“The ACTC/TNPF is strongly backed and heavily influenced by LTTE and Pro-LTTE elements in the Global Tamil Diaspora.These tiger and pro-tiger elements are strongly opposed to the TNA and its current political approach of working towards an acceptable political settlement within a united but not necessarily unitary Sri Lanka. The overall objective of these elements is two – fold. Revive the LTTE in some form and engage in violence in Sri Lanka. Undermine the political process and disrupt all positive political engagement between Tamil representatives and the Governments in power in Colombo.”
Sri Lanka’s government has been reaching out to the country’s influential Tamil diaspora with the aim of building minority support and boosting its international standing. But the contentious strategy holds risks for the government’s survival ahead of parliamentary elections next week.
(Text of a Press Statement Issued by the Canadian Tamil Congress on August 7th 2015)
The Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) strongly urges Tamils and all citizens of Sri Lanka to exercise their right to vote at the upcoming Parliamentary elections.
The presidential election of January 8th, 2015 was a turning point in the recent political history of Sri Lanka. Voters turned up in large numbers and voted for change and a new beginning.
While Canada and other members of the international community acknowledged and welcomed these changes it is the duty of all responsible Sri Lankan citizens to ensure that these tenuous beginnings are consolidated without giving any chance for their reversal.
Although many issues of the Tamil people including land rights, political prisoners and disappearances were not addressed as expected, the election did bring about early signs of goodwill, as reflected in some actions that were taken by the current government. CTC believes that these positive developments, together with new-found political optimism, can be further strengthened after the August election.
The resolution of the Tamil problem will invariably involve meaningful negotiations between the Government of Sri Lanka, the elected representatives of the Tamil people, and other relevant stakeholders. In this context, Parliamentarians elected by the Tamil people will have a major role to play. One strong united voice speaking for Tamils will have a significant impact at these negotiations.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), under the responsible and experienced leadership of Mr. R. Sampanthan, has earned the recognition and respect of not only the Tamil people, but also other community representatives in Sri Lanka and international community members like Canada, USA and India. He has carefully and consistently articulated the concerns, grievances and aspirations of the Tamil people
CTC works closely with TNA, and our partnership has been crucial in some of the diplomatic achievements made in Canada as well as at the UNHRC in Geneva. TNA’s Secretary for Legal and Foreign Affairs, Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran’s advocacy skills, experience and expertise has been beneficial to both CTC and TNA when meeting various government officials in Canada, Geneva and other parts of the world.
CTC firmly believes that a strong mandate given to the TNA to represent Tamils in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka will strengthen our position during negotiations. Together with a victory for the progressive forces that advocate democracy and good governance in the South, the chances of achieving a negotiated political resolution, accountability and sustainable reconciliation in Sri Lanka will more likely become a reality.
Sections of the Tamil Diaspora are on a virulent campaign against the TNA. Most Tamils abroad are not engaged in politics, because it is dirty and dangerous. Slanderous stories are put out against those not in agreement. Fear of being labelled, leaves the field open to virulent sections of the Diaspora to speak on behalf of all others.
In the US this mantle of Tamil leadership has defaulted to Tamils for Obama. As fair-weather friends, they were Tamils for Clinton when Hilary Clinton seemed likely to win the Democratic Party nomination in 2008 and then, when Obama did, they re-Christened themselves as Tamils for Obama. Now, in 2015, as Obama’s term is ending and Hilary seems likely to be the Democratic Party nominee and ultimately president in Jan. 2017, they wrote shamelessly to her on 10 May 2015 signalling their willingness to turn-coat again: “We are Tamils for Obama. We would like to remind you that before the nomination was settled in 2008, we were Tamils for Clinton. We are still here and eager to offer our support again. We were among your supporters before, and we haven’t changed our minds.”
6,151 Candidates from 21 registered political parties and 201 independent groups are contesting the Sri Lankan Parliamentary elections scheduled for August 17th 2015. Of these 3, 653 are from the 21 parties and 2,498 from independent groups. Predictably the spotlight in general has been on the major political parties both nationally and regionally in g. However a particular group of independents contesting in the north has also attracted much attention. This is because the group comprises former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
“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.”
