Is TNA’s position as sole representatives of North-East Tamils in jeopardy!

Hon. Ra. Sampanthan,
on his 87th Birthday today

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) boycotting the 72nd Independence Day celebrations at the Independence Square for not singing in Tamil the national anthem achieved nothing for Tamils. Whereas a responsive and problem solving approach to some problems require at a decentralized approach to a centralized approach if they are to be solved. For singing of the national anthem in Tamil, mother tongue of majority living in north and east provinces was in order as per the constitution and since TNA have by their own choice limited themselves to represent the Tamils in that region should have attended the function at their respective province and joined others who sang the anthem in Tamil. As such TNA had no axe to grind with the government on this matter.

Further the President addressing the nation at the Independence Day celebration said his government was duty-bound to protect the country’s democracy and freedom and requested people to criticise if his government treads the wrong path. Last year many army check points were reinstated in Wanni to cause concern to the Tamil people in the battered Northern Province, who expected TNA as their representatives in parliament to bring it to the notice of the President. Perhaps it was too much to expect from TNA, especially after the Security Forces had confirmed they were done to catch suspicious people and vehicles. Yet the President on realising that he represent the entire Sri Lankan community free of racial, religious, party or any other differences, has repeatedly stated his vision was to serve as the Head of State of all the people and not as past political leaders concentrate their efforts serving the majority community. Further, the President has said he does not expect any hindrances from state officials or legislature or judiciary in fulfilling the needs of the people. That alone was enough reason for the self-claimed only representatives of the Tamils TNA to remove all constrains experienced by the Tamil people; instead in particular in the past four years any actions TNA took were without proper coordination with their people, left the public facing many harassments from authorities that could have been avoided.

The minorities in the country are expecting their President to resolve their problems that were left unresolved by earlier rulers; in particular to the Tamils living in North-Eastern region of the country these includes resolving the impacts caused to their lives by the cruel civil war. True after the war was brought to finish in 2009 past governments have in the decade past have reconstructed much of the damaged or destroyed infrastructures; but much of their thorny issues from the war remains to be resolved. For that government actions must include truth seeking, accountability and reparations.

Earlier these matters were taken to UNHRC and with a view to resolve them, then government cosponsored the UNHRC resolution 30/1 of 2015. However it was denounced from the beginning by the leaders of the present government when in opposition, describing it as a betrayal of the country’s security forces. Though the government is now expected to uphold these commitments made to UNHRC; have clearly reiterated inability to implement certain provisions, such as bringing in foreign judges, as they were contrary to the constitution. Despite these concerns, the controversy that the missing persons are no longer alive and that necessary investigations would be conducted before issuing a death certificate. It was also reported that the UN was informed by the president that necessary investigations would be conducted to find out the fate of those who had disappeared during the civil conflict. However, those people concerned from it in the north are concerned pointing out that the disappearances had continued even after the war ended in 2009.This issue will be one of the central themes for discussion at the forthcoming UNHRC sessions in Geneva.

While wishing their respected old-timer Hon. Ra. Sampanthan, on his 87th Birthday today all the members of Tamil National Alliance (TNA), have an obligation to their voters to work with their veteran leader to seek solutions to the remaining thorny issues of the people living in the North and East Provinces with the government. This must be done ahead of their current preoccupations such as seeking overseas advice on changing its leadership or even preparing for the next General Election considered urgent by some alliance members to sustain TNA’s position as the sole representatives of Tamils in North and East Provinces. For that the respected veteran leader needs to have direct discussions with the President, sooner it’s done the better for all.