December 25, 2008

 

Toronto

 

President Mahinda Rajapakse
Temple
Trees
Colombo
Sri Lanka.

 

An Open Letter to Sinhala President Mahinda Rajapakse

 

Dear Mr. Sinhala President,

 

According to news reports you have warned the Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam (LTTE) that they would face proscription unless they released all civilians who are kept against their will. Since you have vowed to “destroy” the LTTE, it is not understand why you are talking about proscribing the LTTE? It is unnecessary to impose a ban when the LTTE faces destruction soon by the Sinhala armed forces. It is clear you have beginning to soar into the realms of fantasies.

 

On numerous occasions you have made claim that you have been elected by the Sinhalese – Buddhist constituency and, therefore, you will not betray their mandate. In keeping with your Mahintha Chinthana” you have said No to Thamil Homeland, No to Thamil people’s right to self determination and No to Thamil Nation.  Hence, your political philosophy is no different from that of White supremacist leaders of Apartheid South Africa , the German Nazis and Italian fascists who practised racism as a fine art! It should be understood that Thamils were driven to armed opposition because of Sinhala racism, tyranny and oppression against them.

 

Not long ago your IGP singled out Thamils in Colombo for deportation.  It only proved that your  government does not consider Thamils as citizens of the country with equal rights. This is due to the perverse  Mahavamsa mind-set which is absurd, to put it bluntly.

The Constitution of Sri Lanka guarantees all citizens the right to choose their residence, temporary or permanent, and freedom of movement. However, the IGP Victor Perera in a statement on June 01, 2008 said that Thamil people could not remain in Colombo without a valid reason. Thousands of Tamils from the Northeast have taken shelter in Colombo to escape the raging war there. Many others flock to Colombo to obtain passports, visas and other travel documents to flee the country. The manner in which they were rounded up and forcibly driven to the war zone was reminiscent of the holocaust. The wholesale expulsion of Thamils from Colombo proved the futility of Thamils relying on any Sinhala dominated government to secure their rights.  They have totally lost whatever little faith they had in the Sinhala leadership.   

At the same time by attempting to banish Thamils from Colombo and deporting them to the Northeast you have indirectly acknowledged that the North-Eastern Province is the traditional homeland of the Thamils!

 

Journalists have been barred from the Northeast for more than thirty months. Thamils live in fear and hopelessness under the Sinhala occupation army.  The EU parliamentary delegation visiting Sri Lanka six months ago was prevented from going there. Your government has been refusing for more than three years to let in UN human rights monitoring mechanism in Colombo .

   

The New York based Genocide Prevention Project issued a  damning new report released to mark World Human Rights Day on December 10 listed Sri Lanka among top eight Red Alert regions including Darfur, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia as engaged in GENOCIDAL  conflict.

 

The report combined the findings of five leading independent watch lists. Red Alert countries include Afghanistan and Iraq alongside commonly known regions currently experiencing genocidal conflict such as Sudan ’s Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo , Myanmar , Pakistan , Somalia and Sri Lanka . All made the list’s top eight because they appeared in each of the five "expert" indexes.  The report further claimed that Genocidal attacks on the minority in Sri Lanka did not start recently. They started within a few months of independence and growing in severity up to this day.  These “storm signals” fit well into the definition of Genocide by UN Conventions, but you are behaving as if everything is hunky dory in the ‘paradise’ island.

 

Church leaders in Sri Lanka say they are disappointed by the government rejecting their call for a Christmas truce in the country's continuing civil war. "This is really frustrating" Anglican Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe told Ecumenical News International on December 19 from his Diocesan office at Kurunagale after your government turned down the church demand. "It is sad that the government is not taking our demand seriously," lamented Illangasinghe who along with fellow Anglican Bishop Duleep de Chickera of Colombo and two Roman Catholic bishops made the truce appeal to the Sri Lankan government and  the LTTE.

