Colombo, November 2 (newsin.asia): The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, has castigated his Education Minister Dr.K.Sarveswaran, for refusing to hoist the national flag as a protest against the denial of rights to the Tamil minority .But he was quick to add that Sarveswaran should not be punished for its conduct.
“I do respect the feelings of the Education Minister. But I regret that his resentment has taken a form which is derisive of the people. Hon’ Minister could have shown his disappointment to Sinhala hegemony in some other way,” the Chief Minister said in answer to a question put by a journalist.
But opposing any move to punish the erring Education Minister, Wigneswaran pointed out that in the United States even burning the national flag is allowed as a form of protest and no action is taken against those who do it.
The Chief Minster said that protest against Sinhalese hegemony over the minority Tamils could be expressed in various ways without disrespecting people. He staed that he himself has not attended Sri Lankan Independence Day celebrations to date as a protest against domination by the Sinhalese.
“Though invited every year while I was a Judge I did not participate. My resentment centered around the fact that though the country received its Independence from the British in 1948, we the Tamils, have not received freedom from Sinhala hegemony which was set up post – Independence after the Britishers left. I have thus shown my resentment to Sinhala hegemony in my own way.”
“Nevertheless, as Chief Minister, I have been hoisting the National Flag and showing my respect to the people. I have also stood at attention when the National Anthem is sung. I openly welcomed the singing of the National Anthem in my mother tongue some time ago”.
“Therefore one should realize that our resentment to Sinhala domination from 1948 has taken different forms. Hon’ Education Minister has shown his resentment in one way and I have been showing mine in another way,” Wigneswaran said.
Giving the background to Dr.Sarveswaran’s protest, the Chief Minister said that “without giving adequate recognition to the original inhabitants of this island and their religion our national flag gives undue importance to the Sinhalese and to Buddhism. This is the reason for the resentment of the Hon’ Education Minister. After all that is true. The Tamil speaking are the majority community in the North and East and they existed from pre-Buddhistic times. Thus the negative feelings of the Hon’ Minister are understandable.”
“I am told in the USA the burning of the National flag is considered as a democratic right of its citizens. They do not take into custody and punish those who indulge in such activities.”
In conclusion, the Chief Minister said: “ Hence I would appeal to Hon’ Dr.Sarveswaran to show his resentment to Sinhala majoritarian hegemony in some other way rather than by such refusal to unfurl the National flag. But I do not think his conduct needs any further action on our part.”
Appeal to Sinhalese To Understand
However it is time the Sinhalese majority noted the feelings and resentments of the Tamils, Wigneswaran said. “This is an occasion, God sent, for our Sinhalese brethren to understand the hidden negative feelings among us Tamils embedded in our hearts for so long. We do not like to hurt our Sinhalese bretheren. But our reservations are nevertheless true and are real.”
Referring to a statement by a Central government minister that power cannot be devolved to a people who reuse to hoist the national flag, Wigneswaran said: “It is ridiculous for the Hon’ Minister to believe that it is the Sinhala politicians who have the legal right to grant powers to the minorities. Having obtained control of the governmental machinery through Territorial Representation, consequent to deception committed on the Tamils, the Sinhalese politicians have continued to tighten their stranglehold on the administrative and the political processes to use such positions to violently deal with the minorities. The law does not expect a majority community to discriminate against minorities and help pass laws congenial to the majority community.”
“In Switzerland they give concessions to minorities not given to the majority community. Here there is open discrimination in education, employment in government sector, economic development and in many other fields.”
“When Tamil Leaders showed their disapproval to the Sinhala Only Act they were thrown into the Beira Lake. Violence started there against minority protests. Keeping the armed forces continuously for eight years now in the Northern and Eastern Provinces is violence. It is done much against our wishes.”
“So having indulged in violent acts against the Tamils Hon’ Minister is trying to pass the blame on to us.”
Denial Of Rights Is Tantamount To Violence
“Secondly the Hon’ Minister must realize that peaceful demonstration of any sort against something discriminatory is a democratic right. It is the wrongs perpetrated by the Sinhalese Politicians which have made us react to their discriminative actions. If the Hon’ Minister says ‘We shall not grant powers to you if you react against the wrongs perpetrated by us’ that is again violence. The Hon’ Minister is trying to indulge in violence by making such statements.”
“To continue to keep the Tamils of the North and East under bondage seems to be his real intention. That is why he says we will not give powers to the North and East if they protest.”
“Let the Hon’ Minister first try to empathize with our Education Minister (Dr.Sarweswaran) ; let him realize that the Hon’ Education Minister is reacting to what the Sinhalese politicians have earlier done, most of whom had been kinsmen or friends of the Hon’ Minister.”
(The featured picture at the top shows the Chief Minister of the Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran)