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Reconcilition South African Style Will Not Work in Sri LankaVisvanathan for Salem-News.com
The mentality of the Sinhalese politicians since the date of independence in 1948, has involved making promises and signing treaties, one after another, and breaking all of them.
(MELBOURNE) - On 11 December 2013 South Africa made a gracious offer to assist Sri Lanka in whatever way possible and share its experiences on its reconciliation process, South Africa’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Geoff Doidge said. He said this during a meeting held to express condolence on the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela at the parliament complex. The event was organised by the Sri Lanka-South Africa parliamentary Friendship Association. The High Commissioner, Geoff Doidge suggested that if a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up in Sri Lanka it would facilitate and expedite the reconciliation process between the Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is considering a South African-style reconciliation commission nearly five years after the end of the war. Information minister Keheliya Rambukwella said President Mahinda Rajapakse, who attended a memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, was trying to replicate the late civil rights icon’s reconciliation bid.
“We are seriously looking at the possibility of having something like the (South African) Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC),” Rambukwella told reporters in Colombo after the first cabinet meeting following Rajapakse’s return from South Africa. Sri Lanka is under international pressure to probe allegations that its troops killed more than 70,000 Tamil civilians in the final months, ending May 2009.
“There is a discussion going on (inside the government) about a Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” Rambukwella said. “We can also build on the structures we already have.” He gave no further details, but official sources said Sri Lanka was already in talks with South African authorities to secure their help for a TRC along the lines of the one South Africa adopted after the end of apartheid.
Sri Lanka’s small but influential Catholic church warned that foreign intervention would be inevitable unless Colombo addressed international concerns over accountability for alleged war crimes. In a pastoral letter, the church warned that failure on the part of Colombo to ensure accountability could trigger international investigations that would be a “serious threat to the sovereignty of the country.” The Sinhalese Catholic Church still talks of Sri Lankan sovereignty, totally ignoring the more than 300,000 Tamil lives claimed between 1972 and 2009, just to feed Sinhalese chauvinism.
The South African High commissioner recalled Mandela’s commitment to Parliamentary democracy and his personal involvement in the parliamentary process. President of the Association and Water Supply and Drainage Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena said Mandela’s death was a loss to the entire world. "He was great leader of our time," he said.
If he had thought Mandela was a great leader, he and his fellow Sinhalese leaders should have emulated him; instead of which the whole gang of thugs made a mockery of parliamentary democracy. They could have sorted out the ethnic problem sixty years earlier and saved the country all the death, rape, abduction and destruction. Now they are shedding crocodile tears for an honest, decent man. Will anybody from any part of the world other than the Sinhalese ever mourn the death of any of the Sinhalese leaders in Sri Lanka?
Dutch colonization of South Africa began in 1652 when the Dutch East India Company brought farmers to the Cape of Good Hope. They raised food to supply the company's ships on the long voyage to India. After 1685 the Dutch were joined by Huguenots who had fled religious persecution in France. The Huguenots adopted Dutch customs and the Dutch language.
In 1815 the Congress of Vienna gave the Cape to Great Britain. Boer resentment of British rule and of British colonization, which began in 1820, was intensified when the British abolished slavery in 1834. During 1835–37, some 10,000 Boer cattlemen, farmers, and their families left the Cape in the Voortrek, or Great Trek, seeking new lands and freedom from British authority. They migrated north and east, founding the Orange Free State, Natal, and the Transvaal. Friction between Great Britain and the Boers over the rights of British settlers in Boer territory led to the Boer War (1899–1902). Great Britain annexed the Boer States—the Orange Free State and the Transvaal—following its victory in the war. (Natal had been made a British colony in 1843.) In 1910 they became parts of the Union of South Africa (now the Republic of South Africa).
Nelson Mandela inherited a country of numerous ethnic groups, 79% of whom were African tribes. The Whites of mainly Dutch origin, Indians, Malays and mixed races made up the rest. The Dutch origin whites are called Boers, or Afrikaners, These South African descendants are predominantly from the early Dutch colonists. Many Boers are also descended from French Huguenot or German settlers. Boer is the Dutch word for “farmer.” Afrikaans, one of the official languages of the Republic of South Africa, was developed by 17th-century Dutch. Boers form the majority of the white population of South Africa.
These Whites had killed or oppressed African tribes from the date of their arrival in 1652. Nelson Mandela's magnanimity was such that he could forget the past and look forward towards the future. He knew that if he didn't do that, he would have created another Sri Lanka and South Africa would be another basket case with both the Whites and the Blacks in misery. Rape, murder, disappearances and destruction, as it is in Sri Lanka, would be the order of the day. Instead, South Africa, unlike Zimbabwe, commands the respect of the whole world and financially it is strong.
Please remember he did this against the wishes of most of the African tribes, who wanted to settle old scores. He only took over the lands from the Whites that was recently requisitioned from the Africans and Indians. He allowed the Whites to retain nearly most of the land they were holding. His argument was that there was enough land for all in South Africa and there was no necessity to confiscate lands belonging to the Whites. As a result there was peace and harmony among the various races. Both the Blacks and the Whites benefited and prospered from the peace Nelson Mandela generated. Having done a good job, he is now gone, commanding the respect of all.
