Post-war Sri Lanka’s Thought Police: The Rehabilitation of Ex-Combatants and the Denigration of Tamil Identity

Image courtesy The Hindu

[Editors note: Read Part 2 of this series here, with PDFs of parts A-C of the questionnaire]

The defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May of 2009 brought a new dimension to the ethnic conflict that has engulfed Sri Lanka since its independence in 1948.  During the final phase of the war, thousands of LTTE combatants surrendered to the military and were held in high security holding places. They were investigated by various units of the security establishment of Sri Lanka. Subsequently, the Military Intelligence Unit, Criminal Investigation Unit and the Terrorist Investigation Unit moved them to various Protective Accommodation Rehabilitation Centres (PARCs) situated in Jaffna, Polonnaruwa and Vavuniya to be “rehabilitated.” Apparently, all ex-combatants are required to answer a number of questions, either orally or in writing, before being released. The Social Architects (TSA) has obtained a copy of this questionnaire. Its content is telling.

Methodology

The government’s use of the questionnaire was inconsistent. In some places, military personnel interviewed ex-combatants, either individually or in groups. However, in Vavuniya ex-combatants were required to sit and write their answers individually. In Polonnaruwa, ex-combatants have reported that they were questioned individually. The most consistent aspect of this process was the fact that the same lengthy document (containing the same invasive, insensitive, poorly worded, grammatically incorrect and confusing questions) was used at each official PARC.

The Process

Based on TSA interviews conducted in Batticaloa and the Vanni this month, all ex-combatants had to answer this questionnaire in some fashion. This was one of the last exercises that ex-combatants took part in before being released. Afterwards, they were released by the Ministry of Prison Reform and Rehabilitation. During that time, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) gave an identity card to each of the ex-combatants, denoting that those individuals had been rehabilitated.

Many ex-combatants thought that, by refusing to answer the questionnaire (or by providing answers which government officials deemed unsatisfactory), they might be held in PARCs indefinitely. Left in a precarious position, many ex-combatants decided to fill out the questionnaire; some figured it was their only way out. In addition, some ex-combatants feared that if they even provided a couple answers which government officials did not like, they would be subject to intensive monitoring, further arrests, intimidation, or worse upon their release.

Ex-combatants have been forced to answer questions which were not only difficult to understand, these were probing queries that would invariably upset men and women who were already in a very fragile state of mind.

Content of the Questionnaire

The questionnaire starts with individual information about ex-combatants. To identify the detainees, the specific serial number which was assigned to each of them at their respective PARCs was used. (The ex-combatants are not asked to state their names). Ex-combatants are also asked for their age, the length of time that they have been detained, their marital status, the number of children they have, their most recent job before coming to the PARC, their educational background and their place of birth. In this section, there are eleven questions. Interestingly, the word “Protective Accommodation Rehabilitation Centre” is not used in the questionnaire. Rather, State actors have chosen to use the word “Institution” instead.

A total of 155 questions have been divided into various parts (from A to K) in this extensive document. The questions asked would be mentally excruciating for any Tamil to answer in post-war Sri Lanka, especially an ex-combatant. The document is loaded with indirect references to the government of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan State. Most questions are largely unrelated to mental health and/or rehabilitation. The fact that ex-combatants are being forced to respond to such queries under duress is immoral and hugely detrimental to the reconciliation process. For the respondents, it is a document that produces far more questions, uncertainties and apprehensions than it does useful answers.

For example, the eleventh question in Part A asks ex-combatants to assess the following statement: “Those who elect Tamil Members of Parliament are LTTE supporters.”

The nature of this question should entangle respondents in a state of mental confusion and uncertainty. Aside from its accusatory and simplistic nature, the question itself is difficult to answer considering the diverse group of Tamil parliamentarians holding office today. Certainly, Mr. R. Sampanthan, the leader of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK, aka the Federal Party) and another elected official like the Jaffna district parliamentarian, holding the ministerial portfolio of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development, Douglas Devananda do not espouse identical ideas and tenets. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) are not ideological equals either; no two parties are. Based on the abovementioned statement, the government’s logical deduction is that any Tamil parliamentarian is a supporter of the LTTE.

That said, since the war ended, no Tamil parliamentarian has included “support for the LTTE” as an electoral campaign strategy. Nor are public statements made in support of the LTTE; the question itself is misleading and conflates ethnicity with extremism. Most importantly, the question is inherently unfair and a distortion of reality. How would a single ex-combatant be able to surmise what the intention of all those who vote for Tamil parliamentarians actually are? Must differentiated responses, disagreement (of any kind) and tolerance for the views of others continue to be anathema to Sri Lankan State officials?

