By Ananth Palakidnar
Leader of the Opposition and the TNA R. Sampanthan expressed hope that the political aspirations of the people of the North and East would be fulfilled through the proposed new Constitution.
Sampanthan was addressing at the TNA May Day Rally in Akkaraipattu, in the Eastern Province yesterday.
The Opposition Leader pointed out, “Several good opportunities have been missed and the present opportunity we have with this Government shouldn’t be allowed to go abegging.
“The Tamils and the Muslims in the North and East should be loyal to each other. They should not disappoint each other in winning their political rights. All people must live in peace with equal opportunities,” Sampanthan said.
He also said that the international community was well aware of the unresolved post-war humanitarian problems in the island. “The Lankan Government is compelled to fulfil the UNHRC resolution of 2015 within the time frame of another two years. So the TNA is confident that the UNHRC, with the support of the international community, will standby the people who seek justice for post-war grievances,” Sampanthan said.
ITAK leader Mavai S. Senathiraja, Parliamentarians M. A. Sumanthiran, Selvam Adaikalanathan and C. Yogeswaran also spoke at the rally.
A non-violent demonstration in North and East
It is for the first time all Tamil and Muslim political parties joined hands with several non political organizations and staged a non violent hartal on Thursday in the Northern and Eastern provinces in support of the families of involuntarily disappeared persons.
Despite their political differences, the Tamil National Alliance led by Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Leader and Minister Rauff Hakeem, All Ceylon People’s Congress and Minister Rishad Bathiudeen had participated in the Thursday’s harthal crippling the Northern and Eastern provinces.
Since the war came to an end in May 2009, non violent protests are being staged regularly to resolve several post-war humanitarian problems in the war-torn Northern and Eastern provinces.
The families of involuntarily disappeared persons agitating in search of their beloved ones remains foremost of all protests along with the call for the release of all detained LTTE cadres and the demonstrations urging to release the lands in the possession of the Security Forces in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
Last Thursday’s harthal in the North and the East has highlighted that the demand to fulfil the political aspirations of the people in the North and the East has become a secondary affair with the masses in the North and the East prioritizing the call for resolving the post war humanitarian issues in the North and the East.
Thursday’s harthal has also clearly indicated the new developments taking shape on the political scene between the Tamil and Muslim political parties, seeing the post-war humanitarian issues such as the issue of the lands in possession of the security forces, as common to both sides.
With some of the TNA politicians such as Northern Provincial Councillor Ananthy Sasitharan expressing her solidarity with the Muslims agitating for their lands in the Mullikulam area in the Mannar District, Minister Rishad Bathiudeen also had met the people in the Keppapilavu area two weeks ago expressing his support to them in their demand for release of the lands by the Security Forces.
From the time the country gained independence, political struggles were staged in the form of hartals and sathyagrahas following the way of the non violent Indian struggle for independence.
When the struggle for the political rights of the people in the North and the East, led by the premier Tamil political party Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK), under the leadership of late S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, was launched, Muslims also joined hands with the Tamils as a single entity to fulfil the political aspirations of the Tamil speaking people in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
However, it was after several years Tamil and Muslim parties, which had remained at logger heads when the separatist war was in progress, had joined hands in overthrowing Mahinda Rajapaksa regime in 2015, and have now come close to each other in highlighting the unresolved post-war humanitarian issues in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
Thursday’s harthal had been well timed in the backdrop of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
During his meeting with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, Indian Prime Minister Modi had even expressed hope that the commitment made to the UN Human Rights Council by Sri Lanka would be fulfilled in the given time frame of two years.
So, Thursday’s harthal which had crippled the Northern and Eastern provinces completely could even be considered as the emphasis of the masses in the Northern and Eastern Provinces on fulfilling the commitments made towards the implementation of the UN Human Rights Council resolution of 2015.
Leader of the Opposition and the TNA leader in a press briefing prior to Thursday’s harthal had even emphasized the need of setting up the Office of the Missing Persons (OMP) as it was agreed upon by the Government of Lanka in the resolution co-sponsored with the UNHRC in 2015.
The Northern Provincial Council (NPC) Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran in his address at the NPC before adjourning the 91st sitting of the council in support of Thursday’s mass harthal had even stated that the non violent protest was the outburst of the people in the North and the East as a result of the government’s ignorance in dealing with the humanitarian issues in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
The Tamil and Muslim parties which had joined hands in removing the previous regime had highlighted their strength under one umbrella for the second time by staging the harthal over the unresolved humanitarian issues in the North and the East.
As Thursday’s harthal had conveyed a message to the government by the Tamil and Muslim political forces which had played a key role in creating the National Unity Government to resolve the humanitarian issues in the North and the East, it is high time the Sirisena– Wickremesinghe government to realize that the ‘honeymoon’ they had with the Tamil and Muslim political parties of North and the East is now on the verge of ending.
Therefore, last Thursday’s non-violent harthal in the North and the East had sent a strong message to the government to strengthen its existence by bringing an end to the tears of the people in the North and the East through expediting the process of unresolved humanitarian problems.