By P.K.Balachandran/Daily Express
The Tamil Makkal Thesiya Koottani (or Tamil Peoples’ National Alliance) led by former Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran has in its parliamentary election manifesto demanded that an internationally supervised referendum should be conducted in the Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka to find a permanent solution to the 70 year old Tamil question.
The manifesto, which was released in Vavuniya on Sunday, said that the TMTK (or TPNA in English) will take legal and political steps to make the international community and the UN press for such a referendum in order to safeguard Sri Lankan Tamils from human rights violations and genocide in the future.
The manifesto pointed out that such referendums had been held in Eritrea, Scotland, Quebec, East Timor, South Sudan, Catalonia and Kurdistan. It pointed out that the idea of a referendum had been endorsed by more than two million Tamils across the world including Tamil Nadu. The Tamil Nadu Assembly had even passed a resolution urging a referendum to ascertain in the will of the Lankan Tamils.
To facilitate return to normalcy in the Tamil areas ahead of the proposed referendum, the Sri Lankan government will be asked to reduce its military presence in the North and East to the level which prevailed before 1983 when anti-Tamil riots rocked the island.
In view of what it called genocidal actions of the Lankan government, the manifesto promised to use all means to drag the government to the International Criminal Court.
After recalling the history of the Tamils in Sri Lanka in detail, the manifesto demanded internal self-determination (not external self-determination or secession) for the Tamils of the North and East.
The manifesto went on to state that the alliance will press for a federal constitution with the Tamil provinces enjoying maximum degree of devolved power, to replace the current unitary constitution.
Prior to the referendum, the alliance will get the international community, including India, to secure an interim administrative arrangement to solve the problems of the North and East created by the war.
Targeting the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) from which the constituents of the TMTK had broken away to rally round Wigneswaran, the manifesto said that the TNA had been capitulating to the Lankan government on all issues. It had totally endorsed the Lankan government’s stand on the Tamil question in the UN.
The TNA had lost every available opportunity to press the government to meet the demands of the Tamils. It had failed to use the post of the Leader of the Opposition for the benefit of the Tamils. The TNA had even denied that genocide had occurred and that there was grabbing of private lands by the army. The TNA had surrendered power to the Muslims in the Eastern Province and denied that there was Sinhala colonization of places in the North.
The manifesto charged that the TNA, in cahoots with the previous government, was working towards a new constitution which would ensure that Buddhism continued to enjoy primary status in the country and that the Northern and Eastern Provinces would not unite to form a single Tamil province. Overall, the TNA had used its popular mandate only for self-advancement and privileges and not to secure the rights of the Tamils, the TMTK charged.
(The featured image at the top shows TMTK leaders C.V.Wigneswaran, Suresh Premachandran and Ananthi Sasitharan)