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Sri Lanka: Conscientious Sinhalese tell LLRC about injustice to ethnic minorities from the time of
independence(1948) till today - oral submission
MGRj/edit?hl=en written submission
Jayantha Dhanapalas submission to Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), 25 August
2010: I think that the conflict that has ravaged our country is not only the result of the perversity and
the venality of the LTTE and its leader Prabakaran, but also the cumulative effect of bad governance on
the part of successive Governments in Sri Lanka. Our inability to manage our own internal affairs
has led to foreign intervention but more seriously has led to the taking of arms by a desperate group
of our citizens. I think we need to rectify this bad governance and the first and foremost task before
us is to undertake constitutional reform in order to ensure that we have adequate devolution of
power. We have already missed several opportunities in the past; we have had an APRC
functioning for quite some time but its report is still languishing in obscurity and needs to be
presented to the public of Sri Lanka for discussion. We need to have State reform; we need to have
rule of law established; we need to ensure non discrimination amongst our citizens; we need to have
as I said before devolution of power and a tolerance of dissent and a strengthening of
democratic institutions.
(Dhanapala is a Sinhalese and was formerly UN Under-Secretary General for Disarmament)
K.Godage(former Sri Lankan diplomat) addresses LLRC, 15 September 2010:
. We have persistently discriminated against the Tamil people from 1956. The Tamils have
undergone, and are undergoing immense hardship. We need to reach out to them. It is because we
have not reached out to them, that we had Wadukottai resolution in 1976, 20 years after 1956. Then
the 1972, Constitution, it removed Section 29 from the Soulbury Constitution. There is no reason for
any one to be insecure, as a result of giving into the reasonable demands of the Tamil people. .... Now
I must tell you of a very, very sad, bad and dangerous situation. We have in our prisons over 2000
young Tamil men. Some of them have been taken on suspicion. Just picked up and taken. I am the
Chairman of the Prison Visitors Board. In detention without charges for years.
Prof Priyan Dias addresses LLRC, 07 October 2010:
The society felt the need for a Youth Commission to help the JVP. The kind of feeling of guilt that we
are responsible for JVP uprising(in the South) in the late 1980s is not there now. I am proposing we
have some kind of Youth Commission for youth in the North and the East because that is where the
future of the country lies. If we do not feel guilty for the Northern military uprising we cannot go
anywhere in the future as a country.
Mr. Mangala Moonasinghe to LLRC, 17 August 2010: so, who started terrorism it was we and
then gradually naturally the youth, Tamil youth, went into terrorism in the north. So terrorism did
not come on its own. We created them sir, we created them. (Moonasinghe is a former Sri Lankan
diplomat and MP)
Bernard Gunatileke(former Sri Lankan Sinhalese diplomat) to LLRC, 11 August 2010:
The most important factor, which we have failed to attend, is meaningful devolution of political power
to the periphery from the centre. There must also be involvement of the minorities in the political
activities in the centre.
Friday Forum to LLRC, 1 October 2010:
'' If the overall nature of governance does not instil confidence, then whatever policies and efforts are
put in place to achieve national cohesion and unity, they are bound to fail. Hence, strengthening of
democratic governance, the Rule of Law and protection of human rights on the basis of equal rights
should be essential goal posts on the path to reconciliation. .... The failure of successive governments
to make the 13th Amendment and devolution of power work even in the South has left serious doubts
as to whether devolution of power will ever be effective in the north-east. Meaningful constitutional
reform should necessarily be put in place - a strong legal rgime of human rights protection.''
Submission by Harim Peiris to LLRC, 7 October 2010:
We may have united the nation geographically, but remain polarized ethno-socially. It is not possible
to simultaneously argue the need to maintain Emergency Law, the need for war time levels of defence
expenditure and deployment of a network of security installations in the North not found anywhere else
in the country and still maintain that the Tamil people are not alienated from the Sri Lankan State.
.. The immediate short term measures that are required are the humanitarian needs of the conflict
affected people of the North and East
If General and Presidential Elections can be held in the North and the East it is impossible to argue that
the Northern Provincial Council's elections need to be delayed any further. However, I would also
respectfully submit that the frustrations experienced by the elected Chief Minister of the Eastern
Province - incidentally an ethnic Tamil, in relation to the unelected Governor incidentally a retired
Sinhala Military Officer should not be allowed to be repeated in the North, if devolution is to be
meaningful, and indeed such issues should be resolved, in the East.
