சனி, மே 22, 2010

We Regret To Inform You That Your Condolences Cannot Be Accepted At This Time




We Regret To Inform You That Your Condolences Cannot Be Accepted At This Time

by V.V. Ganeshananthan

We regret to inform you that your condolences cannot be accepted at this time. At present, both our pain and our hope defy that word, which has been offered and denied us, which we need and do not need, and which in any case we cannot accept, because they (your condolences) will not reach from what has happened to what will come.
We find the word condolences stunning in its insufficiency for past and future.
We evacuated our homes in the light; we vanished from our homes in the dark; we walked away from our families, toward the weapons, and wished that we could turn around. Our bodies entered the earth in places we cannot now identify, and so we are everywhere, blown to dust. By both dying in and surviving this place, we will live here long after your condolences become a ghost in your throat.
We joined others’ battles, willingly and unwillingly; we walked forward on paths not our own when the paths we would have chosen were closed to us. We were incidental; we were vital; we were enemies; we were friends; we were disputed; we were uncounted. In a small country, we felt far away from you. In a small world, we felt far away from you. We were your people and not your people.
We could not wait for you to remember us.


We perished and survived and were less and also more for it. Some of us had little money and little food; we had children. We lost our children willingly and unwillingly. They were torn from our hands; we fought to keep them with us; we pushed them away from us to save them; we held them close in the hope that we might take their bullets and thereby die before them.
Some of us did, but some of us lived, and so the memory of this will outlast even the children we fought to save.
In the rush to escape this bloodletting, which has been its own kind of war, our ears fell to the ground, and so we cannot now hear your condolences. To survive, we had to shut our eyes, with which we would have seen what was in yours. We closed our mouths against hunger and anger; we knew and did not know our families, friends, fellows, and leaders, who hunted us, ran with us, and died with us.
V.V.G
We faced ourselves from all sides. Some of us lived. We are still here. We regret to inform you that your condolences cannot be accepted at this time.

உங்கள் நினைவஞ்சலிகள் தற்போது ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளப்பட மாட்டாது என்று தெரிவிப்பதற்காக வருந்துகிறோம்
வி.வி.கணேசானந்தன்


உங்கள் நினைவஞ்சலிகள் தற்போது ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளப்பட மாட்டாது என்பதை உங்களுக்குத் தெரிவிப்பதற்காக வருந்துகிறோம். இப்போதைய சூழலில் எங்கள் வலி, நம்பிக்கை இரண்டுமே உங்கள் இரங்கலை எதிர்த்து நிற்கின்றன. எங்களுக்கு வழங்கப்பட்டதும் மறுக்கப்பட்டதுமான, எங்களுக்கு தேவைப்படுவதும், தேவைப்படாததுமான உஙகளின் இரங்கல் செய்திகளை எக்காரணத்தை முன்னிட்டும் நாங்கள் ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளப் போவதில்லை. ஏனெனில் நடந்தவற்றையோ, நடக்கவிருப்பவற்றையோ அவை எதுவும் செய்யப்போவதில்லை.

எங்களின் இறந்தகாலத்தையும் எதிர்காலத்தையும் விளக்கவல்ல ஆற்றல் இரங்கலுக்குக் கிடையாததால், ‘நினைவஞ்சலி’ என்ற சொல் எங்களுக்கு அதிர்ச்சியை ஊட்டுகிறது.
வெளிச்சத்தில் நாங்கள் எங்கள் இல்லங்களை விட்டு வெளியேறினோம்; இருளில் எங்கள் இல்லங்களிலிருந்து மறைந்து போனோம்; வாழ்க்கைப் பாதை மாறுமென்ற நம்பிக்கையில் எங்கள் குடும்பங்களை விட்டுத் தூர வெளியேறி ஆயுதங்களை நோக்கி நடந்தோம்; தற்போது பூமியில் நாங்களே கண்டறிய முடியாத இடங்களுக்குள் எங்கள் உடல்கள் நுழைந்ததால் வெடித்துச் சிதறி துகள் துகளாய் எல்லா இடங்களிலும் பரவியிருக்கிறோம். இங்கே நாங்கள் செத்துக்கொண்டும், உயிரோடும் இருப்பதால் உங்கள் தொண்டைக்குழிக்குள் பேயாக சிக்கிக்கொண்டு வெளிப்படாமலிருக்கும் உங்கள் இரங்கல் வார்த்தைகளுக்குப் பின்னும் நாங்கள் வாழ்வோம்.

விரும்பியும் விரும்பாமலும் அடுத்தவர்களின் போர்களில் நாங்களும் இணைந்தோம்; நாங்கள் செல்ல வேண்டிய பாதை மிக அருகிலிருந்த போதும் அடுத்தவர்களின் பாதையில் முன்னேறி நடந்தோம்; நாங்கள் உதிரிகளாய் இருந்தோம்; முக்கியமானவர்களாய் இருந்தோம்; நாஙகள் நண்பர்களாய் இருந்தோம்; பகைவர்களாய் இருந்தோம்; நாங்கள் பிரச்சினைக்குரியவர்களாய் இருந்தோம்; எண்ணிக்கையிலடங்காதவர்களாய் இருந்தோம்; இச்சிறிய நாட்டில் நாங்கள் உங்களிடமிருந்து வெகுதொலைவாய் உணர்ந்தோம்; இச்சிறிய உலகில் நாங்கள் உங்களிடமிருந்து வெகுதொலைவாய் உணர்ந்தோம்; உங்கள் மக்கள் நாங்கள்; உங்கள் மக்களல்லாதவரும் நாங்கள்.

