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Response to R.Sampantan

by V.Anandasangaree
The writer, leader of the TULF

(June 06, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) A response to Mr. R. Sampanthan’s appeal that the Government and the International Community should accept the verdict of the People of the North and the East.

It is now about two months since the General Election to the Sri Lankan Parliament was held. I am not to comment on the verdict of the people but as far as the election in the North and the East is concerned I have a few observations to make. Mr. R. Sampanthan, the leader of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi and its Parliamentary group leader has appealed that the Government and the International Community should accept the verdict given by the People of the North and the East. He also warns that otherwise the Tamil People will be pushed to the state of second – class citizens. This statement is often heard in their circles during the elections only. Why did it occur to Mr. Sampanthan that they may not be acceptable to the Government and the International Community? On the basis of the total votes his ITAK polled, his claim is ridiculous. At the recently held general election his party polled only 65119 votes, which is only 9% of the total polled in the electoral district of Jaffna. Mr. Sampanthan’s party lost its credibility fully at the general election held in 2004, although he was crowing about that his party polled over 90% of the total votes polled in the Jaffna electoral district. Reference to the reports of the various election monitoring teams including those of the European Union and the Commonwealth, will reveal how fraudulently that election was held and how large scale impersonations and violations of election laws took place. Two local teams the PAFFRAL and the CMEV jointly demanded annulling of the elections held and wanted a fresh poll, which the Commissioner of Elections could not undertake without provisions for fresh poll in the election law. It is only under these circumstances that the ITAK won 22 of the 23 Tamil majority seats at the 2004 election. Further more the ITAK used the popular name “Tamil National Alliance” to hood-wink the Tamil voters. With the split in the TULF in February 2004 the TNA either stood dissolved or became non-functional. The ITAK was utilized by the Late Mr. S.P. Thamilchelvan of the LTTE, to form a new alliance by the same name and gave two positions for the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi, two for TELO, one each for the All Ceylon Tamil Congress and Premachandran’s EPRLF and retained the balance six positions for the LTTE. The ITAK won 22 seats and completed a full term of six years using the name Tamil National Alliance.

With the defeat of the LTTE on 18th of May 2009 the ITAK continued to function as TNA, until Parliament was dissolved in February 2010. The ITAK should have dissolved the TNA when they dropped the LTTE, the ACTC, two members from the TELO and some others from Vanni and Batticaloa, but continued to use that name at the last Parliamentary Election as well. This is the mess the ITAK that calls itself the TNA is now in. The ITAK should be honest enough to give up calling itself TNA without misleading the Tamil People. The most unfortunate thing is that the true history of the TNA had been concealed and the innocent Tamil People are made to believe, knowingly or innocently, by some intellectuals, political analysts, university students, free lance journalists and many such others, that the present TNA is the original TNA formed in 2001, of which I was the President and that the Tamils have no choice other than supporting the TNA at the election.

The cat is now out of the bag. The voters who had been waiting to teach a lesson for those who had let them down during the last six years as Members of Parliament, are thoroughly disappointed that they had been misled once again. The voters now feel that their Members of Parliament not only failed to do their duty to the people, whom they claimed to have represented, but had also failed to save several thousands of their kith and kin and several billions worth of their properties. All those who guided the voters to cast their votes for the ITAK, using the popular name the TNA, should bear the blame for the loss of lives and properties. These 22 representatives kept mum about the compensation the people are entitled to, for the lives and properties lost. When the whole world demanded that the LTTE should not use the innocent civilians as human shields and should release them forthwith, the only organization that should have been more concerned about the people whom they claimed to represent, remained silent. Mr. R. Sampanthan whether as leader of the ITAK or of the Tamil National Alliance has lost his moral right to represent the Tamils of the North and the East. I leave it to the good sense of those people who misdirected the voters to vote for the TNA at the eleventh hour, to decide as to whether the stand they took is justifiable. Mr. Sampanthan too had not failed to thank the media that helped the TNA to win a few seats. But strangely enough joint efforts of all these people could not help the TNA to go beyond 65119 compared to 113873 votes General Sarath Fonseka polled which Mr. Sampanthan claimed as due to his efforts. The most distressing thing is the irresponsible manner in which those who campaigned for the TNA conducted themselves. The so called Intellectuals some University Students, some free-lance journalists and some media persons, all got together and concealed what happened behind the scene during the last lap of the war. In short the fact that some Members of Parliaments of the TNA’s 22, were on jaunts abroad for years together, some for more than half the period of their membership in Parliament, claiming to be lobbying abroad, some others were campaigning in India for the defeat of the Congress Government, some were just marking time without returning to Sri Lanka until the required number of civilians were killed, for the International Community to react positively favoring the LTTE, the mass scale killings of LTTE injured cadre, recruitment of child soldiers even during the last lap of the war, were all concealed from the voters. When some of these matters were brought to the notice of a TNA Member of Parliament based in Mullaitheevu, he seems to have commented that these things cannot be avoided in a war. He was last seen in Vanni distributing water pumps sewing machines etc to the voters.

It is now very obvious that all forces joined together within Sri Lanka and outside to oust me from the political arena. Why should there be an organized campaign to oust me, soliciting the support of Tamils from all walks of life, is a thing I could not understand. What wrong have I done to my country and its people? I have not harmed any body at anytime and served the country and its people with much devotion for more than half a century. It is not for me to say that but I consider my defeat at the poll as a national loss and those responsible for it will have their regrets. Very soon the country as a whole will feel it and the Tamil people will feel left in the lurch like orphans. If the Tamil people had listened to my advice a lot of problems could have been solved. Selfishness of certain leaders did not permit the people to listen to me. On the contrary, abuse had been showered on me in a demeaning manner, far beyond a man’s limit of tolerance. I was honoured with the honorary title of “Traitor” a term used in our country to insult a political opponent.

The idea of finding a solution to the ethnic problem based on the Indian model was first mooted by me. It was during the Presidential Election of 2005 that I appealed to all Presidential Candidates, the two main Candidates in particular, to take the ethnic issue out of the campaign and treat it separately by arriving at a consensus among the candidates after the election. I suggested the Indian model which I found acceptable to very many. I had discussed this matter with His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa when he was Prime Minister and later also after he was elected as President. This matter was discussed with many at various levels. Most of those whom I contacted, such as Prime Minister, Ministers, Party Leaders, the Opposition Leader, Religious Dignitaries, like Right Rev. Bishops, Very Venerable Mahanayakas, Leading Citizens of all ethnic groups and many such others. I hardly found any opposition for my proposal. The main reasons for my proposing the Indian model were, first of all it will satisfy those who are allergic to the terms Federal and Unitary. The second reason was to silence the 80 million Tamils across the Palk-Strait, and the third, apart from many others, was the Political setup prevailing in India at that time. The largest democracy in the world with a majority Hindu population had a much respected Muslim as the Head of the State, in-spite of the fact that India had strained feelings with the neighboring Islamic States. Furthermore Sikhs form only 2% of the population. It is the Sikhs who demanded kalistan. It is a much respected Sikh who is now the Prime Minister of India. Apart from these the Tamils, Muslims and the Sinhalese, our religions Hinduism and Buddhism and our culture all came from India. Above all there is an overall and all time guarantee that India will never allow division of the country. Another important factor is that it was Tamil Nadu where the demand for separation started over fifty years back and now ceased. No one talks about separation in Tamil Nadu today.

Six years back there was a general understanding among various ethnic groups, to accept the Indian model perhaps with minor adjustments to suit local conditions. We could have accepted it if only the ITAK took the Initiative and negotiated with the LTTE or persuaded them to accept the Indian model. The ITAK – TNA did nothing then, although they were the proxies of the LTTE. Having missed so many opportunities and after so many thousand innocent lives lost and billions worth of property destroyed Mr. Sampanthan is now talking about the Indian model, that too half heartedly. If the TNA had accepted my proposal then how much of losses for our people could have been avoided. Having remained silent on this issue so long, he openly commented supporting it for the first time at a meeting of the ITAK-TNA at Kalmunai on the 20th of January, in support of the Presidential Candidate General Sarath Fonseka. At that meeting he did not have the courtesy to say that the Indian Model idea was first mooted by me or at least had my support. Once again on the 20th of April a national Tamil daily carried a front page news item under the caption “we are prepared to support a solution based on the Indian model”. Even on this occasion neither that daily nor Mr. Sampanthan did mention it as my proposal or have my support. He only said that this matter had already been referred to by the President. It is this attitude of Mr. Sampanthan that had brought the Tamil Community to this state. The whole world knows that this idea was mine. I do not remember the President ever saying this. Even if the President had said so it is purely due to the request I made to him during the Presidential election. Mr. Sampanthan’s claim is that the President made this reference after he was elected as President. This is one very glaring example of Mr. Sampanthan’s very selfish attitude. As for me I want a solution acceptable to the minorities, whether it comes through Mr. Sampanthan or from anybody else. Let Mr. Sampanthan claim credit for anything and let any media project anyone they want as heroes. All what I want is a solution for our people and the honorable title of “traitor” bestowed on me removed, for me to die peacefully. Those who claimed the TNA as the best bet for the Tamils should withdraw what they had said. Contrary to finding a satisfactory solution, such claims had only messed up the whole thing. Anyone having any personal grudge against me, should not mix it up with my political career which in over half a century old.

Four years back on the 25th of May 2006, ‘Daily News’ carried an editorial and commented as “The TULF leader is among the few democratic Tamil Politicians we have in this country today. Others have been killed bought or their voices stilled by the LTTE. Veerasingam Anandasangaree does not kill people, he does not harm or encourage others to kill or hate people. He does not abduct children and arm them to the teeth or tax his own people. The only thing he does today is to take pains to bring about a solution to the problem the country is faced with, in a democratic manner. He follows the civilized way. He dreams of walking freely in Kilinochchi among school children and his village people’.

I went through this editorial over and over again to see whether there is anything that could have hurt or provoked a University student or an intellectual or a Political analyst or a free lance journalist or the print media to write or speak or campaign against me to the extent of canvassing, almost the entire Tamil Population of the North and the East, to vote against me. I am one who is in politics for over fifty six years and very actively for fifty years having contested the Kilinochchi electorate for the first time in 1960 and every election that followed whether parliamentary or local. I became chairman of the Kilinochchi (Karachchi) Village Council in 1965, Chairman Kilinochchi Town Council in 1968 and got elected to Parliament both in 1970 and 1977 and voluntarily vacated my seat along with sixteen other members of the TULF including Mr. R.Sampanthan protesting against the extension of the term of Parliament by a further period of six years, through a referendum.

The editor who titled the editorial as “Listen to democratic voices” states “Democratic Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader Veerasingham Anandasangaree has written again. This time to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Dr. Kalaignar M.Karunanidhi urging a meeting between them to enlist the latter’s support for promoting the Indian Model of power devolution in Sri Lanka”. The editor further says, “He is trying to help President Mahinda Rajapaksa another consensus builder to bring about an agreement among all parties to find a just solution”.

I hope it will not be irrelevant if I quote a paragraph from a speech the President delivered at the 59th Independence Day ceremony, on the 4th of February 2005, the first after his election as the President. He said “It is our duty to protect the lives and property of the Tamil and Muslim people and bring sanctity to the future world of their children. As I stated at the inauguration of the Moragakanda maha Sumudra. I wish to reemphasis that the most reliable weapons against terrorism is to do justice by the innocent Tamil People. I know that the Sinhala people in the south are ready for this. We are not ready to give into the blood- thirsty demands of the LTTE. However at the minimum we should be reasonable and honest enough to agree with Mr. Anandasangaree or the Hon. Douglas Devananda”. His Excellency’s speech was telecast by Rubavahini and some other TV stations and the whole country was listening to it.

Extracts of the above editorial are self –explanatory. At the time this editorial appeared, the ITAK-TNA was acting as proxies of the LTTE accepting them as sole representatives of the Tamil People. Why did not M/s R. Sampanthan, Mavai Senathirajah and Suresh Premachandran take any action then that would have saved the lives of several thousand innocent people and billions worth of property both Public and Private. If is the ITAK-TNA that had failed to save the Tamils and not me. So on what basis the so called intellectuals, political analysts free lance journalists and a section of the Tamil Media come to the conclusion that the “TNA (ITAK) is the best bet for the Tamils”. A Tamil daily publishing a translation of an article by a renowned Journalist based in Canada, on the 5th of April, just two days before the date of polling, with the caption, “For the Tamils of the North and the East the best choice at the election would be the TNA”. The greatest betrayal on the part of the Tamil daily was to publish it, deliberately aiming at my defeat at the poll. Why did this happen? How did it happen? Who is behind this move to hound a loner, and for what consideration remains a mystery, that needs investigation. Lot of incidents of horrendous nature took place off end on during the last few years. Everyone was silent excepting a very few of whom I had been one. If only all these forces had get together and condemned at-least one incident, thousands of lives and valuable properties could have been saved. All the forces have got together and have identified one common enemy of the Tamils. That is me. The public cannot be fooled all the time and one day soon those responsible for the present crisis will have to pay heavily for the role they played. When a University Student was burnt with his tractor and trailer for removing sand at kudathanai, it was I who had to protest. When Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole’s appointment as vice chancellor of the University of Jaffna was objected to, it was I who had to protest. There were very many such incidents like this.

The editor in his editorial had also brought out the fact that in my letter to the Chief Minister Dr.Karunanithi I had said that my proposal to the government of Sri Lanka to adopt a constitution like the Indian Model, has received very wide support. He concludes his comments by saying “We are of the view that the TULF leader has written to the Indian politician with a great sense of responsibility, because the democratic TULF leader maintains cordial relations with all parties in the South including the JVP and the JHU and other parties such as the SLMC and other Tamil parties”

I do not know whether the Editor had over- expressed his confidence in me. But as far as I am concerned, irrespective of any constrains I had done my duty to my country and its people with devotion and care. Another National daily in its editorial dated 3rd Nov 2009 though not very friendly towards me, complemented me for taking the same stand even today on the ethnic issues that I took several months before the defeat of the LTTE. The TNA has taken different stands at different times while I am sticking to the Indian Model throughout as the ideal solution for the ethnic problem. My advice to Mr. Sampanthan would be to stick to the Indian Model as a solution to our problem that can be easily made acceptable to the majority community if approached carefully with proper guarantees to allay the fears, if they have any.

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