[5 April 2012, 8:02 pm] Mr. Deputy Chairman of Committees, we are discussing in the House today, an Adjournment Motion pertaining to the Resolution passed at the UN Human Rights Council at the 19th Session last month. Before I commence my views in regard to what happened at Geneva , I think I need to outline briefly the history and the growth of the tragedy of the Tamil people in this country and the Tamil issue, to put things in proper perspective. The Sri Lankan State has been insensitive and callous in dealing with the issues pertaining to the Tamil people, particularly in the North and the East. It was only the Tamil people who stood up politically against the Sri Lankan State, though it must be acknowledged that the Tamil-speaking Muslim people in the North and the East have also had similar issues and concerns. It is the Tamil people who have shown the resilience to stand up to the Sri Lankan State. More than six decades later, after the country attained Independence , we still show that resilience. That is because we are an ancient people with our own civilization and our distinct identity. We are prepared to be integrated into the Sri Lankan nation but we cannot be and will not be assimilated.
The Sri Lankan Government has been all-powerful: the Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary were under its absolute control. The Tamil people had no effective presence or influence in any one of these institutions of governance. The Sri Lankan Government wielded an overweening influence in every sphere of governance. The Sri Lankan State developed a culture of all-pervasive impunity, vis-à-vis the Tamil people.
Anything, however unjust or unacceptable, could be done to the Tamil people and the Tamil people would have no recourse to effective justice. They were a minority people. The fact that they were not a minority people in at least some parts of the country did not matter. It was not relevant. Programmes would be vigorously implemented, have been implemented and are being implemented to make them a minority even in those parts.
The Tamil people were subjected to repeated anti-Tamil pogroms in 1956, 1958, 1961, 1977, 1981 and 1983 and this situation has continued continuously thereafter. Tens of thousands of Tamil people left the country. That number is now estimated to be in the region of one million. Tamils left the country because they were subjected to violence and not treated with justice and equality in this country. Peaceful non-violent resistance for over three decades was followed by armed resistance thereafter. Armed resistance as is not unusual had its grave distortions and came to be looked upon with disfavour by many countries the world over. Many countries, in numerous ways, effectively helped the Sri Lankan State. This armed group was banned in very many countries. Many individuals helping this armed group were prosecuted in those countries. These countries helped the Sri Lankan Government to cripple that armed group. These countries were however aware that there was legitimacy in the Tamil struggle for dignity, equality, self-respect and justice. They were also aware that Tamil civilians in this country were being subjected to grave human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws. The Sri Lankan State had repeatedly assured these countries that once the armed conflict was ended there would be an honourable and equitable resolution to the Tamil issue which had lingered from the time the country attained independence and which had existed for more than six decades and which had inflicted much suffering and deprivation on particularly the Tamil people.
Other peoples too both the Sinhalese people and the Muslim people suffered much harm during this period of the armed conflict and I think one must acknowledge that. Most regrettably the Sri Lankan State seems to have irrationally decided that with the conclusion of the war the Tamil issue had also suffered a natural demise.
This was a serious misjudgement and a self-serving miscalculation by the Sri Lankan State because the peaceful, non-violent democratic struggle of the Tamil people for dignity, justice and equality had commenced at least three decades before the commencement of the armed struggle and had continued on its own as a peaceful, non-violent and democratic struggle even during the period of the armed conflict, despite several sacrifices made by moderate Tamil politicians and civilians. This struggle will continue as a peaceful, non-violent and democratic struggle even in the future until there is an honourable and equitable resolution to the Tamil question.
Sri Lanka has had ample time and space – in fact, several decades – to resolve this issue. It is almost three years since the war came to an end. Countries which helped Sri Lanka to successfully conclude the war have interacted very closely with Sri Lanka to achieve this objective even after the war came to an end. Sri Lanka has responded to such efforts with disdain and cavalier indifference. No tangible movement was made towards achieving this objective. This situation, Sir, could not continue. The continuance of this situation would have been harmful for everyone in this country. It would have been particularly harmful for the Tamil people. They have been and they would be the worst victims of violations, which would recur if this situation continued. It must be said, Sir, that this is a situation which Sri Lanka has brought upon itself. Impunity, in whatever sphere, has to come an end; impunity must inevitably yield to accountability. Human society through institutions that have universal acceptance has devised mechanisms to deal with such continuous denials, exclusion and injustice.
