BY MIRUDHULA THAMBIAH
Vanni District Parliamentarian and Leader of Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) – constituent of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Selvam Adaikkalanathan said those connected to enforced disappearances should be identified, inquired and punished through the mechanisms of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP).
“We are of a firm stand that all UNHRC recommendations should be implemented. OMP should be established in our country to examine the cases. Those who are connected to the enforced disappearances should be inquired into and punished,” he said.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
? What is your stand on the interim report of the constitutional reforms?
A: This interim report cannot be viewed as a complete political solution. We will definitely express our stand over this report in Parliament when it is taken up for debate in the next three days. We will emphasize on what criteria should be further included to satisfy our demands on behalf of our people as we have given certain promises to them.
During the three day debate we will definitely stress on our demands that meet up with the aspirations of our people and further will explain on why and how our recommendations should be implemented.
? There seems to be continuous contradictions on the stand of TNA leaders. Leader Sampanthan was of the view that the interim report is somewhat favourable, while Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran completely rejected the report. Why do you think such contradictions prevail within your party?
A: Such situations clearly show that we lack discussions and mutual understanding within our party. However as I said it is quite hard to state that the report is positive or negative to Tamil people. We should be cautious of what should be delivered during the parliamentary debate that is scheduled for the next three days regarding the interim report.
? It is currently being told by various representatives that the North-East merger is impossible. However the merger had been one of the primary demands of the TNA on finding a political solution. If you fail in obtaining a merger, would you accept an alternative?
A: As you said North-East merger is one of the primary demands of the TNA. We will never give up on this particular demand.
Similarly we hold a firm stand that only a federal system can solve ethnic issues. We should obtain solution based only on our demands. We are not ready to accept an almost similar solution and amend it accordingly in future. We believe such promises cannot be achieved later. Our fundamental demands should be included to the solution we are not ready to adjust.
? You recently said if the current government does not fulfil the demands of Tamil people, appealing to the international community would be the only option. Are you disappointed with the current government?
A: We are able to experience a political change in our country. The government had promised to find a suitable political solution. As promised they appointed a steering committee to examine and suggest constitutional reforms. This committee had now released an interim report. We have also supported the government in certain stances as they have promised to solve the ethnic issue. However if the final solution does not achieve our policies and demands we must choose a different option. We must have an alternative if we are unable to achieve our demands through the government. Thus appealing to the international community would be an alternative option if we experience any disappointment over the promises given to us.
We have also informed the international community the reasons as to why we decided to support the government. If we are finally disappointed, appealing to the international community would be the one and only option to solve our problems in this country.
My point of view does not state that we will be disappointed. But if we face such a situation in future we may approach the international community.
? Recently President imposed a Gazette to establish Office of Missing Persons (OMP) in the country according to the recent Act that was passed in Parliament. But why do your representatives claim that it is an eye wash?
A: The President and the Government have disappointed our people on this issue. The President has always been of the stand of securing the security forces, although an OMP Act is adopted in Parliament as recommended by the UNHRC. The President as the head of State has the duty to solve the issues faced by the people of his country. Under the guise of protecting the security forces he has however failed so far to obtain complete justice for the affected people.
We are on a firm stand that all UNHRC recommendations should be implemented. OMP should be established in our country to examine the cases. Those who are connected to the enforced disappearances should be inquired into and punished. Also a great amount of compensation should be provided to the families of missing persons since most of them are breadwinners. The current government did not secure power alone with the votes of the majority community but with the majority votes of the minority communities too, therefore President and his Government are bound to solve such humanitarian issues. He should avoid only considering the betterment of the majority community but address issues of minority communities too.
They should avoid partisan arguments. Our people did not lie; they have surrendered their loved ones to the security forces at the end of war.
? It was revealed recently in Courts that Northern Minister Ananthy Sasitharan‘s husband former LTTE Commander Elilan was not surrendered over to the security forces. How do you view this development?
A: There is a trend of denying arrests that occurred during the war period. Until a person is produced in Courts after his arrest, there will be a trend of denying his custody. When a suspect is arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act they will be ill treated and kept in remand for further investigations. Elilan’s wife said that he was surrendered to the security forces before her. It cannot be a false statement when he is surrendered before her. When she had expressed it before the judiciary it is definite she would submit evidence. Therefore it cannot be a lie. Those who took Elilan into custody should not lie before the judiciary but reveal the truth and his whereabouts. If he has not surrendered, where is he?
If they deny his custody, the government should take up the responsibility, he surrendered before his wife and she cannot lie.
? TELO recently said that the party would not support Chief Minister Wigneswaran if he contests for a second term. Why is that?
A: We never adopted such a decision within our party. It is false news. We did not take any such decisions at our party meeting. We have already extended our support to the Chief Minister. We will not rush into future decision, we will study the situation.
? Your coalition party EPRLF had recently accused that the Leadership is taking arbitrary decisions without consulting the other parties. Are you of the same stand? What is the actual situation?
A: As I said earlier if every one of us have different views that proves we lack mutual discussions within our party. TNA had strongly secured people’s mandate and if we fail to amend these differences, they might lose interest in future.
We must hold healthy discussions within the party especially on 20th Amendment and Constitutional reforms. If we fail to deliver unanimous decisions we will lose the trust that people have in us. There are many criticisms against the TNA and it is not a positive situation for the party. Therefore we should not create a situation of distrust among people.
? When you expelled former Northern Minister of Fisheries and Transport B. Deniswaran from your party (TELO), he denied his party membership. He said he was not a basic member of your party. Is that true?
A: He was our party member at that time. He had filled up a party membership form and confirmed his representation. He had even been a presidium member, which is more than enough to confirm his membership.
? He said that your party leaders obtained his signature on a blank paper not on a membership form. Is that correct?
A: He is lawyer and he is very well aware that placing signatures on blank papers causes trouble. We did not obtain on blank paper but we have his membership form. We are ready to produce it in public if needed.
? People have made allegations against the TNA that your party had failed to address the burning issues of Tamil people of the North and East. What is your stand?
A: Definitely the affected people have their point of view over our party representatives. However, we have always travelled our journey towards finding a suitable political solution. We have negotiated our policies and demands with the Government. If we are disappointed or when we fail we will definitely take a decision that will always support our people. At the same time there are those with other agendas to damage the support extended to TNA by minor parties, which can be solved if the inner party is powerful.