a voice for their opinion, which is the political aspect.”

Band of bad boys

The other fact overlooked by Wijenayake was that the LTTE was not a band of bad boys confined to Sri Lanka. It was (and still is) an internationally organized syndicate of criminals, engaged in many nefarious activities such as human and contraband smuggling, money laundering, narcotics, and providing logistics to other terrorist groups. Tissa Ravindra Perera writes in ‘Rivira’ that countries such as Malaysia were LTTE hubs to smuggle arms and collect funds with the blessings of prominent politicians as P. Ramasamy – the current Deputy Chief Minister of the State, Penang. Therefore, Major Generals were sent as ambassadors to counter the illegal activities.

Wijenayake exaggerates, “Even to breathe they [Tamils in the North] need to get permission from the military.”
Presence of any authority is stressful. However, until May 2009, Tamils especially in the North were literally in the terrorists’ deathly grip. Many restrictions, some of inhuman proportions, were forced on them. Surely Wijenayake knows children as young as eight were conscripted against their anguished parents’ pleas and protests. They were used as slave labour and cannon fodder. Every business had to pay an exorbitant daily ‘tax’. People committed suicide when businesses failed to meet the target than face the punishment. Everyone who received foreign remittance had to ‘share’ half of it with the LTTE. It should hurt Wijenayake, a founder of Lawyers for Democracy as, “At a time of crisis in the country, the legal profession needs to play a serious role,” that all semblance of law was replaced by jungle law and people had no recourse from the kangaroo courts.

National question

Wijenayake strongly faults the Sri Lankan governments for failing to ‘resolve the national question’. He asks what is there to negotiate on the northern Tamil politicians’ demands. He even finds the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution the cause that threw ‘Tamil United Liberation Front leader Amirthalingam out of Parliament and eventually paving the way for his untimely death’. He fails to appreciate that the amendment safeguards the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of our country. It also escapes him that Amirthalingam was killed by the LTTE which systematically eliminated the Tamil political leadership.

He asks, “How long do they intend to keep the Tamils as slaves of the Sinhala governments?” He further dismisses the massive post development efforts claiming, “A large number of people are still forced to live under deplorable conditions as IDPs even three years after the war ended? The government has not showed any intention to resettle them in their own lands.”
Wijenayake might be unaware, but the five non-governmental organizations engaged in the de-mining process requested 12 years to complete the task. It was thanks to the efforts of the military that the whole exercise was expedited and completed in three years.

Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera points out, “Those who express concern over the IDPs, did not so much as offer a cup of tea to the soldiers who were de-mining anti-personnel mines in very trying conditions.”

UN camps

When UN camps have had epidemics like cholera outbreaks, Wijenayake must question if the Sri Lankan IDP camps also had such issues. If not, could the camps have been as deplorable as he implies?

Wijenayake is tilted towards a certain adverse propaganda. His assertions are the same harangues of the separatists. He conveniently overlooks the misery the LTTE heaped on the Tamils. Nor does he see the normalcy these people are beginning to enjoy. Furthermore, he fails to appreciate that this is because of the Sri Lankan military’s efforts. Instead, he believes in accusations sans credible evidence.

Yet, he is charged with garnering public opinion on the new Constitution to be drafted. MP Weerawansa is correct that we as citizens should be wary in the face of such biased thinking. The new changes, he warns, might be irreversible.
Before we could recover from Ban’s stinging insinuations, our High Commissioner to Malaysia Ibrahim Sahib Ansar was publicly assaulted by Tamil separatist thugs. Almost simultaneously, the Buddhist chief monk in Sentul was also assaulted.
Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke draws a parallel between the attacks on the HC and the Jaffna university attack. In both instances, only one side was injured and had to be hospitalized. The Tamil Eelam map prominently in the background was the other common denominator.

The new Constitution is being drafted amidst this rising violence by Tamil extremists. The Getambe Temple chief monk Kappettiyagoda Siriwimala Thera advises the government to fulfil election promises, instead of grappling with a new Constitution. A new Constitution was neither pledged nor asked by the people.

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke makes the chilling observation that since it is the Foreign Minister who announces its status and that too in the North, instead in the capital, the new Constitution appears as a project pushed by external forces.
The rising incidents hardly attest to a lasting peace. Instead, it appears we are grovelling with abject submission – not that it is improving the international community’s general response. To top it, the economic situation is worsening. Lasting peace seems a long way off.