நீங்கள் எங்களை நினைவுகூர்வீர்கள் என்று உங்களுக்காக காத்திருக்க முடியாது
நாங்கள் அழிந்தோம்; வாழ்ந்தோம்; அழிவதற்கும் வாழ்வதற்கும் நாங்கள் எண்ணிக்கையில் குறைவானவர்கள், அழிவதற்கும் வாழ்வதற்கும் அதிகமானோரும் நாங்கள். எங்களில் சிலருக்கு குறைவான பணமும், குறைவான உணவும் இருந்தது; எங்களுக்கு பிள்ளைகள் இருந்தனர்; விரும்பியும் விரும்பாமலும் எங்கள் பிள்ளைகளை இழந்தோம்; எங்கள் கரங்களிலிருந்து அவர்கள் கிழித்து எடுத்துச்செல்லப்பட்டார்கள்; அவர்கள் எங்களோடிருக்க நாங்கள் போராடினோம்; அவர்களைக் காப்பாற்ற எஙகளிடமிருந்து பிரித்து எறிந்தோம்; அவர்களை நோக்கிய துப்பாக்கிக் குண்டுகளை எங்கள் உடலில் தாங்கி அவர்களுக்கு முன்பாக மரித்துப்போக எண்ணி அவர்களை எங்களின் பிடிக்குள் வைத்திருந்தோம்.
எங்களில் சிலர் மரித்தோம்; ஆனால் எங்களில் சிலர் வாழ்ந்தோம்; எந்த பிள்ளைகளை காப்பாற்ற நாங்கள் போராடினோமோ அவர்களின் காலத்திற்குப்பிறகும் அந்த நினைவுகள் எங்களுடன் வாழ்ந்தது..

போர் எனப்படும் இந்த ரத்தவெள்ளத்திலிருந்து வெளியேறும் வேகத்தில் எங்கள் செவிகள் நிலத்தில் வீழ்ந்துவிட்டன. எனவே உங்கள் இரங்கலை நாங்கள் செவிமடுக்க முடியாது. எங்கள் இருத்தல் நிமித்தம், எங்கள் விழிகளையும் மூடிக்கொள்ள நேர்ந்ததால் உங்களுக்குள் என்னவிருக்கிறது என்பதயும் காண இயலவில்லை. பசியினாலும் கோபத்தாலும் எங்கள் வாயையும் மூடிக்கொண்டோம். எங்கள் குடும்பங்களைப்பற்றி, நண்பர்களைப்பற்றி, தோழர்களைப்பற்றி, எங்களை வேட்டையாடிய, எங்களோடு ஓடிவந்த, எஙகளோடு மடிந்த தலைவர்களைப் பற்றி எங்களுக்குத் தெரிந்திருந்தது; தெரியாமலுமிருந்தது.
எல்லா திசைகளுக்கும் நாங்கள் முகங்கொடுத்தோம். எங்களில் சிலர் வாழ்ந்தோம். இன்னும் நாங்கள் இருக்கிறோம். உங்கள் இரங்கல் செய்திகள் தற்போது ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளப்பட மாட்டாது என்பதை உங்களுக்குத் தெரிவிப்பதற்கு வருந்துகிறோம்.

தமிழில் : கவின் மலர்
(இத் தமிழ் மொழிபெயர்ப்பு கவின் மலர் அவர்களின் இணையத் தளத்தில் இருந்து வெட்டி ஒட்டப்பட்டது. நன்றி)

வெள்ளி, மே 21, 2010

Sri Lanka: New Evidence of Wartime Abuses

source/courtesy:


Government Inquiry Inadequate; UN Should Establish International Investigation

[Readers are warned the photograph reproduced here end of the news below or the photographs you download from following link are distressing: A member of the LTTE apparently captured by the Sri Lankan Air Mobile Brigade. In subsequent photos (downloadable via links below), the man appears to be dead, raising concerns that he might have been executed in custody.]

Photographic evidence: Five photos taken on the front lines in early 2009

(New York) - New evidence of wartime abuses by Sri Lankan government forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the armed conflict that ended one year ago demonstrates the need for an independent international investigation into violations of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said today. Recently Human Rights Watch research gathered photographic evidence and accounts by witnesses of atrocities by both sides during the final months of fighting.

On May 23, 2009, President Mahinda Rajapaksa promised United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the government would investigate allegations of laws-of-war violations. One year later, the government has still not undertaken any meaningful investigatory steps, Human Rights Watch said.

Last week, the government created a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission with a mandate to examine the failure of the 2002 ceasefire and the "sequence of events" thereafter. It is not empowered to investigate allegations of violations of the laws of war such as those documented by Human Rights Watch.

"Yet another feckless commission is a grossly inadequate response to the numerous credible allegations of war crimes," said Elaine Pearson, acting Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Damning new evidence of abuses shows why the UN should not let Sri Lanka sweep these abuses under the carpet."

Human Rights Watch called on Secretary-General Ban to promptly establish an international investigation to examine allegations of wartime abuse by both sides to the conflict.


New Evidence of Wartime Violations


Human Rights Watch has examined more than 200 photos taken on the front lines in early 2009 by a soldier from the Sri Lankan Air Mobile Brigade. Among these are a series of five photos showing a man who appears to have been captured by the Sri Lankan army. An independent source identified the man by name and told Human Rights Watch that he was a long-term member of the LTTE's political wing from Jaffna.

The first two photos show the man alive, with blood on his face and torso, tied to a palm tree. He is surrounded by several men wearing military fatigues, one brandishing a knife close to his face. In the next three photos, the man is lying - apparently dead - against a rock. His head is being held up, he is partly covered in the flag of Tamil Eelam, and there is more blood on his face and upper body.

A forensic expert who reviewed the photos told Human Rights Watch that the latter three photos show material on the man's neck consistent in color with brain matter, "which would indicate an injury to the back of his head, as nothing is visible which would cause this on his face. This would indicate severe trauma to the back of the head consistent with something like a gunshot wound or massive blows to the back of the head with something such as a machete or ax."

While Human Rights Watch cannot conclusively determine that the man was summarily executed in custody, the available evidence indicates that a full investigation is warranted.

Several of the photos also show what appear to be dead women in LTTE uniforms with their shirts pulled up and their pants pulled down, raising concerns that they might have been sexually abused or their corpses mutilated. Again, such evidence is not conclusive but shows the need for an investigation.

The new accounts by witnesses described indiscriminate shelling of large gatherings of civilians during the last weeks of fighting, apparently by government forces. In addition to an incident on April 8, 2009, previously reported, witnesses told Human Rights Watch about three other incidents in late April and early May 2009 of government forces shelling civilians, mainly women and children, who were standing in food distribution lines. The witnesses also described LTTE recruitment of children and LTTE attacks on civilians attempting to escape the war zone.