Questions which are embedded with such sweeping generalizations serve no purpose, other than to frighten, confuse, intimidate, psychologically torment or brainwash the respondent. Furthermore, the thirty-third question of Part A asks the following: “those who don’t exhibit strength are slaves.” What could possibly be the “right” answer to a question of this nature? What is the purpose of such a question? Again, many convoluted questions of a similar nature appear in this disturbing government document.

Analysis

Seemingly, if a former LTTE member has even a strand of ideology, even a glimmer of independent or assertive thinking; he/she runs the risk of protracted detainment. Clearly, this lengthy questionnaire has been prepared to probe the psyches of ex-LTTE cadres, to upset these men and women, and to subsequently denigrate Tamil identity. Again, the document is not only offensive, but is rife with grammatical errors and inordinately complex questions that are either unclear or misleading.

These questions are so intrusive that they would undoubtedly affect an ex-combatant’s state of mind. The government appears to be testing people’s ideological aspirations. This entire process is worrisome and begs numerous questions such as the following: “Was the release of ex-combatants contingent upon the way that those individuals completed this questionnaire?” Another additional question might be: “Does military surveillance of “rehabilitated” ex-combatants vary depending on how each individual responded to this questionnaire?” And, distressingly, the government’s sloppily written, incoherent and largely irrelevant questionnaire demonstrates its apathetic attitude towards its own language policy.

Conclusion

The government of Sri Lanka claims that its rehabilitation program for ex-combatants is more than sufficient and that those who have been rehabilitated are now free to live normal lives. Unfortunately, those assertions are, at best, dubious. It is not even clear that the psychosocial counseling provided by the government is adequate. Evidently, the government views any sort of rights-based philosophy as incompatible with the rehabilitation process. Besides, ex-combatants continue to be harassed, threatened and intimidated even after they have been released, making an already tenuous situation even worse.

The production and use of such a questionnaire shows that something more sinister lies behind the government’s rehabilitation program, its policy as it relates to ex-combatants and, more generally, its disappointing approach towards national reconciliation. Further analysis about this questionnaire[1] and the implications of this process will continue in the coming weeks.


[1] TSA will eventually publish the entire questionnaire in both Tamil and English.

  • nelum

    horrific really. and what a joke. sadly its to do with real people’s hearts, brains and minds. i give up.

  • Candidly

    All governments in a post-war situation where they have faced fanatical terrorism of the Tamil Tigers variety have had to do something like this to counteract the years of hate-filled brainwashing that the people experienced under the their previous rulers.

    Similar exercises were carried out in Germany & Japan following their defeat in 1945. Also in Cambodia and Peru, and so on. A government would be failing in its duty if it did not make serious attempts to de-fanaticise those people who had succumbed to these vile ideologies. Of course, a vital component must be giving the victims firm and believable hope in a better and peaceful future for themselves.

    Without seeing the original questionnaire and the guidelines on how it is to be interpreted, printing a few selected extracts is worse than useless, it is dangerous and smacks of sensationalising and denigrating an important and difficult task, that of re-habilitating the victims of a violent mass cult. Sadly, Groundviews seems more inclined these days to resort to attempts at sensationalism as an alternative to thoughtful and helpful investigative journalism.

    • http://pcolman.wordpress.com/ Padraig Colman
    • Psychologist

      As is far too often the case, this article in Ground Views has an agenda and is selectively picking what it wants to fit that agenda. As many others have stated above, it would have been better to include the whole questionnaire. From a psychological perspective this questionnaire could be considered quit ingenious. There are in fact no wrong or right answers, if this is indeed the case. It can be taken by an educated individual to be a means of understanding the mind set of the individual and a means for assessing the current preparedness of the individuals to enter society. Obviously the author of this article has not taken such points into consideration, which is only another tick against the validity of such articles on this site.

      • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

        Dear Mr. Huffman,

        As has been made explicitly clear in this article (at the bottom), and part two of the series, TSA will publish the questionnaire in full anon. Part Two in fact contains Parts A-C of the questionnaire.