You cannot avoid facing those institutions and mechanisms and being answerable to them. The only answer to this predicament, Sir, is for the Sri Lankan State to put its own house in order. It would be a grave mistake to think that the casuistry and chicanery you have persistently practised on the Tamil people in Sri Lanka for over six decades can continue to be practised indefinitely over world bodies. The trajectory of the future lies entirely in your hands. One can only pray that in the interest of the country at large, you will act with sobriety and wisdom.
It may be appropriate, Sir, for me at this stage to draw the attention of the House to an editorial that appeared in a much-reputed and respected newspaper, “The Hindu”, published in Chennai in Tamil Nadu, a newspaper with which all governments in this country, including our present President, have frequently interacted. The editorial that appeared on the 23rd of March, 2012, the day after the adoption of the Resolution at Geneva , titled “A wake up call for Colombo ” states, I quote: “The passage of the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka is proof that the international community disapproves of the manner in which the Rajapaksa government is addressing the fallout of its Armageddon moment of mid-May 2009. The resolution, backed by India , asks Sri Lanka credibly to investigate allegations of rights violations in the course of its war against the LTTE. The wording of the resolution was tweaked by India to say the implementation assistance the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights will provide must be with Sri Lanka ‘s “concurrence”. Yet, Colombo must not misread this concession. Thursday’s resolution is the first real sign that the world will no more let itself be guided solely by Sri Lankan claims that it has the will to carry out its own probe. It also means that gentle prodding and quiet diplomacy will not be the main means the world will adopt towards the island nation. Few would dispute that Sri Lanka took too long to acknowledge the allegations of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances and delayed moves towards a political settlement indefinitely. Ultimately, its own ‘Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’ came out with some constructive recommendations, but these have not been followed up. President Rajapaksa may not like the Geneva resolution but he has brought it upon himself.
India ‘s vote has already aroused consternation in some sections in Colombo but it is crucial that its intentions not be misread. There is no change in the Indian defence of the unity and integrity of its southern neighbour, only a realisation that the tardy progress towards reconciliation could undermine the prospects for peace and stability there. For the first time in decades, New Delhi is in concord with popular sentiments in Tamil Nadu but it would be wrong to look at its Geneva vote as merely the product of domestic political pressure.
Over time, the false assurances on devolution and implementation of ‘the 13th amendment and beyond’ it received from Colombo have frustrated South Bloc and forced it to reconsider its diplomatic options. What is welcome in India ‘s latest stand is that it has outgrown its misplaced fear of the growing regional presence of China.
Having voted for the resolution, the onus is now on India to remain engaged with the Lankan authorities, as its interests lie in promoting reconciliation and supporting the quest of Tamil Sri Lankans for justice, equality and dignity. The solution has to be Lankan-led. Persistent emphasis on accountability from outside may jeopardise the larger goal of reconciliation by giving a fresh thrust to Sinhala nationalism. India needs to brace for extraordinary diplomatic challenges ahead.”
That editorial, Sir, written in “The Hindu”, the much respected newspaper, makes the position very clear. Though I have heard and read several statements made by leading persons on behalf of the Government that various countries have been subjected to various forms of pressure and that India had succumbed to domestic pressure and political compulsions, the reality is that you were assisted by India to conclude the war – you cannot deny that India rendered to you the most valuable assistance to bring the war to an end successfully – you made several commitments to the Indian Government in regard to the resolution of this question and that you never kept any one of those commitments, whether it be in regard to a political solution, human rights, the ground situation, demilitarization, resettlement of people or returning lands of people to them to enable them to resettle. In regard to none of these matters have you kept your commitments. Therefore, as “The Hindu” clearly indicates, you have now come to a stage when the casuistry and chicanery you have practised indefinitely and persistently on the Tamil people for several decades can no longer be a continuing phenomenon, because now you have come under the view of the world community, the international community, who are watching you and to whom you will be answerable.
Yesterday, I was in this House listening to the Debate and to several Government spokesmen. They all talked about the LTTE, only a device to detract from the duty to face the issues that confront you. You talk of the LTTE rump frequently. You call the Tamil diaspora, numbering one million people who left this country under compulsion on account of the violence practised against them, who did not have justice in this country, who did not have equality in this country, who are now doing well abroad, “the rump of the LTTE.” They are not the rump of the LTTE. They are earnestly awaiting a peaceful, acceptable resolution of the Tamil question in Sri Lanka, if possible to even return to Sri Lanka to be able to invest here and help her progress, not merely the North and the East, but the whole of the country. But, because you cannot perform your duty, you cannot do what you are morally and ethically required to do, you brand others as the rump of the LTTE. There may be some LTTEers. I am not saying there are not, but they certainly do not constitute the major component of Tamil society, whether it be in this country or elsewhere any longer. But, you want to maintain this LTTE talk in view of your incapacity, your inability, your lack of will, your lack of commitment to deliver on what you undertake to do. I think this must stop. This is most disgraceful. You should be ashamed of yourselves to continue to talk about the LTTE rather than delivering on your commitments and your obligations.
More time was spent yesterday by the Government Spokesmen talking about the LTTE than about the LLRC or Geneva. You cannot survive on such propaganda for long. The danger is that such propaganda is detrimental to genuine peace and reconciliation. Probably, you do not want genuine peace and reconciliation because you cannot come up with the remedies that are necessary to achieve genuine peace and reconciliation, and because you cannot come up with the required remedies to achieve genuine peace and reconciliation, your only escape route is the LTTE. Is that your position? It exposes your lack of serious commitment and raises grave misgivings about your will to replace the armed forces with effective civilian administration in the North and the East. It also poses a grave challenge to the democratic decisions of the Tamil people and governance in the North and the East in particular, in keeping with the democratic will of the Tamil people. You do not want this to come about.
Our assessment of the position is that you do not want governance to take place, particularly in the North and the East in keeping with the democratic will of the Tamil people and you think that the only way in which this can be frustrated is by talking about the LTTE and keeping alive the LTTE. You carried on the same propaganda in Geneva . You could not sell that propaganda. You know what happened.
Why should persons of the stature of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson and Jimmy Carter make statements against the Sri Lankan Government individually and on behalf of the organizations to which they belong? Do you not realize that there is something gravely wrong? Do you not realize that the conscience of these most-respected, upright civilian leaders has been aroused consequent to your misdeeds over a period of time? Is it likely that personalities of this stature could come up with a position against the Sri Lankan State and the Sri Lankan Government unless they were convinced that there is something radically wrong in this country? Sir, having said that, let me turn my attention briefly to what happened in Geneva in May, 2009 when there was a Special Session that was intended to promote and protect human rights in Sri Lanka.
That Session was attended on behalf of the Sri Lankan Government by the then Minister of Human Rights and the Resolution that was moved in Geneva on that occasion was adopted in favour of Sri Lanka by 29 countries voting for the Resolution, 12 voting against and six abstaining. What did the Minister of Human Rights say in Geneva on that occasion on the 26th of May, 2009? I quote: “The government has right throughout this difficult phase of liberating our people from terrorism never subscribed to the concept of a military solution as a final solution. We have always said that the only durable and lasting solution is a political process which addresses the socio, economic and political grievances and expectations of our citizens through a home grown process acceptable to all sections of our multicultural society. The efforts in this direction have already commenced.”
Three years have gone by. It has not come yet to an end. He went on to say, I further quote: “What I would like to leave behind in this room is our commitment as a Government, as a nation to the fact that Sri Lanka is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. This is the great diversity and the strength of Sri Lanka . And we are committed and we believe in the fact that it is only through the protection and nurturing of this diversity that we can build the unity that we need to overcome the challenges that are before us in the national, reconstruction and development efforts that our country needs to put in place towards our goal of sustainable peace and development.”
That is what he said in Geneva on the 26th of May, 2009. I will comment on certain matters pertaining to this Resolution as I go along.
Sir, the next Session in Geneva, I want to refer to, was in September, 2011 when the Human Rights Council sat again and when there were certain moves for a Resolution to be moved against Sri Lanka, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe once again attended the Session as a Special Envoy on Human Rights of President Rajapaksa. In the course of that Session in Geneva , he made a statement. The main objective of the Government at those Sessions was to stave off any Resolution being passed in Geneva , primarily on the footing that the LLRC Report was being anticipated and that the LLRC Report was going to be a panacea for all ills and would set everything right in Sri Lanka . This is what Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said on behalf of the Government on that occasion. I quote: “Currently, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) is inquiring into the conflict and its causes and is evolving recommendations to ensure that such a situation never arises again in Sri Lanka . It is critical to wait for that body to finish its deliberations and come up with its conclusions in due time. Rushing these processes unduly may comprise the effectiveness of the implementation of the eventual recommendations. The persons engaged in the Commission are highly regarded professionals. They should be given time and space to come up with their findings and recommendations.”
He went on to further say: “I look forward to the LLRC coming forward with creative, forward thinking and workable recommendations that we can implement with a view to buttressing our common values and ideals and celebrating our rich socio-ethnic makeup. Building a Sri Lankan identity that is overarching and inclusive and which nurtures the rich diversity of our people, is at the centre of our all efforts. All this must be achieved within a paradigm of democratic governance which is the best guarantee of peace, prosperity and the security for all Sri Lankan people.”
This is what you tell the international community. “We are a very diverse society; we are a multi-racial society; we are a multi-ethnic society; we must be inclusive; we must come up with arrangements to accommodate all this.” Where is all this? Why is all this not happening? Do you think you can go on fooling the international community forever as you have done to the Tamil people for well over six decades? That is what happened in Geneva . You were able to stave off that Resolution. There was a proposal for a Resolution to be brought by Canada but that was not eventually brought on account of the serious efforts you made.
Then thereafter, Sir, there was the LLRC Report which came out. I will not read the Recommendations of the LLRC in regard to all matters but I would certainly refer to the LLRC Report in regard to some of the recommendations they made, particularly in regard to a political solution because they have very clearly stated what should happen politically to ensure that there is peace and reconciliation and stability and prosperity in this country.
In Paragraph 8.222 of their Recommendations they say, I quote: “All parties should recognize that the real issue of sharing power and participating in Government is the empowerment of the people and making the political leaders accountable to the people. This applies to Sri Lanka as a whole and includes the needs of citizens of all communities, Sinhala, Tamil, Muslims and others. The effective functioning of the democratic system which fulfils these needs, together with a consensual framework of devolution will, by virtue of attributes and institutions intrinsic to it, also provide the answer to the grievances of minorities.”
I hear some of your Government spokesmen talking with either ignorance, or impudence or impertinence. They say that the Tamil people do not want power sharing and it is the TNA that wants power sharing. I do not want any power sharing from you. What power sharing can you give me? But my people want power sharing. My people want to feel as equal citizens in this country. My people feel, the Muslim people feel that they must have political power in the same way that the Sinhala people have political power which we do not have and the LLRC has said it very clearly that power sharing is meant for the people and not for political leaders. So please stop this crap of saying that the TNA wants power sharing and the Tamil people do not want power sharing.
In Paragraph 8.225 of their Recommendations they say, I quote: “The Commission wishes to underline the critical importance of making visible progress on the devolution issue, in order to ensure the success of any process of lasting and sustainable reconciliation. The Commission therefore recommends that the present opportunity be utilized to launch a good faith effort to develop a consensus on devolution building on what exists – both, for maximum possible devolution to the periphery especially at the grassroots level, as well as power sharing at the centre.”
When we talk of maximum possible devolution to be granted, I must refer to the speech made by His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the inaugural meeting of the APRC and the Committee of Experts on the 11th of July 2006.
This is what he said, I quote: “In sum, any solution needs to as a matter of urgency to devolve power for people to take charge of their own destiny. This has been tried out successfully in many parts of the world. There are many examples from around the world that we may study as we evolve a truly Sri Lankan constitutional framework including our immediate neighbour, India … Any solution must be seen as one that stretches to the maximum possible devolution without sacrificing the sovereignty of the country given the background of the conflict.”
President Rajapaksa is in complete agreement with what has been recommended by the LLRC, “maximum possible devolution”. Why are you fighting shy? We are prepared to resolve this question on the basis of maximum possible devolution. Why are you fighting shy? Why are you speaking with two tongues?
The next Recommendation, Sir, made by the LLRC which I might place before the House is 8. 226. It states I quote: “To this end, the Government must take the initiative to have a serious and structured dialogue with all political parties, and those representing the minorities in particular, based on a proposal containing the Government’s own thinking on the form and content of the dialogue process envisaged. That dialogue must take place at a high political level and with adequate technical back-stopping.”
So, why are you fumbling? Why are you, Ministers of the Government, speaking in different voices? Why do you not speak with one voice? It was in this background, Sir, that the last Session of the UN Human Rights Council took place on the 27th of February, 2012 and once again the Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe went across to represent the Government as the special envoy of the President on human rights. He made certain statements which are significant. I wish to read them, briefly.
He states, I quote: “In our view, the Report contains a detailed and perceptive analysis of past errors, including those that led to the failure of the peace process, and several recommendations for the future. The report is comprehensive and contains detailed annexes.”
He went on to say, I quote: “The Commission has dealt with and made recommendations on a whole gamut of issues including aspects of accountability – something which several of our partners and interlocutors have failed to acknowledge; the resettlement of IDPs; the rehabilitation and re-integration of ex-combatants; the detention of suspects; bringing an end to the possession of unauthorized weapons; the deployment of security forces; land issues; issues with regard to restitution; implementation of the language policy; socio-economic and livelihood development; administrative issues; and on the need to arrive at a national consensus with regard to fulfilling the legitimate aspirations of all communities living in Sri Lanka.”
He further went on to say, I quote: “I may also add that the government is firmly resolved to ensure that all those who have been dispossessed of their lands, are afforded the opportunity to return to the lands they once owned.”
Is it happening? In so many parts of the North, it has not happened. In Trincomalee, it has not happened.
He went on to say, I quote: “With regard to the lands under the former High Security Zones of Palaly and Trincomalee-Sampur, the Commission has acknowledged that the area covered has significantly diminished in terms of both land area and restriction of movement. With regard to the re-demarcation and reduction of the former High Security Zones to aid resettlement, the process was initiated prior to the Commission’s Report, which therefore recognized that the area had diminished significantly. By the end of the conflict in 2009, the High Security Zones (HSZ) covered 4,098.36 Ha and, at present, has been reduced to 2,582.45. The government will closely monitor and expedite making lands, previously used for security purposes, for resettlement/return.”
In fact, when I raised this matter in Parliament in October, 2011, the Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, in regard to the position in Trincomalee gave me the assurance on the Floor of the House, that the persons who were displaced from Sampur, Muthur East – that entire area – apart from the land required for the Coal Power Plant, they could return to their lands and resettle. But nothing has been done. So far nothing has been done. And recently those people have even been deprived of their food – their rations – because they are not leaving the refugee camps in which they are. So, we need action in regard to all these matters.
Before I conclude, Sir – I might take two more minutes – I want to say only this. Recently I had a meeting with the BOI Chairman and who is also the Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy, in regard to the Sampur Coal Power Plant and the land from which people have been displaced, and he told me that there was a high-level meeting presided over by the Hon. Minister Basil Rajapaksa in his capacity as Minister for Economic Development and that there were some proposals in regard to the installation of a heavy industrial zone in that area. But, Mr. Basil Rajapaksa in the course of the meeting clearly announced that apart from the land required for the Coal Power Plant, all other land must be returned to the displaced people and that the displaced people should be resettled in those lands. I am thankful to him for having made that announcement even at that meeting and made the position clear.
But that is not good enough. My people want to go back. My people have lived there for generations and for centuries. There is an ancient historic temple in that area called “ Pathrakali Amman Temple ” that they worship. They want to go to that temple. They want to get back to their lands. Why are you delaying? Your Government Agent and your Governor in Trincomalee are not prepared to let them go back. They have got their own plans. Why can you not implement your decisions – decisions which you have made? Then we will not have to raise this matter in the House again. Let me hope that in regard to both Palaly – where I am told that they are putting up fences suddenly – and with regard to Sampur, our people can get back and resettle there before we have to raise this issue in Parliament once again.
Before I conclude Sir, I want to make just a final reference to some statements made by the Hon. DEW Gunasekara in his capacity as Acting Minister of External Affairs when he made a Statement in this House on the 23rd of March 2012. We do not buy the theory that the members of the Human Rights Council who voted in Geneva were subjected to any pressure or subjected to any domestic compulsions in making their decisions as to how they would vote. We, for our part, respect the decision made by every country. We respect the decisions made by even countries that voted against the Resolution – I mean with the Sri Lankan Government. Well, we think it is the sovereign right of those countries to make their decision and we have no right to question that decision.
Unfortunately the Government’s spokesmen have not conformed to – in my view a very healthy practice of – not condemning a decision made by a sovereign country. You talk about your sovereignty but you are not prepared to concede to other countries their right to their sovereignty.
In 2009, you carried the Resolution with: 29 for, 12 against and 6 abstained. This time, the Resolution was carried against you with only 14 voting for you – fifteen less than what you have got in 2009. What happened? How did you get 15 less? The Hon. DEW Gunasekara went on to say in the course of his statement that all in all, 23 members refused to say “Yes” to the Resolution. That is – 15 plus 8 – 23. But you forget that all in all, 32 members did not say “No” to the Resolution. You say, 23 members refused to say “Yes” to the Resolution. But you forget the fact that at the same time, all in all, 32 members refused to say “No” to the Resolution.
Why did you not have even a simple majority? You had only 15. As far as the other party was concerned, they had a two thirds majority. They had more than two thirds. Thirty two out of 45 is more than two thirds. So, I think you must stop quibbling with this type of thing and realize that this type of thing does not help.
Now, if you do not comply with the LLRC Report – but that is your business not mine; a matter in regard to which you can take your own decision – then they go to another Report before the UN Human Rights Council. That is the Report of the Experts’ Panel appointed by the Secretary-General of the UN. That Report was sent to the UN Human Rights Council when the sessions were on in September 2011, and the Secretary-General had good reason for sending that Report to the UN Human Rights Council. He knew that that was the place to which it had to be sent.
If you do not implement the LLRC recommendations and perform your duties as required in terms of the Resolution, you will have to seriously ask yourselves the question, as to whether any action may be pursued – I am not saying it must be pursued; that is a matter for the UN Human Rights Council, not for me to decide – as to whether any action could be pursued in terms of the Report of the Committee of Experts appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to advice him? These are the questions you face and you cannot, in my respectful submission, any longer take up the position that you can quibble; you can double speak; you can prevaricate; you can engage in casuistry and chicanery and get away with it; and not be answerable. I do not think, Sir, that is any longer an option available to the Sri Lankan Government.
You now have to deliver on a political solution. You have to deliver on the ground situation. There must be demilitarization. Our people must lead a life of self-respect and dignity. They cannot be second-class citizens in the areas in which they were born, in which they have lived for generations and which they belong to and own. There must be return of effective civilian administration. You must respect the democratic verdicts of our people. Monies are being allocated only to persons with the Government; only to the Government Local Authority Members. I read in the newspapers recently that the Hon. Hasen Ali, a Senior Member of Parliament belonging to the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, his proposals have been rejected. Monies are not being allocated to our Members of Parliament, to our Local Authority Members in our areas. The Government has the audacity to say, “No money for the others, only for our Members.” Are you respecting democracy? Are you respecting the democratic verdicts of our people? Why do you have elections? You have elections at which our people vote and our people choose their representatives. You must give due respect to that verdict. If you do not respect that verdict, are you respecting our people?
If you do not respect our people what respect can we give you? These are questions to which we must find answers. We are prepared to work with you. We have to be extremely honest about this. We started talks with you. You know that we did our very best to take the talks forward. We made every positive contribution to take the talks forward. If the talks have today got into difficulty it is not on account of us, it is on account of you. You cannot deny it. I challenge anyone of you to stand up in this House and deny it. We have done our very best to take the talks forward. I have sought to reasonably compromise at every moment, at every turn despite being criticized sometimes by hard-liners within my own people. I have been willing to compromise to take this forward and find an honourable, equitable solution. My Colleagues are aware of that. You must take the full responsibility for the present situation.
The ground situation in the North and the East must change. Our people must get back to their lands, lands on which they lived. Our people must be able to cultivate their lands. Our people must have proper livelihood opportunities not something at your mercy, not something at your clemency. But, as a matter of right, that is your duty as a Government. You are not doing me any favour. You are the cause of that destruction, and we are entitled to return to a life of self-respect and dignity. Our people must be entitled to that.
You must dismantle your military cantonments in the North and the East, particularly in the North, in the Kilinochchi District which you are seeking to establish on a permanent basis. I have information that the soldiers who have been settling in these cantonments are today cultivating paddy lands under various minor tanks in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi. Tomorrow when they are demobilized they will be given the cantonments and they will be given that land. Tens of thousands of people from outside the North and the East will thereby be settled in the North, against the will of the people of the North. This type of thing must stop. Are you going to stop it? Are you prepared to tell this House that you will stop it? Are you prepared to tell this House in uncertain language clearly and explicitly that you will implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission which was your showpiece before the international community on the basis of which you staved off many disasters, because you have not even started implementing the interim recommendations of the LLRC made more than one year ago in September 2010.
The UNHRC was aware of that because even in the Report of the LLRC, they have referred to the fact that the Government has not implemented its interim recommendations though made more than one year ago.
(Mr. Deputy Chairman of Committees)
Order, please! Hon. Sampanthan, you have one more minute.
(The Hon. R. Sampanthan)
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