21 September, 2020

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Why The EPDP Is In “Silent Mode” On War Crimes Resolution; A Reading From South

By Kusal Perera

Kusal Perara

Kusal Perara

Almost all foreign reports for now on Northern Provincial Council (NPC) adopting the resolution it did on 27 January 2014 on war crimes and international investigations, said the resolution was unanimous. That says, the 38 member Council was not divided on the resolution, demanding an international investigation into possible crimes, or crimes alleged to have been committed during the last months of the war in Vanni. A very personal query made on the unanimity of the resolution, received the answer, there were loud reservations from some opposition Councillors, when TNA Councillor M.K. Sivajilingam moved the resolution. But, and this is important, with Chief Minister (CM) Wigneswaran amending the original resolution presented and removing mention of a “genocidal war”, the resolution was accepted by all. In fact what was told is that, there was no vote taken on it. Hence accepted as unanimous. So was another resolution, to build a war memorial for victims of the war.

Later, explaining and defending the resolution calling for an international inquiry into war crimes, CM Wigneswaran was quoted as having said, if “death” (not murder) can be the answer, then the case closes there. But when there is no such answer, families and relatives keep searching for the disappeared and the government has a responsibility to investigate such disappearances. That also brings the issue of what caused such disappearances. For the last four years the government has not been sincere in doing it. Therefore the people have a right to reach the international community as a last resort.

CM Wigneswaran does command respect and seems a “father figure” now in the NPC. It seems he can get the Councillors to follow him. Even the 08 opposition Councillors including the EPDP within the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) seem to follow the CM. Therefore, it also seems the NPC has now assumed political representation of the Northern Tamil people as a political entity, beyond that of an elected governing Council. Precisely for that reason, the resolution on war crimes investigations adopted by the NPC becomes heavier to lift than any other hard hitting resolution with even sharper words, adopted by any other group or organisation in any other part of the Tamil globe. Tamil people living in Sri Lanka show they are now gradually ascending a new political life with an elected body, where political divisions and priorities are being compromised and are evolving into one single voice.

This new phenomenon in Tamil politics in post war Sri Lanka, was not what the ruling UPFA, nor the defence establishment ever thought would happen. The geographical annexing of North-East provinces through a bloody military offensive was projected and exhibited as political unification of the country. It was also explained that was only possible under this presidential Constitution with a classic centralising of executive powers in a Head of State. A historic achievement by president Rajapaksa, as projected now in a country that once stayed bifurcated by the LTTE. The Northern peninsula and Vanni that was run as a de facto separate State by the Tigers. On many forums it was argued the TNA, turned into a proxy of the LTTTE during its ruthless armed existence, would not be able to go it alone in post war Sri Lanka. The LTTE had been crushed and flattened brutally in a savagely executed war and the Tamil social fabric remained shredded to smithereens. The Rajapaksa regime and its defence hierarchy thus expected the left over TNA to fall in line with this ruling regime, like Devananda and his EPDP.

But that was not to be. There remained a spark of Tamil nationalism within all the demolition and devastation caused that could not be militarily extinguished. That required a gentle political blowing to have it permanently blown out. That needed comfortable ground for civility, negotiations and compromise. This Rajapaksa regime could not find an arable and comforting political ground for such compromise. All they found was rough ground for arbitrary arrests, detentions, disappearances, barbed wired camps and supposed rehabilitation. Resettlement was on parched grounds, most occupied by security forces in the two provinces where the security forces dictated terms. That was ground, the EPDP also entered into, as a loyal political ally, ready and willingly extending its para military role into post war Sri Lanka as well. The first two to three years, they did enjoy that unquestioned power, but not any more. They were very badly exposed through  LLRC submissions and the Commissioners did acknowledge the EPDP was part of the illegal armed mafia in Northern Sri Lanka. Devananda’s fury over the LLRC’s statements about them and his threat he would take the LLRC to Courts, was all bluff and had to end as just rhetoric. Re defining of Tamil politics in the democratic mainstream and a regaining society, held him in check.

