Arrest Of Jaffna Mayor Manivannan, Attorney At Law
By C.V. Wigneswaran
The arrest of Mayor Viswalingam Manivannan gives food for thought. Few days ago a “B” Report is said to have been filed in the Chief Magistrate’s Court against me. I still do not know what the contents of the B report are. An arrest is possible. Then there were the questioning of Tamil Journalists. In Parliament whenever Tamil perceptions are aired by Tamil Representatives immediately there are vicious and loud protests from Government ranks and sometimes from the Opposition ranks too.
Tamil Members of Parliament are always ridiculed and disturbed when they refer to Tamil perceptions or Tamils’ sufferings or governmental excesses. Today a young Tamil Parliamentarian took up a privilege issue in Parliament against a Sinhala Parliamentarian who had said that the former must be interrogated by Police for declaring certain Tamil sentiments in Parliament! Now Mayor Manivannan, a popularly elected Mayor, who is a successful lawyer by profession, has been taken into custody for embellishing some Municipal Employees with uniforms which to the authorities resemble Tiger Uniforms!
All these are centred around some purported connection to the LTTE. LTTE was officially destroyed in 2009. Even those who surrendered to the Military in the presence of witnesses simply disappeared! So they do not exist or their whereabouts are known only to the government forces. The government has said many times that there is no evidence at all of the LTTE regrouping. If so why this irrational distrust of the Tamils or paranoia about LTTE and Tiger uniforms? Are the ghosts of brutally killed Tamils disturbing our powers that be?
Mayor Manivanan when he officially functioned as a Mayor and took certain steps in the course of his duties he is being subjected to questioning by the TID. What Mr Manivannan did was very similar to what the Colombo Municipal Council did.
We are told that the uniform given to the Municipal Workers in Jaffna resemble the uniform used by the LTTE police force. But in fact, it resembles the uniform given to similar workers in the Colombo Municipal Council.
If there is a similarity between the uniform of the LTTE and the uniform given to the Jaffna Municipal workers and if the powers that be in Colombo are mentally disturbed about it, then the proper thing to do would have been for the mentally disturbed authorities to advise the Mayor to withdraw those uniforms and replace them with uniforms more plausible to their tastes. Making such a fuss about uniforms used 12 years ago shows the extent to which the Government has become paranoid with regard to the LTTE.
Such light blue uniforms are common among security organizations in many countries. If there be any differences between the CMC uniforms and MC uniforms the powers that be could resort to a “standardization” process among the uniforms and set the specimen uniform for use by all Provinces.
The arrest of Mayor Manivannan may have other implications. Some time ago the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka visited Jaffna. He met Mayor Manivannan and discussed power-sharing and other similar matters.
Are there hidden agenda being worked out by the Government after its poor performance in Geneva? Let us wait and see. The TID arresting under the PTA the Mayor and questioning him, a Lawyer, for over six hours, spells doom for the Government. It was I who alluded to the Ides of March quite some time ago. They have come and gone. The Government is no more on good terms with the Free World. Let the Government rethink its activities and mend its ways. Economically it is in a dire state. Maybe that fact needs to be covered by gimmicks of this nature from reaching the People!
If the Government thinks that such questioning and incarceration of Tamils in important positions in society would prevent Tamils from asking for their lost rights it would be sadly mistaken. Already the repression by various Sri Lankan governments against its minorities is quite well known internationally. In 1983 Chief Justice Neville Samarakoon returned from the Middle East and said Sri Lanka has become a pariah State. He had witnessed many incidents that took place in Sri Lanka on TV live. These recent activities will corroborate the facts already known the world over. The more repression the determination of the Tamils will grow ten-fold.
*Justice C.V. Wigneswaran, M.P
Comment by Thanga
When the 26 years of war came to an end after the defeat of the LTTE the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a show of bravado declared “We have freed the Tamil people from the clutches of the LTTE.” Sadly there were no garlands and bouquets for the Sinhala army.” When allied forces triumphantly entered Berlin after decimating Hitler’s Nazi forces, German people lined the streets of Berlin and received the allied forces with garlands and bouquets! In the case of the Sinhala army, there were no such garlands, bouquets or cheers!
