Feature Article

Sirisena regime will not deliver acceptable solution without international intervention: ITAK MP

[TamilNet, Saturday, 08 October 2016, 21:53 GMT]
ITAK Parliamentarian from Batticaloa S Yogeswaran has categorically stated that the regime of Sirisena and Wickramasinghe, which was brought to power with the votes of Tamils, is not going to deliver a reasonable political solution satisfying the expectation of Tamils on its own without international intervention. “I don't speak for others. My conviction is that the Government will not deliver an acceptable solution for Tamils on its own,” he said. “There are a lot of steps to be taken,” and none of these have been achieved so far, he added. Austin Fernando, installed as the governor of the East after Sirisena became the SL president, has been preoccupied with tracing every avenue to Sinhalicise the Batticaloa district. It has now been revealed that the SL President Sirisena's Mahaweli ministry is also behind the Sinhala colonisation, he said.

The leaders in South produce only words, not deeds. Their words too are now going against the expectation of Tamils as all shades of the Sinhala polity stand openly opposed to even mention “federalism,” in the SL Constitution to come, Mr Seeniththamby Yogeswaran, who was elected twice on TNA ticket representing the ITAK in Batticaloa district said in the video interview to TamilNet.

Tamils are regarded only as a minority by the Colombo regime. Tamils constitute a distinct nation in the island and this should be accepted by the Sinhala leaders if they are genuine about a political settlement, Mr Yogeswaran said.

On the burning issues of persons subjected to forcible disappearances and continued imprisonment of Tamil political prisoners, the current regime has adopted the same line of the Rajapaksa government, Mr Yogeswaran said.

The grandfather of the current Tamil minister in the Sirisena regime, D.M. Swaminthan, who is in charge of Prison Reforms and Resettlement was none other than the grandson of Sir Pon Ramanathan, who was celebrated by the Sinhalese in 1915 when he took the burden of traveling to UK amidst the Second World War to secure the release of Sinhalese leaders. The Sinhalese leader were imprisoned by the British rulers in the island for their involvement in anti-Muslim violence at that time. When Sir Pon Ramanathan released them, they celebrated him. But, the irony in the history of political prisoners in the island is that the grandparent of Ramanathan is not able to release the Tamil political prisoners who are languishing in the SL prisons for several years, the TNA parliamentarian told TamilNet.

The JVPers who were imprisoned by the Colombo regime in the past were released after a general amnesty. But the current regime is not able to take a principled decision on giving general amnesty and release the Tamil political prisoners, who have been languishing for several years in the prison, he said.

Apart from delivering some promises in the resettlement of uprooted Champoor Tamils in Trincomalee, in Jaffna and in bringing relatively better environment than as it was under the Rajapaksa regime, there is nothing else to be mentioned as achievements on the ground so far, according to Yogeswaran.

Under the Rajapaksa regime, it was the Forest Department and Wild-Life Department, which were engaged in seizing the lands from border areas in Batticaloa district situated towards Polonnaruwa and Ampaa'rai districts. The SL military, SL Navy and Buddhist monks were deployed in colonising the Tamil lands.

Rajapaksa was attempting to divert UN’s funding mechanism, which was intended to safeguard the aboriginal communities to colonize Vaakarai region with Sinhala settlers. His plan was to twist the identity of 47 birth certificates of Ceylon Tamils into Veddahs at Challith-theevu in Vaakarai with the backing of Pillayan, who was installed as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province.

Since there was no distinction between Tamil or Sinhala in the Veddah identity used in the false birth certificates, Rajapaksa regime was aiming to bring in Sinhala settlers from Mahiyangana in the South using the Veddah identity to change the demographic pattern of Tamil Vaakarai. The plan was spoiled following sharp opposition coming from the Tamils, Mr Yogeswaran said.

However, as the plan didn’t work, Colombo aimed to convert 1,000 acres belonging to cashew plantations at Kadjuwatte in Panichchang-kea’ni into a Sinhala settlement through the SL Navy. “Let us say, if they had managed to alienate 20 perches of lands to each Sinhala family, they would have created a settlement of 8,000 families numbering around 24,000 Sinhalese achieving their agenda of electing at least one parliamentary seat from Batticaloa district for Sinhalese,” he said. Mr Yogeswaran was describing how the demographic genocide was committed in Trincomalee and Ampaa'rai against Tamils.

Although the opposition coming from Tamils managed to stop the colonisation schemes at Vaakarai and Panichchang-kea'ni, the SL Navy is still occupying the coastal area situated just south of Vaakarai, he added.

Under the Rajapaksa regime, there were several plans to seize the lands of Tamils by occupying their pasturelands, border villages and the military Governor of Eastern Province was also trying to allocate lands to businessmen from South at several places.

The SL Forest Department and Wild-Life Department were operating against the Tamils backing the settlers and home guards.

“But all of a sudden, we are now being told that the pasturelands and Sinhala settlements are coming under the Mahaweli Ministry, which is under the SL president Maithiripala Sirisena,” Yogeswaran said adding that Buddhist monks are continuing to settle Sinhalese with the backing of Colombo’s military.

Immediately after coming to power, the current Governor was only thinking to trace the possibilities and manipulate these to colonize the Batticaloa district with Sinhalese, Yogeswaran said.

Austin Fernando suddenly invited the Government Agent and Divisional Secretary of Vaakarai division with the claim that there were 178 Sinhala families living in Kaarai-munai until 1985.

The GA, without knowing the historical background, promised to look into the matter. “If there were 178 Sinahalese families as the Governor claims, there would have been a Sinhala village by a name; there would have been birth certificates issued to their children; the families would have received PLR if they had engaged in agriculture; there would have been an electoral registry with their entries. Without tracing all these, you can’t proceed with settling them I told the GA. I was very well aware that there was no such Sinhala settlement,” he said.

“For some time there was no response. But, all of a sudden some Sinhalese to come with documents of permit lands in their names. These documents were in Sinhala language. I told GA that there was no such practice of issuing permit lands in Sinahala language in the history of Batticaloa district. All these documents were fake,” he said.

Recently, the GA and EPC Minister for Agriculture went together to inspect the Sinhala colonisation of Mayilaththa-madu. But, they issued statements contradicting each other. While the EPC Minister was saying that there was excessive colonisation, the GA was claiming there was no such big-scale colonisation. The GA was further delaying clarifications on the border-line of Batticaloa district causing ambiguity on the issue, he said.

The TNA MP from Batticaloa was also claiming that there was widespread corruption prevailing at the District Secretariat under the GA and that some among the ITAK hierarchy were still defending her. The ITAK cannot fail the people, he said adding that he is set to take up the issues with the hierarchy of the ITAK.


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