TNA blames Easter Sunday massacres on Sri Lanka’s failure to address grievances of minorities

M.A. Sumanthiran - TNA

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Jaffna District MP M.A. Sumanthiran on Monday (April 29) alleges that the Easter Sunday carnage was a result of Sri Lanka’s failure to ensure certain basic values.

Attorney-at-law Sumanthiran waned of dire consequences unless the government addressed the grievances of the minorities. The lawmaker said so at an event organized by Sinhala weekly Annidda to celebrate its first anniversary at the BMICH.

At the onset of the programme, Annidda editor attorney-at-law K. W. Janaranjana requested speakers Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda, Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Deepika Udagama, MP M.A. Sumanthiran, PC, J.C. Weliamuna, PC and Constitutional Council member attorney-at-law Javid Yusuf and filmmaker Asoka Handagama to take the Easter Sunday carnage into consideration.

Speakers dealt with the topic ‘Sri Lanka beyond 2020.’

Sumanthiran said that no conversation took place today without reference to Easter Sunday attacks. The lawmaker said that the public were asking what was going to happen because the country was stunned by what happened on that day. Sumanthiran: “All of us were so complacent we lived in a fool’s paradise imagining that the country was in peace in the absence of violence.”

As there had been no fighting for 10 years people assumed the country had attained peace. All that was shattered that morning on Easter Sunday, the MP said.

Such an attack would have happened some day because the country had not laid the foundation for peaceful co-existence in this country the TNA heavyweight said. “What we saw was a false edifice. And we were quite happy to carry on with that. Three decades of violent conflict that emanated from the North and East kept us on our toes and those days we actually saw the need to address those issues in a very deep and meaningful way.”

Sumanthiran alleged that once the war was brought to a conclusion in May 2009, those responsible assumed there was no requirement to address those issues. They continued to pay lip service, the lawmaker alleged, adding: “Whenever issues were raised, they say they must resolve those issues. But deep down, they didn’t feel those issues had to be addressed.”

Professor Carlo Fonseka, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Minister Mano Ganeshan, MP. Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa, former MP Lal Kantha and a large group of civil society activists, including Ven. Dambara Amila, Gamini Viyangoda, Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya, Saman Ratnapriya, Chandragupta Thenuwara and Sandya Ekneligoda were present on the occasion.

Referring to the Easter Sunday carnage, Sumanthiran said it was most unfortunate that something like that had to happen for the country to reflect and realize that it necessarily had to go back to certain basic values by which all could live together as a country. Sumanthiran warned: “Unless we agree on those basic values we are doomed.” Declaring that there wouldn’t be any future for the country unless consensus could be reached on what those basic values were, Sumanthiran called equality a key value.

Recollecting the events leading to the change of government in January 2015, Sumanthiran alleged that there were many shortcomings in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in early 2015. He emphasized that both Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the then Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC repeatedly assured in parliament during different stages of the debate on the new law that the 19th Amendment was a temporary measure

Sumanthiran stressed on the pivotal importance of an all inclusive new Constitution as well as what he called a social contract. The lawmaker referred to a written contract as well as social underpins. Underscoring the value of equality, Sumanthiran said that should be reflected in the Constitution as well as the ‘Social Contract.’

Complaining about lack of ‘Social Contract,’ Sumanthiran warned that Tamil people hadn’t agreed to live in one country yet.

Declaring that the Tamils hadn’t accepted 1972 and 1978 Constitutions, Sumanthiran said that in the absence of their participation in the new Constitution making process, there couldn’t be a “Social Contract.’

“The most significant minority not yet given their consent to live together as one country because they had not agreed to that social contract. They were not party to that social contract,” he said.

Sumanthiran also complained about the failure to enact a new Constitution though a serious effort was made following the change of government. Sumanthiran declared that they were successful to a great extent in their attempts due to consensus from all sections. Pointing out that a draft itself became available, Sumanthiran alleged that the whole process collapsed for want of political will.

Gesturing towards Minister Mano Ganesan, Sumanthiran recollected how the lawmaker repeatedly pointed out that the Constitutional making process couldn’t succeed in the absence of political will. Sumanthiran said: “I fought with Mano Ganeshan. I challenged him, publicly because we assumed it success could be achieved as all of us got together.”

Sumanthiran said though they managed to arrive at a consensus, the process failed.

The TNA spokesman emphasized that there was no agreement/consensus with regard to basic value of equality in the country. Sumanthiran recalled how he opposed in parliament Buddhism being given the foremost place in the Constitution. The Jaffna District MP said that he took a tough stand on behalf of his community when the interim report was debated. The MP said that he declared they were willing to concede that to appease the majority community. “I came under heavy attack. People asked me who are you to concede that,” Sumanthiran said. The MP acknowledged that his people were quite right in taking that stand.

At the conclusion, Sumanthiran asked whether Sri Lankans were really ready to accept that all were equal. And if not, there wouldn’t be a tomorrow, the MP said.

(Source: The Island – By Shamindra Ferdinando)