Right thinking of Chandrika

BY Manekshaw

Former President and the Chairperson of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga had pointed out the need of holding an international investigation into the alleged war crimes believed to have been committed during the previous regime.

The former President was addressing a press briefing of the ONUR last Tuesday after the National Reconciliation Policy of ONUR was given Cabinet approval. The Former President played a key role in forming the National Unity Government which came to power in January 2015 with the slogan of good governance.

With her background as the first woman Executive President and as the daughter of two former Prime Ministers of the island, Chandrika had come across several hurdles in her personal life as well as in her political career from the time she lost her father S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike early in her life and later being widowed following the brutal assassination of her husband Vijaya Kumaratunga.

However, despite the setbacks and the obstacles including the removal of her mother Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s civic rights for nearly twenty years during President J.R. Jayewardene’s period, former President Chandrika remains an iconic political figure, calling a ‘spade a spade’ by expressing her views towards strengthening peace and reconciliation in the island.

Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was the first to initiate Presidential Commissions islandwide to look into the grievances of the families of the involuntarily disappeared.

People in the North and the East had placed tremendous confidence in Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga when she first contested in the Presidential election in November 1994.

Even the LTTE was surprised over the overwhelming support extended from the Northern and Eastern Provinces to Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Soon after assuming her duties as President, Chandrika’s peace initiatives with her proposals to solve the North and East crisis was even considered more advanced than the Indo-Lanka Accord which was introduced with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

When Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga contested for the second time at the presidential poll, the barbaric attempt made on her life by the LTTE had led to the international community proscribing the outfit as a terrorist organization.

At the ONUR’s press briefing last Tuesday (10), President Chandrika spoke positively on an international investigation on the alleged war crimes and said that from her personnel point of view it was obvious how those who were in power manipulated to escape the alleged war crime allegations by making the soldiers scapegoats.

Gradually, beginning with the killings of Tamil politicians, innocent civilians and later the Tamil Police Officers, the separatist war in the North and the East had intensified as one of the long drawn out terrorist wars in Asia.

Sidelining LTTE internationally

The initiatives taken by former President Chandrika with the firm support extended by late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar had been remarkable in sidelining the LTTE internationally.

If it was not for the former President and Lakshman Kadirgamar it would have been a difficult task to isolate the LTTE on the international scene.

So it was with her vast experience in dealing with the critical issues of the island both locally as well as internationally Chandrika has made positive remarks at the ONUR press briefing over going for an international investigation on alleged war crimes believed to have been committed during the previous regime.

In June 2011 delivering the late Justice K. Palakidnar memorial address, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga expressed her dismay over Britain’s Channel-4 footages on the final phase of the war in Wanni, as horrifying.

Reiterating her stance on condemning the alleged war crimes Chandrika at the ONUR press conference pointed out that the call for an international investigation on alleged war crimes came from the very people directly affected by the war and not from Tamil diaspora.

The investigations on several high profile killings in the island of political leaders and journalists still remain a mystery despite the investigations carried out so far.

The Tamil National Alliance at the Journalist ‘Taraki’ Sivaram’s death anniversary event two weeks ago had even listed the names of several journalists and media workers who were killed in the past and pointed out that the investigations on those untimely deaths were carried out to the disappointment of those seeking justice.

The investigations on the broad daylight murder of eminent journalist Lasantha Wickramatunge and rugby player Mohamed Wasim Thajudeen have thrown a challenge to the law enforcement officials in solving the mystery of those two killings in Colombo.

Therefore, the atrocities committed on a mass scale during the final phase of the war and the involuntary disappearances which had taken place in the past have to be investigated in an impartial manner.

However, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga clearly stating her stance of not meddling with the government with regard to its decision on probing into the alleged war crimes, the views expressed by the former President justifying the international investigation on the alleged war crimes could be considered as right thinking towards her endeavours in National Unity and Reconciliation. 

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