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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2521

What Exactly Did Mr. Holms Convey To The Security Council?

By L. Jayasooriya

Mr. Holms had direct access to Tamil civilians who have braved the LTTE bullets and crossed over to the army controlled areas. He had all the interpreters he needed and he talked to many displaced persons. They all would have told them how the LTTE kept them by force but he was deliberately not positive when he said "And there is strong evidence that the LTTE are preventing them from leaving."

He then says that the government estimates of the number of people trapped are around 70,000 the UN estimates are around 200,000 and according to Tamil groups it is up to 300,000 or more. The government is in the best position to give these estimates. To quote other figures does not help unless he himself can come up with a figure giving reasons.

When Mr. Holms says and I quote "…but we believe dozens of people per day at least are being killed and many more wounded" is it the Sri Lankan army that is killing them? He uses the word "believes" and is therefore not sure.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Holms has met the Co-Chairs which in Sri Lanka are a standing joke. In the absence of his saying that he has cross checked and confirmed what the Co-Chairs have told him we conclude that his report is heavily influenced by them. Why did it not occur to Mr. Holms to remind the Co-Chairs about those 4.5 billion dollars? Please tell them that we don’t want it. We are very happy with what we have been able to do ourselves and with the help of genuine friends. I have seen happy children at play but never in my life have I seen such happy faces as I saw of Tamil children on the front page of the Island of 24th February, 2009. These are children that we have liberated from the LTTE. We consider them as our children.

I am glad to note that Mr. Holms does not think that Menik farm is a concentration camp like where innocent citizens of Japanese origin in America and Canada were put into after seizing all their properties but a very happy picture has been painted by the ambassadors from Russia, France, South Korea and Indonesia who were taken around the camps on the 4th of March.

Mr. Holms wants the government to guarantee “the safety and the security of a number of UN national staff and their dependents, and of NGO staff and their dependents, still trapped with the rest of the civilian population”. In what way does he want that guarantee? Is it by declaring a cease fire?

When Mr. Holms says "I expressed my extreme concern about the fate of the tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the Vanni pocket" does he blame the Sri Lankan government for that? If not would he name those responsible? He also wants the government to arrange a cease fire to enable the evacuation of the trapped civilians. When educated intelligent people speak like this one begins to lose faith in humanity itself.

The government that has liberated the entire Northern Province in such a short time has been bogged down for several weeks in trying to clear a few square kilometers because of the human shield. As a result it has been virtually hand to hand fighting. If the government did not care for the innocent civilians would it not be such an easy matter to use heavy weapons to finish it off and yet this is what Mr. Holms says "The Government assured me at every level that they have virtually stopped using heavy weapons because of their recognition of the need to spare the civilian population, who are of course their own citizens. It remains unclear how far this is the case in reality."

When Mr. Holms says and I repeat "I underscored the need to put to rest suspicions of wanting to manipulate the ethnic mix in the north or keeping IDPs in long-term camps against their will" he is advocating the "homelands policy" which will never be. This is a free country where there is freedom of movement for anybody to settle down in any part of the country irrespective of race or religion. I am sure that Mr. Holms is fully aware of the fact that more than half the Tamil population is living with the Sinhalese and the Sinhalese do not mind it. Statements like this only fuel the flames of separation, hatred and unrest.

Mr. Holms urges the government to move towards a generally acceptable devolution settlement on a fully democratic basis. We know how to govern and we have had centuries of governing experience in advanced civilizations which are a marvel today for modern irrigation engineers. It was a hundred percent humane Buddhist society. We do not need anybody’s help but however this so-called generally acceptable devolution is devolution of police powers and land powers among other things that Minister G. L. Peiris proposed in his draft constitution to break up this country into pieces. Finally I ask Mr. Holms in which country in the world are minorities better represented in parliament than in Sri Lanka on a population basis? We await an answer.

- Asian Tribune -

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