Feature Article

Pogrom shows negative side of majority, unworkability of local investigations: NPC CM

[TamilNet, Friday, 16 March 2018, 23:12 GMT]
The recent anti-Muslim pogrom seems to be a pre-planned act, said Chief Minister of Northern Provincial Council Justice C.V. Wigneswaran in an interview to TamilNet on Friday. The same tendency was also witnessed in the anti-Tamil pogroms of the past, and it is the wrong attitude on the part of the Sinhala politicians that has been contributing to the pogroms in the island. The SL leaders are displaying the same attitude with regards to the war crimes investigations, he said. “Only if there is a foreign input into the process of investigations, we might be able to bring about an attitudinal change on the part of the government and the majority community. Nothing will come out of a local inquiry,” he said.

The Chief Minister welcomed the increased understanding between Tamils and Muslims and urged the two people to stand united towards a federal political solution in a merged North-Eastern Province.

Earlier, everybody said Muslims are against a federal constitution. But, this is not the case anymore. If Tamils and Muslims are moving together in the demand for a federal constitution and if the international community can point out the benefits of having a federal constitution, the Colombo government would have to take note of it, he further said.

The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights must take into consideration the lack of interest shown by the Sri Lankan government so far despite a consensus resolution and two years of time. Nothing was done. A further two years was extended and one year has passed. Still, nothing has been done, he added

“Even the Office of the Missing Persons which is coming into being is a weak institution. Nothing much is going to come out of it. [..] It is only a fact-finding commission. After finding anything they will hand over to the Courts. And the Courts will take about 10 years to finalize it. By that time, even the relatives of the missing people may not be living in this world,” the chief minister of the NPC said.

Some of the investigations by the OMP have to take place in-camera sessions, and those who take part in it are to be placed under an auth, which restricts them not to identify, bring out the names of culprits and not to divulge what has taken place to the outside world, Justice Wigneswaran further observed.

“Three Sinhalese lawyers wrote a book sometime ago with regard to the racial bias on the part of the judiciary. When you have such background in this country, I cannot see anything coming out of a local inquiry,” Justice Wigneswaran said adding that a proper investigation was only possible with direct input from the international justice systems.

To a question why Maha Sangha prelates were observing silence during the recent anti-Muslim pogrom and whether he thinks the Buddhist prelates were in favour of such a pogrom, Justice Wigneswaran said he did not think the prelates were positively in favour of such a pogrom.

“It is difficult to say whether the Sangha has been complicit in what has taken place.”

“I cannot say that all the Maha Sangha prelates were involved here. When this sort of things happen, they tend to be silent. Their voice is not heard in these circumstances,” the Justice replied in a carefully worded response.

But, Justice Wigneswaran was thoroughly certain of one thing: “It is the wrong attitude on the part of the majority community politicians, which has contributed to what has taken place.”

Right from the beginning in 1956 when the Sinhala Only Act was passed, this has been the case, he argued.

“I don't think there is anybody who could say any positive convictions of the perpetrators of the crimes have taken place after the pogroms in 1958, 1977, 1983 and so on,” the Justice said.

This is the same attitude with regards to war crimes, he added.

“Even the President and the Prime Minister do not want to say that there had been soldiers among the Army and the Forces who may have done something wrong.

“The politicians are always looking at it as: Oh, they are our people; We will not allow them to be punished or them to be taken into custody.

“This attitude is bringing politics into the administration of this country.”

“I do not think the anti-Muslim pogrom is a matter that has suddenly cropped up. It has definitely some planning behind it. [...] The planning is similar to what took place in 1983. They planned everything, took all the names and the particulars with regards to the Tamils at that time. They wait for a chance. As soon as a chance comes, they unleash the reign of terror. That is what has also happened this time.”

The violence seems to have been committed by the mobs who have been brought from outside of the affected areas, Wigneswaran further observed.

“I would say there is a concerted effort on the part of the government to do the same thing they did to the Tamils earlier.”

“I see some reasons behind it. They find that the Muslims are now doing very well in the field of business. They do not want them to make progress. They want to stop it. There may be other reasons also, which we may not discuss at this moment,” he said.

To a question on what his response was for those blaming Tamils [or the LTTE] of committing ethnic cleansing against Tamil-speaking Muslims.

While there are accusations of systematic violence by the Sinhalese against Muslims by the Sinhalese in the south, there are also those comparing the current anti-Muslim pogrom with that of LTTE instructing Muslims to leave from the areas it controlled during the war in 1990. TamilNet asked Justice Wigneswaran on his response to these accusations and what his response was to the possibility of Tamils extending an unreserved apology to the expulsion of Muslims in 1990, Justice Wigneswaran said what takes place in a war cannot be identified with what takes place during a period of peace or a period without war.

“If you say that the Muslims had been chased away from the North in 1990, there were also Tamils who had been chased away from the North and East. Lots of problems have taken place [during the times of war]. Military outfits will take steps which are beneficial to their war efforts. There has been so many things which have been done by the Sri Lankan Army, where they chased away people in the Vanni. They [the Tamils] went up to India. They had to wait there for a long time, and when they came back, their lands have been taken over and handed over to somebody else. These are problems, which are coming from the time of the war and to talk of saying sorry to those [a particular community], who have been affected is amusing because so many others, who are also affected. Why make a decision with regards to one community and not others? If at all, let us say we are sorry that violence has been used in this country and let all Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and everybody say we are sorry and we will never use violence hereafter.” 



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