It is the same even today after 12 years. The Tamils rightly consider the Sinha army as an occupation army that has occupied their land and lording over them as though the defeated Tamils are a subject race! Third class citizens living on the largesse of the government. What is worse the army is still in occupation of 28,991 acres (37.5%) of land both private and government 12 years after the end of the war! The army has built luxury hotels, restaurants, health resorts, cashew and vegetable farms etc on land forcibly seized by the armed forces!
As rightly pointed by CVW the government is scared and paranoid. It sees a tiger under every bush. Even the possession of a photo of Prabhakaran is enough to trigger the release of adrenaline of the brave police and the army.
Tamil youths are arrested for carrying photographs of Prabhakaran on their cell phones!
On January 09, 2021, speaking at Amparai President Gotabaya Rajapaksa bragged in response to a critical parliamentary speech by opposition MP Harin Fernando, that he has “two faces”. “I still get monks who tell me. We need the Defence Secretary Gotabaya and not the President Gotabaya. If I get it that way, I can also give it back that way.”
During his tenure as Defence Secretary, Rajapaksa oversaw a military offensive that bombed hospitals, schools, restricted access to food and medicines, committed widespread sexual violence and killed tens of thousands of Tamils.
Rajapaksa has repeatedly praised the military and has even defended the shelling of hospitals and schools as legitimate military targets!
Gotabaya Rajapaksa went on to state,
“Prabhakaran started his business when I was Defence Secretary. But I finished it in a way that had Prabhakaran carried on all fours like a dog in Nandikadal. I can bring that back as well. I’m a character prepared for anything.”
Gotabaya Rajapaksa has gained notoriety for his outbursts of anger. His explosive verbal and behavioural outbursts are out of proportion to the situation, with no thought to consequences. The verbal assault on MP Harin Fernando was in response to his calling Gotabaya by his first name Nandasena.
Scared to death by the vitriolic verbal attack Haris Fernando MP wrote a letter to the IGP.
In his letter, Fernando argued it was his duty to speak freely on behalf of 2.8 million SJB supporters, “without being summarily executed”.
“This is my first experience of a political opponent trying to terrorize me into silence using fear and the threat of violence.
Since I refuse to be silenced, if I am killed, I must assume it will be at the behest of the only man who has ever threatened to kill me”.
“I am painfully aware that many journalists, activists and Members of Parliament who criticized the President when he was Defence Secretary have since either disappeared or been assassinated,” he continued “In many of these cases, the attacks were preceded by implied threats or frivolous litigation initiated by politicians and officials including Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa.”
Police Media Spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana said Mayor Manivannan was arrested for aiding and abetting the promotion of the defunct terrorist organization by deploying five persons in uniform similar to those worn by so-called LTTE police officers during the war for official duties in the vicinity of Jaffna.
“Selling” symbols related to the LTTE, together with uniforms, was an offence beneath Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
It is, therefore, little wonder that the Police arrested Mayor Manivannan, subjected him to interrogation for 6 hours and took him to the TID office in Vavuniya 90 miles north of Jaffna. He was then brought back and charged before the Jaffna High Court and enlarged on a personal bond of Rs. 200,000. Why under penal court and not under PTA?
Visvalingam Manivannan got elected as Mayor with the backing of 10 EPDP members of the JMC. Minister of Fisheries Douglas Devananda is the Secretary-General of the EPDP. Now you have the answer to why Manivannan was not charged under felony laws such as PTA.
Thiruvalluvar in his magnum opus Thirukkural on the desirable qualities for a king easily applies to today’s elected political leaders.
The whole world will dwell under the umbrella of the king who can bear bitter criticism. (Kural 389)
If the ruler is easily accessible and is not harsh in his speech, the world would shower high praise on him. (Kural 386)
Let the king cherish the friendship of wise and accomplished persons (wise counsellors), for solving the present problems and preventing the future ones. (Kural 442)
The modern-day rulers are responsible for establishing fair and equitable policies
and enforcing them fairly.
So, benevolence and beneficence are considered equally important for the modern-day leaders as well the kings during the days of Valluvar.
It is unusual for a king to encounter direct criticism. Kings and leaders are usually surrounded by sycophants who shower false praises and rarely offer any criticism. But, listening to the sycophants and ignoring those who dare to criticize is detrimental to a king or a leader.
Mayor Manivannan is still not out of the woods though over 25 attorneys at law led by MA Sumanthiran PC, MP appeared for his defence. As of now, he is lucky the EPDP leader is batting for him!.