In utter desperation, disappointment and disgust I am writing this to you, having failed to bring relief for several thousand IDPs who are facing innumerable problems, some of which were brought to your notice off and on by me during the past few months. You are aware that many people in the IDP camps were my constituents of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. You and I entered Parliament in July, 1970. You were the youngest of the MPs at that time; I was senior to you in age, experience and in politics.
Some of the things that I tell you may not be palatable to you. But please be assured that I will not misguide you and that my advice will be beneficial and also help you to promote unity among all sections of the people in Sri Lanka. As I often say, I love my country and its people and cannot under any circumstances be classified as unpatriotic or as a traitor. Furthermore I am neither a stooge of anybody nor a flatterer for personal gain. You and the country knew very well that I am one who always call a spade a spade.
Being from the majority community, you were fortunate enough to reach the top position as the Head of State and serve the country while I being one from the minority community have been deprived of serving the people even through a local body. However much you may say that there are no minorities in this country, which is yet to be proved beyond any doubt, no member of the minority community will dare to cross your path. You should pave the way (for there to be no miorities in Sri Lanka) and it is the people who should feel so and say so.
At the last general election held in April 2004, another armed group virtually took control of conducting the elections against the Government’s writ. Under threat and intimidation it secured for another political party, with a majority of its own Members in the list, 22 of the 23 Tamil majority seats in the North and East . Based on the strong reports and recommendations given by various election monitoring missions, if the Government in power at that time had really wanted, it could have easily rectified the position and put democracy back on proper track.
I hope you will not dispute my claim that the present Parliament itself is not a properly constituted one and should have been dissolved by you and fresh elections held soon after you became President in November, 2005. You cannot be unaware of the opportunities that came my way to enter Parliament even after my defeat, deliberately and fraudulently caused by the LTTE, at the April 2004 elections. You could not have forgotten what I told you when a couple of years back you offered me the post of Governor of the North and the reluctance I showed when the same offer was repeated on January 22, 2008.
Reference to these facts are to impress on you that I am not after positions and only interested in creating a non-communal, peaceful and a united Sri Lanka. Otherwise they have no relevance at all to the issue at hand.
In this connection, first of all I wish to draw your attention to your address to the Nation on the occasion of the 59th Independence anniversary, the first after your election as President on November 18, 2005. In the course of your speech reported on "The Island" of February 5, 2006, you had said, "Similarly, we should now take speedy action to establish Democratic Governance in areas liberated from the clutches of the terrorists in the East and the North. It is our duty to protect the lives and property of the Tamil and Muslim people, and bring sanctity to the future world of their children.
You certainly know as to what views I held and still hold about the average Sinhalese. Anyone going through the print media and recorded electronic media will see hundreds of glowing tributes I had paid to the Sinhala people. I had not failed to do the same in my statements, interviews, discussions with the Diaspora and various diplomats at seminars, workshops etc. The events of July 1983 earned a bad name for the country due to the communal riots that followed the killing of 13 soldiers in Jaffna. But during the past few years, despite several unpleasant and provocative incidents, the country was spared of any communal violence.
A number of appeals were made by me to the Sinhala people following every major or minor tragic incident that took place in their midst caused by the LTTE to keep calm and look after the Tamils living among them. You too had done that many times. The Sinhala people responded favorably and showed much tolerance.
Your Excellency, with great reluctance I wish to point out that some of your advisers do not seem to be briefing you properly. I do not certainly expect you to have all information at your fingertips. You will recall an incident that took place on Mar. 26, 2009, at Temple Trees.
At a briefing for leaders of Tamil political parties, you said that already 55,000 people had crossed into the Government Security Zone and that only about 85,000 were still left in the LTTE held area. It was I who pointed out that there were still over 250,000 people stranded in the LTTE held area. Most of those around you disputed my figures; and later nobody ever explained from where the 300,000 IDPs came. On May 7, a top ranking officer of the Government at a press interview claimed that there were only about 20,000 people still left with the Tigers and found fault with me over how I got the figure as over 100,000. Within a few days, in one night alone over 85,000 IDPs broke the LTTE cordon and crossed over to the Government controlled area. Several thousand followed them later. This is why I say that your advisers should be very cautious in briefing you without causing you any embarrassment.
The people of Vanni lived under LTTE terror for more than quarter of a century. They had undergone untold hardships for several years. Till the LTTE came and took over Vanni the people there were living in peace and harmony.
The co-operation given to the forces by the Vanni people made things easy for the forces to win the war. I do admit that a large number of soldiers sacrificed their lives to liberate the country and the people of Vanni in particular. But it is also equally true that the people of Vanni too, amidst fear and tension, had made their contribution for the war to win. The way they and their innocent children, who were compulsorily recruited by the LTTE are treated now make them feel that they are punished for the co-operation given by them without which war could not have been won easily.
