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“We do not want to live like the displaced again.”

25 November 2011 06:30 pm - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


If, due to ties of marriage, employment, tenure of ownership, they decide to make their permanent residence in a part of Sri Lanka other than their area of origin, there should be full recognition by all quarters - administrative, judicial, cultural, that this constitutes the exercise of a Right of Citizenship of a Sri Lankan. Should he wish to re- settle in his area of origin, a like recognition of his right as a citizen to do so should undoubtedly be the basis of the provision of services and assistance to him.
As the narrative eloquently puts it:“We do not want to live like the displaced again.”
And, even more succinctly:-“We can’t move backwards.”
Lands that have remained untilled, homesteads that have stood empty, worse still lands or homesteads that have been the refuge of and received the care of others who may well have come there on facing displacement themselves, and in any case themselves numbering among  the marginalised poor, pose challenges requiring a sensitive solution.At this juncture,  it is pertinent to remember that even the families of slain LTTEers, despite the grandiose words of the LTTE boss, belong, objectively speaking, to the numbers of the poor and the marginalised.  Bishop Rayappu Joseph is quoted in the report as saying: “The Tamils who stayed behind were displaced over 26 times, lost children to the LTTE, lost family members to death and disappearance, lost limbs etc.”
This is a timely reminder that the bulk of Tamils left in the North during the years of the war belong to the poor and the marginalised and it was they who were the cannon-fodder for the LTTEs grand designs. The report’s recommendations are particularly apposite in this regard. They are: “When issues faced by Muslim communities are shared by other communities, attempts should be made to articulate such issues on a common platform. Strategic partnerships for activism should be encouraged.”
And: “Muslim leadership should not be seen to be advocating for Muslim return alone. Especially the Muslim civil society leadership should find ways of working with the Tamil leadership in the respective areas of fostering a culture of collective work and co- existence.”
The solution of problems attendant on re- settlement need to be tackled as a national issue. This needs close consultation and  cooperation between the government of Sri Lanka, community and political leaders at national and regional levels, and the affected people. The approach recommended above, however, is signally absent in the new structures and procedures which have been put in place for the settlement of property disputes in the North. The structure and procedures which have been put in place for the settlement of property disputes in the North constitute an instance of the promulgation by administrative regulation displacing age-old laws of property rights and succession rights that have cemented the bonds between citizens, especially in a community with its own customary personal laws.
While admittedly solutions are difficult in the face of out- dated laws administered by an over-worked courts system  and area administrative officials who lack the tools for bringing about an equitable solution as required in the circumstances, this instance of the by-passing of  parliament and attendant public scrutiny, leaves room for suspicion that the objective of this executively  promulgated exercise is the consolidation of the army’s say in civil matters in the north, and that the enjoyment  of rights be by grace and favour.
As the report clearly describes, the state’s response to the challenge of the delivery of services to the displaced was the provision of a framework of delivery distinct from that serving the host community. This was a response based on a political imperative; that of keeping the displaced as a distinct constituency from the host community. The end-result of the continuance of this practice over 20 years was a divergence in the quality of services available to persons living in proximity to each other.
The inevitable alienation and resentment felt by the host community was the spring board for action, which took the form of a presentation of a petition to the LLRC by the Trustees of the Puttalam Grand Mosque and the Puttalam Branch of the Jamiyathul Ulama (Council of Muslim Theologians) as representatives of the host community, in protest against what they saw as the adverse effects of the creation of a Northern Province in the North Western Province. Chapter 8 of the Report on “The Host Community’s Perspective of the Displacement” is essential reading for the greater comprehension of the damage brought about by the state’s  mishandling of a situation.
Whether it is the adverse effects of ethicised politics in Sri Lanka including political favouritism, or the adverse impact of male chauvinism on the women of the displaced community, the report is courageously transparent in its examination of the enemy within.

  Comments - 2

  • Susana Saturday, 26 November 2011 05:46 AM

    Historically and ethnically the North-East has always been part of a pan-Tamil state that included Tamil Nadu but was a separate part India (Hindustan). The rise of Hindu fundamentalism is a corrupting influence on the Hindu diaspora wolrd-wide. Hopefully, the Norht-East provinces will seek to mainatin their own identity as Sri Lankan Tamils and not be fooled into becoming a part of this re-surgent Hindu nationalism world-wide that is just brown shirt fascism that fueled the LTTE and Hindu terrorists groups in India. The soft, gentle, vulnerable Tamils should no longer be used like pawns by strategic interests including those of India and Israel or the US, Europe and Canada.

    Susana Saturday, 26 November 2011 07:02 AM

    What do "ethicised politics" and "the adverse impact of male chauvinism on the women of the displaced community" mean?
    Did you mean "ethnicised" and did you mean "legitimised rape, torture and war orphans"?

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