The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province C.V. Wigneswaran has charged elements in the south of plotting his murder. “I have been receiving information continuously that there are efforts being taken to kill me and to put the blame on the LTTE,” he said, in a message read out at a recent book launch.
The Chief Minister’s accusations come a week after he led the ‘Eluga Tamil’ rally in Jaffna. The demonstration highlighted Tamil people’s concerns over militarisation and alleged Sinhala colonisation in the north. Several thousand Tamils flocked to the rally that some compared to the LTTE-linked ‘Pongu Tamil’ rallies in 2002-04.
Days after, Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a Sinhala-Buddhist organisation notorious for its anti-Muslim campaigns in the south, protested in the Tamil-majority town of Vavuniya, asserting Sinhalese rights. In one photograph of the demonstration, shared on social media, a man held a poster with the message “Bin Ladan, Prabakaran now Vignashwaram [sic]. Last episode will be televised soon”.
CEO of the BBS Dilantha Withanage however denied that the threat came from them. “We were only one of the organisations that participated in the Vavuniya rally, but unfortunately whenever our leader Gnanasara Thero goes somewhere, the media distorts the news,” he told The Hindu, referring to the controversial monk accused of hate speech prompting anti-Muslim clashes.
Meanwhile, the two rallies – in Jaffna and Vavuniya – have sparked debate within Sri Lanka, as a section of Tamils and Sinhalese voice concern over the rekindling of extreme nationalism in the north and south– something they blame for the island’s ethnic strife.
Some Sinhala politicians and Colombo-based media have condemned the Jaffna rally as counterproductive to ongoing efforts towards reconciliation. In its editorial page on Sunday, the State-owned Sunday Observer newspaper published a cartoon portraying Mr. Wigneswaran as exhuming the remains of the LTTE.
“We are characterised as racist or extremist when we voice the concerns of the Tamil people. They say we provoke the Sinhalese and that we are trying to stir up another ethnic conflict,” the Chief Minister said. The time is ripe for Tamils in the island’s north, east, Central Province and Colombo to come together and demand their rights, the Chief Minister said.