You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2020.

This narrative of what happened after Darusman recalls my first meeting with Tamara Kunanayagam, when I realized exactly how much damage Kshenuka had done, sins of commission more than the omission I had thought was the case previously.

And I note the collapse of positive initiatives taken soon after the Darusman report came out. Instead of responding to its charges government produced two reports which were narratives, the one about humanitarian assistance turgid and unreadable because everyone wanted to record what they had done, instead of addressing the salient issues.

And the effort to develop positive foreign policy initiatives fell apart since G L Peiris wanted no competition at all. I think his nervousness about me increased when Basil Rajapaksa suggested I help to draw up proposals, at the meeting of the parliamentary group held to discuss this initiative.

First meeting with Tamara Kunanayakam                     

August 22nd, the day after I got back, I met Tamara Kunanayagam for the first time. She had been appointed to the position of our Representative in Geneva, which Mahinda Rajapaksa had told me in April he had done, when I said Kshenuka Seneviratne had made a mess of things. But typically he allowed Kshenuka to stay on long enough to do much damage, and then take charge of multilateral relations when back in Colombo so she could sabotage whatever Tamara tried to do. Tamara told me of the problems she faced in Geneva, but the next day when the Brazilian ambassador Pedro Borio gave us dinner and I realized how well he and she got on, I was optimistic that she would be able to rebuild the old coalition that Dayan had developed, which Kshenuka had destroyed in pursuing her western predilections.

Over the next few days I briefed the President about India, to no avail, read the final product that Mr Divaratne had produced about our assistance to civilians, which had now become long and turgid and unreadable – and still not been used to counteract Darusman more than four months after those criticisms had begun to gain currenty – and did a note on international relations which Basil had suggested when it was decided by the parliamentary group to set up study groups on relations with different parts of the world. It was a pity Basil highlighted the contribution I could make, for then G L decided to sabotage the groups, which never met for he insisted he should be present and then would not make himself available. What he was up to I understood when a meeting of the group to look at the former Soviet Union – which had been allocated to me, ignoring my expertise in other regions – was not held though the Ministry Secretary had turned up in Parliament for the purpose. G L could not make it and forbade him to meet with those of us who were present.

On the Friday I got to the cottage and then on the Saturday to Getamanna to check on the house, but then got to Colombo the next day to see Sumanthiran about the talks which we realized were in jeopardy. However he and I did produce a draft for discussion about land and police powers, the main points of contention arising from the 13th amendment.

This concludes my visit to the former war zone with Colonel Chamila Munasinghe, and notes visits to former combatants. But in addition I have pictures too of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brilliant choice to chair the NCPA, Anoma Dissanayake, who worked well together also with the very positive Iranian head of UNICEF. And there is a picture of Sudharshan Seneviratne, another inspired choice, but sadly the President did not help him to take forward his pluralistic vision. He did later send him as High Commissioner to Delhi but the next government recalled him without even bothering to read the seminal papers he presented on how relations could be advanced to mutual benefit.

By mistake I had posted this on my literary blog, https://wordpress.com/post/rajiva2lakmahalcolombo.wordpress.com/2206, which is why it is late.

The second picture is of Reza Hosseini, and those at the end of classes, but from an earlier visit than the 2011 one.

56 Positive initiatives that were limited

I went back to Vavuniya then for a drink with the army, and spent the night there and went next morning to check on the former combatants. Some were being coached for the forthcoming Advanced Level exam and I was also pleased to find a course on psychosocial care being conducted, the forces clearly understanding the need for this better than civilians in government. I then checked on the farming being done by rehabilitees and then looked in on those still in Manik Farm, before lunch at the brigade.

And I then went to Aluvihare for tea on the lawn and time to talk to Ena before dinner, but then did some writing afterwards. Next morning I went to Ridigama where the Liberal Party had managed to get someone elected to the Pradeshiya Sabha, and met his supporters, before heading back to Colombo. The next day I went to Delhi on a parliamentary delegation, which the office in charge of these had been especially keen I join. This was with good reason for I was the only person who tried to build on what we learnt, in particular the information we received from the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, a very different character from our own Sumedha Jayasena, who had told us how their Committee system worked.

Back in Colombo on Friday August 5th I went again to the Culture Ministry to try to take forward my plan for District Centres, and then went to the cottage but came back the next evening for dinner with the hardworking chair of the National Child Protection Authority, Anoma Dissanayake, who had also invited the new head of UNICEF, the Iranian Reza Hossaini, who was very positive but was soon enough transferred. And then the next day I had to go to Kurunagala for yet another Trinity Board meeting.

Next day there was a meeting at the Archaeology Department which seemed to indicate Mahinda Rajapaksa’s continuing commitment to pluralism for it was about promoting study of the old harbours in the North. But it was an uphill struggle, for Prof Sudharshan Seneviratne, the broadminded and utterly professional archaeologist with whom he enjoyed working, was stymied at every turn by more sectarian colleagues.

That evening we met at the Presidential Secretariat to discuss Mahinda Rajapaksa’s proposal for a Select Committee of Parliament which I only later realized was intended to call a halt to our negotiations with the TNA. Initially we were told it would take off from what we had decided, but he welshed on that agreement, so the Committee became a joke with the TNA and also the UNP not participating, while our discussions stopped.

I met Mohan again the following day with Jeevan and Javid, and he kept assuring us of progress but it was becoming increasingly clear that most issues were simply being ignored. And then two days later I left for Malacca for a meeting of the CALD Women’s Caucus which I addressed as CALD Chair, though I had some free time because I was not expected to attend all the deliberations. And when it finished I went to Thailand to stay with my old Oxford friend John Harrison for a very relaxing beach, with no writing at all about political issues. 

This continues the account of my first northern journey with Chamila Munasinghe, and makes clear with pictures the fact that allegations in the Darusman Report were bunkum. I show here the virtually undamaged Udaiyaarkadu hospital, the standing roofs of the Puthukudiyirippu

55 More northern hospitals and civilian evidence

The PTK hospital had hardly been damaged, and indeed the monitoring of reports on Tamilnet that I had engaged in while heading the Peace Secretariat had involved only two allegations, on January 12th (where one person was claimed to have been killed) and then on February 1st when the ICRC recorded one shell hitting the southern end of the compound which led to one killed and four injured civilians. When I wrote up the facts, I also noted that the Jaffna University Teachers for Human Rights noted that government did not want the hospital moved whereas the LTTE did, and that later ‘the hospital staff and the people around soon became quite sure that it was this time the LTTE that fired’.

At PTK I met General Mark who was also on a tour of inspection, and we noted that the Hindu idols at the entrance were still standing, and with one small exception the roofs were still intact. From there I went to the Suthanthipuram Junction which figured large in the Darusman Report, with allegations of deliberate shelling by government of a UN convoy, even though Chamila gave me a copy of a letter from the head of UN Security thanking the government for its care and concern for the convoy.

This had stayed on longer than it was meant to, after delivering supplies, because a decision had been taken unilaterally to persuade the LTTE to let the UN workers it had detained leave with the convoy. Needless to say, the response was equivocal, leading government to cease fire while the UN hoped its employees would be released, day after day, until finally it became clear the LTTE would hold them to the bitter end. They all survived, again evidence of the care we exercised in combat, but no effort was made to establish this through collation of figures, for UN workers or the workers for NGOs, all of whom survived.

I went then to two makeshift hospitals, one at Udaiyaarkadu and the other at the Vallipuram school, both scarcely damaged. I spoke to the caretaker of the school who mentioned that the LTTE used to conduct military drills there before the war came near, and that in the final phase they would bring heavy guns into the school grounds on tractors and fire on the forces, to provoke retaliatory fire. But again the monitoring of Tamilnet had revealed allegations only of this hospital being hit by a shell on January 21st with two shells exploding in the compound on the 22nd. And Udaiyaarkadu was only hit by a shall on the 24th with another shell exploding at the edge of the compound. And discussion with the neighbours also made clear the paucity of civilian casualties, one man telling me that he had several brothers but the only one who died had fought for the LTTE.