9 Responses to “Growing concern over new Constitution”

  1. nilwala Says:

    Thanks to Ms. Ranasinghe who has understood well the situation Sri Lanka is being pivoted into. See also today’s news of more cooperation between the US and SL at the political/parliamentary level. What does this impend for Sri Lanka?
    Even further servility for the country? (see Lanka’s current leaders are blithely adding to the Access & Cross Service Agreement which was signed under the pressure of the Eelam war and the need for US assistance). An astute Thero’s comment “advises the government to fulfil election promises, instead of grappling with a new Constitution… A new Constitution was neither pledged nor asked by the people.”

    Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke’s observation, rightly perceived as “chilling”, in that “it is the Foreign Minister who announces its status and that too in the North, instead (of) in the capital, the new Constitution appears as a project pushed by external forces.” No doubt all this portends of unhappy situations to come.

    The author’s observation that “….it appears we are grovelling with abject submission – not that it is improving the international community’s general response. To top it, the economic situation is worsening. Lasting peace seems a long way off…..”, is also prescient. But… Is anyone in the Parliamentary Opposition aware, and is the ruling elite at least listening?

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    No need for a New Constitution !

    * Just REMOVE the ILLEGAL 133-A – (made under Duress on the JRJ govt by INDIA in 1987).

    * REVOKE the V’koddai Resolution of 1976 calling for Eelam through use of Violence.

    * ACTIVATE the neglected 6-A.

    We are happy with the Existing Constitution – no need for a New Constitution !

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    No need for a New Constitution !

    * Just REMOVE the ILLEGAL 13-A which was imposed under Duress by INDIA on the JRJ govt in 1987.

    * Officially REVOKE the vicious V’koddai Resolution of 1976 – Eelam through Violence.

    * ACTIVATE the never yet acted on 6-A !

    As matters stand, Lanka is falling from the fry pan into the fire.
    Stop it !

  4. nilwala Says:

    Agree with Fran Diaz that there is no great hurry at all to impose a new Constitution. From all indications, this exercise is targeted at weakening the Sinhala majority which created the Sinhala civilisation on the island through the centuries. This division is the result of the disgraceful “divide and rule” policy of the colonials, that has left so many nations throughout the world in trouble while they exploited them through sheer military power of the gun.

    And now, here we go again in the only way our politicians seem to be able to handle the eternally grumpy and discontented Tamils – by appeasement. Someone should just say to them “Grow up”! There are 80million Tamils right next door in Tamil Nadu….it is they who should be asking for nation status in that territory….not cutting up little Sri Lanka to diminish the Sinhalas even more, when they have no other place on earth the way the Tamils do.

    It is the clearest example of INTERNATIONAL INJUSTICE that the UN with the West is imposing on this little island.

    Is this the ONLY path for solution that the Lankan political leaders can come up with, especially when the Tamil leaders (and I mean the Vellahlas who lord it over the lower caste Tamils) have shown clearly that they are hellbent on installing themselves at the helm of a merged NE. Whatever other caste Tamils think does not seem to matter. Nor the fact that Tamil migration to the South has resulted in more than 54% of Tamils living OUTSIDE the NorthEast of Sri Lanka.

    The big question is: How is this Tamil leadership going to treat its own Minorities in the region they aim to separate? As of now there has been no re-settlement of the Sinhala and Tamils driven out of Jaffna at 24hr notice by the LTTE. Noone talks about the illegality and injustice that there is no Sinhala signage at all in the North, with every street sign being only in Tamil and English. Where is the law and order that was promised by the UNP-SLFP coalition Yahapalana govt? If the South treated minorities today in like manner we will have had the UN’s Human Rights NGOs shrieking “Discrimination”.

    Sinhala leaders think that they can depend on the West to help establish an equitable solution ignoring the “little now more later” concept that guides the Tamils in their trajectory of bringing the Sinhala to their knees, and obtain through political maneuvering what they could not through military means.

    What is so very sad is that the lives of so many who were sacrificed in order to keep the nation whole are being ignored
    by Sinhala leaders who seem without any sensitivity to that sacrifice, simply because they were leaders who lacked the strength of purpose to rout the LTTE militarily and bring and end to the horror of the terrorism that reigned.

    Such ugliness of governance by the Sinhalas must make Prabhakaran laugh in his grave. He knew how to treat his heroic cadres with honor…but not these Sinhala leaders who lack any conscience and know only REVENGE and ENVY.
    The nation has to be brought together, not torn apart by incompetent leadership.

