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Home > Sathyam - Truth is a Pathless Land > Human Rights & the Tamil Nation > Somasunderam Nadesan > On Genocide'58 - the Aftermath - Senator S.Nadesan Q.C.
Somasunderam Nadesan Q.C.
On Genocide'58 - the Aftermath
Senator S. Nadesan: Mr President, the circumstances under which we meet today are unprecedented perhaps in the history not only of this country but of the legislature of any country. I do not know if it has struck hon. Members of this House that we have met today in circumstances under which there is no effective representation, either in this House or in the other place, of a large section of the people of this country. That section has been deprived of representation in this House, of their views being heard in this House, by the Executive of this country.
Mr President, it is the very negation of democracy - one cannot conceive of a situation like that - when a whole section of the people deprived of their right to be heard in the Legislature of the land merely because it suits the Executive to do so. It is indeed a very serious position and I have not the slightest doubt that it is a matter to which we have to address our minds at the very outset.
After all, so far as the Federal Party is concerned, that party had put forward its political programme years ago. It sought to achieve a federal constitution for the purposes of solving the linguistic and other difficulties that have arisen in this country. As hon. Senators may be aware, a federal constitution has been found to a very satisfactory solution to problems related to multi-national States the world over; and if a political party has that in view, there is nothing objectionable in that. But the Federal Party went a little further.
Right throughout the years, it has been publicly proclaiming that if it did not obtain a federal constitution by constitutional agitation, then it would be compelled to resort to what it termed civil disobedience. In other words, it would select particular laws of the land and by disobeying those laws, practising satyagraha and inviting its members to be punished for such disobedience, it rather foolishly thought that it would be able to convince this Government of the correctness of the position it took up.
It little realised when it thought of satyagraha that it was dealing not with a Government sensitive to such finer considerations, not with a Government with a long history of democracy and democratic principles, but with a Government representative of the most feudal and semi-feudal elements of this country. It thought that by those methods it would be able to obtain its demands. It thought that by resorting to civil disobedience it would make it incumbent upon the Government, as the guardian of the laws of the land, to have its members prosecuted and suitably punished. With that view, no one can quarrel.
As a matter of fact, hon. Senators might remember that I was one of those who blamed this Government on the floor of this House for not enforcing the law in respect of the anti "Sri" campaign launched by the Federal Party. I stated that the Government should bring all offenders to book, irrespective of who they were, and punish them according to the laws of the land...
But it is a totally different proposition if the Government makes use of an emergency of this nature and puts under house arrest Members of Parliament and Senators - at least one of them may have been returned for the specific purpose of voicing the grievances of their people - and this at a time when excesses of all kinds may be committed, when this very Executive may be called to account for its own conduct.
After all, the leaders of the Federal Party are the elected representatives of the people, and in this instance are the elected representatives of a minority. Whether one agrees with their politics or not, it must be admitted that they were elected, like many other Members of the other place, on the suffrage of the people. To deny them the right to attend Parliament, to restrain them from discharging their functions as elected representatives of the people, is a violation of democracy.
If the Government is of the view that the activities and policies of these elected representatives constitute a danger to the State, they should be charged in a court of law. They must be called upon to answer specific charges in respect of laws they are alleged to have violated. If the charge against the members of the Federal Party is that they have indulged in racial propaganda for instance of course, I am not saying that they did then that charge may be, and can be, made against many others, some of whom are in the Government ranks. All those who have incited racial passions have not been detained.
Some have chosen to insinuate — in that category I include the very Head of the Government itself — that the Federal Party and its leaders were planning an armed insurrection. Nothing openly has been said. Vague insinuations are made that the Federal Party was planning an armed insurrection. If this were true, it must be on the basis of evidence. It is the duty of the Government, if it believes in democracy, to place this evidence before a court of law and seek to bring home the charge of armed revolt or of attempting to organize an armed revolt against those charged...
The Federal Party posed certain problems which are real. It offered and campaigned for a solution of those problems. If the Government thought differently, it should have posed the problems in a way which would have been acceptable to the people and submitted a solution that would have resolved the problems. Instead of that, the Government has thought it prudent to detain Members of Parliament.
Now, I propose to deal, here and now, with this sort of vague insinuation of sedition or attempted sedition that has been made against the Federal Party. When is it that the Government became aware that the members of the Federal Party were guilty of sedition? If it is sedition to ask for a federal constitution, then, of course, they have been committing sedition for the last several years. Why were they not prosecuted, why were they not punished? If it is sedition to talk of civil disobedience, then they have been committing sedition for the last several years. Why were they not prosecuted, why were they not punished in respect of that sedition?
As a matter of fact, you will remember it was only the other day that the Prime Minister of this country negotiated with the Federal Party and its leaders who at that time had stated that federalism was their goal and that civil disobedience was one of the methods they intended adopting. He negotiated with that party and arrived at a pact to which reference has been made earlier. How comes it that the Head of this Government, only a year ago, was prepared to negotiate with a party if he thought that that party was guilty of sedition or treasonable activity against the State? This story that has been put across, this sort of insinuation that has been made against the Federal Party and, incidentally, against the entire Tamil people at a juncture like this is merely an attempt on the part of the Government to create an alibi in respect of its own misdeeds...
I take it that if they had not been organizing an armed insurrection against the State, there is no other reason why they should have been detained, because what they had been doing earlier was to preach the gospel of civil disobedience as a method of obtaining their demand in respect of federalism. That is all they have done. So that, if nothing further has happened, there is absolutely no reason why any one of these persons should have been detained...
We were discussing the last few days the question of the privileges of Parliament. I say that unless and until the Government vindicates itself by having the entirety of these men who are detained prosecuted for specific offences and, if found guilty, punished, it would be guilty of the grossest betrayal of democracy.
Much has been said about restoration of goodwill between the various communities. Does the Government seriously consider that there can be any good will between the various communities inhabiting this country when the representatives of one of these communities are incarcerated and that community is prevented from expressing its views in the Legislature of the land? Is it really in earnest when it says that it wants to restore confidence and amity?
In this connection, I can do no better than quote to you what the Manchester Guardian of 25th June, 1958, has to say with regard to this question and the allied question of censorship, unprecedented again in the history of any Commonwealth country during peace time. This is what the Manchester Guardian of 25th June, 1958, says:
There of course, the Manchester Guardian is all wrong because this "new sense of urgency" was there even last year in the Governor-General's Speech -
That is what the Manchester Guardian tells Mr Bandaranaike, and I hope he will at least heed the words of an impartial observer. It goes on to say:
That, Mr President, is the view of an independent paper with regard to this question.
Another unprecedented feature is, of course, the type of censorship that has been imposed during the past few weeks by this Government. The Hon. Prime Minister, in the course of his observations made in the other place - and some of the Members of the Government have also said so - stated that this censorship was essential because the Government did not want to create or increase communal tension. That is a very laudable object. In other words, one should censor, even if true, such things which are capable of rousing communal passions; and it is on that basis that we ourselves, by means of a Committee of this House, have been proceeding in regard to the ,speeches delivered in this House.
But, Mr President. what do we find? Under the pretext of imposing a censorship with a view to easing communal tension, we find that the Government has been carrying on a propaganda of its own against not only the various political parties in the country but also against the Tamil people. With this aspect of the matter, I propose to deal at a later stage when I shall endeavour to give you the fullest references to justify the charge I am making against the Government.
The Speech of His Excellency refers to the last session of Parliament as one of "considerable achievement" and instances the various legislative measures passed during that session. It also makes various promises with regard to the future.
I do not propose to deal at length with what has been said in the Governor-General's Speech in regard to the "achievements" of this Government during the past year; nor do I propose to deal at length with regard to the promises of the Government for the future because this Government has, by its conduct, shown that it is not possible for anybody to place any reliance on its promises.
If I may give you one illustration, this is what His Excellency said in the course of his Speech on 13th June, 1957:
In other words, it was not merely a pious hope; so far as regional councils were concerned, it had gone beyond the stage of mere consideration because, according to the Speech of the Governor-General, a Bill had already been prepared and was to be presented for implementation.
