– by Shenali D Waduge –
Separatism and TNA go hand in hand. Its election manifestos of 2001, 2004, 2010 and now 2013 see no major difference. There is no major difference in the fact that Tamils have kept on voting for the TNA despite its allegiance to the LTTE. What must be also reiterated is that though their numbers are hardly representative of the entire Tamil population, given the nature of the election voting system minority political parties will continue to find themselves seated in parliament dividing the country or dividing the people. In 2001 TNA obtained just 3.89% of total votes, in 2004 TNA obtained 6.84% while in 2010 TNA obtained only 2.9% – so is TNA representative of the Tamil people? Why have Governments not changed the voting system to stop political bribery and used the 6th amendment against the TNA to save the nation from peril but to also save the Tamils from being brainwashed into thinking Sri Lanka can be divided?
The Tamil political manifestos have all aimed to divide Sri Lanka. TULF’s 1977 manifesto titled ‘One Question:Freedom or Servitude?’ follows Chelvanayagam’s statement of 1975 ‘I wish to announce to my people and to the country that I consider the verdict at this election as a mandate that the Tamil Eelam Nation should exercise the sovereignty already vested in the Tamil people and become free’. The 1977 election manifesto call was ‘Vote for the Tamil United Liberation Front; for the emancipation of the Tamil Nation; for the freedom of Tamil Eelam’ and Tamils did vote. TULF refused to take the oath of allegiance under the 6th amendment that prohibited separation of Sri Lanka and forfeited their Parliamentary seats. Why have successive Governments not asked all parliamentarians to take this same oath?
Tamil POLITICIANS have been claiming since 1970s that they want to have FREEDOM from Sinhala domination but both Tamils and Tamil politicians are living with the Sinhalese. That does not do any good to their arguments of oppression and discrimination given that they are living amongst the Sinhalese by choice.
It addressed the ‘Tamil national question’ and opposed the ‘state aided Sinhala colonization of the Tamil Homeland’ which they claimed was depriving them of ‘vital resources in the areas of their ‘historical habitation’. TNA may like to next explain what they are doing living in Colombo as well as explain if ‘state-aided colonization’ of Tamils are taking place outside of the Tamil homeland too as we would be keen to know why more Tamils by choice live outside of ‘Tamil homeland’ enjoying vital resources of these other areas?
When Tamils have every right to ask that they not be considered that they all support the LTTE, why is it that Tamils have stopped short from demanding that political parties of the TNA stop placing them in uncomfortable situations. When TNA in their manifesto writes ‘it was inevitable, that the armed struggle gained in strength and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam came to occupy a paramount position, and play a pivotal role in the struggle of the Tamil nationality to with their rights’ it is not the Sinhalese that compartmentalized the Tamils with the LTTE but the TNA political parties. Tamils need to ask TNA to rectify this if the assumption is wrong.
TNA in 2001 concluded that for any meaningful solution to the ‘TAMIL NATIONAL QUESTION’ had to be based on 4 principles highlighted at the 13th July 1985 Thimpu Talks in Bhutan:
- To recognize Tamils of Sri Lanka as a distinct nationality
- To recognize the identified Tamil Homeland and guarantee its territorial integrity
- To recognize the inalienable right of self-determination of the Tamil nation.
- To recognize the right to full citizenship and other fundamental democratic rights of all Tamils who look upon the island as their country.
In 2001 the TNA comprised of the TULF, ACTC, TELO, EPRLF. Their 2001 manifesto put their aims and objectives as
- Immediate lifting of economic embargo in parts of northeast province
- Withdrawal of residential and travel restrictions of Tamil nationals
- Immediate cessation of war currently waged in northeast
- Immediate commencement of negotiations with LTTE and third party.
In 2013, TNA calls for independent investigations to war crimes by both the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE. Has the TNA forgotten that in its 2001 manifesto it claimed ‘We have also consistently asserted that any attempt to draw a distinction between the LTTE and the Tamil people was meaningless’… ‘unless meaningful negotiations are held with the LTTE no just solution can be found to the Tamil national question and that such negotiations should be held immediately ONLY with the LTTE’ – while TNA also held the view that ‘no parallel negotiations should take place with any other Tamil political formation’. The TULF, ACTC, TELO, EPRLF in 2001 demanded that the GOSL ‘lift the proscription imposed on the LTTE’ and moreover that such ‘proscription does not constitute an impediment to the free and full participation of the LTTE at such negotiations on behalf of the Tamil nationality’. Reference to ‘Tamil-speaking people of the Northeast’ was repeated since 2001 and should come as no surprise when referred in 2013. If we are talking about ‘Tamil speaking voters’ in time to come it may also include Sinhalese too for all school children are now learning Tamil as a compulsory subject.