        As an avid reader of the government’s propaganda through the Daily News from your abode in Japan, it may be the case that you can’t or don’t comprehend alternative narratives that critique government, or the concern over the timbre of the questions, which are so bizarre, they are incredible. We suggest you keep following the site for updates from TSA, and try to comprehend the absurdity of the questions posed, and indeed, the very real violence of the questions given to whom they were directed, and by whom the answers are read.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Mr Haufman,

        I believe you have correctly identified a hidden agenda by the TSA, the authors of this article and it’s sequel. They have been unable to defend what they have written in either article, casting serious doubts on their characters and the contents of their articles.

        The attempt is at throwing mud at Sri Lanka by vilifying the rehabilitation program using insinuation and innuendo. Unfortunately for them Subramaniam Sivakamy alias Thamilini, the former Women’s Division Political Chief of the LTTE, has opted to undergo rehabilitation in open court and will be eligible for release in one year.

        The LTTE within the Diaspora used pressure to deprive Thamilini of even a Lawyer. Her original lawyer, TNA Parliamentarian from Jaffna, Appathurai Vinayagamurthy abandoned her completely.

        Subsequently, a Sinhalese Lawyer appeared for her free of charge and was successful in securing rehabilitation at a much maligned (by the TSA) Protective Accommodation and Rehabilitation Centre (PARC).

        TSA’s first article appeared on June 16 and the second on June 24th, just 8 days later. Though 17 days have elapsed, the much publicised 3rd part has not appeared yet.

        I doubt whether TSA has the guts to respond to this comment and the previous two comments that I addressed to them directly.

        Here is the story of Thamilini’s Rehabilitation, that has already commenced on July 2nd, as related by an Ethnic Tamil.

        Fortunately, it is not from the Daily News and hence cannot be labelled Govt Propaganda. I believe in ethical journalism. That means taking responsibility for what one writes, amongst others. TSA has consistently failed to do that.

        The readers can form their own informed judgement about the Drum Beating of the TSA.

        Selected Extracts from DBS Jayaraj’s web site. Emphasis, when used, is mine.

        Monday July 2nd 2012 was a red letter day in the life of Subramaniam Sivakamy alias Thamilini. The 40 year old former women’s division political chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)formally began her period of rehabilitation on that day at the Protective Accommodation and Rehabilitation Centre (PARC)in Poonthottam, Vavuniya.
        Rehabilitation is a prerequisite to her ultimate release.

        The rehabilitation period will be for one year during which time Sivakamy will undergo training in computers. …. Thamilini will be eligible for release from detention in July next year. ……..

        Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian from Jaffna, Appathurai Vinayagamurthy, was her lawyer.

        (my note: He was the lawyer at the beginning and he abandoned his client due to suspected pressure from the rump LTTE within the Tamil diaspora)

        Since Thamilini was a senior LTTE member her arrest and detention attracted much interest. The LTTE and pro-LTTE elements in the global Tamil Diaspora were enraged. They were angry that Thamilini had surrendred to the armed forces instead of consuming cyanide. A vicious allegation was spread that Thamilini was among a group of ex-LTTE cadres collaborating with the state to identify and ferret out other members of the LTTE avoiding detection and capture. This writer too has written about this in the past. This allegation however was proved untrue.

        Against that backdrop , Thamilini’s lawyer of the time, Appathurai Vinayagamurthy suddenly lost “interest” in his client. He simply dropped the case and stopped representing her in court. The reasons for this are unclear but there is conjecture that Vinayagamurthy succumbed to intense pressure from extremist sections of the Diaspora who regarded Thamilini as a traitor.

        Whatever the reasons may be the abandoning of Thamilini by Vinayagamurthy left the latter lawyerless. ………………….

        Thamilini was also able to telephone Manjula Pathiraja the lawyer who had been watching her interests in the legal sphere in recent times. Pathiraja who has a penchant for appearing on behalf of the perceived underdog in many cases had been doing so”pro bono” for Sivakamy without being paid any fees. After Thamilini relocated to Poonthottam, her sister in Norway rang the lawyer and asked him what his fee was. Pathiraja told her “No fees”.

        Thamilini who is reasonably fluent in Sinhala thanked Pathiraja profusely and kept repeating that she would never forget what he had done for her. The lawyer had not merely proffered legal advice and services but had also been providing personal advice and moral support to his client.

        (My note;- Abandoned by a TNA politician/lawyer and saved by Manjula Pathiraja a Sinhalese Lawyer appearing free)

        After being taken into custody at Vavuniya, Thamilini had been brought to Colombo,interrogated and produced at the Chief magistrates courts. Subsequently she was remanded to Welikada pending further investigations. Being a high profile LTTE leader , she was interrogated intensively and separately by different agencies such as the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Terrorism Investigations Department (TID)National Intelligence and Military Intelligence.

