Supreme Court Judge as the Chief Minister Vs Tamil politicians

Wigneswaran-with-Sambanthan-e1406706569599The crisis in the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) and its ruling Tamil National Alliance (TNA) party, took centre stage in local politics last week. The crisis was precipitated by Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran’s decision to send two NPC Ministers on compulsory leave pending an investigation into corruption charges against them.

It became a full-blown crisis to the extent that all Sinhala newspapers, which usually give only scant coverage to Northern political affairs, had the latest developments in the NPC as the lead story for several days running. Tamil newspapers based in Colombo and Jaffna also had a field day (or two) with the fast-moving story. Indeed, the crisis also gained the attention of almost all Indian newspapers as well, given the Tamil Nadu factor.

While the CM’s actions are being cited as the immediate cause of the rift in the TNA, Some of the CM’s comments with regard to the conflict and present developments had not gone down well with the old politicians of the TNA party who have been changing their policies as per the sinhala government which rule in Colombo, hence at present follows the policy of ”unity and reconciliation should be the way forward”. The Tamil politicians have been trying to work with the Sinhala governments in Colombo who have fooled them since independent from British on February 4, 1948.

Before a succession of western nations (including the Portuguese, Dutch and the British) ruled the island, there were two distinct kingdoms on the island, the Tamil Kingdom in the north and the Sinhala kingdom in the South.

For ease of administration, the British amalgamated the two distinct nations into a single entity with its capital in Colombo. The British gave Ceylon independence in 1948, handing over control of the entire island to a Sinhalese government, based in Colombo, which renamed the island Sri Lanka.

PRESIDENTS OF SRI LANKACeylon was granted independence as the Dominion of Ceylon on February 4, 1948 . Dominion status within the British Commonwealth was retained for the next 24 years until May 22, 1972 when it became a republic and was renamed the Republic of Sri Lanka. While discrimination against the Tamil-speaking people was growing in the period after independence in the fields of employment and education, there was another sphere in which the Tamil ethnic group felt itself imperilled, that of land colonization.

The Sinhala state’s oppression of the Tamil people began in various forms almost immediately, attacking everything that defined the Tamils as a nation. The Tamil ethnic group sought to counter this growing discrimination by demands at a political level.

Before independence, the Tamil Congress unsuccessfully demanded balanced representation – 50% seats for the Sinhala and 50% for the combined minority ethnic groups. Later, in the face of continuing discrimination, a Federal Party emerged which asked for a federal political structure that would give Tamils a degree of autonomy in the areas inhabited by them, as well as adequate representation at the centre. It was in this period of accelerated demands and rejection that Tamil political leaders concluded in 1976 that only a separate state could ensure the security and welfare of the Tamil people, a state carved out of the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka to be called Tamil Eelam.

 The main political parties were not totally insensitive to this process, S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike, Prime Minister and leader of the SLFP (Sri Lanka Freedom Party) arrived at an understanding with the leader of the Federal Party (the Bandaranaike – Chelvanayakam Pact of 1958) which gave Tamils a degree of regional autonomy, including control of the land settlement in their areas. However, Bandaranaike had to abandon the pact in the face of opposition from the United National Party (UNP) and was killed by a monk in 1959.

Likewise, when the UNP was again in power, Dudley Senanayake, the Prime Minister, worked out a somewhat similar understanding in 1967; this too was scuttled in the face of opposition, this time mainly from the SLFP. The demands of the Tamil people had by this time become a major factor in Sinhala Politics.

Recruitment of Tamils into the security forces was restricted. The Sri Lankan security forces are almost exclusively Sinhalese. The security forces have been responsible for and continue to carry out human rights abuses and atrocities against Tamil civilians on a genocidal scale.

Sinhala colonisation of traditional Tamil areas was started in the fifties, and was intensified in the eighties with the security forces wiping out Tamil villages and replacing them with Sinhala settlements. Colonisation continues unabated.

Anti-Tamil rioting, with the active participation of the Sri Lankan security forces, has claimed thousands of Tamil lives. Thousands more suffered torture and rape.

Sinhala political hegemony was also becoming institutionalized. The republican Constitution of 1972, while proclaiming Sinhala as the official language, declared that Buddhism had the ‘foremost place’ in Sri Lanka, thus almost affirming a Sinhala-Buddhist state. It is precisely this history that persuaded the Tamils that co-existence with the Sinhala in a single polity was no longer possible.

While the established political party of the Tamils – the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) – was demanding a separate state and using parliamentary democratic processes towards obtaining it, some Tamil youth, dissatisfied with the non-violent policies of the TULF, formed groups which took up arms in the same cause {4}. It is not proposed to go into the details of the armed struggle in this paper. It is only necessary to state that it led to a protracted and bitter war in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka during the course of which the state security forces were guilty of severe excesses, attacks on civilians and serious violations of human rights of the Sri Lankan citizens, while the armed groups in turn resorted to brutal killings of both the Sinhala civilians and those Tamils thought of as ‘informers’.

