22 October, 2020

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Another Job For The TNA

By Kath Noble

Kath Noble

A couple of weeks ago, I said that the TNA should intervene with Tamil Nadu politicians on behalf of the fishermen of the North. They should explain that there is no point in having a devolved administration if it cannot solve the immediate and urgent problems of the people who vote for it, and one of these is poaching by the trawlers of Tamil Nadu.

Sadly, there is no mention of the issue in the TNA manifesto for the upcoming provincial council election.

The only reference to fishermen suggests that their livelihoods are at risk not because all the fish in the seas from Puttalam to Trincomalee are being scooped up by somebody else, but due to restrictions by the Security Forces.

Of course just because the Security Forces claim that there are no longer any bans or pass systems in place doesn’t mean that they are not making life difficult for fishermen. The acquisition or occupation of land on the coast is another very important way in which their livelihoods are being affected, and a recent survey of former IDPs by UNHCR says that 3% of respondents (25% of families who make their living from fishing) cite military restrictions on their activities as a major impediment.

But that is not the whole story.

Given that according to the same UNHCR report, around 90% of Northern fishermen live below the already impossibly low official poverty line of Rs. 3,641 per month – Rs. 120 per day – one would have thought that a little more careful consideration of their fate should be a priority for the TNA.

In fact, there are many omissions in its manifesto, and many points on which it deserves to be pulled up, as Dayan Jayatilleka has done in an article that appeared in The Sunday Island, focusing on the way in which it treats the LTTE.

As he points out, it would have been better not to mention the LTTE at all than to include such uncritical and deceitful references.

One paragraph of the manifesto stands out: ‘While no progress was being made on the political front to solve the burning national issue, the LTTE continued its armed struggle. Though initially there were several military outfits, since 1987 the LTTE emerged as the sole military force in pursuing the struggle. Successive governments entered into negotiations with the LTTE and in February 2002 the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka signed a Ceasefire Agreement and later agreed on a set of principles called the Oslo Communiqué. However, the ceasefire did not last and hostilities broke out between the government forces and the LTTE with the military confrontation coming to an end on 19th May 2009.’

Of course the election that the TNA is about to contest is for a body that itself constitutes political progress, thanks to the 13th Amendment. Claiming otherwise is just stupid.

Even more stupid is continuing to whitewash the crimes of the LTTE.

Navi Pillay gave some good advice in her press briefing at the end of her tour of Sri Lanka – she called on the diaspora not to glorify the LTTE. She made a point of describing the LTTE as a ruthless, murderous organisation, and noted that her only other visit to the island had been to attend a commemoration of Neelan Tiruchelvam, who was assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber in July 1999.

As she could have added, he is one of many Tamils to have fallen victim to the LTTE.

The latest is Senthilkumaran Ratnasingam, who set himself on fire outside the United Nations office in Geneva on Thursday. LTTE websites claim that he did so because he was disappointed with the outcome of Navi Pillay’s mission.

Obviously she isn’t going to change her opinion of the situation in Sri Lanka as a result of his actions, so he has wasted his life.

Indeed, such violence simply confirms that she was right to address the issue of extremism in the diaspora.

Dayan argues that its manifesto suggests that the TNA is being guided by elements of the diaspora who continue to support the LTTE – presumably in the hope of a reincarnation – or by such feelings within its own ranks or vote base.

If that were the case, why did it nominate Justice Wigneswaran as its Chief Ministerial candidate?

Some observers have claimed that the TNA’s choice was strategic, to conceal its real intentions, but such a strategy should surely have included presenting a less controversial manifesto. It is much easier to ignore a manifesto than to ignore the Chief Minister.

On balance, I believe that the party does want to move in a conciliatory direction, although obviously it could and should be doing so a lot more quickly and clearly.

But after three decades of war, optimism has to be combined with caution.

One of the reasons I argue that the TNA must be bolder in setting a new course for its community is that the people who will suffer the most if the political system breaks down again are of course the Tamils. The TNA has a special responsibility to ensure that it makes democracy work for them, whatever obstacles are put in its way by the Government.

Having supported the LTTE, whose efforts on behalf of Tamils involved an awful lot of them being killed, the TNA cannot complain that this is an unreasonable expectation.

Anyway, there is no alternative to reconciliation.

The TNA has to guide its people away from the armed struggle, whether they are here in Sri Lanka or in the diaspora, and it has to do so before any more 35 year old fathers of three decide to turn themselves into human candles. People take such extreme steps because they have been misled about the situation. They have been convinced that it warrants the sacrifice of their lives, and that their actions will contribute to some kind of change.

They are wrong on both counts, and it is up to the TNA to put them right.