Government's Failure to Investigate Abuses


The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission created on May 17, 2010 is the latest in a long line of ad hoc bodies in Sri Lanka that seem designed to deflect international criticism rather than to uncover the facts. The mandated focus of the commission ­- on the failure of the 2002 ceasefire - is largely unrelated to the massive abuses by both government forces and the LTTE in the last months of hostilities. Nor does the commission appear to have been designed to uncover new information: the commission's terms of reference do not provide for adequate victim and witness protection.

The government-appointed chairman of the commission, Chitta Ranjan de Silva, is a former attorney general who came under serious criticism for his office's alleged interference in the work of the 2006 Presidential Commission of Inquiry. The attorney general's role was one of the main reasons why a group of 10 international experts, the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), withdrew from monitoring the commission's work. The IIGEP stated that it had "not been able to conclude...that the proceedings of the Commission have been transparent or have satisfied basic international norms and standards."

"De Silva was the architect and enforcer of the attorney general's conflict of interest role with respect to the 2006 commission," said Arthur Dewey, former US assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and member of the IIGEP. "Nothing good for human rights or reconciliation is likely to come from anything in which De Silva is involved."

The government has also yet to publish the findings from a committee established in November 2009 to examine allegations of laws-of-war violations set out in a report produced last year by the US State Department, despite an April 2010 deadline.

Sri Lanka has a long history of establishing ad hoc commissions to deflect international criticism over its poor human rights record and widespread impunity, Human Rights Watch said. Since independence in 1948, Sri Lanka has established at least nine such commissions, none of which have produced any significant results.

On March 5, Secretary-General Ban told President Rajapaksa that he had decided to appoint a UN panel of experts to advise him on next steps for accountability in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government responded by attacking Ban for interfering in domestic affairs, calling the panel "unwarranted" and "uncalled for." Two months later, Ban has yet to appoint any members to his panel.

"Ban's inaction is sending a signal to abusers that simply announcing meaningless commissions and making loud noises can block all efforts for real justice," Pearson said. "The only way to ensure accountability in Sri Lanka is to establish an independent international investigation."

Readers are warned the photograph reproduced below is distressing

Photographic evidence: Five photos taken on the front lines in early 2009



[Readers are warned the photograph reproduced above is distressing: A member of the LTTE apparently captured by the Sri Lankan Air Mobile Brigade. In subsequent photos (downloadable via links below), the man appears to be dead, raising concerns that he might have been executed in custody.]

Click here to download or open the photographic evidence: Five photos taken on the front lines in early 2009

புதன், மே 19, 2010

An open letter to Defence Secretary from an ordinary citizen.




The Island, Colombo, 19 May 2010

It is with dismay that I read the news report on the front page of The Island of Thursday, May 6th, titled’ ‘TRAITORS SHOULD BE GIVEN CAPITAL PUNISHMENT’, with an inset that ‘Defence Secretary Rajapaksa says the LTTE rump is exploring every avenue to avenge Prabhakaran’s killing on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon last May’.

According to that report, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya says anyone seeking to undermine Sri Lanka’s sovereignty should be regarded as a traitor. It will be a grave blunder on the government’s part for the so-called international community to interfere in Sri Lanka, he says. The Defence Secretary says that any Sri Lankan promoting an agenda that is detrimental to the country is nothing but a traitor who should be ready to face the consequences…….. traitors deserved capital punishment and no one should shed crocodile tears over them."

If he will pardon my saying so, too often, the Defence Secretary seems to speak impulsively not calmly issuing reasoned and well-balanced pronouncements. Some of us ordinary citizens are often left to wonder and feel perturbed at the attitudes that are promoted. All of us are mindful of the debt we owe the President and his brother the Defence Secretary, and even more to the former Army Commander, Gen. Sarath Fonseka and his men, for bringing the long drawn-out and ruinous war to an end. We can understand – even if we don’t go along with it – the triumphalism that prevailed when victory was finally wrested from the LTTE. But is it necessary to demonise the enemy? A Palestinian peace-maker named Ali Abu Awward observed, in the course of a meeting of 135 Israeli and Palestinian artistes to express the benefits of reconciliation, "Everybody wants to see the other side as a devil, to excuse their own behaviour against him, because if we saw him as a human there is a payment, there is a price, and nobody wants to pay the price".

Thankfully, the war is over. Now is the time for genuine moves towards peace and reconciliation and efforts to bridge the polarization that has taken place between Tamil-speaking and Sinhala-speaking Sri Lankans. Constant fulminations against possible attempts on the part of unnamed, nebulous sources abroad, and against any group or individual who is at all critical of the government may seem like red herrings to distract the people from the realities of our situation here, notably the rising COL, now that the elections are over. It is the talk of ‘Patriots’ and ‘Traitors’, of "those who are for us or against us," that troubles me. The definition and wide interpretation of the term ‘traitor’ seems to emanate from a few strident voices and since the popular feeling is that these voices have the backing of the government, a fear psychosis which began quite some time ago, has almost paralysed thinking people to the extent that they fear to raise a moderate tone and a reasoned criticism of any sort, publicly. The handful of courageous journalists and writers who still dare to speak out openly and honestly, have sometimes deplored "the silence of the good people". That silence indicates that most people feel cowed and they will not risk any public utterance that might be interpreted by the powers-that-be and their supporters as treasonable.

Increasingly, the impression created is that the government will not allow any dissent and that we must all be ‘yes’ men and women and forever hold our tongues – whatever the provocation – if we wish to survive in the present climate. There are many things that raise concern and at risk of being called a traitor. I’d like to ask the Defence Secretary a question regarding one such issue that disturbs me. It’s about those cemeteries in the North where the LTTE honoured their dead. Did you concur, Mr. Defence Secretary, with the decision to bulldoze those LTTE cemeteries? I visited Gettysburg in 2008 and I was more than ever moved to admiration of that great US President and rare human being, Abraham Lincoln, when I saw how the graves and monuments of the Confederate dead had been allowed to remain side by side in the hallowed ground which also bears testimony to those of the Union Army who perished in battle.