This was last year. On 13th June, 1957, the Governor-General said in his Speech that a Bill had been prepared and would be presented for consideration. That Bill was never presented for consideration. That was long before this present context arose.
When Government says that a Bill is ready and will be presented for consideration, we expect Government to do so, unless of course - as Senator Dunuwille thinks - the Government even at that point of time felt that these difficulties would arise and was preparing for these difficulties, or that some of the Members of the Government anticipated that these difficulties would arise.
But, however desirable the passage of this Act may be, it must be recognized that no Act of Parliament can increase the happiness of the people of a country in which there is no respect for law and order. Ever since this Government came into power, there has been a progressive disregard of law and order, both on the part of the people and on the part of the Government, culminating in the unfortunate incidents of the past few weeks, the consequences of which will remain with us for a long time to come.
His Excellency's Speech states that the Government is taking all steps to maintain law and order and will take all measures required to restore peace, goodwill and confidence among various sections of the people of this country.
Similar statements regarding the determination of this Government to uphold law and order and to create communal harmony have been made by spokesmen of the Government in the past, but those statements ended in words and not in actions.
Besides, the Government must realize as has been suggested by the Manchester Guardian, that it is not the Government of the Sinhalese alone, elected by them to safeguard the interests of the Sinhalese population, but that it is the Government of the entire country, and that it is under a solemn duty to be absolutely impartial in the administration of the country. A Government which does not hold the scales evenly between different classes of its citizens is a lawless Government, and therefore a Government which is incapable of maintaining law and order or of restoring confidence.
Hon. Senators may be aware that, after India attained independence, there were serious communal clashes in that country, but the Government of India was able to restore confidence and was able to create a certain amount of amity in a very short time, mainly because the Government was well known to be fair and just as between the various communities inhabiting that country.
The record of this Government so far is not calculated to inspire confidence in its sense of justice and fair play. Hon. Senators may be aware of the fact that the M.E.P. obtained considerable support from Tamil voters outside the Northern and Eastern Provinces because, unlike the U.N.P., the M.E.P.'s election manifesto stated that, while making Sinhalese the official language, it would give recognition for the reasonable use of the Tamil language.
One of the first acts of the Government was to redeem its pledge to the Sinhalese voters by making Sinhalese the official language. As to the other part of the election pledge - recognition for the reasonable use of the Tamil language - its implementation has been postponed.
The significance of this postponement has not failed to strike the Tamil people who naturally think that, so far as this Government is concerned, it considers that a pledge which it gave to the Sinhalese people is one which should be more speedily honoured than a pledge which it gave to the Tamil voters in the various electorates who, on the faith of that pledge, supported the M.E.P. Government.
The failure of this Government to afford adequate protection to Tamils who were the victims of the language disturbances on 5th June 1956, its omission to bring the offenders to book, its act of permitting criminal politicians to preach communal hatred and boycott in open defiance of the law, and the participation of some members of the M.E.P. - not to mention a few of its other prominent officials - in the anti-Tamil campaign are the other factors which are bound to hamper this Government in its task of restoring confidence.
Mr President, naturally, this Government is handicapped, by reason of its past in creating the conditions necessary for the swift restoration of confidence in all parts of the country and in the creation of amity between the two communities; and unless it does a tremendous amount of re-thinking with regard to this matter and is prepared to regard every question impartially, not from the point of view of any particular community, not from the point of view of any electoral advantage it may gain, but from the true interests of the country, I venture to say that it will not be able to solve any of the staggering problems that are facing it today.
I do not desire to travel at very great length into the past, but I conceive it to be my duty on an occasion such as this to make references to certain aspects of the emergency itself and the way in which this Government has handled it, because I do not want it to be said that the case for the Tamil people went by default at a time when their elected representatives were not available, save two or three of them, to represent their views in Parliament.
In this connection, I desire only to say that the very censorship imposed by this Government has been operating to the detriment of the Tamil people. Prior to the imposition of that censorship, every speech that had been made by any responsible spokesman of this Government was, unfortunately, detrimental to the interests of the Tamil people, I was wondering whether this was due to the fact that, so far as the Government spokesmen were concerned, in the country or whether it was due to the fact that they deliberately did not want to place before the people what was happening in the country.
Having considered the matter carefully, Mr President, I feel that one of the reasons why the Government has not been able to place the facts fully before the people of this country might be that, during the early days of the emergency, it had been completely misinformed by its own officers, for I cannot believe that any responsible Government would otherwise have placed before the people information which was calculated to inflame the Sinhalese against the Tamils.
Mr President, in this connection I might first refer to the interview which the Hon. Prime Minister gave the Daily News on the night of Sunday, 25th May, 1958, a report of which appears in the Daily News of the 26th May, 1958. This is how that statement starts:
Now, Mr President, does it require much imagination for one to understand that a statement like that, making specific references to a few unfortunate incidents in the Batticaloa districts, where four people lost their lives, and to some little unrest in the Polonnaruwa district which is under control, is one which, if anything, is calculated so far as the Sinhalese are concerned to give them the impression that their people are being shot in the Batticaloa district but elsewhere things are quiet? But what are the real facts? On that Sunday night, when the Hon. Prime Minister gave this view to the Daily News what really happened so far as Polonnaruwa, Hingurakgoda and that area was concerned?
Hon. Senators, perhaps, may not be aware of the fact that from the 22nd onwards, particularly on the 24th and 25th, there was virtually a reign of terror in the Polonnaruwa and Hingurakgoda areas, and it is unfortunate that the authorities did not apprise the Prime Minister of the true facts.
The Hon. Prime Minister has made reference to the train incident of the 22nd; to the derailment of the train on the 23rd; to the shooting of Seneviratne on the night of Saturday, the 24th; and to various subsequent happenings.
But curiously enough, neither he nor the hon. Leader of this House has made the slightest reference to what will go down in history as the Polonnaruwa massacre. It is something about which we, the Members of this House or the. Members of the other place should have been told. There is no reason why it should have been hidden from us at all. It is not something which is going to create tension so far as we are concerned at any rate.
Mr President, here are the facts with regard to the Polonnaruwa incidents, and I propose, as far as it lies in my power, to give an under estimate with regard to what has happened from the various bits of information that I have been able to collect.
The Federal Party Convention was to take place on the 24th, 25th and 26th May. At Polonnaruwa a determined effort was made from the 22nd onwards to prevent people from travelling to the Federal Convention. Hon. Senators may be aware of the fact that on the 22nd night, at Polonnaruwa Station, a large mob invaded the train, went into various compartments and finding that all the Tamils who were proceeding to Vavuniya had got down at Welikande Station, pulled out just the few people left in the train and assaulted them.
Of course, we know the story with regard to the derailment of the train on the 23rd. On the 24th, that is, Saturday, we heard the story of how a number of people who were travelling along those roads waylaid, pulled out and assaulted. The number of assaults is within the region of a thousand.
On the afternoon of the 24th, began the real reign of terror in Polonnaruwa. A large gang armed with all sorts of weapons, including guns, waylaid and assaulted a large number of Tamils. That night they entered the Government Sugar Farm at Polonnaruwa, chased away the people and killed a large number of Tamils in that farm. The number of those massacred on Saturday night and on Sunday has been estimated at anything from 150 to 300.
The estimates vary from 150 to 300 killed. But I do not propose to rely on the estimate of 150 given by a Government official of the highest standard. So far as I am concerned, I propose to place the number at 50, not 150. I am quite content with it.
I do not propose to take as correct one single figure the Government gives in respect of this matter. But I say I am willing to take 50 as the number of people massacred, not 150, in the Sugar Farm - not in the North-Central Province - at Polonnaruwa. Hundreds of people were assaulted and numbers of people were raped on the 24th night and on the 25th, which was a Sunday.
