By Saman Indrajith
The four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) yesterday said that it would withdraw its support for the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government unless the latter addressed grievances of Tamil speaking people.
The warning was given by TNA MP and Deputy Chairman of Committees Selvam Adaikalanathan (former TELO commander) opening the budget debate.
The MP reminded the government that those living in the Northern and Eastern Provinces had exercised their franchise in support of Maithripala Sirisena at the January presidential poll as they wanted a change. They hoped that there would be a difference and their grievances would be redressed. They expected at least they would get their lands back.
The TNA parliamentary group has 16 members including two appointed via the National List.
The MP alleged that the people had apparently been taken for a ride again. Life in the Northern Province was uncertain again due to the present government adopting the policies of its predecessor, he alleged.
Addaikalanathan said Tamils had been promised their land back within 100 days of the formation of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government early this year. Although a committee under a former President had been tasked to examine the release of land, the government had apparently changed its stance, the former TELO militant said. He acknowledged that some land previously held by the military had been released.
“We have requested the government to change a District Secretary and appoint a Tamil speaking official but in vain.”
Breaches of accords and pacts
Anyone who goes into Sri Lankan history will understand that, Sri Lanka is famous for breaches of accords and pacts, it had previously agreed to. A few high lights are given below:
On 26 July 1957 an agreement known as the “Banda-Chelva” pact was signed between Bandaranayake (President Chandrika’s father) and the Tamil leader, S. J. V. Chevanayagam. This agreement was based on a quasi-federal system devolving certain powers to the Tamils in the North East provinces.
On 24 March 1965, an agreement known as “Dudley-Chelva” Pact was signed between Dudley Senanayake and the Tamil leader S. J. V. Chelvanayagam.
On the 29th July 1987, a peace accord known as “Indo-Lanka” was signed between Sri Lanka and India. Even though this accord purported to bring an end to the island’s ethnic crisis, it was signed without any consultation with the Tamils of the North and East. This paved the way for the 13th amendment, which has never yet been implemented.
On 5 January 1995 the Government of Sri Lanka (President Chandrika) signed an agreement for cessation of hostilities with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – LTTE. The Government announced lifting of the economic embargo but the embargo continued. Later Chandrika government argued that there was no such thing as an economic embargo in the Tamil region.
On 21 February 2002, under the facilitation of Norway, a Ceasefire Agreement “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed between the LTTE, and the then Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe.
Several rounds of negotiations took place in Thailand, Japan, Norway, Germany and Switzerland. The government of Sri Lanka failed to implement the agreed outcomes of peace talks.
On 24 June 2005, the Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure – PTOMS was signed between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. This agreement was made null and void because of a political judgement on 15 July 2005, from the Supreme Court. The PTOMS involved distribution of Tsunami aid in the North and East.
Out of all of the above, not a single agreement was respected by the political leaders or governments of the day in Sri Lanka. Therefore, ignoring or breaching the latest resolution of the UN HRC is not a difficult affair for the present government.
Of course there are a few individuals on both sides who want a peaceful political solution and demand justice for what has happened in the past.
By S. V. Kirubaharan – The UN Human Rights Council – UN HRC resolution (A/HRC/30/L.29) was successfully passed on 1 October 2015, by so-called “consensus”! It is a victory neither for the government of Sri Lanka nor for the victims, mainly the Tamils. But it is surely a victory for countries which have interests in Sri Lanka – the US and India. Those who attended the 30th session of the UN HRC will be aware that this resolution was not agreed by a true consensus. We listened not only to interventions by China, Pakistan, Russia and Cuba during two informal consultations on the draft resolution, but also to interventions made in the Council. Those informal meetings were fraught with fierce fighting on the part of […]