The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) will campaign specifically on twin concerns during the election campaign – a just political solution to the Tamil problem and re-unification of the currently de-merged Northern and Eastern Provinces, says TNA Spokesman, Suresh Premachandran.
The senior politician said that the TNA’s manifesto will seek to address several critical issues, including the above two.
According to him, the contiguous and preponderantly Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern Provinces enjoy historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples and the two provinces should be re-unified as a single administrative unit as was before. The right of the Tamils of the North and East for self-determination should be recognized and a political solution reflecting a proper power-sharing arrangement, based on that recognition is also part of the TNA manifesto, he said.
About 150,000 troops are stationed in the Northern Province still, occupying lands needed for the resettlement of a large number of displaced people. The troops should be evenly distributed in the other provinces, making way for the availability of land for resettlement of the displaced people. This is also a key concern.
The number of Tamils reported missing, during the conflict period, is about 20,000. Details with regard to the ongoing investigations/inquiries have to be disclosed to the public and what the government intends doing about this serious issue also needs to be explained, he said.
“Besides development, many day-to-day problems of the people have to be addressed,” he said, adding that the TNA has not reached an election understanding with the UNP, and subsequent to the polls, if any party seeks TNA’s support, it would be possible to discuss the same.
Premachandran explained that the TNA manifesto was designed, using Thimpu Principles as its core.
• Tamils are a distinct people and since time immemorial, have inhabited this island together with the Sinhalese people and others
• The Tamil people are entitled to the right to self-determination
• Power-sharing arrangements must be established in a unit of a merged Northern and Eastern Provinces based on a federal structure, in a manner also acceptable to the Tamil-speaking Muslim people
• Devolution of power on the basis of shared sovereignty shall necessarily be over land, law and order, socio-economic development including health and education, resources and fiscal powers
In addition, TNA also stands for
• Meaningful de-militarization resulting in the return to the pre-war situation as it existed in 1983 before the commencement of hostilities by the removal of armed forces, military apparatuses and high security or restricted zones from the Northern and Eastern Provinces
• Displaced Tamil persons in the North and the East due to the conflict must be speedily resettled in their original places; housing provided, their livelihoods restored and their dignity respected
• Conducting of an independent international investigation to probe allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws both the government and the LTTE during the last stages of the war
• To ascertain the truth and ensure justice to victims and reparation including compensation
• Persons who are detained without charges be released promptly
• Granting of a general amnesty to all other political prisoners
• Reaching finality with regard to thousands of missing persons and payment of compensation to families
• Tamils who fled the country be permitted to return home and a conducive atmosphere be created for their return
• A comprehensive program for the development of the North and East including the creation of employment opportunities for the youth