Cries From The Palmyra Grove

(September 27, Jaffna, Sri Lanka Guardian) The most disturbing factor of the civilian life situation this week was the request by the Government to all the foreign NGOs to leave the Vanni area stating that the Government would no more be responsible for their safety. Except the ICRC, all others have effectively left in accordance with the conditions on which they commenced service here, except perhaps for a skeletal service to be rendered by their local staff.
This should raise a chain of questions in any rights concerned organization, group, or individual.

1.What conditions prompted these organizations to opt to serve there and how are those conditions now - rectified, eliminated or worse still, aggravated?

2.They did much more than feeding and sheltering in these trying times. They were a source of comfort and moral support to the masses that were looking to them as the watch-dogs of their rights and treatment.

3.They were links with the outside world serving the latter to know at least partly, the real situation there. Through the present order, doesn’t the Government want to silence that voice too and keep that area out of the vigilance by the world community?

4.Should the Government be concerned with the safety of only the foreigners and not that of the locals who are the citizens of SL.

5.If the Vanni people move to the Government controlled areas, where is the guarantee that thousands will not disappear just as was and is still happening in Jaffna?

6.In the backdrop of its past behaviour, is there any assurance of the masses being properly looked after by the Government?

In any civilized society, the Government is responsible for the lives and welfare of all its citizens without any discrimination. However, the behaviour of all the Colombo Governments has been to treat the Tamils as second class citizens whose rights can be denied or curtailed at will.

Another side of the same coin appears to be the indirect order for all Tamils ‘without compelling cause for staying in Colombo’ to leave Colombo immediately. Does this apply to the Sinhalese people too? Are all the Tamils being seen as terrorists? Is it that the Tamils can be driven out of their villages, homes and residences at the whims of the Government?

Daily 2-4 persons irrespective of gender and age are abducted, mostly from their homes in spite of protests by the other inmates and family members. Their corpses mostly shot or cut, are found thrown about after a day or two. The daily papers report on both events (abductions and the recovery of the bodies) quoting the victims’ names and other particulars. Official magisterial inquest is held and the bodies are handed over to the relatives after post-mortem examination. This has become a common occurrence. No proper investigations are held and the perpetrators are neither found nor brought before Justice. Is this how the civilians are looked after by the State?

Won’t this happen on a much larger scale if the Vanni people heed the enticing call of the Government to leave the Vanni and fall into its net?
- Sri Lanka Guardian