A slumbering LLRC: The image of reconciliation in Sri Lanka?

The Editors of Groundviews were emailed the following story on a website called Athirvu.com.

The photo is self-explanatory, and shows a commissioner of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) falling asleep during the Commission’s recent sittings in Mannar. A reader of Groundviews provided a translation of the Tamil article,

Have you ever seen a Commission like this?
Yesterday, the LLRC travelled to Mannar. Women who had lost their husbands and children and the families of those who had disappeared gathered in large numbers at the venue to make representations to the LLRC. The people were in tears as they narrated their problems and concerns to the Commission. They made representations to the LLRC in the belief the Commission would address their concerns. But…Do you see what is happening…

The person who should be recording the representations is asleep. Do you see he is sleeping as if he is exhausted after engaging in hard work? Will these people ever understand/know the difficulties faced by the Tamils. Sinhalese are not even willing to listen to the people who approached the Presidential Commission in the belief they would obtain relief. The other members of the Commission are not prepared to wake the sleeping Commissioner for fear of disturbing his slumber.

The Sinhalese have no respect for the Tamils. This illustrates the sad plight of the Tamils who believe in the government only to be repeatedly let down/cheated.

Just as the symbolic violence of the outrageously wasteful and meaningless production of a mega-size milk rice (kiri bath) to celebrate the President’s second term in office went unacknowledged by the majority in the South, the optics of a commissioner sleeping on the job extends well beyond professional negligence.

What this suggests to those who came to give testimony to the commission is a prima facie dismissal and disrespect of their concerns, the complete opposite of the raison d’être of the LLRC. Travel and the pace of work may well push the commissioners – who are by no means sprightly and have had to listen to hundreds of hours of testimony – to the brink of physical exhaustion. This argues for a process of rotation, or other processual ways commissioners can keep up with the hundreds of Tamil people who see the LLRC, warts and all, as a platform to air their grievances by choosing to appear in front of it. To fall asleep during testimony is simply not an option.

As with this article in Tamil, the sentiments aroused by the optics of a sleeping commissioner run deeply against any reconciliation. Played out in local and international media, these images risk appropriation by more extremist elements in the Tamil diaspora as well, which only goes to make the work of the LLRC, the government and civil society on post-war reconciliation that much more difficult.

  • Mythili

    Re: Sleeping Commissioner.

    Is this person married and have children?

    If so, we need to seek comments from his wife and children about his role in the LLRC and how they view the photo.

    Education and Realisation on the Tamil national conflict should start from home.

  • Vino Gamage

    http://sundaytimes.lk/110109/News/nws_02.html
    Police tell northern residents to protect themselves, 9 January 2011

    The police give a lot of advice in leaflets issued to the residents.

    Any advice to the slumbering commissioner?

  • Ajith Ratnayake

    Has he been sacked? He brings disrepute to already doubtful commission.

    • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

      Sacked? That’s a novel idea for dereliction of duty in Sri Lanka.

  • John

    This shows that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s LLRC is a cheating.

  • parakrama fernando

    These officials, especially the official in the photograph, are highly respected individuals who had well served the country with dedication & character. A mere incident of this nature is human for any humanbeing when one goes on working without rest.

    Using this photograph for mudslinging cannot be accepted, but for sure constructive criticism by the civil society should be welcomed by everyone.

    Let us support the LLRC to the very end as it is a huge forum where people’s grievances can be voiced and will be heard.

    • Sarath

      So Mr. Parakrama Fernando, if you think pointing out these “highly respected” individuals are sleeping on the wheel is mud slinging what is your idea of constructive criticism?

      A lot of these people, even though they are being “highly respected” by some, have gone through their carriers the same way? Wouldn’t anyone wonder why with so many “highly respected”, “extremely dedicated”, “exceedingly talented”, “immensely intelligent”, “highly patriotic”, this country is in such disarray, why the government has become a bloodsucking leech on hardworking people?

      Apologists of the government can try to justify every wrong move the government is making, but thinking people know what the reality is.

  • Rayan John

    This is not good, The Sri Lankan Government is cheating. As I am a frequent visitor to Kandy, I can assure Sinhala people are always have racial discriminating against Tamils. Which I don’t know why. The Politicians are responsible for this.

    John

  • The Mervyn Silva

    I am not understanding why everybody is up in the arms about the sleeping man in the picture. There are four peoples there. Only the one man is sleeping. Three are fully and compleely awake. For the Sri Lanka this is good enough. If all the four are sleeping I will be getting worried also.

