Elections & Urgent Need for Unity

THE FORTHCOMING PRESIDENTAL, PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS: THE URGENT NEED FOR THE UNITY OF ALL TAMIL POLITICAL PARTIES AT THIS CRITICAL TIME FOR TAMILS.

By: Kumarathasan Rasingam, Secretary, Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Org., August 23, 2019

As far as Tamils are concerned the forthcoming elections [Presidential and Parliamentary] is not going to solve any of the burning problems faced by the Tamils since independence, in 1948. Since independence Tamils and Tamil leaders were betrayed, cheated by the two major political parties United National Party UNP and Sri Lanka Freedom Party [SLFP] As far as Tamils are concerned both political parties who ruled Sri Lanka since independence [on February 04, 1948] and who are under the influence to Buddhist clergy and Maha Sanga came to power by carrying out the demand and aim of the Buddhist Clergy to make Sri Lanka a Buddhist Sinhalese State. Both parties will throw out numerous promises just before the elections and once they come to power they just forget their promises and act according to the wishes of the Maha Sanga, Extremist Buddhist clergy and Extremis Chauvinistic Sinhalese hardliners who are deadly against the Tamils.

Farsighted Father of Tamil Nation [Eelam] Samuel James Velupillai Chelvanayagam knowing this state of affairs united all Tamil Leaders in the North and East and passed a Resolution in Vaddukoddai on 14th May 1976 to demand for an independent state for Tamils in the North and East and fight for it by Ghandian style non-violence [Sathiyagraga and he urged the youth to come forward to take active part in the noble non-violent freedom struggle. This request motivated thousands of Tamils youths to join the freedom struggle.

Tamils non-violent struggle for freedom shut down almost all Sri Lankan Government Secretariets [Kachcheries] in the North and East for several months with people joining the struggle in thousands and the Government administration in the North and East came down to stand still. The non-violent struggle was crushed brutally by the Sri Lankan Military [90% Sinhalese] in 1961.

Similarly, it is important that all Tamil Political Parties must form a united front and this must include all Tamil Political Parties in the North, East, West and Upcountry in solidarity to voice for the justice to the oppressed Tamils in Sri Lanka.  As a united front, Tamils will have louder voice and will be deciding factor in the forthcoming President and Parliamentary Elections.

Recent unity by all Muslim MPs resigning on a common ground will be an eye opener for the Tamil Political Parties.  Although there are one or two Tamil Parties which are selfish and greedy, Tamils can ignore them completely and move forward.

The Government passed several laws to crush and suppress the freedom struggle like the 6th Amendment to the Constitution on 8th August 1983. [This Amendment is a violation of UN Charter] The freedom to express political opinions, to seek to persuade others of their merits, to seek to have them represented in Parliament, and thereafter seek Parliament to give effect to them, are all fundamental to democracy itself. These are precisely the freedoms which Article 25 (of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights) recognises and guarantees – and in respect of advocacy for the establishment of an independent Tamil State in Sri Lanka, those which the 6th Amendment is designed to outlaw. Sri Lanka Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No 48 of 1979 [Certified on 20 July 1979]
“The South African Terrorism Act has been called ‘a piece of legislation which must shock the conscience of a lawyer.’ Many of the provisions of the Sri Lankan Act are equally contrary to accepted principles of the Rule of Law”. – Virginia Leary: Ethnic Conflict and Violence in Sri Lanka – Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists, July/August 1981

These provisions (in the Prevention of Terrorism Act) are quite extraordinarily wide. No legislation conferring even remotely comparable powers is in force in any other free democracy operating under the Rule of Law, however troubled it may be by politically motivated violence. Indeed there is only one known precedent for the power to impose restriction orders under section 11 of the Sri Lankan P.T.A., and that – as Professor Leary rightly pointed out in her Report – is the comparable legislation currently in force in South Africa… such a provision is an ugly blot on the statute book of any civilised country.”  Paul Sieghart: Sri Lanka: A Mounting Tragedy of Errors – Report of International Commission of Jurists 1984

Several Pacts, Accord, undertakings, pledges were not implemented and the oppression against the Tamils continued vigorously and systematically with the support of the Sinhalese Government and its officials who consists 90 of Sinhalese.

