Minister of Health and Co-Cabinet Spokesman
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne has announced at the Cabinet Media briefing last Wednesday (23) that there was nothing wrong in commemorating the dead.
Minister Rajitha Senaratne was in Jaffna on Sunday (20) to participate at the event to commemorate the tenth year death anniversary of slain Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian N. Raviraj.
The statue of N. Raviraj has been erected in his hometown Chavakachcheri, and it was unveiled by the Leader of the Opposition and the Tamil National Alliance Leader
R. Sampanthan, in the presence of Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and the Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP)Leader Dr. Wickramabahu Karunaratne. Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK) Leader and TNA Parliamentarian Mavai S. Senathirajah garlanded the statue and the cost of erecting the statue was met by another Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran.
The event was a moving one and the family members of the slain Parliamentarian were in tears when they lit the lamps in memory of late Raviraj who was a young lawyer and remained a promising Tamil politician. He had also served as the Mayor of Jaffna in 2001.
Raviraj was among Tamil politicians such as Sam Thambimuttu, A. Amirthalingam, V. Yogeswaran, Neelan Thiruchelvam,
T. Maheswarn, Nadaraja Atputharaja and Lakshman Kadirgamar were assassinated in Colombo and except for Kadirgamar all others were assassinated in broad daylight.
Raviraj was gunned down at Narahenpita while he was driving his vehicle to his office in the early hours on 10 November 2006. The assassin who arrived on a motorbike had emptied his T.56 assault rifle gunning down Raviraj and his body guard, a police constable who was sitting next to him in the vehicle.
Raviraj’s tenth year death anniversary was commemorated with the unveiling of his statue last Sunday (10) in the backdrop of month of November being considered as the month of Marty’s Day commemorations in the North and the East.
Coincidently tributes were also paid in memory of Raviraj for the supreme sacrifice he made towards fulfilling the political aspirations of Tamils.
Raviraj being fluent in all three languages expressed his views highlighting clearly the political and the humanitarian issues of the people in the North and the East to the people in the South.
The moderate ways of Raviraj handling the ethnic issues was remembered by Minister Rajitha Senaratne at the tenth year commemoration of Raviraj at his home town Chavakachcheri last Sunday. When Raviraj was gunned down in 2006, Minister Rajitha Senaratne and President Maithripala Sirisena were Cabinet members in the Rajapaksa Government. However, taking a bold step by quitting the Rajapaksa Government, President Sirisena and Minister Senaratne did the groundwork to overthrow Rajapaksa and form the National Unity Government in January 2015. Stating late Raviraj was not an extremist Minister Senaratne said that if the slain Parliamentarian had lived he would have played a significant role in finding a durable solution to the ethnic crisis in his capacity as a lawyer as well as a politician.
Minister Senaratne who was present at the Raviraj commemorative event in Chavakachcheri a few days after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presented the reports of the six subcommittees to the Constitutional Assembly which has been tasked with drafting the new Constitution.
Minister Senaratne in his address at the Raviraj memorial event also mentioned that the new Constitution would be brought out in a manner solving the longstanding ethnic issue.
In the meantime, being the Chief Minister of Northern Province C.V. Wigneswaran was not present at the Raviraj memorial event and it was attended entirely by the TNA Parliamentarians who have differed with the Chief Minister and some of the Provincial Councillors including Northern Provincial Council Chairman C.V.K. Sivagnanam.
A day after the Raviraj memorial event in the North, Chief Minister Wigneswaran accompanied by some of the newly formed Tamil People’s Council (TPC) members held a press conference at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute.
With Minister Rajitha Senaratne assuring government’s commitments towards finding a lasting solution to the ethnic crisis, with the introduction of the new Constitution at the memorial event, Chief Minister Wigneswaran mainly as a representative of the TPC held a media conference in Colombo coming out with comments justifying the TPC’s stance on staging ‘Arise Tamil’ (Eluha Tamil) demonstration in Jaffna a month ago.
Wigneswaran stated that the intention of holding the media conference in Colombo was to make the people in the South realize that their fellow countrymen in the North were still struggling to get their political aspirations fulfilled and to get their humanitarian issues solved. The Northern Province Chief Minister reiterating his stance on the removal of the military from the North said that the ‘Arise Tamil’ demonstration was the reflection of the people devastated by the political struggles and the three decades of civil war.
However, the absence of Northern Chief Minister at the memorial event of Raviraj and the absence of Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarians at Wigneswaran’s media conference in Colombo has highlighted the split between the TNA and the TPC despite the two sides having almost all the same critical issues in common in the North to be dealt with.
Minister Rajitha Senaratne’s presence in the North for the Raviraj memorial event and Chief Minister Wigneswaran’s media briefing in Colombo have only highlighted a Northerner’s expectation from the South and a Southerner’s expectation from the North in a broader perspective of the ethnic struggle in the country.