Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police (retired) and President- Colombo Plan International Society, B. Anton Jeyanathan told the Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) that the present government, under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has the political strength and power to bring in the necessary political, administrative and legal reforms to remove all injustices and discriminations for each and every citizen from Dondra to Point Pedro to live as one united family.
“Bold steps need to be taken to remove all irritants, which have plagued our country. It is this Government which has unprecedented support from the major community, which can convince the citizens that bold political reforms are necessary and should be implemented, so that our country can emerge as a country of peace and harmony and economic growth, and will never face any threat from the LTTE or any other terrorist groups, Mr. Jeyanathan told the LLRC, which wound up end January.
Mr. Jeyanathan said that all citizens of Sri Lanka want to live with dignity, honour and self respect, with no fear of discrimination, of terror, of political victimisation, of human rights violations and of economic oppression.
Mr. Jeyanathan also expressed confidence that, unlike other Commissions and Conferences, which sat, deliberated, but produced nothing, the LLRC will, in the interests of our country, “conclude your deliberations to rectify the maladies which have plagued Sri Lanka for many years, so that peace and harmony will prevail once again.”
While stating that one single or a particular reason cannot be attributed for the violence unleashed by the LTTE, Mr. Jeyanathan said that due to the atrocities of the LTTE, the entire nation suffered irrevocable economic, social and political hardship, loss of lives, peace and harmony. Our progress forward has been put back by 30 to 40 years. On the whole, the entire country suffered, but as a separate community, it is the Tamil community which suffered the most, from the violence unleashed by the LTTE. Loss of intellectuals, moderate politicians, youths, wealth, land, dignity and self respect. Brain drain of qualified professionals from the Tamil community is irrevocable and irreplaceable.
He said that, “as a retired Law Enforcement Officer, I consider Terrorism a criminal act. An armed struggle, challenging the established democratic Government, for whatever cause, is nothing but Terrorism.”
He said that terrorism should have been dealt with and should be dealt with by the Armed forces supported by the Law Enforcement Agency the Police, without any political consideration, agendas and compulsion. Initially, the Armed forces and the Police, were not allowed to perform their duties by the Governments in power, whenever criminal acts were committed by the members of the LTTE. Political consideration was uppermost in the minds of the political leaders who failed to support the Armed forces and the Police by way of men and material to meet the challenge posed by the LTTE.
“I am aware of the threat faced by Police officers who were engaged in investigating the activities of the LTTE. Police officers from the Tamil community were their prime targets, Bastiampillai, Pathmanathan, Rajeswaran, Theophilus are some of the names that come to mind.”
He also recalled the surrender of over 400 odd Police Officers to the LTTE , one of them being ASP Ivan Botejue, who was a batch mate of his. “They were rearing to meet the challenge of the terrorists, even by sacrificing their lives, pleading with their superiors to permit them to break out and confront the terrorists, to uphold the dignity of the Police. The political masters, through the Police hierarchy, directed the entire group of officers to lay down their arms and surrender to the terrorists, who had surrounded the Police Station, on the promise that they will be released. They obeyed their superiors. The entire group of officers was murdered.”
He also spoke on the introduction of the ‘Sinhala Only’ policy to the country. “The language policy fortified with the standardisation scheme for admission into the University, ignited the Tamil youths, which was used by the Tamil political parties, especially the Federal party and the TULF, to grab power in the North and the East, which could be attributed as one of the reasons which resulted in the birth of the LTTE.”
He also spoke of his personal experiences with regards to the language issue. “I joined the Police service in 1957 as a Sub-Inspector (SI) of Police. At the time of my recruitment, there was no requirement to pass examinations in the Sinhala language. Qualifications required to join the service as an SI, to every applicant, were one and the same.” However, consequent to completing his third year, and due for confirmation, he, along with the other Tamil SIs, were informed that their confirmation would not be granted unless they sat and passed a written examination in Sinhala, held by the Education Department.
“I commenced studying Sinhala under a Ven. Buddhist Monk at Maligawatte and passed the examination conducted by the Education Department. In the meantime, some of my colleagues who were of the majority community, went ahead of me without any language proficiency in the Tamil language. “
He also spoke of the need to raise the standard of professionalism within the Police Department. “Professionalism in all aspects of Police work, honesty, integrity and efficiency should be the criteria considered for the selection of postings and promotions, not political loyalty. It is no secret as to what criteria prevails within the Police Department today.”
The Commission is due to present its report by May.