Then, at Hingurakgoda, no less than 30 people were killed. Hundreds of people were assaulted and chased away. A number of people were raped. At least two people known to me were burnt: one, the unfortunate clerk of the Sugar Plantation at Polonnaruwa; the other, a person who was found burning on the open streets at Hingurakgoda by some newspaper reporters.
Those are the incidents which happened on the night of the 24th, and on the 25th. It is not right for us to exaggerate the figures. I am giving these facts for a totally different purpose. How comes it that when on the 24th night and on the 25th there was a virtual reign of terror at Polonnaruwa and at Hingurakgoda, which had been earlier preceded by a number of incidents of violence, that the Hon. Prime Minister said on the 25th night:
Why did he not put it the other way? Why did he not say: "There have been a number of people running amok in the Polonnaruwa district killing a number of people and there is also a little unrest in the Batticaloa district"? Why was his emphasis on the Batticaloa district? Why were the Polonnaruwa incidents not mentioned at all?
It was unfortunate that the Head of the Government was not supplied promptly with all the necessary information by the local authorities in respect of important matters, with the result that the country was presented with a distorted picture.
Hon. Senators will not realise why one cannot attribute all the violence that took place on Saturday night to the shooting of Seneviratne in Eravur on Saturday night. The one had no connection with the other. Yet, as a result of proper information not being supplied, the Prime Minister, in the course of his observations on a later occasion, said that the whole trouble arose as a result of the shooting of Seneviratne at Eravur. That was not so.
It is not my purpose on an occasion such as this to apportion blame to the Sinhalese, as a people, or to the exonerate the Tamils as a people. As a matter of fact, the recent unfortunate incidents have clearly demonstrated that, so far as the vast masses of the people are concerned, whether they be Sinhalese or Tamil, they are certainly not prone to excesses of this nature; but there are certain features which we have to remember if we are to find an appropriate solution to the various problems that concern us.
There is no use hiding facts. Whether 50 people have been killed or 100 people have been killed at Polonnaruwa is not the question. The fact is that there was lawlessness on a large scale. Apart from the number of people killed, what about the number of people who have been raped? What about the number of people who have been assaulted, who have been thrashed? The number of people subjected to such treatment runs into hundreds thousands. What about the number of shops that were looted? All that has happened. We have to remember that.
Our people must be told these facts, so that they may hang their heads in shame, so that communal leaders may never again think of rousing communal passions and starting communal campaigns of this nature. All that is absolutely essential. There is no use getting away from these facts by not telling about them even to Members of Parliament.
Then what happened at Polonnaruwa and Hingurakgoda? I have got a whole catalogue of incidents but it is not necessary for my purpose to refer to the entirety of them. I just want to give a few instances of what took place.
What happened after the 26th? A most shameful incident took place in which the entirety of Tamil attendants in a hospital, men and women of the Naha Oya Hospital, were massacred in cold blood in the presence of a few patients. The number of dead bodies in the hospital, incidentally, was 12 while the total number recovered from the area was 18. That is something which the Government is not aware of!
I would go further and mention another incident. Government, if it had been given correct information, would know that on Sunday, the 25th, the Record Room of the Magistrate's Court at Polonnaruwa was broken into and as many as 100 guns kept there for production - unlicensed and licensed - were removed by a mob. Government may perhaps know that those guns were used and a number of people were shot on that Sunday. That was something that happened at 10 a.m. on Sunday, the 25th.
The Hon. Minister of Justice says that he has not, up to date, been informed of the fact that the Magistrate's Court Record Room was broken into and as many as 100 guns kept there for production were removed. What are we to do? We are living in a country where Members of the Government are not given information in respect of these matters. The Hon. Minister of Justice does not know it. If he knew it, possibly, he would have insisted that, not only the guns in the Batticaloa and Jaffna districts be returned but that guns in the Polonnaruwa district also be returned.
As it is, as a result of the complete ignorance of this Government with regard to what happened at Polonnaruwa - the complete ignorance of the Government that the Record Room of the Magistrate's Court at Polonnaruwa had been broken into and as many as 100 guns were removed and that the mob was going about shooting people and killing them all over the place - the Government found itself in the position of proclaiming that it was dangerous for Jaffna to have guns, that it was dangerous for Batticaloa to have guns. But so far as Polonnaruwa was concerned, it was all right for the mob to freely remove guns from the Record Room! That is the way things are done.
It is not necessary for me to refer at length to the various acts leading to the burning of shops and to the assaults that took place in practically every town in the South. Some of those incidents we ourselves have witnessed or are aware of. However, there was this singular incident which I must mention. After the curfew was proclaimed, on Tuesday or Wednesday evening, in broad daylight in the town of Galle, in the Main Street, a Tamil shop Gomes & Co was broken into in the very presence of the police and the looted articles were taken away in lorries without any let or hindrance.
Can one imagine that after the emergency was proclaimed by this Government, in the very heart of the town of Galle, in broad daylight people broke open a Tamil shop, looted the articles and removed them in lorries in the presence of the police? That is the seriousness with which the police and the people treated this state of emergency so far as certain parts of the country were concerned.
What does that show? It shows that there are police officers in certain parts of the country who certainly are not prepared to carry out orders which even the Government might desire them to carry out. It is a very serious state of affairs. Why, on Wednesday, after the emergency was declared, we had the spectacle, in the very presence of the police, of a shop being burnt down at Nugegoda?
I should like to assure the House that I do not want in any way to say anything which might have the slightest appearance of exaggeration. That is why I reduced even the number of dead from 150 to 50. The hon. Leader said it was 52.
Now, Mr President, if this Government really desires to promote communal amity and harmony, it must, first of all, be prepared frankly to admit the nature and extent of the damage that has been done to the Tamil people as well as to the Sinhalese people in any part of the country. The mere statement that the damage done to the Tamil people is large, the number of Tamils killed is large, the number of atrocities committed on Tamils is large, is no reason why this Government, which is not a Sinhalese Government but a Ceylonese Government should hesitate at all to say.
That is the first step necessary if you really desire to restore confidence and rightly feel that you can restore communal amity and harmony in this country. If you shrink from taking that step, as you have shrunk so far, then I venture to think that it will be impossible for you to solve this.
So far as the Tamil areas are concerned, it has been admitted on all hands that in the Jaffna peninsula — I am stating that not with a view to claiming credit for the Tamil people or for anything of that kind but for the purpose of stating a particular fact — not a single Sinhalese man was killed and not a single Sinhalese woman was molested. There was, of course, an unfortunate incident when, I believe, the Buddhist priest in charge of the Naga Vihare was assaulted when he tried to defend himself. That was all.
It is also admitted that in the case of a number of Sinhalese shops, their things were taken out, put on the road and burnt. That happened as a result of people narrating certain incidents that took place in the South. Also, it is unfortunate that so far as the rest of the Northern Province was concerned, four Sinhalese people were killed by gunshot; but no woman was molested and no atrocity committed.
In the Eastern Province, particularly in the Kalkudah area which adjoins the Polonnaruwa area, a few Sinhalese people were shot after the unfortunate incidents in Polonnaruwa. The number did not exceed five or six. Then some huts of the fisher folk were burnt at Eravur, but no Sinhalese woman was molested nor atrocities of any kind were committed.
Of course, so far as Jaffna is concerned, it is unfortunate that both the Naga Vihare and Nagadipa were damaged. That was after the story had reached of the damage done to the temples at Panadura and Kalutara. I am definitely of the view that it is absolutely important that the true facts, all these facts and more, a complete catalogue of the facts, should be presented to the people of this country if we are going to remove tension among them because the Sinhalese in particular are under the impression that the Tamils have been guilty of all sorts of outrages against them, and what is more that the Tamils have been rising in rebellion against the Government of this country. That is the impression that has been created by the propaganda that has been carried on by this Government.