The passing of the 13th Amendment (13A) to the Constitution in 1987 spelt out power devolution to the provinces.  13A also propounded a merged NE, until such time a referendum was held, asking the voter in the Eastern Province (EP) whether he/she would want their province permanently merged with the North or not? The first of such elections to the merged NE Province was held in 1988 which was won by the EPRLF. It was subsequently dissolved by Colombo under powers vested in the President when it declared independence from the Central Government. Subsequently, the Supreme Court (SC) on a petition submitted by the JVP, declared the NE merger null and void in 2006. In the interim, the proposed referendum in the EP didn’t take place.

In 2013, the first elections to the Northern Province were held, i.e. 26 years after the passing of 13A. Nonetheless, a bone of contention was the non devolvement of police and land powers, though espoused in 13A. 

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksha promised to implement more than 13A ( ie 13+ ) once the LTTE was killed and in addition to China and Russia even the western world supported the killing of more than 40,000 Tamil civilians and more than 1000 LTTE leaders and their family members who surrendered with White Flag after UN negotiated the surrender in May 2009 which is war crime as per international law, but Mahinda Rajapaksha proved that he was another racist Sinhala  Buddhist politician whose only aim was to make sure that his family can rule Sri Lanka in future by NOT even implementing the 13th amendment of the  current constitution of the country which gave some rights to the local councils.

Current Maithiri – Ranil government which promised the changes to the constitution to give rights to minority (is nothing more than another Sinhala Buddhist leaders false promise) has been dragging their promises for more than two years and no one can confidently say that Maithiri and Ranil are different to their senior politicians who have used the discrimination to stay in power and fool the Minorities with false promises.

The chief minister for Sri Lanka’s Tamil-dominated Northern Province has told the BBC that the central government should stop viewing the north as a “terrorist area”, and must give the province meaningful political powers. The Sinhala rulers in Colombo are angry at the Tamil CM because the Northern Provincial Council passed a motion calling for an international probe into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka.

As a Supreme court Judge he was a man of his word and followed the rule of the land. He has lived most of his live time with the Sinhalese in Colombo  and his children are married to Sinhalese but he was proposed by the TNA to contest the election because of his honesty and won with a land slide. He without fear has refused to hoist the LTTE’s flag at a function organized by the pro-LTTE organization Tamil Coordination Committee (TCC). After becoming the CM of North he realised how much the Tamils were discriminated by the Colombo Sinhala politicians who were his friends. But being a Judge he stood by the law of the country and refuse to budge unlike the other Tamil politicians who were used to be fooled by the Sinhala politicians.

The NPC ministerial imbroglio led to a much-publicised spat between Wigneswaran and Opposition Leader R Sampanthan, known as a moderate, and also a move to bring in a No-Confidence Motion against the CM by ITAK. Before the clash came to an end with Wigneswaran softening his stand on the two ministers after backroom moves by religious dignitaries and moderate Tamil politicians, the two Northern politicos were engaged in a war of words.

Independent legal inquiry

Wigneswaran expressed his willingness to accommodate the two ministers whom he was planning to send on compulsory leave though the charges against them were not substantially proved. Wigneswaran agreed that Balasubramaniam Deniswaran and Dr Pathmanathan Sathiyalingam who were to be subjected to a fresh probe, need not go on leave until the inquiry is complete. “There was no punitive action taken against the two Ministers concerned. They are entitled to draw their salary and use their vehicles etc. It is in order to give protection to the witnesses that it was said that they should take leave while the Inquiring Committee sat,” wrote Wigneswaran to Sampanthan.

“There are new charges too against them. I understand your inability to give guarantees with regard to the conduct of the two Ministers. But I am glad you have undertaken to advise them that they should not impede an independent legal inquiry. It is to ensure the independent legal inquiry and to commit the two Ministers that I designed the formula of taking leave for one month,” he added. Wigneswaran has told Sampanthan he was willing to withdraw letters of suspension against the two ministers provided there would not be any political meddling in case there would be another inquiry against them.

The TNA leader in a letter informed Wigneswaran that he had already informed the Northern Province Governor that the no-confidence motion would be withdrawn. Now that Wigneswaran has agreed to maintain status quo the ITAK has informed the Governor Reginald Cooray that they were withdrawing the no-confidence motion against him. There were backroom moves when Jaffna Bishop Justin Gnanaparagasam and Chief Hindu priest Sri Somasunderam met with relevant parties to resolve the crisis amicably. PLOTE leader Darmalingam Sitharthdan, EPRLF leader Suresh Premachandran and TELO Selvam Adaikkalanathan also requested both to arrive at a common compromise.

The Government was watching the situation closely with regard to the developments in the North. The main concern of the Government was that it did not want the Northern leadership to slip from moderate leaders to hardliners.

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