Pact Signed between SLFP/Tamil leaders
On 26 July 1957, an agreement was entered into between Mr.S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Ceylon and Mr.S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, Leader of the Tamil Arasu Katchi (Federal Party) – the Bandaranaike Chelvanayakam Pact
The agreement was repudiated by Mr. Bandaranaike in April 1958 in view of a campaign led by the Buddhist clergy and sections of the Sinhala political leadership which included President J.R. Jayawardene, who was then leader of the opposition in Parliament and who on 4 October 1957 led a march to Kandy to invoke the blessings of the gods for his campaign.

Pacts signed between UNP/Tamil Leaders
Agreement entered into between Mr. Dudley Senanayake, Prime Minister of Ceylon (and leader of the United National Party) and Mr. S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, leader of the Tamil Arasu Katchi (Federal Party) on the 24th March 1965.
On the basis of this Agreement, the Federal Party extended support to the United National Party to form the Government and the Federal Party nominee, Mr.M.Thiruchelvam was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister of Local Government.
However, the Agreement was not given effect to by the Dudley Senanayake Government and this led to the withdrawal of the Federal Party from the Cabinet in 1968

Both major political parties are responsible for the miseries and sufferings of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

United National Party [UNP] was responsible for the following major actions.

  1. Don Stephen Senanayaka,{of the United National Party [UNP] the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka is credited with the planning and execution of major Sinhala colonization schemes under the guise of settling landless Sinhalese peasants from the South. He for all intents and purposes was the master-mind responsible for opening the flood-gates of Sinhalese colonization in traditional Tamil homelands.. Gal Oya Colonization Scheme is only one among several major state-sponsored colonization schemes launched by the Sri Lankan government.  There were numerous others like the Allai –Kanthalai and Yan Oya colonization schemes in the Trincomalee district, Maduru Oya in the Batticaloa district and Weli Oya (Manal Aru) in the Mullaitivu district.
    2. Disenfranchisement of Tamils of Indian Origin in 1950:-
    In 1948, at independence, the Tamils had 33% of the voting power in the legislature. Upon the disenfranchisement of the estate Tamils (in 1950), however, this proportion dropped to 20%. The Sinhalese obtained more than a 2/3 majority in the Parliament, making it impossible for the Tamils to exercise an effective opposition to Sinhalese policies affecting them…”- Virginia Leary: Ethnic Conflict and Violence in Sri Lanka – Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists, July/August 1981
  2. Burning of Jaffna Library: With several high-ranking Sinhalese security officers and two Cabinet Ministers, Cyril Mathew and Gamini Dissanayake (both self-confessed Sinhala supremacists) present in the town of Jaffna, uniformed security men and plainclothes thugs carried out some well-organized acts of destruction. They burned to the ground certain chosen targets – including the Jaffna Public Library, with its 95,000 volumes and priceless manuscripts, a Hindu temple, the office and machinery of the independent Tamil daily newspapers Eelanadu.
  3. State sponsored Pogrom in 1983 [Black July] the President of Sri Lanka – J. R. Jayawardene told the Reporter of London Daily Telegraph that “I am not worried about the opinion of the Jaffna people now.. Now we cannot think of them. Not about their lives or of their opinion about us…The more you put pressure in the north, the happier the Sinhalese people will be here… really if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy.”— From an interview with J.R. Jayewardene by Ian Ward. London Daily Telegraph, 11 July 1983.

The matters presented here in Genocide’83 constitute, at the lowest, prima facie evidence, sufficient to warrant an indictment for genocide against the Sri Lanka authorities for the crimes committed against the Tamil people in July and August 1983. Paul Sieghart in his Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists and its British Section, Justice, March 1984, concluded:
 “Clearly this was not a spontaneous upsurge of communal hatred among the Sinhala people.. It was a series of deliberate acts, executed in accordance with a concerted plan, conceived and organised well in advance. But who were the planners?… Communal riots in which Tamils are killed, maimed, robbed and rendered homeless are no longer isolated episodes; they are beginning to become a pernicious habit.”