Mr President, it has been stated on a number of occasions that the main reason for declaring this emergency was to bring about a reduction in the tension that exists. If that is so, I ask the reason why on the 31st of May or really on the 30th May this year the Prime Minister broadcast this message to the people:
One would like to know why a reference is made to the happenings in the Northern Province, that the police and the military had been-fired at. If the object of the censorship is to see that there is no tension, then does it require much imagination to realise that publication of news like that, particularly when other news is suppressed, will give a wrong impression to the Sinhalese people - to say that something had gone far wrong in Jaffna, that therefore, they were justified in the steps they had taken for all the atrocities that have been committed in the North? As a matter of fact, the Competent Authority on the 31st of May issued a statement to this effect:
This is the so-called censorship! The entirety of it, I take it upon myself to say, is, first of all, incorrect. But I am not at the moment concerned with the correctness or otherwise of these reports. Why was this published if the object was to reduce tension?
Why was the news that the position in the Northern Province was worsening published? I venture to say that if the object of these news items was to reduce tension, then they have been put over very incompetently by the Competent Authority.
But if the object was to build up a story of a rebellion in the Northern Province, then of course they were quite a good start. The rebellion in the North was satisfactorily suppressed by the 31st of May. Somebody's ingenious brain brought forth the idea that it would not be a bad thing if one could find an alibi for all the excesses that had been perpetrated by the unfortunate people in the South who had been misled by Communalists.
In fact, the vast mass of the people are not to blame for what has happened; the fact is that hoodlums, thugs and villains have been doing a lot of damage in the South.
So far as the Tamil areas were concerned, there was not that intense hatred of the Sinhalese - in contrast to the hatred against the Tamils which was roused by communalists and extremists in the South and. in other parts of the country.
In the Tamil areas there was a complete absence of atrocities as such, though there have been certain killings in the Batticaloa District as a result of what happened at Polonnaruwa. Naturally, there were reprisals in the North as a result of what happened in the South.
At this stage, somebody conceived the idea that there was a rebellion in the North. Of course, it will go down in the annals of this country that the M.E.P. Government successfully faced that rebellion and crushed it. It is also not unlikely that the suppression of that non-existent rebellion would be a feather in the cap of some M.E.P. stalwart because it would be regarded as a great military achievement of the highest magnitude.
The other point is that if you say there is a rebellion, it will help you to place certain people of that area under house arrest - people like Mr Chelvanayakam, for instance, and his associates. These are the likely people who could have begun this rebellion. It must be said that not even Mr Chelvanayakam or anybody else could have started a rebellion which did not exist. Hon. Senators may not believe that the people in the South have been greatly concerned about the plight of their children in the North, not knowing what would befall them as a result of this rebellion.
One distinguished person asked me: "What are these Tamil people doing to our boys in the North? Don't you think we should kill every Tamil in the South?" That is the sort of reaction one saw in the Sinhalese areas because of this mischievous story that there was a rebellion in the North. Feelings against the Tamils had been roused - and all because the Customs building had been burnt down and some police station in Jaffna had been burnt down!
But what happened when mobs invaded the railway station and threw stones at the Batticaloa Colombo train. We did not then say that the people had declared war on the Government. The moment a mob gets out of hand and burns down a Customs building in the North, that is a sign of some sort of rebellion planned by some secret organisation! Apparently, somebody has done a tremendous lot of detective work. This is something one can write a whole story about.
Unfortunately, the military were sent to the North to crush the rebellion that was going on there. Naturally, the military went prepared to meet this rebellion, really a non-existent rebellion. Let me give the House one fine example of what happened to them. They went along the KKS/Pallali Road and at Urumpirai they found quite a bit of road metal put on the road in front of a tea boutique. They approached the metal with caution; they picked up a piece and smelt it - after all, do not forget that they went to a place where there was a rebellion. The unfortunate people who were gathered in the tea boutique, laughed and giggled at this performance of the military. That laughter was sufficient provocation to burn down the boutique!
Hon. Senators may also know how, day after day, a radio announcement was made that Martin's boutique was burnt down as a result of this rebellion in the North. But no mention was ever made about the outrage committed in the Ratmalana, Mt. Lavinia and Dehiwela areas.
You may also remember how it was told that the Airport quarters at Pallali were burnt down. They stand intact. They have not been burnt down. Like that, all sorts of stories have been put on merely because Government was trying to create a rebellion. Actually, there was no question of anybody rising in revolt against the Government of this country..
In fact, it kept up this farce in this way. All schools in the south of Ceylon were opened on the 11th of June except schools in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, the only two Provinces where they could have been opened.
There were no Sinhalese students in them and nearly all the Sinhalese residents had come to Colombo. So that, there was no difficulty about students going to school in those areas. But one had to keep up this pretence that there was a rebellion. By the 16th the rebellion had been effectively suppressed.
The other point is that the curfew was shortened all over the Island, except in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. That, again, was to keep up the pretence that there was rebellion.
If the Government really wants to act fairly in respect of these matters, it is time that the people were told the truth. Otherwise, it will not be possible to restore amity. Why not tell the people the truth? There is nothing like the truth. The best solvent for all our difficulties is truth. There is no use holding back these facts, because they are bound to come out. No one can suppress, for instance, from the Hon. Minister of Justice the fact that a Magistrate's Court was broken into and as many as 100 guns were stolen. That is bound to come out, because it is a matter which could easily be checked up and verified. What is the use of suppressing such facts?
As a matter of interest, I should like to read a piece of news put out by the Competent Authority on the 31st May:
These unfortunate army men did not know that it was only a joke; they thought that it was a real rebellion. They looked at stones and thought that they were dynamite. They went round the countryside seeking for a punitive army; they went everywhere but could not find such an army. They were unaccustomed to the habits of the people of Jaffna, the farmers and the ordinary men who did not worry about the curfew but congregated in gardens and started talking to one another. They gained the impression that an organized civilian gang could be expected at any moment. Apparently they made such a report, although the expected gang never turned up. The news item goes on to says
They were not demolished. The residential quarters are still intact. What happened was that the furniture in the bungalow of one airport official had been taken out by some people and burnt. That was because certain people who had gone to the airport were exasperated that Tamil passengers had not been brought from Colombo to Jaffna. Such an incident did take place, and the news came here that the airport quarters had all been destroyed, as a result of which it was not possible to have civilian flights. The impression gained here was that the aerodrome itself had been demolished. To continue:
that is incorrect. —
Can one conceive of anything more ridiculous? Even if bungalows had been burnt down, why should civilian flights to and from Jaffna be cancelled? It gives the impression that the aerodrome was unfit for normal use by civilian aircraft.
Let me quote further:
The building are there. Any hon. Senator can go there and see for himself the Customs office and bungalow attached to it. It goes on to say -
No motor ferry has been destroyed by fire. It can be seen there today -
The point sought to be made by issuing this news item is that, except in these two areas where there is a rebellion, everywhere the situation is calm. I am not now concerned with the truth or otherwise of these statements. I only ask the Government, if the object of censorship is to reduce communal tension, did the publication of this news have the effect of reducing communal tension?
Let us concede for a moment that all these things happened and that this report is correct. If the object of imposing a censorship was to reduce communal tension, particularly by keeping away from the Sinhalese people the mass atrocities that had been committed at Polonnaruwa, Hingurakgoda, Badulla and all over the country, what purpose did you achieve by publishing this news item?
We all know that thousands have been assaulted and killed in the Sinhalese country. Thousands of people have been assaulted - which is worse than being killed, for the dead may not harbour a grievance - and hundreds of houses and boutiques have been looted. When you keep all that information away and publish information of this nature with regard to what is happening in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and at the same time say' that things are calm everywhere else, can you blame the Sinhalese people if they are inflamed against the Tamils?
Can you blame the average Sinhalese man today, under this very emergency, if he feels that the punishment that has been meted out to the Tamils is not good enough? Indeed, the very propaganda you are carrying on, the way in which you are operating this censorship, is calculated to create tension in the minds of the Sinhalese people and thereby make it more difficult for friendly relations to be established or for confidence to be restored.