Strengthen individual human rights and fundamental and democratic political freedoms, by acceding
to Sri Lankas international and treaty obligations and in keeping with Supreme Court Judgments in this
regard, through the passing of enabling domestic legislation, that will fundamentally strengthen the
rights of the individual citizens. Its fundamental Human rights. (Harim Pieris was civil servant and
Advisor to a former President)
Elmore Perera(Founder, Citizens Movement for Good Governance(CIMOGG) to LLRC, 10 November
2010: Beginning with the Sinhala Only policy of 1956, which disregarded the multi-cultural and
pluralistic nature of society, the removal of the constitutional provision guaranteeing minority rights
The 1983 racial riots were a disaster. Tamils were treated as being sub-human. Many of those who
could leave the country by lawful or even unlawful means did so. Those who remained were subjected
to arbitrary, humiliating treatment. Rounding up of 30 to 40 Tamil youth on Friday evenings, producing
them before Magistrates to be remanded, and later releasing them on bail, after they had paid lawyers
Rs1,000/- each for this purpose, was a regular occurrence in many parts of the city. Tamils, who could
readily be identified as such from their National Identity Cards, were at the mercy of the lawenforcement agencies which arbitrarily enforced even laws of their own making.
Except for brief periods when President Premadasa and President Kumaratunge made feeble attempts
at reconciliation, there were no consistent attempts made to seek reconciliation. It was limited to
lackadaisical efforts to defeat the LTTE militarily. Many Tamils were driven to feel that it was better to
fight and die rather than live like slaves, in the hope that, at least they would get a free state where
Tamils can live a life of dignity.
(an eminent lawyer and past President of the Organisation of Professional Associations)
Prof A.P.R.Aluwihare to LLRC, 3 November 2010:
It is politicization and a lack of rule of law which have contributed to many problems we have had. .
even politics has become politicized in this country . the problem is not that we dont have good laws

even now, but that guys who are rich and powerful and political wriggle their way down the laws and in
terms of the mandate of the Commission of preventing future trouble it is very important to set that
process into reverse with a political will.
Austin Fernando, Former Secretary of Defence, 18 August 2010:
Even the attitudes of the two parties- the LTTE and the Government- were not going in parallel. Prime
Minister thought that he should be going on a step by step approach, which he stated publicly and he
would have had lot of political manipulations, political ideas and political approaches in his mind. At
the same time, Prabhakaran wanted things to happen much quicker. When I look at the
responsibilities, some of those government senior politicians were very silent. On the other hand the
Opposition politicians were sabotaging the thing(peace talks) ....
Submission by Dr John Goonaratne, 15 September 2010:
This has been so since independence when discrimination on the basis of ethnic identity began to
grow. If the grievances of Sri Lankan Tamils are not reconciled within Sri Lanka and are done merely to
keep Chennai and New Delhi off our backs, we will only have ourselves to blame if there is a repetition
of the events of 1980s.. (Dr Goonaratne was a senior civil servant in the Foreign Ministry)
Dr Anura Ekanayake(representing Ceylon Chamber of Commerce) to LLRC, 6 September 2010:
We need to ensure that the benefits of the end of the war must be felt equally by all sections of the
community. . Then finally we need to accelerate civil administration vis--vis military administration
in the north and the east supported by a transparent political process to establish local government.
Kumar Rupasinghe, Chairman, Foundation for Co-existance, 20 October 2010: key findings of the
report is that whilst Tamil is an official language in the country, there are glaring discrepancies in its
implementation. The report is abundant with instances of humiliation .... let us look at the dismal state
of affairs of what young people of the plantation sector go through on a daily basis another aspect of
humiliation. . Then the injustice to the Muslims. .
Manel Abeysekera to LLRC, 23 August 2010:
It is our neglect of Tamil sensitivity the main underlying cause was our neglect of the Tamil
language tantamount to an undermining of human rights of the Tamil people which caused the
aggravation of the conflict and the widening of the chasm between officialdom and the main minority,
the Tamils. All development measures must be people centered and not merely for infrastructure alone
or as show pieces where the cost benefit is not in favour of the people..The practical thing to do in
my opinion is firstly to draw up an action plan with priorities and the implementation time-frame ......
I wish to emphasize the following points which I consider important for reconciliation
c. not allowing an influx of Sinhalese to the North for rehabilitation related development work
Asoka Goonawardana to LLRC, 25 August 2010: There has been a contradiction in approaches to
conflict and development - centralized approaches as far as development is concerned and devolved
approaches as far as conflict is concerned. This contradiction or this separation of the approaches is the

governance gap. This is important and must be addressed as one moves on to a process of
reconciliation. Reconciliation must be envisioned within an institutional framework for democratic
governance more democratic governance than what we have had so far. . Sri Lankas experience in
devolution under the 13th Amendment has suffered from inadequacies in design as well as in practice
especially from a lack of coherence and commitment in moving from centralized to devolved
governance. (Goonawardana was former Chairman of Finance Commission and Executive Governor of
Marga Institute)
Rev. Fr. Reid Shelton Fernando to LLRC, 19 November 2010: The way the minority groups are treated
in the country is far from the nationally or internationally accepted standards and principles. The
media reports do not appear to be accurate regarding the IDPs, they are released, they are not
resettled. Some of the people from the South are employed but no people have been employed from
the war torn areas. Counselling process is denied to the victims of war - the Presidential Task Force
(PTF) has denied these facilities for healing and reconciliation. This Commission has already submitted
an interim report to the President. I tried my best to have access to that report but I failed.
