By V. Anandasangaree –
The year 2004 was one of the most crucial periods in the history of Sri Lanka. Lot of tragic events had taken place before 2004 and many followed after that. But 2004 becomes a land mark in our history. A Golden opportunity that came on our way, to ease the prevailing tense situation in the country and to find a solution, was regrettably missed due to mishandling of the opportunity that came to us. It now appears as if the Tamil National Alliance is a curse that had befallen on our country and our people. Taraki’s views virtually confirms mine. In his article dated 11th Feb, 2004 he says, “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”. He had also said, “The attempt to portray TULF President Anandasangaree as the villain of the piece is very wrong. At least the man speaks his mind”.
The country was in great turmoil for more than three decades. Violence was the order of the day. Armed struggle was going on. Leading politicians had been assassinated by unidentified armed groups. One could not predict as to what will happen to him or her or to the country or to any ethnic group. It was not safe to walk on the streets or travel by bus or even by train. Above all the most valued democracy, the Tamil community had been enjoying for generations, completely got devastated to the extent of electing Members of Parliament under threat, intimidation and impersonation. Up to now, democracy has not been brought back to its past glory in the Tamil community. This is the stage at which, irrespective of their ethnicity, everyone wanted the situation that was prevailing in the country, to vanish. A group of several Tamil organizations such as civil societies, University students, academics, media persons, some political parties and many such others, wanted to bring back the much needed peace in the country, for all the people. According to Taraki (Sivaram) “These lobbies felt that all Tamil parties and groups in the northeast should be brought under one Tamil national umbrella regardless of their deep divisions and regardless of their long association with the military and allegations of rights abuses”. The LTTE too seem to have agreed for this proposal.
The organizations mentioned above, along with many others, toiled hard for more than two years, starting from 2001 to find a solution to bring back peace to the country, discovered that the first step to be taken was to bring all political parties under one umbrella. Having achieved unity among all political groups the next step they took was to contest the next Parliamentary election due shortly, in 2004 with a common policy and under a common symbol the ‘Rising Sun’. The dominant group among these was the LTTE which was very keen that only one group, should unitedly contest the elections with a common policy and a common symbol. When the question of accommodating the other armed groups arose, according to Taraki, a senior Tiger leader Karikalan in the east, had told a delegation of the Thamilar Marumalarchchi Kalaham in Batticaloa 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 northeast.
This was the situation that prevailed at the time when Taraki’s article was published on 11-02-2004. All the political parties such as the TULF the ACTC the TELO and the EPRLF had agreed to form one group irrespective of any commitments by anybody in the past. All the four parties agreed to contest the elections on a common program and a common symbol the ‘Rising Sun’. In fact there was a delay in finalizing the arrangements due to the ACTC giving its consent late, to contest on the common symbol the ‘Rising Sun’. The Federal Party at that time existed only on paper. If this program had gone through, all the unfortunate incidents that took place in the war zone and outside could have been avoided. The war would have come to an end or would have got suspended immediately on the announcement of the election results. All the 22 candidates of the TNA, belonging to the TULF,ACTC,TELO and EPRLF would have won the election. Several thousands of innocent people, the LTTE combatants, their cadre and their leaders including Prabhakaran would not have died. The new development would have definitely pleased the International community that was involved in the peace process and the government. Much better terms could have been negotiated with the Sri Lankan government for a settlement. A lot of changes would have taken place in the thinking of the Sinhala people and their leaders. The army that was hostile would have become friendly over night and would have given full co-operation. Billions and billions worth of property would have been saved and several other beneficial things may have taken place. Unfortunately we missed everything. Having come to the point of achieving all that have been enumerated above, how did this program get misfired? Who should be held responsible for this tragic situation that erupted unexpectedly to the disappointment of not only those who toiled hard to develop this program but the entire Tamil community that was entertaining high hopes of achieving peace, with the formation of the new government.
I hold two people in the forefront, fully responsible for the tragic incidents that occurred due to the plot hatched in Killinochchi. One of them was very busy, as a part of the plot, reviving the Federal Party (ITAK) which remained defunct for 30 years two years before and 28 years after the demise of the founder. Mr.A.Amirthalingam, who was the Secretary General and founder member of the Federal Party, had the registration of that party in-force to prevent anyone reviving it for their personal gains and was firmly committed to run the TULF alone. This view had been confirmed by Mrs. Mankayarkarasi Amirthalingam after the demise of her husband and before she died. The revival of the Federal Party was wrong and contrary to the views of the founders. While one group was trying to unify the political parties there was another group trying to form a new party. This gentleman had the privilege of having been nominated on the national list, twice as a Member of Parliament but not on merit. Subsequently he was nominated twice by the TULF to contest the general election, both of which he won.
The other gentleman used to sit by my side in Parliament. One day, when I told the then Deputy Minister of Defense Hon.Anurudha Ratwatte that even if they fight for ten years they will not re-capture Palai and also that re-capturing the Elephant Pass camp will be a day dream. On a number of occasions I had made references to the LTTE that could not have pleased the Deputy Minister.
Both these gentlemen were running about to have a no confidence motion passed against me on the grounds that I wanted Elephant Pass to be given back to the forces. They went to the extent of claiming that such a no confident motion had been passed, although it was not done in the proper way. On a number of occasions I had spoken in defence of the LTTE. To be honest I did not bother much about what I had said about them. When all the Tamil organizations were bothering about national unity and unity of the Tamil political parties, these two gentlemen were spending all their time in sidelining me in politics. It had been always my ambition that all political parties should get together and work for the people. I am still of the same view. My only regrets are that since these two gentlemen had acted arbitrarily the chances of finding a solution for our problem is not only lost but have also become difficult in the future and that the great sacrifices made by several thousand youths had gone waste.
It had become a practice during the elections, to get the votes of the Tamils, tell the voters that the International community is watching the situation and therefore they should vote unitedly to the TNA. After their victory they separate themselves to form groups in the name of the party to which they belong. This created a lot of confusion, when a no confidence motion was brought against the Northern Chief Minister.