CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

OPINION


Reparations Office Can Bind The Nations Together


Limping and internally conflicted thought it be, the government of national unity once again showed its value when it got the Office for Reparations bill passed through parliament.  The margin of victory was narrow with just 59 MPs voting in favour and 43 against it.  As both UNP and SLFP members of the government voted for the passage of the bill it can be believed that both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe were in favour of the passage of the bill.  They were joined by the TNA which also voted in favour of the bill.   However, the voting figures show that most of the government MPs kept away from the vote.  This was a shirking of their responsibility to take a stand on an issue of greatest importance to the national reconciliation process.   

It is to the credit of the government that it continues with its post-war reconciliation process despite strong opposition from nationalists and party political rivals on both sides of the ethnic divide. This opposition is fueled both by misinformation about the purpose of these reconciliation mechanisms and by the desire to gain partisan political advantage.  It is to the credit of the members of the UNP and SLFP who did cast their votes that they were of one mind in ensuring that the bill was passed even while at loggerheads on most other matters of state.  This alone highlights the value of the alliance and the need for it to continue beyond the present term of parliament.

Particularly praiseworthy was the vote of UNP members Sajith Premadasa and Navin Dissanayake in favour of the bill. Both of them had lost their fathers to LTTE suicide bombers when they were at the height of their political careers.  Anther who voted in favour of the bill was Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka who almost lost his life to an LTTE suicide bomber.  The opposition critiqued the bill on account of the possibility of LTTE cadres obtaining reparations as a result of the establishment of the Office for Reparations.  In voting in favour of the bill all three of these UNP members gave priority to victims of human rights violations during the war, and other conflicts that had taken place in the country, rather than to their own personal losses.

LTTE COMPENSATION  

The Office for Reparations is the second of the transitional justice mechanisms to be set up following the October 2015 resolution of the UN Human Rights Council that the government decided to co-sponsor.  The first was the Office of Missing Persons which was established in February this year. The acceptance of the targets set out in the resolution and intended to be achieved by the government have been controversial since the day the resolution was signed.  The government has been denounced by the opposition for having betrayed the country and those who both fought and led the military operations that resulted in the defeat of the LTTE.   

With few exceptions, such as Minister Mangala Samaraweera, the unfortunate failure of the government's leaders to defend the co-sponsorship of the UNHRC resolution in October 2015 can be attributed to their lack of conviction and political courage with regard to the need for the ongoing reconciliation process.  The non-participation of many government members in the vote on the Office for Reparations bill indicates their lack of conviction that it is a necessary measure in terms of the national reconciliation process.   Without a system of ensuring reparations for past human rights violations and injuries stemming from such violations, the consequences of the war cannot be adequately dealt with.   

Last weekend I was at a workshop that explained the concept of transitional justice and what it means for Sri Lanka to a group of community leaders and members of the Youth Parliament in the Ratnapura district.  When the Office for Reparations was being discussed the same objection that was heard in parliament was heard on the seminar floor.  Articulating themselves with considerable passion, some of the participants said that the Office for Reparations would be compensating LTTE members and their families and this was not an appropriate or just use of national resources. They pointed out that it was an inequitable use of government resources to use funds to compensate LTTE members and their families when the LTTE's primary focus was on dividing the country.  This echoes the objection of the political opposition to the Office for Reparations.  

BIG MAJORITY  

The legislation in the Office for Reparations Act does not specifically state that LTTE members and their famileis are to be recipients of reparations.  The law states that persons who have suffered damage as a result of loss of life or damage to their property or persons in four contexts are those who are entitled to reparations.  These are in the context of the war that took place in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, in connection with political unrest of civil disturbances, in the course of systemic gross violations of the rights of individuals, groups or communities of people in Sri Lanka or due to an enforced disappearance.  This use of language does not exclude the LTTE members or their families from receiving reparations if they have suffered human rights violations.   

Once the institution is set up and commissioners are appointed they will need to go into this issue. It is an axiom that those who seek justice need to have clean hand themselves.  The commissioners will be able to look at what other countries have done in similar situations.  At the workshop in Ratnapura, those who were conducting it took the position that reparations were for all Sri Lankans who were entitled to them.  This was acceptable to the big majority of the workshop participants. This was seen when 15 out of 17 youth development officers who were taking part in the training said they were prepared to organized follow up workshops in their localities and explain the transitional justice process to the people they worked amongst.