        At times she was taken out of Welikada remand for interrogation. Her lawyer Manjula Pathiraja had raised objections to this procedure and the Colombo chief magistrate courts even ordered a probe into this. However it must be said that Thamilini had not been physically ill –treated or subjected to any type of brutality at any stage by any agency. ……….

        …………………..The well-wishers of Thamilini also wanted KP and NERDO to help as in the cases of Satyadevi and Sasirekha. A couple of these well-wishers accompanied a group of NERDO affiliates on a trip to Colombo.Sri Lankan officials acceded to KP’s humble request and set up a meeting with Thamilini’s well wishers. All matters were frankly and thoroughly discussed during the course of which officials outlined their concerns and constraints.

        The well-wishers then contacted Thamilini’s mother and sister living in Kilinochchi but found that they did not have the capacity to proceed further on this matter. Thereafter the Defence establishment “bent the rules for a good cause” and facilitated an unorthodox meeting between the well-wishers and Thamilini with officials being present. The defence officials also conversed with Thamilini and probed her mindset with pertinent questions.

        Though suspicious at the start , Thamilini mellowed soon when she realized that the meeting was in her interest. She stated very clearly that she had no intention of engaging in any form of political activity in the future. Lamenting the loss of her youthful years as a member of the LTTE and regretting the long years of absence with her mother and the grief she had caused ,Sivakamy kept on saying she only wanted to make up for the lost years by staying with her mother. Thamilini was also ready to undergo rehabilitation. She also signed a document outlining her intentions and expressing willingness to be rehabilitated.

        Even the tough defence officials were touched by Thamilini’s disclosures and guarantees. Satisfied that she would pose no security threat if released the officials prepared a report and submitted it to the Defence secretary. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa perused the reports and recommendations both favourable and adverse and weighed the pros and cons. Finally the Defence secretary arrived at a positive decision and approved the transfer of Thamilini to Vavuniya for rehabilitation. Furthermore the “Thamilini model”of release after rehabilitation inspired and set in motion a scheme that would enable more detenues to gain freedom in due course.

        ……… It was parallel to this course of events that Thamilini’s case was being argued in courts. The question of her being released after rehabilitation required an answer at the highest levels because it amounted to a policy decision. The input of the Defence secretary was needed in this respect. Gota Rajapaksa delved into the issue at a top level conference and arrived at a decision to authorize release after rehabilitation for Thamilini. This decision was conveyed through appropriate channels to the CID who in turn communicated it to courts. Thereafter lawyer Pathiraja met Thamilini on June 20th and obtained her consent. Colombo chief magistrate Singappuli ordered that Thamilini be transferred for rehabilitation on June 22nd

        The decision taken to release Thamilini after rehabilitation was also a positive fore runner of things to come. The Defence secretary gave his approval to initiate procedures enabling other detenues like Thamilini who had not been indicted to be released after obtaining rehabilitation. This decision was conveyed to detenues at various jails through respective superintendents of prisons. Plain sheets of paper were provided for those willing to be rehabilitated to write letters requesting the same. The detenues grasped the opportunity eagerly. An avalanche of letters ensued.

        Sadly the plan to release after rehabilitation has now been put on hold as a result of the Vavuniya jail revolt . It is as if some sinister forces are at work to disrupt the very positive climate created by the Defence secretary’s commendable decision and sabotage the release of detenue scheme in progress. While understanding the necessity for reviewing the situation because of the Vavuniya incident this column urges the continuation of the lenient policy adopted by the Govt. The persons responsible for the Vavuniya incident can be penalized but the others in Vavuniya and elsewhere who had no hand in this matter should not be deprived of the opportunity to be released after rehabilitation.
        Interested readers can access the full article here http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/7806
        End extract

  • World View

    Why doesn’t TSA release a copy of the actual questionnaire, instead of cherry picking bits and pieces to suit its agenda? That way others can make a decision themselves.

    • Gibson

      The two questions TSA has cited are appalling and shouldn’t be a part of any questionnaire related to rehabilitation.

      • World View

        Exactly how are they “appalling”? Unless you are able to provide a marking guide as to how they mark them. If they are “appalling” then so are the hundreds of other statements that are used in schools in debating competitions.