In such changing mood in Tamil society, it was the TNA that could step in again for serious Tamil politics. The TNA, as the name stands, is an alliance of many Tamil parties and groups that came together in October 2001. Except for Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) and the former alliance that was the TULF, the other two that joined, TELO and EPRLF (Suresh Wing) were armed rebel groups and remained so, even after the Indo-SL Accord in 1987 July. Of course, they crossed a political line that put them against LTTE fire. The LTTE was the only armed group out of about 05 major groups, who fought the IPKF then. The TULF later left the TNA. The ACTC too distanced itself. Yet most who wanted to remain as TNA, resurrected the old Federal Party that is now heading the TNA as ITAK.

For 2001 elections, the LTTE prevailed over TNA and is said to have had few of their ardent supporters included as candidates, especially in the Vanni. This heavily coerced compromise left two distinct political traditions over the years, within TNA. That of armed rebellion and of open democratic politics. Those who had known only armed insurgency, obviously could not immediately shed their regimented thinking to suit, open politics. The veterans were eager to get back to their style of deciding politics for electoral gains and democratic lobbying. What is often talked of now as divisions and rifts within TNA are obviously these contradictions. The incompatibility of these two political traditions. With the LTTE demolished, ITAK  is certainly taking over politics within the TNA. Obviously too, it was democratic traditions and the old guard that won the day for Tamil politics with its significant victory at the NPC elections. This democratic resurgence is not easy to be condemned. Democratic politics, whether Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim has to be accepted and appreciated, even by this Rajapaksa regime. Within Tamil society, that is what this Rajapaksa regime is uncomfortable with. They find this resurgence of democratic politics difficult to contain with personalities like Wigneswaran and Ananthi, two from two completely different intellectual and social traditions taking to democratic politics with much pragmatism.

The regime and its defence establishment see the Tamil society waking up fast, led by this newly refurbished TNA leadership. There are now protests against disappearances, against arbitrary arrests and organised resistance to human rights violations. Local government bodies in the North, controlled by the TNA have resolutions adopted that contradict military presence in the peninsula in numerous ways. Defence authorities resent this popular political culture in the North. They are, as often quoted in the front pages of “The Island” news paper, is now trying their best to re define Tamil politics to their liking, in terms of LTTE separatism. Statements that say Ananthi Sasitharan has to be rehabilitated for her pro LTTE stance [The Island – 14 January, 2014/front page headlines] is not just to silence her as an individual, but to suppress a credible new leadership that could motivate the Tamil society into public action. Defence establishment as reported by “The Island” [14 January, 2014/front] is contemplating investigations on TNA connections in the past to the now wiped out LTTE. Again exhibiting how frightened the regime is, with the TNA led NPC now raking in popular support, dissolving divisions there was.

This now tend to leave the EPDP outside Northern Tamil politics. Devananda can not play “Karuna Amman” with the SLFP and Jaffna peninsula is not in the East. Jaffna and the North has always been the focal point in Tamil politics, the major lobby, whether democratic or armed insurgency. With his suspect political presence in the Jaffna peninsula that still ties him to the regime, Devananda can not afford to go South and look too pro Rajapaksa, when the Tamil society is re defining its political life in the open, challenging this regime. Its now a cross-road for Douglas and EPDP in the political North and South is not their terrain.

In the South too, although there is no credible and popular opposition party to effectively challenge the Rajapaksa regime at elections, the regime itself is in no good shape in its daily life. The economic life of the poor and the wage earner, is never compatible with numbers and data in spreadsheets of the Central Bank and the Census Department. There is a gnawing and ever growing abyss between the urban rich and the poor all over. The absence of rule of law, selective justice in an awfully politicised judiciary, ever increasing suspicions of Colombo turning into a drug and narcotic trafficking hub in South Asia and a regime trying to justify its rule with increasing anti minority mob politics, is proof enough the ruling regime can not any more control the tide. Even without a credible and effective opposition party, the very conduct of this regime has started biting at the conscience of the once supportive middle class. The very conduct of the regime and its stooges flying high, has given way to a decline in social acceptance of its existence. This makes it difficult for Tamil and Muslim entities to live within this regime purely on rupee gains.

For Douglas and EPDP to now live in ruthless comfort with the Rajapaksa regime that seem to crumble on all other fronts, does not sound very pragmatic. For a political entity like the EPDP that’s severely shamed by the LLRC in its final report as an illegal armed group responsible for extortions, abductions and possible murder, the options are limited. One, they could leave electoral politics and live as mercenary politicians, purely on the strength of the State security forces. Or two, they can slip out of rear guard armed politics and gradually rehabilitate themselves as a democratic political entity. But that requires hard decisions. The leadership has to take firm control of its organisation and purge all previously groomed underworld armed cadres, including the types like Kamalendran, the NPC Opposition Leader, under arrest for alleged murder.

Now it looks, the EPDP is buying time, instead of taking hard decisions. To go against Northern Tamil sentiments, is definitely risky for any outside the TNA, in terms of future survival. Northern Tamil sentiments now seem to gain more international credibility than voices outside North and also outside Sri Lanka. The EPDP may not want to get sandwiched between that growing support for TNA and its NPC and a failing regime that seems to harden its stand against everything minority and every democratic upsurge. Its time for the South also to take stock of this new shift in democratic politics in the North, that will impact on the East as well. It is worth watching, where Devananda would put his foot, next.

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Latest comments

  • 7
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    Very interesting read-the fact that the government established LLRC is clear on EPDP antics (which we as Tamils living and moving in Jaffna have known for eons) and yet the inaction of the regime speaks volumes !

    • 5
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      Dev

      Ah, if you are advising EPDP to renounce its relationship with MR clan you will be sorely disappointed.

      Please let me know whether it is safe for entire EPDP party to stay outside the family or inside Clan’s protection racket?

      In order to get protection one must stay within the Mafia family.

      • 4
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        Oh no I have no expectations such as that…..he needs the mafia more than ever now !

        I have a feeling the regime is already carrying out many machinations to split the TNA and target our judge/CM using even the devil if need be !

      • 0
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        If all that they of the EPDP seek is protection, they should stay with the Mafia. On the other hand if they are desirous of a political future, they will have to think and act differently from hitherto.

        Sengodan. M

        • 1
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          Sengodan. M

          When LTTE died as a military force in May 2009 that was the beginning of the end of EPDP.

    • 0
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      PLEASE note this typo.
      Defence establishment as reported by “The Island” [14 January, 2014/front] is contemplating investigations on TNA connections in the past…..
      The date in this has to be changed to read as “28 January, 2014/front page” instead.
      Thanks
      Kusal Perera

  • 7
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    Kuala Perera,

    Thanks for the intuitive essay. Your’s follows the two such essays by Prof. Laksiri and MR. Austin Fernando. I am glad you have recognised the Wigneswaran phenomenon in the north. The Wigneswaran phenomenon is working in the South too by providing a contrast to what is there.

    You are also probably right in asserting that the voice of the Tamils is now being increasingly heard from the
    north of the island instead of distant climes.

    Justice Wigneswaran yet has many tough tasks ahead including that of taming some hot heads in his fold. However, his personality and approach, seem to be even taming these elements to some extent. I hope the diverse opinions in the north find expression, while not contributing to disruptive chaos.

    The whole island may ultimately benefit from what is happening in the north.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 0
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    I think kusal needs to have a look at Sri lanka

    http://www.asiantribune.com/node/70465

    • 4
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      sach,
      Angajan Ramanathan is a ‘his master’s voice’ in the north and so is Asian Tribune.
      EPDP whch existed by thuggery and with the aid of the navy which kept the Kayts electorate captive,has now been discarded by the people of the north.
      Devananda will NOT be part of the sri lanka delegation to the UNHRC this time.

      • 0
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        ok, still it goes against what kusal says ne :)

  • 2
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    EPDP has a very good future.

    No investigation found EPDP of any wrong doing.

    When the war starts EPDP’s worth will sky rocket.

    • 0
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      Was there any investigation at all?

      Sengodan. M

    • 0
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      When the Hunger prevails to utmost level, you all the Shit eating pigs comes together.
      so all the Shit eating pigs like Fuku Simbas, Jarpassa clan and their goons, Most of the UNP Frogs and other vultures and Frogs , Kudu Dealing Ministers, M Ps, EPDP,TMVP, BALU societies, LTTE diasporas will celebrate at the shit eating Festival.,

  • 3
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    The silence of the EPDP is unavoidable. The marriage between EPDP and Government is conditional and unavoidable. The options available for EPDP was either to surrender LTTE or surrender to the Government. EPDP’s choice was to surrender to the Government and get the maximum out of it. Government used them as a paramilitary for their illegal purposes. EPDP cannot criticize or talk against the Government because they know what will be the response from Mahinda.

  • 3
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    Dear Kusal Perera,

    Why? WHy? WHY?

    My thoughts roamed to Bob Dylan’s song, Blowin’ in the Wind.

    “And how many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn’t see? “

    This is true for EPDP, The Sinhala Buddhist Monks who claim to follow Buddhism, and the multitudes of politicians.

    How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?
    How many seas must a white dove fly, before she sleeps in the sand?

    And how many times must a cannon ball fly, before they’re forever banned?

    The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.

    How many years can a mountain exist, before it is washed to the sea?
    How many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free?

    And how many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn’t see?

    The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.

    How many times must a man look up, before he sees the sky?

    And how many ears must one man have, before he can hear people cry ?

    And how many deaths will it take till we know, that too many people have died?

    The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.

    The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.

  • 1
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    Kusal has clearly and cleverly analysed the emerging political landscape in the North.It forces one to pause and think hard.Will this new development have a severe impact on the East in time to come?Will it lead to a stronger bond between the North and East?

  • 0
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    Yet Devananda is not in silent mode. He was busy recently in trying to form some ‘Front’ in the North to face the challenge of the TNA and probably to prevent his EPDP becoming a non-entity.I wish to know from those in the North whether his attempt is going to bear fruit.

  • 4
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    Mr.Perera

    Why The EPDP Is In “Silent Mode” On War Crimes Resolution; A Reading From South.

    EPDP was slienced at the last NPC elections. They never had a power base amongst the Tamils other than as a Paramilitarty mouth piece of GOSL. The reason why they are in a Silent Mode is because they cannot speak for the people or on their own. How can they support a motion which calls for a War Crimes Inquiry which the GOSL has flatly refused when the whole World has charged tem with WAR CRIMES.
    I have always believed that seting up of an Inqury is a matter for the International Commnunity although we have to take our hats off for the Courageous NPC members for having taken such a decison.

    Douglas is a Robot controlled from Temple Trees.

  • 2
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    Douglas and the EPDP are irrelevant in northern politics now. His criminal gang needs to move south and join the Rajapaksa brothers’ white van squad or their kudu brigade joining hands with Mervyn the vermin.

  • 2
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    Dear Kusal

    This honest and bold appraisal increases my estimate of your sound political analytical skills and your liberal outlook.

    “It is time for the South to take stock of this new democratic politics in the North” you wisely counsel. Simultaneously, the Ven. Maduluwave Sobitha Thero of the Kotte Raja Maha Vihara, usually identified with Sinhala chauvinism and racism, heralds that change of attitude in the hardliner South that the National Question should, at last, be revisited with fresh and accommodative thoughts if the country is to remain undivided. Why is this monk taking this sensational path that Columnist Prof. Kumar David describes as a “bombshell” The monk now says “the people have a right to reach the international community as a last resort” and adds, for good measure, “why are we afraid of an international investigation if we have nothing to hide?” The man of religion agrees, without using the “F” word (Federal) there is no harm in allowing Tamils to run their own Council. He states the USA, Australia and India have the system working perfectly well. Ven. Sobitha’s present metamorphosis may prove historical. The JVP, in their first avatar in the late 1960s, incredibly succeeded in multiplying its recruitment programme with a pronounced anti-Tamil stand. They have now fully turned course. They are now a regular feature in meetings and demonstrations also for the Tamil cause in the North. We warmly welcome this. Personally, I like to see the Tamil North returning a few JVPers to the different legislatures. Is the shared pain in many areas locally and upcoming events abroad forcing the Sinhalese to turn the searchlight inwards?

    The regime certainly is in no sound shape, as you write, in its daily life. Votes for the Defence Ministry are increased meaninglessly at the expense of education, health, irrigation and many other when the crying need is to substantially reduced their numbers. Essential subsidies for Fertilizer – one of the main promises on which this regime was returned – are gradually withdrawn in various devious methods. Economic life is not merely poor but it can collapse, you maintain. No one in his right senses will dispute this. The ordinary man in the street is unable to understand he is forced to pay to meet the lavish and extravagant spending of this regime (unbearable taxes on petrol, dhal, milk powder and stiff rises in electricity prices – all mass consumed items in daily use) This mad spree of spending is draining the resources of the near-empty treasury – held together by slave money from the Gulf and money for mega projects borrowed at inflated interest rates. Business sources say if not for the artificial props the actual value of the SLR will be around Rs.200 to the US$.

