The debate on a suitable mechanism to probe allegations of war crimes during the final stages of the war has once again intensified with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions underway in Geneva.
One party calls for international involvement while the other objects to it. The government too has said that it would not allow international judges to be part of the mechanism. Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera stated that Sri Lanka’s Constitution will have to be amended if foreign judges are to be allowed to be part of the mechanism.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has been adamant on its demands pertaining to participation of the international community.
The party in the past had said that international involvement was a must in the mechanism as it did not have faith in the domestic system.
Chairman of the Constitutional Task Force (CTF), Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu had also stressed that it was the government’s responsibility to instill confidence among the Tamils and the Tamil political parties on the domestic system.
How the government is going to get about is something that we will have to wait and watch.
On the one hand, the government has been accommodative of several demands of the Tamil people. The government had released several acres of land held by the State back to the public, while also releasing some prisoners who were arrested and held under the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
But the accusation is that all this is done in a sluggish pace. Despite TNA’s reluctance to have faith in a locally established mechanism, it has been accused of allowing the government to let it have its own way with regard to issues pertaining to the Tamils.
Govt’s need for time
While the UN has agreed to give more time for Sri Lanka to fulfill its undertaking, there are questions raised whether giving time was indeed a good idea.
The current government is already into its third year of governance, and by two years it would be in the latter part of its term, which means that it would be focusing on regaining power at the next presidential polls.
Or will the government keep to its word and work on its pledges? We will have to wait and see.
Since of late, people in the Northern Province have been protesting in the streets demanding that their lands be given back, and their loved ones be located and released.
In addition livelihood is also one of the main concerns in the Wanni.
The question that needs to be asked is whether too much focus is given to the country’s political question than the immediate needs of the people themselves.
Yes, it has been eight years since the fighting stopped, and the people have had ample time to get back on their feet.
But the daily struggle seems to continue. The lack of proper infrastructure facilities, especially in the interior villages, is still a big drawback. In addition, the recent incidents of violence in various parts of Jaffna are also a worrying factor.
It is important for authorities, especially those in the Northern Provincial Council to ensure that the basic needs of all the people in the North are looked after before they look at solving the ethnic question.
Lack of leadership
If the Tamils lacked one thing post independence it is a proper leadership. Yes there were leaders, but look at the mess they are in now. Look at the mess the country is in.
There are leaders today too. There are too many of them. None of them are willing to come together for the betterment of the people.
Soon after the war, several Tamil political leaders attempted to form what was known as the Tamil Political Parties Forum (TPPF).
The aim of the forum was to study and discuss the long term and short term needs of the people. Almost all parties joined except for the TNA.
The forum eventually split after a few meetings and nothing done.
Now we have a situation where even the TNA is having its own issues. Even though they are physically intact, the minor frictions within the members have prevented the party from being an effective force.