(Full text of speech in Parliament by TNA National list parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran on January 20 th during adjournment motion debate)
“Honourable Deputy Chairman of Committees, I move for the adjournment of the house to discuss a matter that is urgent, a matter of which notice was given with regard to serious security situation that has arisen particularly in the Jaffna Peninsula and generally in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. This matter was to be raised by our party leader on the 4 th of January as Parliament convened for the first time for the year and a notice of that motion was submitted the previous day as required by the standing orders, however it was not taken up on the 4 th of January it was taken up on the 5 th instead on account of the fact or at least we were told, that translation of that motion was being delayed, however curiously on the 4 th of January Hon. Minister for Traditional Industries raised this matter.
After we had given notice of the motion for our party leader to raise it, quite unusually and breaking with tradition a cabinet minister sought to raise a question of public importance as he claimed it to be and again breaking with tradition no answer has been given up to date neither to the question that was raised by the Hon. Minister nor the issue that was raised by the Hon. Member from Jaffna as leader of the Tamil Nation Alliance, Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi. The issue is one of grave significance. When my party leader raised this matter he listed out several incidents of violence that had taken place in Jaffna in the months of November and December 2010. These incidents of violence have largely gone without being investigated and that is the seriousness of the matter. The first issue is the number of such incidents that take place in one particular area and that too in an area where there is a….....
Honourable Deputy Chairman of committees I am coming to that, I will read the motion but before that I am seeking your permission to layout the background circumstances under which this motion is being moved and the Hon. member will do well to be patient and listening.
In this back ground we find that when there is no... one thing is that there are a series of incidents that take place in the area that has the tightest security control in the whole country and no one, I repeat, no one has been apprehended at the time of the offence in any of these incidents and stranger still no one has been apprehended even thereafter except in one or two instances and what is curiosa there is that persons who have been apprehended by the security forces are said to be members of the EPDP. The Security Forces Commander Major General Hathurusinghe is on record saying….......
What is the point of order?
Honourable Deputy Chairman of Committees, there is no point of order there, I have not refused to read the motion I will read it, I will read it. Honourable Deputy Chairman of Committees, there is no point of order there I said I will read it; I am giving the back ground to the motion.
Very well sir I will bow to your ruling… I will bow to your ruling, I will read the motion. This is what the motion says,
‘There is a complete break down in the law and order situation in the Northern Province and more, particularly in the Jaffna Peninsula resulting in murders, kidnapping, extortion and other crimes. This has gripped the residents of Jaffna in a fear psychosis since the perpetrators have managed to get away in every one of these instances. The situation has been further compounded that even a Government Minister from the area has thought the situation so serious that he himself raised this matter in the house on 4th January 2011, but no reply has been given by the Government to date. In view of the deteriorating law and order situation in the Jaffna peninsula this house resolves that it is imperative on the Hon. Prime Minister on behalf of the Government to explain to this house what steps this Government intends to take to stop this grave situation from further aggravating.’
I was on the issue that persons who have been apprehended according to the Security Forces Commander are members of the EPDP. One then understands the indecent hurry of the Hon. Minister to have jumped the gun, so to say, and raise the matter himself in the house before it was duly and properly raised by the party leader of the TNA, but that doesn’t cloud the issue because the incidents are, therefore all to see I am moving to place a list of 24 incidents for the record now. There is a similarity; there is a pattern in some of these matters; bodies are found in wells in a number of incidents, but in none of those incidents are the death due to suffocation in the well, death has been caused previously and in almost all the incidents the bodies were found with torture marks.
A high number of incidents have been reported from the Maanipai area and also from Vadamarachchi East particularly in the Kudaththanai area, where there are at least four incidents that have been reported. One of the later incidents reported from that area is that of an employee of the postal department who was at the forefront of the opposition to an illegal sand mining activity that is being carried out by the EPDP in that area. He had been seen at demonstrations; his pictures have appeared on the web. EPDP has, is said to have a, a foundation called the Maheswari Foundation, in fact there is no such foundation, all of us in this house know because there is an incorporation that is still being awaited and for sand that costs only Rs.286/=, Rs.286/= This illegal body run by the EPDP charges Rs.13,600/= Highway robbery, and people of that area have been protesting about this. In fact Maheswari Foundation that is awaiting incorporation in this house also cannot be incorporated at this point in time because the matter of the incorporation of this body is subjudis at this moment. There is a court case pending CA 647/10 in which the issue of incorporation of that foundation in itself is a subject matter and in due time that will be communicated to this house not to precede further on that matter.