 

You have boasted  ad nauseam that you have liberated the people of the eastern province and restored democracy. But your own puppet Chief Minister says he has no power to even appoint a peon. He says no funds have been provided to carry out development work.  He is comparing himself to the erstwhile Chief Minister Varadaraja Perumal who fled to India twenty year ago!  All powers are exercised by the Sinhala Military Governor who is still calling the shots effectively making the Chief Minister a dummy.

 

"The Sri Lankan government says that the liberated east is an example of democracy in action and a model for areas recaptured from the LTTE, but killings and abductions are rife, and there is total impunity for horrific abuses" says  Asia Director, Human Rights Watch, Brad Adams.  You can disagree with them but cannot belittle their feelings.

 

The Bishop for Batticaloa and Trincomalee Rev. Kingsley Swamipillai in his Christmas message says that the escalating violence is destroying the humanity. He says that the people caught in conflict are struggling for a living while thousands have lost their livelihood. The bishop said that in the East, abductions and killings are still taking place despite government’s claim it has been liberated. “It’s unfortunate that some of the people who were displaced two years ago have still not been settled,” said Bishop Swamipillai.

 

The Sri Lankan Commissioner General of Essential Services, S.B. Divaratne, in a letter issued to the Government Agents of Vavuniya, Mullaiththeevu and Kilinochchi last month has instructed the GAs to refrain from making any requests for food and non food assistance from INGOs and UN Agencies. "All your requirements should be processed through the Commissioner General of Essential Services, even in the event of any urgent necessity," the letter states. The content of the letter which is interpreted as a threat to the Thamil GAs is also evidence of a structural genocide inflicted upon the Tamil people.

 

Therefore, your dubious concern for the Thamil civilians in Vanni flies in the face of how shabbily they are treated by your government. It is worse in regard to Thamil civilians living in Vanni. You are not even allowing cloths to be taken to Vanni!

 

The HRW in a damning report says that “people who have fled areas under control of the LTTE to seek safety in government-controlled regions are detained in army-run camps.” The report continues “Civilians are trapped in a war zone with limited aid because the government ordered the U.N. and other aid workers out. To add insult to injury, people who manage to flee the fighting end up being held indefinitely in army-run prison camps. The camps were short of shelter and sanitation.”   HRW's Asia director Brad Adams says “The government's 'welfare centers' for civilians fleeing the Vanni are just BADLY DISGUISED PRISONS."  Contrary to your claim that government runs a successful humanitarian relief program, the rights group said there was a "DRASTIC SHORTAGE” of food, shelter, water and sanitation supplies.

 

All this apart, your threat to ban the LTTE unless they released all Thamils living in Vanni is highly hilarious. It is akin to the invitation by the spider to the fly to “Come into my parlour for a meal!” 

But the brave people of Vanni are wise and resourceful. They know well  what is in store for them if they move  into Sinhala army controlled areas. They know for a fact that Jaffna is an open prison and a living hell for the 600,000 Thamils trapped there. The Jaffna fishermen have lost their freedom to practise their profession. People disappear and their bodies are recovered from ditches after thugs in “White Vans” pick them up. This is  not only true about  Jaffna , but Vavunia, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Mannar and Amparai as well. Not a day passes without Thamils being shot and killed in Vavunia. Yet you have the gall to ask the LTTE to release the people in Vanni to move into Vavunia and live in Nazi style concentration camps.

It is no surprise then that Emilda Sukumar , GA Mullaitheevu told BBC Sandesaya programme that many IDPs were fleeing towards LTTE controlled territory despite repeated appeals by your government.

 

Thamil People's liberation struggle is a movement that encompasses every Thamil man, woman and children barring Quislings. The LTTE whether you like it or not are the sole and authentic representatives of the Thamil people.  Your attempt to drive a wedge between the LTTE and the Thamils is doomed to failure. More powerful Sinhalese racist presidents before you resorted to the same subterfuge but   failed.    Of course, I admire your guts to make such an audacious call in the background of Thamil civilians in Vanni getting daily killed, maimed and terrorised by indiscriminate aerial bombing and artillery barrages.  Genocide of Thamils is continuing unabated in a war without witnesses.

On December 25, the only main hospital Kilinochchi was damaged when Sinhala army fired artillery shells at 7.30 p.m. The hospital staff narrowly missed being hit by artillery shells.

