The JVP, which is gifted with glibness, has dubbed the UNP Edawela Tours (a derisive term for a private bus, whose operations hinge on the daily income it generates). This epithet derives from the JVP argument that the UNP is shifting from issue to issue on a daily basis without a long term programme of action. Ironically, the JVP, which is calling others names, is also qualified for that sobriquet, given its penchant for populist campaigns without a specific goal in mainstream politics. Pot calling the kettle black! While the two main parties in the Opposition?whether the JVP, which is technically a part of the ruling UPFA coalition, belongs to the Opposition may be debatable?have reduced themselves to Edawela Tours, the government is proceeding like an outstation driver lost in the Colombo city owing to the new traffic arrangements. Its confusion knows no bounds. It keeps taking wrong turns and moving both ways along one-way roads, creating mayhem. Worse, it signals left and turns right causing others coming behind it?especially the olden Reds?to slam the brakes on. The latest wrong turn it took was the forcible eviction of Tamils from lodges in Colombo. Booked for the offence, the driver of the UPFA juggernaut is now trying to pass on the blame to the cleaner!
Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremenayake has owned up to the fact that the government made a mistake by adopting that draconian measure. He has told the media, as we reported yesterday, that the government regrets having done so. It has reassured the Tamils that there won`t be a repetition. It is a good gesture but the government, we believe, should have tendered an unqualified apology to the victims of its crass stupidity.
The Prime Minister dodged the most important question at his press briefing on Sunday: `Who is responsible for that blunder?` When the Tigers destroyed a Chinese vessel off the eastern coast some years ago, the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) tried to blame it on a third party. `Ghosts ahoy!` we said. We wonder whether the order for the controversial eviction carried out at an ungodly hour last Thursday had also come from a ghost.
If the Prime Minister is really clueless about who is responsible, we can refer him to a person who is in the know. Catch him and he will spill the beans. The man is plump and has thinning hair neatly combed and dyed. His trademark is a thundering moustache. Victor Perera is his name. Yes, he is the IGP. But, he shouldn`t be made a scapegoat for the government`s blunder, which has come home to roost. The government, we reckon, is preparing the ground for such action, if its claim that there has been an excess on the part of the police is anything to go by. The IGP has been in the police long enough and he is likely to pass on the blame to lesser minions. We only hope that investigations won`t lead to a poor Home Guard, who had nothing to do with evictions at issue, being sacked in the end, as is the way with probes in this country.
It is heartening that the government has pledged to desist from a repeat performance of the eviction drama. The poor lodgers can now have a good night`s sleep. But, the government has to take swift action to curb the high incidence of abductions, extortion and extra judicial killings. If those crimes are being committed according to a sinister plan to bring the government into disrepute, as the Prime Minister as well as the Sri Lanka Communist Party has claimed, then the government must go hell for leather to nab the perpetrators and clear its name. For a government which says it can defeat the LTTE, capturing lesser outfits should be child`s play.
Why should it be hesitant about appointing at least a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to probe the human rights violations? It may also appoint a separate PSC, as we argued the other day, to investigate the allegations against the Opposition.
The human rights situation in these parts of the country has become a real godsend for the Tigers. The whole caboodle of NGOs has now found something to hold on to in the South. They pretend that no human rights violations are happening in the Wanni. There is no talk of forcible child recruitment, extortion and killings etc., in the LTTE held areas. The government`s failure to bring the perpetrators of crimes in the South to book or at least grant the Opposition`s demand for a PSC has become grist for the LTTE`s mill.
The controversial eviction and its fallout eclipsed the anniversary of a mass murder. The 17th anniversary of the massacre of 600 policemen who surrendered to the LTTE in 1990 at the behest of President Ranasinghe Premadasa, who desperately sought to save a collapsing peace process at any cost, fell yesterday. Neither the government nor the police did anything to remember those men who were driven into the jaws of the Tigers. Not even the UNP leaders who were in the Premadasa government at that time uttered a word about those men whom they betrayed! A political windbag of the UNP on Sunday called upon the government to resign over last week`s forcible removal of lodgers. The UNP has a right to make such demands. But, did the JRJ government resign over the 1983 riots that it instigated? Did the Premadasa government resign over the massacre of policemen? Does he think the Rajapakse government is any different from those two regimes?
Now that the government has admitted it made a blunder by removing lodgers, it ought to take corrective action to rectify other lapses that have led to the deterioration of the human rights situation. And fast!