P.B.Hettige(retired civil servant) to LLRC, 30 September 2010: .... These appointments were given to
members of the family of employees in the north and kith and kin of soldiers and not to the people of
Jaffna. Now these persons who received such appointments after about 6/7 months they used to get
transfers back to their home towns and to those vacancies thus created others were appointed. ... The
Tamil people were caused an injustice. By making Sinhala the official language though much was done
to the Sinhalese the Tamil people were forgotten; they were neglected. ..... no Government did
anything for the development of the roadways in Jaffna. No industries were started .... it was to
avenge these acts that the Tamil youths voluntarily joined the LTTE. ....
Prof Laxman Jayatilleke to LLRC, 9 November 2010: .... He said please go and tell that our schools
dont have teachers and our community is in a way badly off with regard to education facilities. ....
There are enough Tamil speaking graduates who pass out; there are places of education which can
train the teachers; and so recruiting and deploying teachers in sufficient numbers will be an important
thing together with supervision of the schools. .... So developing the universities of both the east and
the north are critical and of crucial importance.
Judge C.G. Weeramantry to LLRC, 29 November 2010
Without confidence and trust that their rights will be upheld and guaranteed without fear or favour,
there cannot be contentment and harmony, especially among minorities whose confidence in law and
order needs to be built on firm foundations. There, we have a long way to go: a Constitution which
shields all citizens from abuse of power and authority and guarantees them against any denial or
erosion of their rights. He told LLRC that he told former President Jayawardene and the present
President Rajapakse twice each to change the constitution to give equal treatment to all citizens but
that they hadnt paid any attention to it.
Submission to LLRC by Catholic Bishops Conference
"It is only a political solution that will help to eliminate the root causes of violent insurrection, ethnic
disharmony and suspicion and mistrust between communities. We believe that a search for a political
solution to the ethnic conflict must be intensified. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith
I am here to make submissions on the Culture of Human Rights. In the background of erosion of
values of all kinds and especially with the consequences of war, human rights have suffered worst
causalities. Therefore, a culture of Human Rights where every citizen respects the rights of the other
must be cultivated and where the principle of 'Equality before the Law' is respected and applied should
be followed. Bishop Kingsley Swampillai
Submission by the Catholic Diocese of Mannar to LLRC, 8 January 2011:Previous Commissions of
Inquiry have failed to establish the truth into human rights violations and extrajudicial killings they
were inquiring and bring justice and relief to victims and their families. According to government
statistics about the population in Vanni in early October 2008 and number of people who came to
government controlled areas(May 2009) after the war, 146,679 people seem to be unaccounted for.''
Submission before Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Committee (LLRC) by Chandra Jayaratne, 23
September 2010: ... Years of inequitable allocation of national resources and consequential
disparities in regional economic development, infrastructure development and public service delivery
have sown the seeds of discontent and disillusionment leading to conflict, insurrections of the South
and the North and even the armed struggle towards a separate administration .. .
Some of these perceptions commonly referred to in discussions include:
IDPs being denied access to their former places of residence
Challenging the right to title of the properties traditionally owned and /or occupied persons living in
conflict affected areas
Large tracts of previously occupied lands being demarcated as high security zones
Unjustified land acquisitions on security considerations but allocated for non security related purposes
The publicly announced resettlement benefits to internally displaced persons not being distributed
equitably and in line with the announced scheme
Lack of basic amenities like water, sanitation, power and proper housing for the newly resettled families
Resource allocation not determined on community priorities and allocated without consultation and
outside the need base and at times missing the most vulnerable and in need, possibly due to identity
based biases
Some areas like Jaffna receiving more than necessary resource allocations and peripheral areas lacking
in even basic allocations
Preventing willing and capable NGOs/INGOs, international community and Diaspora from helping
people in need at their most vulnerable moment of need
Building of new permanent military cantonments with residential facilities for military personnel and
their families
Plans to settle majority community families in order to change the traditional area demography
otherwise than by natural development oriented migration
Arbitrary arrests and detention in the post war period as well
Continuing active engagement of unauthorized armed groups
Continuing disappearances of civilians
List of persons in custody, camps and detention centres not being made public
Failure to assist families in tracing missing persons
Negative impact on civilians during the conflict due military excesses
Unease of single women headed families fearing for their safety in the presence of large number of
armed personnel of the forces
Removal of burial sites of persons affected by the conflict
Some important cultural, religious and remembrance sites being damaged and destroyed
Disrespect shown by visitors to holy sites and sites held in high esteem by resident communities
Free availability of liquor, cigarettes and narcotics
Emerging consumerism promoted by business houses who fail to participate in adding value to the
civilian communities
Savings of the region being channelled to other areas whilst unmet needs of area community remain
Decision making in the hands of the military or officials from the Central Government. .
(Jayaratne is a Sinhalese and a member of the Board of Directors of the International Centre for Ethnic
Studies and a former President of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce)