Date: 13 August 2010
Mr. V. Anandasangaree
C.R. de Silva: Before we commence I must thank you for having come here notwithstanding your busy schedule with a view of assisting this Commission and I must at this stage outline the procedures that are operative in respect of the persons making representations before this Commission. You are entitled to make representations in public or in camera. That is a matter at your choice. You have to choose as to whether you are going to make a public representation or you propose to make your representations in camera. At the end of your representations the Commissioners are entitled to ask you questions and nobody else can ask you any questions. No member of the public or no member of this audience can ask you any questions. Even whilst you are responding to a question you are entitled to make a request that you will respond to these questions in camera. That is a matter that is left to you.
Anandasangaree: I have given so much importance to this Commission that I flew from Madras last night to be present here. Some of the records that I would have preferred to go through I couldn’t have access because of the time factor in any case.These are things … we are facing these problems for so many years and I don’t think we need to refresh our memory in any matter unless we go into very minor details on certain things. This is a very wide subject sir.
First of all I must thank you all, the Commission, for the opportunity given to me to make my recommendations or observations whatever it may be. I represent the country not specifically the Tamil community or any other community. I have been always taking the stand – I assure you that I will not mislead you and whatever I say will help you to arrive at certain conclusions beneficial to all in this country. Of course the Tamil community is very badly affected now. So whatever things I say may sometimes may cause embarrassment; some may appear to be irrelevant; some may be very relevant. So I may be pardoned in advance for any of my omissions which I don’t do – which I don’t propose to do intentionally.
Now sir coming to the subject. We will start with the ceasefire agreement. I was one who was never violently opposed to the LTTE at any time. We thought like many others, even other people, from other community, had thought that LTTE is fighting for a good cause and some remained silent; some backed them. Some backed them unreasonably and unnecessarily. I am one who had been very careful in dealing with the LTTE but had been always misunderstood. It is because of the openness with which I talk.
Initially I would like to say a few words about the LTTE. I hope you will pardon me sir. When the LTTE – there was a resolution passed at the Tamil Nadu Assembly demanding the arrest of Prabakaran to be extradited to India to be tried there. I was a Member of Parliament at that time. In the course of my speech I said a day will come for Prabakaran also to go round the world like Yasir Arafat. This is not the time for the Indian government to take charge of Prabakaran and try him. We thought, everyone thought, that LTTE was very serious about coming to a solution for the ethnic problem. That was one of the reasons why I defended him to the hilt in Parliament. Again – there are a number of occasions on which I have defended Prabakaran and a number of occasions on which I have caused him embarrassment also. Some of the questions I put to him through the letter that I wrote would have caused him a lot of embarrassment. Unfortunately, if the Tamil media had been cooperative things would have been entirely different today. I did not expect the Tamil media to back the LTTE blindfoldedly. Every time they did something you see he was glorified. Every time I issued a statement condemning such acts of Prabakaran I was criticized and condemned as a traitor.
Sir, I am not here to defend myself. I am just trying to make the position clear as to what role I played during the last 5 years, although now I realize I could have…I was really foolish. I could have kept quiet like many others and I am now paying for it. I am now sandwiched between the LTTE supporters and the Government. The LTTE thought I was a stooge of the Government; Government thought that I was backing them in all their matters. That is not true. I always took an independent view of these matters. I criticized the Government whenever necessary and I criticized the LTTE also whenever necessary. That is the role I had been playing. If anyone had misunderstood me as a supporter of the Government or a stooge of the Government, I am sorry I am not so.
Now, about the CFA sir. When the CFA was…when the contents of the CFA was released I was of the opinion that the Government had made a mistake at that time by not giving it to the public to debate it out. We would have then asked to make comments and if that opportunity had been given the CFA would have had much better provision than what it had. It was an agreement that had been drafted in a hurry and implemented in a hurry. The main flaw in the constitution was – in the draft was – failure of the authorities to bring it to the notice of the public before it is signed.
Secondly, there was no time factor given. It went on, it dragged on for years. They should have limited the time within which the agreement should have been put to post. That was another flaw in the CFA.
Then the third one I would say giving undue importance to the LTTE against the claims of the Government. For example, what I am now referring to in particular is LTTE was given the privilege of coming into Government held areas – may be initially limited to north and east – subsequently they could go to any part of the country. That provision was not there for the Government or the other political parties to get into the LTTE areas. That is the biggest flaw. The LTTE did everything without the knowledge of the others; others couldn’t do anything without the knowledge of the LTTE. That I hope everyone will agree that was the biggest mistake. There should have been reciprocal arrangement for both parties to visit each other. The only opportunity given to the Government side was for the soldiers to go through the LTTE held areas in civil, but not a single soldier traveled during that period either in civil or in uniform through Wanni.
These are the things you see that ultimately caused failure of the CFA.
Then another matter I would like to say – violations. There have been thousands of violations – not one or two – thousands of violations by the LTTE against the Government’s view. This is not to please the Government I am saying. Actually the Government’s violations were restricted because Government had to be careful in honouring the agreement. So we can understand the standing by the Government. But the LTTE also. Violations are done. On one occasion they brought the … they arrested a member of the Monitoring Team from the Scandinavian team, carried them bodily and brought them to Wanni. That alone would have been sufficient to abrogate the agreement. Everybody tolerated. The facilitators did not take seriously as to control these people. I had a photograph I was carrying one. In Vavuniya they had built a new building and there was an opening ceremony. A woman cadre was raising the – hoisting the flag – it was the Tiger flag not the national flag or Eelam flag – it was the Tiger flag. A poor lady from the team went and whispered into the ears “child this is not the way to do you are violating the CFA.” The reply she got was hooting from the school children who were brought there by force.
So these are the things you see that led to the failure of the CFA otherwise the CFA could have been … would have brought some good results. One may ask as to why this was not pointed out at that stage for which you see I too accept the blame. The enthusiasm generated at that time was so great that people were so happy after so many years of violations, violent activities of the LTTE abductions, kidnappings, killings, torture. When the LTTE had agreed to come to the negotiating table it was really a thrilling news and everybody was happy, and in the rush (you know) everyone forgot the fact that we had a moral obligation to go through the various process of the agreement which no one did. So I am not blaming anybody – neither the Government at that time nor the politicians at that time – because I too being in politics you see I also share that blame for which I now regret. It should have been pointed out at the very early stages.
Then sir you will remember the proposal by the LTTE, ISGA (that is Interim Self Government Authority). I objected to that. Some Tamil friends are very angry. Why should you object. They don’t know what the contents is. Without knowing the contents, without knowing why I am objecting to it, they wrote a nasty editorial in the Tamil media, and the English paper wrote a nice editorial pointing out the good things they see in my protest. So ISGA I objected and earned the name of a traitor of the Tamil cause because I found in it that they, the majority of the membership of the…passed to the LTTE, and I felt at the time there was absolutely no need for the LTTE to have the…to work with the Government under the new set up ISGA, and even pointed out – I even met the ambassadors, pointed out to them as to why the ISGA should not be conceded to. Because I pointed out, out of the (19) 25 districts you see, 8 districts are from the north and east. And I have given the details how many of these 8 districts is under the LTTE control fully and how many are under partial control of the LTTE. Very convincing letter – this is some statistics I gave. This gives the details of the (present and past) under each district. The name of the district that is fully under the control of the LTTE; and the name of the district that was partially under the LTTE. And we had so many – 8 GAs; 8 Additional GAs; 8 AGAs; so many places of ours over 75 odd places of ours I think. When this set up is there readily available for the tsunami to rectify or to build up to bring back what the tsunami carried away, there was no need for LTTE or any for a ISGA to take charge of the development and reconstruction work. So I had been off and on blamed for being open in my criticism be it the Government or the LTTE.
Now coming to the…I am not the only one – I hope no one else will claim credit or discredit for it who challenged the LTTEs claim that they are the sole representatives of the Tamils. That is how from the top I was brought down to the bottom. I who won an election with 36,000 votes and came first of the 9 members at the next elections brought down to the very bottom and I was even in an area where I worked as teacher for several years anyway I polled 100 odd votes. Why I am saying is this. The claim of the LTTE that they are the sole representatives of the Tamil people cannot be justified in any way. They never contested any election; they never came out and participated in the civil activities of the people; they decided and did everything. They had their own courts – they had at that time; and judges were appointed by them; the convicted prisoners were released on the recommendation of somebody; like that everything was in a mess; everything was in a mess. So how can we say LTTE is the sole representative of the Tamil community – it is wrong. Now the very same people; the very same journals the media, made the same mistake. I appealed to the media hundreds of times; number of times; over and over again, please all of you get together and condemn at least one act of the LTTE so that they may re-think you see and act better in the future. No one dared to do that; no one dared to do that. But they dared to call me a traitor for which you see they did not have any fear and they need not have a licence or permission from anybody. The same mistake is now been made sir. Again another group is being glorified; glorified to the extent of making them real successors of the LTTE – not the people who had been really fighting for the cause. Anyway I am not going to touch politics there. There are people who have an easy way of going to the country, going to the Tamil people and say this is this, this is this. So the foolish Tamil people also forget all their past misery they underwent prefer to forget them and receive them with open arms. Today we have won the war. I am happy that we won the war although I may be accused as a traitor for feeling happy that the war is won. But the war is won not to be replaced by this type of administration. Very rare I differ. The war is won but at what price. I wrote to the President when the war is won – I am happy that you are enjoying the victory. I can’t participate in this because I am mourning the loss of several thousand people in the war. So that is where I crossed swords with the President. I told no. How can I? If you go through the papers today every day some lady is going round I want to see…did any one of you see my husband; my child was killed in my presence. A number of cases like that. The IDPs were not properly looked after. Now they are talking of – I will try to be brief because I know I have to leave room for questions also. Now there are 10,500 or 11,000 detainees detained as combatants. It is a crime to call them combatants; it is a crime. They are our children; they are our children.
On a similar occasion, about 20-30 years back, when the JVP detainees were brought to Kilinochchi for rehabilitation, the Minister at that time in charge of the rehabilitation was the Hon. the late Mr. K.B.Ratnayaka my good friend. One day he called me and said “Ananda I want to send these (detainees) there for a short period, please don’t protest.” I said why the hell should I protest.They are our children being brought there not for anything just to get themselves rehabilitated. He was very happy. So they came. After about 6 months left. One of my colleagues in Parliament made a big issue out of it. He got up and said “ours is a peaceful section of the country”; Jaffna is peaceful it seems – ours is a peaceful area – “please don’t bring the terrorists there.” When you go through the records you will see which MP said that. And I was branded again as a traitor encouraging Sinhala (what do you call) colonization in Akkarayan. That was not the truth. There was a camp set up – a rehabilitation camp. Some boys were there. Within about 6 months you see – I don’t know when they went even. But the name that I got spread over a period. Even the last election you see there was a leaflet coming – So there was a lot of things in this connection but I don’t think they are relevant. Why I am saying this is – with the same tone I say – these are our children, innocent children I would say. They were misled; they were misled by the LTTE leadership. And when they were being recruited everyone just looked on. Everyone in the sense everyone supportive of the LTTE. The so called Diaspora now volunteering to develop this country. All these people are very well settled in foreign countries; their children following prestigious courses like engineering and medicine. They have enough money for the LTTE to ill-treat or torture or hinder the progress of our children. Diaspora – not only Diaspora there were representatives also. If you take the past 6 years the LTTE had sole representation in Parliament. After the G.C.E.(O/L) exam 8,000 – LTTE knew that 8,000 students sat for the exam. All of them were taken by force for training. Not a hum from these so called representatives of the Tamil people. Lot of abductions took place; lot of murder, torture, the type of torture unheard of in a civilized society. There were some photographs published – in a triangular shaped wire bared cage, short (a person of 5 ft. can’t stand erect). Having seen all that my heart bled. I took up the position you are no representative of the Tamil people; you are cruel; you are doing all sorts of unwanted things; you are misleading the children; you are depriving the children of their progress; of their education; while you yourselves – I told Prabakaran you are having your son educated as a doctor or engineer but here the poor child is going to the battle front. There was an aerial attack on the airport at Anuradhapura. The following morning a paper carried 2 photographs – there were many photographs; 2 attracted my notice. One 22 people along with Prabakaran had taken a photograph – that appeared. On the other side all the dead bodies of the 22 people who took part in the operation their corpse was there. I wrote to Prabakaran promptly. If you had been one of the 22 I would have been happy and praised you as a hero, but you are a coward. You have sacrificed the lives of 22 children who have taken a photograph with you the previous day or two days earlier. So I had to be honest by my people without any fear or favour; without expecting anything. I took up the case.