This continues the account of my first northern journey with Chamila Munasinghe, and makes clear with pictures the fact that allegations in the Darusman Report were bunkum. I show here the virtually undamaged Udaiyaarkadu hospital, the standing roofs of the Puthukudiyirippu School.

55 More northern hospitals and civilian evidence

The PTK hospital had hardly been damaged, and indeed the monitoring of reports on Tamilnet that I had engaged in while heading the Peace Secretariat had involved only two allegations, on January 12th (where one person was claimed to have been killed) and then on February 1st when the ICRC recorded one shell hitting the southern end of the compound which led to one killed and four injured civilians. When I wrote up the facts, I also noted that the Jaffna University Teachers for Human Rights noted that government did not want the hospital moved whereas the LTTE did, and that later ‘the hospital staff and the people around soon became quite sure that it was this time the LTTE that fired’.

At PTK I met General Mark who was also on a tour of inspection, and we noted that the Hindu idols at the entrance were still standing, and with one small exception the roofs were still intact. From there I went to the Suthanthipuram Junction which figured large in the Darusman Report, with allegations of deliberate shelling by government of a UN convoy, even though Chamila gave me a copy of a letter from the head of UN Security thanking the government for its care and concern for the convoy.

This had stayed on longer than it was meant to, after delivering supplies, because a decision had been taken unilaterally to persuade the LTTE to let the UN workers it had detained leave with the convoy. Needless to say, the response was equivocal, leading government to cease fire while the UN hoped its employees would be released, day after day, until finally it became clear the LTTE would hold them to the bitter end. They all survived, again evidence of the care we exercised in combat, but no effort was made to establish this through collation of figures, for UN workers or the workers for NGOs, all of whom survived.

I went then to two makeshift hospitals, one at Udaiyaarkadu and the other at the Vallipuram school, both scarcely damaged. I spoke to the caretaker of the school who mentioned that the LTTE used to conduct military drills there before the war came near, and that in the final phase they would bring heavy guns into the school grounds on tractors and fire on the forces, to provoke retaliatory fire. But again the monitoring of Tamilnet had revealed allegations only of this hospital being hit by a shell on January 21st with two shells exploding in the compound on the 22nd. And Udaiyaarkadu was only hit by a shall on the 24th with another shell exploding at the edge of the compound. And discussion with the neighbours also made clear the paucity of civilian casualties, one man telling me that he had several brothers but the only one who died had fought for the LTTE.

This continues, with three more pictures from Mullivaikkal, with my first visit to the North together with Colonel Chamila Munasinghe. I was particularly touched to see the place where Fr James Pathinather had tried to save youngsters from being dragged off to war by the LTTE, but they had deliberately shelled his house so he had to be evacuated. And then the youngsters were taken away, doubtless to their deaths.

The other three pictures are of the heroic Fr James Pathinathan, of John Kerry whose relatively positive report we foolishly ignored in 2010, and of Nihal Jayamanne who was on the committee which was meant to draft a response, which seems never to have met until it was too late.

54 Checking on evidence

From the last redoubt of the LTTE in Mullivaikkal I went to the Valaymadam Complex, the church where youngsters had sought shelter to stop the LTTE conscripting them, and the house of Fr James Pathinathan which the LTTE had shelled because he had tried to protect them. But as he told me himself the following year, after he was injured and had to be evacuated, the youngsters were dragged away.

There was also a dispensary nearby at Ampalapokhanai which had also functioned till the end, and I saw too a Hindu Kovil which still stood undamaged. Then we left this last No Fire Zone and went on to Puthukudiyirippu, where I saw the site of the Ponnambalan hospital which had indeed been shelled, but that did not figure in LTTE propaganda for it had been only for its cadres and had never been declared, to us or to the ICRC. Nearby was the PTK hospital which we had been accused of shelling but, as the American State Department Report issued the previous year had it, ‘According to satellite imagery taken on January 28, the Puthukudiyirippu Hospital did not appear to show visible damage and appeared to be functioning’.