      • myil selvan

        Dear Worldview,
        you say
        “Exactly how are they “appalling”? Unless you are able to provide a marking guide as to how they mark them. If they are “appalling” then so are the hundreds of other statements that are used in schools in debating competitions.”

        You need to look at the context in which the questions are being asked. Debating is a different context and certainly not a matter of life and death.

      • World View

        I do not see how the contexts are so different. It’s pretty obvious they are aimed at stimulating debate and providing an opportunity to view a particular issue through another angle. Articles such as these are what make a lot of Sri Lankans take NGOs and their hangers-on with a pinch of salt. They make issues out of non-issues just for the sake of it.

  • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

    These guys were trying to destroy the state and actively kill its officials just a short time ago. Asking them to answer a questionnaire is hardly abusive or even unfair. Get a grip, folks.

    • myil selvan

      “These guys were trying to destroy the state and actively kill its officials just a short time ago. Asking them to answer a questionnaire is hardly abusive or even unfair. Get a grip, folks.”

      eh, yes, we’ve got a grip, have you? A very interesting short time isn’t it?
      You say ‘hardly abusive’ which means you agree it is abusive, somewhat?

      These guys were not trying to destroy the state. The guys who were (the master minds) were killed. The ones alive are probably conscripts and lower level cadres and that’s why they are alive.

      It’s not about abuse or fairness that’s the main issue here (although that’s what these questions are doing), it’s about reconciliation and are these questions promoting or helping that?

      Let’s not forget this is the kind of treatment that sparked our whole problem in the first place. Please get a grip of that!

      • TropicalStorm

        Cherry picking what’s most suitable to push your own agenda is not journalism. If the TSA didn’t release the entire document, then at least be ‘journalistic enough’ to admit that you don’t really know the entire content.

        This entire diatribe seems based on bits and pieces of debatable fact tied together with conjecture to form a biased opinion in the minds of readers. Gossip, definitely not good quality journalism.

        Peace, everyone.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “A very interesting short time isn’t it?”

        Lol, what does that even mean?

        “You say ‘hardly abusive’ which means you agree it is abusive, somewhat?”

        Mildly annoying, perhaps. Sort of like your comments.

        “These guys were not trying to destroy the state. The guys who were (the master minds) were killed. The ones alive are probably conscripts and lower level cadres and that’s why they are alive.”

        I didn’t say they were masterminds. And whatever level they were at is immaterial. The point is that they were instrumental in attempting to destroy the state and kill its officials.

        “It’s not about abuse or fairness that’s the main issue here (although that’s what these questions are doing), it’s about reconciliation and are these questions promoting or helping that?”

        Before there can be reconciliation, there must be security and stability. If one has accepted one’s status as a former enemy of the state, there is no reason why such a questionnaire should prevent reconciliation. When criminals are put on probation and asked to report in to the authorities on a regular basis, do you feel that hinders reconciliation between the criminal and the state?

        “Let’s not forget this is the kind of treatment that sparked our whole problem in the first place. Please get a grip of that!”

        No, it isn’t the kind of treatment that sparked off the problem. What sparked it off was Sinhala Only and regular pogroms. The Tigers answer was mass murder and terrorism. How abusive or unfair is a questionnaire in the scale of things? I say keep tabs on them and question them regularly until we are absolutely sure that they aren’t going to pick up arms again. They should consider themselves luckier than the thousands of soldiers and civilians who had to die to defeat them.

      • http://pcolman.wordpress.com/ Padraig Colman

        Proportionality is the name of the game.

  • alex fernando

    Disgusting. No doubt with time the full horrors of ‘sri lankan style reconciliation’ will be laid bare.

  • http://www.hotmail.co.uk cyril

    The government is not interested in winning the hearts and minds of the Tamil people but policing their hearts and minds

  • buddhika

    ”fanatical terrorism of the Tamil Tigers variety” ????

