A prominent member of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Leader of Democratic Organization Against Oppression, Thampi Mu Thambirajah said, currently the international inquiry preceding the investigations on war crimes and the international community is at a stage to release the report by September. At this stage the government is emphasizing on a local inquiry to mislead the people.
Thambirajah who also several times launched hunger protests urging for resettlement in the North and the East pointed out, “We have much evidence that genocidal killings took place during the war period in the North and East. This evidence was proved before passing the resolution on genocide by the Northern Provincial Council.”
Following are excerpts:
: You participated in the recent discussions on electoral reform matters with Ven. Sobitha Thera on behalf of TNA. What are the outcomes of the continuous discussions on electoral reforms.
A: We spoke about the representation of Tamils, other minorities and minor parties. But some minority parties are talking about two ballot papers.
I represent the main minority party, that is, the TNA. We will not allow reducing the number of representatives to Parliament in order to increase the number of other representatives.
There are many of those who have been displaced within the country, due to the war, even after six years. There are many displaced persons outside the country, in India and in the Western countries. They may return to the country considering the situation in the country; therefore our representation in Parliament shouldn’t be reduced.
EPDP Leader Douglas Devananda and I were the only Tamil representatives from the North and the East. None other party leaders were present at the discussions. We cannot win over our rights if there is no unity. Therefore, all party leaders or representatives should join the discussion. Also TNA should immediately form a legal team to seek advice regarding the 20th Amendment and electoral reforms, because there are legal practitioners in the party.
: It is learnt that the government has allocated specific sums of money to the leaders of the TNA including parliamentarians. Leaders and parliamentarians have released statements that these allocations were given for development activities in the North. However, it is said there are misunderstandings between the Northern Chief Minister and the leaders on this issue. What exactly is the truth.
A: The Northern Provincial Council (NPC) was elected to settle all issues in the area. NPC allocated a specific amount to build a road to Columbuthurai. Therefore, it is important for any parliamentarian or leader to inform the NPC before carrying out development activities from the allocations given by the government.
Therefore, Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran made a comment by requesting the parliamentarians and leaders to inform him before launching development activities. The Chief Minister requested those representatives to inform the Council before carrying out any development activity. It is the role of the parliamentarians to strengthen the Northern Provincial Council and function according to decisions taken by it.
The Northern Provincial Council is functioning along with the good governance in the Centre. A respectful personality like Chief Minister Wigneswaran should not be ridiculed by such acts.
There is no contradiction from Chief Minister’s side. People will understand the situation if they read both statements released by ITAK Leader Mavai Senathirajah on this issue.
Many of the important members from the TNA were unaware of the money allocations. Therefore, the Chief Minister spoke about this confusion with President Maithripala Sirisena.
: There are allegations that the Northern Provincial Council has not acted properly to settle cultural issues such as drug addiction and rape in the area. Do you agree.
A: It is the role of the TNA to bring these problems under control. They should organize programmes through the Northern Provincial Council to settle the issue.
I too represent the TNA, but I openly say the party has not done enough through the Northern Provincial Council to control the increased use of drugs. People have given power to us by casting 80% of the votes, but we have not done enough to control drug addiction and tackle other cultural issues. We should create proper awareness among the people in the North to do so.
: People in the North suddenly staged an uprising after the Punguduthivu incident. Does that mean people have gained back freedom in the North.
A: People were terrified of the cruel dictator who reigned before; therefore they avoided uprising and other protests. People were fed up with oppression and as a result they began to protest against injustice, which resulted in a massive protest outside the Jaffna Court Complex. Yet unnecessarily innocent people were arrested for the attacks carried-out by unknown goons.
I would also like to point out that the police acted beyond their power. They became cruel and used their powers beyond barriers. I spoke to the Northern DIG Lalith Jayasinghe regarding the Court attack. I asked him how he was unaware of the goons and their purposeful plans to attack the Jaffna Courts. I also pointed out that they have arrested the innocent people instead of the culprits.
Also, I firmly told him that the police have misused their powers by arresting an Indian who came near the Courts area to inflate his bicycle tyre and the police took a three wheeler into custody which was parked near the Courts area for other purposes by the owner.
: How do you view the links between the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Punguduthivu rape incident.
A: When President Sirisena visited the North after the incident, Chief Minister Wigneswaran pointed out that the case should be investigated according to the laws in the country. Also he pointed out that the case can be investigated through a three-judge panel and a suitable verdict can be given within a two-month period. The Chief Minister also related his experience where he had to proceed with a similar case.
But it is very unclear as to why the rapists are to be tried under the Prevention of Terrorism Act; even the TNA leadership opposed this move. TNA Spokesman Suresh Premachandran expressed his views regarding the contradiction.
: The government of good governance has reached a stage to dissolve Parliament. Tell us whether the government actually fulfilled its promises to the people of the North and the East.
A: Although the previous government released a small number of lands from the High Security Zone(HSZ), we believed that the current government would definitely release each and every land and hand over to owners in the North and the East. People of the North and the East have played a major role in changing the regime. However, most of their issues are yet to be properly addressed. Apart from the land issue, many people in the North and the East went missing during the war period. But the investigations carried-out by the Presidential Commission on Disappearances have failed to address the cases properly. Also, a large number of youth and others are still imprisoned as political prisoners under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. If the JVP was pardoned after the insurrection, why cannot they pardon these people?
The LTTE only struggled to win over their rights; but they didn’t wage war against the Governments of Sri Lanka. Therefore, its members and others should be pardoned and should be allowed to practise democracy like the JVP.
: Why does TNA continuously emphasize on an international inquiry, when the international law itself points out that a local inquiry should be primarily carried out.
A: An international inquiry was carried-out because the previous government did not agree to launch a local inquiry. Now the international inquiry has preceded and the international community is at a stage to release the report. At this stage the government is emphasizing on a local inquiry to misdirect the people.
However, the TNA is aware of the move of the government for good governance. We continue to urge the international community to release the report on war crimes and we welcome them to release it by September this year as they promised.
We know that genocidal killings have taken place, and that the international community is concerned about it. When the current government announced about a local inquiry many leaders from the TNA expressed their views, but until now, the government has not begun such an inquiry. Therefore, why should we even have an opinion of such an inquiry when it was not seriously considered?
: Do you have any evidence to call it as genocidal killings.
A: A resolution on genocidal killings was passed by the Northern Provincial Council through Chief Minister Wigneswaran. He has all the necessary evidence to prove that it was genocidal killings that took place. Even members of the UPFA who represent the South have agreed to the resolution and it was passed unanimously.
Therefore, it should be noted that a resolution will not be passed with any evidence, especially in a Provincial Council.
: There are criticisms that many misunderstandings and problems have been taking place within TNA after the emergence of good governance in the Centre. What is the reason.
A: Our members are expecting more after the change of government. TNA is a four party alliance; therefore we have members of all those parties. When members of these parties lose their patience such problems and misunderstandings erupt. It is just temporary since there are many expectations. These problems can be solved in the future.
: Recently your leader R. Sampanthan had issued a statement that there should be a political solution within a united Sri Lanka. So, what is the situation of a federal solution.
A: Our fraternal community seems to be offended when we talk about autonomy. Therefore, our leader would have omitted the term federalism to forge an understanding between the two communities under a united Sri Lanka.