This is the backdrop on which we are going for the general election in August 2015. Again, I want to stress on the significance of the minor party politics in the parliament. Whenever, a major party secured undue power, they chose to do divisive and Nationalistic politics brewing a polarization between North and the South. The antidote seems to be a strong minor party block that appreciates the need for good governance, rule of law, democracy, and National reconciliation. Traditionally, minor conventional leftist parties and the Muslim Congress have settled down to conform with the ruling party in exchange of ministerial positions. Therefore, that block should come from minor parties that have traditionally stood by their principles. Due to this reason, I would dream of that block to come from TNA and JVP with a strong will to defend above National priorities and to hold the major parties accountable for it, so that they will do more of that politics to win over the vote base of minor parties than doing more of Nationalistic and divisive politics. Having said that, I would strongly urge JVP to abandon their traditional tactics of waiting till a disaster happens to make their point, and to be a more active driving force in the opposition with determination to engage positively.
The TNA calls upon the voters in the electoral districts of Jaffna, Vanni, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara to unitedly and overwhelmingly exercise their franchise in favour of the TNA, contesting under the name of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi and the “House” symbol and thereby democratically endorse, to the fullest degree, policies of the TNA enunciated here in regard to vital issues of fundamental concern to the Tamil and Tamil speaking Peoples as set out in this Manifesto.
This Manifesto is issued by the TNA comprising of ITAK, TELO, EPRLF and PLOTE.
If opposition leaders are to live up to the hopes ignited by the Sirisena presidency, it is now crucial to prioritise a mode of governance marked by the new President’s stamp. The worst-case scenario is indeed a government in which President Sirisena will be relegated to passively adopting a Wickremesinghe or Bandaranaike agenda.
“This incredible electoral manoeuvre with a massive minorities vote worked to dislodge the Rajapaksa regime and open up democratic space, but the Opposition’s campaign was silent on a number of crucial issues including, demilitarization, the national question and an equitable economic programme. The critical question is whether a credible political process could be initiated to address the grievances of the minorities. But a sustainable political solution will require a national consensus. The picture of the Sri Lankan electoral map show a clear North-South divide in the districts voting in majority for Sirisena and Rajapaksa. In this context, any political process has to address the concerns of the Sinhala South as much as the grievances of the minorities.”
“Sri Lanka is falsely framed as a country solely polarised by ethnic divisions between Sinhala Buddhists and Tamils, and that framing has been shattered by the alliances created with nominations for Presidential Elections one month ago. The election victory, which became possible with the overwhelming support of the minorities, including the Up-Country Tamils, Muslims and Tamils in the North and East, is testament to the potential for the ethnic minorities to work with sections of the majority Sinhala community, when the fate of the country is at stake.”
The National Democratic Front (NDF) yesterday said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s attempt to hijack the electoral process by abusing military and government power at yesterday’s Presidential Election had failed badly due to the indefatigable efforts of the Polls Chief and the Inspector General of Police.
“The vote is an indication that the campaign for democracy, reconciliation and demilitarisation has emerged victorious. But we have a tremendous challenge. I am compelled to say that the North has voted for change. It is our duty to deliver the freedom for the people. The women in the North who are tillers of the land want their rights. Their faces and tears once again reminded me of the difference between my reality and their life experiences. The massive difference of votes between the swan and the beetle leaf in the Tamil homeland has to be understood properly. Sinhala political leader who are going to lead this country towards changhe has been trusted by them to take them towards this new future. I hope and pray we will not let them down.
I salute the citizen’s of Sri Lanka for igniting their conscience after several years.”
On Thursday, Sri Lanka goes to the polls in an extraordinary presidential election which could change everything but, perversely, change nothing, writes Callum Macrae.
Sonali Samarasinghe to Mahinda Rajapaksa:
“The irony of the presidential election being fixed for the sixth anniversary of the day on which my husband and your ‘friend’, Lasantha Wickrematunge, was assassinated, may have escaped you. It has not escaped me.”