New SL regime fails to give policy-based assurance on de-militarisation: TNA circles
Informed sources close to the hierarchy of the Tamil National Allaince (TNA) told TamilNet Wednesday that the newly elected Executive President of Sri Lanka, Maithiripala Sirisena, has failed to give a positive response to the request placed by the TNA to look at the issue of the de-militarisation of North and East as matter of a principled decision, marking a policy change. Mr Sirisena has reportedly told the TNA that the Sri Lankan military being stationed in strategic locations was largely based on the ‘national security’ concern and has justified the militarisation of public lands. Mr Maithiripala Siriesena, like his predecessors, is projecting the major issue as ‘isolated incidents of disputes’, which need to be addressed by the two separate committees, the disappointed TNA circles told TamilNet.
The underlying problem of Sinhala militarisation is the continuation of the ‘occupation policy’ since 1960, carried out through Sinhala militarisation, Sinhalicisation, Buddhicisation and Colonisation of the Tamil homeland. This policy was started long before Tamils resorted to the armed struggle to defend them from the genocidal occupation.
Even after five years have gone since the genocidal onslaught by the Sri Lankan military in the Tamil homeland, the ‘occupation policy’ has been further accelerated into new forms under the rule of SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
But, the question is whether the new regime is prepared for an underlying change or not, the TNA circles told TamilNet.
One of the best affidavits to this ‘occupation policy’ has come from Mr Neville Jayaweera, a Sinhalese who served as Colombo’s former Government Agent in Jaffna in 1963. Later, he was also the GA in Trincomalee and Vavuniyaa and also the former senior assistant secretary to J.R. Jayawardene. Recording the early mind-set on how the Sinhala counter-insurgency thinking was evolved into the a ‘national security’ paradigm, Mr Jayaweera named this as the ‘grand strategy’ by N.Q. Dias, the Permanent Secretary, Defence and External Affairs in the 1960s.
The following quote from the unpublished memoirs of Neville Jayaweera is more than enough to describe the strategy in short: “The centrepiece of Dias’s strategy to contain a future Tamil revolt was the establishment of a chain of military camps to encircle the Northern Province, all the way from Arippu, Maricchikatti, Pallai, and Thalvapadu in the Mannar District, through Pooneryn, Karainagar, Palaly, Point Pedro, Thirukovil, and Elephant Pass in the Jaffna District, on to Mullaitivu in the Vavuniya District and Trincomalee in the East. He said that there were already two military camps of platoon strength in Pallai in Mannar and in Palaly in Jaffna and a rudimentary naval presence in Karainagar, but that he wanted to upgrade them.”
Mr Neville Jayaweera had the following on the accomplishment of this grand strategy: “In regard to the construction of a string of military camps, I assured Mr Dias that I will faithfully carry out his instructions and ensure that all that I had to do to facilitate their construction will be done. Actually, within the first year of my tenure almost all of the infrastructure for setting up the camps had been completed, and by the time I relinquished office in 1966 all of the camps were up and running.”
Since those times, the Sri Lankan Establishment has projected the Sinhala militarisation of the Tamil homeland as a ‘national security’ matter.
Tamils have started to perceive this policy as a genocidal occupation policy against them even before they opted for the armed struggle as a response against the Sri Lankan State.
Now, five years after the genocidal end of the war, the occupying SL military has accelerated the programme of demographic genocide through militarisation. It has even emerged as a corporate military outfit committing economic and demographic genocide in the Tamil homeland, the TNA circles said.
The SL military has expelled people from their private lands, converted these lands into so-called High Security Zones and later merged these private lands into bigger slots of lands and started to claim these as ‘public lands’. The SL judiciary has not been helpful at all in resolving the issue, despite the legal efforts by the TNA.
While the cases of Valikaamam North in Jaffna and Champoor in Trincomalee are the paradigm setting cases on the matter, several areas have been similarly seized by the SL military elsewhere in the North and East.
A striking case is the Sinhala militarisation and demographic changes carried out between the borders of the Northern and Eastern Provinces, with the intention of permanently choking off the Northern Province from the Eastern Province.
As the approach of all the Executive Presidents of the Sri Lankan State so far has been clinging to the same old grand policy of occupation under the label of ‘national security’, the Tamils are not prepared to take Maithiripala Sirisena for granted unless he proves otherwise.
The new SL president has only come up with the suggestion of appointing ‘committees’ to look into the matter and the TNA has been ‘instructed’ to take up the issues with those commissions, the informed sources told TamilNet.
* * *
Mr Sampanthan is under pressure to send an urgent appeal to the Powers behind the regime-change, the informed sources further said. The TNA’s Parliamentary Group Leader is also questioned by the TNA members on the assurances he had from Chandrika Kumaratunga, Ranil Wickramasinghe and Maithiripala Sirisena, with whom he established an understanding before the elections without informing the governing body of the ITAK and the TNA.
In the meantime, the national list parliamentarian of the TNA, Mr M.A. Sumanthiran, has been given the task of dealing with these new commissions to see if a positive understanding could be developed, the sources further told TamilNet.
Neville Jayaweera’s Blog: