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An open appeal to the Minister Douglas Devananda

“It is experienced that your violent campaign against the LTTE also contributed towards brutalising the Tamil civilian population further in Sri Lanka.”

by Rajasingham Jayadevan

(November 12, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The two news items under the captions ‘Pragmatic Political Programme of the EPDP’ and ‘Douglas Devananda: The guardian of the Tamils’ published in the Sri Lanka Guardian prompted me to write this open appeal. The purpose of writing this appeal is to touch on issues that have not (and you are unable to) addressed in these two documents.

As a school time friend at Jaffna Central College and having been involved in the political activities in the late 1970’s, I too sincerely extend my birthday greetings to you when you are celebrating your 52nd birthday.

Your document titled ‘Pragmatic Political Programme of the EPDP’ gives a fair account of the overall historical circumstances of the conflict in a nutshell, but unfortunately, the stages suggested to resolve the conflict are very long drawn out and complex, when all out efforts are being made by the government to undermine any political resolution to the conflict. The 13th Amendment to the constitution has become an avenue to masquerade a military solution to the conflict with the view to force a Sinhala solution (or even a non solution) through the throats of the weakened Tamils in the country.

It is also feared the three stages suggested for a political resolution in your pragmatic program is only aimed to empower persons like you to preside over the running of the affairs of the north. This, I consider is a process to further weaken any permanent resolution to the conflict and only will help the government to play its rudimentary attitude towards the minority Tamil speaking people.

The drama that is unfolding in the Eastern Province claiming of Provincial governance to empower people there, regretfully is a naked reflection of the insincerity of the government to belittle the Tamil speaking people on the whole. In the name of democracy, the government is doing everything behind the scene to extent its age old agenda to further marginalise the Tamil speaking people.

The indigenous Tamil speaking people are being strangled by the government and the LTTE. The self proclaimed protagonist of the Tamil cause (the LTTE) in their crusade is able to continue with their writ over the Tamil people due to the intransigence and arrogance of the supremacy of the un-accommodative majority rule.

As the leader of the undemocratic EPDP, it is time (though belated) to review your role in the socio-political environs of Sri Lanka for over thirty years. Dr Tellipallai C Rajaratnam’s restrictive analysis of only self-elongating of your achievements failed to address the adversities our people are encountering with the EPDP, due to the same fear they have for the LTTE.

I fully condemn the dastardly violent attempts on your life by the LTTE. There was all the purpose and need for you to protect yourself to confront the threat of LTTE violence against you. But unfortunately, your activities have gone beyond limits and your EPDP is one of the most detested paramilitary groups accused of committing untold crimes by enjoying impunity from the government for its violent conduct.

Over many years, numerous accusations have been levelled that your paramilitary outfit has carried out murders, kidnaps and all kinds of other human rights violations. Though some of them have been denied, I am privy to some of these accusations. It is an established fact that your paramilitary group gave birth to the white van abduction culture in Colombo and in the northern Jaffna peninsula. With the overall violent situation prevailing in the country and the government’s indifference and inaptitude to deal with these crimes, a climate has been established for the paramilitary groups to enjoy the uninterrupted freedom to engage in human rights violations against their own people without facing the laws of the land.

It will be unfair if I do not touch on few specific human rights violations of your paramilitary group. The murder of the parliamentarian Maheswaran on the New Years day this year in a Hindu temple in Colombo is widely believed to have been carried by your group. The murder of BBC reporter Nimalaraj in Jaffna; causing serious bodily harm to the TNA parliamentarian Sivajilingam and threatening the doctors in Vavuniya to handover millions of rupees to your paramilitary group recently are some of the very serious crimes widely spoken in the community. These are crimes that have seen silent burial due to the indifference and inaptitude of the government.

At the time when self elongation of your achievements are being made in the media, it is also expected a clear statement from you to respond to the various very serious allegations against you are responded and a public apology is made for the sins that were committed. Those who are working to eradicate the LTTE cannot enjoy the freedom given by the government to perpetrate the very same violations the LTTE is condemned for.

It is also regretted that, being a Tamil minister, you have done very little to campaign against pro-government human rights violations against the Tamil speaking people. Most recently, when the Hindu Priest Siva Sri Siva Kadachcha Sivakugarajah was allegedly assassinated by the military in Trincomalee, you did not make any public statement to condemn the killing. Your silence over the human sufferings in the military operations in Vanni, further confirms your inability to go further than your remit as a party to the government.

It is experienced that your violent campaign against the LTTE also contributed towards brutalising the Tamil civilian population further in Sri Lanka.

It must be noted with considerable concern that there are allegations that you are a main functionary of the government to obediently accomplish any tasks entrusted to you. The recent pro-government demonstrations in the East to pressurise India and the failed hartal in the north were reported to have been executed by you on the instructions of the government. Indian engagement is vital for any peaceful resolution to the conflict and any such activities against India can only cause greater harm for our people.

You were telling your colleagues including me recently, that you have rightly reflected to the President Mahinda Rajapakse, that you feel hopeless that you could not achieve anything for your people by aligning with the government for nearly two decades. You had told the President, unless there is substantial shift in the government’s attitude to resolve the conflict politically, you will be left with no alternative other than to either commit suicide or claim political asylum in another country to keep away from politics. But your pressure has not worked and the agenda of the government which you are part of has not changed an iota even.

The President is claimed to run a manipulative government and his scheming to undermine democracy are limitless. He is extending the age old concept of Sinhalisation of the Island with the sheer brutal determination under all sorts of pretexts. Regretfully, as a party to this government and involved in the violent paramilitary campaign against the nation’s people, you have also become a participant to extend the state agenda against the Tamils.

It is my humble request for you to change your course of direction in the interest of your people and the country as a whole. Time has come for you to play a different role to the one that has failed you for such a long period.

Whatever your circumstances may be, it is time that immediate steps are taken to give up your paramilitary campaign against your own people. We all detest the LTTE. Let us defeat it by political means. Let us implore on the government to offer tangible political resolution to empower our people. By this process the LTTE can be withered from the society wholeheartedly.

Mere military campaign and bogy stories that the Tamils must not even claim a federal system of governance must be campaigned against. The government must be compelled to invest in socio-economic-educational infrastructures without wasting the resources on its military efforts.

I trust that you will consider this appeal in an overall context and in the spirit in which it is written and hope you will consider overhauling your future direction to help the suffering Tamil speaking people to redeem from their never ending sufferings.
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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