By Veerasingham Anandasangaree
June 16, 2010
His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa
Please permit me to bring to your notice the pathetic plight of the re-settled Internally Displaced Persons. I am sure this letter will not dis-please you, if you have the patience to read it with the sympathy these people deserve.
Both you and I entered Parliament in 1970, representing the electorate of Belliatta and Kilinochchi respectively. You were the youngest of the lot and I was senior to you by 14 years and also senior to you in Politics. I am sure you will not dispute my right to advice you, however un-palatable my advice may appear to you.
I am not in agreement with the two matters discussed by the Tamil National Alliance with you and your team and the opinions expressed there. It thoroughly disappointed the IDPs and caused much concern to them. They were so confident that their children will be released without delay from detention and where-ever necessary houses will be built newly or repaired or roofed depending on the condition of each house.
The children conscripted by the L.T.T.E are the most valued possessions of the IPDs. The parents are disappointed that the authorities who promised to release all, after a brief inquiry, have not kept their promise. On arrival at the various IDP Welfare Centers, announcements over loud speakers were made, requesting even those who had one day’s training to report to the authorities. Promise of quick release accompanied these announcements. Many parents claim that although they had several opportunities to escape, from Mathalan, they did not do so hoping that they could leave with their Children held by the LTTE as combatants. The most distressing thing for them is the fact that the very same hard-core LTTE cadre who conscripted their Children are seen with the Army Intelligence identifying, as belonging to the LTTE cadre, those whom they recruited to the LTTE earlier.
Many hard-core elements had escaped from the camps with large sums of money and are either settled locally or fled to neighboring countries and safely settled there. There are many others who are freely moving about with the civilians. Some, who acted as advisers to the LTTE, are now serving as advisers to the Government Authorities. There are many parents who are prepared to identify these hard-core elements even now.
If you accept my suggestion the detenus can be released without any problem and any protest from anybody. Appoint a few three member committees comprised of a Senior Lawyer, a Police Officer of ASP rank in service or retired and a third person, a Respectable Citizen to serve in the committee. How these committees should be constituted is certainly your decision. These committees can inquire into the background of the detenus, and also get the views of the parents and on being satisfied that a detenu concerned has no serious involments, can recommend his or her release. This must be done immediately. On the same basis on the recommendations of these committees, the political prisoners could be released on bail. Your Excellency you are aware that some hard-core elements are facing trial by being released on bail. So why penalize the innocent ones. I also strongly urge you to consider releasing a list of persons who are in detention, for the parents to know whether a person missing is dead or alive.
Your Excellency, we should not forget that what had happened in Vanni and many other parts in the North and the East are no incidents like a minor cyclone or an earth quake but an event that had seriously affected the livelihood and habitation of a few hundred thousand people, directly in eight of the 25 districts in the country. Of the eight districts, Kilinochchi, and Mullaithevu are so badly devastated that several thousand houses were razed to the ground, several thousand without roofs and many others need major repairs or re-building. Hardly one house has windows, doors or even rafters for roofing.
The District of Mannar and Vavuniya come next followed by the Jaffna District. I do not know of the present situation in the East. The damage caused in Kilinochchi and Mullaithevu is far beyond estimation. Tsunami was the most disastrous event of large magnitude that occurred in Sri Lanka and within hours everything was over but the impact is still being felt even after five years. But the war that devastated a major portion of Vanni prolonged for a few months and the lives lost and the damage caused to property are so much that the Tsunami cannot be sited as a parallel to what happened in Vanni of which Mullaithevu and Kilinochchi are parts.
Seeing is believing Your Excellency. I wish you take the trouble to pay a visit to the devastated areas in Vanni. I could not control my tears when I saw their pathetic plight during my recent visit after they were re-settled. You are aware that I lived there, taught the students there and represented Kilinochchi in Parliament for a long time. I know most of them by their names. I know every nook and corner of the electorate which was twice bigger than all the other ten electorates in the Jaffna electoral district taken together. It was I who brought Electricity to Kilinochchi 43 years back, as Chairman of the Karachi Village council, served as Chairman of the Kilinochchi Town Council and was also responsible for carving out Kilinochchi as a separate District.
Your Excellency, please be assured that I am not trying to play politics. The Vanni people whom I served with devotion and care for over 50 years had been misled and I am sure will not be cared for, the way I cared for them. Vanni has suffered enough, enough in the sense that not for an year or two but for quarter of a century or more. They need care and protection. I offer my services to them and take the responsibility of serving them with devotion.
I have decided not to seek election anymore. I am not at all satisfied with the way they are looked after. Please leave the re-settlement process of Vanni in my hands and the development projects too. Don’t let anyone to fish in troubled waters. Allow all the NGO’s to operate in Vanni and have strict control over them if you doubt their sincerity of purpose. What happened during the LTTE period could be forgotten because even Government and Semi Government institutions dealing with money had been paying “kapam” to them. Don’t deprive the re-settled IDPs who are having many problems, of any benefit, they may gain through the NGOs. There are a number of NGOs from the south wanting to come to their aid.
In Conclusion, I wish to very strongly advice you, Your Excellency that the Government although cannot be held fully responsible for the devastation caused to the North and East, cannot shirk its responsibility of providing houses for all who are deprived of their houses. While appreciating the good gesture of the Indian Government that had offered to build 50,000 houses I urge you to discuss this problem with the other countries and International Organization that had helped us very liberally. They will be too willing to help.
The request for compensation from those who had been made paupers overnight cannot be considered as an un-reasonable request. I suggest that a team representing the donor countries and organizations to pay a visit to the devastated areas, in the North and East.
Tamil United Liberation Front