Tamil party threatens agitation

DSCF0573(1)_jpg-600-2Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi calls for greater devolution

The Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), the main constituent of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), has said it would commence a non-violent struggle in January next year if the Sri Lankan government “does not change its course before the end of this year.”

The announcement was made at the party’s recent 15th national convention held in Vavuniya, where senior parliamentarian Mavai Senathirajah was named its new leader, succeeding veteran Tamil politician R. Sampanthan who continues leading the TNA.

Apparently in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message to the TNA delegation that met him in New Delhi recently, the ITAK passed a resolution inviting all Tamil, Muslim political parties, formations, and progressive forces within Sri Lanka to join it in pushing for maximum possible devolution to address the ethnic conflict.

The ITAK indicated its desire for strong Indian intervention in several areas, and particularly the question of devolution.

“We also request India, the international community and the people of Sri Lanka not to permit the Government of Sri Lanka to continue to breach the provisions of the Indo-Lanka Accord, which is an international bilateral treaty between two sovereign states. We resolve that the Indo-Lanka agreement should be implemented in full,” the ITAK said in a statement.

Appeal to India

It also appealed to India and the entire international community to take urgent steps to halt the “genocidal actions” of the government, which it accused of colonising the Tamil areas.

Voicing concerns at militarisation of the north, Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran urged Tamil youth to collect information on the deployment and activities of the Sri Lankan armed forces in the province. He urged Tamils to eschew separatism and militancy, which he said had proved counterproductive.

In addition to raising issues such as allegedly enforced disappearances, displacement, land grab allegedly by the Sri Lankan army and curbs on media freedom, the party has drawn attention to the ongoing fisheries conflict affecting fisher folk of India and Sri Lanka. Demanding a total ban on bottom trawling, the ITAK demanded that fishermen from both countries be given all the necessary facilities to engage in traditional fishing methods and in deep sea fishing.