must not evade responsibility for NE incidents, says Sampanthan
By Chandani Kirinde
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MPs disrupted parliamentary sittings
for three consecutive days last week to protest the killing of Batticoloa
district MP Joseph Pararajasingham and calling for an end to acts
of harassment and violence against Tamils in the north and east
as well as in Colombo.
parliamentary group leader and Trincomalee district MP Rajavarothiam
Sampanthan in an interview with The Sunday Times defended his party’s
actions in the House and said it was time the Government took some
concrete steps instead of cosmetic action in solving the problems
faced by the Tamil community.
Sampanthan said the TNA regretted very much the killing of security
forces personnel in the north and east but said the Government,
the JVP and the JHU must take responsibility for the current situation
in the country.
Below are excerpts of the interview:
three consecutive days, your party disrupted parliamentary sittings.
What do you hope to achieve with that kind of protests?
want to tell the Government, the country and the world at large
that statements and assurances in parliament without any follow
up action or without implementing those assurances are no longer
acceptable. Whatever action that has been taken has only been cosmetic
in nature and not aimed at identifying the offenders and bringing
them to justice. Several murders have taken place in Tamil areas.
number of Tamils have gone missing. People have been arrested without
reason in the northeast and in other parts of the country particularly
in Colombo. We have to demonstrate our total disgust over the inaction
of the government. We have conducted ourselves with utmost decorum
and dignity within Parliament. We have raised questions, discussed
matters and sought justice in parliament. In the context of justice
not having been meted out in parliament we have been compelled to
perform a “satyagraha” for three days running within
the Chambers. We look forward to some concrete action by the Government
to ensure Tamil civilians do not continue to be harassed as at present.
kind of immediate action do you expect from the Government?
We expect the government to behave with a sense of responsibility
and not to be evasive as they have been in the past. We expect the
Government by its actions to bring to an end or at least substantially
minimise the suffering to which the Tamil civilian population is
presently being subjected to.
Are you only blaming the government for the escalation of violence
in the north and east?
In so far as the violence unleashed against the civilians are concerned,
the Government will have to accept responsibility.
What about the killings of the members of the security forces?
We are extremely sad about that. We very much regret these killings
and these acts of violence resulting in the loss of young lives.
But when looked at closely and deeply examined the responsibility
lies with the Sri Lankan state.
You said recently that the President had told you that he knew who
was behind the killing of five students in Trincomalee. Did he also
say that those involved were linked to the UNP?
I don’t wish to play politics with the murder of
five educated youth in Trincomalee. The President in the course
of his conversation with us gave an indication as to which section
of the armed forces committed this crime. No section of the armed
forces came under attack whatsoever from these youth or from any
others at this venue, at this time. This was an instance of deliberate
killing. We expect the Government to pursue the investigations in
such a manner as to bring the offenders to justice. If the guns
used in the killing of these youth are recovered, the forensic evidence
will help identify the guns the fatal bullets were fired from. There
is ample scope for the Government to conduct a proper investigation
if it so desires.
One of the allegations being levelled at the TNA, mainly by the
JVP and the JHU, is that its MPs are acting as proxies of the LTTE
in parliament. How do you answer this?
The JVP and JHU are in my view thoroughly disqualified and unfit
to make any comment about our behaviour.
of you will recall the manner in which the JHU/JVP behaved when
the P-TOMS agreement was to be debated in parliament. This agreement
was meant to help the tsunami victims. We are not proxies of the
LTTE but certainly working in the interests of the Tamil people
and their future, we work together and we have endeavoured to have
the peace process taken forward in a meaningful way. The JVP has
been primarily responsible for the peace process not being taken
forward. They have been responsible for obstructing and impeding
the peace process, both during the time of President Kumaratunga
and during time of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and now in
the time of President Mahinda Rajapakse. It is they who are responsible
for the tragic situation to which this country is being pushed.
As a political party what has the TNA done to move the peace process
We have been in touch with successive governments, Prime
Ministers and Presidents. In parliament we have urged that the peace
process be taken forward.
have discussed this matter with the international community. We
have done our best even with the LTTE to ensure that the peace process
is taken forward in a constructive manner. We have not the slightest
doubt that the prime culprit for the peace process not being taken
forward is the Sri Lankan state.
As a political party particularly as one representing the Tamil
people, what have you done to solve their problems?
We are a democratic political party. We were elected to
parliament by people of the districts in the north and east. We
are doing our best. But more than us it is the Sri Lankan state
that has to deliver and the Sri Lankan state has not delivered since
this country attained independence in 1947.
is no purpose blaming the LTTE because this matter could have been
resolved easily during the time of a moderate Tamil political leadership
when there was no militancy on the part of the Tamils.
there was no LTTE Agreements made were abrogated unilaterally. Promises
made were not implemented and the same situation continues even
after the armed struggle. That is the reality. The failure of P-TOMS
and other such agreements is clearly attributable to the unwillingness,
the inability of the Sri Lankan state to deliver.
Does that mean we are at a point of no return?
We are certainly at cross roads. And it is up to the Sri Lanka state,
without any further delay, to get its act together. Start the talks
and go forward. We can give help.