No police and land powers to “separatist” agenda.

Forever oppressed

Sri Lanka celebrated its 75th Independence Day yesterday. Instead of celebrating the day with great pride of being an independent nation, and a country that is moving towards a rapid development, unfortunately, Sri Lanka, as a nation and as a country is moving backward, day by day towards doomsday. Sri Lanka is facing many severe issues. Even worse than its grim economic state, Sri Lanka is divided and extremely disunited. People are divided into political parties, races, religious groups, and various ideologies and the worst part is the grave animosity that can be seen between these various groups.

Among many disunities in Sri Lanka, the animosity between the Sinhala and Tamil people of the county, created by opportunistic politicians in the 1930s has now grown into a disastrous fire that has burnt both communities. While politicians of both communities add fuel to this ethnic issue, it is the innocent people of both races who pay the price for it. On one hand, the innocent Tamil people are being pressurised by their own racist and selfish politicians and on the hand, Sinhala and Tamil people grow apart from each other day by day.

Separatism fuelled by politics

The demand for an Eelam or a separate Tamil-only state in Sri Lanka by politicians such as Amithralingam and Ponnambalam, resulted in the birth of the LTTE and led to the 30-year war that completely devastated the country. Although the military arm of the LTTE was crushed in 2009, their ideology is not yet defeated. The demand for a separate state has not been given up by some politicians.

From early 1940s, Tamils who were against the Eelam or a separate Tamil-only state demand were brutally silenced. They were killed or disappeared. Many Tamil activists, scholars, journalists, artists, and civilians were killed in this way.

Most of the time, we talk about the unjust and great miseries that fell upon the Sinhalese due to the demands of an Eelam. Yet, we also need to understand the great miseries that have fallen upon the innocent Tamil people due to this wretched demand. Thousands of innocent Tamils were killed and disappeared. Thousands of Tamil women were raped. Thousands of Tamil children and youth were forced to join the LTTE.

To date, some Tamil politicians have not given up the practice of doing the dirty bidding of bigger powers, and their acts create more and more rifts between the Sinhalese and the Tamils of the country. While these politicians and their henchmen enjoy their lives, innocent Tamils are pressurised as pawns. Also, the terrible caste discrimination that exists among the Tamils, especially in Jaffna, has made life a living hell for the majority of Tamil civilians in Jaffna. Out of fear, they do not speak up for their rights.

The discussion about enacting the 13th amendment is back in town. To talk about the 13th amendment and its impact on the Tamil civilians, The Jaffna Civil Society, which is the voice of the Tamil people of the North, held a press conference on 28 of January at the Colombo Public Library.

Below is the summary of the discussion.

No justice from politicians

The President of the society, Arun Siddharth expressed his views on this matter as follows;

“For 30 years we have been waiting for justice. Our families were killed. Many of our family members disappeared. We lost our loved ones. The LTTE and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) must be held responsible for numerous deaths in this country, including Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim, Malay, and Burger people”, said Siddharth.

He said that they, as the voice of the Tamil civilians of Jaffna, urge the president to make sure they meet justice for the LTTE’s killings. He said that they are a major part of the people of Jaffna and that they feel they are being neglected.

“If they are ignoring us and not giving us justice, our struggle will go on a different path. A vast majority of people in this country were affected by the LTTE. Thousands of innocent civilians who had no connection to the war were brutally killed,” he said.

He further questioned, “How will we gain justice if we are not served justice by the state? Should we take arms into our hands to do so? What should we do if we do not get justice for the injustice within the legal framework of the country?”

Siddharth also explained that when people get frustrated in the struggles fighting for justice, they pick up weapons. Therefore, he said that viable solution is to take swift action and not let people feel desperate and helpless enough to make drastic decisions.

“For 30 years, no one has spoken up for our rights. At least, now people should speak up for us.”

The Indian influence

Arun also shared his views about the 13th amendment which is the talk of the town today in Sri Lanka. Before stating his view of the 13th amendment he said that he must share a background history with the youth of the south.

On 4 June 1987, the mission known as the Eagle Mission 4 by the Indian Government was put into action. Under this, Indian army air fighter jets dropped rice, daal, milk powder, and soya packets in Jaffna. The total of this amount was about 25 tons. By doing so, they clearly invaded the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. This act was done by force and no permission was given to India to do so. 

On 29 July of the same year, the Indo-Lanka Accord was signed by Rajiv Gandhi and J.R. Jayawardene. As a result on 30, the Indian army arrived at Palali.

