The Truth Commission
and false promises
Kumaratunga appointed a Truth Commission to inquire into the attacks
on innocent Tamils in July 1983 and to consider adequate compensation,
many years after the incidents.
This is the
least any concerned and civilized society should do. The eminent
panel of commissioners is headed by a highly respected former Chief
Justice. It is understood that the commission held several public
sittings in Colombo. Those who testified are said to have left with
the impression that the commission will duly compensate them without
delay in the cases the commissioners recommend as warranted.
It is several
months since the deliberations were finalised and the report handed
over to the President in the full glare of publicity. But no compensation
has been paid yet.
While the Presidential
Secretariat is supposed to have quickly forwarded the papers to
the Cabinet, the papers are stuck there: The reason being finances.
There is also a fear that the commission's recommendations may be
resisted by REPIA on the grounds of "insufficient documentation",
"supporting papers" etc., although the commission looked
into these matters carefully. It is also rumoured that whatever
the commissioners have recommended, compensation would only be paid
in very small and insignificant amounts, disproportionate to the
losses of the victims. REPIA authorities have informed several callers
that lack of funds is likely to prevent them from complying with
the recommendations. If so, it will once again be a case of false
promises to a community whose list of grievances keeps growing.
Even at this late hour, the President and the Prime Minister, both
known to be non-communal and sympathetic to the minorities, should
look into the matter and implement the commission's recommendations.
Let LTTE sell
its weapons and rebuild Jaffna
and other attacks by the LTTE created much mayhem and destruction
in Sri Lanka. The damaged buildings in the south of the country
were repaired with taxpayers' money in no time. However, buildings
in the north were not repaired because of the LTTE and today donors
get the wrong picture that only the north bore the brunt of the
As the LTTE
was instrumental in causing the destruction, it should do the repairs.
Surely, the LTTE can dispose of some of its weapons and with the
billions earned repair the buildings as the government did with
the taxpayers' money in the south.
I left Jaffna
due to LTTE harassment 10 years ago. It is due to ethnic binding
that the average Jaffna man is tolerating the LTTE. If an election
takes place in Jaffna without the gun culture, I have no doutbt
that the LTTE will be out-voted for a moderate party like the TULF.
Unfortunately, the TULF and other parties in Jaffna have no backbone
to resist the LTTE. When Rajan Hoole and K. Sritharan, both professors
of the Jaffna University revealed the atrocities of the LTTE, they
had to run away to save their lives. The high-handed activities
of the LTTE do not allow any other party to exist. Very soon the
LTTE will hoodwink the Muslim parties by giving promises which will
never be kept.
has to be careful with the peace talks. The LTTE is not trustworthy.
Hadn't the September 11 tragedy in the US taken place, the LTTE
would still be fighting.
seek British justice
I would like
to recount a story I have heard with regard to Lord Louis Mountbatten
and British justice.
War II, two Ceylonese soldiers were returning to their camp one
evening. This was a period when the soldiers were dissatisfied with
the treatment meted out to them.
The two soldiers
met a Britisher who was also going in the same direction. Chatting
to him they voiced their displeasure over the treatment given to
Ceylonese soldiers by the British. When they arrived at a large
gate where a naval sentry was on guard, the sentry had stood to
attention and saluted the British. When the soldiers wanted to make
a hurried departure, the Britisher had invited them to his mansion
and offered them a drink. When they were leaving, the gentleman
had wished both of them and said, "Please do not forget the
English language and British justice". This incident took place
nearly 60 years ago and the Britisher was none other than Lord Louis
Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander of the South East Asia Command
The story is an example how the late Mountbatten respected Ceylonese
soldiers during World War II. Those boys who fought in that war
are today old and feeble men, over 70 years. Most of them are non-pensioners.
A small monthly grant of Rs. 500 is paid to them by the British
Commonwealth Ex-Services League through the Sri Lanka Ex-Servicemen's
Association. They are in need of medicine, which cost a lot today.
They also need nourishment.
their appeals, the soldiers formed themselves into an association
known as the Ceylon War Veterans of World War II in August 1997.
