By V. Anandasangaree –
In the long history of the Tamil ethnic struggle, the Tamil people had faced several hardships, disappointments and losses that included innumerable human lives and billons worth of properties, more than anything else, their self respect. Several opportunities that came on our way to find a solution, were missed. The one we got in 2004 due to, over two years of untiring efforts of several interest groups in the North East, particularly the Thamilar Marumalarchi Kalagam in Batticaloa, academics, journalists, civil society activities, business men and the student’s union leaders of the Batticaloa and Jaffna Universities, was the best and perhaps the last as I see it. It is a pity that some politicians who were in the forefront had failed to grab the opportunities that were made available to us, to redeem our people. Instead they used it for their personal gains and led the people into the jaws of death. Having caused the gravest damage to finding a solution, the leaders of the TNA are now putting the blame on the others. Fortunately for them and very unfortunately for the people, the label TNA (Tamil National Alliance) paved the way for them to fulfill their greed for power. The TNA label, although widely misused, is still the International Pass, that help them to achieve anything they want and also to take them anywhere in the world.
All these days the people were made to believe that the TNA was managed by the Liberation Tigers and that it was the political arm of the LTTE. This was the tactics that some leading politicians used, to frighten the innocent people, who will not dare to defy the politician’s request or order, presuming that to have come from the LTTE . They have adopted this tactics throughout in the past and even now to mislead our people.
Dharmaratnam Sivaram popularly known as Taraki, was a journalist of great repute and one whose words can be trusted. He took a lot of pain to bring all Tamil groups under one common umbrella. Strangely enough Taraki’s interpretation about the TNA appears to be entirely different from what the innocent people were made to believe. He wrote, with disgust, on 11-02-2004 an article that appeared in an English daily under the caption “Tamil Parties cannot play coy in a corner” can be construed as his “Last Will and Testament”, clearly describing the situation that prevailed in February 2004. In the words of Taraki:- “The Tamil National Alliance has been made out to be more than what it actually is. If not for a variety of external pressures, it would have imploded at inception. Contrary to the chief myth about the TNA that it is managed by the Liberation Tigers- some of its leading politicians have had no scruples in running with the hare and hunting with the hound. They have no scruples in smartly exploiting the LTTE for their own political advantage. If you ask me, some of them wouldn’t even care two hoots for the struggles and aspirations of the Tamil people”.
Although various organizations and individuals were claiming that the TNA was formed by Taraki, he himself had said that even the name TNA was imposed by the Tamil media, when the TULF and the ACTC preferred to call it the “Alliance of Tamil political parties and also that the dominant image of the TNA as the political paw of the Tiger is deceptive. The TNA was initially organized by the TULF, the ACTC, the TELO and the EPRLF on 22-10-2001 on the initiative taken by six respectable Tamil gentleman and was subsequently modified by Taraki and some others.
The main purpose of writing this article is to bring to the notice of the International Community, through the various Diplomatic Missions in Sri Lanka, the fraudulent manner in which the TNA had been conducting itself, for their personal gains. Due to the efforts taken by the various organizations as mentioned above and the untiring efforts of people like Taraki the following arrangements had been made to lead the country towards finding a solution in 2004 itself.
01. Forming a common front:- That all Tamil parties and groups in the North East should be brought under one Tamil National umbrella, regardless of their deep divisions and regardless of their long association with military and allegations of right abuses.
02. Admission of the militant groups into the TNA:- Karikalan, a senior Tiger leader in the east, had said, that the LTTE had no objection at all to the TELO and the EPRLF joining the alliance but was very keen that the two groups should be brought under the Tamil National umbrella, as soon as possible. He was also eager that PLOTE too should join the TNA. This was at a time when PLOTE, EPRLF and TELO were officially working with the Sri Lanka army in intelligence and counter insurgency operations in the North East.
03. Acceptance of the symbol ‘Rising Sun’:- It was only at the eleventh hour that ACTC was persuaded to contest under the common ‘Rising Sun’ symbol at the 2004 General Election..
04. How the Tamil National Alliance should contest: – Only on the basis of its common symbol and policy is the overwhelming opinion among Tamil nationalist interest groups this time. The sentiment was strongly echoed in the unanimous decision of the Trincomalee district branch of the Tamil National Alliance on Monday.
05. LTTE’s wish:- This was the wish of the LTTE too.
06. Killinochchi remains mum:- Everyone, friend or foe, will agree that a solution to the ethnic problem came very near to us in 2004 but unfortunately why did Killinochchi remains mum on the matter is a mystery?
Killinochchi did not simply remain mum. The plot itself was hatched in Killinochchi by a couple of persons, greedy for power, ultimately resulting in the complete destruction of a freedom movement.
LTTE had agreed to come under one umbrella, agreed on a common policy, agreed to accommodate the militant groups EPRLF, TELO and PLOTE regardless of their deep divisions and regardless of their long associations with the military and allegations of right abuses. This was at a time when PLOTE, EPRLF, and TELO were officially working with the Sri Lankan army in intelligence and counter insurgency operations in the North East. In spite of all these hurdles cleared, what went wrong in Killinochchi? If it was an attempt to sabotage, the peace process, it should be investigated properly, although very late now.