The 2004 manifesto also spoke of establishing independent Tamil Eelam based on inalienable right to self-determination. The manifesto also spoke about ‘genocidal attacks on the Tamil people’ though why the Tamil people continue to live with the Sinhalese despite ‘genocidal’ attacks remains unanswered. TNA also says ‘in order to safeguard the life and liberty of the Tamil race and to establish its birthright for self-determination, the Tamil Nation having being pushed to the unavoidable state of armed conflict, as the only way, the war not only broadened but advanced under the generalship of the Tiger’s leader Hon.Pirapaharan’ (while Tamil alliance politicians for fear of LTTE lived with the Sinhalese in Colombo and cared not a penny for the life or liberty of Tamils in LTTE areas!) TNA put forward 10 resolutions in its 2004 manifesto
- Political solution to the Tamil national problem based on Tamil Homeland and Tamils right to self-determination
- TNA position on Muslims because they speak Tamil mother tongue TNA wishes that any solution to Tamil national problem should address the cultural, economic and security concerns of the Muslims – thus ISGA proposals related to Muslims. (what about the Muslims the Tamils chased or the Muslims massacred in Kattankudy)
- Sinhala Nation should accept the ISGA ‘excellent’ proposals by LTTE to rebuild the Tamil country
- The high security zones and army camps should be removed
- The armed forces ‘interdiction and oppression’ must be lifted and allow Tamils to move freely in their ‘homeland’
- International community should directly assist humanitarian needs and improve economic life of the Tamil nation.
- Political prisoners to be released
- International judicial inquiry on the fate of the disappeared by the armed forces and police in ‘our homeland’.
- Provisions of ceasefire agreement to be completed fulfilled
- THIS IS THE BEST LINE OF THE MANIFESTO! – ‘The LTTE has for the past two years put up with the violent, surly behaviour of the armed forces without impairing the conditions for peace and observing the ceasefire and acting steadfastly and firmly towards the path of peace’. Hence the international community should remove restrictions on LTTE because it is the ‘authentic sole representative of the Tamil people’ – was there not close to 10,000 LTTE ceasefire violations? Can Tamils understand why it is the TNA that has put all Tamils into the LTTE killing basket?
That’s not all that the TNA said about the LTTE. TNA goes on to say that it is ‘accepting LTTE’s leadership as the national leadership of the Tamil Eelam Tamils and the Liberation Tigers as the sole and authentic representatives of the Tamil people’ – do we really need to ask Tamils why they would not come forward to deny this claim made by the TNA?
How many Tamils agree or do not agree when TNA says ‘let us devote our full cooperation for the ideals of the Liberation Tigers struggle with honesty and steadfastness’…‘let us work side by side with the LTTE’. The manifestos was not written by TNA under duress. Surely, it is now time that Tamils realized TNA and LTTE are one and the same and continuing to vote for them will only make them be identified with the LTTE as well and they can’t blame anyone for it.
In the 2010 election manifesto the TNA spoke about the Tamil Nation in the island of ‘Ceylon’ claiming that Tamils ran a Tamil kingdom. While not referred to in 2001, the 2010 Manifesto called for a ‘Federal Constitution’ and made reference to the Banda-Chelva Pact. Yet, if Sinhala Only was the issue, we cannot understand how the grievance about Sinhala Only could suddenly end up with Bandaranaike naively agreeing to sign a federal solution pact? What has Sinhala Language use got to do with federalism? Moreover Tamil language was never used in administration in either pre-independence or even after because all legislatures were from elite English educated families (Sinhala or Tamil) so why would anyone want to grieve over Tamil language – if so then the Sinhalese should have also been grieving because Sinhala language was given step motherly treatment since arrival of the colonials. Not many like to accept, but it appeared that Bandaranaike was taken for a jolly ride by the imported Christian Chelvanayagam and his federal package. The 2010 TNA manifesto again refers to ‘traditional homeland’ ‘right to self-determination’ ‘ restore the lost sovereignty’ and ‘state-sponsored colonization’ to change the ‘demographic pattern of the north and the east’ – what would the TNA say about the demographic pattern changing in the South with more than half of the Tamils now living amongst the Sinhalese? TNA refers to the 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord that had merged the north and east provinces into 1 province and introduced the provincial council system. It claimed the nature of the State was to remain ‘unitary’ and that provisions of the 13th amendment enabled the Centre to re-take powers of the provinces. Thus, in 2010 the TNA called for the ‘abandoning of the unitary model’ and to bring in ‘shared sovereignty’ on the basis of the GOSL placing proposals for constitutional reforms in 1995 recognizing Sri Lanka as a ‘plural society’ within a ‘united and sovereign republic’ with the draft constitution in January 1996 describing the nature of the Sri Lankan State as ‘an indissoluble Union of Regions’. This is what happens when a penchant to dabble in English eloquence gets the better of national integrity. GL Peiris then working for President Chandrika needs to explain his role in denying the civilizational ethos of Sri Lanka to turn Sri Lanka into a settler nation imbibing secular multicultural norms by dropping Sri Lanka’s civilizational past and its rights. Is this Government being taken up the garden path to commit the same hara kiri for the ground realities appear so.