    Tamil Tigers: 1970s – 2009

    As far as many citizens of all ethnicities are concerned 64+ years of state terrorism is going on unabatedly – it’s difficult to cite a sample:

    Jayantha Dhanapala’s submission to Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission(LLRC), August 2010: ‘’The lessons we have to learn go back to the past – certainly from the time that we had responsibility for our own governance on 4 February 1948 . Each and every Government which held office from 1948 till the present bear culpability for the failure to achieve good governance, national unity and a framework of peace, stability and economic development in which all ethnic, religious and other groups could live in security and equality. Our inability to manage our own internal affairs has led to foreign intervention but more seriously has led to the taking of arms by a desperate group of our citizens. We need to rectify this bad governance. We have already missed several opportunities in the past. We need to have State reform; we need to have rule of law established; we need to ensure non discrimination amongst our citizens; we need to have devolution of power and a tolerance of dissent and a strengthening of democratic institutions.’’ (Dhanapala is a Sinhalese and was formerly UN Under-Secretary General for Disarmament)

    ”But that truth cannot excuse human rights violations that currently afflict the nation as a whole; or for that matter obscure the looming threat of the cultural and political colonisation of the north by the Sinhala Buddhist majority” – Biased and Prejudiced Collection on Sri Lanka, *Gananath Obeyesekere, Economic & Political Weekly, VOL 47 No. 04, 28 January-03 February (*a Sinhalese Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University)

    Table of seven Commissions and seven Committees appointed in the last six years whose reports the President has been refusing to publish, http://www.scribd.com/doc/85007346/A-List-of-Commissions-of-Inquiry-and-Committees-Appointed-by-the-Government-of-Sri-Lanka-2006-%E2%80%93-2012

  • buddhika

    Certain occasions created for Photo-ops !?!?

    Not all occasions:
    ‘’If I make any devolutionary concessions to the Tamils, 13A Plus, Minus, Divided or Subtracted, it will be curtains for me” – Sri Lanka: Indian Delegates go Home Empty Handed, Kumar David, 15 June 2011 – http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers46/paper4558.html

  • rita
  • alex fernando

    The sad thing is we are not surprised about this sort of behaviour by the Sri Lankan state. The surprising thing is that anyone expects this sad Orwellian state to reform from within – it is quite clearly rotten from head to tail.

  • Luxmy

    To begin with President Rajapakse can follow the first step of President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar U Thein Sein.

    Who knows he may overtake him !

  • silva

    Psychologits,

    What do you say to the picture when children were forcibly taken away from their parents by the LTTE?

    Do you allow a photographer when the parent and the child meet after such a trauma?

    The President scoring points??

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/06/16/leaked-photos-reveal-fate-of-tamil-prisoners/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NP_Top_Stories+%28National+Post+-+Top+Stories%29

  • Ward

    Will Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Lecture of 16 June 2012 show Sri Lanka any sensible path towards peace:

    ”…….
    How often during my years under house arrest have I drawn strength from my favourite passages in the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
    ……. disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspirations of the common people,
    …… it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law …
    If I am asked why I am fighting for human rights in Burma the above passages will provide the answer. If I am asked why I am fighting for democracy in Burma, it is because I believe that democratic institutions and practices are necessary for the guarantee of human rights.
    ………..
    Ultimately our aim should be to create a world free from the displaced, the homeless and the hopeless, a world of which each and every corner is a true sanctuary where the inhabitants will have the freedom and the capacity to live in peace. Every thought, every word, and every action that adds to the positive and the wholesome is a contribution to peace. Each and every one of us is capable of making such a contribution. Let us join hands to try to create a peaceful world where we can sleep in security and wake in happiness.
    …………….
    ………………….”

    http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1991/kyi-lecture_en.html

    • rita

      That may be difficult for Prez Rajapakse but he can try to copy the Burmese leader’s attempt in new direction.

      • http://pcolman.wordpress.com/ Padraig Colman

        Rita, with great respect, I think it is a little early to be proposing the Burmese leaders as role models. They have a record of many decades of using slave labor and summary execution to stay in power.

    • Ward

      Aung San Suu Kyi appealed for the world to remember those prisoners in her country who had not yet been released or received justice.

      Pl remember (NO Photo-ops):
      ”Nanda Godage, a former Sri Lankan ambassador to the European Union, told the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) that at least two thousand young Tamils had been in detention for years on suspicion of involvement with the Tamil Tigers or LTTE.
      These were separate from several thousand held in camps since the end of the fighting last year‘’ – Thousands of Tamil youth ‘failed by the legal system’, 16 September 2010, http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2010/09/100916_nanda_godage.shtml

  • Ward

    Help towards actual Point-scoring – without Photo-ops:

    One of the requirements of the much maligned UNHCR resolution was Sri Lanka should come out with a time-bound plan for implementing the recommendations of the LLRC. The Indian parliamentary delegation has made Sri Lanka’s job easy by listing the items still outstanding in Sri Lanka’s post war recovery. It is contained in the final paragraph of the delegation’s statement:
    “Our discussions over the last four days have brought out clearly:
    The need for expeditious implementation of the measures proposed by the LLRC with regard to information on missing persons and detainees,
    Investigation of cases of disappearances and abductions,
    Promotion of a trilingual policy,
    Reduction of high security zones,
    Return of private lands by the military and demilitarization, including phasing out of the involvement of the security forces in civilian activities and restoration of civilian administration in the Northern Province.
    We have noted the assurance given by the Government of Sri Lanka in Parliament that it will ensure the withdrawal of security forces from community life and confine their role to security matters.”

    • Ward

      Pl pardon me – I forgot to mention the source:

      http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cnotes7%5Cnote649.html:
      ”One of the requirements of the much maligned UNHCR resolution was Sri Lanka should come out with a time-bound plan for implementing the recommendations of the LLRC. The Indian parliamentary delegation has made Sri Lanka’s job easy by listing the items still outstanding in Sri Lanka’s post war recovery. It is contained in the final paragraph of the delegation’s statement:
      “Our discussions over the last four days have brought out clearly:
      The need for expeditious implementation of the measures proposed by the LLRC with regard to information on missing persons and detainees,
      Investigation of cases of disappearances and abductions,
      Promotion of a trilingual policy,
      Reduction of high security zones,
      Return of private lands by the military and demilitarization, including phasing out of the involvement of the security forces in civilian activities and restoration of civilian administration in the Northern Province.
      We have noted the assurance given by the Government of Sri Lanka in Parliament that it will ensure the withdrawal of security forces from community life and confine their role to security matters.”

  • Panabokke

    Dear TSA
    Pl publish the questionnaire here. Thank you.

  • Ravana

    As another commentator stated, the authors should really have released the full questionnaire instead of insulting the intelligence of the reader. In this they are only little better than the state which has taken the opportunity to “brain wash”/”deprogram” as they can only be expected to.

    What I cannot understand is, why not take a more disarming approach: after the war when they are in shock, why not immediately express regret about what has happened. Tell them to express what their grievances were. Set about an immediate programme of correcting wrongs which were clear and could be corrected. Demonstrate an intentions to clear more complex wrongs by publishing a time line of action. Introduce the detainees to fora where they could debate with those holding different views. Explain to them why you can’t have everything you want within the constraints of politics of an island.

    This Government has not used such subtlety at all. Instead it has been unbridled cynicism with no shame that others would be making judgement.

  • Pottan

    Ex combatants were scared because they surrendered in the battle field. these Social architects are scared for what reason ? Why do they hide ?

  • truth

    Can they get help from the PR firm, Bell Pottinger to answer the questions? To be fair the State Terrorist (since independence belonging to the Blue, green and read)also need rehabilitation and need to answer a set of similar questions!!!

  • Luxmy

    Groundviews
    Can you please post the questionnaire so that the citizens will know what’s going on behind the scenes?
    Thank you.

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    Post-war Sri Lanka’s Thought Police: A Response from The Social Architects (TSA)

    About The Social Architects
    The Social Architects (TSA) are comprised of a diverse group of writers, intellectuals and working professionals. While most of TSA’s members hail from the country’s North, East and Hill Country, the group also includes other scholars and activists who have been working on issues related to Sri Lanka. TSA seeks to educate, to inform and to provide timely, thoughtful analysis on a range of topics.

    Since the publication of TSA’s June 16 article , Groundviews readers have raised a number of questions. TSA has decided to respond to a few of those queries and comments below.
    1.) This is a three part series. Three different articles related to this questionnaire will be published. In each article, certain parts of the questionnaire will also be published. After that, TSA will publish the entire questionnaire on Groundviews.
    2.) TSA maintains that the two statements from the questionnaire (highlighted in the June 16 article) are reprehensible in any country in any context.
    3.) Like many Groundviews contributors (and others living in Sri Lanka who speak out against the present regime) TSA is not yet ready to reveal the identities of its members due to fear of government reprisal. The present administration has a long history of crushing dissent, a trend that appears to be getting worse.

    • http://pcolman.wordpress.com/ Padraig Colman

      “Comprised of” should be “composed of”. Please do not descend to the levels of illiteracy found on Colombo Telegraph!

      • Phil Collins

        Thanks for showering GV readers with your brilliance, Padraig.

      • http://pcolman.wordpress.com/ Padraig Colman

        No problem, Phil old chap. All part of the (unpaid) service. I am, as you say, brilliant but this was not an example of my brilliance, merely an example of my pedantry. Hate your music btw.

  • Lanka Liar

    This is Sri Lanka. Why all these fuss. they call this humanitarian operation. Don’t they? Don’t waste your time. This is how things are done in this country.

  • Off the Cuff

    The Social Architects,

    You have written, “Most questions are largely unrelated to mental health and/or rehabilitation. The fact that ex-combatants are being forced to respond to such queries under duress is immoral and hugely detrimental to the reconciliation process”

    The Rehab process, as the name implies, is designed to alter the Psyche of members of a group that waged war against the Civilians and the State and was bent on Murdering, maiming and blowing to bits these Civilians by bombing public transport and subsequently machine gunning the survivors. The victims included school children, pregnant women, the sick and infirm, Tamils, Muslims, Sinhalese, Malays, Burghers, etc.

    These LTTE combatants even maimed and tortured their own people (lamp post killings etc) and abducted Tamil children to be used as cannon fodder. They are on record of being guilty of shooting Tamil civilians of the Vanni in the back and of amputating them for attempting to dessert the human shield. They also suicide bombed the Vanni Tamils who managed to escape their clutches and had sought safety in govt areas.

    The above is a small cross section of the Psyche of the detainees in question, as it existed under the LTTE.

    The Psyche is defined as the specialized cognitive, conative, and affective aspects of a psychosomatic unity : mind; specifically : the totality of the id, ego, and superego including both conscious and unconscious components.

    TSA states “For example, the eleventh question in Part A asks ex-combatants to assess the following statement: “Those who elect Tamil Members of Parliament are LTTE supporters.”

    Based on the abovementioned statement, the government’s logical deduction is that any Tamil parliamentarian is a supporter of the LTTE”

    The inference the TSA has reached, from a sentence designed to asses the current psyche of these combatants, whose state of mind did not have any demonstrable humanity within them, while under the LTTE, is to say the least, illogical.

    I believe the TSA intended to get the rabid sections of the rump LTTE to start spewing hatred within GV columns. As can be observed, it is an objective they have successfully achieved.

    I trust that the TSA will explain how LOGIC was used in arriving at their sensational inference.

  • Luxmy

    Dear all
    Please look at what Aung San Suu Kyi told the world at London School of Economics on 19 June 2012 – true not only for Burma but also for Sri Lanka:

    ”Unless we amend the constitution to harmonise with the aspirations of all our people in our country we will never be able to bring about the type of unity and peace we desire. So it all comes down to the Rule of Law.”

    “The progress that we hope to make with regard to democratisation and reform, depends so much on an understanding and acceptance of the importance of the rule of law.”

    • http://pcolman.wordpress.com/ Padraig Colman

      Luxmy – those are excellent sentiments from an inspirational and wonderful woman. It would indeed be good if Sri Lanka followed the path she suggests. Is it likely that Burma will heed her words after so many decades of dictatorship and slavery? Sri Lanka is not as bad as Burma but needs to improve. Do we have an Aung San Suu Kyi in the wings to inspire us?

      • Luxmy

        Dear Padraig
        Sri Lankans are indebted to you for your kind attention to their conflict.

        Many conscientious Sihalese told LLRC all the things the Great Lady is speaking. Many have been telling nearly the same things to successive Sri Lankan governments in the last 5/6 decades.

        Though we don’t have someone like the Great Lady right now we had SJV Chelvanayagam who tried all possible peaceful ways with many governments.
        In his deathbed he said (actually to a Sinhalese friend) that Tamils are going to have a bad time and that even God cannot change the hearts of Sinhala masses and politicians and that Prabakaran will give them a good excuse.

  • Luxmy
    • http://pcolman.wordpress.com/ Padraig Colman

      Thanks Luxmy. What is the bombshell?

      • Luxmy

        Sorry, I wasn’t looking up this page for a while.
        The QUESTIONS !!

      • Luxmy

        But then the QUESTIONS tally with all what this regime is doing not only in the Northeast but all over the country.

      • http://pcolman.wordpress.com/ Padraig Colman

        @ Luxmy. I see.

  • http://pcolman.wordpress.com/ Padraig Colman

    Well, Luxmy, I do feel that I have a stake in Sri Lanka because I have chosen it as my home. I have been living here ten years and have no intention of going anywhere else in my declining years.