“I am very much vulnerable today”

The speech by Mano Ganesan, Member of Parliament for Colombo District, during the debate on the extension emergency in the Parliament of Sri Lanka on Tuesday September 09th, 2008

(September 11, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Thank you sir, Hon. Deputy Chairman, I am sad and dismayed to note the empty government benches. This is the all important emergency debate. But where are the government ministers for observations and answers? Look, there is nobody in the front row. There are few seated in second and other rows. Why is this? Implementation of emergency laws is a very close subject to the Tamil people of this country. On a guess I think the ministers are not interested in listening to the views of the representatives of the Tamil people.

Sir, I very rarely speak on the issue of my own personal security though it is now a very long pending issue. However, I have to speak about it today as demanded by the circumstances. I sought to raise an issue of privilege. Hon speaker very kindly agreed to it. But later I decided to speak out all during this debate.

Sir, Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) of the police summoned me to it’s office on August 26th. I went to the office and faced the TID enquires. I did this because I respect law and order and support the implementation of the same. The questions were raised on my visits to the Kilinochchi during the 2002-2005 Cease Fire Agreement periods. I went to Kilinochchi and openly held discussions. They were with the officers of the political department of LTTE. There is nothing to hide in this. It is not only me but Ministers in the government today, Hon. G.L. Peiris, Arumugan Thondaman, P. Chandrasekaran went to Kilinochchi. Many media personnel went to Kilinochchi. So are the members of the international community.

Every time I went there, I had informed my prime minister then Hon. Ranil Wickramasinghe. I also reported back to him. Once it was Hon. Karu Jayasooriya to whom I reported back after my discussions in Kilinochchi. He was the deputy leader of the UNP, the major party in our alliance government. Now he is a minister in the present government. The last time I went to Kilinochchi was in year 2005. President Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaratunga had dismissed our government headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe by then. It was the time when Mr. Karuna Amman had split away from the LTTE. Many thought Mr. Karuna Amman was staying in Colombo secretly. President considered of providing asylum to Mr. Karuna Amman if such a request is made to her by Mr. Karuna Amman. President called me and made a request to me. It was for me to meet LTTE Leader Velupillai Pirabakaran in Kilinochchi and inform him of her decision. She was particular that LTTE leader should not consider it as a negative act. It was because she wanted to continue the peace talks between the GoSL and LTTE despite the fact that she dismissed Ranil government for it’s peace talks with the LTTE.

It was not all. During the run-up period to the last presidential elections Hon. Late Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle and Hon. Basil Rajapakse MP came to my residence with a request. They requested me to arrange a special link with LTTE. It was in year 2005. Today the TID too wanted to know if I had developed any special link with the LTTE.

I refused on the basis of three reasons. First, I never had any such special relationship with LTTE. It was only open political discussions. Second, if anybody wanted a boycott of elections in north east it was not agreeable to me. Voter people should have the personal right to vote or not to vote at any elections. Third, my party by the time was publicly committed to support Hon. Ranil Wickramasinghe in the presidential elections. I stick to principles and never a double player.

Sir, many numbers of politicians are facing many numbers of accusations. Murder charges and bribe charges are made against many. Some are facing court cases too. What’s more, you too were summoned to the TID in the recent past. Hon. Jayalath Jayawardena and Hon. Vijitha Herath were summoned too to the TID. If that is the case, why pick only on Mano Ganesan? Why is the hate campaign? Why are the stories planted in the Media? I am facing threats to my life for a long time. Today this has added up. I am very much vulnerable today. The situation is bad for me. But this hate campaign is not anything new to me. In last January, Defense secretary called me a Dealer with LTTE. The official paper of Sri Lanka Freedom Party, the major party in the ruling alliance referred to me ‘a drug trafficker, a weapon runner and an underworld operator. They also called me an American agent due to the award given to me by the US government. Now the ‘Terrorist’ label.

In year 1988, we had the ‘Deshapremi’ problem in our country. The JVP got the beatings from then government. Many number of Sinhala youths belonging to the JVP ‘Deshapremi Viyaparaya’ (patriot movement) went missing and many were killed illegally. The victims were all Sinhalese. Who was the human rights champion? It was none other than His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapakse. Mahinda as an opposition parliamentarian like me today then fought on behalf of the victims during 1988-1989.

What are the difference between 1988 and 2008 September today? The victims of 1988 were all Sinhalese. The champion of the human rights of the victims was Mahinda Rajapakse, a Sinhalese gentleman politician. Today in 2008, the victims are all Tamils. So is the person who stands for them. That is me, a Tamilian. So the difference is very crystal clear. It is Sinhalese in 1988 then and Tamil now. The worst is that those who fought for the human rights have turned into the perpetrators today. Those who praise Mahinda Rajapakse for his human rights campaign of 1988 find fault with our campaign of 2008. They cannot accept and approve our campaign. They cannot get on board in our campaign trail.

Why, why is it, Sir?

It is because you and I are Tamils and they are Sinhalese. It is the obvious reason. They are harboring double standards for the death and lives of Tamils and Sinhalese. There is no other logical reason.

Sir, TID claims that they have arrested some people who hold my party membership cards. On one hand these cards are made simply. We cannot verify the authenticities. Other hand, no party leader of a functioning party can screen all his or her members. We have a large membership. So are the UNP, SLFP and JVP.

Sir, there are policemen and members of security forces arrested by this very TID. They are arrested for supporting and working for the LTTE. So if the police cannot screen and identify it’s own men and women how we, a civilian entity can screen and identify our members? I tell the police that if a member of my party breached the law, please treat him or her according to the law. Do not try to pin such on me for political demands. We will also monitor your investigations. This ends there.

UNP and many opposition parliamentarians from this side went and joined the government. They are ministers now. I am not going to make comments on them. I guess they have the right to do that. Let the judiciary and the respective party decides about it. I too could have become a minister in this government. It did not happen because I am not after portfolios and perks. As they have the right to be in the government, I have the right to be in the opposition. This is democracy. Had I been a minister, now the TID would say that they have had arrested a LTTE member who was to assassinate Hon. Minister Mano Ganesan, disguising as a member of Minister Mano Ganesan’s party. Please do not consider all those who are not part of the government as enemies or traitors. It cannot be that way.

I am a Tamil political party leader who also speaks Sinhala. I speak of the miseries and aspirations of Tamils to the Sinhalese in their own language. All what I do seek is a way out for the division of political power and therefore avoid the division of the country. I do not want to end up as the last man of this Sinhala speaking Tamil clan.

You are wrong if you believe that you can put me down and stop me. You cannot put me down by these intimidations and threats. I have a journey. It is the journey of peace and justice. I will not stop unless convinced otherwise. I will not lie down. If needed I will die as a person who stood against injustice rather than as a coward.
- Sri Lanka Guardian