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Mainstream, Vol XLVI No 45

TULF’s Appeal to Leaders of Political Parties and People of Tamil Naad

Monday 27 October 2008, by V Anandasangaree

Dear leaders and people of Tamil Naad,

The First thing the Sri Lankan Tamils expect Tamil Naad to do immediately is to save the people trapped in the LTTE controlled area, where they are kept under compulsion, and secondly to have a true briefing of the present situation without being misled by the TNA parliamentarians of Sri Lanka who are presently in Chennai to have the LTTE rescued. The people whom they claim to represent are in the verge of total annihilation.

I was deeply moved by the concerns and sentiments expressed by the leaders of political parties, other leaders and the enthusiasm shown by the general public of Tamil Naad, relating to the tragic situation now prevailing in Sri Lanka. But I am really shocked at the terminology used to describe the situation in Sri Lanka. There is no attempt by anybody to exterminate anyone deliberately or otherwise. A few deaths had taken place in the war zone but this cannot in anyway be classified as genocide. In reality there is a war going on between the government and the LTTE, the most ferocious terrorist organisation, that did not even spare heads of states. Tamil Naad cannot so easily forget that they could recover the dead body of the late honourable Rajiv Gandhi only in pulp. There are hundreds of such incidents that had occurred both in the Sinhala and Tamil areas. Hundreds of Buddhists and Muslims had been massacred in their places of worship. The people who are now trapped in the LTTE controlled area may have to face the same fate, if the TNA parliamentarians failed to seek the help of Tamil Naad to save these innocent people.

It is still not too late for Tamil Naad to respond positively to suit the prevailing situation. I strongly urge that whatever response Tamil Naad shows should be beneficial to the people living across the Palk Strait and should not be detrimental to their interest. A clear understanding of the ground situation in Killinochchi, where the war front has now shifted to, is necessary for anyone even to talk about the problem. It is my frank opinion that some leaders and many people of Tamil Naad had been misled over a period of several years, by exaggerated, false and fabricated stories spread at random by some interested parties, to boost the LTTE. But there are very eminent leaders in Tamil Naad who can recommend a reasonable and acceptable solution for the ethnic problem within a United Sri Lanka. Unfortunately these sources had not been properly tapped due to the LTTE’s unyielding stand and constant demand for separation.

Since Tamil Naad can, in the present scenario, play a constructive role, I have a moral duty to brief them properly of the latest developments. I am the one who is most concerned about the people of Killinochchi and I hope my credibility will not be challenged by anyone who knows my links with Killinochchi.

I am in politics for well over 50 years. I lived and grew with the people in Killinochchi who elected me first as the Chairman of the Killinochchi Village Council in 1964 and then as the Chairman of the Killinochchi Town Council and finally as their Member of Parliament from Killinochchi in July 1970. I quit this office in October 1983 along with 17 other members of the Tamil United Liberation Front, protesting against the extension of term of office of Parliament for a fresh term of six years, by holding a referendum which has never been the practice in any country except during the World War, as was done during the Second World War. This act is a remarkable contribution the TULF made for the preservation of democracy in Sri Lanka. All the 18 seats vacated by the TULF members remained vacant for a full term of six years. This appeal comes from a founder member and also the present President of this only moderate Tamil political party.
During the past few years I had been appealing to various authorities such as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, heads of various states, heads of diplomatic missions, heads of various religions and such others to intervene and help to liberate the Tamil people, whom the LTTE was keeping under their subjugation for many years in areas under their control. These people hardly enjoyed any democratic or fundamental rights. Their human rights had been violated beyond one’s imagination. The recruitments to their cadre under compulsion went on unabated. They did not spare even elders from undergoing some sort of training. Of the people abducted the whereabouts of many are not known. They have torture camps and dark-room chambers with methods of torture unheard of in any civilised society. In one form of torture the person to be punished is put into a tri-angular shaped cage little smaller than the person to be punished. The cage is wrapped round with barbed wire with hardly any space inside for mobility. Another form is throwing snakes inside the dark-room chamber where a person is detained. Every home in the areas under the control of the LTTE is like a funeral home. Parents who resisted recruitment of the children had been mercilessly assaulted. The outside world does not know what is happening in the LTTE held areas, popularly known as ‘Iron Curtain’ areas. I hope the TNA Members of Parliament, who are now in Tamil Naad, taking part in demonstrations and Satyagrahas, will confirm this accusation of mine and also endorse my demand that the Tamil people under the subjugation of the LTTE should be liberated from them. Otherwise the TNA should honourably refrain from taking part in any activities, in India related to the Sri Lankan issue.