That means being honest about what the LTTE did and didn’t do, and what the consequences were for the Tamil community and why.

It also implies refraining from exaggeration. After all, the real problems are bad enough.

One relatively small example from the manifesto is the section on law and order. There are clearly many reasons to worry about what is happening in the North, and I have written in these columns about incidents like the attacks on the Uthayan newspaper and the disruption of the TNA’s public meetings by thugs apparently connected to or supported by the regime. The North must also be suffering the results of a phenomenon that is affecting the whole of Sri Lanka – the politicisation of the Police. I have expended quite some effort in discussing in particular the way in which the Police stand by while Sinhalese extremist groups attack Muslim holy places and property. Given this behaviour in the South, it would be foolish to imagine that the Police are doing a brilliant job in the North.

But is there a specific crisis, as the TNA suggests?

I don’t know, but the UNHCR survey referred to at the beginning of this article would seem to suggest otherwise. It says that only 1% of former IDPs had experienced a ‘serious security incident’ involving a family member since their return (the fieldwork was done between November 2012 and March 2013). At the same time, 54% felt that safety had improved, while another 36% believed that there had at least been no deterioration.

The research also finds that 89% of respondents would report a crime, while 75% of those who had visited a   police station in the previous year were satisfied with the result.

Only 4% of respondents described the relationship between the Police and the community as bad – 50% said it was good.

However, the report also states that only 60% of women feel safe to stay at home without men being present.

Of course it doesn’t exactly confirm what G.L. Peiris claimed in his response to Navi Pillay’s statement either, that Northerners are essentially happy with the role and presence of the military – 16% were generally positive and 29% were generally negative, with 43% considering that it is not a problem and 12% expressing no opinion.

This may be just the way politics works, but some people take it seriously.

*Kath Noble’s column may be accessed online at http://kathnoble.wordpress.com/. She may be contacted at kathnoble99@gmail.com

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Latest comments

    • 0
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      Stop slave driving the TNA, go get your masters to put the act together.

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      Right on Kath! Keep it coming.. Of course elections everywhere unleashe xenophobia as in India today.. and given the Sinhala racism that is hegemonic in Lanka the TNA’s manifesto is to be expected…
      But there is need as you point out, for and alternative manifestos with substance and an road map for GENUINE development for the war battered folk of the north – from the TNA that prioritizes the development needs of the people.
      Getting PEOPLE CENTERED DEVELOPMENT PRIORITIES, policies and STRATEGIES and PROCESSES in place, and EFFECTIVE AID CO-ORDINATION right is a priority.
      After the elections in north Development needs to be prioritized and PEOPLE-CENTERED – NOT a pile of kick-back intensive white elephant infrastructure. Hence,
      1.Setting up a DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH and COORDINATION UNIT – to TARGET aid for vulnerable families and communities and for identify DEVELOPMENT PRIORITIES, STRATEGIES and COORDINATE AID adn MONITOR AND EVALUATE delivery of development assistance is important.
      2. A proper poverty and vulnerability assessment and areas and families that are poor and vulnerable and in need of homes and livelihoods should be identified and targeted for poverty reduction assistance.
      3. Get aid for this from international donors and have targeted and TRANSPARENT cash transfers to poor families for poverty reduction in the Northeast.
      Basil Rajapassa’s Divineguam is a political patronage system and will not reduce poverty.

    • 0
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      Kath,

      Well said,

      “90% of Northern fishermen live below poverty line of Rs. 3,641 per month – Rs. 120 per day – ..should be a priority for the TNA…”

      TNA is /was/has been totally confused , with no any mission/vision/principle except attacking Govt’ of sri lanka & spreading hatred , running all over the world & complaining, Playing 02nd fiddle to LTTE remnants & Diaspora Terrorists.

      Perhaps poverty of Northern people is what they have been asking for, easier to do hatred campaign, fishing in troubled waters ever since independence in 1948.

      The Govt. is trying hard to improve the living standards of the northerners with southerners tax money & borrowed money at commercial interests.

      Thank God, at least now people of North looks aware of it.

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    Commenting abt what job TNA has to do or not seems to be the only job of the Colombo elites Noble & Dayan.

    They forget to understand that if the proposed tasks that TNA has proposed to perform in the election Manifesto is not in sync with the demands of Northern voters, TNA is going to be thrown out lock stock & barrel with the EPDP members free to elect their own chief minister.

    After the release of election manifesto, darts are coming thick & fast against TNA from the Colombo elites & one hopes they also explain what job they want the army to do after being forced to go back to their barracks after the constitution of North province.

