Our Efforts Are In The Name Of Sincere Citizens – Fr S. J. Emmanuel

The head of the Global Tamil Forum, Fr S.J, Emmanuel feels the diaspora are doing good for the country by raising the human rights issue with the international community.

Excerpts of the interview:

By Easwaran Rutnam

Q: The government is now bringing in a witness protection bill. In your view will this give Tamils in Sri Lanka confidence in the system?

 A: That the SLG has no good will to execute even the existing laws of protection and that it employs the state-forces in uniform as well as civil-clad informants and even monks to take the law into their own hands is clear as crystal not only to the Tamils and Muslims but also to the enlightened Sinhalese. SLG’s actions of late have been to satisfy some calls from outside, from the international bodies, but not for the protection of freedom and equality of its peoples. Hence Tamils thirst for sincere execution of freedom and justice and will not be carried away by mirages of a bill!

Q: Based on what the new UN Human Rights High Commissioner said on the opening day of the UNHRC, do you have confidence he will meet the expectations of the diaspora Tamils on the Sri Lankan issue?

A: We Tamils have still confidence on the 69 years old UN and its 66 years old Declaration on HR. UN – the supreme body of nations and states following colonialism has existed and has covered the post-colonial independence period of Ceylon/Sri Lanka, the increasing oppression and denial of basic rights of the Tamils under a Sinhala-majoritarian-democracy centralized in Colombo, under the very eyes of this body helpless to prevent or stop it.

We Tamils of the diaspora, expect at least a late but sincere attempt on the part of the international body in calling SLG for accountability. We only expect this present effort to come out with maximum amount of truth.

The opening statement of the new HC gives us further hope that he, unlike any states having self-interests, will sincerely make efforts and will not fall victim to any arm-twisting or under-hand diplomacy of the present government.  We are conscious of the limitations and weaknesses of the member states of the UN and its failures to protect the innocent Tamils in the past as acknowledged by the PoE and Petrine reports.

But still we support the inquiry wholeheartedly and wish only the triumph of truth. We are not doing this with any revenge against anybody or the people of SL. In fact, the success of this inquiry will only help SL come to its senses and renew its place in the international body and help liberation of all the peace-loving people of SL.

Q: Foreign leaders visiting Sri Lanka have mostly expressed support to the Sri Lankan government including very recently, the Japanese Prime Minister. Is this a setback to diaspora moves on the Sri Lankan government?

A: Refusing to cooperate with the mother-body, the UN, and failing in its diplomatic efforts to convince heads of govt. and representatives of the international community, SLG is trying to win the support of individual countries, who, naturally, have their own self-interest. Up to May 2009, SLG got the maximum support of the western leaders by way of finance and weapons, to crush the LTTE. Having won a victory, SLG wanted to continue unhindered its ‘war against Tamils’. Hence the promises given to the western world supporters were discarded and new friends were sought to escalate its war of ‘extraditing the roots of Tamil existence’. Lavishly entertaining PMs at Temple Trees and getting their support financially and against the UN moves will not be helpful for SL. The VIP visitors have their own interests and will soon demand ‘their pound of flesh. The diaspora will not stoop to win such friends.

Father EmanualQ: Should the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights undertake a visit to Sri Lanka soon to gather first hand information?

A: SLG with much effort got the HCs Louis Arbor and Navaneetham Pillai, who went to the North too, and delivered their candid opinions. And SL labelled the first as a ‘white-Tiger’ and the second as ‘a woman of Tamil-origin and biased against SL’ because their truth was unpleasant to the rulers. And now inviting the new HC, after refusing to cooperate with the UN investigation and refusing visas for their members, is a shame! What does SL want? VIPs must dance to their music and not speak unpleasant truths? Enough chances have been given for such visits in the past, and what is that ‘first-hand-information’ they still have in their cupboards?

Q: How can you convince someone who feels what you are doing is not good for the Tamils in Sri Lanka?

A: I am convinced as a Tamil and as a Catholic priest of Sri Lanka that what the diaspora is now doing is not only for the good of the Tamils but also for all the people of Sri Lanka. Why? The diaspora having unhindered news of what is happening on the ground, both in the North and in the South, especially during the last five years, is convinced that the present SLG is both oppressive, denying basic rights of freedom and misleading the masses by untruths and leading the country towards a national suicide.

Our efforts are in the name of sincere citizens and true patriots of mother Lanka who are suffering injustices and slaveries, not in the name of selfish slaves who will only stoop but not stand up and struggle for a just and peaceful SL.