This is an opportunity for the government, political parties and public and civic institutions that failed in the past to make amends for those failures.  The Office for Reparations can provide a strong message of care to the conflict affected populations living in all parts of the country due to the several conflicts that have taken place during the country's post-independent history.  These include the recent anti Muslim riots and the two JVP insurrections that took place in 1971 and again in 1988-89 in which much violence was perpetrated on innocent people. Even though most of the government MPs did not vote, by getting the Office for Reparations into the law, the government of national unity can still claim to represent the interests of a multi ethnic and plural nation better than the opposition who voted against the bill.  

 

OPINION

  • River in a 'Court of Law' - Legal issues pertaining to its personality
  • Syria: A Testament To International Moral Bankruptcy
  • When the State Sought to Muzzle Privacy, U-Turn Now Only to Accommodate SC Verdict
  • The Bull in A China Shop Wrecks Indian Economy
  • When Buddha Looks The Other Way: The Plight Of The Rohingya
  • A Fatal Blow to The Judiciary
  • The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality
  • Wild And Baseless Speculations of Crisis in the CPI(M)
  • Budget 2018: Fantabulous Schemes With Not A Paisa Earmarked
  • Kasganj: Sankalp Foundation and the Politics of Hate
  • PM Modi Sounds the Election Bugle: Congress and Hindutva the Agenda for 2019 Polls
  • The US Game Plan in Syria
  • Both Nehru and Patel Were the Need of the Hour in 1947-48
  • The Battle of the Two Begums of Bangladesh
  • Why Bangladesh Matters
  • Kejriwal's Apology is Not What the Media Claims
  • Arrest of a '5-minute Dalits' Proves Why SC/ST Act Dilution Will Grossly Impact Real Dalits
  • The Dalits and the Law
  • Winners May Be Losers In Karnataka's Catch 22 Endgame
  • Jinnah and the BJP
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (Nov 14 1889- May 27, 1964): We Still Live In A House That Nehru Built
  • Implications of Trump-Kim Summit: Nuclear Pays!
  • Thomas Reuters Foundation Survey: Measuring Safety, Generating Outrage
  • ROADMAP TO A CEASEFIRE: AFGN - PAK
  • What Are People Voting for?
  • Foreign Policy: A Double Whammy Awaits India
  • Changing Discourse
  • Assam: The Mythology of "Immigrants"
  • Imran Time is Here
  • 71 Years on, Forsty Relations Countinue
  • To Stop Climate Change, We Need to Open Bordera
  • Make Use of Bid to Postpone Provincial Elections
  • Cringing and Fuddled at 71
  • Ensuring Strident Voice Will Not Become Majority Voice
  • Nehru, Vajpayee and Modi
  • Religious Bias Okayed
  • The Oslo Accords: A Bloody Legacy of Betrayal
  • Crushing the Campus
  • Three Stories And Task of The Office Of Missing Person
  • Drama Over Indo-Pak Meeting
  • An ill Wind
  • Symbolic Actions Alone Are Insufficient For Long Term Change To Occur
  • If Democracy Subverts Itself
  • Returning Land to Civilians is a Promise That Needs Follow Up
  • Democracy In Crisis: What we Know and What we Don't
  • Reparations Office Can Bind The Nations Together
  • Implementation Challenges Facing The Ayushman Bharat Program
  • Subverting the Central Bank
  • Under the Yoke of New-Imperialism: A Fake War of Patriotism and Treason
  • India Joins the Club
  • The Third Phase
  • President is Best Situated to Resolve Political Crisis
  • No Country for Adventure: Challenges Extreme Sports Athletes Face in India
  • Setting A Perilous Political Precedent
  • What Rahul and Modi can do in the Next Four Months
  • Finding a Win-Win Solution to Break the Deadlock
  • Temple in the Age of Colliders
  • Four Parameters of a Political Solution at This Time
  • Resolve National Question With President's Support
  • Decapitating the Leadership
  • Four Takeaways From the 2018 Election
  • Science of Words
  • The Ace up Modi's Sleeve
  • The Government Must Not Deny The TNA
  • The Prolonged Wait For Justice And For Political Leadership
  • Endgame in Afghanistan
  • Pluralist Ethos is More Relevant to National Identity
  • A Concerned Citizen's Points For Inclusion in The Manifesto of Political Parties