"Hatred cannot be overcome by hatred," said the Buddha. We can do no better at this point in time than to enshrine in our hearts the concluding sentences of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural speech: "With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Anne Abayasekara

Negotiation: Getting to “Yes”


Negotiation: Getting to “Yes”

Charles Sarvan

“People tend to see what they want to see. Out of a mass of detailed information, they tend to pick out and focus on those facts that confirm their prior perceptions and to disregard or misinterpret those that call their perceptions into question. Each side in a negotiation may see only the merits of its case, and only the faults of the other side’s. The ability to see the situation as the other side sees it [...] is one of the most important skills a negotiator can possess. It is not enough to know that they see things differently [...] you also need to understand empathetically the power of their point of view and to feel the emotional force with which they believe in it”
(Roger Fisher et al, ‘Getting to Yes’, Arrow Books, London, 1992, p. 23)

Fisher describes three different types of negotiation. In ‘soft negotiation’ the participant changes her or his position, and makes offers with the belief that the goal is agreement. However, such an attitude can leave one feeling exploited, taken advantage of, and bitter. In ‘hard negotiation’, participants are distrustful adversaries. The goal is victory, and negotiation becomes a contest of wills where one takes an extreme and inflexible position, “digs in” and makes threats. The third, ‘principled negotiation’ (developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project), seeks “to obtain what you are entitled to and still be decent” (p. xiv).
Among the aspects the book emphasises are the separation of individuals from the problem and, secondly, the focussing, not on the “position” overtly adopted but on (often unexpressed) “interests”. Human beings are creatures of strong emotion, emotions which become entangled with the objective merits of the problem. If others have deeply held values and convictions, remember: so do you (p. 19). The purpose of negotiation should not become one of scoring points, confirming negative impressions, and apportioning blame (ibid). Blaming others for the problem is counterproductive: attacked, the other side becomes defensive; being defensive, they counter-attack by counter-blaming. Rather than only defending your case, invite criticism, and be ready to seriously examine your own case (p. 116).
The challenge is to reconcile not “positions” but “interests”. In “interests”, Fisher includes not only underlying concerns and causes but also wishes – and fears. Positions cloud and distract from interests, from “each side’s needs, desires, concerns and fears” (p. 42). After the Six Day War of 1967, Israel occupied the whole of the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt’s “position” was that, after centuries of domination by Greece, Rome, Turkey, France and Britain, the Sinai was again Egyptian, and every inch should be returned. Though Israel’s “position” was that a part should remain under its control, the real “interest” (in this case, concern), was that Egyptian armour should not be right on its border, able to launch another sudden attack. By looking behind “position” to “interest”, a solution was found: Egypt would resume sovereignty but observe, in practice, a de-militarised zone.
Nadesan Satyendra, in his now discontinued site, lists Sinhalese “interests”, among them that Tamil Eelam will be a first step towards a pan-Tamil state including Tamil Naadu, and that Tamil Eelam will threaten the existence of the Sinhalese Buddhist nation. These concerns were seen as irrational or as mere excuses for rejection and continued ethnic domination: they were not taken seriously by Tamil leaders, discussed and fears allayed. As for the Tamil position, it changed with time and political-historical developments but the fundamental concern and wish, the “interest”, remained the same: justice and recognition, equality and dignity. What immediately follows is taken from my essay, Reign of Anomy (the title adapted from Soyinka’s Season of Anomy:
It is well to remind ourselves that when, in 1925-6, Mr S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, as leader of the Progressive National Party, set out the case for a federal political structure for Sri Lanka and made this the main plank of the political platform of his party, he received no support for it from the Tamils: see, K. M. P. De Silva, A History of Sri Lanka, p. 513. In the 1930s, the Jaffna Youth Congress rejected federalism and, what is more, persuaded almost all the leading schools in Jaffna to teach Sinhala as a compulsory subject. As A E Jayasuriya observed, “At a time when the Sinhalese were prepared to do without Sinhala, the battle for Sinhala and Tamil was fought by Tamil leaders” : see, D Nesiah, Tamil Nationalism, Marga Institute, Colombo, 2001, p. 12. In 1952, the Kankesuntharai parliamentary seat was contested by Chelvanayagam as a member of the Federal Party: he was comfortably defeated by a U.N.P. candidate. Even after the trauma of Standardisation (“racial” quota) in relation to University admission beginning in 1971, and the Draft Constitution of 1972, the All Ceylon Tamil Conference declared, “Our children and our children’s children should be able to say, with one voice, Lanka is our great motherland, and we are one people from shore to shore. We speak two noble languages, but with one voice” (Nesiah, p. 14).
Subsequent “positions” adopted (including the extreme one, somewhat similar to Moses in the Old Testament, vis-a-vis Pharaoh and bondage: “Let me people go”) obscured Tamil “interests”, that is, Tamil concerns, wishes and aspiration: a misunderstanding that has caused horrendous damage and terrible tragedy.
Criteria employed in negotiation must be objective, internationally accepted and independent of both sides. Groups should not insist on the principle of self-determination “as a fundamental right but deny its applicability to those on the other side” (p. 89) Here, a third-party, acceptable to both sides, could play a positive role. Attempts to dominate “threaten a relationship; principled negotiation protects it” (p. 86). The more standards of fairness are brought in, the better and more durable the “final package” will be (ibid). Those who are going to be affected must be involved in discussion, policy and process. Otherwise, they will not approve of the result (p. 27). “We” of the more powerful group, are going to figure out how to solve your problem (p. 28) - a problem created by us in the first place.
Fisher observes that, ultimately, conflict does not lie in some objective reality but in people’s minds (p. 23). Difference exists because it exists in the mind. In other words, the mind does not see an already existing difference – the mind creates the difference. Perhaps, this can be modified to read: What makes the difference is not difference per se (be it language, “race”, skin-colour and / or religion) but the value, importance, significance that we, human beings, attach to that difference. There’s many a “No” and “But” on the way to a mutually agreed, harmonious and happy, “Yes”, but result and reward make the effort worthwhile; indeed, imperative.

திங்கள், மே 17, 2010

War Crimes in Sri Lanka

Full report as pdf file (54 pages)


War Crimes in Sri Lanka

Asia Report N°191 17 May 2010

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The Sri Lankan security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) repeatedly violated international humanitarian law during the last five months of their 30-year civil war. Although both sides committed atrocities throughout the many years of conflict, the scale and nature of violations particularly worsened from January 2009 to the government’s declaration of victory in May. Evidence gathered by the International Crisis Group suggests that these months saw tens of thousands of Tamil civilian men, women, children and the elderly killed, countless more wounded, and hundreds of thousands deprived of adequate food and medical care, resulting in more deaths.

