UNHRC should back-date its war crimes probe to 1983

| by Pearl Thevanayagam

(March 10, 2014, Bradford, UK - Sri Lanka Guardian) Mass graves found in Mannar is a cemetery according to Archaeological Department Director General Dr. Senerath Dissanayake and this takes the biscuit. Lying is an art Sri Lankans have yet to master.

Massacre of Tamils in Wanni was a humanitarian rescue. Rape and torture during the war was conducted by some bad eggs in the security forces. UNHRC is out to get the government and the LTTE conducted most of the war crimes. July pogrom of 1983 was carried out by thugs and not by the government led by Prime Minster Premadasa and President J.R. Jayewardene who silenced IGP Rudra Rajasingam into not declaring curfew for three whole days to quell Sinhalese militants such as Ananda and Royal College school boys in their uniforms consuming liquor looted from Tamil shops in Colombo and setting fire to Tamil homes and businesses across Colombo.

I am a witness to what happened to our home in Nugegoda on July 25, 1983. I stood there pretending to be a Sinhalese when most of my father’s 300 paintings were set on fire and all other belongings we had for generations torched and looted. When I went to Nugegoda several months later some of my father’s paintings were hanging in a neighbour’s house who is a renowned artist S. H. Herath at Maddumagewatte Housing Scheme.

I stood in the queue for two hours to get a rice packet issued by Sarvodaya and I searched high and low for a toilet in the middle of the night since there were just 10 lavatory holes for 10,000 refugees at the hangar of Ratmalana airport. We slept on cement floor covered in newspapers and no pillows. It had aluminium roofs and since it was July we were sweltering in the summer heat. My mother told us not to eat too much since there are no toilets so we consumed the minimum of Sarvodaya’s rice packets which consisted of rice, parippu and dried fish after starving for 14 hours.

As days went by we discarded our under-garments since they were itchy. Finally on the eight day I found a security guard who allowed me access to the shower at the airport and at 2.00 am my mother and my sisters had a glorious bath sans soap.

As I lay in my mother’s arms I asked her if we were poor now. She bluntly said, ‘yes’.

What audacity the government has to tell us Tamils that it conducted humanitarian rescue. Bollocks. The pogrom it started in 1983 continues to this very day.

Rape of surrendering Tamil women was just an aberration and not the norm. The government soldiers escorted refugees to safety and conducted humanitarian rescue. The government soldiers rendered medical aid, brought Tamil civilians to safety and then massacred them. They also killed surrendering civilians including LTTE cadres carrying white flags point-blank.

And the government tells us to forgive and forget.

It pains and grieves me to remember what Tamils have suffered. UNHRC should take note of what the governments in years gone by and at present are doing all it can to enslave Tamils and relegate them to the dustbins of history. Time may be a healer but time has stood still for most Tamils who suffered under the jackboot of Sinhala chauvinism.

(The writer has been a journalist for 25 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005 the membership of which is 200 from 40 countries. She can be reached at pearltheva@hotmail.com)