For Immediate Release
13 August 2015
With Sri Lanka Elections a few days away, what are the options for the Tamil people? Since 1948 Tamil people in the island have used their vote to provide clear messages on what they want. But this democratic system has failed the people again and again. Naturally, the psyche of the Tamil Nation has lost hope in the democratic process.
Nonetheless it is important to continue the struggle for our rights in whatever avenues are open to us. This elections are not the same as the last in 2010, there is need for change. During last year’s Presidential elections Tamils were given two choices, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena. Both of them are heavily complicit in the massacre of Tamil people in May 2009, where we lost between 70,000 to 100,000 within a few days.
The difference is Rajapaksa’s closeness with the Chinese Government and alienation of the local power India and the Western countries. Sirisena provided more balanced relationship with China, India and the Western countries. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) wanted the Tamil population to support Sirisena as they said that’s the only way to remove the Sri Lankan Army presence from North and East and also get people’s lands back.
However, what did we witness when Sirisena came in to power? Almost no difference in the situation in NorthEast, the heavy Army presence is still there, the lands are not returned to the Tamil people and discrimination and marginalisation is still continuing for the Tamil people. It is true that TNA was supported by the Liberation of Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) prior to 2009.
But the TNA we had at that time is starkly different to the TNA we have now. When TNA moved away from what the Tamil people have always stood for as a solution, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam walked away from TNA. At the moment we have a TNA, who have even before any negotiations with the Lankan government take place, given away the right for self-determination and the concept of a Tamil Nation. They are also not asking for an international investigation into the war crimes, and refused to use the widely accepted term Genocide as what has and is happening to the Tamil people. The list goes on.
A small, but good example of what TNA is standing for was witnessed by some of us in New Zealand and Australia. Earlier this year, Asia Pacific Green Congress was held in Wellington, New Zealand. For this the New Zealand Green Party’s MP Catherine Delahunty brought a strong resolution about the Tamil issue to be passed. This resolution accepted the right of Tamil people for self-determination and called for an international investigation into the genocide against the Tamil people and also called for an internationally monitored referendum to see what the Tamil people living in the island of Sri Lanka and the diaspora Tamils wanted. This was opposed by the Green Party of Australia.
When this was discussed with a former Australian Green Senator, it was clear that when TNA’s Sumanthiran and Global Tamil Forum’s (GTF) Suren visited them they had asked not to call for an international investigation into Sri Lanka and also have opposed the idea of an independent referendum ₁. While we Tamils back home and internationally, have one clear desire which seems further to us than ever before, we need to ask a few questions to ourselves? What would have happened if Tamil people’s vote wouldn’t have made Sirisena win? The West used his victory to stop putting pressure on the Lankan government. Does any Tamil person think that this One Sri Lanka will work for the Tamils? Haven’t we learnt anything?.
The other choice that we have is Gajendrakumar Ponnamblam’s Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF), who is standing for two Nations as the permanent solution. TNPF has some great candidates, who have worked within the grass roots and are in touch with reality.
They have a clear ideas on what they want to do going forward. If you have not read the manifesto of TNPF, please do read₂. It is very clear on their stance. The reason that you have heard a lot more about what TNA is doing, is not because they are doing good for the Tamil people, but because they control most of the Tamil news media in Sri Lanka which only gives coverage for TNA (for example TNA MP E. Saranavabavan is the Managing Director of the most popular Tamil daily ‘Uthayan’). The Sri Lankan government’s news media also supports TNA and gives them more prominence, because they are working with and for the Sri Lankan Government and not for the aspirations of the Tamils.
Some may worry there is a risk of splitting the Tamil vote, but it is important to have true representatives of Tamil aspirations in parliament. If the TNA fails to win their seats they will try represent the Tamil people’s interest instead of representing other countries.
Only reason any MP should go to the Parliament is to represent the people who voted them in. Make a clear stance. Let TNA know that they need to earn your vote.
The best way to do that is to vote TNPF this coming elections. Make your vote count, vote for the cycle symbol.
National Council of New Zealand Tamils
Contact Person: Dhaya Haran Mobile Phone: +64 21 342 921
₁ – http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=37809 ₂ – http://www.tamilnet.com/img/publish/2015/08/V.2-TNPF_Election_Manifesto-2015.pdf