Apr 02, Colombo: Northern Province Chief Minister of Sri Lanka C.V. Wigneswaran has expressed his disappointment over the government's delay in addressing political issues and solving humanitarian problems in the North.
Delivering a speech at a function held to celebrate the birth centenary of late leftist stalwart Bernard Soysa in Colombo recently, the Chief Minister said that the government was interested only in finding a unilateral solution, facilitated by the military and had no interest in finding a bilateral or multilateral solution to the Tamil question.
He said that despite the overwhelming mandate of the people against the government in electing the Northern Provincial Council, the government has taken steps to stymie the progress of the Council undermining the already insufficient 13th Amendment even further.
"We tried our best to help the government to implement the 13th Amendment despite its shortcomings. Ironically, it appears that the government is doing its level best to prove the inadequacies of the 13th Amendment, long pointed out by the TNA, by its espousal of the view that the overall administration of the Province is outside the purview of the Provincial Councils in legal proceedings," Wigneswaran said.
"The Government is not interested in devolving power to the periphery and most certainly to the North and East. After certain so called procedural shortcomings the Northern and Eastern Provinces were separated by the Supreme Court. No steps have been taken so far, politically, to remerge the Provinces in terms of the 13th Amendment," he noted.
He further noted, that even though the President undertook to expedite the necessary basic and civil infrastructure as well as means of livelihood necessary for IDPs to resume their normal lives at the earliest, the lives of IDPs continue to be "pathetic".
"No proper assessment of their needs and requirements let alone their numbers and identities, have been prepared so far. No attempts have been made to undertake such research in a scientific manner. Ad hoc politically activated processes seem to be in place but do not seem to solve the problems of the IDPs in any significant manner," he commented.
Speaking of the presence of military in the North, the Chief Minister said there are nearly 150,000 soldiers stationed in the Northern Province.
"If anyone disbelieves this number, he or she is most welcome to arrange for an international inquiry into that matter. There are very large Army Camps in the midst of thick jungles apart from the Army camps lining your way visibly wherever you travel in the Northern Province," he told the gathering.
According to Wigneswaran, people in large numbers are now being taken into custody consequent to an unfortunate witch hunt which has been launched for political reasons and no one believes that there is any Tiger re-grouping.
He said the present regime is certainly not people friendly in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and it is because the government did not set up a proper accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law that the Human Rights Council of the United Nations has passed a Resolution against Sri Lanka last week.
He said simply the issue is that crimes committed whether during a war or during peace time, whether by a soldier or a civilian, whether by a Government official or private citizen, should be investigated and tried.
Wigneswaran asked whether anybody can expect justice under the present regime if powerful people are involved in the crimes.
"Can anybody here honestly expect crimes that may implicate powerful people to be genuinely investigated or tried in Sri Lanka? If there were even half a chance that such genuine investigation or trial could be carried out in Sri Lanka, do you think that the Resolution would have passed?" the Chief Minister questioned.
The Chief Minister said there is a lack of will and possibly a lack of understanding on the part of those that matter in Sri Lanka with regard to the National Question and a solution could be worked out only if the majority community is prepared to accept the presence of distinct Nations in Sri Lanka.