There is no need at all today for this censorship to be continued in the way in which it is being done, for the reason that this censorship -the way in which it is being operated - is creating more and more communal tension. You say that there is peace all over the country today. That peace is due to the fact that the military and the police are in action. Whatever lawlessness there is today is the lawlessness of the military and the police; there is no other lawlessness. Of course, the excesses are there. But that does not mean that you have restored confidence, amity and friendship.
Reference has been made to the fact that the people are invited to go back to their homes and their normal avocations. It is rather difficult for Tamils to go to places like Ratmalana, Mount Lavinia, Panadura, Kalutara or Polonnaruwa, for instance, I do not know how it is possible for a Tamil to go back to a place where he has seen his kith and kin burnt alive. It is most unfortunate that a peculiar phenomenon of all these disturbances everywhere is that people have been burnt - Yes, burnt alive. I do not whether hon. Senators are aware of the fact that in Panadura, for instance, on Monday, 26th May, actually the pandaram of the Panadura Hindu Temple was taken out of the temple and at the roundabout, on the public road, petrol was poured on him and he was burnt in the presence of a large number of people. That is the type of thing that took place. At Polonnaruwa, too, burning took place.
That was on a false rumour of incidents elsewhere. The modus operandi appears to have been to create some sort of false story about some happening in the North which would infuriate the people, and then this sort of incident to take place. It also shows the extent to which the people can be roused. I shall deal with some of those cases presently.
I am willing to believe that the way that this propaganda has been carried on, and the way things have been presented, is partly due to the fact that the Government did not get correct information with regard to a number of matters. After all, it is quite easy for us to consider matters now and say, "This is how it should have been done."
But even at this stage I would appeal to the Government to present the stark, naked facts to the people, particularly at this time of emergency when we have the military and the police at hand. Let them be told the worst. There is no point in saying that they should not be told that Nagadipa and Naga Vihare have been damaged, that so many people have been killed, that thousands have lost their lives, that some people have lost their reason as a result of severe head injuries and that others have lost their reason as a result of their near and (bar ones being killed. Let these stories be told.
In this connection I propose to table in this House a copy of 'Sri Lanka'- which is an Information Department news sheet - of the 25th June, 1958, which reproduces a cartoon from the Times of India of the 30th May. The cartoon is captioned "Fruits of his labour." This is how the censorship is operating in the country.
That is a cartoon in respect of the Federal Party. The Federal Party is depicted as having attempted to pull down some coconuts and the coconuts are falling on the Federal. Party's head and there is Prime Minister Bandaranaike smoking his pipe, thoroughly enjoying the situation.
On a bag of coconuts is written "Tamil demands". The Federal Party head is seated on a stool with an umbrella plucking at the coconuts and the coconuts are falling on the Federal Party head, and there is Prime Minister Bandaranaike smoking his pipe and enjoying himself. This was published in the 'Sri Lanka' a Government publication, and in the newspapers. I have with me a copy of the original 'Times of India' where this cartoon appears.
No doubt the Tamils have got badly thrashed and are getting thrashed; there is no doubt about it and there is no doubt that Prime Minister Bandaranaike smokes his pipe and enjoys himself in the meanwhile.
But what I want to know is this: is it proper on the part of the Government in its Information Department publications to publish a cartoon, the nature of which means that it is the view of the Government Information Department that the Tamils are getting thrashed because of the Federal Party demand? The hon. Leader is, perhaps, one who never reads this Information Department journal 'Sri Lanka'; perhaps, he does well by not reading it.
Quite obviously the Competent Authority has himself not thought it fit to censor it.
The reason I am pointing out to some of these matters is this. We are passing through very difficult times. So far as the Government of this country is concerned, there is no doubt that it has, rightly or wrongly, contributed largely to the present state of affairs.
But, at the same time, why is it making the situation more difficult for itself, as well as everybody else, by carrying on propaganda of this nature against people who have been humiliated, insulted, thrashed and killed, due perhaps to the activities of the Federal Party? But, after all, what has the Federal Party said or done? They put forward a certain solution of the problem and the Tamil electorates which sent them into Parliament were entitled to ask for a solution of the problem on that basis.
I therefore earnestly desire to make this request of the Government. It is time the Government realized that it cannot fool the people of this country all the time by referring to a Tamil "rebellion" and by conjuring up before the people the illusion that it is saving Ceylon from a Tamil invasion. The Government cannot continue to do that; it will be found out. It is time the Government told the people the real truth with regard to the present state of affairs. It is only on such a basis that you can hope to build an edifice of unity in this country.
I have suggested that one of the main steps this Government should adopt for the purpose of restoring confidence in the people is to take the country into its confidence and tell the truth with regard to all these disturbances. The truth will reveal that there is a tremendous amount of hostility between the two races, and it will be very necessary for One to ascertain precisely the reasons for this conflict and hostility -before one can possibly suggest measures for remedying the present situation.
Mr. President, the fact does remain, and there is no use our trying to get away from it, that today our children attending school are being brought up completely ignorant of one another's culture. As a matter of fact, history is taught in our schools on the basis of the wars between the various Tamil kings and the Sinhalese Kings; how the Tamils overran the Sinhalese race, the historic battle between Dutugemunu and Elhara, and so on. These are the things that are being taught in our schools, with the result that the younger generation grows up in an atmosphere of hostility.
No doubt kings fought and tribal chiefs fought, but history can be re-written, emphasizing not the fights of tribal chieftains and kings but the co-operation of the peoples. Perhaps the hon. Parliamentary Secretary is not aware of the fact that in the old days Sinhalese kings fought Sinhalese kings and Tamil kings fought Tamil kings; Sinhalese kings had Tamil generals and Tamil kings had Sinhalese Generals; they had their armies and tribal levies. Sinhalese kings might have had Tamils under their command and vice versa. But so far as the peoples were concerned, the stream of co-operation went on.
If the Parliamentary Secretary will only go to places like Polonnaruwa and look at the ancient tanks of the country, he will see there the results of the fruitful co-operation between the Dravida and Aryan civilizations of this country. If he will only look at that aspect of the matter, he will realize that history can be re-written in that way. If he will look at his own language, he will find the extent of the contribution made to it by the Tamil language; and similarly, to Tamils civilization, culture and language, a remarkable contribution has been made by the Sinhalese.
In other words, if one is disposed not to think only in terms of the wars of kings but rather in terms of the fruitful cooperation of peoples and the interaction of their cultures - if that is emphasized and re-written as history, and if that is taught as history in our schools - we would lay the foundation of communal peace in this country. That is how history should be re-written, with a view to welding a united Ceylonese nation.
Even in regard to our recent history, is anybody ever taught that it was the labour of a Ponnambalam Arunachalam which revealed to a large extent to the Sinhalese people themselves the treasures of old Sinhalese art and architecture?
It was an Ananda Coomaraswamy who took these treasures to the whole world. Do our children know that? Are our children taught it? Is the immense evidence of cultural co-oeration between the two races brought to their knowledge? No. As a matter of fact, the fundamental cause of quite lot of the trouble that has arisen in the recent past is not even the rabble-rousers; it is the fact that we in this country are brought up to think of one another as enemies. In the classes in history, the foundation is laid for communal tension, and nowhere else.
It is a very serious matter for the Government to consider immediately, here and now, as to how our children should be educated with regard to the rich heritage of the past - whether they should be educated in such a way as to have respect and regard for one another and one another's culture...
So, in other words, the position is that there are a number of historical factors which have contributed to the present state of affairs. Apart from the historical factors, there are a number of economic factors.
It is an undoubted fact that today in the Public Service the Tamils occupy anything from 26 to 30 per cent of the total number of posts particularly in the clerical and other grades.
I happen to know the figures a little better than the Parliamentary Secretary and I propose to quote them straightway. This is a matter in respect of which, on more than one occasion, I had asked the Government on the floor of this House to publish the correct figures through the Information Department not only for the benefit of the public but also for the benefit of Members of the Government themselves.
On two occasions this question arose but on neither occasion were the figures given. If, as the hon. Parliamentary Secretary says, the position is that the number of Tamils in the Public Service is 50 per cent than the matter becomes even more difficult for the Tamil people.