GLPieris had given TNA the opportunity to use ‘an indissoluble Union of Regions’ as basis for argument.
In its 2010 Manifesto, the TNA refers to the LTTE it as the ‘sole military outfit that fought for a separate homeland for the Tamils’ as well as the 2002 Cease Fire Agreement based on a set of principles known as the ‘Oslo Communique’ which again referred to ‘internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking Peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka’. Completing ignoring LTTE atrocities committed over 3 decades that included assassinations of over 250 Tamil people of standing and excluding scores of other Tamils including own combatants, the TNA simply refers to 1million fleeing the country, half a million displaced, 150,000 killed and an estimated 30,000 civilians killed during the last stages. TNA living in Colombo also goes to say that the 300,000 Tamil people were in ‘internal detention camps’ but speaks nothing about the money spent by the Government to feed these 300,000 3 meals a day, take care of health requirements, provide other facilities that not a cent of TNA money was given to take care of their own people.
In 2010, TNA refers to ‘our lands and out people exploited’ – it appears the TNA does not wish the North to develop for their manifesto says that these ‘rapid moves taking place under the guise of industrial, tourist and other development are for the express purpose of colonizing the Tamil areas with others’ does that mean the TNA does not want to have the North develop? Are they not enjoying a comfortable drive from Colombo to the North for campaigning because of the roads built? Have the TNA also forgotten that areas of Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi did not even have electricity because LTTE and TNA denied these people light. Thus the 2010 TNA manifesto promised that
- Tamil people be recognized as a distinct nationality and having inhabited the island of Sri Lanka TOGETHER with the Sinhalese people
- Contiguous preponderantly Tamil speaking northern and eastern provinces is the historical habitation of the Tamil speaking people
- Tamil people are entitled to the right of self-determination
- Power sharing to be established in a unit of merged northern and eastern provinces based on a federal structure in a manner acceptable to the Tamil speaking Muslim people.
- Devolution of powers over land, law and order, socioeconomic development including health, education, resources and fiscal powers.
- Direct foreign investment in the north and east
- Avenues for tertiary education
- De-militarization – removal of armed forces, military apparatuses and high security zones from northern and eastern provinces
- Tamil people who have been displaced in the north and east due to conflict to be resettled in original places, houses provided, livelihood restores and dignity respected
- Compensation for the loss of lives, to those maimed and those suffered from losses due to military campaign
- Persons detained without charges to be released and others to be given general amnesty as a show of national reconciliation
- Tamils who fled the country to be permitted to return and a conducive environment be created for their return
- Comprehensive program for resettlement of Tamil people, their rehabilitation and development in north and east including creation of employment for youth will be undertaken by Tamil Diaspora and International Community
- No displaced persons and relief to be granted to IDPs to meet cost of living.
- Need to establish a special commission to uplift the socially and economically disadvantage sections of OUR society to create livelihoods and dignity to them as equal citizens.
- TNA to take steps to raise standard of living of fishing communities, give them access to modern technologies and atmosphere in which they can freely engage in their vocation.
- TNA to raise salaries of government servants and private sector as well as living standards
- TNA to give equal status to women. Women, elders and children affected by war to be given special attention to secure livelihoods
- TNA to secure employment opportunities to unemployed graduates and others.
Surprisingly enough in 2010 manifesto the TNA does speak about a commission of inquiry to inquire into ‘grave violations of human rights’ but only refers to violations of the Sri Lankan Government accusing it of violating the Indo-Lanka Accord and de-merging the north-east. TNA claims it would resort to ‘peaceful, non-violent, Satyagraha campaign of civil disobedience on the Gandhian model’– that is really something to laugh about given S. Premachandran calling for Tamils to take up arms if problems are not solved. TNA also referred to ‘Tamil-Muslim’ unity and their ‘constructive working together’ signalling a pact with the Muslim Congress – its leader having formerly dined with Prabakaran.