Service personnel of the opposite sex took excellent care of the children, pregnant women and the elders. Many of them had admitted that they are not at all happy with the manner in which these people are treated. There are so many people to boast about themselves and pretend to know about everything happening in the camps. Some talk through their hats. But such people hardly know of the ground situation.
The soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the Vanni people know how the Vanniars suffered during the last few days of the war. Most of them are not alive to tell us their pathetic stories. Your Excellency, please silence all those pretenders who claim to be patriots or good Buddhists and talk out of turn.
You have claimed it as your duty to protect the lives and property of the Tamil and Muslim people. I wrote to you after Kilinochchi was taken over, that the war is now won and it is the Government’s duty to see that not a single innocent life is lost in vain even if the war is prolonged for one year. Unfortunately my advice was not heeded to. If my advice had been taken seriously several lives could have been saved along with the limbs of many and billions worth of private and public property could have been saved.
They underwent the worst agony in their lifetime, unheard of in any part of the world. It is our duty to look after them well without claiming that they are better off than some who are refugees in other countries. The question often asked by these refugees is why the Government had brought them to places over hundred miles away from their homes when all of them could have been easily accommodated at various places in their own districts. The claim that these areas are heavily land-mined, they say, is not at all acceptable to them. I too fully agree with them having discussed this with people from various parts of these two districts.
If the task of resettlement is assigned to the respective Government Agents they, with the help of their Grama Sevakas and some local volunteers would have identified the spots where land-mines remain buried. It is a mystery that the advice and assistance was not sought in this connection from a person who knows these areas well and represented them in Parliament. I hope no one will brand me as an old Tiger in search of prey. The government should settle these people without any delay and without giving any excuse.
Your Excellency you have committed to protect their property as well. I hardly met a beggar in the past in any of the two districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. Most of them had been living comfortably. Some owned big mansions, tractors with trailers, lorries, cars, vans, two wheel tractors and thousands of motorcycles. Some were engaged in extensive cultivation, dairy farming and poultry farming. They left behind everything including their lifetime savings invested on articles of gold. When they get back to their homes hardly anything will remain there. If you allow them to go and take possession of their movables and preserve them in a common place, it will be a great boon to all of them.
The whole world including you know that almost all young LTTE cadre were conscripted children from poor families much against their wishes and the wishes of their parents. There are parents who have committed suicide protesting against conscription. Many parents had been severely punished for objecting to recruitment. Some parents stopped the children from going to school and kept them in bunkers. All those recruits, when an opportunity came their way. came out and surrendered to the security forces. Many others surrendered in the camps when told that even those who had one day’s training from the LTTE should surrender.
The hard core LTTE cadres have escaped from the camps and fled the country. It is only the innocent children who have now been branded as LTTE cadre and kept in rehabilitation centers. Most of them are very bright children and should be sent to schools for studies. After the 2nd World War a lot of Malaysian born students who returned to Sri Lanka were accommodated in schools, the age requirements dispensed with for the five year period during which they did not attend school. Such age concessions should be given to students who lived in LTTE controlled areas and lost their schooling. Except those who do not want to study, all others should be released to go to school.
There are several hundred students who had been selected for various course in the Universities, Technical Colleges etc. They should be released to attend the respective institutions to which they had been selected. There cannot be any more hardcore Tigers left in the IDP camps. Most of them had been identified and the authorities were informed. Please release all of them who are still in the IDP camps or in Rehabilitation Centres who had very little training or no arms training at all. Furthermore, I strongly urge that you should without any delay order the immediate release of the injured person, the old and the feeble, pregnant women, women with children, disabled persons, mentally retarded persons, the insane, orphans, destitute persons and such others who deserve release. Also reunite members of the same family from various camps and send people from various districts to their respective districts.
I am acting on the assumption that many happenings in the IDP camps are not brought to your notice. Seeing is believing and a visit to some of the IDP camps by you is long overdue, but not any in the Menik Farm. These things cannot and should not happen in our country with you as the Head of the State. Your decision which I am sure will open the eyes of some, who think that we can play with the lives of over 300,000 odd IDPs who are suffering for no faults of theirs. We are a proud nation in which small children used to save the lives of cows from the butchers with their pocket money.
In conclusion I appeal to you to order the authorities to pay a small amount as dole to each one of the IDP families to meet some requirements of the small children and elders, many of whom had not seen a red cent since they came to the IDP camps.
If you want to win over the Tamils, do this first, resettle them soon and think of any development later.