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Question per Week answered by Justice C.V. Wigneswaran, M.P

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Question: - You are a Member of Parliament now. How can you speak of genocide and go against the Rules of Parliament? You have also taken oaths under the Sixth Amendment. Are you not violating your pledge by supporting separation?

Answer: - Your question is amusing! What‘s wrong if a son tells his neighbours that his father is cruel to his mother, and he finds no way of stopping his cruelty and ask for their intervention. If he does not have the power to complain due to the so called sacredness of the marriage bond one day, the husband will kill his wife, and the son will be powerless to do anything about it. He would soon be without a mother nor father since the latter would be arrested.

When I speak of genocide, I am telling the truth. I lived through the 58 pogrom as well as the 83 pogrom apart from other pogroms which had as their core purpose to commit genocide against the Tamils. You cannot cover up the truth.

You speak of the Sixth Amendment. Let me set out Articles 157 A (1) and 157 A (2) here under - "157 A(1) No person shall, directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka.

(2) No political party or other association or organization shall have as one of its aims or objects the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka."

Who is transgressing the provisions of the above said two sub Articles? Certainly not I! Instead of violating the territorial integrity of the Island of Sri Lanka, I am advocating unity in diversity. How could the recognition of an existing fact amount to disintegration or severance? Whether you like it or not the majority the denizens of the North and East of Sri Lanka speak the Tamil Language continuously for well over 2500 years. That is a historic fact. The Sinhala Language came into usage only 1300 or 1400 years ago. In fact, the Indo-Sri Lanka Pact of 1987 has accepted that the North and East of the Island are the traditional homelands of the Tamils.

Recognition of this fact and the strengthening of the power of the people of the North and East with Self-Rule with a Muslim unit within a merged North-East is all what I ask. I am not trying to separate the Country. The Country already exists with majority Tamil speaking areas and majority Sinhala speaking areas. Recognition of that fact by the Sinhala leaders would prevent Balkanisation of Sri Lanka. If a war starts again, no Country in the world would come to the aid of the Sinhala government of Sri Lanka except probably China with an ulterior motive. You can fool all the people sometimes, some people all the time but not all the people at all times! The world is wiser to the antics of successive Sinhala majority Governments.

Rules of Parliament do not prohibit a Member telling the truth whether genocide or otherwise. Let me enlighten you with regard to the word 'Genocide.'

Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as

"… any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

Killing members of the group.

Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.

Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.

Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

Article 3 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines the crimes that can be punished under the Convention - They are

1. Genocide

2. Conspiracy to commit genocide

3. Direct and public incitement to commit genocide

4. Attempt to commit genocide

5. Complicity in genocide

In our Resolution on Genocide passed unanimously by the Northern Provincial Council on 10th February 2015 we have given specific incidents under the above headings.

At present 11 years after the war, the North and East are still under the control of the Military. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to Members of the Tamil Community continues. Deliberate infliction on the Tamil Community of conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part continues.

Let me explain.

There are no real security concerns in the North and East. Therefore there is no reason to continue to station the Military in such large numbers in these areas. The only reason could be that while the State continued on its genocidal path, the successive governments of Sri Lanka had wanted the Military to cover, aid and abet their misdeeds. What are their misdeeds?

Under the pretext of bringing the Mahaweli waters to the North lots of Sinhalese from outside the Province were brought to the ManalAru area, renamed it WeliOya and created a new Sinhala village Sampathnuwara. Not a drop of Mahaweli water came to Manalaru.

Progressively the centuries-old contiguity of the Tamil speaking areas of the North and East are being disturbed by settling Sinhalese in mid areas driving a wedge between the North and East. Does this not amount to deliberate infliction on the Tamil speaking people conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part?

Similar activities are taking place by Colombo-based Departments grabbing lands within the traditional homelands of the Tamils to negate the rights of the Tamils to claim and occupy their traditional homelands. In the area of fisheries in the North-Eastern sea, too, there is Sinhala domination displacing the traditional Tamil fishermen and denying them their right to continue with their hereditary livelihood.