In Sri Lanka from 1948, the year of independence, both the Indian and Sri Lankan Tamils saw nothing else but pain and suffering. The Indian Tamils were disfranchised in the very year of independence in 1948. The descendants are now living in squalor in both Sri Lanka and India. From 1950 onward land grab was proceeding on unabated in the North-east, even to this day. There is no reason for any Tamil to believe that colonization and confiscation of Tamil property will end that soon. While trying to foist TRC on the Tamils, land grab is continuing relentlessly.
In South Africa reconciliation was offered by by the victims of apartheid, to the oppressors. In Sri Lanka the opposite is now recommended. The oppressor is grudgingly offering TRC to oppressed Tamils to avoid international, independent investigation, that is bound to follow, if Sri Lanka doesn't initiate its own credible and independent investigation. To circumvent this awkward situation South Africa and Sri Lanka are trying to replace independent international investigation with TRC, which was also tried out in many African and Latin American countries. Until now there is no report of success of TRC in any of these countries. It is a wild dream that it will ever succeed in Sri Lanka.
The TRC cannot be a replacement for independent, international investigation, as TRC worked on the basis of restorative justice rather than punishing offenders of gross human rights violations and abuses. What the international community and the Tamils are demanding is justice for the cold-blooded killing of more that 70,000 Tamil civilians during the last months of the war in 2009 and this could amount to genocide.
At a Commonwealth summit hosted by Colombo last month, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron warned that he would push for an international inquiry into Sri Lanka’s alleged war crimes under the auspices of the UN unless Sri Lanka ensures accountability by March 2014.
The government has already rejected Cameron’s deadline, but official sources said the government was also keen to establish a new mechanism to address reconciliation and build on a local investigation that called for a wider probe. The Government is considering implementing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) ahead of the United Nations Human Rights Council Session in Geneva in March, 2014, Government sources said.
Sri Lanka has sought advice and assistance from the South African government on TRC and a delegation is scheduled to visit South Africa next month. The South African government, which appointed a highly successful TRC as a court-like body of restorative justice after the apartheid era came to an end, has responded favourably to Sri Lanka’s request.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader, a UPFA National List Parliamentarian said the TRC could be construed as part of implementing LLRC recommendations. “Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission is suggestive of a broader mechanism of this nature and this is in line with implementing LLRC recommendations. The TRC focuses more on problems concerning the people on the ground and providing them with solutions. That is one of the most important aspects of reconciliation. One should understand the fact that the LLRC, the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) and TRC have their own ambits. And they don’t clash with each other,” the Parliamentarian said.
When asked about his suggestions for potential heads who could spearhead this task, UPFA Parliamentarian Professor Rajiva Wijesinha said, retired Supreme Court Justice C G Weeramantry was the obvious choice. “He is a legal luminary and from the standpoint of the international community he is a person who has great credibility. Apart from him, I think Justice Udalagama is a good point. The Udalagama Commission report was a highly credible report and he is someone who can give credibility to this entire process."
On Dec 28 2013 Sri Lanka's main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has said that it will not accept TRC. It will push for an independent international probe into alleged war crimes committed by the government during the final phase of the civil war against the Tamil Tiger organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). TRC, wouldn't bring justice to the Tamils and no Tamil will accept it. Crimes committed by the Sinhalese against the Tamils are totally inhuman; not even Hitler could have conceived such methods. The international investigation should be comprehensive, even stretching beyond Black July 1983.
Tamil party parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran has told media that a TNA delegation will go to Geneva to present their case at the UN Human Rights Council session in March next year. The TNA will brief the diplomatic communities ahead of the UNHRC session on the situation in Sri Lanka and the need to conduct an independent investigation.
According to Premachandran the party at its annual convention held in Vavuniya the previous week had decided to step up their efforts at the UNHRC this time to call for an international investigation. The government anticipates the western governments to force the UNHRC to adopt another resolution on Sri Lankan calling for an independent international investigation into the war crime allegations at the March 2014 session in Geneva where the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navanetham Pillay will present the formal report on her August 2013 visit to Sri Lanka.
External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris recently said that the international pressure to achieve the tasks recommended by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to achieve reconciliation is not productive. He said that threats and the international pressure are not the path for Sri Lanka to go forward and asked the international community to give Sri Lanka a vote of trust, "because the Sri Lankan government has the greatest will to do things right and is dedicating great resources to reconciliation and reconstruction."
G.L Peiris had almost 5 years to bring the ethnic problem to a close. Up to date there is no change on the ground and he says pressure will not work in Sri Lanka and he wants a new 'vote of trust'. For 64 years no change was found on the ground; only death and violence ensued. Now, the Tamils should insist on a final solution to the problem.
This is the mentality of the Sinhalese politicians since the date of independence in 1948. They made so many promises and signed treaties after treaties and broke all of them. They always looked for opportunities when the going got difficult. When the Tamils decided to take up arms as a last resort, the Twin-tower attack by Al Qaeda came as a boon to them. The Bush's 'War on Terror' came to their aid and helped them to destroy the LTTE. Coupled with India's worry of Tamil Nadu breaking off from the rest of India, they had a hay-day to defeat the Tamils which they otherwise could not have done. Now their options seemed to have run out, they are looking for new opportunities.
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