The Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) heard submissions from several persons including Resettlement Deputy Minister Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, JHU MP Ellawala Medhananda Thera and President, Success Colombo and Consultant Physician Sri Jayawardenepura General Hospital Dr. Anula Wijesundere.
Govt. not colonising North
Deputy Minister Muralitharaan, in his evidence, spoke of the need to move towards reconciliation in the post-war scenario, while denying allegations that he was involved in the killing of more than 600 unarmed policemen, when he was LTTE’s Batticaloa area leader in 1990. He said that the killings were carried out by LTTE cadres under the direction of LTTE ‘intelligence wing’ leader Pottu Amman.
He also spoke in defence of Sinhalese settling down in the North, saying that hundreds of Sinhalese were driven out of these areas by the LTTE.
|Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thera at the LLRC sittings. Pic by Gemunu Wellage
“If Tamil people can buy property in Colombo, Galle or Matara, then why can`t the Sinhalese do the same in the North and the East,” he asked? He said that allegations of the Government trying to change the demographic balance in the North and East are unfounded, saying there is no colonisation of these areas by the Government.
No evidence of Tamils in North, East
Ven Ellawala Medhananda Thera, in his evidence, spoke at length of the historical and archeological evidence that points to the occupation of these areas in the North and East by Sinhalese. “I am not speaking against any single community, but historical evidence shows that the Sinhalese occupied the areas in the North and East, while there is little evidence to show Tamil occupation of these areas,” he said.
Teach Northerners National Anthem
Dr .Anula Wijesundere, in her submissions said that, while she worked as a consultant physician and pediatrician at the Polonnaruwa Base Hospital from 1986 to 1988, she had witnessed first hand, the LTTE’s brutality of butchering innocent civilians in Trincomalee and Medirigiriya areas.She said that Success Colombo (Society for the Uplifting and Conservation of the Cultural, Economic & Social Standards) which she founded along with patriotic friends, has been in the forefront of helping people living in the formally threatened areas of Weli Oya, Trincomalee, Ampara and Vavuniya.
“These people whom we consider as real Bhumiputras, have continuously lived in these areas during the 30-year war. During this period, they faced tremendous hardship, facing security risks and difficulties in health, transport, education and economic fronts, ” she said.
Dr. Wijesundera told the Commission that their work included conducting free medical clinics, provision of medicines, motivating them and providing other forms of material assistance for agriculture, home building, etc. Equipment such as sewing machines too was given to women to encourage self-employment.
She added that, after the liberation of the Wanni, Success Colombo was one of the first civilian groups to help the Tamil civilians who fled from the LTTE, and had conducted medical camps in Menik Farm and other places.
She also made several recommendations to the LLRC, including that Army personnel serving in the North and East be employed in schools to teach Sinhala to Tamil students, in the same manner in which Sinhalese students elsewhere in the country are compulsorily learning Tamil.
Dr. Wijesundera added that the national anthem is sung customarily at the commencement of the medical clinics they conduct, but sadly, it was found that 95% of the people in the North could not sing the national anthem. “It is of utmost importance that the national anthem should be learnt by all citizens of our country. This is essential for national integration and reconciliation,” she added.