The manner in which government failed to respond to or make use of that report, which was comparatively favourable to us, is symptomatic of its carelessness or callousness or both. It had come from a committee chaired by John Kerry, the former Democrat Party presidential candidate who was later to serve as Barack Obama’s second Secretary of State, after Hillary Clinton. When it was sent to us for comment, late in 2010, Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed a committee to respond, headed by a very old lawyer called D S Wijesinghe who had appeared previously on his behalf. That committee had not met when I asked Nihal Jayamanne, a junior but very able lawyer also on the committee, about it that December. I urged him to ensure it was convened soon and that I had much evidence to refute its allegations, such as they were, and he promised to work on this but did nothing for months.

In June the following year I was called when I was abroad, about appearing before the committee. I said I would get in touch as I got back, and I did, but by then there was no interest in pursuing the matter, for the LLRC had been appointed, and I was told the mandate with regard to the Kerry Report had been subsumed in that of the LLRC.

That was not the case and a Report that could have helped us was forgotten. On several occasions I told Mohan, while he was Attorney General, that he and I should sit together and draft a response, and as always he agreed and then did nothing.                     

This post has some fascinating pictures of the former war zone. I begin however with a domestic diversion that gave me great pleasure for a few years, a refurbished cottage on my estate down south. But I then move to my first visit to the North to look at sites as to which we were accused of wrongdoing. I went with Colonel, now Brigadier, Chamila Munasinghe, who had faithfully guarded records of the war and was relieved that someone had shown interest in them before he himself was transferred and they were misplaced, as so much is in this country.

Inspection of war sites

When my English project on the estate down south closed we had given the centre built for residential classes to Upali and Jothini, who had run the project, and they had finally been able to build it up into a lovely house, set high on the hill from which the road led to the rest of the estate, and the old bungalow built on the edge of a little cliffside below.

That was leaking, and would collapse if no one lived there, so I decided to use the Provident Fund money I had received to do it up, redesigning it to include a large bathroom with a jacuzzi, a large bedroom with a window through which I could look on the trees outside as I worked, two other rooms for Kithsiri and my security, with another bathroom, and a pleasant sitting room though that was hardly used for I had a wonderful verandah outside looking out on a pond and then the hillside falling away below. Fortunately the workmen who had built the addition to my cottage, whom Kithsiri knew well, had agreed to go and stay down there and do the work, and they did a splendid job.

The next day I went to the Pradeshiya Sabha for paperwork and then went back to the cottage for the night before getting back to Colombo the next day, to see both Jeremy again, and Mohan at his office, with Jeevan.

And then the next day I went to Vavuniya and met Col Chamila Munasinghe, and went with him the next day on a long tour. We went first to Mullaitivu and, after tea at Brigade Headquarters I had three interviews of staff at the kachcheri, who had all with their families stayed safe at Mullaivakkal, in the days in which it was alleged we were bombarding the civilians.

Again I suggested to government that they do a survey of government servants, as I had earlier suggested they do with NGO workers, because these would make clear that few civilians had suffered. I also suggested the same with regard to teachers. But government did nothing about this, and allowed allegations to multiply when a few simple ripostes based on accurate figures would have given the lie to our foes.

From the kachcheri I went to Mullaivaikkal and saw two of the makeshift hospitals and a school, all of which had suffered very little damage, with the timetable on the wall of the last still fixed there. One of the hospitals was surrounded by bags of rice which the LTTE had used as fortifications, making it clear that allegations we had deprived the civilians of food were bunkum. And we saw there heaps of empty phials of medicine indicating that those two had been supplied, as indeed the Ministry of Health statistics had indicated. There were also condoms scattered on the ground, doubtless also supplied by government.

This refers to the publication of something I had long advocated, military memoirs, and I was honoured that General Gerry de Silva asked me to speak at its launch. I note too the representation I had to engage in in Europe, including the ‘Hard Talk’ interview, which is still seen as a model. And I mention, after those  meetings, a few days of bliss at the venue of many happy university reading parties.