There was absolutely nothing to be surprised about the TNA 2013 manifesto. It could not have been any different to its previous separatist manifestos nor the open allegiance it showed to the LTTE. The mandate that the TNA boasts about is just 2.9% of the total votes. The TNA continues with its soppy fictitious tales and addresses areas under the following titles:
- Military onslaught and its aftermath – Allegation that resettlement of displaced is yet to be completed
- Our stand on a political solution –
- Tamils to be regarded as distinct People who had inhabited Sri Lanka TOGETHER with the Sinhalese people,
- contiguous preponderantly Tamil Speaking Northern Eastern provinces to be historical habitation of the Tamil Speaking People (Oluvil Declaration by Muslims calls for Muslim autonomy in the East)
- Tamil people entitled to right to seld-determination
- Power sharing arrangement in a MERGED Northern and Eastern province based on Federal Structure that is acceptable to both Tamils and Muslims (a deal with TNA and Muslim Congress)
- Devolution of power based on SHARED SOVEREIGNTY over Land, Law and Order, Socio-Economic development including health, education, resources and FISCAL powers.
- Matters of Immediate Concern for the Tamil people –
- Enforce recommendations by Panel of Experts appointed by UN Secretary General
- Resolutions of UN Human Rights Council in 2012 and 2013
- De-militarization – removal of armed forces, military apparatuses, high security zones/restricted zones from North and East provinces
- Resettlement of Tamil people to their original places with houses and livelihood restored
- Independent international investigation to the violations of international human rights/humanitarian laws by GOSL and LTTE and compensation for victims (first time TNA is calling for investigating LTTE)
- Releasing detainees and general amnesty to political prisoners
- Missing persons finalized and compensation to next of kin
- Tamils fleeing the country to return and conducive atmosphere created for their return
- Development program for North and East with employment opportunities for youth supported by GOLS, Tamil Diaspora and International Community.
- Internally displaced persons – TNA will help IDPs return to their homes / places of habitual residence (a mission which the armed forces has completed)
- Muslims – TNA claims Muslims were ‘displaced’ in 1990 and not ‘evicted’ by the LTTE. TNA promises to allow these Muslims to return to their areas and resume livelihoods. (TNA omits reference to Sinhalese also evicted and returning Sinhalese to their former areas in the North)
- War widows – TNA promises to create livelihood programs for over 50,000 widows again ignoring that programs are already in place.
- Post-war land issues – TNA demands removal of high security/restricted zones/restrictions on fishing. (TNA does not refer to incursions by Indian fishermen denying livelihood to Sri Lankan Tamils)
- Law and Order – TNA claims people are live in fear and insecurity and proposes police under Northern Provincial council(UN OCHA survey negates this claim). (TNA accused a military personnel of rape but it has emerged that the Tamil lady raped was by a Tamil man in the village and the victim identified the person nullifying the accusation completely Many of the other crimes taking place including domestic violence and child rape are by Tamils upon Tamils and proven through statistics).
- Job creation – TNA promises to tackle unemployment. (TNA-LTTE tackled this by recruiting children and youth as LTTE combatants. Since 2009 the State and armed forces have already engaged youth in employment and former cadres to pursue education or vocational training leading to jobs)
- Development with national and international assistance – TNA again echoes ISGA/PTOMs proposals for direct links with international community bypassing the GOSL.
- Role of International Community – TNA is subtly putting the idea to exert pressure on the GOSL to permit direct interface with the international community and TNA Northern Council and future Muslim Eastern Council.
Most of the other details replicate former manifestos but leave out the links to LTTE and drops calls to Tamils to regard LTTE as sole representative of the Tamils – advice courtesy of state-privileges and education enjoyed former judge Wigneswaran.
In saying ‘sovereignty lies with the People and not with the State’ TNA is attempting to use the election result as a platform to argue that victory for TNA equates to mean the establishment of a Tamil Eelam Nation for which the State does not require to hold an island-wide referendum – getting 2% votes hardly qualifies or merits such argument. When TNA next says ‘Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka is flawed’ it is now diluting India’s role and influence upon the TNA for it has not aligned to bigger fish which is why TNA is courting the Muslim Congress vis a vis the Tamil Speaking factor.
If the TNA is arguing on the basis of ‘Will’ of the Tamil people being ‘inalienable’ the fact that it has hardly 3% of total Tamil votes strengthened by the fact that the Tamils themselves have chosen to colonize themselves outside of their supposed ‘historical Tamil homeland’ areas speaks volumes and should tell TNA to take their eelam somewhere else! Voting for TNA and voting to create a Tamil Eelaam appears to be two totally different elements and do not compliment the other. Tamils now need to seriously wonder whether they are likely to again become guinea pigs to allow a handful of politicians to brandish some ideology so they can sit in power and this is a question that Muslims should also be asking themselves before they too fall into the same trap.