Basil’s Jaffna declaration

October 12, 2017 at 11:06 pm

 

It was not clear as to whether

Mr. Rajapaksa was serious when he said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Government was to allow commemoration of LTTE leaders such as Thileepan, had they been in power another one year

This is an admission that the lands have not been released by the Yahapalana Government as well merely for political reasons – for fear of criticism by the Mahinda Rajapaksa loyalists

The media coverage of controversial issues, especially ethnically sensitive issues is sometimes strange with some media institutions or journalists preferring to suppress certain stories, despite their significance being high in a national perspective.
Two recent Supreme Court verdicts can be cited as cases in point.
In a landmark ruling the Supreme Court declared that “Advocating for a federal form of Government within the existing state could not be considered as advocating separatism and that the Illankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) does not, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate State.”
The ruling was given dismissing the petition filed by H. K. Don Chandrasoma of Kelaniya who sought a court order declaring that ITAK is a political party which has as one of its “aims” and “objects” the establishment of a separate State.
One would have felt bitter with the court’s decision.

I have a special attachment with the North. I took steps to remove land mines and facilitate agriculture. I changed the face of the north, which then had houses without roofs and provided 24 hour electricity supply. We sent the Yal Devi train again to the north.
But it was no doubt an important ruling, as it rejects the notion held by many Sinhalese political parties, organisations and individuals that federalism is synonymous
with separatism.
Nevertheless, the story failed to find

space or air time in Sri Lankan media.
Also the Supreme Court had given a similar verdict on the highly controversial and ethnically sensitive Wilpattu land issue in August this year.
The court observed that the resettlement in Wilpattu area had taken place according to the law and civilians were resettled on the original lands of the settlers, which they had inhabited before the evacuations took place during the 30-year war against the LTTE.
Again, except for one or two newspapers, other media outlets deemed it insignificant for publicity.

Rajapaksas had totally ignored the minority votes after their landslide victory at the 2010 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections that were held fresh from the war victory against the LTTE.
The story of raping a Rohingya refugee girl by a Police Constable a few weeks ago wouldn’t have come to light unless a group allegedly led by some monks barged into the UNHCR safe house for Rohingya refugees in Mount Lavinia on September 26.
Media again seems to have thought it fit to suppress the story.
The Tamil media quoted Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) Chief Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera as justifying at a press conference in Colombo last month the erection of a monument for the slain leader of the LTTE Velupillai Prabhakaran in Nandikkadal lagoon. Sinhala and English media did not publish the story.

Northern people are well aware that the JO, has been attempting to scare the southern people by claiming that the Government was releasing the lands endangering national security

Only the State media other than a few Tamil newspapers were interested in carrying the speeches made by former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa in Jaffna days ago, where he had touched upon the ethnically sensitive land issue in the north, the issue of people missing during the war, commemorating LTTE leaders and war crimes.

It is not clear whether it is their audience or themselves that the media was careful not to hurt by not publishing these nationally important stories.
We thought that it is pertinent to discuss this matter before taking up some of the issues Mr. Basil Rajapaksa had dealt with during his tour in Jaffna.
Rajapaksa’s visit to the North before visiting many southern parts of the country seems to point to his understanding of the vitality of the minority votes in future elections.
Rajapaksas had totally ignored the minority votes after their landslide victory at the 2010 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections that were held fresh from the war victory against the LTTE.
Many ministers including Champika Ranawaka had told then that the minority votes no longer worth in deciding election results.

If they can do so, it would be a great step towards winning minority support, as it would instill confidence in Muslims and Christians as well that they would not be let down as happened earlier in case of threats during a future government led
by Rajapaksas

However, they were proven wrong at the very next Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in 2015 where President Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated by Maithripala Sirisena after a sober campaign, thanks mainly to the BBS and other anti-Muslim groups.
Basil Rajapaksa had elaborated further the controversial points he had touched on during the membership drive of his party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) in the north in an interview with a Tamil newspaper over the weekend. Here are some of the points he had made during the interview:
“I have a special attachment with the North. I took steps to remove land mines and facilitate agriculture. I changed the face of the north, which then had houses without roofs and provided 24 hour electricity supply. We sent the Yal Devi train again to the north.
“Jaffna University students had told me that they were allowed to commemorate Thileepan, the former LTTE leader in Jaffna. In fact, had we been in power for another year, we too would have given permission for such commemorations. We were giving such rights step by step. “It was we who removed first the road blocks put up during the war and instituted the Northern Provincial Council… It was during our time that more lands were released to their original owners. There are more lands which could be released even now. If they are not released the owners must be compensated. We even shifted the Army Headquarters in order to facilitate development activities. Therefore lands in the north must be given back to their owners. Why are these people still holding back the fisheries harbours without giving them to the fishermen?
“No war crimes had been committed during the war. But, if anybody had committed any, they must be investigated. We have to look into the missing people’s issue with compassion. We had appointed the Paranagama Commission to sort out this problem. Government has to take immediate action in this regard.” Thus goes on the interview.
Rajapaksa’s observation on many issues including the land issue in the North is clearly an exposure of hypocrisy on the part of major political parties in the south including the SLPP.
He says that the lands occupied by the Army should be released to their rightful owners. But northern people are well aware that the Joint Opposition, including the SLPP, Wimal Weerawansa’s NFF and Udaya Gammanpila’s  PHU has been attempting to scare the southern people by claiming that the Government was releasing the lands occupied by the security forces endangering the national security.
Minister Rajitha Senaratne has stated that the obstacle to the release of lands had been removed with Rajapaksa’s remarks on the matter made during his Jaffna tour.
This is an admission that the lands have not been released by the Yahapalana Government as well merely for political reasons – for fear of criticism by the Mahinda
Rajapaksa loyalists.
Basil Rajapaksa tells the northerners that the problem on the missing people must be resolved forthwith. At the same time his party and the Joint Opposition incite the southerners against the establishment of an Office of the Missing
Persons (OMP).
Their stand in the south is that taking action on the issue of missing persons was tantamount to sending the armed forces personnel to
the guillotine.
That itself is an indictment against the armed forces. Neither do they demand action upon the report of the Paranagama Commission, which Rajapaksa was boasting about.
On the allegation of war crimes, Rajapaksa tells the people in the north that the allegations, if any, should be investigated. Is this the stand that his party and the Joint Opposition take in the south?
Northerners do make allegations of war crimes, such as those on the killing of Prabhakaran’s younger son Balachandren, LTTE journalist Isaipriya and the outfit’s Batticaloa leader Ramesh.
Is that the position of the SLPP, NFF and PHU that these allegations should be investigated?
It was not clear as to whether Mr. Rajapaksa was serious when he said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Government was to allow commemoration of LTTE leaders such as Thileepan, had they been in power another one year.
People might be interested to know the response to this remark by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, former Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa and leaders of the NFF and the PHU. We do not know if the SLPP/Joint Opposition abides henceforth by the Basil Rajapaksa’s “Jaffna Declaration.”
If they can do so, it would be a great step towards winning minority support, as it would instill confidence in Muslims and Christians as well that they would not be let down as happened earlier in case of threats during a future government led
by Rajapaksas .
Besides, had President Mahinda Rajapaksa had the political will to take his brother’s current stand fresh from the end of the war, he might most probably have won the Nobel Peace Prize, considering the fact that President Maithripala Sirisena had been shortlisted for it, eight years after the end of the war.

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