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party [SLFP] was responsible for the following major actions.

Sinhala Only Bill, (1956), act passed by the government of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) making Sinhalese the official language of the country. The bill was the first step taken by the new government of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike to realize one of the main campaign promises that had brought about his landslide victory in the 1956 general election. Violently opposed by the Tamil-speaking minority in Ceylon, the passage of the bill was followed by rioting.

The SLFP decided to campaign on the slogan “Sinhala Only”—one of their key election promises in the 1956 parliamentary elections—and they won. The Sinhala Only bill was passed with the SLFP and the UNP supporting it, but the LSSP, Communist Party, and the Tamil nationalist parties opposed it.

Prof. Gunaratna, who was the Head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, is of the view that Singapore’s survival and prosperity could be attributed to the country’s harmonious coexistence between different groups of people.
“Without safety and security, the economy of a nation cannot grow. Sri Lanka went wrong mainly because of our short-sighted politicians, who played politics for their political and personal reasons,” he said, adding that the Sinhala Only Act, which was enacted during S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s government, had been absolutely unnecessary when all ethnic groups in Sri Lanka were living peacefully.

Singapore’s founder father Lee Kwan Yew modelled Singapore on Sri Lanka in 1950s but after 1956 Lee himself was very disappointed with the developments in Sri Lanka, which had performed brilliantly only until 1956. Unfortunately, Sri Lankan leaders played ethnic and religious politics, seeded hatred and division and the country was dragged back 30 years.

Pogrom Against the Tamils in 1977  The outbreak in mid-August (1977) of the anti-Tamil pogrom (the third such outbreak in two decades) has brought out the reality that the Tamil minority problem in Sri Lanka has remained unresolved now for nearly half a century, leading to the emergence of a separatist movement among the Tamils. As on previous occasions, what took place recently was not Sinhalese – Tamil riots, but an anti-Tamil pogrom. Although Sinhalese were among the casualties, the large majority of those killed, maimed and seriously wounded are Tamils. The victims of the widespread looting are largely Tamils. And among those whose shops and houses were destroyed, the Tamils are the worst sufferers. Of the nearly 75,000 refugees, the very large majority were Tamils, including Indian Tamil plantation workers in the hill country Tea, Rubber & coconut plantations.

Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987
The Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord was an accord signed in Colombo on 29 July 1987, between Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J. R. Jayewardene. The accord was expected to resolve the Sri Lankan Civil War by enabling the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka and the Provincial Councils Act of 1987. Under the terms of the agreement, Colombo agreed to devolution of power to the provinces, the Sri Lankan troops were to be withdrawn to their barracks in the north and the Tamil rebels were to surrender their arms.

According to the International Crisis Group, “Tamil concerns have been constantly marginalized,”and ethnically biased state institutions and politicized court system provide ‘little or no redress for or legal protection against the range of injustices faced by Tamils.” [International Crisis Group 2012.3]

Tamils have finished their tenth year without a modicum of justice as a result of not only the GoSL’s lack of political will, but also an international reluctance to adequately prioritize Tamil asks and perspectives. Although the UN system acted relatively quickly to innovate the independent investigative mechanism model in Syria and then in Myanmar, it has yet to afford the same consideration to the Tamil people it [UN} systemically failed over a decade ago. Since time is the enemy of evidence-gathering, international legal experts and Tamil activists are urgently calling for the establishment of an independent investigative mechanism before physical evidence is destroyed and victims forget or die. At this juncture, the international community should adopt a truly victim-centric approach by listening to Tamils and authorizing an independent investigative mechanism to ensure the eventual delivery of justice and accurate naming of their harms suffered.

