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Understanding Sampanthan’s utterances

Should be tried – Sobitha

TNA leader R. Sampanthan’s recent speech at the 14th National Convention of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) in Batticaloa has stirred up the political arena of the country. Many have questioned the TNA leader’s mysterious allusion to the right of external self-determination of the Tamils.

Explanations have already come from the TNA saying that the TNA leader’s speech was wrongly translated. The Nation asked a few political party leaders for their comments.

Here are some excerpts.

We are never for separatism – Sumanthiran

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, M.A. Sumanthiran said the TNA did not support separatism adding its leader Sampanthan’s remarks never reflected that stance.

Speaking to The Nation, Sumanthiran said the TNA was for a solution within a unified Sri Lanka. In addition, he also said that a false translation of the ITAK constitution had been presented to the Supreme Court.
He said the error in translation had portrayed the party as one that supports separatism.

He said the term ‘federal state’ had been translated as ‘unitary state’ which had given a wrong understanding to the people. Speaking on his views about Sampanthan’s speech at the ITAK annual convention, Sumanthiran said Sampanthan’s speech never reflected the idea of a separate state.

Political situation called for extremist stance – Senadheera
Leader of the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP), Senadheera Gunathilaka says that the political environment in the country had paved way for TNA to take extremist stance.

“We regret that such a statement was made by TNA leader. However, we should also remember that the government has failed to create an environment that has allowed to us to move beyond the war,” he said.

He said all parties had the responsibility to build a political culture that created a healthy environment for harmony.

“We have not been able to progress beyond the war,” he said. “Comments attacking the TNA have been made by those who want to provoke Sinhala nationalism under the pretext of patriotism. This is not the right way to approach the issue,” he said. He also said that those in the North and East were not part of the development process. “People in the North and East, who suffered immensely during the war, are isolated in the development process.”
Sampanthan’s remark,

a barrier – DEW

Senior Minister DEW Gunasekera said extremists forces in both the North and South had complimented and supplemented each other in the past.

“Extremist elements in the North and South have reacted to each other in the past and are continuing to do so,” he said.

He added that extremist elements in the North and South never laid their hands on each other and only attacked the moderate thinkers.

“This has been the case in the past. If the JVP did something in the South, the LTTE responded to it in the North. But, the LTTE did not kill a single person belonging to the extremist force in the South. In other words, even Prabhakaran was complemented by the extremist elements in the South,” he added.

Speaking to The Nation on Sampanthan’s statement at the ITAK convention a few days ago, Gunasekara said this was another extremist remark that had blocked the way forward.

“The utterance of Sampanthan at this juncture has blocked the avenues for a solution,” he said.

Sampanthan should be tried for ‘high treason’- Omalpe Sobitha Thera

Leader of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), Ven. Dr. Omalpe Sobitha thera condemned Sampanthan’s statement as a clear indication that separatism was still foremost in the mind of the TNA leader, and called for him to be arrested and tried for “high treason”.

Sobitha thera pointed out that every Member of Parliament must swear an oath pledging to safeguard the country’s unitary status and Constitution.

“Every Parliamentarian must take this oath of allegiance. Sampanthan has clearly broken this oath with his statement. As such, there are two options available. Either he should be stripped of his parliamentary seat, or we should just do away with the oath of allegiance completely by burning that document,” he said.

He added that until May 17, 2009, the TNA leader had acted as a “puppet of the LTTE” and was “now trying to become the new hero of Tamil Eelam”.

“What Sampanthan is now trying to do is to achieve by peaceful means what Prabhakaran could not achieve through guns, bombs, terror, and bloodshed. He aims for nothing but a separate state,” he opined.
Sobitha thera called for Sampanthan to be immediately stripped of his MP’s seat, arrested and tried for high treason. “He is a traitor and should be treated as such,” he claimed.
Attack TNA, get bad results- Mano

Democratic People’s Front (DPF) leader and former parliamentarian, Mano Ganeshan said attacking TNA would push them towards Tamil extremists.
On the statement made by Sampanthan, Ganeshan said the TNA had stood for a solution within a unified country, and its leader was continuously criticized for waving the National flag during the last May Day rally.

“Comments on TNA are made by extremist forces. In the meantime, Tamil extremist forces are also at Sampanthan for holding the Sri Lankan flag. Therefore, finding fault with the TNA would only push them into the hands of the Tamil extremist forces,” he said.

Nothing new in TNA’s stance- Somawansa
Leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), Somawansa Amarasinghe says the extremist stance of the TNA was nothing new.
Amarasinghe told The Nation that the TNA had always maintained the stance for a separate state. “They (TNA) are gradually moving towards their goal of forming a separate state,” he said.

Speaking on comments that no political parties should have dealings with the TNA, Somawansa said that they had different views despite being seated on the same side of the Parliament.

“Being in the opposition does not mean that we share the same views and we accept their stance. Each political party has its own views and stance,” he said.
Written by  Sandun and Arthur

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