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      Dayan is no elite. Elites have money and want war because of the profits from war contracts. Dayan is still singing for his supper so he is no elite. Educated but not elite or elitist. From Vadukoddai, in 76. Tamil politicians have sung this song. 33 long and bloody years later they still don’t know what this song means to the Tamil people on the ground.

      This song is NOT for the northern Tamils. It is to make Mahinda stronger in the south. The TNA is directly helping the UPFA campaign in the south. Gota and the boys are secretly thanking Wiggy and the TNA boys for the manifesto. The TNA has helped the UPFA’s racist campaign in the south.

      You know, you can be supreme court judge for a long time. But it is not indicative of one’s intelligence though.

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    There is nothing wrong in having LTTE”s dream of Tamil self determination in the TNA Manifesto. The Tamil blood ran as a river in Mulliyavalikal. The Rajapakse regime have failed the Tamils since the defeat of LTTE.The Tamils have in their blood the hundreds of thousands of years old Tamil culture. You just cant simply wipe it off form the face of this earth.

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    TNA has taken or appear to be taken a drift may be as an electoral strategy to get votes. Its difficult to decide whether its genuine change in their collective decision. They have the habit of making contradictory statements and talking provocative language to emotionally arouse people to blindly vote for them. Later they themselves get trapped in their own provocations. They seem to be dishonest to themselves. But they are in difficult situation too. They have to or at least appear to be respecting the sentiments of diaspora and Tamilnadu. Without their endorsement TNA will feel themselves empty. Diaspora endorsement in necessary for their image, finance and to get votes. Nevertheless end of the day they have to negotiate with the government for development and devolution. Hope TNA will realise its also important to acknowledge and respect the sentiments and feelings of people living in the south in their public statements such as their manifesto. Most of the tragedy in our country is due to human error. That means their is hope this can be rectified by human effort. rj

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      rj- , I cannot but agree with you. The TNA manifesto was a total disaster, and I suspect, read the mood of the Tamil people from the perspective of the diaspora. Even if it was an electoral strategy, the extreme bias of it’s contents, in fact, will create the post election Tamil mood, and as stated by you, the people will trap themselves in this extreme attitude. SWRD Bandaranayake’s policies are a good case in point.The Sinhala people are still trapped in them. I agree with Kath Noble in her assessment in this article. As for me I think TNA has struck the second nail in the coffin against reconciliation and happiness in the future.

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    Absolutely. Politics is the art of the possible.

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    Kath,

    As i posted in your previous article, Both GOI and GoTN agreed to set-up a one to one discussion between fishermen from both sides to resolve this issue. Also, GOI, GoTN, And Puducherry government warned fishermen of crossing the boundary. This will be settled once TNA comes to power.
    Would you press a demand to stop Chinese trawlers who is engaging in destroying the marine resources of Srilankan Tamil Fishermen?

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      so u accept the problem is TN fishermen crossing the boundery and plundering SL fish resources.
      :D
      slow learner, ha

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        Sach, read my previous posts, that I too have accpted that Fishermen from TN cross boundary due to certain confusions around Katchatheevu. What i hated, SL coastal guard penetrating and firing fishermen who are within our boundary, what i also narrated was, even if they cross boundary they are not to be shot by SL coastal guard. Can you understand? I have not condemned to initiate civil procedure against those who cross the boundary. I oppose firing them with bullets.

        • 0
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          really coasteal guards penetrating TN fishermen? :D

          You didnt give single reliable source that says SL navy come to Indian sea and attack TN fishermen. This is false propaganda by TN robbers and their followers to look like a victim though they are the ones at fault here.

          Also if SL navy is unable to catch and arrest the TN robbers in SL seas itself how can they go and catch the potential robbers in indian seas? :D Dont u see it is a stupid excuse!

          And No you were not accepting that TN robbers come and destroy our resources here. Instead you went onto saying SLN go inside the indian seas and arrest the TN robbers. That is a complete rejection of the fact that TN robbers come to SL seas.

          About your shooting charge,
          1. where and when was the last time SLN was accused for shooting TN robbers? There may have been few cases during war but not anymore.
          2. Most of the arrested TN robbers are caught in Puttalam, Jaffna seas and even Trinco. So right inside SL seas.
          3. They were kept like a week or two (except last time in Aug) and sent to India very early . Overall in the recent time TN robbers have been receiving a very lenient treatment from SLG

          • 0
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            Sach,

            A pen or pencil pusher (:-)

            Dont push your lies to permeate the forum, if you have not read the comments in details.
            Look at my commenst at 3:54 PM,
            https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/time-for-the-tna-to-step-in/

            Just because Indian fihsermen say, you cannot dismiss it as lies and just because your smuggling, thuggery coastal guards say that they imprison the fishermen in Srilankan water can be taken as facts. As i said, The case is in supreme court, hence I am waiting the ruling from the apex court.