INCITING speeches in Tamil Naad by the Sri Lankan Members of Parliament of the Tamil National Alliance should be discouraged. Allowing these will cause great embarrassment to the Sri Lankan Tamils more than half of whom live in harmony in the South with the Sinhalese and the Muslims. These TNA Members of Parliament, who were elected fraudulently with the fire power of the LTTE, only act as proxies of the LTTE and not as elected representatives of the Tamil people. Anyone who dares to challenge this statement can go through the reports of the four different Election Monitoring Teams that were present during the last elections. The two foreign teams are from the EU and the Commonwealth. The two local teams, the PAFFRAL and the CMEV, even recommended annulling these elections and called for a fresh poll in the constituencies where the TNA members won.

In spite of my repeated pleadings the international community could hardly do anything because no one has free access to the areas under LTTE control. The LTTE had access to the government controlled areas under the ceasefire agreement, without any reciprocal arrangements for anybody to visit the LTTE controlled areas. As a result of this provision in the CFA, the LTTE, apart from controlling their areas, could also bring under their control even areas under the control of the government. News about human rights violations in the LTTE areas do not reach the outside world. The LTTE, that virtually controlled the areas held by the government, was also responsible for most of the human rights violations in the government held areas as well.

I do not for a moment suggest that the LTTE is responsible for all human rights violations. I am only saying that they are responsible for a larger portion of the violations and has also by their conduct facilitated the other culprits to escape. The LTTE had bumped off a large number of Tamil police officers and had warned the Tamils not to join the police force. As a result only a few Tamil officers are available, resulting in almost all Police Stations in the Tamil areas to be manned by the Sinhalease officers. In a case of accidental firing a civilian died in the government held area. A police officer who went to investigate the crime was asked by some youths to go for the inquiry, unarmed and without security. The said officer, supposed to be a very good police officer, trusted the youths and went to the scene of the crime. Within a short time photographs of his hacked body thrown on the road, appeared in one of the pro-LTTE websites. Can one reasonably expect another Sinhalese officer to conduct investigations freely? This incident partly explains as to why and how some crimes go undetected.
Apart from these, there is a war going on between the LTTE and the government. As long as the LTTE assumes a position in par with the government, what can anyone do? When the LTTE engages in aerial bombing, how can one blame the government for aerial bombing? However, whenever there is aerial attack causing causalities I had not failed to bring it to the notice of the government and when there was aerial bombing at night I had blamed the government and my request to avoid night-time bombings had been complied with. This is why I insist that the war should stop to prevent civilian casualties.

The charge of the LTTE that the Government of Sri Lanka is engaged in genocide is a big farce. More than 50 per cent of the Tamil people now live among the Sinhalese and Muslims. Most of them had fled from LTTE controlled areas. The LTTE’s repeated attempts to provoke a backlash in the Sinhalese areas had failed. All their claymore mine attacks in the Sinhalese areas, targeting service personnel and civilians, are done to spark off communal riots. Hardly one such incident takes place without taking a few civilian lives.

The number of Tamil politicians, academics, principals of schools, business people, ex-members of other groups killed by the LTTE amounts to several thousands. As a comparison not a single person under this category had been killed during this long period of conflict by any Sinhalese. The black July 1983 incident is perhaps the last of the communal riots the country faced. For that too the LTTE was partly responsible by causing the death of 13 Sinhala soldiers. Even in this incident it was the hoodlums who were involved in murders and arson. The Sinhalese civilians were responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of Tamils who lived among them.
The population in the North is now reduced to half of what it was in 1983. Some are in the South with the Sinhalese and Muslims, some in Tamil Naad in India and many others had gone abroad and settled in various countries like the UK, Europe, Scandinavia, Canada, the USA etc. The so-called freedom fighters have brought the Tamils to this state in Sri Lanka. The number of civilians and combatants killed easily exceed one lakh. Thousands had become widows and widowers. Thousands had lost theirs limbs and many their eyesights. According to the LTTE figures, they had sacrificed over 20,000 Tamil youths of their cadre at the battle-front. The property destroyed by them alone is worth several billions.
The LTTE is fighting a conventional war with sophisticated weapons. They use aircraft, big or small. A section of the people is kept under their subjugation, with almost all their rights denied, in certain areas for more than a quarter of a century. In these areas youths in the range of 20-25 years had not even seen a train and the leaders they know are Prabhakaran, Pottuamman, Thamilselvan and such others. The government is duty-bound to free its own people from the clutches of an illegal terrorist outfit like the LTTE. The people themselves want to be liberated and are agitating for it for a long time. It is painful to see some innocent men, women and children getting killed. I myself had lost a few friends and known people in this manner. But the causalities in this war are negligible compared to the number of lives lost due to Prabhakaran’s suicide bombers, claymore mine attacks etc. I concede that this does not mean that the government forces can kill. But in this situation who should be blamed? I am not in a position to give a clear-cut answer. I am only opposed to the usage of the term genocide, because it is not so. Apart from that, increase in casualties causes me great grief particularly when I see those who claim to represent them are giving a wrong picture to over sixty million Tamil speaking people living in Tamil Naad and also trying to mislead the world’s largest democracy—India.