  • In My Own Voice: Circle of Unreason
  • RBI To The Rescue of Modi Government - It's Election Time!
  • Say No to War
  • A terrifying Fallout
  • The Type of Leadership The Country Needs
  • Death Wish as Nationalism
  • Politics on Kashmir Need Not be About Optics Alone
  • Why an Urban Job Guarantee Scheme is Not a Bad Idea
  • National Security: The New in 'New Normal'
  • Re-Promulgating an Ordinance is a Fraud on the Constitution
  • Elections 2019: India at a Crossroads
  • Peace and Inclusive Development
  • NYAY Providing Basic Income Fulfills the Vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Changed Election Narrative Based on Basic Issues
  • Advani Should Blame Himself For Promoting Modi
  • Kashmir: Tracing the Degeneration of Mainstream Politics
  • Elections and the Issue of Civil Liberties
  • Jumlanomics:Chronicles of a Post-Truth Bharat
  • BJP: Hiding Failures, Targeting Nehru
  • A Mayawati Moment
  • Godse is a Synonym of Hindu Nationalism, Agenda of the RSS Combine!
  • Development Beyond Numbers
  • A Rational Approach to Countering Extremist Violence is Needed
  • In My Own Voice: Is This the Sprit of Democracy?
  • Prevention is The Best Migration Cure
  • The Rise of Hate
  • The Right Mantras for India's Change
  • Coming Home - Where Family Overpowers All
  • Easter Sunday Bombing Used to Create a Major Rift in Sri Lankan Society
  • Hacking Humanity
  • Environmental Rule of Law in India
  • Peace is a Word That West Has Taken From Afghans
  • Trump's War Games
  • Modi & States
  • Who is an 'Outsider' in West Bengal?
  • China on Maps
  • 19th Amendment Will Correct Itself at End of President's Current Term
  • Authoritarianism and the Crisis of Public Ethics in India
  • Presidential Candidate The People Want
  • Has India's Kashmir Cape Given Pakistan Reason for War?
  • Icons and Ideology of Religious Nationalism
  • Why NRC in Assam May Create Another Kashmir
  • Campaign to Abolish the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka is a Red Herring
  • As US Tries to Isolate Iran, China Steps In
  • Of Hindi and Hierarchy
  • Why Sri Lankan Elections May Bring Far Reaching Change
  • What US Policy Tells Us About India's Growing 'Friendship' With It
  • Gandhian Philosophy is a Critique of Modernity and Power
  • Inner Party Democracy is Just as Important as Funding
  • India's Foreign Policy Has Dug Itself a Deep Hole
  • 'Broken Promises' and Politics of Hate': Is Political Autonomy The Way Forward For J&K?
  • The Ninth Betrayal: America Has Let Down Khurd, Yet Again
  • Who Benefits From The WhatsApp Hacking Case?: Pertinent Question Left Unanswered
  • State Elections Results Expose "Limits" of BJP's Nationalist Agenda
  • "Religious Belief" vs. "Rule of Law": Did SC's Ayodhya Verdict Legalise Building of a Theocratic State?
  • What Does Trump's "New Refugee Ban" Mean for America's Immigrants?
  • India Must Change Course as Rajapaksas Return on Sinhala Buddhist Wave
  • The Supreme Court's First Judgment Without an Author
  • Geopolitics in South Asia Renders Millions Stateless
  • "Shakespeare's Vision of the Improbale" Unfolds: Is Modi Today's Macbeth?
  • Sri Lanka Under Rajapaksa: Finding Areas of Mutual Agreement
  • "The Game of Religion is Played by Men": Women Speak From the Margins of Ayodhya Dispute
  • Telangana Ecounter- Failure of Local Police Poses Grave Danger to Democracy
  • The Changing Nature of War and Diplomacy
  • Sri Lanka: Government's Cooperation A "Temporary Phenomenon"?
  • The Role of Corruption in This Season of Revolts
  • New Citizenship Law to a "Brazenly Divisive Agenda"
  • Youth Agitation Against CAA Brings a Historic Generational Shift
  • "Digital Authoritarianism": With Internet Shutdowns Normalised, the Digital Space is Democracy's New Battleground
  • Sri Lanka: The Challenge of Development Amidst Devolution of Power
  • The Political Divides that Split India
  • 'Never Again': Echoes of Nazi Crimes Remain Alive 75 Years After Auschwitz
  • "Legacy of Mutual Suspicion" Plagues Opponents of the Modi Regime
  • "Toxic" India Sliding into an Environmental Abyss
  • Manufacturing Hate: From Anurag Thakur's 'Shoot the Traitors' to Pistol-Bearing Youth's 'Yeh lo Azaadi!'
