|Sri Lanka: In memory of Maheswary Velautham|
|Wednesday, 14 May 2008|
The Peace Secretariat profoundly regrets the murder of Ms Maheswary Velautham during a visit to Jaffna to see her sick mother. Given the plethora of deaths this country suffers from, the Secretariat has not been accustomed to issuing statements of sympathy and sorrow for individual cases. We regret the lives of known and unknown, of civilian and military, and even the lives of our fellow citizens who have been conscripted or deluded into fighting intransigently for a terrorist movement. Soldiers or ministers, rebels or the over hundred civilians who fell prey to suicide bombs and other instruments of terror in the south in the last four months, they are all Sri Lankans and it did not seem to make sense to bewail them individually.
Maheswary is one such individual, martyred to terrorist intransigence, but the day and the manner of her death are symbolic of the uphill struggle Sri Lanka faces if we are to restore the pluralist democracy that we need. It occurred just after the election of a Provincial Council that should be able to fulfil the diverse demands of development in the East, whilst maintaining the unity of the country. It occurred shortly after the appointment of a Task Force for the North, that would be able to promote the needs and aspirations of the people there who have suffered for too long from totalitarianism and terror, during which specific measures for development fell by the wayside. These are positive steps, but they will be subject all the way to spoilers, the spoilers who cannot take electoral defeat, even though they deprived the country of elections for a decade in the eighties and thus nurtured terrorism in North and South, and the spoilers who, springing from that bitter birth, believe that a fight to the death is the only option open to them.
Maheswary's murder occurred too on the day when Sri Lanka was subject to the Universal Periodic Review with regard to Human Rights, for which the country had put itself forward in terms of its membership of the Human Rights Council. Ironically, it brought home to those worried about continuing violence in Sri Lanka the root cause of all this violence, the terrorism that victimizes everybody, but most obviously the vulnerable. Thus she was killed when she went up in haste to see her sick mother, leaving aside the security given to her because she believed that, amongst her own relations, she would not be in danger. We recall now what happened to Mr Kadirgamar, who did not allow the homes of his neighbours to be searched, in the belief that they were like him and could be relied upon.
It is in such a context that the government has had an uphill struggle to ensure the reintegration of moderate Tamils into the political process. It has taken an enormous amount of courage for such moderate Tamils to resume active participation in democracy and discussion, through the All Party Representative Committee, through elections, through involvement in executive action, in the Cabinet and now through the Task Force for the North. The courage of those who have taken this path against all odds, those in the TULF, the EPDP, PLOTE, the EPRLF-P, the TMVP and other groups, and so many individuals, must never be forgotten. The commitment of the government, that such moderate Tamils, groups and individuals, must never be abandoned again remains absolute, and it is the least that can be done for the brave lady of whom we are now bereft.
Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process
|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 24 June 2008 )|
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