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Right to Reply: R Hoole – don’t forget Sinhalese & Muslims were ALSO victims, they deserve justice too

Daily Mirror issue of 21st December 2018 carried an interview with Prof. Ratnajeewan. Hoole by Susitha Fernando titled they must be tried to show that Tamil lives are as important” whether this is what Prof Hoole or Susitha Fernando conveys is left for the readers to decide, however there are some questions that need to be raised to counter the claims made.

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Prof. R Hoole is a member of the supposed to be ‘independent’ Election Commission of Sri Lanka and that ‘independence’ is questioned when a member of a supposed to be ‘independent’ ‘unbiased’ commission goes & files a petition against dissolving Parliament to hold elections. Certainly, no one is debarred from filing FR petitions but wouldn’t it have been proper to resign from the Commission & then file the FR? His response when asked if he was filing petition in the capacity of one of the 3 election commissioners or personal is both capacities, but primarily as a Member of the Commission… when I told Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya he simply shook my hand…I interpreted it as a positive encouragement”

Does an independent commission have a mandate to officially file FR petitions?

When nothing is black or white & any case is bound by interpretation which is why there are counsels that argue in favor & against the same case, it is natural that any determination by a court will have people agreeing with it & disagreeing with it. Even murderers have escaped the gavel on technicalities argued by lawyers. Therefore, there is little reason to now comment on the gazette notification on dissolution. But it does raise whether this dissolution was the ONLY violation committed since 2015 that ‘challenged rule of law” & ‘challenged reason itself” why was no FR filed on Central Bank Bond scam numerous other questionable Bills passed, appointing of MPs who had been rejected by People, not holding elections etc.

We would like Prof. Hoole to answer what is the Tamil problem” as it has to be a problem that fellow Sinhala, Muslims & Burghers or any other citizens do not also suffer from.

With all his academic knowledge Prof. Hoole must know that the National army is deployed by a government based on the national security risk or other threats that defense authorities are not duti-bound to spell publicly for national security reasons. Moreover, no one colonizes one’s own land. That is such a silly term being used. With regard to private land, what needs to be first asked is have these people shown title deeds & evidence to claim demand? No one can simply make a hue & cry & demand land & demand new title deeds if they cannot legally prove they held prior ownership.

Quite a lot of confederal promoting individuals & groups are now trying to psychologically make people believe UNITARY and UNITED mean the same – HOWEVER, unitary is what Sri Lanka is and united is simply a concept based on collaboration used for a confederal/confederacy/confederation system similar to that which the US had & abolished as it gave scope for separation. UNITED is a term we should not use. Unitary is the term Sri Lanka must retain.

To the question on UNP ‘deal’ with TNA, Prof.Hooles response is there is nothing wrong with making deals” the reality is the UNP leader would face the same predicament of having to resign as PM if he did not have the backing of the TNA & the JVP. The fate of 93 UNP Govt is virtually in the hands of the 15 TNA MPs – the manner backbench TNA MP came thundering down the stairs & began berating a senior UNP MP seated next to the UNP leader who did nothing shows the predicament of the UNP.

A supposed to be ‘independent’ member of a supposed to be ‘independent’ commission claiming the merger of the North & East provinces which can be simply done must be done to afford us a sense of security” is truly baffling when more Tamils are not only living outside of this terrain but are regularly increasing migration to non N-E areas. Moreover, readers must be cautious of the basis of this demand as it was exactly what the Tamil militant groups demanded, what the 13th amendment did, what most separatists are now demanding too.

If Sinhala is also an official language it means that Tamils must learn Sinhala too just as much as Sinhalese are learning Tamil.

Prof. Hoole also says that the Tamil community is despondent in the manner that the 2015 Government had not fulfilled the promises given to the Tamil community. Can we all know what these promises are and how can any government make promises only to 1 community completely ignoring that other communities exist. Isn’t one’s right only up to the point it does not infringe on the right of another?

As response, Prof. Hoole says full implementation of the Thirteenth amendment giving us our language rights, and police and land powers….we seek a temporary merger of the North & East”.

Let it be reiterated again that 36 of the 37 subjects in the 13th amendment in List 1 have been devolved to the provinces. Only land & police have not been dissolved & for good reasons too. Northern province is just 1 of the 9 provinces in Sri Lanka. No province can be regarded superior or given preferential treatment above the others. Before demanding the subject that has not been devolved how successful has the TNA been in delivering to the Tamil people the 36 subjects it has under its control? Statistics can prove that while the TNA demands budget allocations second to the Western province, that money is not spent & returns to the Treasury while the Central Govt spends its allocation in full for development in provinces.

