Feature Article

Repeal 6th Amendment for free discussion: VIS Jayapalan

[TamilNet, Saturday, 19 December 2015, 08:55 GMT]
There could be no claim of reconciliation without the release of political prisoners in the island. Attempting reconciliation and engaging in reconciliation are two different things. So far, the incumbent SL president has only been attempting reconciliation, VIS Jayapalan, a well-known Eezham Tamil poet and an award-winning actor in Indian Tamil cinema, said in an interview to TamilNet Palaka’ni this week. Stating that a political solution, be it separation or federation, should be achieved through an open debate in a free environment between the Tamil-speaking people and the Sinhalese people, Mr Jayapalan urged the civil society in the South to realise the significance of creating the necessary non-violent space through making the SL State to repeal the 6th Amendment to the SL Constitution.

The Tamil-speaking people remain committed to their traditional homeland. The conflict is more concerned with the territory, where Tamils have not made gains as compared to language rights, he said. The next generation of Eezham Tamils will be taking up the struggle if the politicians of today fail to resolve the national question through peaceful means.

The mechanisms surrounding the SL constitution have been blocking the Tamils and Sinhalese people to engage in a genuine dialogue in order to resolve the root conflict through objective communication on fundamental issues, he said. The armed struggle was born when the South permanently blocked such space in the past, he added.

The civil society in the South should realise the significance of achieving a political solution to bring permanent peace, prosperity and stability through creating the space that could also enable the Tamils to opt for a transition from the policy of separation towards a right to self-determination oriented federation. As far as a political solution is concerned, these are the only two choices, he said. He was citing the peaceful separation between Norway and Sweden and the peaceful existence of federations in Switzerland. There needs to be a space enabling the debate. Tamils and Sinhalese will have an on-going conflict, as the case in Palestine, for generations to come, if Sri Lanka fails to deliver a just solution to Tamils, he said.

Mr Jayapalan was also seeking space for genuine discussions among the various sections of the Tamil-speaking peoples, both in the homeland and in the Diaspora.

Jayapalan said there has been a systematic pattern of genocide against the Tamil-speaking people in the island. He traced the beginnings of the genocidal project back to 1915, when Tamil-speaking Muslims were targeted in a systematic pogrom. The Up-country Tamils became the next target before the project took the form of erasing the territorial claim of Eezham Tamils in the North-East, he said.

The Tamils have not surrendered their territorial claim. The pattern of the voting in post-2009 elections has also established this, he said.

“You can deceive the West, but you should not deceive your coming generations,” was the underlying message Jayapalan was passing to the regime in Colombo.

The poet was seeing the positive sides of globalisation benefiting Tamils and was carefully avoiding responding to questions on larger geo-political issues that dictate the trends of globalization processes operating through state-centric systems against the interests of the military-less and state-less peoples in the region.

Jayapalan, who has a keen interest on military geography, was seeing the Sinhala military occupation on the homeland of Tamil-speaking people not just as a matter of occupation targeted against the Eezham Tamils. One could also sense an underlying military outlook of Colombo conceived as a short-term buffer of resistance against a future Indian military designs on Sri Lanka, he said. One could see this as the pattern of established military cantonments, naval installations in the North-East and the kind of military hardware being acquired by Colombo, he said.

He was also arguing that the strategic natural harbour of Trincomalee was still having a maritime significance as in the past.

The previous regime had detained Mr Jayapalan, a Norwegian citizenship holder, when he visited the island two years ago in November 2013. As international and domestic pressure mounted against his detention, Jayapalan was deported from the island.

Jayapalan said he was disturbed by the prevailing attitude among the section of Sinhala intelligence officers, who engaged in some sort of ‘off the record’ conversation with him when he was detained in 2013. The intelligence officers had perceived a ‘violent threat’ from Wahhabi sections of the Muslims, Jayapalan said. He also sensed a nexus between the intelligence wing of the SL State, the Podu Bala Sena and the reports appearing in The Island at that time. If there has been no change in the regime in 2015, these forces would have gone to the extent of marking the 1915 pogrom against the Muslims after 100 years, Jayapalan noted.

This year, after receiving an invitation from a group of Sinhala writers, who translated three of his writings from Tamil to Sinhala, Jayapalan applied for a visa to enter the island. But, he received a negative reply from the Sri Lankan Embassy officials, who maintained that the applicant’s name was still on a blacklist.

Later, SL Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera went on record in the parliament as the issue gained some attention in the press. Mr Samaraweera was saying that Jayapalan could again apply for a visa and that his application would be positively considered.

However, the Eezham Tamil poet maintained that the SL authorities should rectify the ‘errors’ in their system in a principled manner and respond to his earlier application. Rather than addressing the case as an exceptional and isolated one at the mercy of a new application for visa, the matter should set precedence in treating all applicants having a connection to their place of origin as equals, Jayapalan said.



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