Even now I am taking up the case of the 10 thousand or 11 thousand children who have been taken by force, unwillingly, boys and girls. And I suggested to the Government, even through this Commission, as done during the JVP time, appoint a few committees with a judge – with a retired judge or retired police officer – and another civilian, a recognized civilian, have a few committees – let these boys go before the commission; let the committee inquire…put questions and find out from the boy and the parents what happened, how he entered, whether he was taken by force or whether he volunteered to join. That is the way of dealing with this thing.
Now the worst criminal in this country, the worst, who claimed that he is the leader or successor of Prabakaran I am ashamed to say the whole world is looking at it that he is now running a NGO when several thousand NGOs you see that was in the field doing a lot of work feeding our people giving employment doors are shut for them. But then this criminal is coming to help the country to develop along with 9 Diaspora. You know there are as many Tamils in foreign countries as you find here. Several lakhs of Tamils are living all over. They are in Canada, Germany – they are also classified as Diaspora. But only 9 Diaspora people came volunteering to develop this country.
I don’t know one fine day you know although the LTTE has been defeated the entire cadre has not surrendered – physically they have surrendered but mentally they have not surrendered. 5 chaps are enough to destroy this country. Why can’t that happen is the question I am asking. Why can’t this happen with this so called criminal the successor of Prabakaran. Coming into the field, getting into the Army camp, going round the country. What is the protection I have from this man…from this type of people.
So these are questions sirs I am asking for consideration. These children are innocent. If there are some who are really … had involvements you see separate them. There are about 700 of them. Try them. The man who should be tried – Prabakaran was once sentenced to 200 years jail. On that basis this man, who is coming here as his successor, should have been 1000 years jail. But he is free; the children are in the detention camp learning. And you know the Government proudly says we are giving them training now – vocational training. I like to know sir would you like to have your son trained as a carpenter or a mason or a tailor. I don’t say that those employment…those jobs are demeaning. There are people who are now for generations who are carpenters from a carpenter family. Does that mean that a carpenter’s son should be a carpenter? But the carpenter’s son also wants to enter Parliament. The barber’s son wants to have his son educated as a doctor. When Kilinochchi was made a separate district the opportunities came for prestigious courses. First time students from Kilinochchi entered the university for prestigious courses. Now in certain houses you find 2 doctors, 3 doctors.
I visited one of these training camps – this vocational training camp. A boy was doing tailoring. I quietly whispered in his ear “you like this job”? I saw his face you see. It was a pity no – he was a chap who could have been…if he had been released at the proper time would have become a doctor or engineer; now doing tailoring. To stitch whose clothes – his own clothes. How many tailors and masons and carpenters we need in Jaffna and Batticaloa. We have enough. So what – these are lessons we can learn.
The Sri Lankan ethnic issue is more than 50 years. I have been living throughout the period. I remember as a school boy carrying a flag and watching the marathon race you see that was bringing a message from Hardy College to Colombo on the independence day – first independence day. From 1956 now more than 50 years old. We know what the problem is; we know what the solution is. The country is ready. The President himself had said somewhere at least I must concede what Anandasangaree and Douglas Devananda asked in his first independence day address. Why I am saying is he is aware of the problem. He had said it is our duty to safeguard the Tamils and their children’s future. He has said that – it is in record – “Island” paper carried it.
So the country is now ready. There is no question of re-occurring this incident. Impossible. If anyone think that this can re-occur – again somebody can…another Velupillai Prabakaran can come and organize and build up a big army and fight – this is absurd to think. But this is a lame excuse to have Army camps in our areas – lame excuse. You don’t need an Army camp permanently built you see all over Jaffna. Then what is the liberation that has taken place? What is it that we are proud of? It is back from the frying pan into the fire. There are women in our area. Kilinochchi was the worst effected I was the MP for Kilinochchi for quite a long time now rejected by the same people. Anyway I don’t know for what reason but…there are a number of ladies, their relations have told me, the mere sight of a gun they shout in terror; they run away like hysteria people. So people don’t want to see…they don’t want to see even a toy gun. Even a toy gun, even a toy pistol they don’t want to see. Now we are going to establish Army camps all over for the protection of the people. Whose protection I am asking? Leave the people alone. After Prabakaran died not a single shot was fired. This is a challenge. Can anyone prove that there was a single short fired after Prabakaran was killed? No. That means terrorism is finished in this country. If at all they tried to raise their head again – ugly head again – little arrangement here and there would do. There was a camp those days. When I was a teacher in Pooneryn there was a small camp in Pooneryn also. Just 5 people. They were doing task force or something.
So this is the reason why the lessons that we learnt are not properly understood and implemented. Our problem is 50 years old everyone knows what it is; everyone knows what is acceptable. If something unacceptable is brought as a solution the Army camp they are going to attack. If a satisfactory solution is presented, Army will have no work to do at all – no work. Then bring back civil administration there. Hand over the job to the GA. Now the GA has to get permission from the Army officers. Who is the Army officer? What does he know? I will give a very clear example. Iranamadu tank caters the need of about 25 to 30,000 acres. If anyone meddle with the water that is the end of cultivation in Kilinochchi. But someone had proposed that Iranamadu water should be brought to Jaffna for drinking purposes. I don’t think anyone in Jaffna ever complained of water shortage – drinking water shortage. There are a couple of villages here and there which is all dry. If you send 2 bowsers you see problem is solved with a couple of bowsers. If they want they can have 2 more to overcome. To bring water at such a large expenditure all the way from Iranamadu to Jaffna means, Jaffna also will get ruined Iranamadu cultivation that is Kilinochchi cultivation will also go for a six.
So this is the type of development that is taking place. The people who had been responsible for some silly decisions during the LTTE are now at the helm. The GA (Jaffna) Kilinochchi who was responsible for the 95% polling in Kilinochchi; who drove away the polling agents of Douglas Devananda who went to do their duty; he drove them away. Today he is the man advising the Government. He knows where the LTTE had their operations; where they were strong. What and what they did. I am sure he should have known even the places where certain things are concealed for future use. Can we risk our lives you see with a man like that? The country is not lacking intelligent people. We have people all over. So these are the things we have the lessons that we have learnt not properly understood and action taken. This is one thing.