  • Kejriwal Isn't Communal, But His Desire Not to be Seen Anti-Hindu May Prove Self-Defeating
  • Religion States Won't Oppose US-Taliban Deal
  • Lessons From Pathogens: Coronavirus, A wake Up Call?
  • The Geopolitics of the Covid 19 Pandemic
  • Cold War Begins As Nations Fued Over Coronavirus
  • India Fights Coronavirus...With Scriptures, Morals and Police
  • The Burden of COVID 19
  • Do Israeli Settelemnts in Occupies West Bank Constitute a War Crime ?
  • The Global Debate on COVID-19 Lockdown: Listen to Divergent Scientific Voices or Risk Manipulation by Big Businesses?
  • Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings And The Demand For Justice
  • How India Can Solve the "Catch-22 Situation" of Allowing Migrant Workers to Return Home
  • The Time for Universal Basic Income Has Arrived
  • COVID-19 Crisis Exposes Fatal Weaknesses of 'Strong' Leaders
  • The Pandemic Has Taught Us the Importance of Maintaining an Ecological Balance, Will we Remember IT?
  • The Muslim Elite Has Let Down the Muslim Poor
  • "There is Nothing Nationalist or Non-Nationalist in Reporting"
  • Why WHO Took 3 Months to Declare a Global Pandemic
  • A Political Lockdown That Silences Voices
  • The 'Relief Package' of Online Education May End up "Institutionalising Drop Outs"
  • Can Democracy Survive the Coronavirus?
  • As China Ups the Ante, This is What India Must do...
  • Tackling Racism With Compassionate Reporting-CNN Leads The Way
  • Sri Lanka: Pluralism In Governance Required In The Absence of Parliament
  • Idia's Tactical Non-Solutions To China's Incursions in Ladakh
  • "At The Brink of A New Cold War": Sino-US Ties at a Crossroads
  • In Light of Rising Conservatism, Can The Personal be Political Again?
  • India-China: The Complete Breakdown of Trust, How and Why
  • Rethinking Development After Covid-19
  • The Pandemic Must Transform Our Agriculture
  • Treacherous Road to Make Manu History
  • The 'American Way of War' Is Built On A Foundation of Racism
  • Covid -19 And The Crisis of Education-An Insight
  • Governments That Preach Non-Violence Must Lead By Example
  • New Status of Hagia Sophia Signals The Death Of Secularism
  • Covid 19 and Furthering of Sectarian Agenda in Education
  • Biden's "Conventional" Approach vs Trump's "Whimsical" Handling of Foreign Policy
  • Why Arguments Against Reservation are Flawed
  • Curfew Welcomes One Year of Abrogations in Kashmir
  • Ayodha: What is BJP's Motive For Holding Ram Temple Ceremony Amid Pandemic?
  • New Education Policies of India And Pakistan Will Further Divide, Within and Without
  • Does India's Handling of China Make Sense?
  • Return of the Rajapaksas in Sri Lanka
  • An Independent Supreme Court Is a Must for Democracy
  • Does Rule of Law Trump Tide of Public Opinion?
  • UAE-Israel Deal Accelerating Fragmentation of West Asian Politics
  • Congress And Its "Unprecedented Political Challenge""
  • Does The 20th Amendment Threaten Pluralism in Sri Lanka?
  • Digital Hate, Now A Profitable Commodity
  • Rising Cases, Unemployment: Is India Ignoring Fears Stoked by the Pandemic?
  • Surging Pandemic, Slumping Economy - And the Crisis of Democracy
  • Anxious Leader, Passive Citizens and "Criminalised" Governance
  • Parliamentary Session Merely A "Notice Board" For Government Decisions?
  • The Collapse of Democratic Institutions Under Majoritarian Rule
  • Mughal MUseum Rekindles Question of India's "Slavery""
  • Babri Masjid Demolition Case: Court Ignored Findings of Liberhan Commission
  • As Politics of Hate Takes Over, The Biggest Casualty is Compassion
  • Hathras: The Last Opportunity to Reflect
  • India Joining Ranks of Illiberal Democracies
  • Rising Uncertainties May Lead to Election Chaos in The us
  • 'Secularism': A Dirty Word
  • Is Bihar Tired of Nitish Kumar Rule?
  • In Crisis: India Now A 'Pale Shadow of Former Self'
  • Economy VS. People: Differences Between US and China's Response to Covid-19
  • Trupm is Gone But Trumpian Populism Lives on
  • Bihar's Silent Voters: Explaining the BJP-JDU Alliance
  • How Many X-Factors Can an Election Take? Many, it Seems
  • Objectivity and Fascism
  • Is The Saudi Kingdom Moving Towards Recognising Israel?
  • Asaduddin Owaisi: An 'Exasperating Opponent' For Right,Left, And Centre
  •