It is alleged that not even a library association meeting takes place in that part of the country without the intimidating presence of military personnel. These complaints should be investigated and swift action taken to reassess the security situation there and relax restrictions on people’s freedom.
June 17, 2011,
Thursday’s savage attack on a group of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians at a meeting in Jaffna must be condemned unreservedly. Among the injured are TNA members and the police officers providing security to MPs. The TNA has identified the assailants as military personnel.
The government and the army top brass must not try to cover up the brutal attack. They must pluck up courage to face it and take steps to ensure that the assailants, who are a disgrace to the armed forces, are brought to justice forthwith and prevent the repetition of such unfortunate incidents. The people of the North, who went through hell under Prabhakaran’s jackboot, must not be made to suffer under anyone else’s. Thursday’s cowardly act of terrorism perpetrated against a group of parliamentarians and civilians engaged in democratic activity is also a body blow for the on-going reconciliation process.
The TNA parliamentarians who are calling for action against their assailants are no paragons of virtue, period. They backed the LTTE to the hilt and sought to justify its barbaric terrorism. In fact, they benefited from LTTE terrorism immensely as the European Union polls observers have noted in their report on the 2004 parliamentary election. The TNA never condemned heinous crimes the LTTE committed such as forcible conscription of children, civilian massacres, political assassinations, murders, extortion and violent suppression of political dissent. While the LTTE was reigning supreme in the North and the East, no political party other than the TNA was allowed to do political work there. Worse, the TNA politicians campaigning for democracy and human rights today accepted the murderous LTTE as the sole representative of the Tamil people and had no qualms about acting as its mouthpiece in Parliament much to the consternation of the victims of terrorism. But, it must be stressed that the TNA’s right to engage in democratic politics and voice dissent must be recognised and safeguarded at any cost in spite of its abominable past.
Having secured popular support convincingly at the last parliamentary and LG polls, the TNA, as the main Tamil political party, has a pivotal role to play in rekindling democracy in the former war zone. It should have the freedom to operate in any part of the country.
The army is doing a thankless job in the North and the East. Having graduated from a ceremonial role to combat operations owing to armed conflicts in the North and the South, today it has had to perform constabulary duties in the post war period. Its contribution to rehabilitation, reconstruction, administration, development work etc in the North and the East is praiseworthy. But, all its good work will be in vain if a handful of rogue elements within its ranks are allowed to unleash violence with impunity.
There have been protests by concerned citizens of the North against the denial of their freedom of assembly. Thursday’s incident is also said to have been sparked by an argument between the army and the TNA over the legality of the latter’s indoor meeting. It is alleged that not even a library association meeting takes place in that part of the country without the intimidating presence of military personnel. These complaints should be investigated and swift action taken to reassess the security situation there and relax restrictions on people’s freedom.
Unless the government and the Army Commander act immediately to have Thursday’s dastardly attack probed and the suspects dealt with according to the law, they will only help a different breed of terrorism emerge in the former war zone, where people are struggling to rebuild their lives. They will also prove right their critics who accuse them of sweeping the so-called accountability issues under the carpet.