Mannar Bishop, Rayappu Joseph, recently submitting a letter to the Presidential Commission for Missing Persons, said that he was growing weary of the domestic mechanism in resolving the injustices faced by the Tamils. According to him, the domestic processes have not made any progress towards true reconciliation.
The Bishop told The Sunday Leader that it is important to accept diversity and create unity by accommodating all the voices of people. – Excerpts of the interview:
By Waruni Karunarathne
Q: By saying that you don’t accept the local investigation, are you offering to give evidence pertaining to the war to the UN investigations?
A: I am not saying that. All I am saying is that the local investigations have led nowhere. They have done local investigations such as Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). The government has spent a lot of money on these local processes but there has not been any reconciliation for the people who were affected by the war. Every time when questioned, some ministers say that the government has completed a certain percentage of work with regard to the LLRC recommendations towards reconciliation but they have not even produced a report to the media with proof stating the amount of work they have actually completed.
Q: The government maintains that appointing foreign experts to advice the local commission will give it credibility. On what basis do you feel otherwise?
A: We do not know what their terms of reference are. Nobody has defined their roles. It seems that the international experts are being appointed to act like puppets to what the government says. Can they make a judgement? Can they produce reports on hearings and talk to the media of their honest opinion? If not, what is their role in the investigations? The government previously appointed international experts to the Udalagama Commission but the experts could not act independently.
A: I cannot say anything about that. The issue is that I also have tried to access the government with 14 grievances but they failed to listen to any of the cases. There is no hope for people in the domestic process.
Q: How can you guarantee that the international process will give justice to the Tamils?
A: I am not saying that an international process will give justice to the Tamils who were affected by the war. What I say is that local processes have not provided justice. People are coming and giving evidence to the local investigators not because they trust the process but because they have got nothing to lose. The mandate of the Missing Persons Commission itself is wrong. The people who have gone missing had not gone missing by choice. Those are forced disappearances.
Q: Should there be a separate investigation on the crimes committed by the LTTE?
A: These local commissions are open for evidence against anybody. There are no specifications against who you can give evidence. Even the LLRC considered complaints lodged by any party. There have been instances where people have lodged complaints against the LTTE. It is not about establishing another commission but about the existing commissions not doing anything towards true reconciliation. The true meaning of reconciliation is that the culprit surrenders and is willing to reconcile like in the South African truth and reconciliation process. Unless that is being done, the grieved party will not come to terms.