Moreover, we must question this forcibly introduced 13th amendment as the reason to introduce it was a solution to a supposed ‘ethnic’ problem. Not only is it a monetary burden on the taxpayers – we do not see such a problem as existing – people from South travel North, people from North travel South, we eat, we live together, we are all friends. The only problem we have is politicians, NGOs, mainstream media, foreign groups telling us we have a problem when we don’t seem to know what it is. The Only problem we are beginning to now realize is that these groups for their own gain & for them to sustain their existence want us to presume a problem exists & that they are the one’s capable of solving it – when in reality they are creating the problems and demanding to solve it.

Prof. Hoole next raises issue against not releasing ‘political prisoners’ who is he referring to? Just for clarification purposes LTTE are not qualified to claim political prisoner tag. Sri Lanka’s conflict is categorized as a non-international armed conflict (NIAC). LTTE is a globally designated terrorist organization. Provisions of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is applicable to LTTE while the government is bound to apply local laws and violation of IHL against LTTE. In Non-International Armed Conflict terms COMBATANT and PRISONER OF WAR does not apply. The term ENEMY COMBATANT is applicable to ONLY an International Armed Conflict. Therefore, LTTE cannot be referred to as ENEMY COMBATANT. LTTE are UNLAWFUL COMBATANTS.

It is interesting that Susitha Fernando asks the question don’t you think …certain Sinhala nationality based political parties are using the ethnic issue as a trump card to gather Sinhala majority votes… it is hard for any liberal thinking Sinhala government to survive in the vote game” Firstly, please name these Sinhala-nationality based political parties that have been government using the ethnic issue? Secondly, where has there been a ‘Sinhala government’? Who says that a government has to be only ‘liberal-thinking’? Thirdly, taking the registered political parties contesting elections how many of them are ethnic-based political parties & to which ethnic groups do they belong?

Let us also set something straight. The call to give foremost place to Buddhism is because for centuries the country has been led following the precepts of Buddhist teachings. There is nothing anyone can complain against those teachings. Keeping the Buddhist ethos in Sri Lanka is an entitlement that no new liberal thinkers/Govts can remove, replace or reduce. Before the law, every judge & jury treats complainant equally – no Buddhist has ever got a favorable sentence because he was Buddhist. If everyone is treated equally before the law that is all that should matter. But then how is it that Tamils have Thesavalami law that denies non-Tamils purchasing land in Jaffna, isn’t that against equality and fundamental rights? How is it that food has to be labeled according to a minority religion? Isnt that infringing other people’s rights? How is it that there are minority religious banking? We can name many more of privileges non-Buddhists enjoy while demanding Buddhists are being given preferential treatment. It is ridiculous for academics to stoop low as to project a false sense of inequality. If Buddhists have marginalized other religions how is it that there are more mushrooming churches, mosques, kovils and evangelical prayer centres all over the island most of which are illegally set up by shouting down objections as racist, minorities are being attacked etc.

To answer Prof. Hoole’s last statement on ‘war criminals’ let us first ask Who were the victims? Weren’t they the innocent unarmed (non-combat trained) civilians who were Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims & even foreigners. NHow did they become victims? LTTE were killing them not in a conflict zone, so they become more victims than any other. LTTE killed people of all communities nullifying the TNA claim that LTTE is the ‘sole representative of the Tamil people” (TNA election manifestos) Everyone was living in fear throughout 30 years and that fear was erased by our national heroes. Their military operation to end LTTE terror came after failed peace talks, negotiations & foreign-assisted ceasefires, when LTTE refused to lay down arms & surrender when given a chance to do so, when LTTE declared it will fight to the end, therefore no one can shed crocodile tears now. That military operation was combined with a humanitarian rescue operation that saved some 300,000 Tamils as well as close to 12,000 LTTE unlawful combatants in civilian clothing & close to 600 child soldiers. The child soldiers were give a presidential pardon, rehabilitated & returned to families the example of singing sensation much loved by all is former child soldier Gokulan. Many of the LTTE rehabilitated unlawful combatants say they feel happier with the army than amongst their own who are not even giving them jobs. The manner entire villages of Tamils in Vishvadu & areas of Mullaitivu cried when Col. Ratnapriya Bandu was bidding goodbye is a slap to those trying to desperately project a false & untrue picture for their own petty gains.

There cannot be restorative justice for LTTE and retributive justice for Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

As an academic & supposed to be ‘independent’ Commission member Prof. Hoole by his comments should make the reader ask themselves is this how an unbiased, impartial, independent officer who is obtaining a salary from the taxpayer should comment. Who make up the majority of tax paying public? Are these independent members paid to be promoting the supposed interests of one community only? How fair & ethical are they while pointing fingers at others.

Shenali D Waduge

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