“Election mania spreads rapidly in the country with Parliamentary polls being scheduled for August 17th 2015 and the Tamil inhabited areas of the Northern and Eastern provinces are also afflicted. Currently the premier political configuration of the Sri Lankan Tamils is the Tamil National Alliance(TNA) consisting of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front(EPRLF), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization(TELO)and Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam(PLOTE). The TNA contests elections under the House symbol of its chief constituent ITAK. At the 2010 Parliamentary elections the TNA contesting as ITAK won 13 seats in both provinces and was entitled to a national list seat also.The TNA hopes to increase its parliamentary tally in the 2015 poll.”
“Even as neo-liberalism attempts to trans-nationalize the globe, the nation continues to be popular among many communities in both Europe and the postcolony. For Marxist postcolonial thinkers like Neil Lazarus (1999:48) and Timothy Brennan (1999:25 – 26), the nation and the nation-state function mainly as communities of resistance to globalization and American-centered global cosmopolitanism. But in places like the UK, Spain and Belgium and in many parts of the postcolony such as Somalia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, the nation exists as a vibrant political entity primarily because it refuses to tolerate the character of the state under which it lives and due to its desire to have a state exclusively for itself. Nations in these places predicate their demand for self-rule on historical claims over territory, the differences that they draw between themselves and other nations in terms of culture and language and the ripening of their collective self-consciousness into nationhood. The dominance of one nation over others in these places intensifies the marginalized nation’s thirst for national liberation. Claiming to resist the hegemonic Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist project of the Sri Lankan state, Tamil nationalism invokes many of these arguments to legitimize the Tamils’ right to self-determination in the north-east of Sri Lanka which the nationalist narrative inscribes as the historical habitat of the Tamils.”
“The election campaign of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF: Gajen Ponnambalam’s new outfit) in the North-East has re-animated the discussions on the political solution to the national question. While the major political parties in the South have rejected federalism, the federal solutions presented by these two fronts include the recognition of the Tamils as a nation or a nationality, their right to self-determination and the merged north-east of Sri Lanka as their homelands.”
It would be important for the Pope not to be carried away too much with election celebrations, which is predominantly Sinhalese feeling. I hope the Pope will be able to address key issues related Tamils and Muslims, which have not been addressed by the President Sirisena’s manifesto. This will include processes towards power sharing and addressing serious violations of human rights and humanitarian laws. President Sirisena’s past conduct and that of some of his allies, which have been very nationalist and pro-war, anti-minority, doesn’t give Tamils and Muslims much confidence and hope even in the new government. Clearly, it was their desperate need to get rid of Rajapakse family rule that led them to vote for Sirisena.
The forthcoming election is the second Presidential election after the war. Since then, the North and East of Sri Lanka has undergone heightened militarisation. Around 89,000 women headed households in the former war areas struggle to address livelihood needs, look after their remaining family and in many cases also look for their missing loved ones. Despite numerous promises, no independent investigation into serious human rights violations has resulted in a successful prosecution and conviction of alleged perpetrators, a sign of the culture of impunity pervasive in post war Sri Lanka.
We, the undersigned women both from Sri Lanka and outside take this moment to call on the candidates to publicly acknowledge the situation faced by a significant number of women across Sri Lanka.
“Ten years ago today, over 35,000 people perished during the catastrophic tsunami that hit the coasts of the North-East and South of the island of Sri Lanka. The United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said five days after the disaster that almost two thirds of those killed were in the Tamil homeland of the North-East. “The North-East is the region worst affected by the tsunami,” the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) said in a joint report.”