South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission was a waste of Tax Payers money – so will Sri Lanka’s!

Any truth & reconciliation commission that shies from exposing the true players who trained, armed and funded militancy in Sri Lanka as well as provide covert & overt support that led to the 3 decade bloodshed should be denounced, named & shamed. These players include foreign nations, foreign politicians including the Church who have openly and unabashedly supported terrorists as evidenced in their statements and actions as well as a plethora of photos to prove.

Sri Lanka’s politicians wriggle & accept any proposal so long as it assures to keep them in power & protect their positions. Framing Sri Lanka’s TRC on the South African model is as bizarre as any could imagine. For starters, what Sri Lanka experienced has nothing to do with what South African’s experienced. There is absolutely no comparison between the two. Nevertheless the much hyped South African TRC is not without criticism. The Freedom Front declared South Africa’s TRC to be a waste of taxpayers’ money & advised it to close down. 37 ANC members were initially given amnesty which was regarded as unlawful while the TRC also undertook to pay the legal fees of the 37 ANC members. One can imagine what Sri Lanka’s TRC would end up doing too!

The widow of late South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani too echoed that the South African TRC was a waste of tax payers money.

The widow of the assassinated (10 April 1993) South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a waste of taxpayers’ money.

The South African TRC like Sri Lanka’s TRC is one mooted with hidden political goals. South Africa did not identify wrong doers & punish them to serve justice to the victims, instead the mechanism was to have everyone say “sorry” and all to be forgiven & forgotten! This is ironically the Church-forgiveness system while ironically major players of the Church were complicit in LTTE’s crimes. While this was taking place at a public level, beneath the TRC “reconciliation” was dabblig in political reform, which is what Sri Lanka’s TRC aims to do on the guise of reconciliation. We saw this happening when the LTTE got reparations for killing people! Most of you would remember who in Sri Lanka’s Parliament voted to give compensation to LTTE murderers.

South Africa’s TRC failed to hear the land issues where blacks had their lands taken over, the TRC did not hear the issues related to the education system where blacks are discriminated in their own land, the TRC did not hear the role of foreign companies who were making merry from apartheid. What exactly was the justice when the core problems were not being heard? Is this not the going to be the same sop story for Sri Lankans! Will the Sri Lankan TRC question India & its role in training Tamil militancy? Will Sri Lanka’s TRC question the foreign governments & foreign politicians who provided material support to LTTE & even attended their functions? Will Sri Lanka’s TRC question the Church & its fathers/sisters for supporting LTTE over the years? Will Sri Lanka’s TRC question other prominent members of Sri Lankan society who also had liaisons with the LTTE? Will Sri Lanka’s TRC hold individual state officials (now retired) criminally responsible for helping LTTE? If this is not going to happen, we can determine the failure of Sri Lanka’s TRC even before it commences!

For those who parrot that Sri Lanka needs a TRC like South Africa would like to take note that the 1996 South African TRC failed to give justice to the victims of apartheid while apartheid continues even in 2023. However, the LTTE was vanquished in 2009 and no LTTE attacks has taken place since 2009 without any western-TRC framework.

The Social Justice Coalition claims that in black townships of South Africa there is only one policemen for every 1043 persons while in white towns there is a policemen for every 173 persons. If anyone claims there is discrimination in Sri Lanka, all they need to do is take a list of all the wholesale, retail, gem industry, communication, tea industry, garment industry, tile & toiletry, poultry and many other industries & look at its ownerships. This will reveal the startling truth as to the prominence of minorities in key places including their habitation in the capital Colombo. The minorities of Sri Lanka dominates most of the key trades & industries in Sri Lanka and this can be statistically proven.

Sri Lankans must take further note of the costs involved. South Africa had appointed 7 commissions since 1995 which had cost R286million without producing ANY OUTPUT.

Imagine Sri Lankans being further burdened on top of the tax increases and price hikes!

Sri Lanka’s 30 years of terrorism cannot be compared to South Africa’s black-white apartheid rule.

