( January 18, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) It is interesting and not surprising that the Ambassador Stephen Rapp of the Global Criminal Justice of the United States, who was recently on a fact finding mission in Sri Lanka appeared rather perplexed on finding that the responses to recommendations in the action plan as recommended by the lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) were ONGOING. "Ongoing" can also mean: "legitimately continuing to exist" or "continuing without reaching an end". Persons who were in a position to explain could not do so and understandably so. Although it was baffling to Ambassador Rapp it was plainly clear and an everyday fact of life to those Sri Lankans who have been used to the numerous ongoing violations of human rights, crimes against humanity and the numerous instances of injustice.
The only thing that stands out as being not ongoing is the rule of law and the attendant criminal justice system made conspicuous by its absence. The unconstitutional removal of the chief justice last year removing even the last dregs of what remained to be fairness and equity confirmed this, having sealed its grave.
Everything else relating to the violations of human rights, structural genocide of the Tamils and crimes against humanity too numerous to mention here in detail are ongoing. One of those presidential commissions into the killing of the five university students in the east and the execution style murder of the 17 persons of the French organization Action Against Hunger with considerable international publicity fizzled out as it was meant to be and now Rapp is informed by the Attorney General that the collection of evidence was still ongoing. The fact is that they have been buried amongst the limbo of a forgotten past never to be exhumed. The Human Rights Commission and similar Presidential commissions are ongoing. Nothing comes out of them. They are an eye-wash meant primarily to temporarily silence the international community in the hope that they would get tired of raising such matters and eventually go away. "Tired" is the word for they are indeed so numerous that it would be exhausting to keep track of these for we are forever told that they are ongoing.
It was first claimed that after the war with the Tamil militants that demining was being done before the displaced persons could be settled. It is still ongoing with the investigations into the possibilities of pipe borne water, electricity etc. to be supplied to the thousands of roofless families waiting for the ongoing house constructions by the Indians to be completed. The callous seizing of their legitimate lands both agricultural and dwelling, and the destruction of their places worship both Hindu, Christian and Muslims are ongoing despite numerous representations. In fact, the Buddhist monks leading the lay extremist Sinhala Buddhist chauvinist elements rampaging the attacks, islandwide, on Christian churches, Mosques act under State patronage on a regular periodic basis.
The whereabouts of more than more than 10,000 militants said to have been hardcore taken into custody are still unknown. They have either been eliminated or are still under incarceration undergoing torture and brutal treatment. Contact with their near relatives has been denied. Ongoing and systematic disappearances of these persons cannot be ruled out. Besides, even within the civil society disappearances on an ongoing basis are numerous and common. The ongoing killings of journalists, and violence against dissentients and students are commonplace. "....enforced disappearances have occurred island-wide, but more so in the highly militarized North and Eastern Provinces and the capital, Colombo, targeting dissenting voices and the Tamil community" says Groundviews.
Continuing rape of women and related abuses of young girls by the members of the occupying forces go on with impunity. The planned sterilization of young women as part of the Scorched Earth policy and as part of structural genocide is ongoing legitimized policy directed only against Tamil. Torture is still a common occurrence.
It is not unusual to find shallow graves of skeletons of Tamils including those of children in the north and the northwest as were the recent findings of hundreds of skeletons in Matale area in the central area said to be those of Sinhalese insurgents. All these findings have shown evidences of torture.
For the Tamil speaking peoples the ongoing and continuing instances of injustice and the crimes committed against them by the Sri Lankan State apparatus is a fact of everyday life not fully known to the sections of the well meaning international community.
( The writer is the editor of the Eelam Nation, an online journal )