Sampanthan is the leader of Tamil National Alliance – composing EPRLF, PLOTE, TELO, and Tamil Arasu Katchi. All these parties in their names are carrying the political slogan endorsing the demand of the Tamils Tamil Eelam, since the 1976 Vaddukkottai resolution, Tamil government or Tamil rule implying the liberation of Tamil to achieve this objective. The constitutional legislation introduced by J.R banning separation and any one advocating it is punishable for the offence of treason, has put a brake on these political parties to raise the call for a separate Tamil state. Whether, this provision violates the fundamental right of freedom of expression of a distinct people, the Tamils, as laid down in the UN charter is another matter worthy of legal challenge in an appropriate forum. However, the rights of Tamils as a distinct race and historical habitants in the north and east to agitate for self-determination is unchallengeable as this right is granted and fully exercisable as laid down in the UN covenant on civil and political rights under Article 2. ‘All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of this right they freely determine their political status.’
With the defeat, of LTTE the mantle of leadership was taken over by the TNA who were earlier playing a secondary role under LTTE. With no other strong opposition party in existence, Tamils were voting for the TNA en masse keeping their faith and hopes to salvage their causes as well as obtaining solutions for the plethora of war related problems – accountability, reconciliation, justice, resettlement, rehabilitation, release of prisoners reparations, fate of the disappeared thousands etc. TNA rightly supported Maithiri and Sampanthan and hoped for a priority agenda from Maithiri and Ranil to deal with the above crucial and burning issues. Promises have been given and as expected, some are already broken, some have been kept for future, while some are empty, for example the release of prisoners and the fate of disappeared thousands.
Sampanthan a seasoned politician, showing his maturity swallowed up the let downs with much consternation and disappointment is now relying on the promises of Maithiri and Ranil with constitutional guaranteed solution to be incorporated in the proposed new constitution. Hope against hope is only left for TNA. In order to ensure this goal and objective, Sampanthan has blanketly discarded the demand for a separate state, which he as a single individual is free to state, but to say that all Tamils have given up this demand, is unacceptable and arrogantly shuts the Tamils public opinion from being heard.
Furthermore, Sampanthan is well aware of the “majority opinion prevails over the minority” concept in any state or organization. Already extremist groups and communal politicians are gathering in unison and are preparing to mount opposition to defeat any proposals which would redress and strengthen the political position of Tamils. After all Maithiri and Ranil, though exhibiting good intentions, have to consider the stability and survival of their government as their priority and prime factor. Hence, they will be forced to listen, yield and accommodate the demands of Sinhala nationalists for their political survival like Mahinda clan, the lurking political enemies with former champions of devolution. Like professor Peiris Vasudeva and some progressive leftists are the new cultivators of communalism and racism, posing the threats hoping for the downfall of the government.
To sum up, by and large it will be too much to expect the proposed new constitution to deliver the proper medicine to the long standing ills of Tamils and Sampanthan’s decent also would become an exercise in futility, with a repetition of past history.
TNA and TPC (Tamil People’s Council) have to act now ‘better late than never’ to avoid being consigned and joining the band of earlier Tamil leaders like GG, Chelva & Amirthalingam who fell for the charms and diplomacy of the out maneuvering Sinhala leaders, who cleverly orchestrated the surrender of the goals of the then Tamil leaders, but however without the open surrender now taking place.
Sampanthan is well aware of the recent pronouncements of Maithiri who has rejected any foreign government or UN’s advice or suggestions like foreign judges in the proposed internal tribunal and Ranil’s statement as to “there are no Tamil political prisoners” in Switzerland.
One only hopes that there won’t be any repeat of political disappointments or mistakes on the part of Tamil leaders in this critical period.