| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(May 17, 2014, Bradford UK, Sri Lanka Guardian) Whichever party comes to power Douglas Devananda wins hands down. His Machiavellian politics transcends mere rhetoric. Having been a comrade of Velupillai Pirabakaran during Eelam struggle in the ‘70s, he finally had the gumption to side with the governments in power to gain rights and some kind of economic redress for Tamils in North and East.
His white van abductions still remain a gigantic thorn in the Tamil psyche but his efforts to develop North is something the TNA cannot dispute. He gets down to the grass-roots and is making vast strides in bringing redress to Tamil grievances.
Not unlike President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Devananda has his pulse on the people unlike the TNA which to date has not made much effort towards alleviating the grievances of Tamils. Making evocative speeches in parliament and visiting South Africa by the TNA cannot bring redress to the immediate needs of Tamils who are reeling from the war and awaiting some semblance of normal life.
The Tamils lost well over 40,000 of their kith and kin in Mullivaikkal five years ago but 70,000 Sinhala youth and thousands of Tamils were massacred by the Premadasa regime in the ‘80’s. Tamils thus started the exodus to the West but despite their relative economic prosperity they still long to come back to their motherland. Nothing can compensate for living in the land of their birth for thousands of years and which rightfully belongs to them with their cultural and hereditary roots embedded.
Neither Mahinda nor Devananda are saints or shining examples of democracy. Despite their ham-fisted style of governance the masses are behind them since they are seen to deliver their basic needs for survival be they opening a market, providing employment, constructing public toilets and motorways, distributing seeds and tractors to farmers and providing fishing gear to fishermen.
With the election of C.V. Wigneswaran as chief minister to the NPC last September, the Northerners had high hopes he would bring about radical changes for the better but he is being inveigled into the same trap of our former politicians in the Federal Party whose empty rhetoric and occasional outbursts in parliament failed to bring any tangible redress to their day-to-day grievances .
From this lack of sensing the smouldering anger of the public by its elected Tamil parliamentarians their impotency forced the disgruntled Tamil youth into rising up as a counterforce to deal with the situation through militancy for which the country paid a price in the form of loss of thousands of lives .
It does not help the TNA which has been given the golden opportunity to forge ahead and make strides in improving the lot of the Tamils in the Northern Province that its members are now embroiled in inside rivalry and side-lining efforts by the CM to engage with the government. TNA is a whole quarrelling orchestra which is incapable of synchronising.
Douglas Devananda commands more listening in parliament than TNA since he is perceived as a man of action. TNA would do well to engage with Devananda rather than shun his move towards participating in the PSC which is essential for addressing the needs of the Tamils post-war.
‘Yar kuththinalum arisiyaha vendum’ is an age old Tamil proverb which translates into ‘No matter whoever pounds the result should be rice’.
There is no doubt this government should be made accountable to war crimes consisting of massacring fleeing civilians, committing rapes and torture on survivors, carpet bombing and conducting chemical warfare with the aid of India, Pakistan and the US. UK too is complicit in the annihilation of Tamils by their thousands which amounts to genocide in that it provided arms and ammunition to the government to wipe out the LTTE but succeeded in rendering Tamils obsolete.
The ONS (Office of National Statistics) provide details of arms and ammunition sold to Sri Lanka during the war by UK’s defence ministry.
Chilcott inquiry is surfacing once more since Saddam Hussain’s death and that UK’s former PM Tony Blair led the war against his regime on flimsy evidence he had weapons of mass destruction and playing lapdog to George Bush aka Dubya is once again on the agenda of the UN. Dr John Kelly who proved otherwise apparently committed suicide and BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan who interviewed him and exposed UK’s intervention in Iraq as a farce was summarily dismissed from the BBC.
UNHRC is pursuing Blair’s actions and there is the possibility he could be hauled up before the ICC.
Closer home it is incumbent on the TNA to address the aftermath of the war which is clearly genocide but it is more important that Tamils need the help of the NPC to rebuild their lives and provide pragmatic relief to their everyday needs be they opportunities to provide jobs, regaining lands they lost and ensuring freedom of speech, movement sans military presence.
Otherwise TNA is in danger of losing its support and credibility from the people who elected them and this could pave way for another rebellion which Tamils can ill-afford. TNA needs to rethink, shape up or ship out.
(The writer has been a journalist for 25 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005 the membership of which is 200 from 40 countries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)