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Thursday
May282009

Access to and Control of IDP camps

In the discussion thread, to one of Indi's recent blog posts, about the international community and IDP camps in Sri Lanka, Ravana asks this question about access to the camps:

"I know Sri Lankan NGOs have access, right? Is that correct? The news reports seem to portray the impression that no one is allowed in. That impression is blatantly false, isn’t it? Indi - you’ve been there. What’s the deal?..." To which Indi says: "I haven’t been to the camps. I’ve been to the hospitals..."

Let me try to clarify, since I think I do know. If I'm wrong, feel free to correct me.
Most camps, including the massive (second largest IDP camp in the world) manik farm (zone 1,2,3 & 4 which was/is under construction) were/are accessible to some 52 agencies, which include, Sri Lanka NGOs, INGOS and UN agencies. As of about two weeks ago, restrictions on the entry of agency vehicles carrying personal, but not supplies was imposed. Because allegedly there were people being taken out, in these vehicles. Before this, these vehicles had access also. The deal offered was that relief supply trucks, with uniformed, unarmed, GoSL trooper escort, in the truck, would be allowed. Additionally now, other agency vehicles, if parked inside the camps, can be used to transport agency personal within the camps. Personal have to move out of these vehicles when they leave the camps, and use the vehicles they arrived in for road travel. I think this is a functioning deal, especially the first part. The second part of the deal is in progress. But it has not been so reported, I don't think, internationally. Relief supplies have never been restricted, as far as I know.

There are, however, other 'holding' camps, where LTTE suspects are being held, where there is not this straight forward access. I understand ICRC, through the usual procedures has some access. More access should be forthcoming. But this is not a very large number of people, and it is not what makes the news.

CA GoSl, who is Major General, controls the camps; agencies do not have any control over the camps. I believe many agencies that have access, would rather have control over the camps. Or more control. Why is a question to ponder. Undoubtedly its quite political.
Consider this quote from a long article on transCurrencts & Tamilweek.com, that is a manifesto for some thing called the Tamil National Congress (TNC), which is seeks to replace the LTTE, and work as a Tamil government in exile. "Whilst pursuing the diplomatic & legal offensives against the Sri Lankan government, TNC should also take the lead role in alleviating the sufferings of the Internally Displaced People (IDP’s). IC should be successfully persuaded by the TNC to allow it to run the rehabilitation and resettlement efforts in North and East of Sri Lanka. This will amount to a pseudo interim administration." That's an interim administration of the government in exile, within Sri Lanka, I guess. ().

No doubt the odd musings of one man. Nevertheless, I think it better that all IDP camps in Sri Lanka are controlled by the GoSL, which is, for all its short comings, accountable to its citizens. I am suprised, actually, that this is a debate.
However, to be fair to whole thread above, its been a debate about access not control, which seems to be a misunderstanding of ground realities.

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Reader Comments (8)

Thank you for clarifying. I too was wondering why GOSL does not allow access to the camps. I guess if 50% people concerned about SL, paid attention to people in IDP camps, specially the children, all would be much better off.
But it has come to be who controls the Indian ocean and refueling ports. I love the world I live in.
May 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkalusudda
you are right, Kalusudda
May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPradeep Jeganathan
1. much as you asked for substantiation from Janaka at Indi's site, I would respectfully request the same from you with regards to who has access, how it is modulated by security concerns, whether or not those concerns were validated by documented 'escapes' or merely stemming from paranoia.

2. Is GOSL really accountable? To all it's citizens? Are you saying that an IDP can, right now, exercise all rights granted unto them by the constitution? If you're saying this in a 'technical' sense, keeping a normative standard of representative democracy being the proper administrator, I understand. I do not believe, however, that it is a true statement.