What they need is British justice, the kind that Lord Mountbatten
War Veterans' Association of World War II
then and now
topic whether to enforce the death penalty or not, has resulted
in quite a number of letters, from individuals and groups such as
the CRM, expressing their views. One of the key points raised is
in regard to the miscarriage of justice and as an example, the case
of M. Sathasivam, the all- Ceylon cricketer has been cited.
About 50 years
ago, a case of murder, rape, robbery or arson was sensational, because
these were exceptions and not the rule. The day was normally peaceful.
But now it is different as murder, rape etc. are the rule.
of introducing the death penalty in our thrice-blessed country
that the introduction of the gallows will dramatically reduce
the rate of homicide is not plausible and has not been substantiated.The
possibility of innocent people being sent to the gallows,
due to a miscarriage of justice cannot also be ruled out.
Besides, hanging is an obsolete practice.
is not suitable for countries, which practise a democratic
way of life, for it is a denial of basic human rights.
death sentence is passed the judge goes through all the evidence.
When the case is concluded, he gives in detail all the evidence
led, to enable the jury to ponder over its verdict. Where he is
convinced, the jury is erring, he asks that the matter be reconsidered
and there are instances of judges ordering a retrial before a new
jury. Judges, too, have consciences. The chances of erring are great
where it is a case of discharge or acquittal. But in pronouncing
the death sentence, erring is rare. The dictum, 'It is better that
10 men escape than one innocent man be hanged' had a lot of weight
then but today the situation is different.
Another point raised is the delay in the enforcement of justice.
The next point raised is about the police. Let me give one example.
A student from a Nawalapitiya vocatinal training centre was going
back to her line room, about an hour's walk. She left at 12.30 p.m.
but never reached home. Her body was found the next day. She had
been gang-raped and murdered. There was public agitation; the Gampola
Police took over the investigation. The body was exhumed. Suspects
have been arrested and the case is going on.
According to a recent newspaper report two of the suspects who had
turned crown witness have now allegedly gone back on their statements.
No relief yet
for pre-1988 pensioners
I retired on
June 8, 1984, as Chief Station Master, Gampola and am now drawing
a monthly pension of Rs. 5,538 which is hardly sufficient to meet
I retired on
the maximum of the salary scale applicable to the grade.
who retired after1988 are drawing much higher pensions. Various
salary commissions were appointed to look into the anomalies of
pensions, but so far no relief has been granted to the pre-1988
Where have the
rehab funds gone?
The people of
Jaffna often see and read about demonstrators calling on the government
to remove the High Security Zone from residential areas to enable
civilians to occupy their houses and lands, a justifiable request.
At the same
time there are many people in other areas who are unable to move
into their houses, awaiting financial assistance from the Rehabilitation
Ministry for repairs. I am a government pensioner. My house in Inuvil
was damaged during a military operation in 1992. My family and I
had to move out. We are now living in a rented house paying a high
rent which is a strain on my limited pension. In 1999, I applied
for financial assistance to repair my damaged house, submitting
all documents such as a police report, photocopies of the deed and
plans, to the AGAs office.
Later my application,
along with a report from the National Housing Department, was forwarded
to the Jaffna Divisional Secretariat in September 2001. Though I
have called at the Rehabilitation Office many times, I have only
been informed that payment would be made whenever funds for rehabilitation
are received. Is the full amount of funds given by foreign countries
being utilised for rehabilitation or for other purposes?
A Displaced Civilian
We pay for their
It is about
time that the people put a stop to the rackets carried out by politicians.
Every time a new government is installed, at least one or two politicians
file court action and eventually some state institution ends up
coughing out millions as damages. This money does not belong to
institutions or board members, it belongs to the people.
All such fines
as determined by court should be paid by the relevant minister,
including the ministry secretary and the board that served the institution
at the time of the incident.
road near Tudella church on the Negombo-Colombo Road is dangerous.
Motorists using this stretch of road have little regard for pedestrians.
A young girl was knocked down at this point and the next day, two
children and their father who were on a motorcycle were involved
in an accident resulting in the death of the children.
It is time that a speed limit is strictly imposed between Tudella
junction and Ja-ela Police Station. Traffic lights should also be
installed at the pedestrian crossings in front of the Tudella church,
at the Tudella junction and near the Ja-ela Bank of Ceylon.
to the Editor' should be brief and to the point.
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