Sri Lanka ID card symbol of Tamils’ humiliations – TNA MP
[TamilNet, Thursday, 07 October 2004, 12:57 GMT]
“The national identity card is a symbol of enslavement for the Tamils. It is a symbol of the humiliations to which they were subjected by the Sinhala state. What is the guarantee that the two main Sinhala parties won’t unite in the future to deny Tamils their voting right by making voter identity cards issued under this law invalid in the northeast? These parties get together only to disfranchise Tamils or to deny their legitimate rights”, said Mr. Selvarajah Gajendran, Tamil National Alliance MP for Jaffna, speaking on the election identity card bill in Sri Lanka’s Parliament Thursday.
The controversial bill was passed without opposition after party leaders reached an agreement earlier this week that it would not be implemented until national identity cards are issued to all persons who are eligible to vote.
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) abstained.
The bill was earlier opposed by the United National Party and the TNA on the ground that it could be used by President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s government disfranchise thousands of voters.
Continuing his speech, Mr. Gajendran said: “Hon. V. Navaratnam who was a Member of Parliament opposed the bill to introduce national identity cards (NIC) in 1968. He said at the time that the NIC would be used by Sinhala leaders to enslave Tamils. No one heeded his warning at the time. What happened? We had to carry national identity cards like dogs.”
“It is a fact that the Sinhala governments disfranchised hundreds of thousands of Tamils in the hill country in the past. They created new electorates such as Seruwila with Sinhala colonists to reduce the voting strength of the Tamil people in the northeast. They prevented our people from voting at the general elections of 2001”.
“Sinhala leaders expected the people to reject the policies of the Liberation Tigers at the 2004 general election. But they were disappointed by the verdict given by our people. Therefore we suspect the Sinhala government is conspiring to deny Tamils their voting rights again. We have reason to suspect that it might use this law to stop our people from expressing their legitimate political aspirations in a future election democratically and peacefully. The government can deny identity cards to thousands of Tamils who may reach 18 years (voting age) or return from abroad or come back from refugee camps in India after the one year when it come into effect”, Mr. Gajendran said.