The Parliamentary Secretary has increased the figure. The Prime Minister himself on one occasion, in the other place, raised it to even 65 per cent. He added 15 per cent. more to the Parliamentary Secretary's figure. All I wish to say is this. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary says that the number of Tamils in the Public Service is 50 per cent. I say the number is between 26 to 30 per cent.
Another hon. Senator says that possibly it is for staff officers. All that I would ask him to do is this. I think he has got a copy of the 1957 Civil List. Let him do us the honour of sitting down tonight, perusing this book and finding out whether the number of Tamil Civil List officers is 50 per cent or 40 per cent or less. Anyway, that does not affect the argument.
So far as the Members of this Government and the general public are concerned, they are under the impression that the Tamils occupy as much as 50 per cent. or, shall I say, as the Prime Minister said, 65 per cent. of the posts in the Public Service. That is the impression created.
Whether, in actual fact, it is so or not is immaterial; that does not affect the question. Anyway, the public are under the impression that the Tamils occupy, shall I say, a disproportionate position in the Public Service considering their numbers.
That is another fruitful cause of trouble because whether they actually occupy a number of places in the Public Service out of proportion to their numbers - and this is stated to be 50 per cent., then 65 per cent. or as somebody recently said 80 per cent; it does not matter so long as the percentage is high - it is calculated to create the necessary amount of communal tension.
Those remarks were made for that purpose. Propagandists outside make it 80 per cent. I suppose the larger the percentage, the greater the tension created. I have got the figures. I gave them on the last occasion on the floor of this House. In fact, I gave the figures on two occasions. I propose to read what I said than, so that hon. Senators may themselves see what the true position is.
This is what I said on 26th June 1957, in the debate on the Address of Thanks:
"As a matter of fact, things have come to such a pass that it was only the other day that even the Hon. Prime Minister in Parliament referred, as a fact, to the fiction that 60 per cent of the Public Service consists of Tamils. That is what the Hon. Bandaranaike said on the 19th of this month in the other place.
One can understand the effect of that statement on the minds of the Sinhalese people .... The House will remember that sometime ago the Hon. Dahanayake went round the country making such exaggerated statements, and I took the trouble, on the floor of this House, to give the actual figures; and I also suggested on that occasion, in the coarse of the debate on the Official Language Bill, that the Information Department might publish the correct figures both for the benefit of the Hon. Ministers of the Government and the people. But the Information Department has not done so.
Even on an earlier occasion, I had referred to the matter.
"I propose to refer to the HANSARD where the actual figures are given. On the 5th of July, 1956, I specifically mentioned this: 'Only the other day, the present Minister of Education in the course of a speech delivered during his election campaign, said that the Tamil man is sleeping on the Sinhalese man's mat and that 50 to 70 per cent of the jobs in the Public Service were filled by Tamils.'
I criticised that statement, and this is what I said:
'I have taken the trouble to find out the percentage of Tamil-speaking officers in the 1955 Civil Service down to Rural Court Presidents - the Civil Service, the Accountants' Service, the Auditors'' Service, the Police Service, the Ceylon Overseas Service, the various Ministers, D.R.O.s and Presidents of Rural Courts. The entire Civil List of 1955 has been analysed to find out whether there is the slightest justification for stating that the Tamil-speaking people in this country occupy positions in the Public Service so out of proportion to their numbers that any kind of unemployment problem among the Sinhalese can be solved by displacing Tamil-speaking personnel in the Public Service.'
I then went on to say this:
'I find that out of a total of 2,359 officers in the Civil List of 1955, the number of Tamil Officers if 741, which is 30 per cent.
A similar computation was made by me with regard to the General Clerical Service, the Quasi-Clerical Service, the Assistant Clerks Service, the Stenographers' Service, the Typists' Service and the Shroffs' Service, and the grand total of these officers is 12,213. Out of that, the total number of Tamil officers is 3,870 - 30 per cent.'
Thereafter, I went on to make these observations:
'Apart from these grades, there are so many other services, the lower grades - peons, watchers, workers in Government factories etc. When you take those people into account you find that the percentage of Tamil employees is not even 10 per cent; it is less than that, it is 5 to 6 per cent. The maximum percentage in the General Clerical Service and in the Civil List Officers is 30 per cent.'
That is what I said then and I also invited the Information Department to check on these figures and publish correct figures ..." (OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th June, 1957; Vol. 11, c.118-120).
Of course, if you take departments like accounting departments, engineering departments, and so on, and study the Civil List on that basis, the percentages may vary. On the other hand, if you take the overseas departments or the Police Department, the percentage of Tamils will be less. But these are the facts.
If he really wants, even now, to reduce tension in the country, I would suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance should immediately set about the task of compiling the actual statistics. Let us not forget facts. We need not be frightened of facts. After the statistics have been properly compiled, let some definite statement be made with regard to the actual facts.
Let us not forget the facts. We need not be frightened of facts. After the statistics have been properly compiled, let some definite statement be made with regard to the actual facts. Let us not forget the facts. Even if it is said that 30 per cent is higher than what the population warrants, that is a situation for which the Tamil people are not responsible. You cannot blame the Tamils. After all, it is unfortunate that they have to live in that part of the Island which has no good natural resources, which has land that is mostly barren, or not very fertile. They, naturally, have to concentrate on studies in order to go into the Public Service. They have no rubber or tea estates or other advantages.
All those difficulties are there. It is admitted, on all hands, that one of the prolific causes of this tension is Government employment. I told a number of Tamil people recently. "Please give up your Government jobs. What is the use of having Government jobs when your lives are in danger?"
Let them do anything after they give up their Government jobs. It does not matter what they do. The hon. Senator representing insurance companies is possibly thinking of premiums! If these Tamils who are insured give up their Government jobs, what will happen to insurance premiums? Otherwise
All that I am saying is this. One of the causes that produced all this tension is this heart burning about Government jobs. If that is so, I would earnestly suggest to the Government, here and now, that it should declare, as its policy, that future recruitment to the Public Service will be entirely on the basis of population - proportionate to the population. If that is done, it will immediately reduce tension. It can thereafter proceed to recruit on the basis of population. Of course, exceptions can be made when suitable men are not available. That is a different matter.
What I say is why do you not reduce tension straightway by announcing publicly, as a matter of governmental policy, that in future recruitment to the Public Service will be purely on the basis of population?
I am voicing my own views on the subject. My community does not matter. So far as the M.E.P. Government is concerned, it has not bothered to do anything except to try and thrust down the throats of my community what it thought was good for them. That is not the point.
A very satisfactory method of reducing tension is to change, once and for all, the system of recruitment to the Public Service. After all, the Government should not forget the fact that the large numbers of Sinhalese young men and women who come out of the schools and central colleges cannot get jobs. The prospects are very meagre so far as jobs are concerned. Naturally, they feel frustrated.
According to statistics, 30 per cent of the posts are occupied by Tamils; but according to propagandists, the figure is increased to 65 per cent or 80 per cent. When the Sinhalese people are told about these things, they naturally get inflamed and their passions are roused. As a matter of fact, during these disturbances a number of young men were heard shouting that if they chased away the Tamils, they could get their jobs and occupy their houses. This tension must be eased. This is one way in which it could be done.
I feel that this Government is incapable of easing the tension it has brought about. We have seen that it is incapable of increasing the economy of the country, so that there may be full employment. Under those circumstances, jobs are bound to be few and the people many. So that, there is nothing wrong or immoral in Government announcing a policy of this nature.
I would, even now, strongly urge upon the as it is said today, that there is a disproportionate distribution of Sinhalese and Tamil officers in the various services. I would also suggest that it examines the feasibility of allowing certain public servants, if they so desire, particularly in view of the experience they have undergone in the past few weeks to retire, so that younger men could be recruited to take their places.
So far as the Government is concerned, I am suggesting ways and means of reducing the tension. One thing is certain, namely, that these Tamil officers should not be placed in a position where they will have to run for their lives as a result of a further wave of disturbances. The point is that Government is unable to protect them from assault, humiliation, robbery and intimidation; and their women from being raped and molested.
