The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) created history today by taking part in the national independence day celebrations at Parliament grounds in Kotte, the first time since 1972 when it was decided that Sri Lanka’s main Tamil political parties will boycott independence day celebrations.
TNA leader R. Sampanthan, who was among those who agreed in 1972 to boycott national independence day celebrations, attended today’s event.
His participation at the national event after 43 years boosted President Maithripala Sirisena’s call for national unity and reconciliation.
The TNA had boycotted national independence day celebrations in the past on the basis that Tamils in Sri Lanka had yet to experience true independence. (Colombo Gazette)
|Sampanthan defends decision to attend Sri Lanka’s Independence Day event|
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader, R Sampanthan defended his decision to attend the Sri Lankan government’s Independence Day event on Wednesday, together with TNA MP M A Sumanthiran, amid outcry from within the party. [more]
TNA leader faces internal revolt over Sri Lanka Independence Day attendance
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) spokesman and parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran called for disciplinary action to be taken against party leader R Sampanthan and MP M A Sumanthiran for attending Sri Lanka’s Independence Day ceremony in Colombo, on Wednesday.
Mr Premachandran, who was speaking to Colombo Mirror, said,
“We already raised our objection against his decision to attend the Independence Day celebrations. It is unbecoming for the TNA leader to go against the traditional party position that reflects the common will of the affected Tamil people.”
“It is their individual decision and the TNA has nothing to do with it.”
The TNA is now considering taking disciplinary action against both Mr Sampanthan and Mr Sumanthiran, added Mr Premachandran, stating that they had violated the position of the party and that of the Tamil people.
“This is a very serious matter. It raises a moral question whether they can actually give leadership to the Tamil people any longer,” said Mr Premachandran. “The people are going to question about this and we will have nothing to hide.”
The ceremony was marked by prayers from the Buddhist clergy and a military parade, with Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena praising the government’s “battle against terrorism”.
The event was boycotted by the chief minister of the Northern Province, C V Wigneswaran, who said he “will only take part in such events when the Tamil people get freedom”. Meanwhile multiple protests took place across the North-East, calling forjustice, accountability, the release of political prisoners and repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Since the 1972 constitution was passed, reaffirming Sri Lanka as a unitary state and ensuring it was “the duty of the State to protect and foster Buddhism”, Mr Premachandran said not a single leader from a major Tamil party had attended the Independence Day ceremonies.
Mr Sampanthan himself had boycotted past events, he added.
“The Tamils have been systematically marginalised, suppressed and oppressed after the Independence in 1948 and ironically Mr Sampanthan was one of the key Tamil political leaders when it was decided to mark February 4 as a Black Day,” he said.
“Nothing has changed and in fact has gone worse for the Tamils since then. We don’t see any reason for Mr Sampanthan or anybody from the main Tamil parties to violate the common Tamil stand after 43 long painful years.”