The recent no-confidence motion in Sri Lanka’s Northern Provincial Council (NPC) in Jaffna, moved by a section of the Council members against Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, has brought the deep divide in Tamil nationalist politics to the fore.
C.V.Wigneswaran, who became Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province in 2013 thanks to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), appears to be drifting away from the party which propped him up.
Colombo: The Sri Lankan Army has said there was no military administration in Tamil-dominated Jaffna and denied allegations by Chief Minister of the Northern Province C V Wigneswaran that more troops had been deployed in the area after a riot in mid-May.
The UN Human Rights Commission’s decision to investigate violations and the huge loss of life during the last months of the war concluded in 2009 was a significant victory for the victims.
The dignity of the victims required that the truth must be told without fear or favour, and processes of justice and restoration set in motion. And the wrong was not all on one side.
Dignity also demands that we await the verdict of the judges with restraint and reverence for the name of justice.
But in Jaffna, all hell broke loose over the coming UNHRC report in an orgy of mud-slinging, recrimination and effigy burning for Tamil leadership spoils.
Some academics in Jaffna University led by taking on themselves the task of identifying and upbraiding ‘traitors to the race’ in a return to dangerous heroics. MPs Sampanthan and Sumanthiran were excoriated for attending the Independence Day function.
The first shot in virtually christening the coming UN report a ‘genocide report’ was fired by Northern Chief Minister Justice Wigneswaran on 10th February 2015 in the Provincial Council resolution he advanced.
The opinion held by a sizeable portion of the university teachers was not to politicise the coming UN report, so as to allow Sinhalese to read it with an open mind. There was no opposition to delay, as requested by the new government. But this moderate stance got lost in the rush of events. It was presented to the media on 13th February as the University Teachers demanding the release of the report as scheduled in March. »
People no longer fear the Army. They have started protesting against the Army taking over their lands and houses. The protests have been peaceful and with no personal animosity shown towards the Army. It was said recently that some of the soldiers who came to deal with such protests had told our protestors privately that they would themselves have protested if their lands in the South had been taken over in the manner it is being done now in the North!
Elaborating on the challenges, he pointed to militarisation as a major impediment to governance. Many families that were internally displaced during the war were yet to be resettled. The Sri Lankan army, he said, had taken over private land and in some cases even agriculture. “Locals have to purchase produce from their own land cultivated by the army,” he said, adding that women and children suffered periodic intimidation by the army.
Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran today warned that according to latest reports they were receiving, a former LTTE military commander was being commissioned to restart an LTTE outfit subservient to the powers that be.
“Thus the White Van drama could now be enacted by a different cast,” the Chief Minister warned.
The Chief Minister said that he could become a target like Tamil politicians before him, saying that politicians seeking to stress commonalities between people of Sri Lanka often got brutally killed.
Knowing full well that a very productive meeting will take place between two stalwarts in a face to face engagement, I spoke to Chief Minister on 15thnight. He was happy to speak quite precisely about the path breaking discussion he had with Prime Minister Cameron.
Wigneswaran, the new chief minister, says that – so long after the war – there is no need for a robust military presence, and worries about where it will lead.
« If you allow this to happen it will definitely lead to some form of violence in the future, » he said.