This Government is unable to protect public servants from being able to walk back home after a day's work without having their purses and wristlet watches snatched by hoodlums and thugs. This Government has put them in that humiliating position. Give those jobs to the Sinhalese people and permit these Tamil officers to retire, if you cannot solve the problem. I am only suggesting a method by which this tension could be eased.
There is no point in sitting with folded arms and imagining that the military will help you to keep order all the time. Once the military is taken away, there is bound to be a recrudescence of these very incidents. The tension that is now prevailing in the country must be reduced at all costs and normal conditions restored.
Once the Government announces that recruitment will be proportionate to the population and thereafter proceed to implement it by giving retiring benefits to the Tamil public servants who desire to retire and fill their places with Sinhalese personnel, there is no doubt that the existing tension will be greatly reduced. That is one method, and a very effective method, of reducing tension.
We want to live in security. We do not want to be assaulted by anybody and everybody whenever it pleases them. We do not want to be chased away from our houses. We want to be able to walk the streets without fear of losing our purses or having our watches snatched off our wrists. We want to be able to attend to our work with our minds absolutely at ease that our families will not be molested in our absence. If we cannot have that dignity in this part of the country, we must be allowed to live in peace in our own part of the country.
You cannot say that the price we have to pay for a Government job is to be prepared to leave our homes and run into refugee camps. Surely, hon. Senators are aware that in a number of Indian States, both during the British rule and even today, representation in the public service is proportionate to the strength of various communities. Hon. Senators may be unaware of that fact.
Hon. Senators of the Government know very well that the inevitable result of their language policy will be that, gradually, recruitment to the Public Service will be in proportion to the population. If at all, more Sinhalese will be recruited to the Public Service and, in course of time, the entirety of the Public Service will be manned by the Sinhalese. Why not make that declaration of policy? Why not tell the Sinhalese people that in view of their difficulties and their agitation, the Government has decided to recruit to the Public Service in future on the basis of population? Why not say that? That will immediately reduce tension.
The other point is this. Are you going to afford protection to the Tamil people by having a standing army at various places, like Dehiwela, Mt. Lavinia and Ratmalana? Goodwill and amity must be restored, and it will take a number of years to do that. As stated in the 'Manchester Guardian', it may take a few decades before this tension is eased and the Tamil people are rehabilitated in their own areas. Government must be alive to the situation that it will not be possible for a number of years for Tamil traders and others to go back to their places of business in the South. All those shopkeepers in places like Matara, Kalutara, and so on, will not be able to go back.
There are a few Indian business houses which have been re—opened under the protection of the Representative of the Government of India. Those are the business houses of Indian Tamils.
But the hon. Leader is sadly mistaken if he thinks that any Ceylon Tamil business houses have reopened in these trouble spots and started work again. For one thing, they cannot do that. Has the Government provided these people with the necessary funds to start business again?
I have with me a list of people who have had to close up their shops. This might interest the Hon. Prime Minister. I have a list of 17 shops at Veyangoda which had to close down. They are in the Attangalla Electorate. That is, in the Prime Minister's constituency. Their shops have been burnt down or looted. In spite of the fact that these shops are in the Prime Minister's constituency, not one of these people returned to their places of business. It is not so easy to do so. I ask the hon. Leader whether it is easy for a man who has seen his own shop burnt down or who has been thrashed mercilessly to go back. He may go back because the military is now on duty, but what will happen when the military is withdrawn?
It is extremely difficult for people to do that. In the case of public servants, they will try their best and return. But you cannot expect the private traders to return to the very places from where they have been driven. It is extremely difficult for a man who has seen his neighbour soaked in petrol and just burnt alive to do that. That happened at Ratmalana, not far from Colombo. It is rather difficult for that man to go back and live at Ratmalana.
Surely, the Government is aware of the incident. Mr Kanapathipillai was burnt to death at Ratmalana. Warden de Saran was a witness to that incident. Of course, it is horrifying even to mention it here. Apparently the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance is not aware of it. The Government Members are not aware of a number of things that happened in the country; that is the whole trouble. Perhaps the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs himself is not aware of this incident.
The first thing that should be done is to bring together the Ministers and Members of this Government and make them aware of the actual facts. Then only will they be in a position to arrive at a proper decision in regard to this matter. The incident I mentioned is known everywhere.
We have an impartial witness in Warden de Saram, who himself became very unpopular by intervening in that matter. Under those circumstances, it is difficult for the Tamils to go back to such places; and it is also difficult for the Government to persuade them to go back. I would suggest that, as far as possible, these people should be rehabilitated in their own areas. That, as I said, is the second step the Government should take.
The third step which the Government should take with a view to easing the situation is to straightway appoint a commission to inquire into the. extent of the various damages suffered by persons — whether Sinhalese or Tamil, it does not matter — and give them adequate riot compensation. In respect of communal riots of this nature, it is vitally important that the loss should fall not on an unfortunate individual but on the entire community.
After it is our responsibility, the responsibility of the Government and of the people generally who have failed in their duty, to see that such things which happened did not take place. Hence, it is our duty to see that adequate compensation is paid.
Unless such a committee is set up straightway, the evidence available now for the purpose of assessing the compensation may not be available in a month or two and, what is more, it will be difficult to say who are to be paid compensation. These are matters that should be looked into, and every single person who has suffered should be given assistance.
In this connection I am happy to state that so far as the Sinhalese fisher folk in the northern coast area, from Point Pedro to Mullaitivu, are concerned, the Government has rendered them financial assistance of some kind and they have been able to go back to their places of work. I trust that this procedure will be followed with regard to the Tamil shopkeepers, traders and people in humble walks of life who have lost their wherewithal.
It is also far better to see that the Tamil population is resettled, as far as possible, in the Tamil areas. The only reason why there may be a reluctance on the part of the Government to resettle these people in their own areas is that certain eccentrics, even at this juncture, contemplate bringing in a resolution for the purpose of declaring separate States in Ceylon. It is time that; once and for all, every man and woman of this country were told, and explained as a cardinal fact of their existence here, that Ceylon is and will continue for all time one and undivided. There is no question about that.
It is absurd for any man, whatever may be the exigencies, to contemplate a situation when there may be a separate Tamil State and a separate Sinhalese State in this country. It is an impossible situation for more reasons than one. Economically we are one. From the point of view of defence, we are one. I do not think, if there is either a separate Tamil State or a separate Sinhalese State, it will be worth one day's purchase. It will be impossible to defend the one or the other. So that, these statements of frustrated individuals should not be permitted in the least to stand in the way of our solving our problems. Also, it has to be admitted that no true lover of this country can ever contemplate its dismemberment into two States.
Having said that much, may I ask whether there is anything wrong in the Government attempting to rehabilitate Tamil refugees in their own areas, particularly at a juncture like this, for the reason that it helps to give them greater security than if they were to live in Sinhalese areas? The desire of the Tamils to live in their own areas may be due to historical factors, or economic factors, or because rabble-rousers, who took charge of the situation, attempted to chase away the Tamils. Whatever the reason may be, should not the Government, as far as possible, give them the wherewithal, perhaps a bit of land, and settle them in their own areas? There is also the question of Tamil public servants who may be discontinued from service. Hon. Senators wanted to know what should be, done with them. Give them a bit of land and settle them in their own areas, or help then to establish themselves in some small industry in their own areas.
That will help to produce a certain amount of amity and friendship between the communities. After all, this is the sort of solution arrived at even in respect of domestic matters where two brothers with their respective families are unable to live in amity under the same roof. The matter is settled by their living in separate houses. Very often, it works out well. The two families carry on amicably, visit each other and remain good friends.
Let not the Government permit itself to be frightened by eccentrics, by unrealistic people who talk in terms of separate States. It is not possible for anyone to dream of separate States. There cannot be, and will not be, separate States in this country. It will not be possible to have separate States even if we have a major army and navy and an air force with jet planes. Secondly, it is not economically feasible so far as Ceylon is concerned. Thirdly, a large section even of the Tamil people have never thought in terms of separate States, except perhaps certain eccentrics. So, one need not be frightened on that score.
