Van Shadow by Kechambers
I’m used to the government doing fuck all, but not lying to the press is just lazy. I’m not asking for much. Just lie to me. Lankapapers quotes Police Chief Victor Perera brushing off the recent spite of abductions as overhyped. To put it in perspective, I know a late twenties Tamil guy who has a 7pm curfew cause his parents worry for his safety. He says that most his friends come home at that time and richer businessmen he knows take different routes to work. It’s a problem and this is Colombo not Killinochi. We can do something about it.
The direct quote from Lanka Papers is:
Police Chief Victor Perera has immediately revealed his hand by saying that the abductions taking place in the country are bring overhyped by the press to bring disrepute to the country. He had pointed out that a case where a Tamil girl in Modera was supposed to have been abducted eventually turned out to be a situation where she had eloped with her lover. He also said that they did catch one group where three army deserters had been making ransom money and said that he believed that there were other small groups like this that the police would eventually apprehend.
How can you solve the ethnic problem when the Police Commissioner of your country cavalierly dismisses abductions of the minority, instead of buckling down and doing his job?
Corruption in the Channel
I know being a policemen is a hard and honorable job, but sometimes it seems like the only way you can get any civil service from them is to make or threaten a call to their higher up. There is not function of justice for ordinary people, Sinhala or Tamil. Not that it never happens, but there is a huge corner to turn and the people who cut it are just laughing. I don’t think the policeman on the street is to blame for what is obviously institutional rot. In fact, people are beating policemen up and getting away with it, the decay is so bad.
The quintessential Minister’s Son Malaka Silva got 18 months probation for beating up policemen doing their jobs, one who landed in the hospital. Not jail time for assault, not the full weight of the law. Probation. Just watch an average johnny try to beat up some cops.
The police can function if someone up top yells at them, though that justice is as arbitrary as the injustice. In this case we have a national security issue where a small gesture would have huge political benefits. If Tamil people know that Mahinda Rajapakse (or someone) will pick up the phone to protect them in Colombo that brings us a little closer to reconciliation. Not to mention that it’s the right thing to do. Irregardless, there is political capital in locking down the capital which no one is collecting.
Don’t really now, but in a few casual conversations with my semiautomatic friend I get a picture. News reports fill in the rest. Basically, he goes home by 7pm most nights, as do most of his adult friends. They don’t go out anymore, in his case cause the parents worry. Tamil businessmen he knows take evasive routes to work. I was surprised cause I hadn’t heard much about the abductions, but apparently it’s all over the Tamil press. Or to quote the BBC (evil evil!)
Mano Gaheshan, leader of the Western Peoples’ Front, a Tamil political party, told the BBC that that he had sent a detailed list of 20 missing Tamils to the Sri Lankan human rights minister. But no action had been taken so far, he said. The MP said more people had gone missing since then. He said that some kidnap victims had been released after reportedly paying huge ransoms. A few have been found dead, but the fate of many is unknown.
The police have asked the families of victims to provide them with more information. They say that without adequate information from the victims’ families it will be “extremely difficult” to carry the investigations forward. But they also accuse Tamil activists of deliberately engaging in “false propaganda” to malign them.
“How can we conduct an investigation if they refuse to reveal vital details? This is just nonsense,” Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandra Fernando told the BBC. The relatives of the victims, however, say they are afraid of speaking out due to the continuous abductions and killings.
In long, here is a list of the disappeared as reported in Mavubima of October 08, 2006 from a report by One-Person (Mahana Thilakaratne) Investigation Committee for Disappeared Persons
- S. Karunakaran (35): near home in Wellawatte at 6pm, Dec 27 last year
- Jegan Dhanapal (27): in Moratuwa at 9:30pm, on Sep 13
- Maheswaran Paulraj (24): from his home in Manapai on January 1st
- Hamilas Marinthiran (29): from his home in Elavalai on Jan 08
- I. Balakrishnan (20): from his home in Elavalai on Jan 10
- Roshan Perera (29): near home in Kaduwela on Apr 04
- Sivaraja Sridaran: on Pathima Mw, Kalubowila Dehiwala. Apr 16
- Sivalingam Baheedharan: on Pathima Mw, Kalubowila Dehiwala. Apr 16
- L. Komadee (36): from him home in Ratmalana on Aug 22
- Ahamad Jalal Premarathna (25): employee of above. Abducted from his home in Borella on Aug 22
- Nishanthi Premarathna (25): employee, abducted from Borella on Aug 22
- Nishantha Chandrasiri: from home in Ranagala on Aug 23
- G. Mahindan (24): from Grandpass on Aug 24
- T. Thuremaran (22): from Wakamuna at 3:45pm, Aug 30
- Sothilingam Krishananathan (21): from Trincomalee at 6:25am on Sep 04
- Sivaraja Haran (22)
- Sanmuganadan Manivannan (22)
- Winasithambi Selvanayagam
- Nadaraja Kurubaran (39)
- Thawaraja Kawamani
- Siwasami Suhumar (40): Body found
- Mahalingam Narendra Kumar (31): Body found
- Kandasami Sridaran (24)
- Ramakrishnan Rajkumar (21)
- Sri SkandaRaja
- Kumajipille Siwakandan 34
- Nadaraja Maniwannan 28
- Edwad Reginold Jesudasan (30): Body found
These are Sri Lankans taken from their homes and off the street. They have children and wives and families and friends that are suffering intensely in loss, an indefinite and open loss which never really heals. These are people and they are Sri Lankan citizens and they deserve basic security and peace of mind in their own capital. Of course, those are moral concerns and nothing gets done for humanitarian purposes.
The Pragmatic Case
From a purely pragmatic perspective, this country can weaken the LTTE, ensure safety for all, grow the economy, etc if we provide security to Tamil people. It will take an awful lot of time, but if Tamil people can grow to trust the Police and Armed Forces then there are countless benefits for the nation. For one, there will be security in the capital, and for two, we will get the vital information to fight this terrorist war from people that begin to see some benefit to the Security Forces. If the Security Forces just laugh off their concerns or hold them overnight for having a Tamil name then those people are not likely to inform or even report suspicious activity.
Their intelligence is probably the greatest weapon in the war, and we need to invest in it. That means making the Security Forces accountable and responsive and not laughing off Tamil concerns as ‘nonsense’ or ‘overhyped’. In Sri Lanka, of course, that means that this responsiveness must be enforced and watched from the very top, but it is something that would be worthwhile for MR or the government to do. To simply say, your concerns will be addressed, I will find your disappeared, you are Sri Lankan and protected by this government. Finding these disappeared is important because it is right, but it is necessary because it helps us win the war. And we can change.
This is not Killinochi. People don’t have to disappear. We may not have tyrannical efficiency and kangaroo courts stuffed with cadres, but we do have a lumpy system which poops out something close to law and order. The system is complex, messy, and unsatisfying, but it is on the path to something real and sustainable. The LTTE can get the outward appearances of justice sometimes, but Sri Lanka as a nation has substance. Right now we have the Spam of the justice world, but over time it will look more and more like real meat. Substance is intangible and takes forever to come together, but it will come together if we invest. Of course, to deliver something anywhere near justice the very top of Sri Lankan polity is going to have to make some phone calls (for someone besides their sons). This is something they can do. We can start here, with these disappeared. They are Sri Lankan. They are important. They need to be found.