The 13th Amendment 

In November 1987, the 13th Amendment was passed in the Parliament. Under this, the ‘Provincial Council’ concept was presented, for the needs of India. In February 1988, nine provinces were divided. Then again in September of the same year, the Northern and Eastern provincial councils were untied following the agreements in the Indo-Lanka Accord. However, a referendum was to be held in the Eastern province in order to see the decision of the people of the Eastern Province but to date, this referendum has not been held

From the election that was held in 1988, Varatharaja Perumal became the Chief Minister of the unified Northern and Eastern Provincial Council.

In March 1990, the Indian army left Sri Lanka as Rajiv Gandhi was defeated in the Indian parliamentary elections which were held in December 1989 and V.P. Singh came to power.

Talking further about the Indo-Lanka Accord and the Indian Army arriving in Sri Lanka, Siddharth said that although the accord promised to establish peace in Sri Lanka it only did the opposite. They jeopardised the country further.

“During this time, the Indian Army committed severe war crimes in Sri Lanka,” said Siddharth.

War crimes committed by Indian Army

According to the Amnesty international human rights organisation, Indian forces massacred civilians, raped Tamil women in Jaffna, and are also responsible for the number of enforced disappearances of civilians in Jaffna.

He further said that in 1987 the Indian forces entered the Jaffna hospital and shot people. A number of around 70 people died during this shooting.

In Kokkuwil village, the ‘Pirambadi’ massacre happened. It was an open fire using war tanks. In Valvettiturai more than 100 people were massacred by the Indian army.

Despite this being the real situation, Tamil politicians do not talk about the severe war crimes committed by the Indian army, and about the innocent Tamil civilians massacred and raped. Next, the LTTE committed grave war crimes against innocent Tamil civilians. People like Rasamanickam never speak against these war crimes committed against innocent Tamil civilians as these Tamil politicians are acting according to the political agendas of India, Siddharth alleged. 

“They are not with local Tamil people nor are they the voice of Tamil civilians.

“Three of my family members were taken away and held in a torture camp by the LTTE and we do not know what happened to them. Those who committed these crimes against us, the general Tamil public are now roaming freely in the town after they have been released from rehabilitation centres. We see them and that is painful for us,” Siddharth said.

“We demand compensation for these losses we had due to the war crimes of the Indian army and the LTTE. We need to know what happened to our disappeared loved ones. There are no cemetery or death memorials for the thousands of lost innocent Tamil people in Jaffna, but there is a Monument for the Indian army in Palali,” Siddharth addressed the injustice.

The 13th Amendment was clearly a political need of India’s geopolitics.

During that time there was a cold war in the world. The world was divided into two; the Russian camp and the American camp. While Indira Gandhi was in the Russian camp, J.R. Jayawardene of Sri Lanka was in the American camp. Therefore, it was needed to control Sri Lanka, to keep things under control.

Discriminatory indigenous laws

“For 37 years, five presidents of Sri Lanka did not enact the amendment and gave powers to the provincial councils. It was because the majority of this country is against it. 60 per cent of the people of the North are us, the oppressed people. Tamil politicians, who enjoy all the power, oppress us all the time. By giving more powers and independent powers to these politicians we will become more and more oppressed and controlled. They have been and are violating our rights,” Siddharth claimed.

Adding further Siddharth said that the Desawalamei Law or the Thesawalamai Law is clearly a land policy and law that oppresses them and violates our rights. “This law is clearly to control and take away the rights of the people of the low caste. More than 60 per cent of the people in the North are us and they call us low caste. This is clearly against equality.”

Certain principles of Thesawalamai Law are in conflict with international standards of equality.

“If these Tamil politicians act like this by oppressing us [a majority of 60 per cent in Jaffna] by laws and customs, what will happen when they are given power by law?” Siddharth questioned.

He also explained how cases are lodged and heard in the Police station and in courts further discriminating and oppressing Tamil people based on their caste.

Imagine what unjust will fall upon the innocent Tamil people they keep under control if they gain more and more power such as Police and land authority?

When police and land powers are given by the law to these politicians who have chosen violence instead of peace, what will happen to the civilians of this country and what will happen to the peace between Tamils and Sinhalese? These politicians are the ones who killed honest people such as Alfred Duraiappah. People like Amithralingam clearly stood by separationist ideologies and spread hatred between the two communities, Siddharth further mentioned.

By Ama H. Vanniarachchy