This evidence also provides reasonable grounds to believe the Sri Lankan security forces committed war crimes with top government and military leaders potentially responsible. There is evidence of war crimes committed by the LTTE and its leaders as well, but most of them were killed and will never face justice. An international inquiry into alleged crimes is essential given the absence of political will or capacity for genuine domestic investigations, the need for an accounting to address the grievances that drive conflict in Sri Lanka, and the potential of other governments adopting the Sri Lankan model of counter-insurgency in their own internal conflicts.

Crisis Group possesses credible evidence that is sufficient to warrant an independent international investigation of the following allegations:

* The intentional shelling of civilians. Starting in late January, the government and security forces encouraged hundreds of thousands of civilians to move into ever smaller government-declared No Fire Zones (NFZs) and then subjected them to repeated and increasingly intense artillery and mortar barrages and other fire. This continued through May despite the government and security forces knowing the size and location of the civilian population and scale of civilian casualties.
* The intentional shelling of hospitals. The security forces shelled hospitals and makeshift medical centres – many overflowing with the wounded and sick – on multiple occasions even though they knew of their precise locations and functions. During these incidents, medical staff, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and others continually informed the government and security forces of the shelling, yet they continued to strike medical facilities through May forcing civilians to abandon them.
* The intentional shelling of humanitarian operations. Despite knowing the exact location of humanitarian operations and food distribution points, the security forces repeatedly shelled these areas, which were crowded with humanitarian workers, vehicles and supplies, and civilians. Many were killed or wounded trying to deliver or receive basic humanitarian assistance, including women, children and infants.

The consequences of the security forces’ shelling were made substantially worse by the government’s obstruction of food and medical treatment for the civilian population, including by knowingly claiming the civilian population was less than one third its actual size and denying adequate supplies.

The government declined to respond to Crisis Group’s request for comment on these allegations.

There is also strong evidence that the LTTE engaged in:

* The intentional shooting of civilians. The LTTE fired on and killed or wounded many civilians in the conflict zone who were attempting to flee the shelling and cross into government-controlled areas.
* The intentional infliction of suffering on civilians. The LTTE refused to allow civilians to leave the conflict zone, despite grave danger from shelling and lack of humanitarian supplies, even when the civilians were injured and dying. The LTTE also forcibly recruited many civilians to fight or serve as labourers and beat some family members who protested the recruitment.

The substantial body of evidence collected by Crisis Group since August 2009 offers a compelling case for investigation of the conduct of hostilities and the role of the military and political leadership on both sides. It consists of numerous eyewitness statements that Crisis Group has taken and considers to be reliable as well as hundreds of photographs, video, satellite images, electronic communications and documents from multiple credible sources. But it covers only a small number of the violations allegedly committed and is but a first step in what should be a major effort to examine the last year of the war. Among the other allegations that should be investigated are the recruitment of children by the LTTE and the execution by the security forces of those who had laid down their arms and were trying to surrender.

Much of the international community turned a blind eye to the violations when they were happening. Some issued statements calling for restraint but took no action as the government continually denied any wrongdoing. Many countries had declared the LTTE terrorists and welcomed their defeat. They encouraged the government’s tough response while failing to press for political reforms to address Tamil grievances or for any improvement in human rights. The eventual destruction of the LTTE militarily came at the cost of immense civilian suffering and an acute challenge to the laws of war. It also undermined the credibility of the United Nations and further entrenched a bitterness among Tamils in Sri Lanka and elsewhere which may make a durable peace elusive. Now a number of other countries are considering “the Sri Lankan option” – unrestrained military action, refusal to negotiate, disregard for humanitarian issues – as a way to deal with insurgencies and other violent groups.

To recover from this damage, there must be a concerted effort to investigate alleged war crimes by both sides and prosecute those responsible. Sri Lanka is not a member state of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the UN Security Council is not likely to refer these crimes to the ICC in the short term. While some of the LTTE may go on trial in Sri Lanka, it is virtually impossible that any domestic investigation into the government or security forces would be impartial given the entrenched culture of impunity. A UN-mandated international inquiry should be the priority, and those countries that have jurisdiction over alleged crimes – including countries such as the U.S. where dual nationals or residents may be suspected – should vigorously pursue investigations.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To the Government of Sri Lanka:

1. Cooperate fully with international efforts to investigate alleged war crimes, including a UN-mandated international inquiry, guaranteeing free access to the conflict area and effective protection of witnesses.

2. Try LTTE cadres suspected of war crimes in open court, allowing them and witnesses against them full protections required by international law and permitting international oversight, or release them if there is insufficient evidence.

3. Invite the UN special rapporteurs on extrajudicial executions, torture, violence against women, the right to food, the right to health, the protection of human rights while countering terrorism and the situation of human rights defenders, and the special representatives on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and on children and armed conflict, to visit Sri Lanka to investigate the conduct of the last year of hostilities.

4. Compile, with the assistance of the ICRC and/or the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a full and public register of those killed, wounded and missing from the final months of the war, including the circumstances of their death, injury or disappearance; and issue death certificates and provide financial compensation for civilians killed or wounded and for property destroyed or damaged.

5. Provide ICRC with full access to all places of detention, including where LTTE suspects or surrendees are being held, and allow detained individuals full protections under international law.

To the United Nations and Member States:

6. Authorise an independent international inquiry into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka during the last year of the conflict, tasking it to investigate the conduct of both sides, to complete its work within a reasonably short period and to recommend steps to be taken by national and international authorities to ensure accountability for any crimes.

7. Begin inquiries into attacks on UN assets and personnel and into the conduct of the UN during the last year of the conflict, examining the UN’s September 2008 withdrawal from Kilinochchi through to its ineffectual attempts to push for a ceasefire and its involvement in Sri Lankan government internment camps.