In any event it is a person who led the protest against this robbery by the EPDP on the residents of Jaffna. Armed gun men invaded his house; shot him dead and got away. I said there are many curious matters that arise in these transactions. Another curious issue is, several EPDP members attended the funeral, put up posters to mourn his death and tried to suggest that this was one their own members who had died when the world knows that he is one who opposed the EPDP. So one understands the reluctance of the Government to reply to this serious issue that has been raised and one understands the anxiety of the Hon. Minister to want to raise it first himself. The Government doesn’t have to look too far. The President had spoken a few days ago in Jaffna, and stated that he is resolved to do away with all the underworld Mafia, all the underworld groups, now for, there are no underworld groups in Jaffna, anybody who knows Jaffna knows that there are no underworld groups in Jaffna. The President, His Excellency, does not have to look too far to know who these persons who are illegally carrying arms, who are threatening people, who are driving the people to a fear psychosis, who are extorting money who are remanding ransom and who are carrying out these murders. That’s a group that is very close to the Government and that is why it has become necessary for the opposition today to move at this adjournment to discuss this matter and move this resolution for the Prime Minister to reply to every one of those incidents, the incidents I have placed. In fact when the incidents were given notice of the Honourable leader of the house stated that in 24 hours he cannot give a reply because there are several incidents, but 24 hours later he came and said since here is a full day adjournment debate that has been agreed upon I will answer every one of those incidents at that adjournment debate and we are awaiting the reply to those incidents that I have placed and I have placed many more that have happened between the 5 th of January and today.
The Government must take responsibility for this state of affairs particularly when it is published in the media quoting the Security Commander of Forces himself, as to the identity of the persons who are related to at least one or two of these incidents. The most highlighted one is the murder of Mr. Markandu Sivalingam, The Deputy Zonal Director of Education of Valigamam. Now his murder has been carried out, I have personally spoken to very close relatives of his, his murder has been carried out by a well trained person, a person who had managed to get into that house through the Chimney. Through which even a person of my dimensions cannot go through. There are foot marks inside the chimney. He is so well trained that he has used a micro pistol and even when Mr.Sivalingam had held him down with the hands down being unable to raise his hand to fire, from below his hips he had fired one shot through his heart, such a marksmen; such an athlete at least the person who had carried out the murder of Mr.Sivalingam. He did not panic thereafter; he had spoken to his daughter, asked for the daughter’s earrings; showed his gun and walked out of the house without anybody apprehending him. Now various theories have been put forward as for the motives for this killing, but one thing that we can say is that the motive for the killing is not robbery. The motive for that killing is been personal feud, there has been no personal feud as some people have tried to suggest saying that his wife was living in another house, that’s two houses away, his mother is elderly and sick and lives alone so the daughter-in-law goes and sleeps in the night in that house that has been sought to be made out as though he was estranged from his wife. That’s far from the truth. One cannot find any plausible explanation that is being trotted out. There is one other suggestion that has been made, that he was opposed to the event that the Hon. Prime Minister attended in Jaffna at which the Tamil children were forced to learn the National Anthem to be sung in the Sinhala language in a short time. They were used to singing it in the Tamil Language.
Now we don’t know the truth or otherwise of that allegation and I don’t want to be as irresponsible as to suggest that is the reason for the killing, but there is no other reasonable explanation that can be given either. Now why would the Government want this kind of negative publicity on itself?
One cannot understand why the government is doing this or allowing this to happen.
Either the security forces that are in, said to be in total control of the peninsula are running a mock and the Government has no control over them or whatever the security forces or the persons aligned to them. Two the government has no will to put a stop to. Also the Government is turning a blind eye then to the activities of EPDP which even the Security Forces Commander of Jaffna concedes is involved in some of these incidents. I think it is time that the Government moves away from tolerating this kind of persons to be part of their ranks. The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission that the Government appointed in an interim report has suggested that all those persons who are bearing arms illegally must immediately be disarmed. So your own commission concedes; your own commission says that there are such persons and in Jaffna it is common knowledge that it is the EPDP that is that group that is bearing arms illegally and that it’s part, that it’s constituent of this Government.
I am making a fervent appeal to the Hon. Prime Minister who is present here and through him to His Excellency the President, at least at this point in time that you say that you want to reconcile with the Tamil people; at least at this point in time when His Excellency takes an effort to speak in Tamil to show his good intentions; at least now move away from these criminal elements that are part of your Government. It’s time that you told them enough is enough, this Government will not tolerate your criminality anymore and move them out of the Government’s fold. If you are serious about the Tamil people respecting this Government, if you are serious about Tamil people taking what you say seriously then it is imperative that you do this, but for the moment, the issue that has arisen now at this adjournment debate are identifiable instances of criminal activity that have all gone unresolved, none of this have been resolved. Out of 24 that I have placed now in Parliament, in this house hardly two or three incidents have been even investigated and one or two persons apprehended.
This is a very strange issue, in other parts of the country where there is less than ten percent of the security measures that are prevalent in the Peninsula of Jaffna, within a couple of days persons are apprehended, investigations are carried out. So if you allow this state of affairs to continue, then you will be confirming the doubt that all of us have that it is some part of the Government that is responsible for all of these matters. Some of these incidents have spilled over to the other parts of the Northern Province as well. Some of my colleagues who will speak after this will detail those as well, but for the moment let me wind up my speech by moving that this house will adopt the resolution that I have proposed.