The continued presence of the Military is hampering the natural societal life pattern of the local people.

In education, agriculture, mines and minerals and in so many other areas, the Sinhala intrusion and expropriation of our resources is visible.

Not to make this reply too long let me refer to the notices issued under State Land Regulations No: 21(2) on 02.10.2020 at this stage. This is the current issue affecting the Tamils.

A total of 340.33 acres of State Land in 11 different locations in the Kuchchaveli DS division in Trincomalee District are to be leased out to seven Buddhist Organizations with effect from 26.05.2020 for a period of 30 years for religious purposes. The villages include Tennamarawadi, Pulmoddai, 1 and 3, Thiriyai and Kumburupitty East.

In the last week of October 2020 Ven. Panamare Thilakawansa Thero brought 2 bus loads of would-be workers from outside to Pulmoddai to familiarize them with the area. The Venerable Thero‘s activities seem to suggest State-aided Sinhala colonisation of Tamil-speaking areas with the aim of changing the demography of the Trincomalee District. Very soon all these areas will be declared as areas under the Mahaweli Scheme in the same manner ManalAru was renamed WeliOya and settled with Sinhalese from outside the Northern and Eastern Provinces after 1983, although Mahaweli System L is yet to receive water from the Mahaweli.

This whole process is contrary to the provisions of the 1978 Constitution.

Sub paragraph 1 (3) of Appendix II to List 1 of the Ninth Schedule to the Constitution states as follows.

"Alienation or disposition of state land within a Province to any citizen or to any organization shall be by the President, on the advice of the relevant Provincial Council in accordance with the laws governing the matter."

It should be clear that the advice of the Provincial Council of the relevant Province is a requirement to even lease out any state land within a Province. Because the Provincial Council is not functional, the advice of the Governor or the Provincial Land Commissioner cannot be deemed to be the necessary alternative advice. The Governor represents the President of the Country, not the people. The advice of the Board of Ministers of the elected Provincial Council of the relevant Province is a mandatory requirement.

In fact, I am of the view that no alienation or disposition of State Land in the Northern and Eastern Provinces to any person or organization will be possible until the new Provincial Councils of the respective Provinces are elected and begin to function. The State cannot postpone Provincial Council elections indefinitely and in the intermediate period usurp the powers of the Provincial Councils to itself.

It must be noted though all these lands are referred to as State Land, in fact, they are not so. Some belong to the residents of the Village abovementioned either through Deeds or Permits. Thus the State, through its State machinery, is encouraging the occupation of lands belonging to the Tamils by Buddhist Organizations in unconstitutional ways.

Buddhist remains found in the North and the East prior to the birth of the Sinhala Language in the 6th or 7th Century AD were remains left from the time of the Tamil Buddhists (the Demala Baudhayo). Today the government is trying to equate areas of Buddhist remains in the North and East with areas of Sinhala residence. The Sinhalese are those who speak the Sinhala Language. The Sinhala Language came into being only 1300 or 1400 years ago. There were no Sinhalese at the time these remains were left during the time of the Demala Baudhayos (Tamil Buddhists).

If the Tamil Buddhists had dethroned Buddhism in their areas and preferred to become Hindus and thereafter Muslims and Christians how could Sinhala Buddhists claim to preserve these areas except as part of a plan to convert the local people to Buddhism and colonise Tamil areas with Sinhalese under the pretext of preserving Buddhist remains.

Therefore genocide taking place then and today is not a figment of my imagination.

It is real and contemporary. Surely all these matters should be brought out by a Member of Parliament who represents his people.

Recently the AhilaIlankai Tamil MahaSabha by its letter dated 11.11.2020 had brought all these matters happening in the Trinco District to the Land Commissioner General at Battaramulla. Normally such letters are ignored by powers that be in Sri Lanka. I am unaware of the fate of the said letter.

So finally my answer to your question is; Genocide happening in Sri Lanka is a fact. To say so is my right. I am not supporting separation. On the other hand, I am supporting unity in diversity.

Thanks

- Justice C.V. Wigneswaran, Member of Parliament, Jaffna District


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