    Regime favourites like Hullugalle are not only deserting but are reportedly offering to sell “State secrets” to Western embassies. There are many like this truant ex-State official, who illegally subverted a daily swarm of security men following him even in his extra-marital and salacious noctural visits. Someone in the know said Hulugalle was up to no good because he sees others, very high in the system, equally lascivious and careless.

    Seeing years of chronically bad governance, public plundering and extravagance some of our old and respected families in the country – whose parents and grand parents made million in plantations and commerce in the Colonial days, find the income from their deposit savings – which they considered guilt edged savings for their children and grandchildren – finding themselves now trapped. The value of their funds is hopelessly devalued. They see inflation and the terrible Cost of Living defeating the very purpose of their lawful investments – corresponding with your view “even without a credible and effective opposition party the very conduct of the regime has started biting at the conscience of the once supportive middle-class … and a decline in social acceptance of its existence”

    The regime cannot run away forever with denials in the ghastly 5/09 events. Neither can these huge bills illegally using high priced PR firms in London and Washington save the regime’s heirarchy. Making enemies of those who should be our friends will have a price to pay – a costly one. International justice catches up like in the case of the Serbian mass murderers in Bosnia.

    It is not the LTTE is coming up but the very validity and sympathy for the case of the Tamils is gaining legitimacy in the region and globally. Although much heat is generated in the South, much by design by plants in the State-controlled media, both the NPC and the ITAK’s Trincomalee Resolutions find support locally, in India and the world. You are perfectly right when you observe “Northern Tamil sentiments now seem to gain more international credibility” CM Wigneswaren, whom you describe as a father-figure, is much respected out there in the world. In a way he may play the biblical role of Moses – and I do not mean Eelam.

    Rajapakses did not do much to “find arable and comforting political grounds for compromise” At best what they ended up with was empty rhetoric like going to the Tamil areas and shabbily claiming “Sinhalese and Tamils and brothers” “You are also my people” – all for consumption in the Sinhala electorate and to fool the world. Rajapakses should have learnt long ago TNA is not EDP, Karuna or Pillaiyan to be cowed down, bribed or bought over. They had one more chance at serious reconciliation and nation building when Vigneswaren’s NPC swept the polls. They should have quickly won the Tamil people over by building up the North with the new device of a Special Fund to rebuild the Province. This would have readily found favour with the international community. But since September last, they seem to prefer to play politics of revenge – little realising they are pushing the Tamils to take their case outside.

    The infantile planned strategy of arresting Ananthi can be nothing but a demented dream. The plan, if carried out, will strike back hard. It is clearly a case of cutting the nose to spite the face. Clearly, the Rajapakses choose to play their fiddle while the country is virtually burning – oblivious to the feelings of people all over the land characterised by extreme disappointment and anger.

    Responding to your comment there are two strains within the TNA, allow me to point out this is not uncommon in the politics of this country. Mrs. B’s regime of 1960s and 1970 had a fair measure of it – and so CBK’s and Rajapakses. The challenge is for different political persuasions to find common grounds in the spirit of
    “Unity in Diversity” to confront the wider needs of the people and the challenges of a deeply divided country
    .
    As to Douglas Devananda, my sympathies are with the man – a victim of the harsh and diabolic politics of our times. He will go down identified as a quisling and a traitor to the wider Tamil cause. But he did not start that way. It was the fascistic approach of the bigger militant parties that drove him asunder. But all that is now history. His position on the War Crimes, unfortunately, may be hardly relevant.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
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    Thank you Kusal and Senguttuvan for very interesting contributions to a discussion that is the most important taking place in Sri Lanka at this time. The simple and lucid analyses of the status quo in Sri Lanka are most welcome even if one may not be in complete agreement with everything said. The tragedy of all this is that an increasingly dictatorial and violent regime is not going to take any notice of logical arguments and discussion but will proceed on its destructive (to the entire nation) path of self-aggrandisement.

  • 0
    1

    The EPDP is catching fish with the Navy and in doing so annoying the Muslims.

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