            • 0
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              1. ok point out the lie I mentioned.

              And I have ansered your comment

              “Even if supreme court is to give a verdict. they have to get statements from indian coast guard and indian gov to verify such SL navy intrusions. Because an insititute like court cant check the validity of the fishermen’s statements.”

              If Indian fishermen say it, what is the authenticity? It is like you catch a thief at your home and the thief next day saying he was caught when he was in the road!:D

              Indian coast guard or even gov has not come up with an allegation! Indian coast guard very well know what happen in the border!

              And SL navy cant chase away and arrest the TN robbers in SL seas and do you think they go and catch the ones in Indian seas? :D

              Please dont bring stupid but hilarious excuse

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    Although it has taken a while , it is good that Lanka Lover Cathy has seen the Tiger behind the Sambandan Wigneswaran facade.

    Canthy’s PM becoming lame, and the chest thumping Obama,being forced back by the American public opinion and Putin, with the help of China ,Cathy knows that the Diaspora wouldn’t be able to get Ms Pillai and the West to do “surveying” for separation in Lanka that easily.

    Cathy also knows it is the ex captives who will cop it big time yet again not the Vellalas if Sambandan launches or facilitates another Eelaam war in the North.

    If there are any NGOs who work for genuine peace and welfare of the Tamil people in the North, they should translate this write up and distribute among the poor ex captives, who are being brain washed by the Vellalas and their political activists from Colombo lead by Mano Ganeshan.

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    TNA is in double speak. While the TNA Manifesto says that LTTE should be investigated for war crimes, the party’s Chief Minister candidate Vigneswaran has praised Prabaharan as a hero. Vigneswaran has reportedly said that the Northern Provincial Council Election is the new phase of the freedom struggle of the Tamils. This man who adorned the seats of the highest judiciary of Sri Lanka is now forced to make stupid statements in order to become the Chief Minister of Northern Province. What a shame!

    Vigneswaran when he functioned as a Sri Lankan judge reportedly sent to jail several Tamil youths on terrorist charges. A man who reportedly passed judgements on Tamil youths convicting them as terrorists is now calling their leader a hero. These upper class Vellala Tamils are the root cause of all the troubles that the Tamil community faced in Sri Lanka since independence. Starting from Ramanathan brothers,Ponnambalam and Chelvanayagam and now Vigneswaran, these Colombo based Tamil leaders have only brought disaster for the Tamils.

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      Dear Naga,
      TNA always speak one language. If you don’t understand be quite rather than speak nonsense. LTTE stood for justice to the Tamils and Pirabakaran is a hero. He made Sri Lanka to sit and talk with him and you Sri Lankans agreed to talk to them based on “Oslo agreement”. It says “agree on exploring a solution on the principle of internal self determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil peoples based on a federal structure within a united Srilanka” (Oslo communique, Dec 2002). Of course war crimes are committed by both sides during the war and that must be investigated. If there is an international investigation, you will find who intentionally bombed hospitals, schools, no-fire zones, who killed surrendered political prisoners and whether prohibited ammunition including chemical weapons were used in the war. The UN report clearly showed that most of the crimes are committed by your best military who killed thousands of innocent Sinhalese in 1989-90. 

      • 0
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        which UN report has said so with evidence?

        And SL army is not rich to waste their ammo in non military targets. The reason these places were bombed was, LTTE kitties hid behind women and children cos they were afraid

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          Read the secretary Generals panel of expert report. If you have look at your allocation for defence you will know much they are rich compared to other nations. If you counts the bombs used in the North East, it is enough to kill billions of people. You only killed around 100-200 thousands innocent Tamil civilians which is within your limit. I heard that your army killed some Sinhala protesters recently. Is it a military target?

  • 0
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    Staistics (UNHCR’s?) quoted by Kath.

    (1)The research also finds that 89% of respondents would report a crime, while 75% of those who had visited a police station in the previous year were satisfied with the result.

    (2)Only 4% of respondents described the relationship between the Police and the community as bad – 50% said it was good.

    (3)However, the report also states that only 60% of women feel safe to stay at home without men being present.

    It will be interesting to compare these with national statistics (if such stats are available) to see how close they compare.

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    @ Kath,

    Read the Hindhu daily which published the interview of Mr.Vigneswaran seeking the help from TN to address the fihsermen problem of Northern Tamils. Hope you understand TNA will do what is required for the Tamils protection meanwhile I am sure GoTN will look at the issue and come-up with solution as outlined in last discussions.

  • 0
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    TNA’s biggest job will be to make more coffins for Tamils.

    Better get ready with it.

    Don’t dream beyond that.

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