Colombo Telegraph

Tamils Caught Between The Devil And The Blue Deep Sea

By Paul Newman

Dr. Paul Newman

As the D Day in Sri Lanka is approaching there is a hot debate on whether the decision of the TNA to go with Maithripala Sirisena is in the right direction or not. Till 21st of November 2014, he had supported all the policies of Mahinda Rajapakse without ever raising an eyebrow. It was sheer opportunism that brought him to the election fray with the support of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (CBK) and Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Tamils must not forget that it was the same CBK who started the ‘No Mercy War’, imposed the economic embargo and the restriction of movement along with using food and medicine as weapons of war after her massive victory promising peace in 1995, apart from denying any meaningful International relief from reaching the Tamil areas after the 2004 December 26th tsunami.

Ranil on the other hand had made the CFA of 2002 defunct after 2003 and split the LTTE, along with campaigning around the world to extend a ban on the LTTE. This time around what is their offer to the Tamils? Nothing but seek Tamil votes!

Tamil baiters like Rishad Bathiudeen are part of the same alliance in which JHU is playing a leading role and Tamil National Alliance supporting it.

Sirisena has taken pride in election rallies that he was the acting Defence minister from the 14th of May 2009 till the end of the war. He has not proposed any solution to the Tamil issue, he may not implement the 13th amendment, and he has not spoken anything about reconciliation or about giving Tamils their dignity back. His manifesto does not even mention the Tamils and their concerns in this context why should the Tamils vote for him?

On the other hand Mahinda Rajapaksa is wooing the Tamils as he has said that he would appoint a special committee to go into the question of releasing young Tamils detained on the charges of collaborating with the LTTE.

Vehicles and lands seized from the Tamils during the war and after would be returned. To the plantation workers of Indian origin, he has promised that each family will get seven ‘perches’ of land.

The JHU, JVP and TNA are at the opposite end of the spectrum on the 13th amendment, then how will they sit around the same table and discuss solutions to the Tamil issue?

There are many questions that ponder many Eelam observers. Is defeating MR the ultimate objective of the Tamils? In what way restoration of Sinhala democracy going to help the Tamils as JHU has clearly stated that it will never be in favor of any concessions to the Tamils? Will a regime change bring solace to the Tamils? Are the Tamils reduced to a community of revenge seekers?

Mahinda and Maithripala are two sides of the same coin owned by the majoritarian Sinhalese and the Tamils Muslims cannot take pride in having either of them.

Tamil leaders supporting Sirisena want the Tamils to vote for democracy. No meaningful development can dawn the island unless there is democracy enjoyed by all sections of the society. Without demilitarization and appointment of a civilian governor to the Northern Province, the fruits of democracy cannot reach the north. The essence of democracy to the north and east will be the 13plus as a starting point, but none of these are promised by the two main Sinhala candidates.

If Sirisena wins, the only positive would be the elimination of the family rule and return of governance and establishment of the rule of law for the Sinhalese and what would the Tamils gain from this?

Even without anyone tutoring the Tamils not to vote for MR, they would not have voted for a man who committed the worst genocide of this century. The presence of the armed forces and the Sinhalisation would work on the minds of every Tamil as no Tamil is spared from being a victim of the ulterior designs of MR and his clan.

Have those supporting Sirisena planned their next course of action if Mahinda wins again, they need to deal with him for another eight years or more, have they thought about it or prepared for it?

Voting for Sirisena would provide a short term relief to the Tamils, but what would happen in the long run to the unsolved miseries of the common Tamils still suffering under the scanner of the armed forces, no one is speaking about it.

The TNA and the Muslim parties should have bargained hard as they are the joint kingmakers. The Tamils constitute 13% of the votes and the Muslims another 10%, even if the Hardcore Sinhalese had to go with MR, Sirisena would have romped home with the help of the Tamil and Muslim votes along with that of those Sinhalese who wanted a regime change, the Tamils have lost a golden opportunity to bargain.

In the last 5 years so many Tamils around the world including the TNA have worked so hard to find justice to the 146,679 Tamils missing after the genocide, this would come only through an International Inquiry which is opposed by both as they were party to it, the future of the whole Tamil existence in the island depends on the International Inquiry, on that count why should one support any of these two candidates?

The Prime Minister of TGTE, Mr.Rudrakumaran, the International Council for Eelam Tamils and many other Tamil groups from the diaspora and Tamilnadu have left the decision to the Tamil voters to decide on their votes.

The best would have been to have a common Tamil candidate, who at any cost would have lost, but if the entire Tamil community had rallied behind and voted en masse, they could have told the world that they cannot coexist with the Sinhalese in a unitary form of government as the Sinhala polity has never treated the Tamils as equals and they need a permanent solution to their post colonial problems.

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