Representation abroad and at home

The night after I met Hilde I flew to London for intensive interviews and many meetings arranged over the next few days by the hard-working Acting High Commissioner in London Pakeer Amza, including the ‘Hard Talk’ interview that is still considered the best defence the country has offered to the attacks on it.

And then I also went to Brussels where our ambassador Ravinatha Ariyasinghe had also arranged meetings and talks. But after that I had a few days at Lamledra, the house in Cornwall we had had wonderful reading parties in during my university days, before getting back to Colombo on July 12th.

I went the next day to the cottage for much writing on the 14th and then visits to schools the next day to check on schools for volunteers, with more writing the next day before I headed back to Colombo on the Sunday. And that afternoon Chamila came to see me to discuss how we should proceed on producing clear narratives of what had actually happened in the war.

On the Tuesday I went to Kandy for a meeting about the Trinity finances, and stayed with Derrick and brought Ayra down to Colombo next morning, in time to meet with Yves Giovannoni of the ICRC who also proved a great resource in dealing with the allegations against us. And that evening I spoke at the launch of a book about war heroes by General Gerry de Silva, former Army Commander, honoured that one of the most civilized of our generals should have asked me to introduce the book, delighted that at last we had a record of army achievements.

On July 21st I had a meeting with Jeremy Liyanage, who was working in Mannar as I had suggested with Australian diaspora funds, and the next day I went to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs where I was trying to get better input into local cultural centres, which were not properly guided or supervised. I had got a design from Milinda Pathiraja for interactive cultural centres and agreement in principle from a couple of embassies to fund these in the north, but with T B Ekanayake as Minister, of course nothing moved.

In the afternoon I saw Mohan with Jeevan and Javid, and the latter’s daughter Salma who was keen to work on reconciliation, for a briefing on what he had achieved without his committee, and then went to the cottage. I got back to Colombo the next day, Saturday,  and then went on the Sunday to Getamanna where I had decided to do up the old bungalow on Madola estate where I had had the English project.

I deal here with the book produced by the Ministry of Defence after the Darusman Report came out, which did not seem to respond to its allegations, but was just a bare bones narrative. But the Secretary did understand what I meant and asked the army to support my research, so I was able to look closely at relevant sites in the North along with now Brigadier Chamila Munasinghe, who was relieved someone was aware of the precious records he had guarded for two years now.

And I mention too how G L in effect blocked the progress we had made with the TNA after I joined the negotiating team.

51 Continuing government dysfunctionality

On June 28th I was asked to the Ministry of Defence to advise on the book they had prepared, setting out the history of the war. I found it well done but said they had not addressed any of the questions the Darusman Report had raised. Gota’s response to that was that that was not his business. When I told him it had to be someone’s business, he said that he had entrusted that job to the Chief of Defence Staff, but the latter told me that he had not been asked to do this and in any case did not have the resources to handle such a job.

But Gota appreciated what I had done, and to help me with further rebuttals gave me full access to army records, and provided me with logistical support, so over the next couple of months I went to several sites in the North along with Col. Chamila Munasinghe, the last officer left in Vavuniya of those who had been there during the war, and he shared with me vital files which he said would soon be forgotten, since no one else seemed to be interested in the records.

On the 29th we had another meeting with the TNA, and reached agreement on action but Nimal Siripala then wanted me to explain what needed to be done to the President. I told him I need not go, for he and G L were the Ministers, but he insisted, and I understood why, for the President initially told us he could not agree, and neither of the others was willing to argue. I did, and the President then agreed to much of what we had worked out, which seemed a great step forward. But when we came out and Nimal Siripala and I told G L to proceed with what had been agreed, he looked worried and finally made it clear he would do nothing, since if things went wrong, it would be his neck in danger. And, though we did continue to talk for a couple of months more, that really was the end of progress.

I went to the cottage that night, for much writing the next day, and then went to the university for a talk at the opening of a seminar, before heading back to Colombo to see the Norwegian ambassador.