Then Reconciliation. Reconciliation will never take place – I can guarantee – I am now 78 years old I don’t know how long I will live but this is a bet – reconciliation will never succeed as long as people who are…who can cause trouble in the future – you know the present Army, I have nothing against them; they are very nice; humanitarian wise they were the best – even I had information from foreign countries from our friends and relations you see. They say the Army was treating the IDPs so nicely. It was a pleasure to see police girls playing with the small children – refugee children. All that is right. You know if they are…Army is set up there to do humanitarian work I welcome. If they are there to defend anybody I object – not only I everybody objects. People are now gradually losing the happiness that they got with the defeat of the LTTE. Everything is now … they are scared to come out. They can’t talk; no freedom of speech; no freedom of movement; People are not allowed to go there.
There are about 750 families who have suffered enough under the LTTE for several years; then led a life of misery for one year in Vavuniya; now resettled and refused permission to get into their land. I met them about a week back. They were living in pigeon hole type tent. These are things you see that people must go and see. NGOs must be allowed to work in these areas. You can’t blame a NGO for building a special boat you see for the LTTEs needs because they were there they can’t refuse. Whatever the LTTE asked they have to do. So if a NGO building boats you see if the LTTE local leader comes and say no to this specification make 2 boats I will give you two weeks he has to do that. So it does not mean that that NGO had been pro LTTE.
So these are – I can go on like this for a fairly long time but unfortunately the time is limited. I like to be heard through questions and answers so I hope I have said enough and any clarification can be done through questions. Thank you.
Q & A:
Rohan Perera: Thank you very much Mr. Anandasangaree for coming before this Commission today and as you mentioned you have come all the way from Chennai which we very much appreciate. I have 2 questions – one on what you said with regard to the failure of the CFA. With regard to the failure of the CFA and the peace process, now one of the views that is expressed is that there was a lack of inclusivity of making the agreement public for the reason that given the unique or unprecedented political environment …
Anandasangaree: Interrupted (not clear)
Rohan Perera: May I repeat what I said. On the question of lack of inclusivity of the ceasefire agreement or the failure to make it public which is highlighted as one of the main reasons for the failure agreement and the peace process, there is one view that had that path been followed given the fact that we had a unique or unprecedented political environment at that time namely an Executive President who was also the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces from one political party who had lost the majority in Parliament and a Prime Minister from another. And given the confrontational politics which traditionally prevailed that would have risked jeopardizing the entire process. That is one line of thinking or one line of argument. So therefore it had to be done in the way in which it was done and there was certainly lack of inclusivity across party lines.
The other view was that this political environment was unique, which is a positive factor and this could have helped in building up a cross party or a bipartisan consensus on a vital national issue between the two major political parties in the south on an issue which affects the very survival of the state, and that historic opportunity was missed when we had a President and a Prime Minister from two different political parties.
So these are two views on this question of lack of inclusivity which has been expressed, and as an experienced politician I would like to hear your views.
My second question is on the question of reconciliation. You did refer to the presence of the large Tamil expatriate community. We would like to hear your views as to any specific aspects which you would like to address as to how the expatriate Tamil community could be drawn into the process of the post conflict peace building.
So these are two matters I thought we should have the benefit of your thinking. Thank you.
Anandasangaree: At the time the CFA was signed I was in Parliament as a Member. The problem was there – President from one party and party in power another. That was perhaps the main reason for the failure of the CFA. There was no understanding between the two heads you see – the head of the Parliament and the head of the State. So we knew that we were heading for a disaster you know. In Parliament they started criticizing the monitors. All these things you see contributed for the failure of the CFA. Not mainly, partly. But mainly the arrogant stand of the LTTE. One day, you will probably laugh, I told Mr. Sambandan who was my colleague, Mr. Sambandan the principal is calling me to come to his office and I am going and saying yes sir. When the class teacher calls me to his office there also I go and say okay. Now the monitor want me to go to his office can I do that and Mr. Sambandan roared with laughter for about 10 minutes. What I mean is, Prabakaran wanted to see us we went – okay. Then subsequently (Pillayan) wanted to – not Pillayan, S.P.Thamil Chelvam wanted to see us – I was reluctant but I went only once. Now the ordinary chaps here and there who had been responsible for meddling with the peoples rights you see arresting children and taking, recruiting children (students) you see for the cadre and all – for the LTTE cadre – started inviting. I said no I am not coming. One person who was in charge of Jaffna is now a big man in the intelligence group of the Army. I can understand the main reason is if we had a – that is a matter for the constitutional experts to advise the Government about. We had this problem and if the senate had a majority of one party – majority from one political party and Parliament has a majority of another political party, they couldn’t have pulled on. That is one of the reasons why senate was abolished in Sri Lanka. It was a nuisance. So like that here also the Head of the State and the Head of the Parliament should belong to the same political party then things would have been much better and the CFA agreement also would have been successfully implemented.
Then about the Diaspora – the expatriates. So we have thousands and thousands of them you see and they are prepared to help. But why do you want to go behind this man KP? KP has 9 men. Take an ordinary LTTE supporter he can find 100 men in Paris in Canada. KP has only 9 and KP has not given an undertaking that he will furnish others or get round others or bring them here to do development work, to run a NGO. But at the same time there is another group having elections in various countries to run a Parliament in exile. I can understand if that man is also brought and said you sit here men and do some work don’t do political work you just sit. Come back and settle peacefully in your country. That is the type of people we want not people who had been responsible for all the atrocities this country faced during the last 30 years. And this is money earned by sinful means, whatever they bring by sinful means. Drugs, abduction, torture and things like that. So we don’t want their money. Let the people be free; allow them to be free and give them some tools you see some implements and allow them to work. They will bring what we want – what the country needs – in 6 months. Give them compensation as promised. The President had said once that he will see that all what you lost will be regained for you except the President can’t give back the life lost you see. But compensation can be given for the lives lost. And for other losses. You know people have been living in mansions, people who have been having first class cars, lorries, businesses. There are people in Kilinochchi who have been cultivating more than 100 acres; they are multi millionaires. All of them had to stand in the queue to beg their meal. Not during the IDP period in Wanni even now. What can they do? One day sir I burst into tears you see. I am a fellow who will never get tears in my eyes. My father was very angry about it. Nothing can move me you see. I am a tough fellow. One day I visited – from Paranthan to Mullaitivu I went about 2 weeks – 3 weeks back. To see people living under trees and sleeping under trees and no house had a roof – no other facilities also. They were…actually their life there was worse then what they were in the IDP camps. So 2 days later there was a big shower. All of a sudden at 12 o’clock hell broke loose and came down you see – hell of a downpour. I got up and wept. My thinking was what will these people do now. You know we don’t realize these things. Some are in air conditioned rooms; some are quite well settled. I could not sleep for a day without the mosquito coil. They have been living for so many days or even years without mosquito coils. Some had been given some … generous donor had given some mosquito nets; to what extent that helped?