8. Empower the special rapporteurs on extrajudicial executions, torture, violence against women, the right to food, the right to health, the protection of human rights while countering terrorism and the situation of human rights defenders, and the special representative on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), to carry out full investigations of the conduct of the last year of hostilities, particularly into alleged extrajudicial executions and torture, and the special representative on children and armed conflict to more completely investigate the recruitment of child soldiers and killing and maiming of children.

9. Make available to any credible efforts to investigate alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka all relevant information within the possession or control of the UN.

10. Ensure that Sri Lankan contributions to UN peacekeeping missions are consistent with universal human rights principles, including by ensuring the systematic pre-deployment screening of Sri Lankan personnel to identify any individuals allegedly involved in war crimes or human rights violations.

To India, the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Other EU Member States, Switzerland and Others:

11. Do not extradite LTTE suspects to Sri Lanka unless guarantees of humane treatment and fair trials are in place. Instead prosecute in domestic courts where possible and appropriate.

12. Begin investigations into alleged war crimes or human rights abuses in cases where jurisdiction may exist, including where nationals or residents are allegedly involved. Ensure such investigations have sufficient resources and share evidence in the possession or control of governments, including satellite imagery.

13. Support non-frivolous civil suits by or on behalf of alleged victims of the security forces or the LTTE, including by limiting claims of immunity.

14. Grant asylum or other protected status to witnesses and act to preserve evidence of war crimes, particularly by allowing officials to cooperate with credible investigations.

15. Impose targeted sanctions, including travel restrictions, on Sri Lankan officials and members of their families, unless and until the government cooperates with international efforts to investigate alleged war crimes.

Brussels, 17 May 2010

War Crimes in Sri Lanka




War Crimes in Sri Lanka
Brussels | 17 May 2010

Newly revealed evidence of war crimes in Sri Lanka last year makes an international inquiry essential.

War Crimes in Sri Lanka , the latest report from the International Crisis Group, exposes repeated violations of international law by both the Sri Lankan security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the last five months of their 30-year civil war. That evidence suggests that the period of January to May 2009 saw tens of thousands of Tamil civilian men, women, children and the elderly killed, countless more wounded, and hundreds of thousands deprived of adequate food and medical care, resulting in more deaths.

Released on the eve of the first anniversary of the end of the fighting, the report calls for an international inquiry into alleged crimes. The government has conclusively demonstrated its unwillingness to undertake genuine investigations of security force abuses and continues to deny any responsibility for civilian casualties. A true accounting is needed to address the grievances that drive conflict in Sri Lanka, so the international community must take the lead.

“The scale of civilian deaths and suffering demands a response”, says Crisis Group President Louise Arbour. “Future generations will demand to know what happened, and future peace in Sri Lanka requires some measure of justice.”

Both sides in Sri Lanka’s civil war violated international humanitarian law throughout the decades-long conflict. However the violations became particularly frequent and deadly in the months leading to the government’s declaration of victory over the LTTE in May 2009. Evidence gathered by Crisis Group provides reasonable grounds to believe that government security forces repeatedly and intentionally violated the law by attacking civilians, hospitals and humanitarian operations. The government declined to respond to Crisis Group’s request for comment on these allegations. Evidence also shows that the LTTE violated the law by killing, wounding or otherwise endangering civilians, including by shooting them and preventing them from leaving the conflict zone even when injured and dying.

Much of the international community turned a blind eye to the violations when they were happening. Many countries welcomed the LTTE’s defeat regardless of the cost of immense civilian suffering and an acute challenge to the laws of war. The United Nations too readily complied with the government’s demands to withdraw from conflict areas.

The international community has a responsibility to uphold the rule of law, the reputation of international agencies and respect for international humanitarian law, most importantly the protection of civilians lives. Today, a number of other countries are considering “the Sri Lankan option” – unrestrained military action, refusal to negotiate, disregard for humanitarian issues, keeping out international observers including the press and humanitarian workers – as a way to deal with insurgencies and other violent groups.

“An international inquiry is necessary not only for justice and long-term peace in Sri Lanka but also to help prevent a repeat elsewhere”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “It would serve as a warning to other governments that may be considering ‘the Sri Lankan model’ to address their own internal conflicts.”

ஞாயிறு, மே 16, 2010

SRI LANKA: Indigenous insensitivity and the reconciliation commission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-STM-075-2010
May 14, 2010

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

SRI LANKA: Indigenous insensitivity and the reconciliation commission

The BBC Sinhala Service reported today of a press conference held by the Minister of Media, Keheliya Rambukwella. At this press conference he was questioned on the announcement by the government about a commission for reconciliation and lessons learned. He was questioned as to whether the commission will be something like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa.

The Minister's answer was that the South African experience and the bringing of Norway as mediators and the like are all alien experiences to Sri Lanka. He said that, in this particular instance, the government will look to an indigenous approach, something home grown, something of Sri Lanka's own to the issue of reconciliation and lessons learned in terms of the recent conflict.

As this is the position of the government it is worth examining the indigenous approaches to truth and reconciliation to the Sri Lankan context. From various approaches through government commissions there is overwhelming agreement that all the commissions appointed so far, have failed to address the serious questions that have been affecting Sri Lanka in the conflicts in the recent past. The commissions have been condemned by international organisations such as Amnesty International as well as by local human rights groups who have published extensive reports and analysis on the workings of these commissions.

From the point of view of mandate as well as the selection of the commissioners and the work they have carried out, it is not difficult to form an opinion that these commissions were not meant, first of all to engage in a genuine investigation to find the truth of what has happened, or to address the problems of law and morality concerned. They did not deal with the ways to avoid the possibility of the recurrence of similar incidents in the future.

In fact, all such commissions to date have been exercises of denial. Their purpose was to create confusion in the minds of the people at times when the people are seriously expressing concerns about the problems that are a result of these conflicts such as forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, abuse of power, illegal arrest and detention and many other forms of arbitrary use of power which has caused enormous suffering to the people.

Therefore any repetition of the immediate past in terms of truth and reconciliation would be to repeat the traditions of denial, instead of trying to achieve anything positive. Then we should go back and ask as to whether there are / local traditions of truth telling in the midst of conflicts. I think it is not difficult at all to answer that question.