  5. plumblossom Says:

    When looking at Sri Lanka’s history, it is extremely obvious that from 600BC to around 1400AD there were three kingdoms, all Sinhala Buddhist, Ruhuna, Pihiti or Rajarata and Maya or Malayarata. Rajarata encompassed today’s North Central, North Western, Northern and even the Central Province. Ruhunu rata encompassed today’s Uva, Eastern and Southern Provinces. The Kandyan Kingdom from 1400AD encompassed most of the island inclusive of today’s Northern and the Eastern Provinces except for the Jaffna Peninsula. Even the Jaffna Peninsula was invaded and occupied by force by Aryachakravarthi (Pandyan) and actually did belong to Rajarata earlier and later the Kandyan Kingdom.

    Today’s provincial boundaries were drawn up by the British colonialists as per their divide and rule policy and the Sinhala people were not consulted when drawing up these provincial boundaries. In the meantime, most Sri Lankan Tamils of today were actually brought over during Dutch and British times to the Jaffna Peninsula and elsewhere to work on tobacco and indigo plantations which were planted extensively in all the colonies since they were much sought after and made a lot of money for the colonialists. Therefore they are recent arrivals and cannot claim homelands or separate states whatsoever.

    The usual practice when a colonial power hands over their former colonies is to hand it over to its original owners. Therefore the British colonialists should hand over the Kandyan Kingdom to the Kandyan Sinhalese from whom they took it by force. Since the Kandyan Kingdom encompassed the North and the East, these provinces too should be handed over to the Kandyan Sinhalese who are its rightful owners. Even the Jaffna Peninsula should be handed over to the Kandyan Sinhalese since it was part of Rajarata and was forcefully occupied by Aryachakravarthi (Pandyan).

    Since this has now been done already, the TNA and other separatist terrorists or the US, UK EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India cannot demand that present day Northern or even the Eastern provinces be provided any more powers or be made into federal states since this is totally going against the history and archaeology of the island and totally going against the rights of the Sinhala people who also have fundamental rights to claim the entire island inclusive of the North and the East as their homeland first and foremost. Therefore, the TNA , the separatist terrorists, the US, UK, Norway, Sweden, Canada and India has to respect the history and archaeology of the island and accept that the present day provincial councils are more than sufficient to run the affairs of the provinces. Sri Lanka must be a unitary state and no more powers should be provided to the provincial councils. In fact, when talking about the 13th amendment, the concurrent list subjects must be included in the national list. The provision where two provinces can merge should be deleted. The bogus claim of the North and the East being the homeland of the Tamil speaking people should be deleted. The entire island should be declared the homeland of all its peoples.

    Sinhala people should be resettled in the North in quite a large number if there is to be peace and harmony within the island since Sinhala people have every historical right to live in the North as well as the East. It is only due to ethnic cleansing of the North of Sinhala people by the LTTE and the other separatists that Sinhala people are not at present living in the North. Many thousands of landless elsewhere in the island especially Sinhala people should be provided land in the North since most of the vacant land in the country is in the North and in the East since both these provinces encompass over 28% of the land area of the island. Then only will there be peace since when people mix, there is more harmony. This is the only way towards peace and development in the island.

  6. plumblossom Says:

    Apart from highly commending you for taking legal action against the treacherous CBK (Chaura Rejina) regarding the defamatory and utter lies she keeps repeating to defame her rivals, legal action should be taken against her for stating that she will definitely devolve more powers to provincial Councils within the new constitution. Does this evil woman CBK think she owns Sri Lanka and that she is the one who is going to draw up the new constitution of Sri Lanka (according to the wishes of the imperialistic US, UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden, India, the racist TNA and the separatist terrorists)? The constitution of Sri Lanka should satisfy first and foremost the majority of people of this island i.e. the Sinhala people and the Sinhala people firstly do not want to draw up a new constitution nor do they want any more powers whatsoever be provided to the provincial councils especially land, police and fiscal or to illegally merge the North and the East.

    Someone has to go to the supreme court and take action against treacherous CBK for suggesting that she will definitely devolve more powers to provincial councils within the yet to be drawn up constitution since this means the treacherous Ranil, Sirisena, CBK and Mangala have already drawn up a constitution to satisfy the imperialistic US, UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden, India, the racist TNA and the separatist terrorists which is illegal.

  7. plumblossom Says:

    The UNSG Ban Ki Moon’s Outrageous, Total and Utter Lies With no Proof Whatsoever Regarding the Sri Lankan Conflict during His Speech in Colombo, Sri Lanka, is Insulting to the People of Sri Lanka

    The UNSG Ban Ki Moon’s statement that ‘thousands of civilians died in the last stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka’ at a speech Ban Ki Moon gave in Colombo, Sri Lanka on the 2nd September, 2016 is a total and utter lie, is outrageously wrong and an extreme insult to all the victims of the brutal terrorist group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). If Ban Ki Moon makes such outrageous statements, it is better he has any proof whatsoever to show for it. His utter lie is totally deplorable, is condemnable and an insult to the people of Sri Lanka and the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka.

