As the D Day in Sri Lanka is approaching there is a hot debate on whether the decision of the TNA to go with Maithripala Sirisena is in the right direction or not. Till 21st of November 2014, he had supported all the policies of Mahinda Rajapakse without ever raising an eyebrow. It was sheer opportunism that brought him to the election fray with the support of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (CBK) and Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The question is of great relevance and grave significance at a time when the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner’s office is investigating alleged human rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sri Lanka in terms of a resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“The Rajapaksa regime has been particularly harmful to the wellbeing of the Tamil-speaking peoples of Sri Lanka,” the party said in a statement. It said the government had “failed to engage genuinely in a process of evolving an acceptable political solution, except to engage in deceitful and dilatory exercises.”
It said instead of resettling, rehabilitating and providing livelihood opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians displaced by the conflict, the government had resorted to land grabs and denied justice for those died, disappeared or were detained for long periods without trial.
But providing such an opportunity in the election is not the sole aim of Siritunga’s campaign. If a real change is to be achieved, the silent minority of all progressive sections in the country need to be mobilised. The people’s voice is weak. Unless the oppressed masses have a strong organisational expression for their rightful demands, our rights will continue to be suppressed. The need for an organisation or a mass party that can articulate our rights and that will not gamble or compromise us is felt throughout the country. The thirst for such an organisation is registered by the hundreds of thousands who turn up to meetings in opposition to both Ms. Siri’s platform aims to provide energy and hope that such an alternative can be built.
“Reiterating her refusal to tow the party line and endorse the common opposition’s presidential candidate, Maithripala Sirisena, the Northern Provincial councillor, Ananthi Sasitharan said she could not ask the Tamil people to vote for someone who was responsible for the genocide of the Tamil people.”
“The most diabolical and fiendishly clever policy position that the common opposition has taken is that they will not allow our war heroes to be tried by any international war crimes tribunal, but that any allegations of war crimes will be looked into by a domestic tribunal. The common opposition candidate himself has come before the people and pledged publicly that no international war crimes tribunal will be allowed to try any war hero. However he has given a statement which was carried in The Hindu and the Indian Express to the effect that a domestic mechanism would be set up to look into allegations of war crimes. This was later confirmed by Champika Ranawaka. The people of this country have got used to the idea that what is bad is an international inquiry into war crimes. By the mere addition of the word ‘domestic’ most people would be lulled into a sense of false security on the assumption that since such an inquiry will be conducted by ‘our people’ the war heroes will not face any problems.”
The TNA chiefs are looking for a stunt of some sort to defend their sustained inertia in the context of a profound need for clear leadership for Tamils in Sri Lanka. Of course, the current regime complies – its continued repression of some TNA leaders provides opportunities for them to escape their responsibility. In fact, the TNA leaders intended to keep to the TULF tradition of supporting the right-wing UNP candidate. However, this was spoiled by Maithiripala Srisena’s announcement as an opposition candidate.
Prior to the election announcement, the TNA put time and effort into convincing a section of the diaspora leadership to support the UNP. TNA leaders met some diaspora leaders in a not-so secret meeting in the US. It was made clear that the TNA leaders were ready to compromise on key demands, including the demand for the right to self-determination, and that this was not just a strategy but a political stand that they are taking. Sadly for them, the diaspora organisations are still to the left of the right-wing TNA leadership and refused to give into all that was demanded.
A section of the TNA who dare to speak out are supressed by the TNA leaders. The current leadership spent more time manoeuvring against their opposition within the TNA than actually developing a political strategy to advance the right of Tamils. Creating illusions in the Indian government and western governments is their only consistent policy. This serves no purpose other than to transform them into a tool of the west and India depite the claims that they propagate among Tamils in the North and East – that the west and India are coming to support the Tamils’ cause.”
“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.”
It has been nearly 200 days since the TID arrested Ms. Jeyakumari in Kilinochchi, along with her teenaged daughter. She was at the forefront in campaigns against involuntary disappearances, raising concern about her son who reportedly went missing in the final phase of the war. While the daughter is in probationary custody in a children’s home, Ms. Jeyakumari continues to be detained with no charges filed till date. At least 80 persons have been arrested under the PTA Act in Sri Lanka this year.
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!
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.
With the Rajapaksa regime intransigent, Tamils hope that foreign pressure can provide the impetus for change.”
The Rajapakse Administration faces a rather stark choice with regard to the TNA controlled Northern Provincial Council. The desired and preferred option would be, for the Government to be generous and cooperative with the NPC and provide it with the space and facilitation required to address the effects of the war on the Northern civilians as the former principle theatre of the conflict. This requires basically an attitude similar to that of the victorious allies in the Second World War, who had both the Marshal plan for Europe and very generous political arrangements for the defeated Japanese including retaining their Emperor in whose name the war had been fought. Initial indications are that the Rajapakse Administration is open to this possibility, once it gets over its own ideological hang-ups.
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New Delhi, which failed to militarily support an unambiguously pro-devolution President Kumaratunga during the Tigers’ siege of Jaffna in 2000, did not extend the requested and requisite degree of military support to Mahinda Rajapaksa in an equation that would have linked such support to political progress in lockstep as it were. Instead of simply insisting on the implementation of Sri Lanka’s own constitutional provisions (obviating the need for protracted, problematic talks with the TNA and the reinvention of the wheel), it was persuaded into echoing President Rajapaksa’s promise of 13 Plus. No wonder it finds itself in a dilemma on the next steps.
source: The Hindu