Sri Lanka's ancient tradition is set on a caste based social structure. The political scientist and the sociologist all agree that the centuries of social organisation of Sri Lanka was based on the hierarchical model of caste. Caste does not recognise the equality of human beings and is based on the legal premise of disproportionate punishment for different categories of persons. While any crime against the upper layer is considered the most heinous, any violence to the lower layers of society are not considered crimes at all. Such was the caste doctrines in India and such was the doctrines that have been deeply entrenched in the Sri Lankan psyche. The country does not have tradition of truth telling and seeking reconciliation after periods of crises.

Some may argue that the religion of Sri Lanka is Buddhist and Buddhism has a rich tradition of truth and reconciliation. That Buddhism has that tradition is undeniable. It is one of the greatest traditions in terms of seeking truth and reconciliation.

However, this is not the living tradition of Sri Lanka in terms of social relationships. Even the monks themselves are divided into castes and the deeply entrenched tradition of cast remains in the Sinhala and Tamil communities. Therefore in the living reality of Sri Lanka, there has never been a time since the Polonnaruwa period at least, when there was a tradition truth seeking and reconciliation.

Therefore talking of a commission in indigenous terms is clearly dangerous. The first time this was introduced into the political discussion in Sri Lanka was in the 1972 Constitution and it was called an autochthonous constitution. What was this indigenous, autochthonous constitution? It displaced the supremacy of the parliament. In fact, this constitution destroyed whatever had been built in terms of freedom of expression and the duty of the judiciary to protect the individual from the arbitrary actions of the state.

That indigenous tradition was continued in the 1978 Constitution. This created the indigenous dictator. Sri Lanka abandoned the liberal democratic constitutional model altogether. The separation of power concept was given up in favour of the absolute power of the executive president. After that came the undermining of the judiciary on an unprecedented scale and also the undermining of the parliament. All these are aspects on which enough has been written in detail and the purpose of this statement is not to go into the details of that discourse. But the fact that this indigenous tradition is a tradition of dictatorship and authoritarianism and the suppression of the rights of the individuals is quite clear.

The problem that Sri Lanka faces is one of an indigenous tradition of the total suppression of people which has been the cause of the violations that Sri Lanka is trying to deal with now. The development of the indigenous tradition of suppression also provoked the indigenous traditions of rebel movements which also resorted to the most barbaric modes of violence. Both in the south in terms of the JVP rebellions and in the north in the Tamil movements culminating in the liberation tiger movement saw, the barbaric use of violence. Thus the indigenous traditions of the state using barbarous violence and the local rebels using also using violence are what the country has seen in the past.

What the Minister's statement clearly indicates is that this commission is going to be a farce. It is going to be a repetition of the traditions of denial, the suppression of truth and trying to strengthen the local suppression that has been going on with the help of the people who are willing to support that tradition. Therefore it will not be a surprise that the so-called commissioners would be those who have a long record of being engaged in the suppression of all attempts of people to seek justice and find ways of dealing with a barbarous, indigenous past.

Sumanthiran’s maiden Speech in Parliament



[Mr. M. A. Sumanthiran, a prominent lawyer in Colombo, Sri Lanka is Member of Parliment of TNA(Tamil Natinonal Alliance)]

Honourable Deputy Chairman of Committees, I wish to first thank you for affording me the opportunity to participate and to make my first speech at the very first debate that is being taken up at this 7th Parliament.

The word ‘debate’ envisages deliberation, exchange of opposing ideas and the ability for one to convince the other and try to change the view point of opposing positions. Unfortunately at this debate, even before the debate begins, this assembly - even this country - knows what the result would be. We deliberate, but at the time of voting it goes on party lines. However this particular motion to extend the state of emergency by the Hon. Prime Minister has another aspect to it, and that is, even if by an overwhelming majority vote, the state of emergency is extended for another month, there are regulations that are made under those emergency powers and the Honourable Minister for External Affairs in his detailed speech listed the changes that were being made to the emergency regulations that have been in force until the 2nd of May 2010.

Therefore with the hope that whatever suggestions that are made at this debate, will be taken into account even in the future when the emergency regulations are amended, I venture to point out three aspects and respond to three matters that the Honourable Minister for External Affairs listed yesterday. He said this is a progressive step. “We cannot do away with state of emergency once and for all; we have to do it step by step”. And in that process he listed around 12 items that have been done away with in the emergency regulations of 2005. Unfortunately there are a dozen emergency regulations that are in extant and only one of those has been amended. I wouldn’t say that the amendments are cosmetic, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they are substantial either. It is true that powers to impose curfew and various other extraordinary powers that had been granted have now been taken away, but more importantly, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that another set of emergency regulations, namely, Emergency (Prevention and Prohibition of Terrorism and specified Terrorist Activities) Regulations No.7 of 2006 of December 2006, has been left untouched. The Emergency Regulations of 2005 are the set of regulations that ordinarily have to come into force when a state of emergency is declared, and those are substantially the same as that we had from 1995. But the one that I am referring to now, of 2006 is an extraordinary set of regulations that were brought in, perhaps due to the fact that at that time there was a ceasefire agreement in force; conceded by the government that it was in force at that time, because in January 2008 the government acted under that agreement and gave notice of abrogation. So in December 2006, matters that were declared offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act were brought in, through the backdoor as it were, by these emergency regulations of December 2006. There is heavy criticism by various persons on the content of those regulations. They are overbroad, vague; even having dealings with somebody who has dealings with a terrorist is an offence. Advising a person who is involved in terrorist activity is made an offence. That even touches then, the privilege of Attorneys at Law even to advise somebody to surrender.

And that takes me to another regulation, the regulation that provides for rehabilitation of surrendees. I think that it is another draconian piece because it says that when a person surrenders - and the act of surrender is clearly his own confession in content - he is taken for rehabilitation or what is called ‘rehabilitation’. Now that goes against all norms: that a person must first be pronounced by a competent court to have committed an offence. Even the Prevention of Terrorism Act has safeguards as to how confessions are made admissible. There are safeguards: you have to make it to a person not below the rank of ASP and so on. Now where it involves surrendees that regulation has been left untouched, and it was stated in this House yesterday that there are over 11,000 surrendees kept in an undisclosed place. That is why I say, that although the Honourable Minister for External Affairs stated that a big step has been taken in removing various powers under the emergency, I’d like to think that that is not correct because one out of about 12 regulations has been slightly amended. Now, the power of the armed forces to exercise police powers is another matter which is specifically stated continues to be in force. Now that again is one that is fraught with serious dangers, serious dangers of abuse, even the power to carry out investigation by armed forces, generally the powers that are only left with the police are given to the armed forces and those are to still continue.

