Colombo, April 30: The Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), the principal constituent of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), on Saturday decided to admit former cadre of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the militant group which fought a 30-year war with the aim of establishing an independent “Tamil Eelam.”
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Central Committee of the ITAK in Batticaloa in the Eastern Province.
Briefing newspersons after the meeting, ITAK spokesman M.A.Sumanthiran said that the committee felt that the ex-militants should be encouraged to enter the democratic political mainstream even as other issues relating to their rehabilitation and livelihood are attended to.
Sumanthiran said that he had put forward the suggestion that the former cadre be admitted because in his interactions with them, he had found that they had issues which the ITAK and the Tamil polity could no longer ignore. Although they did not seek political participation, he felt that they should participate like other citizens.
“These people have political commitment. After all, they had been ready to lay down their lives for a political cause,” he said.
However, the ITAK does not envisage mass recruitment of former LTTE cadre. “We will be selective,” Sumanthiran said.
Earlier, the TNA had rejected applications from former cadre for party nominations during elections. Subsequently, the cadres who had formed a political party themselves, contested elections, but only to draw a blank.
LTTE cadre who were looked upon as heroes during the war for Eelam, are being discriminated against and ignored now. Even private businesses do not recruit them as they are still under military and police surveillance. Those employed by the government are seen as doing intelligence gathering for the police or the military. Women cadre face difficulty in getting grooms. Many cadre are wounded or disabled and need special attention.
The ITAK Central Committee also took up the issue of the Sri Lankan government’s Inter-Ministerial Committee on Resettlement of people forcibly evicted by the LTTE. The party felt that this amounts to discriminating against the Tamils.
“The ministerial committee should not discriminate on the basis of religion or ethnicity. We know that the LTTE had driven out Muslims and Sinhalese and their problems require attention. But that does not mean that the displaced Tamils should be ignored. We will take up this matter with the Prime Minister,” Sumanthiran said.
(The featured image at the top shows ex-LTTE cadre listening to a lecture at a Sri Lanka Army run rehabilitation and re-orientation center)