That is why I suggest that the Government should seriously consider the question of settling as many of these people as possible in their own areas and affording them whatever assistance it can. In respect of the young men who, as a result of the policy of recruitment to the Public Service in proportion to the population, will not be able to get jobs here, they might be given land and other facilities in their own areas and helped to settle themselves.
Today also Jaffna is separated from the rest of the Island. If it is separated, there is separation in that sense. In other words, unity does not mean that the population should mingle together and fight one another. It should be possible for the people to live in different areas in perfect security, based on the friendliest terms under a unitary Government, not under separate governments.
The only reason why I suggest that they live in different areas is that they may not be murdered, that they may not be massacred. I am not suggesting a separate Government for the Tamils. I am suggesting one Government, a unitary State, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary holding that office not only for the Tamil areas but for the Sinhalese areas as well. Today, are we not talking of Tamil areas and Sinhalese areas? Today, are not the representatives of the Tamil areas under house arrest?
The great trouble I have with a number of Ministers and others is this: whenever somebody speaks about something in the Sinhalese areas, the question is promptly asked, "What about Jaffna, what about Batticaloa?" In other words, the Ministers and others imagine that by interjections of that nature, they dissociate themselves from Batticaloa and Jaffna. I should have thought that they would have been as disgusted with what happened in the South as with what occurred in the North.
They are equally responsible for what happened in both parts of the country; and if incidents happened in both places, they are doubly guilty. They think it is rather difficult, having come to power on a communal ticket, to remember that fact. But then, let them at least make an endeavour to remember it: There is a tremendous responsibility cast upon the Government. There is no doubt that the M.E.P. Government roused communal passions and came into power. But we have to forget such things and think in terms of the good of the whole country.
I desire to say one other thing about the programme of the Government for the resettlement of refugees. If the Government does not accept my view that the displaced people should, far as possible, be rehabilitated in their own areas, if it is the Government's view that this "Operation Home" should be worked in such a way that everybody should go back, once again, to his area or his place of business, so far as the Tamils, particularly the shopkeepers and traders who had to undergo and see for themselves the atrocities in the south of Ceylon are concerned, it will be difficult for them to go back to their homes or places of business. But, in spite of that, if the Government insists on its resettlement of refugees policy, all I have say is that the Government seems to be encouraging the homing instinct without much imagination.
I want to give you just one illustration. In the North-Central Province, there were at least 2,000 Tamil-speaking settlers, with no connection at all with other Tamil-speaking areas. What their origin was is anybody's guess. The fact remains that they were North-Central Province Tamils. During the disturbances the Anuradhapura officials passed them over to the Vavuniya officials who, in turn, appeared to have persuaded the Government Agent, Jaffna, to take them into the Jaffna Peninsula. For a time they were kept in schools in Jaffna, which were turned into refugee camps. When those schools re-opened, these refugees were brought into refugee camps in Government schools in the Kilinochchi area, still within the Jaffna district, which is already overcrowded with its own population.
The Government seems determined to settle them in the Jaffna district on meagre one-acre blocks of high land, with little or no financial assistance. Many of these North-Central Province Tamils own considerable land and house property and businesses in their own provinces. One wonders why these people are not assisted to resettle on their own properties and in their own occupations. Some might have since dispersed under pressure from officialdom, but there are still many who wish to know what has happened to their lands, crops, houses and boutiques. It is not enough to send them under armed escort merely for sight-seeing or for bringing back any movable of value.
It is interesting to relate one case of a village of N.C.P. - Tamils in the heart of Anuradhapura town. During the days of the emergency, they were attacked by the usual crowd of hooligans and, being prepared, they were able to repulse the attack effectively. These people in Anuradhapura were armed with guns and; I am told, a few hand bombs which they used in defence. That night, however the Assistant Government Agent, with the military, effected what the hooligans were unable to do. They were all loaded into army vehicles and pushed out into the Vavuniya district. Why was that done? They have valuable houses and paddy lands in the town. Why not bring them back and re-settle them in their own area where they have lived for generations?
The same could be said of many families ordinarily resident in Mahaillupan Kulam, Talawa, Kekirawa, Madawachchiya and in many other places. What does the Government propose to do with their lands, houses and business places if the owners are not assisted to come back?
One may compare this instance with what is done to help seasoned and temporary fishing groups of Sinhalese who ply their fishing trade for a short time in the year from Point Pedro to Kokilai. The Competent Authority has announced complete protection for them by establishing many military posts along that long coastline, and Sinhalese fisher folk are arriving in such areas in larger numbers than ever before. I do not suggest for a moment that this help should not be forthcoming or that the movement of Sinhalese should be stopped, but it is essential that the action of the Government should be patently just and impartial.
If the movement of the Sinhalese population back home in the two Tamil provinces is to be encouraged with vigour, what about similar encouragement to the Tamil population which has been driven out of the seven other provinces? It is not sufficient to say that military posts have been provided in and around the, city of Colombo. That touches only the fringe of the problem. What about the properties and places of business of the Tamils in Veyangoda, Gampaha, Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, Nawalapitiya, Badulla, Panadura, Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Weligama, Ambalantota, to mention only a few places?
There is yet another point. Obviously, the Government desires to re-establish goodwill among all sections, particularly between the people of the place and the returning refugees. If so, how does goodwill grow from acts of reprisal which are more wanton and cruel than what were originally perpetrated? I know of a story of a particularly sadistic re-settlement programme of the military authorities under whose aegis several thousand rupees worth of freshly cut paddy were burnt soon after the return of some refugees to the Mannar district. Summary beating up of suspects on information furnished by returning refugees cannot conduce to the growth of goodwill. This is the story one hears from all quarters where the military and the police are taking a hand in re-settlement.
That is another aspect of the matter which has to be seriously considered by the Government. I venture to suggest that this back home operation, by which refugees are taken into these various areas, will create more difficulties for the Government. It will mean that the Government will have to spend large sums of money to keep a permanent military organization going in the various parts of the Island. The more satisfactory course to adopt would be to give these people, as far as possible, a chance of employment and occupation in their own areas without taking them out into other areas. It can be done. Of course, it requires a sufficiently competent body of person to investigate these various matters.
I think I have taken far more time than intended to in this debate. I would only say this. No one can have any confidence in the ability of this Government to achieve the results it has in view, or create an atmosphere of peace and amity in this country, unless the Government makes up its mind, first of all, to look upon itself as the Government of the entire Ceylonese people; unless the Government decides, once and for all, to do what is just and proper, irrespective of considerations of electoral advantage; and unless the Government is prepared, as I said earlier, to reduce tensions immediately by taking certain concrete steps.
These concrete steps are, firstly, a declaration or announcement of Government policy with regard to jobs in the Public Service; secondly, rehabilitating, as far as possible, the Tamil-speaking people in their own areas without exposing them to massacre, insults and humiliation in other parts of the country, because it will take a very long time for these wounds to heal.
Let not the Government forget that there are parties and politicians, who are now underground, waiting to create trouble once again. And also let not the Government forget that a large proportion of this trouble is due to economic causes. Therefore it is but right and proper that we should relive, to some extent, the economic distress in the Sinhalese areas first because, after all, we are a minority; and unless that distress is alleviated to some extent, it will be the easiest thing for any politician to attempt to rouse passions among the Sinhalese against the Tamils for no fault of theirs.
Finally, I would earnestly request the Government to publish the correct facts with regard to what has happened. Let the people know what has happened. Let the worst be known, and let us not keep this censorship and this state of emergency for one day longer than is necessary. Even if the state of emergency has to be kept for some time more, I would venture to suggest that, so far as censorship of news is concerned, it be completely abolished for the reason that people know the worst as to what has happened and, so long as you have the military and the police to tackle the disturbances, things can be brought under control.