So Diaspora…there are people who are prepared to invest; make it easy for them. Don’t depend on KP or his supporters. Make an advertisement that such and such facility will be made available to anyone – any Diaspora person or any expatriate who wanted to invest they are privileged. Why do you want KP. KP should be – you know I don’t want to say – I am a man committed to non violence; I cannot say what type of punishment should be given to KP but certainly he cannot be punished in a 5 star hotel or Isurupaya or something – the Commercial Company is the guest house which he is now occupying. I am not suggesting any punishment. Allow them to live with the people and let the people deal with them. If the people had been allowed a free hand they would have dealt with the people you see who were bothering them and who are a real nuisance to them you see. They are all out and free.
So the other question about this …
Ramanathan: Mr. Anandasangaree, the war has been won but the majority of the Tamil peoples hearts have not been won still. Could you suggest ways of reaching out to these people?
Anandasangaree: Allow them free…Madam the situation today is you go to Jaffna; you ask a person “how is the Government. You like the UNP?” You will never get an answer even from their own child. Why? There was a time when Madam Sirimavo went to Jaffna – I don’t know whether you remember that – to open the university. We organized a hartal and a satyagraha. At Weerali Amman temple we organized the satyagraha. We told the people don’t come out any of you; all of you stay indoors. Madam came we also had the satyagraha. Can you do that now? There are 750 families in Kilinochchi today who were promised to be taken to their land now for some reason they are kept in a school. Please go and see them. It is a real horrible sight to see; but the land they developed you know. I had the experience there I was the Member of Parliament from Kilinochchi. When land is given to them first they cut the tree and burn it. Then do the first cultivation with the stumps here and there. Then it takes a long time for them to remove the stumps you see and level them out. And quite a number of them who are now affected are of Indian origin. They had come as refugees having suffered at various times from various places. They came as refugees and they were given land. 750 families of which 250 had been brought to Kilinochchi and they are now in camps and the balance are still in Vavuniya. They are crying shoot us, kill us don’t take us anywhere. The idea is to…They are prevented from going to their land because the Government wants that land for some purpose. What is the purpose the Government wants? You know I can’t understand sirs why the Government wants to grab land for anybody. You know I go round the country a number of times – hundred times at least in the year. There is enough land anyway. You find land – excepting the peninsula that is a small area – you find land all over. Why do you want to take another man’s land? Why do you want to go into another village and grab the land? Leave it. When the time comes, when need comes, do it.
So the best thing for the Government to do is withdraw the Army; re- establish the civil administration. We have some nice GAs. There was a GA in Kilinochchi. He was arrested under some pretext. I brought the … I said he is a nice GA please allow him. If there is any mistake made it must have been by the former GA. Please allow him to work. He was not allowed to work in Kilinochchi he was kept in detention for some time now sent to Vavuniya, no Mullaitivu where he is a stranger. If he had been sent back to Kilinochchi he knows every nook and corner. If you ask me, I can tell you from here even after 25 years. I can start the first schools is in Kilali, Kilali Roman Catholic School, then Muhamali Roman Catholic school, then Vembadi CCTMS, Palam Maha Vidyalaya. Like that I can mention names of all the 78 schools at that time when I was MP. Here is a GA who knows the area; the grass roots who know the GAs temperament also. I told at the very beginning allow the GA to come in. GA can select a certain area; all Grama Sevakas of the division of those divisions and some volunteers. Now tell me boys where did you see the LTTE operating much; have you any suspicion or any movements of their planting any land mines and things like that; identify them; allow them. The next day they can walk into their houses. They would have saved the roofs of their houses their furniture. Would you believe I could not have a stool to sit on in Kilinochchi. And God only knows where all this furniture vanished.
So the people are not free. The people want to be free; that is what they want first. We don’t want development. I know our children studied in oil lamps you know for years. Kilinochchi … quite a large area in Kilinochchi was covered with electricity. But LTTE was so good you see that they removed all the wiring, the cables and everything and even the posts were destroyed and used for construction of bunkers. Children studied in Margosa oil you know. Verpam (margosa oil). They did not have any other oil. Either coconut oil or margosa oil. Children went to the university by studying under that lamp. Now what is the use we will give electricity we will give this and that. We don’t want any of those. We want our house that is what the people say. Shoot us if you want; don’t ask us to move away from this place because this is our land. I remember my father taught me “breathes there a man with soul so dead who never to himself has said this is my own my native land.” That is why I am a patriot. I love this country. This was in my blood from my childhood. This is my own my native land. This is not my Eelam or Colombo. This is my own my native land. I want to live here. So that is the situation there madam. Don’t be taken away by the appearance and especially Jaffna – Jaffna people lost compared to Wanni nothing except a few houses. So they are dancing and playing you see. They are having dramatic festivals and all that; coming to Colombo and showing their talents in dancing, music and drama. Go to Vavuniya, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. These are the areas that were really affected; areas that really need development but they don’t want development. Leave them. Leave them to cultivate their land. In 6 months they can get on their feet. In 3 months their onions will give the yield.
Palihakkara: Thank you Mr. Anandasangaree. Specially for you someone who spoke very strongly at the time when it was not so fashionable to speak against the LTTE now you did speak strongly risking your life sometimes. So it is understandable your sentiments when you say that Prabakaran’s No.2 from Diaspora is a free person and 10,500 are called combatants. It is understandable. But now that the common threat of LTTE to politicians like you and other elected politicians that is no longer there what can we together do in regard to these 10,500 people whom you say detainees. What in your view should be done? Obviously they have been detained because of their active involvement in the LTTE activities – perhaps forcibly. What in your view should be done? The Government obviously seems to be trying to give them some vocational training and obviously they are not being prosecuted because…they are not being prosecuted. So what is it that can be done in your view? – one.
Another question is that now that the conflict – at least the military part of it is over – what do you think the Tamil Parliamentarians should do together; how can they speak in one voice trying to do the development work in the north and east and try to help the Government and the Tamil people together? How can that be achieved? Thank you. Those are the 2 questions.
