Citizens’ Commission to investigate expulsion of Northern Muslims
The Law and Society Trust (LST) together with the Community Trust Fund (CTF), the People’s Secretariat (PS) and the Rural Development Foundation (RDF) has set up a Citizens’ Commission to investigate the expulsion of Muslims from the Northern Province by the LTTE in October 1990.
The LTTE expulsion of Muslims from five Northern districts in October 1990 has not been adequately integrated into any mainstream historical narrative in Sri Lanka. Most commentators routinely get the date of the expulsion wrong and few give the event the status of a highly significant historical event that it warrants.
Northern Muslim civil society leadership has worked hard to highlight the issue and have had to face numerous obstacles including the disinterest of the larger civil society community in Sri Lanka. The Law and Society Trust in partnership with three Northern Muslim organizations and an advisory group of prominent Muslim civil society actors have been exploring the possibility of conducting a truth seeking initiative in the form of a Citizens’ Commission. The objective of the exercise is to produce authoritative documentation of the expulsion and its consequences that is sanctioned by the community, and to list the community’s grievances through a document endorsed by a Commission consisting of eminent local civil society actors. The Commission’s broadly defined terms of reference will look at the history of the expulsion, the experience of two decades of displacement and expectations and in some cases the experiences of resettlement.
The Commissioners are eminent persons from civil society who are outside the Northern Muslim community. At this moment the Commissioners number nine persons; they are Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, Dr. M.S.M Anes, Dr. Catherin Brun, Dr.Gameela Samarasinghe, Dr. E Santhirasegaram, Dr. Nimalka Fernando, Prof. M. Nuhman, Mr. Javid Yusuf, and Mr. Abdul Majeed. The final commission report will be a document that is endorsed by this group of eminent persons.
The Advisory Group which has agreed to assist with the project consists of Ms. Shireen Saroor, Ms. Faizun Zackariah, Dr. Hasbullah, Ms. Juwairiya and Mr. M. Nihmath. Dr. Farzana Haniffa was working with the LST as a consultant on this project and would oversee its implementation.
The Commission commenced its activities in August 2009 and plans to present its findings by October 2010. The commission process consists of eight commission visits to Puttalam and other places where there are large concentrations of Northern Muslims and a testimony collection exercise by researchers working in the field. The testimony collection exercise has been in operation since July 2009 and eight field researchers are in the process of taping transcribing and translating testimonies for the perusal of the Commissioners.The report will be produced by October 2010 and will include recommendations to the State as well as to the UN and non-governmental bodies.
Northern Muslims interested in making representations before the commission are welcome to contact the Law and Society Trust. For further information please contact Ms. Kaneeza Faris at the LST on the following numbers
courtesy dailymirror Monday, November 16, 2009