South African TRC created in 1996 by 2013 the Commission itself declared that the “South African society is now more violent than it was under apartheid” – this was said by none other than Bishop Desmond Tutu. He was one of the key players who also played a significant pro-LTTE role being signatory to statements that were championed by those who were pro-LTTE.

South African blacks suffered apartheid from 1948-1990. Sri Lanka’s LTTE prevailed from late 1970s to May 2009, though the suit-bearing LTTE still remain to politically win the separate state that LTTE strove to do with the gun. What reconciliation without dealing with the attempt to separate Sri Lanka part!

South Africans suffered institutionalized racism – there is no such in Sri Lanka. In fact the minorities call the shots in Sri Lanka more than the majority who are divided in every form thinkable.

Nelson Mandela is deemed everyone’s hero, but did he change the status quo or did he come to power on an agreed compromise formula where status quo of the whites would remain untouched! The compromise Mandela had to agree to was giving amnesty to the white minority who had committed injustice. What is the use for a TRC that omits justice for apartheid crimes! This is no different to holding a TRC in Sri Lanka and forgiving LTTE for all its sins!

The dark horses that moot the benevolence of a TRC is the usual culprits – the western funded faith-based organizations, NGOs and other civil society who look forward to getting positions and poking their noses into national systems on behalf of their paymasters.

South Africa’s TRC was given 24 months to complete their task – international commissioners were not appointed, however Mandela’s appointees were unequal with whites being over represented.

Whites some of whom were not participating in apartheid crimes were indirect beneficiaries – no different to how some Tamils benefitted from LTTE terror.

South Africa’s TRC failed to consult bulk of ordinary South Africans who were direct victims – it is highly likely Sri Lanka’s TRC will not reach out to the poor victims of LTTE too. South Africa’s Constitutional Council upheld the constitutionality of removing victims right to legal redress. An area that Sri Lanka needs to look at too.

Another key area is why the Church should determine the type of forgiveness, repentance, given the role taken by TRC Chairman Bishop Tutu? We have not forgotten that the same Tutu encouraged national leaders not to attend CHOGM summit in Colombo and questions his practice of “love & forgiveness”.

Why should a TRC be structured around Christian confession system – confess to sins & be abolished of all sins. Even in a court – declare oneself “guilty” and get a lighter sentence! White leaders Botha & de Klerk refused to admit they had done anything wrong. It is highly unlike LTTE would admit to anything either – given that Prabakaran is feets underground!

What is laughable is that the South African TRC was empowered to grant amnesty to perpetrators who confessed their crimes “truthfully” – a bit of rehearsals meant the worst offenders were let go.

Other inconsistencies were the manner in which white victims were given disproportionate opportunity to speak at public hearings and no doubt Sri Lanka’s TRC is unlikely to hear victims of LTTE crimes too! Will Sri Lanka’s TRC give prominence to ordinary civilians who were victims of LTTE or as UNHRC did spend time wondering what happened to LTTE posing as “civilians”.

South Africa’s TRC took testimony of 21,000 victims – 2000 appeared in public hearings, 7112 amnesty applications were received and amnesty was granted to 849.

Who are we to reconcile with? Terrorists? Why should we reconcile with terrorists? We have no issues with Tamils and Tamils have no issues with Sinhalese. It is only the pro-separatist LTTE Tamils and paid or hired Sinhalese who have been tasked to drum there is a problem as it serves their paymasters to create a notion of a problem and on this guise infiltrate into the legislative, administrative national systems in Sri Lanka and make changes advantageous to them. It is a pity that even the learned politicians in parliament fail to see the modus operandi, or even if they see it, they prefer to compromise the nation to hang on to their political power.

So far, no one has been able to provide a list of the thousands of Tamils supposed to have been killed. The commemorations are all for dead LTTE and not Tamil civilians. It is laughable that foreign politicians are even attending these events and shedding crocodile tears. In the meanwhile, the LTTE romp has managed to creep into foreign systems and are also sitting in their parliaments. We do hope they carve out eelams in those respective countries sooner than later!


Shenali D Waduge

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