3. Has there been any attempt to transfer Pillayan and Karuna to these re-education camps? Have they, perhaps, been 'home-schooled' in an intensive, short-term course? Or are they considered somehow less recidivist than their lower-ranking former comrades simply by virtue of command status? Were the Eastern tigers somehow legally and morally absolved of any child soldier kidnappings and terrorist violence
May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNayagan
Nayagan,
1) there are over 50 agencies that have access, as i've said. some can only deliver relief supplies, some actually run programs, such has medical clinics inside the camps. i can't given a break down here; but i can say that some of the vehicle restrictions in have described in the post have been lifted. yes, there has been 'trafficking' of people.
2) GoSL is, theoretically, accountable to its citizens. Diaspora groups, and INGOs/NGOs, even UN agencies are not, even theoretically accountable. Practically, of course there are serious gaps in accountability; but there are avenues that can be pursued. There is currently a case before the apex court, concerning freedom of movement out of Jaffna. It is in being heard. The ruling will be an important one. That is a process of accountability. An IDP case can be filed, but GoSL is moving so rapidly, that the court may simply hold that the process is adequate. Already all over 60s, will be given the option of leaving, ASAP. All unaccompanied children will be housed separately. I think pregnant women will be next. Yes, there is a serious, real issue of LTTE activity in camps. I can not give you a source, you can take my word for it or not. It is not simple paranoia.
3) One can not, I suggest, understand what appears to be a contradiction between the treatment of the TMVP and LTTE, unless one understands the genealogy of modern punishment. That's complicated, but at its heart is the idea that a prisoner (wrong doer) must be made a penitent, and re-formed. that's the whole idea behind 'rehabilitation.' This is what is supposed, in the logic of modern punishment to to release the moral burden. Since the TMVP has claimed its 're-formed,' laid down its arms and stopped fighting, it doesn't have to go to prison. Cadres are going through a variety of rehabilitation programs though. If others claim they want to be reformed, they will go through an year of learning wood work, and playing cricket, and they will be through. That's the majority. If there are 'serious' charges, there will be jail time, perhaps, but the logic is the same, jail time is about 'reform.' Again, why is it different? Because the second lot didn't stop fighting voluntarily. So the claim to being 're-formed' has to be worked through, it can't be assumed.
This is not an anti-Tamil policy. It was just the same with both the JVP uprisings in Sri Lanka. Its at the heart of modern punishment, and the best book on that is Michael Ignatieff's "A Just Measure of Pain."
May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPradeep Jeganathan
Hey Pradeep,

is it true that Mahinda Rajipakse has not even visited the IDP camps? I find this astounding. Shouldn't he have visited the camps when they were first taking in civilians?
May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNuwan
Pradeep,


Thanks for responding and not using your privilege of proximity as a club. I also appreciate the constraints of pragmatic policy and why Mahinda is not treating Tiger murderers as common criminals. That being said, I did see a few problems with this line of thought.

In regards to 3, I am well aware of the geneology of rehabilitation. What I did not find credible was the idea that documented reports of child recruitment and abductions, after Karuna 'joined the gov't,' square with the incremental model of rehabilitation that you describe. If one voluntarily 'lays down arms' and then conducts 'elections' under authority seemingly granted only by holding ak-47s at polling booths, is one actually considered penitent? I'm sure you've heard the tired aphorism about identifying an animal that quacks and waddles like a duck.
Men who are accustomed to holding immediate power over the lives of their 'employees,' creating a liquid labor market by dint of terror and appropriating public goods for private consumption cannot, I humbly submit, be reasonably expected to develop the prudential thought processes which define effective and efficient beaureaucrats. This is not analogous to Narendra Modi turning Gujarat into an economic powerhouse but rather expecting Bhindranwale to rule Khalistan in a similar fashion.


I'd love for posterity to not prove my point, but how was the leadership of the JVP in any way comparable to that of the Tigers today? it's all well and good to assume that people living under the TMVP will be able to vote them out if that is in the people's best interest but i view the most basic form of representative democracy as extremely fragile and subject to frequent challenges from parties unrestrained by any recognizable morality.

will it be possible to insulate the Tamils from extralegal challenges with Singhalese settlers? I certainly hope so.

I guess i'm wishing for an outline of what the rubric is for a 'reformed' tiger and whether they are evaluating them for sociopathic behaviors. Will they be matriculating after swearing to consider both the legality and the material consequences of their actions or will they simply be given a gold star for effort?

I apologize for the organic intellectual in me coming out to say hello--such crude thought underpins so much of my personal philosophy that I often forget that I did indeed attend a liberal arts uni.
May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNayagan
Pradeep,
Let me state the obvious. If the government treated both TVMP and LTTE equally, wouldn't it be unfair by TVMP for the assistance it rendered GOSL?

Even though JVP cannot be compared with LTTE, look at how well some JVP rebels "reformed" in different ways. Look at Mahinda Wijesekara, Victor Ivan, Sunanda Deshapriya ... and the list goes on.
June 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterForget-the-past
Your a traitor to your own people and your kind. When you get old and are close to dieing, you will think of it then.
May 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterprotamil

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