Thousands swarm Vavuniya for self-determination rally

[TamilNet, Friday, 01 March 2002, 16:50 GMT]
Mr. P. Chandrasekeran, Minister for Plantation Community Development speaking at the 'Pongu Thamil' rally.
More than thirty thousand people gathered in Vavuniya town Friday afternoon for the Pongu Thamil upsurge rally and cultural program. Five large processions led by Tamil National Alliance politicians and community leaders in Vavuniya converged on the grounds of the northern border town's urban council Wednesday afternoon. The highlight of the rally was the burning of a large cardboard replica of an army boot on the grounds, symbolising the military oppression of the Tamils by the Sri Lankan state.

Two United National Front government ministers, Mr. P. Chandrasekeran (Plantation Community Development) and Mr. Noordeen Mashoor (Vanni Rehabilitation) and UNF MPs, Mr. Mano Ganeshan and Mr. R. Yogarajan took part in the rally.

Mr. Noordeen Mashoor speaking at the 'Pongu Thamil rally' in Vavuniya.
Many groups of marchers in the processions carried large photos of the LTTE leader Mr. Velupillai Pirapaharan.

"The rights that the Tamils may enjoy today were secured by the armed struggle of the Liberation Tigers. If Tamils are recognised in the world today it is because of the LTTE. We Tamils should no longer be divided as Up country Tamils and northeastern Tamils. There should no longer be any difference between the Tamil armed struggle and Tamil politics. In the future the 3.5 million Tamils in Sri Lanka should unite and struggle as one," said Mr. P. Chandrasekeran, Minister for Plantation Community Development, speaking at the Pongu Thamil rally in Vavuniya Friday.

Selvam Adaikalanathan, TNA MP for Vanni.
"If the Sri Lankan state cheats at the peace negotiations this time all of us should join the Liberation Tigers to fight for independent Eelam", said Selvam Adaikalanathan, TNA MP for Vanni in his speech.

"Do not, for a moment, believe what the Sinhala state has granted us concessions out of compassion. These are not concessions. They are our basic rights. We enjoy these rights today only because the LTTE hit the Sri Lankan state hard and got them for us by the force of arms", he said.

Mr. Noordeen Masoor, Minister for Vanni Rehabilitation, addressing the rally said: "the Muslims of the northern province never betrayed the Tigers despite great adversity. The Pongu Thamil upsurge today clearly shows that whenever the rights of a people are denied they will rise in revolt against the oppression. This is inevitable".

Mr.N.Sivajilingam, TNA MP for Jaffna speaking at the Pongu Thamil rally in Vavuniya.
The TNA MPs for Batticaloa, Mr. Gnanamuttu Krishnapillai (Vellimalai) and Mr. T. Thangavadivel and TNA MP for Jaffna, Mr. A. Vinayagamoorthy, Mr. N. Sivajilingam and Mr.Gajendarakumar Ponnampalam also spoke at the rally.

In his speech, Mr. Gajendrakumar said, "We are on the verge of achieving our freedom".

The Pongu Thamil proclamation reiterated the Tamils' demand for the self-determination, integrity of their homeland, the recognition of the LTTE as the sole representatives of the Tamils and the lifting of the ban on them. The thousands who crowded the council grounds raised their hands to take the Pongu Thamil Oath.

The rally was covered in real time by Tamil radios in Canada and Europe. Local and foreign journalists were also present at the rally.

The Vavuniya Pongu Thamil upsurge was organised by a joint committee comprising TNA, students of the Vavuniya campus of the Jaffna University and College of Education, traders and trade unions.

(Please click on the images for larger photo)

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