In conclusion, Tamils in Sri Lanka have lost hopes, trust on any Sinhalese Government who are in majority and under the influence the Buddhist clergy and extremist Sinhala chauvinists will come forward to deliver justice to the Tamils. Tamils have waited too long for justice and are frustrated and losing hopes that they can live with the Buddhist Sinhalese who are now deadly against the Tamils, Christians and Muslims who are brainwashed that the minorities are a burden to them and their aim to make Sri Lanka a Buddhist Sinhala State.

It is high time for the United Nations,, UN Security Council, UNHRC, International Criminal Court to intervene in Sri Lanka and investigate all crimes since independence and bring the perpetrators to accountability; Countries and races that suffered as result of state oppression, illegal occupation and Apartheid must join together as one voice and demand for transparent investigation, accountability and Justice for all oppressed people.

Tamil National Alliance and other Tamil political parties must understand that with a recorded history of betrayals and facing the four frontal weapons of Buddhisisation, Sinhala chauvinism coupled with Sinhalisation and militarization, if the Tamil parties fail to confront these challenges with unity, they will be only digging their own graves as well as the graves of deceived desperate Tamils.

The recent action taken by all Muslim parties – collectively resigning the post of ministers irrespective of party politics shocked the government, Sinhala chauvinists and Maha Sanga which forced the Government to think twice to requested the Muslim Ministers to withdraw their resignations.

Will the Tamil political leaders unite at this critical time faced by the Tamils or allow them to perish due to their ego and selfish acts?

UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL.

No Responses to “Elections & Urgent Need for Unity”

  1. Thanga

    Rasingam’s call for urgent unity of all political parties is like the devil preaching from the scripture. the devil cannot exult over the divine glory of the Scripture which he hates it. So the Devil cannot preach. So is R who hates and denigrates the TNA cannot talk of unity!

    R  has recycled most of the stuff known to readers.

    R has been conducting a virulent anti-TNA propaganda in the form of political innuendos, insinuation, lies and damn lie. R is the least qualified to speak/write about unity.

    During the 2015 parliamentary elections, he worked hard to promote TPNF/ACTC by providing funds and propaganda.  His aim was to create an alternative leadership to the TNA.

    Unfortunately, the Tamil people were wiser and articulate.  The TNA obtained 69.12% of the votes in Jaffna electoral district. On the other hand,  TPNF/ACTC lost deposits in 7 out of 8 districts it contested. It saved its deposit in Jaffna district by just 5 votes. It polled 15,022 (5%) votes.

    R asserts”if the Tamil parties fail to confront these challenges with unity, they will be only digging their own graves as well as the graves of deceived desperate Tamils” – the fact of the matter is the Tamil people under the leadership of TNA  are fighting for Tamils  rights from multiple fronts by using soft power,  like Parliament, Provincial Councils/UNHRC and the International Community.

    UNHRC Resolution 30.1  is hanging like a sword over the head of Sri Lanka. If Sri Lanka fails to implement the resolution, it will have repercussions.

    When Sharvendra Silva was sworn in on August 21st as Army Commander USA together with UK, EU, Canada boycotted the function. What this means is Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva accused of human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity cannot travel to those countries. 

    R is one of the fiercest critics of  UNHRC Resolution 30/1, 40/1 and 47/1.

    Unity must be based on principles and policies. the TNPF/ACTC walked away from the TNA for no valid reason. Likewise, the EPLRF quit the TNA after losing the election in 2015. He asked for a National List slot when he came 6th   out of ten. He polled just 29,906 votes.

    The TPNF/ACTC is a fierce critic of India. Gajendra Kumar is accusing the TNA of playing second fiddle to India. That it is a stooge of India. So how can TNPF/ACTC  and TNA co-exist?

    Gajendra Kumar is even refusing to join Wigneswaran’s newly minted Thamil Makkal Kooddani as long as EPLRF is in that alliance!

    Wigneswaran’s political party is a non-starter. After 10 months of existence, it had managed to form only 3 branch organizations.

    Wigneswaran is an egoist who foolishly thinks that he can teach politics to R.Sampanthan, leve alone Sumanthiran.

    Those who are interested in UNITY must come with clean hands and without bias.  

     

    Reply

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