Diaspora split on the Tamil vote

Father Emanual 3The Tamil diaspora is split on if the Tamils should vote at the Presidential election next week and who they should support.

Most diaspora groups refused to openly back the decision taken by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to support common opposition Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena at the January 8 election.

The Global Tamil Forum (GTF), a very influential diaspora organisation based in London, which had earlier called on the Tamils to vote, today clarified its stand and said it wants Tamils to vote for the survival of democracy and rule of law.

Reverent Father S. J Emmanuel, President of Global Tamil Forum said that the Tamils of Sri Lanka, for the last 66 years, have been victims of the worst human rights violations and are today considered scape-goats for all evils in the country.

He said that the presidential election is unique in that it does not even speak a word about the decades of conflict or war or the post-war atrocities but only about failure of democracy and rule of law in the country.

Hence, he says, Tamils, though victimized for decades and even marginalized in this election, still have the good of the country and of all peoples at heart and wish the triumph of democracy and rule of law.

Reverent Father S. J Emmanuel said that it is in this spirit that Tamils have been called to exercise their franchise for the survival of democracy and rule of law.

Meanwhile 63 Tamil groups based overseas, including the British Tamil Forum, in a joint statement, said that neither of the two main candidates at the election have offered any political solution to the Tamils.

“As has been the unfortunate history of Sinhala dominated Sri Lankan political landscape, both candidates are re-enforcing the permanent and unassailable Sinhala ethnic majoritarianism in marginalizing and disempowering the Tamils,” the joint statement said.

The Tamil groups said that they believe, changing the nature of the state, not just a change in government, is the viable path to genuine democracy and permanent peace in the island.

They also called upon the international community to urgently bring about an interim-mechanism to protect the Tamil people and create the conditions for the Tamil people to exercise their right to self-determination via a referendum to decide their political future. (Colombo Gazette)