SLAF bombed Paranthan three times on December 23  and twice next day.  On 23rd at 10.30 pm   cluster bombs were deployed in which the Holy Cross Convent, located on Paranthan Mullaiththevu Road 600 meters away from Paranthan junction sustained damage.  Eighty five cows of a herd a few meters away from the Convent were killed in the attack. Karaichchi North Co-Operative society building marked Red Cross was also attacked by the SLAF bombers. 

According to residents who fled Paranthan the SLAF deployed cluster bombs in the bombardment.

Paranthan has been bombed in more than five sorties by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) bombers causing civilians living near the convent to flee the area. The indiscriminate bombardment has also targeted shops and other commercial establishment in Paranthan and Kumarapuram.

On December 22,   one civilian was killed and ten children injured in aerial bombardment.  At Vaddakkachchi 2 five months old babies and a 6 year old girl returning from school were killed. 

 

On December 20, Pasupathy Gnanachandran (20) was killed and two civilians including an eight year old boy Sivaraja Sanjeevan were injured. Aerial bombing in Maththalan in Mullaithivu district near the shores injured three fishermen. Aerial bombing on the same day in Mullivaikal Tsunami settlement in Mullaithivu injured three more people. On the same day shelling over this area injured two civilians, a female teacher Muhunthan Pushpakumari aged 34. 

 

On December 17, a 5-month-old child and a 25-year-old male were killed and 13 other refugees including three children were wounded when Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) fighter jets bombed refugee settlements in Vaddakkachchi four times on each sorties bombing the refugees twice. The second attack was reported 250 meters near the hospital in Vaddakkachchi.

 

On December 23, at 7.10 am a 45-year-old staff attached to the Jaffna office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was shot dead by unknown armed men in Jaffna .  The victim, Suntharalingam Gengatharan, was shot in his head in front of UNHCR office in Jaffna , 100 meters from Nalloor temple, while he was on his way to ICRC office. The killing has taken place in a top security area, protected by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) where NGO and UN offices are situated.

 

Civilians’ toll for the month of November, 2008 in the Northeast are: 68 killed, 46 disappeared and 73 sought refuge at the Human Rights Commission ( Jaffna ).

 

On October 30, 2008 Vallipunam in Puthukkudiyiruppu in Mullaiththeevu district a civilian settlement area came under aerial attacks from the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) in  which a 15 years old boy from a school in that area and 17 years old girl were killed.

 

According to Gottbhaya Rajapakse, defense secretary Sri Lanka at least 6000 bombing sorties were carried out in Vanni during the last two years and still unloading 1000 kg lethal ammunitions in Vanni in each bombing sortie.

 

Your government enjoys the dubious distinction of compelling civilians reeling under the jackboot of the Sinhala army in Jaffna to seek voluntary detention in prisons to save their lives and limbs! You must be really ashamed of this phenomena, if you have any sense of shame!

 

The obduracy of your leadership has brought nothing but death, destruction, misery, penury, violence, tears and blood-letting to the Thamils.  You are not ashamed of the contentious, acrimonious, divisive and racist politics you and your army chief Sarath Fonseka advocate quite openly and publicly.  No doubt your government has become notorious for the gigantic scale of corruption, abuse of power, mounting cost of living and flagrant cronyism. 

In pursuit of a puerile military victory and to establish Sinhalese – Buddhist hegemony over the Thamils you are sending thousands of unemployed and unemployable Sinhalese village youths to their death beds in Vanni. They are sent as sacrificial lambs with only 3 months training while you sit in the lap of luxury in Colombo flanked by medieval court jesters!   

Thamils have a firm belief that if a man inflict sorrow upon others in the morning, it will come upon him unsought in the very evening. You too Mr. Sinhala President will rue the day when nemesis catch up with you!

 

'It is essential if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the Rule of Law' - Affirmation by the United Nations, in the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

 

Yours truly,

 

 

 

 

 

Veluppillai Thangavelu

 

(Tamil Canadian December 28,2008)