If the dream of all those who worked and fought to bring all political parties under one umbrella had been fulfilled, the following could have been achieved:-
- All Tamil political parties would have come under one umbrella.
- All the candidates would have been under the National umbrella.
- All of them would have contested under the common symbol the ‘Rising Sun’.
- All the seats would have been won by the TNA.
- A Cease fire would have been declared.
- Talks would have commenced between the government and the TNA.
- Something positive would have been achieved immediately or soon after.
- All those who faced death would be leaving today.
- All the leaders including Prabhakaran will be alive today.
- The Tamil people would have regained their lost prestige
Under these circumstances things would have been much easier than ever before, to come close to a solution, since both the Government side and the TNA side, had a reasonable chance of commencing peace talks, with the LTTE giving its full consent and co-operation. It is a pity that not only a Golden opportunity was lost to end the war and to bring back peace but also prevented the disintegration of the LTTE that came down a lot and agreed to bring all parties under one umbrella, achieving almost hundred percent unity
The Federal Party gave up its long established political identity when the TULF was launched. The Federal Party in 2004 existed only on paper. We should not forget that the TULF itself is the result of the political merger, between the Federal Party and the All Ceylon Tamil Congress. The Kilinochchi district only kept mum means that all the other seven districts had agreed on a common policy and common symbol. Those who were in the forefront should be held fully responsible for the great disaster that followed the Parliamentary Elections of April 2004, one after the other. Starting with the continuation of the war, followed by unfortunate deaths of several thousand LTTE cadres, their combatants, several thousand innocent civilians and many leaders from all groups sacrificed their lives which brought the war to an end. They should also be held responsible for the thousands of missing persons, who were made missing and the kidnapped ones. Finally the sacrifice of the Heroic leader with his entire family brought the Heroic history to an end with the eradication of the LTTE itself. It is very unfortunate that Killinochchi took a different stand very foolishly, even without consulting the leadership, although the leadership had already decided on a common policy and common symbol. Killinochchi wise- men did not show the way for a solution but only showed the way for the destruction of the Tamil nation. Without realizing the seriousness of the situation, some who were in the forefront with a hidden agenda of their own, arbitrarily took a decision contrary to a just decision already taken by the leader, brought all the activities of the LTTE to a grinding halt, pushing the Tamil Community into a dark future. The Tamil Community will never forget the Killinochchi wise-men for the valuable contribution they made to destroy the Tamil Nation
How did we miss this golden opportunity, should be properly investigated to identify, as to who the real culprits are. February 2004 was a crucial month for us. The article of Taraki referred to here appeared on the 11th Feb, 2004. On the 15thFeb 2004, four days after Taraki’s letter appeared in the papers, the TULF’s nomination board met on the 18th Feb, 2004. About a month earlier the TULF Member brought a youth and kept him in the TULF office as a typist, targeting me. He vanished from the place after coming to know that the CID was after him. When all those who were interested in bringing the political parties under one umbrella were toiling hard and almost succeeded, the said Member was busy reviving the Federal Party on the orders of somebody, 28 years after the founder died, as the leader of the TULF. This was a deliberate act on the part of the said Member to disrupt efforts taken by many organizations as described above, to sabotage the unity efforts that was going on for more than two years. Taraki’s article clearly shows that the selection of ‘Rising Sun’ as the symbol was made with the consent of the LTTE. Furthermore admission of all the political parties, irrespective of their past conduct, was also approved by the LTTE. This included the TULF also.
This group could have easily, honestly and democratically won 22 seats at the April 2004 General Election on the ‘Rising Sun’ symbol but rejected that opportunity for reasons known only to them and adopted unfair methods contrary to democratic, principles, used intimidation to prevent other parties from functioning and won 22 seats undemocratically. However up to now they have not regained the good name they lost in 2004. They should also accept responsibility for the 500 political murders and for the injury sustain by over 1,000 others from April 2004General Election till May 2009. Not only that, they are also answerable for the war that continue after 2004, for the deaths of several thousands of people who died during the war or because of the war, for injuries caused to the people missing persons and for our present pathetic plight. Time is still not out. The TULF had not wronged anybody. It was founded by two great leaders Hon. S.J.V. Chelvanayakam Q.C and Hon. G.G. Ponnambalam Q.C and led by three presidents M/s. G.G. Ponnambalam, S.J.V. Chelvanayakam and S. Thondaman. After the TULF was formed, the founders of the Federal Party the ACTC and their founder members, never indented to have their respective parties revived.
I wind up with an extract of a statement issued by the late Mrs. Mankayarkarsi Amirthalingam which is given below:- “My husband preserved the registration of the Federal Party for the sole purpose that no undesirable elements could misuse its symbol and the name. He never wanted to revive the Federal Party.
It is a pity that some of those who have been groomed by him have attempted to misuse the name of the Federal Party and are trying to revive it. They have only breached the Trust he had placed on them.
Thus I categorically make it clear to all that I have neither approved nor blessed the revival of the Federal Party but instead condemn it as this act is a ploy to destroy the TULF which was formed by our great leaders”.
Those who do not know the history of the TULF should know about it and joint the TULF, the symbol of which is the ‘Rising Sun’.
*V. Anandasangaree Secretary General – TULF