    Sri Lanka has had 26 years of conflict from 1983-2009. In this period (inclusive of the first, the middle and the last stages of the war), it is the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorist group who massacred over 47,000 mainly Sri Lankan Armed Forces members and also civilians.

    The LTTE massacred over 35,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members, Police Force members and Civil Defense Force members over 6000-7000 overwhelmingly Sinhala but also Muslim civilians, 1,253 Indian Peacekeeping Forces (IPKF) members, over 2,000 Tamil Armed Group members who supported the Government of Sri Lanka and who were against the LTTE, around 3,000 Tamil civilians and all this add upto 47,000. Around 35,000 LTTE terrorists are estimated to have perished too. In all around 84,000 in total have perished in total in the war.

    As you can see it is the brutal LTTE terrorists who massacred over 47,000 mainly Sri Lankan Armed Forces members, Police Force members, Civil Defense Force members in over 26 years of war. Over 23,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members are today both temporarily and permanently disabled due to the war. Over 13,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members are permanently disabled due to the war. Over 156,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members have been injured due to the war. Over 6,000-7,000 overwhelmingly Sinhala but also Muslim civilians have been massacred by the LTTE terrorists in the war of over 26 years. Ban Ki Moon is insulting all these civilians who perished at the hands of the LTTE terrorists. Ban Ki Moon is also insulting all the over 35,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members, Police Force members and Civil Defense Force members who perished at the hands of the LTTE terrorists.

    If Ban Ki Moon can prove the above statistics wrong, please do so. Otherwise please do not insult the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka and the thousands of Sri Lankan citizens who were massacred by the LTTE terrorists for over 26 years. Thankfully the Sri Lankan civil war is at an end.

    Regarding Ban Ki Moon’s deplorable statement further, the UN did absolutely nothing while the LTTE terrorist group recruited over 20,000 child soldiers, all Tamil youth, as attested by UNICEF itself which stated in 2007 that perhaps the LTTE has recruited over 20,000 young persons under the age of 18 years into its cadre between 1983-2007 inclusive.

    The LTTE terrorist group also ethnically cleansed the entire Sinhala and Muslim population of the Northern Province, of over 65,000 Sinhala people and over 75,000 Muslim people of the Northern Province in the 1980s and the 1990s. The LTTE also ethnically cleansed the entire Sinhala population of the Batticaloa District in the East of over 25,000 Sinhala people. The UN did absolutely nothing then too.

    Today, the Sinhala people and their descendants of over 135,000 are yet to be resettled in the North and in the Batticaloa District and Muslims of over 115,000 are yet to be resettled in the North. Uptil 2012, of the above number, around 32,000 Sinhala people and around 32,000 Muslims has been resettled in the North.

    The LTTE was notorious for its horrific terror tactics such as large scale bomb attacks and the use of suicide bombers in carrying out hundreds of attacks against mainly Sinhala civilians and the country’s leadership, horrific attacks against Sinhala civilians using IED devices, claymore mines and bombs, the massacre of Sinhala villagers in their villages in the North Central, Eastern, Northern and North Western Provinces, the coerced recruitment or abduction of Tamil youth and children for recruitment as child soldiers, forced money collection from Tamils with threats to life in case of non-compliance, attacks on Sri Lanka’s economic infrastructure such as the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), Sri Lanka’s the then only international airport, oil storage facilities, hotels, planes, buses, trains etc. ethnic cleansing of Sinhalese and Muslims from the North and East of Sri Lanka, the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the systematic assassination of over 120 noteworthy Sri Lankan politicians, civil servants, senior military and police officers, prelates, activists, academics, journalists and other professionals who were assassinated by the LTTE who were but a few of the hundreds of assassinations carried out by the LTTE, including the former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

    My plea to Ban Ki Moon is to leave Sri Lanka alone and for the UN to stop supporting once and for all, the brutal terrorists group the LTTE at least now. The UN has continuously supported the brutal terrorist group the LTTE while it massacred over 47,000 as shown above for over 26 years.

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    Agree with what Nilwala has said here.

    Tamil leaders neither treat Minorities or their own lower Caste Tamil folk with fairness and justice. This seems to be a trait inherited from the 3,000 yr old Caste system of INDIA.

    Why is Lanka paying dearly for such negative attitudes ?

    Why should Lanka pay dearly for such negative attitudes ?

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    PS: What I mean by Minorities here is what all Others (Sinhala, Muslim, Burgher, etc.) will be classified as in any Separate state in the N&E for Tamil people.

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