FOR more than quarter of a century the LTTE had been taking the Tamil people for a ride. The Tamils need liberation only from the LTTE. The government had already liberated large areas from the LTTE, the East in full and in the North well over 75 per cent. Now only a small area is left. It is here the all the displaced persons from Mannar Mullaitivu, Killinochchi and Vavuniya have been driven. The LTTE had brought them here under compulsion for their own protection. They are now using them as a human shield. The people have no proper food or shelter. Everyone seems to be interested only in saving the LTTE. Two days back a TNA parliamentarian was boasting in Parliament that the displaced persons are refusing to go out of Killinochchi for fear of the government forces. This is absolute falsehood. The moment the LTTE opens its iron gates the displaced persons will move out in no time and get back to their respective homes. The present situation is an artificial creation of the LTTE without any consideration for the sufferings of the people. Constituencies like Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya are predominantly jungle areas and infested with deadly snakes. Several people had died of snake-bites. Very soon the rainy season will start. The poor people cannot bear the agony any more. Women and children are the most affected. A sacred duty is now cast on the people of Tamil Naad, to go all out and either by persuasions or by threat of withdrawing support, compel the LTTE to open their iron gates for the people to go anywhere they want to. If Tamil Naad has any sympathy for the Tamil people who are suffering under the subjugation of the LTTE for several years, it has a moral obligation to win for them the basic fundamental right of choosing the place as to where they wish to live. In this situation of war the people who are living with fear and tension in Killinochchi should be rescued by Tamil Naad, by pressurising the LTTE.

The dispute in the country is not between ethnic groups. It relates only to the rights and privileges one is entitled to and can be sorted out at the negotiating table. If the LTTE gives up its demand for separation and agrees to lay down its arms we will help them to play an important role in the negotiations. Everyone in India, in Sri Lanka and even in many parts of the world, know fully well that creation of a separate state of Eelam is an impossible task. The Indian Government is vehemently opposed to it and so is the international community. The only option available is to agitate for a federal solution with the only one alternative of adopting the Indian model to enable the various regions in Sri Lanka enjoy powers equivalent to those presently enjoyed by various States in India including Tamil Naad.

The Tamils in Sri Lanka remember with gratitude the immense services rendered for the Tamil cause by people like the late honourable Indira Gandhi, the late honourable Rajiv Gandhi and such other figures. We are also grateful to two great leaders of Tamil Naad, the late honourable Dr M.G.Ramachandran and honourable Dr Kalignar Karunanidhi. If Prabhakaran had listened to the good advice given by them and accepted to work according to the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, our country would have become a paradise with all people living as equals with mutual trust and confidence built among themselves. Several thousands of lives and billions worth of property would have been saved but Prabahakaran, having assured them, returned to Sri Lanka and ungratefully changed his mind and worked against the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord resulting in the crisis the country is facing today.

We also appreciate the bold stand taken by Dr Selvi Jeyalalitha Jeyaram in dealing with the LTTE as a terrorist organisation and also for pledging full support in all other matters that could alleviate the present plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils.

The time has come for all leaders of Tamil Naad to forget their differences and get together to help liberate the Tamils who have lost their rights properties and self-respect. The immediate task should be to save the innocent people who are trapped in Killinochchi with no freedom to move out. Failure to do so will end up in a great disaster.

October 13, 2008

30/1B Alwis Place,
- Colombo-3
- V. Anandasangaree
- Ph: (9411) 2347721, (President, Tamil United Liberation Front)
- Fax : (9411) 2384904

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