The second issue that I wish to highlight is a very unfortunate one and that is this: we can discuss and debate what is printed in Emergency Regulations and what is given to us. But I will give two examples of instances where even the powers given in the Emergency Regulations are not utilized. One is the High Security Zone in Valligaman in Jaffna, the other is the forcible internment of displaced persons in Vavuniya. Neither of these two examples that I cite come under any Emergency Regulation whatsoever. These are two examples only, of flagrant violations, of total illegality. So what is the point, I ask Honourable Deputy Chairman of Committees, of framing regulations, then pruning them down, making announcements that we have done away with draconian provisions, when the Government acts totally outside of even those powers that are given under the Emergency Regulations. There is not a single detention order for those 80,000 odd persons that the government says are still in the camps. An application has been filed in Supreme Court and the Supreme Court perhaps is so embarrassed that for months no order has been given even with regard to Leave to Proceed. Ordinarily, on the very first day of support order is given either to proceed or it is dismissed. Several dates have been given for the Order and now there is no date at all. It is the first time in the history of this country that the Supreme Court has not given a date to make an order with regard to leave to proceed. Same with regard to the High Security Zone in Jaffna. An application is pending in the Supreme Court for the last six years. There has been even a judicial pronouncement that it is illegal and several consequential orders have been made for persons to be resettled in those areas. But apart from a few who were permitted to be resettled in the outer periphery, six years ago, not one single person has been allowed inside, and that is not a prescribed High Security Zone. There are many areas that have been declared under the emergency Regulations as High Security Zones, but not Valligamam, in Jaffna. And over hundred thousand persons are displaced as a result. The point that I am making is that it is well and good to discuss what powers are being removed, how we are going step by step, but all that is irrelevant and all that becomes useless when the government acts totally outside of the powers that are given even through the extraordinary powers of emergency regulations.

And the third issue is with regard to an announcement that again the Honourable Minister for External Affairs made yesterday that His Excellency the President has decided to appoint a Reconciliation Commission, and he added that this Commission would be in the lines of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. We welcome this move. Truth must be told. After all it is truth that will set everyone free. But for truth to be told, as was stated this morning in this house at this debate, there needs to be a change of attitude. For true reconciliation to take place, one must first understand, accept the fact that this protracted war that went on for over 30 years was not merely with a rag-tag army, a group of armed men. The very fact that the Honourable Minister states that reconciliation is necessary is enough proof that the government concedes that as a result of this protracted war communities in this country have been alienated from each other and we need processes for reconciliation. Now for that to happen attitudes must change as I said and I want to highlight one issue with regard to the announcement that there is going to be a week of commemoration or victory celebration, to mark what happened last year, beginning 12th of May. Last year when there were victory celebrations I happened to be walking on the street when busses from various parts of the country came to Colombo for the victory celebrations and we were taunted on the streets, like how they do at big matches. I was told ‘Eke thamai Appi kiuwe, Apiththeka baha kiuwe’ That was the attitude. That was the attitude that hurt, that alienates people. That is not in the spirit of reconciliation that the Honourable Minister of External Affairs stated yesterday. And I hope that even when this week is taken to mark this occasion of the end of an armed conflict, that it is done sensitively. And that the commemoration is as much for the soldiers who died and who were maimed and lost various other facilities, as for every other Sri Lankan citizen who died and lost. Because all those who died in this war are Sri Lankan. All those who lost their limbs, their loved ones, their homes and various other things are all Sri Lankan. And we need to address this occasion with a sense of grief. It is not a sense of triumphalism, of one over the other, but a sense of grief that our country has had to go through this kind of spell, and perhaps a sense of relief that we are now coming out of it. And unless our attitude changes in that direction, we cannot even think in terms of other processes of reconciliation.

Honourable Hisbullah detailed a story yesterday in this House. He told this house that there was a 13 year old person taken into detention, 14 years ago; that for more than half his life he has been in detention and that he has not committed any offence. He doesn’t even know why he is in detention. Now this is not an example that I am giving you, it is an example that has been given to this House by a Member of the Government bench. So I take it, that he knows what he is talking about. That must be one of hundreds, or even thousands, that are languishing in detention. How can we then say that we are truly free, when a teenager who is taken in does not even know, according to the Honourable Minister himself, as to why he has been kept behind bars for 14 long years. And the Hon Member stated this but did not say what remedial measure had been taken by the government for this. And unless we are able to address these issues, we will not be able to move forward in this process of reconciliation.

War is a bad thing. After all, in this country and the majority of Buddhist adherents in this country, have a connection with Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism. And if one thinks about that, his conversion to Buddhism was after a war that he won, but through grief that so much was lost during that war. And if Emperor Ashoka’s offspring brought Buddhism to this country, and that is our history, as true Buddhists and others who follow various religions who also believe that killing is bad, to simply put it, must grieve over the hundreds and thousands of persons, perhaps, who lost their lives during this 30 year war.

We oppose the extension of the emergency for the reasons that I have stated. Because even the assurance given by the Honourable Minister for External Affairs that these are substantial changes don’t convince us. I highlighted some of the provisions that still exist and must be done away with as quickly as possible. I hope that the government will take steps to look at the other emergency regulations in force, particularly the one that was promulgated in December 2006 and take steps to repeal those provisions as well.

Therefore Honourable Deputy Chairman of Committees, while the government takes those steps, I urge the government to not act outside the pale of law, not to act outside the strict provision of the law. The rule of law must prevail. And it was only two examples that I gave where large numbers of persons are affected. And that must be remedied forthwith. If we are to say that we are taking definite, concrete steps to return to normality, then these are some of the essential steps that must be taken, and I hope that the government will do that at least in the future.

And I end with my third point repeating that the process of reconciliation and truth-telling must commence with changes of attitude. And when people do start telling their stories it must be received in the spirit that we ask them to tell their stories. Thank you very much.