This account is very much of holding operations, not very effective since no one else seemed to be addressing direct the the issues the Darusman Report had raised. And it notes why Mohan Peiris did not work on the LLRC interim recommendations as he should have done, ignoring everything else which could have been done easily in his devotion to what he saw as Gota’s interests. But his secretive approach in fact made Gota look worse even though he himself was relatively moderate about the majority of those held in custody.

50 Continuing efforts, representation and negotiation

Back in Colombo Jeevan and I went to see the Norwegian ambassador Hilde Haraldstadt about reconciliation initiatives and in the afternoon we met with the TNA and then the EPDP in Parliament, after which I left for the Philippines, since I had been asked to accompany the Prime Minister on a state visit. Before that I collected a New Zealand visa in Bangkok, for our Honorary Consul there, supported by the enterprising Acting High Commissioner in Australia, had arranged meetings for me with our expatriates as well as government officials and academics in those countries.

In Manila, we had lunch on my birthday with President Aquino, when I had to do much of the talking, and that afternoon the CALD secretariat hosted me for tea with a fabulous cake, before I took my flight to Melbourne.

I got back to Colombo only on May 29th and debriefed the President next day and spent much time over the week at the Seminar which the Defence Ministry had organized about the war. On the Friday, June 3rd, I got to the cottage for much writing, getting back on Sunday to see the publisher who was supposed to bring out the book I had put together for my father’s birthday later than month. I began to realize he would probably not have it ready in time, and so it proved, though he did produce a sort of dummy copy for the occasion.

The next day I had to go to Delhi for an AeA meeting but got back to Colombo on the Wednesday, and then having hosted dinner for visiting Australian parliamentarians on the Friday I flew to Thailand for a few days before going on to Manila for a meeting of Liberal International, where I had to do a lot as chair of CALD. Back in Colombo on the night of the 21st, I had a TNA plus an EPDP meeting on the 23rd and then saw Mohan Peiris at his office to find out how his committee on the LLRC recommendations was doing. He told me that he was waiting for a date from the Secretary of Defence to set a date for the committee to meet, but said there had been some progress and he would keep me informed of this. So he did, over the next few months, and it seemed that he had been able to reduce the number of those in detention. But nothing had happened about anything else, and he finally confessed that the Secretary did not want the committee to meet.

It was typical of Mohan that he had only thought about the elements in the recommendations relating to the Ministry of Defence, and had not bothered at all about other issues which were also of concern to the people. And while I could understand the Secretary not wanting his responsibilities to be scrutinized by other officials, I could not understand why Mohan did not have a separate meeting for other issues, and work in private with Gotabhaya on issues about which he might have felt some diffidence.

I got to the cottage that evening, and had some relaxed reading in addition to writing, since I was not feeling too well. But I had to get back to Colombo on the Sunday, the next day being my father’s 90th birthday and the usual large party.

I explain here how I was blacklisted by the Americans, after highlighting the appalling behaviour of their Political Affairs Officer Paul Carter. The Foreign Ministry should have summoned the ambassador and got him expelled, which would have happened in any other country, but our ostrich approach to everything, burying one’s head in the sand and hoping troubles would go away, made us vulnerable to all attacks and, after the war, defence was not a priority.

The pictures are of the three Americans, Butenis and the good Anderson and the wicked Carter, and then of Kumar Rupesinghe and Harsha Navaratne who told me the story I publicized.

Blacklisted by the Americans

In the afternoon, after a TV interview, I went to a meeting Kumar Rupesinghe had summoned to see how civil society could contribute to dealing with the Darusman allegations, and there I was told by Harsha Navaratne about how the American Political Affairs Officer, Paul Carter, had tried to suborn the Defence Ministry spokesman, to give evidence against the government, in exchange for asylum in the States and support for a sick child he had. This struck me as outrageous, and I promptly wrote a piece about it that evening, which upset the Americans no end when it appeared that week in the papers.

We met on three days that week at the bank, morning and afternoon on two of them, to work on the report on the support provided to civilians, and we also had another meeting with the TNA in Parliament, while I also had another meeting on the Human Rights Action Plan which I was trying now to finalize. Then on the Saturday we had a meeting of the Trinity Board at which, though a majority was against extending the Principal, I suggested a compromise of giving him one more year, and then I went to the cottage for some intensive writing the next day.

