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FeaturesNewsTNA: Sri Lanka performance lacking on solving key Tamil issues

TNA: Sri Lanka performance lacking on solving key Tamil issues


While Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has endeavored to work in the spirit of co-operation with the Sri Lanka Government, the Government has yet to address the Rehabilitation and Resettlement of all displaced Tamil families, continued to unlawfully repossess the land from Tamil people, and has failed to craft a political solution within the framework of united and undivided country that will enable the Tamil people to live in security and dignity, fulfilling their legitimate political, economic, social and cultural aspirations, TNA said in a press release issued before the local authority elections in the North East. “The Government has not even kept its several commitments to the Tamil National Alliance on the release of Tamil detainees,” the release added.

The Tamil National Alliance (T.N.A.) is contesting the Local Authority elections in the North and East and is opposed by the United People’s Freedom Alliance (U.P.F.A.), the governing party.

The T.N.A.’s election campaign focuses principally on three issues.

    (1) Resettlement and Rehabilitation of all displaced Tamil families in the North and East on the lands originally occupied by them, with proper housing, adequate livelihood opportunities, effective civil administration-that will address their socio-economic and cultural needs and enable them to return to normal life and live with security and dignity. Two years have elapsed since the end of the war, but the Government’s performance in this regard has been dismally poor. The Government does not show a commitment, to meaningfully rebuilding the lives of the displaced people. There is no structured and properly co-ordinated programme to carry out this massive task in all its aspects. Apart from being released from the camps in which they were held there has been no qualitative improvement in the lives of these displaced people. All that they owned was destroyed by the war and they continue to lead a life of denial and deprivation without housing, livelihood opportunities and other basic necessities. Government’s actions are purely propagandist and do not focus on rebuilding the lives of these people. The callous actions of the Government in regard to the allocation of the 500 tractors gifted for the benefit of the affected people in the Vanni by India- the politically motivated bias showed in the choice of persons to whom land masters gifted by a Humanitarian Organization were distributed and the inordinate delay again for political reasons in the commencement of implementation of the 50,000 Houses programme gifted by India, are a few instances which clearly demonstrate the government’s lack of sincere commitment to the welfare of the affected people and the overwhelming desire for cheap political gain. Rather than genuinely serve the best interests of these badly affected people, the Government is only concerned with gaining some political mileage. (2) Actions by the Government, or with Government patronage pertaining to lands for military purposes, for purported development purposes, lands lawfully possessed by Tamil people for residence or agriculture from which they are now being evicted, other lands now being unlawfully occupied- sacred places of worship and venerated places of culture of the Tamil people being misused and being desecrated , installation of new places of worship signs and symbols to distort the cultural identity of certain areas and such other actions which will cause immense harm to the future well being of the Tamil people in the North and East, being carried out from shortly after the conclusion of the war and indicative of a deliberate and diabolical plan, to inflict the maximum possible harm on the Tamil people , and which actions need to be urgently remedied and redressed if genuine reconciliation is to come about. (3) A political solution within the framework of united and undivided country that will enable the Tamil people to live in security and dignity, fulfilling their legitimate political, economic, social and cultural aspirations.

The Tamil National Alliance has not confronted the Government on these issues, but has endeavoured to work in a spirit of cooperation with the Government to alleviate the sufferings and concerns of the Tamil people and to bring about a real and meaningful change in the future of the Tamil people.

In its current election campaign the Government does not focus on the above issues, which are the real issues facing the Tamil people. This is for the reason that the Government itself is aware that its performance on these issues is severely wanting, despite the best efforts of the Tamil National Alliance. The Government has not even kept its several commitments to the Tamil National Alliance on the release of Tamil detainees, and thousands of Tamil families continue to suffer as a result of the breadwinner in the family not being available. These families are not even able to ascertain whether the breadwinner in their family is living or not.

It is in this background that the Government is making every endeavour to somehow distort the electoral verdict of Tamil voter. They are being subjected to threats and intimidation, undue influence, bribery and corruption-various articles such as bicycles, water pumps, sarees, vertis and money amongst other things are lavishly distributed by Government politicians. The first indoor meeting of the Tamil National Alliance at Alaveddy on 16th June 2011 was disturbed by the military, people were assaulted, no action whatever has been taken regarding the incident, though a month has passed, the houses of different candidates of the Tamil National Alliance have been stoned, a dog’s head was severed and kept on the gate of the house of a T.N.A. candidate while the body was thrown into the compound. These actions are intended to create a climate of fear, and prevent the Tamil people from freely participating in the electoral process. With a strong military presence in the North, there can be no doubt whatever, that it is the Government and its henchmen who must accept responsibility for all these despicable actions. The government is misusing its full governmental machinery starting with the Governor of the Northern Province, public servants most of whom are under threat to carry out the Government’s wishes, or face dire consequences, the security forces, and all other facilities at the command of the Government to carry out propaganda for the Government, disrupt the propaganda of the Tamil National Alliance, and thereby compel the Tamil voters to either vote for the Government or refrain from voting for the Tamil National Alliance. The actions of the Government and its henchmen including political parties and persons contesting in the name of ruling party and its symbol are such that an independent free and fair election has become an impossibility, particularly in the North. The position could get worse from now and could be particularly bad on Election Day. It does not appear that adequate arrangements have been made to monitor the electoral process or the polling itself on Election Day. The presence of International Monitors could have been a deterrent but even after the serious incident at Alaveddy on 16th June no such action has been taken.

There is no other democratic country in the civilized world, where such corrupt and illegal electoral practices are engaged in so blatantly as is now happening particularly in the North.

The Government it would appear hopes that it can win these elections by hook or by crook. Such a verdict is required to face up to allegations which are now in the public domain, pertaining to violations of International Human Rights Laws and International Humanitarians Laws. The Government seems to think that irrespective of the means by which the verdict is obtained a somewhat favourable verdict is a compulsive need. The Government is once again making the mistake of imagining that everyone else is deaf and blind and that it can conceal all its misdeeds.

The Government should be aware that the whole country and the world is watching what is happening at these elections. The environment in which these elections are being held is fundamentally important.

We have consistently urged the Government to initiate and honestly pursue the correct courses of action, as the only means to bring about genuine reconciliation and harmony amongst its different peoples and communities. The Government seems determined to persue a myopic agenda.

We call upon the Tamil people to remain calm even in the face of the gravest provocation. When you cast your vote you are exercising your Sovereignty. That is the essence of democracy.

You should exercise your sovereignty only on the basis of policies and principles. Others should not be allowed to hijack your sovereign right, by despicable methods, for their ulterior purposes.

You should quietly exercise your vote in favour of the House Symbol and deliver a clear verdict.

R.Sampanthan M.P.
Leader of the Tamil National Alliance
President, Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchchi,
18th July 2011.

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