Sunday, July 12, 2009
His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa,
President of Sri Lanka,
THE PATHETIC PLIGHT OF THE IDPs.
In utter despair I am writing this appeal to you to convince you that your intervention at this stage is indispensable, if the country is to maintain its dignity and honour. The country’s credibility lies in your decision to order the immediate release of certain categories of IDPs and to follow it up soon by re-viewing the problem of the remaining IDPs. At present, they are virtually kept under compulsion without any justification, giving them the feeling that they are kept in an open prison with too many restrictions and not in a welfare centre. Hence your announcement tomorrow, a POYADAY, will be very crucial and will grant relief to the entire Buddhist World.
I am acting on the assumption that many happenings in the IDP Camps are not brought to your notice. Seeing is believing and a visit to some of the IDP Camps by you is long over due, but not any in the Menic Farm. These things cannot and should not happen in our country with you as the Head of the State. Your decision which I am sure will open the eyes of some, who think that we can play with the lives of over 300,000 odd IDPs who are suffering for no faults of theirs. We are a proud Nation in which small children used to save the lives of cows, from the butchers, with their pocket-money.
What provoked me to write this to you today is the denial of the authorities, to release a one your old child with the 61 year old Grandmother with whom the child is now staying in a IDP Camp at Pulmoddai. The father of this child and son of this Grandmother had his left leg amputated and is now in Pulmoddai. His wife had a right leg amputated with a multiple fracture on the left leg and is now in Vavuniya. These things are not happening in any part of the world. Even for a moment I will not assume that you have any knowledge of these incidents. This type of incidents are available in abundance in various camps among the 300,000 odd displaced persons.
This detention is contrary to the undertaking given by you to the people of Vanni that they will be well looked-after if they escaped from the areas under the control of the LTTE at their own risk and came into the areas under the control of the Government. How many died or got killed in the risk they took, while crossing over, is not unknown to the world. Unfortunately they are not looked-after well but are physically and mentally tortured due to the prevailing conditions in the IDP Camps. Had they known that they will be forced to undergo this ordeal not one person would have dared to cross over at such risk to his or her life and would have preferred to stay behind and face death with their kith and kin or their dear ones, many of whom died due to shelling from both sides or died in the process of crossing over to the Government side. You will see for yourself that, if you allow the gates of the IDP Camps opened for a day, hardly one person staying behind.
It is indeed painful for me to bring to your notice all these. Please pardon me for giving vent to my un-controllable feelings which I am doing after waiting so long, for the situation to improve. If you are in my position it will be easy for you to understand my feelings. Thousand of my old constituents have come to the IDP Camps from the Districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitheevu. You know that I lived with them for several years and had represented them for a fair length of time. It is a tale of woe, that I hear from every one of them without any exception. Some are without their wives and some others their husbands and children. A good number had lost their parents, most of whom lost their lives in the battle front, not as combatants but as innocent civilians caught up in the cross fire and some others got buried alive in the bunkers, many died of starvation and children without milk food. They are still searching for their kith and kin. I made an appeal at the very start to publish a list of persons in each camp to enable the IDPs to trace their missing relatives and to help people living outside and in foreign countries to locate the people dear to them. So far it is not done. An officer named Mr. Tharmakulasingham attached to the Mullaitheevu Health Department who was maintaining a record of all causalities; himself got killed in a shell attack while he was on duty. That is the end of it. There is no way to determine whether a missing person is alive or dead. Many unidentified bodies in decomposed state are damped in common graves, many a times in the IDP Camps, Even the close relatives are not allowed to be present at the burial ceremony. There are a lot of rites that will have to be performed for the dead, some of which are compulsory for a soul to rest in peace. It may look ridiculous but people all over the world fear that souls for which no proper rites are performed has a tendency to roam about restlessly. Let one person dare say that what I say is rubbish. These are very sentimental issues that cannot be brushed side. For obvious reasons the IDPs do not complain but continue to weep in silence. I strongly believe this and I hope as a true Buddhist you will agree with me. I will certainly not bear to see this happening to any one, not even to an enemy.
I heard and continue to hear a number of stories, some of which moved me to tears. It is the injured and the pregnant women who suffer the worst, without proper and prompt attention. Many injured had died for want of prompt treatment. Apart from the physical pain they undergo the mental torture affects them the most. Although there are thousands of cases, I give just one or two examples for you to consider the seriousness of the problems.
One, is the story of the young man of 30 years who had his left leg amputated and is now in Pulmoddai. What is the security risk the country faces from these four individuals? What is the need to have them at three different places for months?
In another case the Principal of a School in Vanni died of shell attack and his daughter also got badly injured. They are from Jaffna having plenty of relatives to weep for them and also to look after them. The mother and child are at the Mannar Hospital with hardly any one known to them. Who is answerable to this crime Your Excellency? I do not blame you for this. The authorities should have sent them to Jaffna to be cared for by their people and also to perform the due rites to the dead husband.
I know you for over forty years. These are matters, I know you will not tolerate. This type of harassment, especially to people who had suffered in many ways for more than quarter of a century and had been living in constant fear and tension, is unacceptable. They have suffered enough and came running to you, risking their lives and leaving behind the seriously wounded and dying relative to seek solace from you, as their President. You are aware that I never misled you in any matter. The suggestions I make are well intended and to save the credibility of the country as a Buddhist Nation. I remember warning you on an earlier occasion too that the world is watching every step we take and there are many keeping a record of what is happening in our country and elsewhere. One day when you and I are no more or may be even during your lifetime Sri Lanka will wake-up to see itself condemned by the whole world, when many hidden truths come to the open. Above all there is one above preparing a balance sheet.
You know me well. I do not flatter anybody for my personal gains. I don’t hesitate to call a spade a spade. To be very frank, I had been always feeling proud that I am a citizen of Sri Lanka that has a proud Buddhist Heritage. Although not a Buddhist I am one who pays obeisance to Lord Buddha. I have lost count of the number of visits I paid to Mahiyangana, and Dalada Maligawa, I have had the blessings of several Mahanayakas including those of the most Venerable Asgiriya and Malwatte Mahanayakas. I am now beginning to think as to why I was born in this country where the future of this country as a Proud Buddhist Nation is at stake.
I strongly urge that you should without any delay order the immediate release of the injured persons, the old and the feeble, pregnant women, women with children, disabled persons, mentally retarded persons, the insane persons, orphans, destitute persons and such others who deserve release. Also please reunite members of the same family from various camps. Please send people from various districts to their respective districts.
As a patriotic Sri Lankan who loves not only his country but also its people, I have done my duty to my country. A Further letter will be sent to you with some other suggestions which you will accept as reasonable.
If you want to win over the Tamils do this first, resettle them soon and think of any development latter.
President – TULF.