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Sri Lanka government and joint opposition preoccupied with covering up atrocities says Sumanthiran

The Sri Lankan government and joint opposition are preoccupied with covering up atrocities rather than working towards accountability, the TNA MP and spokesperson M. A. Sumanthiran said in Parliament on Tuesday.

Referring to Tuesday’s adjournment debate as ‘reaching heights of absurdity and hypocrisy, Mr Sumanthiran said: ““the Government is bending backwards trying to say, “We are not going to allow anybody to be punished.” The Joint Opposition says, “You are trying to punish.” Nobody is talking about the crime. No one is talking about the victims. No one is talking about what is right and what is wrong. Both are competing with each other, trying to excel each other in claiming that they are better at covering up. One says, “We covered up well. You have now revealed it.” And the Government says, “No! No! You are the one who exposed it. Now we are covering up.””

On Sri Lanka’s reluctance to embrace international involvement, often citing sovereignty, he said:

“Sovereignty is no longer with the rulers.  It is with the people and that is why if the people are mistreated, you cannot take cover behind sovereignty.  That is a false cover.  That will never protect you and that is why questions can be asked and are being asked.  That is why this Government took the proper step of co-sponsoring HRC 30/1 and HRC 34/1 Resolutions, because that is the only proper course available.  But our complaint is against this Government as well.  You co-sponsor a Resolution and you drag your feet implementing it.”

Mentioning the lack of progress in investigations of murdered Tamil journalists, an issue raised by Jaffna Press Club last month, Mr Sumanthiran said:

“You have all kinds of excuses not to implement it. You do not say you will not implement it, but you will not do it either.  Even in taking action, there is blatant discrimination. We commend you for taking action in the case of Prageeth Eknaligoda; in the case of Lasantha Wickramatunga, but there was a course of Tamil journalists who were killed. Why has the Government not moved one finger in respect of one of those assassinations? Why? Are Tamil journalists any less citizens of this country than Sinhala journalists? Is that your view? You do not have to answer that. It is blatantly obvious what your view is, when you do not do what you are supposed to do; when you do not do the right thing for certain sections of the community, but rush to do other things.  Until you change your course, we will have international spotlight on Sri Lanka and – I do not want to beat around the bush – we will ensure that, but that is not what we desire.”

Mr Sumanthiran also spoke on the issue of protracted IDPs, criticising the exclusion of Tamils and those not displaced by the LTTE in the definition, saying:

“At the same time, I would also like to say to the Hon. Risad Badhiutheen when he complained about resettlement of protracted Muslim IDPs, we are all for all of those who were removed from the Northern Province coming back. We have said that time and again. Not just the Muslims but the Sinhalese, the Tamils, all must be resettled from where they were moved. If there are protracted IDPs and their issues have not been addressed, all of those issues must be addressed. Protracted IDPs cannot be only Sinhalese and Muslims.”

“It is a sad fact that a definition was sought to be introduced to the word “Protracted IDPs”. A Cabinet subcommittee has been appointed and the definition was “Sinhala and Muslims IDPs”. How can that be? When that was objected to, the definition has now been suggested “that those who were ousted prior to December 31st, 1990″ – that is all right – “by the LTTE”. Why only by the LTTE? What about the others? An IDP is an IDP. If he is a protracted IDP, then fix a date.  But it cannot be only those who were ousted by a particular movement. A particular movement should not come under that definition.”

“So, as much as we support the call of the Muslim people, indeed the Sinhala people and the Tamil people to be resettled in their original places, we say that also must be done without discrimination. We stand for a country that is not divided, a country in which all the peoples will be proud of their equal status to live without discrimination or fear, but, until we reach that, you cannot oust the concern of the world on this country.”

See M. A. Sumanthiran's full speech on Sri Lanka Brief.