Anandasangaree: The main handicap is…in those days the main political parties were the Tamil Congress and Federal Party and all that and the representatives were selected on the merit of each candidate. Today it is not so. We believe that the man who had been carrying the capsule – the cyanide capsule – is in Parliament today. Then the thuggery there – some people say we will continue to live here (x) will not be here now take note of that. So there are so many things you know – if I now I don’t want to comment on these things you see I may be causing embarrassment to you and to some others. There is a move for the Tamil groups to get today. Again there is division – one group is very adamant that they wont… I am prepared to forget all that has been done to me by various groups you see.I was preferred to forget and join them and as a group you see that talks high principles and slept over the whole thing for 6 years and come back to nurse the Tamil community refusing to come out. I don’t know what their future is going to be. But I agree with you that a united effort – a common program – if a solution is acceptable to those who are in the forefront – should be acceptable or the people can be made to accept it. So that is a solution … one solution lies in that. Well I don’t know sir if the country’s destiny is to suffer, we will have to suffer. But one thing I can tell. I have lived with Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims; I have studied with Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims; I have taught Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese; I know the thinking and temperament of these various communities. The Sinhalese are very accommodating; their fault is with the leadership. The Tamils are very accommodating even unreasonable; the fault is with the leadership. And perhaps that is the same with the Muslims also. The country is good. There is a story my friend used to say – a dog wanted to see the world; went round and round you see; chased at every point by the local dogs; came back again to its native place and asked “how is the world?” “World is okay but it is our people who have been giving me trouble.” It is that. It is our people who are an obstruction for any solution to be arrived at and apart from that I am sure the Tamils and the Sinhalese and the Muslims can live together. They lived together for generations without any difference of things. My best friends are among the Sinhalese. I have some very good friends among the Muslims. So the trouble is with the leadership of the communities and not with us. Let the leaders pardon me but I hope they too will agree with my view.
Palihakkara: What can we do about the detainees?
Anandasangaree: Detainees I suggest … It is on record. The President had said you will be released when they went and surrendered. The announcement made in the IDP camps was, all those who had anything to do with LTTE, even if you had gone for training for a day or …, please report you will be sent back. They were not released. All of them were not released. There are people who could have very well concealed themselves without telling them. Some regret that they had confessed that they had a little training. Actually they are innocent people. And what harm can they cause, you know. Hand over to their parents – call their parents and ask the parents. There are parents who will say he is a mischievous chap keep for some time sir and release him after 6 months. But there are people who will say sir he is the only bread winner of the family please release him, I will look after him. I will kill that fellow if he dares to take up arms again. Take a risk. If you can take a risk with a criminal like KP, criminal, a man who should be held responsible next to Prabakaran who should be held responsible for the deaths of thousands – more than 200,000 lives have been lost; how many people have lost their eye sight; how many girls are without both their legs crawling. For all that the only man who can…who should be held responsible is KP. If you can trust KP then allow the children …produce them before courts you see and allow them on bail on security given by their parents. There are children who had gone to the university still there. I have a friend of mine. He is now not talking to me because his son had been following a course in an open university. They think that I am so powerful to get things done. I can’t get even a pin to move. So I suggested committees. You remember at that time when the JVP detainees were released, there was one Police Officer – IGP or DIG or something – he was the head of the team. So they were calling their parents and the boys you see having a pull I think and if they are satisfied that the boy is innocent he was sent with the parents with the condition that they should go and sign at the Police Station every week or to some other authority or GA or somebody and there are people who are in detention for just giving tea and food parcels for the LTTE. The man who ate the food parcel is free; the man who gave the food parcel is in.
C.R. de Silva: So what you are suggesting is that you have committees to examine the involvement of these detainees and find out whether they were forced by the LTTE … find out their involvement?
C.R. de Silva: And then take appropriate action depending on what their involvement is and how they got involved in the movement. If they were forced into the movement or their involvement is on a very superficial level what you are saying is take steps to discharge them and get them to integrate back into society. Is that what you are saying?
Anandasangaree: Yes. Or have a few committees and have quick …
C.R. de Silva: Yes committees. We have committees …
Paranagama: What have you got to say about this language problem?
Anandasangaree: Language…the biggest mistake was in the leadership here. I hope you know that – I am asking Mr. Chanmugam he being an elder person – up to 1956 Sinhalese was taught as a subject – compulsory subject – for students in all schools that had classes up to SSC. My younger brother has Sinhala as a subject. I studied at Soma Skanda where my father was the principal. A Buddhist Priest – a graduate – was teaching Sinhala. At Hardy College where K.B.Ratnayake studied there was one Somaratne – a layman – teaching Sinhala. Every school had a teacher in Sinhala. You go through the national anthem…the school anthem of the Hindu College and you will – many things mentions Sinhalamum, Tamilamum – Sinhala is also taught there. The fault is with the leadership at that time. So when the Sinhala Bill was introduced – most of those schools were private schools – when the Sinhala Only Act was introduced they stopped teaching for one year as an experimental period during which the teachers were given some work – art or physical drill and things like that. Then they waited for one year and no settlement coming. All of them – teachers – were discontinued. They left their schools with tears in their eyes; I can still remember that. The fault is that everyone must have learned Sinhala. If that had been allowed – if not for that Bill – today I will be making this representation in Sinhala just for fancy sake you see and little in Tamil. But unfortunately I am deprived of the chance. I had picked up a few words you see here and there which I manage.
C.R. de Silva: So you recommend that Sinhala and Tamil must be brought into the school curriculum?
Anandasangaree: It should be … I can give you one hint also favourable to your suggestion. There was a time Sinhalese and Tamils you see were not very happy about learning Tamil; Tamil learning Sinhala and Sinhala learning Tamil. Today’s youth – the Sinhala youth – he wants to learn Tamil and the Tamil youth want to learn Sinhala. Today things will be much easier than what it was in 1956. It can be made compulsory – only thing is it should grow simultaneously. If you try to make Sinhala and Tamil compulsory for the respective communities without solving the language problem, without solving the ethnic problem it won’t work. It should go hand in hand. It should go hand in hand. Find the solution. I don’t think – I had been telling a number of times – the peace is knocking at the door; whether to allow it in or shut it out is in our hands.