    • SASI

      I LOVE THE MERVYN SILVA COMMENTS,GOOD JOKE

    • Travelling Academic

      Dear The Mervyn,
      I am agreeing with you. When I am teaching undergraduates also the sleeping rate is 25%. But then, because the pass mark in my exam is only 40%, not everyone need to be not in the sleeping side all the time. But it will all be a disaster if I go to sleep from the teaching side, right? That is what I am thinking these people are complaining about.

      • The Mervyn Silva

        Dear the Travelling Academic,

        Yes, yes, very true. But what if sleeping rate among students is 100%?
        I am understanding problem with Commissioner having the beauty nap but I think bigger problem is not only the Commissioner sleeping but that the people are also taking the nap all over the place. Not many peoople to be noticing the Commissioner playing sleeping beauty except maybe here in the Groundviews. The peoples are getting the Kings and ministers and the Commissioners they are fully deserving.

    • sam

      It should be named “Lazy, Liers Recreational Commission”

  • Rest

    Hey everyone,
    This is one of the fundamental issues why the minority issues are neglected in this country. Simply the majority officials in the government and private sectors do not understand any interest to learn the Tamil language and most importantly do not bother to accept this as national language since 1956. The president supposed there is no minority or majority in this country. If he is legitimate for national reconciliation, why in the world he recruited 99.9% of the ministries secretaries and recent SLAS officials from the majority ethnic group? Do you think, he is trying to solve this problem here? Or do you think all these officials can understand the minority language and speak to Tamils is necessity arises? As an elected leader, he should understand what the most single important issue of this country is at this moment. Most western countries are so concerns about his law, administration, and direction toward national integrity. He has been brought to a standstill in Oxford. GSP plus has been stopped. UN has nominated 4 members committee to visit Sri Lanka to ensure human right violation. There are so many examples I could bring here to explain the fail government. In order to solve this national problem you need to have “national” thought which include Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burger, and Malay, representation of mind. Not just Sinhala mind as national thought. The LLRC is dominated by bunch of Rajapakse lovers and no interest to solve this decade long problem. Once again, I wanted to remind you, how many of these LLRC guys will understand war impact Northern and Eastern people sorrows in Tamil language? How many of the males in LLRC would understand lost mothers hearts, minds, losses, feeling, and sadness from female perception? How many of these guys have gender feeling to understand the sorrow of women? If you do not have these fundamental qualities, what do you do in front of war impact women speak in LLRC in Manner? LISTEN? OR SLEEP? This is what Rajapakse wants: not to listen carefully, understand, and seek solution. Instead “sleep”. These guys are supporting MR’s vision to save him for another 2 decades. Finally, you are never going to seek answers to this problem as long as you keep people like these LLRC guys who have no inspiration about minority’s feeling.

  • billy

    seriously can any one come to this conclusion just looking at this picture..he may have well been just listening. shows the ulterior motive of this site and just will do anything and will take any unverified jargon to disrespect the country!

    • The Mervyn Silva

      Very Ture teh Billy! He could be even texting the message or updating the the Facial Book under the table. Please find his name and be checking his Facial Book. You might be finding this update: “In Mannar falling asleep while learinig the lesson”

  • yapa

    A New Art – SPECULATION

    On the basis of decisions and conclusions so arrived at, bashing that you hate at heart’s content.

    I have read such a game played by a king and his ministers in “Alice in Wonderland”.

    Every serious thing has become a joke. Clowns playing acrobats and summer sault

    Ohoma yun! Ohoma yun!!

    Thanks!

    • The Mervyn Silva

      The Yapa,

      This is exactly what Our Majesty is also saying when we are approaching him and saying Our Majesty, the conqueror of the universe and the bringer of the peace and the Sinhala national anthem to the Jaffna, the people are getting a little bit on the restless side and we are not meaning just the Tamil peoples. He is laughing and patting us all on our backsides and saying, “ohoma yun, ohoma, yun, mawath shape karan ohoma yun!” (Let us be going like this, just be making sure I am alright).

  • MV

    This whole thing is an eyewash for international community to deter international war crime investigations. They ought to do better if they start a process to inform these folks about the whereabouts of the missing or handing out death certificates where applicable.

  • Sunil Lan ka

    Naeusiating attitude of those in power and Harrowing stories of Suffering tamils must be inducing slumber among Commissioners as much as we see in country among ones who should be sensitive to them