Feature Article
2ND LEAD (Update)

Tamil parties in North-East stipulate ‘acid test’ terms to SL presidential candidates

[TamilNet, Monday, 14 October 2019, 23:48 GMT]
The main political parties of Eezham Tamils, which claim to uphold the principles of the concept of Tamil nationhood through the Right of Self-Determination and distinct sovereignty of Tamils to their traditional homeland, have come to an understanding of the terms to be placed as the acid-test conditions to the candidates running for the executive presidency of the unitary state of genocidal Sri Lanka. While the parties have unitedly formed the main demands towards the presidential candidates, they have failed in two crucial aspects. Firstly, the failure to course-correct the ‘Quisling politics’ of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Secondly, the inability to stipulate the conditions and choices of Eezham Tamils if and when the actors in the South fail to meet the acid-test terms, especially before the SL Presidential elections.

None of the primary Sinhala candidates would pass the test. Therefore, it is more important to look into the conditions than the terms.

“Those among the above the demands, which must be immediately addressed, should be resolved within three months since the day the new president assumes office,” reads the concluding paragraph of the document which was drafted in Tamil.

While articulating the terms and the vague conditions, the drafters of the written and signed ‘consensus’ document seem to have forgotten the target audience and the significance of the lingua franca.

Ilangkai Thamizh Arasuk Kadchi (ITAK), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), Peoples Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) that constitute the current Tamil National Alliance (TNA) took part in the process. All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) which comes under the alliance of Tamil National Peoples’ Front (TNPF), Eelam Peoples’ Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) as well as Thamil Makkal Koottani, the party under the leadership of Justice C.V. Wigneswaran, also constituted the platform in the consensus process.

The process was brought forward through the efforts of the university student community in the North and the East.

It was unclear which immediate issues that should be addressed first by the future SL President. Similarly, the signed document fails to specify the mid-term and long-term demands.

The lack of clear conditions creates the loophole for meaningless promises and discourses.

For example, an SL presidential candidate could come up with the vague assurance of setting up a Presidential Commission to look into the demands within the three months and the TNA could ask Tamils to vote for a particular candidate based on the meaningless promise of looking into the ‘consensus’ document of the Tamil parties.

Therefore, the primary fault line of the process was its failure to establish the assurance of non-recurrence on the part of the TNA which could water down the concepts as it did in the recent past taking part and tacitly approving the interim report on ‘reforming’ the SL Constitution, a move that failed to comply with the Tamil demands. This is the Achilles heel of the TNA.

The second concern is the succumbing electoral politics practised by the TNPF. While it was sharp on the Achilles heel issue of the TNA, the TNPF has also contributed to the vague formulations of the conditions.

Five parties, the ITAK, TELO, PLOTE, EPRLF and the TMK have signed the document while the ACTC (TNPF), which contributed to shape the outcome, refrained to do so due to the specific and justified concern it had.

However, the process itself was a good starter and educative, especially to the new generation of Eezham Tamil students in the North and East.

The demands translated from Tamil to English follow:

  • New constitutional processes that uphold unitary system of rule should be rejected. The Tamil national question of Ilangkai [Ceylon] must be resolved through a federal framework with the realisation that Tamils constitute a nation with distinct sovereignty and that nation is entitled to the Right of Self-Determination under the International Law

  • Comprehensive and independent investigations must be carried out through the International Criminal Court/ Criminal Tribunal on the allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed during the final war

  • The Prevention of Terrorism Act must be repealed

  • Unconditional release of all Tamil Political Prisoners

  • Justice must be accorded through international mechanisms to those who have suffered by the enforced disappearances

  • The state forces stationed in the Northern and Eastern provinces must be evicted from the private and crown lands which were utilised by the Tamil people before the war; those areas must be released; and the resettlement process should be accelerated

  • The ongoing state-sponsored Sinhalicisation, Buddhicisation and Sinhala colonisation in the Northern and Eastern provinces must be stopped forthwith

  • The jurisdiction of Mahaweli Authority, which is functioning as an authority to create Sinhala only colonies in the Northern province under cover of diverting the Mahaweli river towards the North, must be abdicated. Furthermore, all Sinhala colonisation schemes being taken forward in the Eastern Province under the so-called Mahaweli Development Programme must be terminated

  • All the recently introduced Sinhala colonisation schemes under the Moragaskanda Irrigation Programme in Vanni must be stopped forthwith

  • Encroachment of lands and places of worships through government departments including the Archaeology, Forest and Wildlife conservation departments must be immediately stopped. The lands, which were appropriated through Gazette notifications by the above-mentioned departments, must be de-gazetted

  • The legal impediments faced by the Ceylonese living abroad in making direct investments and obtaining lands to develop the war-affected Northern and Eastern provinces and to provide job opportunities to the youth, must be removed

  • Preference must be accorded to those who hail from the Northern and Eastern provinces in the public and the private sector employment in the North-East

  • Declare North-East as War-Ravaged Region and create a Joint Mechanism, which should handle the development assistance and place it under the guidance and disposal of the elected representatives of the people in the North-East



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