The following morning I went on getting back to Colombo for a meeting that had been scheduled with Patricia Butenis, but found her furious and unwilling to go on with our reconciliation meetings. Jeff Anderson, who had helped to set up these meetings, was clearly upset, and though very proper informed me that there were some very strange people in the Embassy. The ICRC Representative told me later that Patricia had had tremendous disagreements with Paul Carter, and I suspect she felt he had overstepped the mark but I could understand why she had to cut me off after I had exposed him. But we did talk to each other cordially when we met, and she tried to reassure me, when Carter tried the same trick with Maithripala Sirisena, that he had been misunderstood.

That afternoon I saw Lalith to finalize my terms of reference, and received the formal letter the next day. I went to the cottage that night for the next day I had to go to the Ratnapura Provincial Council to see the Chief Minister and his staff about an MoU to get Volunteer English teachers for the province. I had entertained to lunch beforehand at the cottage Cyril and Heather Mundy who had run the programme earlier, and then on the way back to Colombo I saw the lovely house at Pokunuwita which Anjalan had built for them. Unfortunately, when the route of the Southern Highway was altered, after political interference, the house was destroyed, though they later built another which was also very elegant in the same area.

Today I look at efforts to negotiate with the TNA which were not successful because of both lethargy and bad faith on the part of government, though I would still like to think Nimal Siripala de Silva did his best. But there was nothing he could do, with Sajin Vas Goonewardena running the show and GL putty his his hands.

And I note how Mohan Peiris sabotaged my efforts to push into action the committee he had appointed to implement the interim recommendations of the LLRC. C R de Silva did his best for the country but his successor as Attorney General Mohan Peiris pandered to what he thought was government unwillingness to do anything, and so the game was lost and we became internationally a victim of our own ineptitude.

The pictures are of our negotiating team, Nimal Siripala de Silva and G L Peiris and Sajin Vas Goonewardene – who was supposed act as secretary but did not even keep minutes – and Sambandhan and Sumanthiran together with two other Tamil politicians, Douglas Devananda of the EPDP and Saravanaparvan the main TNA dissident.

48 Efforts at Negotiation

Negotiations with the TNA proceeded more regularly and systematically after I was appointed to the committee and we met that very afternoon, April 29th. I insisted on fixing the date for the next meeting before we parted, and this led to two more meetings in the next two weeks and what seemed to be progress on significant issues. We also met with the EPDP, perhaps because Douglas Devananda realized things might move with me on the committee and wanted to ensure the committee had his ideas before it. And I also met with Sumanthiran separately to see how we could best go forward, while also talking to Saravanaparvan, a TNA MP who tended to play a lone hand but had some influence for he owned the most important newspaper in Jaffna.

With regard to the other committee, it was only after I put the phone down that I realized that Lalith had not needed to consult Mohan once the President had given him instructions. And sure enough that letter of appointment did not come, with Lalith informing me a week or so later that it had been pointed out that I was a Member of Parliament whereas the committee consisted of officials so it was not proper for me to be on it. Obviously Mohan had objected, and when I mentioned it to the President he confirmed that he had been advised it would not be proper.

But he did then grant my request that monitoring the work of that committee should be one of my responsibilities as Adviser on Reconciliation, and that too was included in the list of duties Lalith finally sent me on May 10th. That was something, for the papers Amunugama had sent me made it clear that nothing had moved since the committee had been appointed, and that it had never met.

On the day I met the President and then went to the meeting with the TNA and the EPDP, I went to Basil Rajapaksa’s meeting at the Presidential Secretariat when he finally brought people together to discuss how we should respond to the Darusman Report. And that night I went to Alu, and spent the next day, Saturday, writing and talking to Ena. I had to go to Kandy then on the Sunday for an evaluation of the Principal, and went to the cottage for the night, to check next morning on the new building I was putting up at the local primary school.

Rajiva Wijesinha

Archives

November 2020
M T W T F S S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  
%d bloggers like this: