Paranagama Report self-contradictory- Suresh Premachandran
Leader of the
Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), one of the
constituents of the four party Tamil National Alliance (TNA), and former
Jaffna district parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran told the Sunday
Observer in a brief interview that the Maxwell Paranagama Commission
report that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tabled in Parliament
Tuesday was self-contradictory and held the Sri Lankan army, a
responsible state institution, on a par with the LTTE, a militant
The next follow
up action of the government on the report would be establishing a
judicial mechanism to conduct investigations.One has to wait to see
whether the judicial mechanism will be credible, what role members of
the international judiciary will play, whether punishment would be meted
out to the offenders or whether they will be given a general amnesty,
Q: What are
your views on the Maxwell Paranagama Commission report that the Prime
Minister tabled in Parliament Tuesday?
The report that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tabled in Parliament
recently touches on various matters relating to the reported war crimes,
crimes against humanity and human rights violations during the last 12
hours of the final battle. On the one hand, the report blames the LTTE
for holding civilians as human shields which, consequently, led to their
deaths in the cross-fire.
The report has also accused the LTTE of indiscriminate firing into
the 'no-man's zone' where there was a huge concentration of civilians,
resulting in a large number of deaths. The report says that the Sri
Lankan Army could not differentiate between combatants and non-combatant
civilians, mingled together, because they were all clad in civilian
The army did not have any intentions of killing civilians or
attacking civilian hospitals, the report says. But the Army is a
responsible government institution and its main function is protecting
the citizens of the country, irrespective of ethnicity or race and that
is why the Army is known as the security forces. How can Justice Maxwell
Paranagama who is a legal luminary having held the highest judicial
positions justify the Army killing hundreds of civilians merely because
a handful of LTTE cadres had mingled amidst them?
It should have been their prime duty to identify and isolate
combatants. The Army is functioning under a government and a President
elected by the people. The President, the government and the Army that
is functioning under them have a responsibility by the people and it is
their primary duty to protect their lives. I do not know what actually
happened during the last hours of the final battle but the bounden duty
of the government security forces should have been protecting the lives
of non-combatant civilians. How can the Commission equate the Army with
the LTTE ?
Q: The report
has recommended a judicial mechanism, with the participation of the
Commonwealth and international judiciary, to go into details of the
Channel 4 documentary and killings of top rung LTTE cadres who
surrendered with white flags. Your comments?
The report also talks about issues that merit investigations under an
international mechanism, including the the Channel 4 documentary,
killings of those who surrendered with white flags, including Pulithevan,
Nadesan and his wife and the killing of Prabhakaran' son Balachandran,
their media coordinator Isaipriya and others.
As far as I am aware the senior cadres who surrendered had contacts
with internationally prominent persons and journalists until the last
movement. A BBC correspondent was conveying their decision to surrender
to the UN and other concerned international authorities.
The then advisor to the UN Secretary General, Vijay K. Nambiar was in
Colombo on that day and the message having been conveyed to him was
reportedly conveyed to the government hierarchy by him. But, in spite of
it, fire was opened at those who surrendered with white flags. Some
reports say that they were arrested and killed later. Worse still, some
200 senior and important cadres who surrendered on that occasion were
consequently boarded into a bus and there has been no information about
them since then. If these are not war crimes or crimes against humanity
what else are ?
Q: You are not
happy with the Paranagama Commission report ?
Not only me, even the people who attended the Commission sittings to
give evidence said that they were not happy with the proceedings and the
recording of their statements. The international Community, including
the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) also criticised the
commission inquiries. It is apparent that the reports are efforts to
project an altogether different picture to the local and international
communities on reported war crimes, crimes against humanity and
violation of human rights. But I must point out that there are
differences of views within the constituents of the TNA on the matter.
The Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchy (ITAK), the main constituent of the
TNA , supports the government on establishing a judicial mechanism and
holding credible investigations. But I am of the view that a local
mechanism, even with the participation of the Commonwealth and
international judiciary, will not do justice to the victims and the
affected families because we have the bitter experience of all such past
exercises. The Tamils have been deceived over and again. We do not know
what role the members of the international judiciary will play and what
type of mechanism will be established.
Q: There have
been many inquiries at local and international level and the reports
have been submitted, especially the LLRC report, incorporating
recommendations on reconciliation and remedial measures. What kind of
justice or compensation do you seek in respect of affected families ?
The Tamils are victims of war crimes and the need for justice to
them should be recognised and sought for, by all stakeholders. The Sri
Lankan legal framework does not have the capacity to mete out justice
which the UNHRC too has clearly pointed out. Even the Paranagama
Commission report has recommended inquiries on a par with international
standards and with the prominent participation of international lawyers
and judges. Secondly, demilitarisation should form part of such justice
which even the LLRC and the UNHRC have recommended.
The Minister in charge of rehabilitation and resettlement says that
the Army is not cooperating with him on the matter of land release. In
such a situation how can we anticipate justice and fairplay for the
Tamils ? Before we talk about what kind of remedy or compensation should
be offered to the affected people, we must make certain that justice is
meted out to them.