C.R. de Silva: Don’t you think that one of the problems that we encounter is that the Sinhala youth don’t understand the Tamils and the Tamils don’t understand the Sinhalese people? That is because there is a language problem. So, including Sinhala and Tamil into the curriculum would to a very great extent solve that problem?
Anandasangaree: It should. Even without knowing the language they are friendly sir. Do you see the Sinhalese youth and Tamil youth fighting? Adults fight; youths are not fighting. Those days they fight no. They say Ambalangoda, Kosgoda and all that type of thing you see I still remember that.
C.R. de Silva: No, but don’t you think, I mean, now in those areas, for example Kosgoda or Balapitiya, the number of Tamils will be, I mean, you see, minimal. But there are areas – take Colombo right – don’t you think that we should learn each others language, that it is a sine qua non for reconciliation and understanding between the communities?
Anandasangaree: That is absolutely necessary. I give full recommendation for it and I welcome the suggestion. My suggestion is along with that you know otherwise they will say – there are people among the Tamil leaders; there are people who will go and say – see, see, they are forcing the Sinhala language don’t study. When the problem is also solved, you know, it is not going to take much time no for the Government to sit down and draft something to solve the problem. Simultaneously the Government should decide to introduce Sinhala and Tamil compulsory for all …
C.R. de Silva: At least practical Tamil; practical Sinhala. You see there probably …
Anandasangaree: Initially there was that scheme practical Sinhala and practical Tamil. That was considered as a subject pass subject even if a person pass the Practical Sinhala. Initial stages then after 2-3 years they come to the …
C.R. de Silva:And don’t you think admission to the universities it must be made compulsory that people must know their Tamil and Sinhala?
Anandasangaree: It should be made compulsory for admission also. I remember in those days you know Tamil was a compulsory subject for Sinhalese who pass the CAS exam.
Paranagama: To what extent can you make use of the cultural link to build up a … ?
Anandasangaree: It is wrong sir. You know I saw in the papers 100 girls have been selected – Tigers. You know they are worried of their…their parents and things like. They were given training in some cultural program and after that they have been brought to Colombo for a performance. I told the Governor some time back when there was a similar program organized sir they are still in mourning. Most of them have not traced their parents; most of them have not seen their parents; most of the parents and the child have lost contact. When the house is burning or when the next door person is mourning the death of some dear life you see, will you play your music? So let us … these are you know…we can’t build from the top; we should build from the bottom. You know I am a person if there is a cultural program I won’t miss it. I won’t miss it. I like Sinhala, Tamil or whatever it may be. I won’t miss it. But it all depends on my mood and temperament at the time. When they are…when the Jaffna Dramatic Society organized a drama festival for 14 days I said don’t be foolish. When your neighbour is still mourning the death of their dear ones you are having drama festival. Please stop it and they stopped it. But you know if I go…when I was MP I went to certain villages to see drama I wait till morning. I don’t run away half way. It is good but this is not the way to do it. It should move simultaneously. When people are living in houses without roofs; without proper food; they have no place to eat or cook their meal, how can you expect one of the children you see from that area to take part in a cultural program.
C.R. de Silva: What do you think about the link language – English language? Don’t you think it is very important?
Anandasangaree: Yes, very important.
C.R. de Silva: Now what is your strategy for the teaching of English, for example, in the north and the east, because north and the east because there are problems regarding teachers? Would you recommend the use of electronic media like television for the teaching of the English language?
Anandasangaree: We have no other alternative no …
C.R. de Silva: Yes, that is why I am asking.
Anandasangaree: Since we have no other alternative we can. But at the same time we can get down somebody. In those days Jaffna we studied science subjects under Indian graduates. We used to fool them you know certain pronunciations we used to fool them. Then what happened Tamils took over. Even Sinhalese – I was teaching at Jaela one Kochi was the science teacher subsequently replaced by a local student. So, there is … nothing is lost no. We can for a start we can have a few teachers imported from India – their knowledge of English is very good; standard of English is very good; very super, much better than ours I would say now. So 5-6 schools we can have one teacher for the start. India will be too happy to train some teachers you see who are capable teachers to teach English as a subject. The education can … nobody is concentrating – I am an educationalist. I taught for 10 years before I became a lawyer. No one can tell me about the schools in Kilinochchi; how it should be re-organized. Unfortunately we are not making use of the talent we have in this country and discard them as you are UNP you are SLFP you are a bloody leftist this and that you see that is the trouble we have.
Palihakkara: Since you are here just a benefit of…Do you have a view on the issue of rehabilitation, reintegrating the Muslims who were forced to leave Jaffna and how best it can be done?
Anandasangaree: You know it’s a pity I had been finding fault with the Government at that time. When the CFA was signed this should have been made a condition. When the CFA was in operation LTTE should have been told don’t meddle with the Muslims, allow them to come back. Then there was another group in Parliament claiming to represent the LTTE they should have advised them to take all their Muslims. They should be paid compensation. Sir they were allowed to go with only Rs.500/- I am told. You know they were the best…You know I had a friend one Maqbool, a Muslim graduate. All what he knows in Hinduism and there is hardly anything that he does not know. My knowledge of Hinduism is not even one hundredth of his – all the hymns and things like that – and he was shot by the LTTE when he was GA Mannar.
Hangawatte: Thank you Mr. Anandasangaree for being here. I have one question really. You mentioned the need for building from ground up. What bothers me is why haven’t the leaders of the Tamil community – I am talking about community leaders not political leaders, not at all – why have they not taken the initiative to organize and to support these children as you mentioned – you referred to as children – and others who have been left hapless instead of always looking up to the Government Government, Government. I am wondering is it because these community leaders and others feel hapless; they are helpless as well that they look up to the Government and the Government is so powerful here that they are the ones who have to do everything or is the Government refusing the leaders like you like from initiating and participating in such activities or do you even see as you mentioned military camps etc., do you see the presence of authority as kind of threatening and that you don’t feel that you can take the initiative and continue such activities still bothers me. I am just wondering why everybody is talking about the Government, Government?
Anandasangaree: I offered to the Government without any pay to take charge of the development of Kilinochchi because that is a place I am fully thorough with. The same rule applies in this case also no. People had their own interests; leaders had their own interests. When the Government was campaigning against me there was a candidate went round saying that Ananda is also a man nominated by the Government. So personal ambitions you see had brought the Tamil community to this state. Ambitions you see. They want to be MP at any time. The incentives are there no – the attractions but nothing could persuade me. If only I had said LTTE is the sole representatives of the Tamils I would be in Parliament today as the leader of the 15 MPs. I said no. One of my colleagues – I don’t want to mention the name – he said I am also not accepting the message sole representative and I don’t say that but why the hell are you saying that. And I am here today without a seat in Parliament because I took up the position that the LTTE is not the sole representative of the Tamil people. All the others are in Parliament today because they accepted the LTTE as the sole representative of the Tamil people – which is not true. I did not want to cheat me and the people. And I have not lost anything. I told my people I have not lost anything. I am free now. Sir I am a man who had walked through from Palaly to Mallawi for 70-80 miles you see and visited every home. I gave up my practice. The moment I got elected as MP I gave up my practice as a lawyer. I did not do even notarial work. I took Parliamentary career as a real social work and not for anything else.
Hangawatte: Sorry I was really addressing…I am really impressed by your independence that you have shown or trying unlike as you mentioned. But I am still bothered by…there are no…lack of initiative and participation…
Anandasangaree: I fully agree with you.
Hangawatte: …and development of programs.
Anandasangaree: There are no opportunities you see. There are a number of NGOs. They can’t work – they can’t do any social work they must get permission. Locally leave aside the foreign NGO. I am prepared to do that.
Hangawatte: So what is preventing the people from developing mechanisms of self governance? What is preventing them? I am just asking.
Anandasangaree: Red tapeism. It is not correct to call red tapeism but in one sense you see red tapeism is the main handicap – main obstruction. Give them a free hand they will do it.
Palihakkara: Just to have the benefit of your views, how important is the compensation in the process of reconciliation – compensation to victims?
Anandasangaree: First we must win over the people – win over their hearts. You go and tell them we will give you…we will construct this road, they are not interested. They are first worried of their independence and food. Can you imagine people going behind – very respectable people – going behind some politician and begging for favours? First people must be satisfied there is a genuine attempt to development. Once that idea is impressed then the people will tolerate development also. If you go from Jaffna to Kilinochchi – I have not seen any Vasantham – Uthuru Vasantham – I did not see any Vasantham there. It is just a name. Proper development is not taking place. People want that first.
C.R. de Silva: Now you touched on this question of compensation to persons who have been affected or who are victims. Now can you express your views as to how they should be compensated?
Anandasangaree: Compensation. Kilinochchi is an agricultural area and primarily a colonist area. You know under various schemes you see people are given 5 acres, 3 acres, various schemes you see. And they were given some – for 6 months they were given some subsistence and all that then they took up and did very well. Some have become very prosperous; very rich. Then the small cottage that was given to them expanded. And they were – Kilinochchi became a very rich area. During my period I could see the differences. The cottages were expanded into beautiful houses. You can even now go and see that. So they lost everything. They lost everything because of this foolish movement you know. They took … actually they drove the people like a herd of cattle. They were driven from one place to another. If they were allowed to escape they would have saved their property. They packed up everything.They first left some furniture and things like that – unloaded somewhere. The next stage they left behind their furniture and moved further. Like that ultimately when they reached Matalan or something they were there with the clothes that they were wearing and some fortunate people some other clothes. How many people threw away their jewellery and came. They were told you cannot take more than – just, these are rumours. What I say is not a rumour. It is fact you see followed by the rumour that was spread. Money you can’t take more than 5,000 that type of thing you know. There is evidence that money was found – a lot of money was found – after these people left.
C.R. de Silva: So what is the strategy that you would recommend as far as compensation is concerned?
Anandasangaree: They must pay compensation to some extent. Now a man who had a tractor and cultivated about 10-15 acres of land. He had his own tractor and the tractor is no more there. At least you can’t compensate the tractor by its worth give him compensation for the other things. He had lost everything no he had. Now say take my house in Kilinochchi. I found one of the legislator set you see was thrown into the garden and the others missing. I got the table made use and got it fitted inside the room so that no one could carry it out. It was missing – everything is missing. Ultimately I did not have even a stool to sit down. I had to buy one. That is the case with everybody. Just imagine; all the people in Colombo are asked to quit within one day or not even half a day notice. What can you take from your home? The very minimum what do you call this some …electrical gadgets you won’t take. If you are a man in practice you may take your certificates and some other things you see. I believe I brought only my certificates from home when I left. That is the only thing I took from my house like that. Now to go…after enjoying a luxury life, or a reasonably good life, you come back to see nothing is left. Is it not the duty of the Government to compensate you in some form without giving you just Rs.5000 first installment, Rs.20,000 second installment and that’s all. Or even 50,000 third installment. But there are people who have not got their 5000 also. Even they have not got their 5000. And what can you do sir with 5000? A man with 5 children 5000 is not enough no to give them a good meal after suffering…after starving for a long time. So the first meal they take after getting out of the IDP camp 5000 is not sufficient and they are expected to live on that. I saw a lady weeping “Sir I have not seen the colour of rice for months.” In place of rice it seems they are given wheat flour. What is the Government spending? All these are given by the, you know under World Food Program. The Government is not spending money for food program. And there are huge number of ready made windows and…for the construction of pre fabricated houses between Muruhandy Temple and Kilinochchi. I think they are building houses and I am told that is for the Army. Can you find reconciliation any day with this type of activity going on? Army occupying pre fabricated houses; the man who had built the house with his own labour is on the street. And these people are kept in the refugee camps – 750 families. They are the owners of the land you see which the Government intends to house the Army.
We must now decide whether this country is going to be free. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in this country is going to enjoy equal rights; the same rights. Or part of the country is going to be under subjugation of another group similar to the LTTE. LTTE was also a military group.
C.R. de Silva: Mr. Sambandan, I am sorry. Mr. Anandasangaree I must thank you on behalf of the Commission …
Anandasangaree: Thank you sir for the opportunity.
C.R. de Silva: … I hope you did not misunderstand. That was just a genuine slip. Mr. Anandasangaree I must thank you very much for having come here and we really admire the independence that you displayed and the frank discussion that you had with us and we have certainly benefited from the views that you have expressed and certainly we will consider the views that you expressed in formulating our recommendations.
Anandasangaree: Thank you sir for giving me this opportunity and I further apologize to you if I had caused you any embarrassment in the course of the discussion.
C.R. de Silva: Nothing at all.
Anandasangaree: Thank you