Peace process and fundamental
rights of Tamil people
by V. Anandasangaree
(A letter Mr. Anandasangaree has written to President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
Please bear with me for this lengthy letter which I hope you will
have the patience to read and take suitable action. Since I have to
give certain details related to the issue, the letter had become lengthy
for which I seek your pardon.
When the Norwegian special representative Mr. Eric Solheim took up
the responsibility of bringing the Government and the LTTE to the
negotiating table, to work out a satisfactory solution to the ethnic
problem, everyone was very happy. Although Eric Solheim started his
mission as a facilitator he gradually assumed the role of the mediator,
which I welcomed. I am aware of the embarrassment he faced and of
the obstacles that crossed his way. One day in Parliament the Speaker
Hon. Anura Bandaranaike had to remind a member of the presence of
Mr. Solheim in the gallery, when that member made a speech slandering
Solheim. Since the front benchers failed to defend him I, from the
opposition, had to defend him and offer an apology on behalf of the
country. I am now compelled to believe that Mr. Solheim, is deviating
from his mediatory role and acting in a partisan manner, favouring
the LTTE without any regard or consideration for the suffering Tamils.
His role now appears to be detrimental to the Tamil cause, more related
to the democratic and fundamental rights.
I am a Tamil senior citizen. I had been in active politics for well
over 45 years and served as a Member of Parliament for about 17 years.
I have a duty cast on me, when all The elected Tamil Members of Parliament
from the North and the East and various NGOs have failed in their
duty, to highlight the sufferings of the Tamil people in the provinces
of the North and the East. Many Tamil voices had been silenced by
the LTTEs guns. Even Heads of States of various countries are
silent on this issue. I am duty bound, in spite of the risks I face,
to bring to the notice of the International Community, through the
respective Diplomatic Missions, the poor plight of the Tamil people
in Sri Lanka and urge them to break their silence and express their
views, without leaving the entire matter in the hands of a single
or few individuals.
What the country wants today is peace. There is no doubt about it,
but certainly not at any price. If we are going to achieve Peace only
by surrendering all our fundamental, human and democratic rights to
the LTTE we do not want that Peace. What the Tamils want is peace
with dignity and all their rights preserved. We want to live like
any other Sri Lankan in the South of Sri Lanka.
For obvious reasons Members of Parliament from both the Government
and the opposition come out with strong statements, off and on, praising
the LTTE without realising the ground situation in the areas held
by the government and the LTTE. In a statement made recently Mr. Eric
Solheim too had boasted that three years of Cease fire has saved thousands
of lives. It is true, but it has also deprived the Tamils of the North
and the East of their fundamental and democratic rights.
Everyone is talking only about Peace and everyone wants to satisfy
only the LTTE by conceding all their demands. The latest addition
to this list is the World Bank Country Director Mr. Peter Harrold
who wants to release 06 Billion Rupees to the LTTE recognising it
as a legitimate Stakeholder. This is a glaring example of the lack
of knowledge of the ground situation. The World Bank is for the people
and not for the LTTE. Unfortunately no one bothers about the Tamil
people who are living under the subjugation of the LTTE and weeping
in silence. The Tamils need to be liberated from these so called liberations,
the LTTE before they are made Permanent Slaves of theirs. The Tamils
never suffered like this, under any government, at any time. There
was discrimination at one stage mainly in the fields of Education,
Employment and Development. However they were not completely overlooked
in these fields. In any case, the Tamils enjoyed their democratic
rights although there were violations of Human Rights and Fundamental
rights, off and on, which are nothing compared to what is happening
today, even in areas held by the Government which had been gradually
taken over by the LTTE, after the Cease Fire Agreement was signed
with the Government. By allowing this the Government had made the
biggest blunder, other one being allowing the LTTE to levy taxes on
goods that pass through the A9 road and collecting toll from the users
of that road.
In the good old days, the people could make their protests in any
form and in any manner they wanted to. People had hartals, black flag
demonstrations, protest meetings etc, but not under compulsion of
anybody. As long as they were non-violent the Police looked on without
any interference. We had an Independent Media. One could write or
say, for or against, anything they liked.
I remember, when Hon. Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike the Prime Minister,
at that time visited Jaffna to open the Jaffna University, a number
of public meetings were held to condemn her policies. A massive Sathiyagraha,
was organised to protest against her visit. Yet she came and opened
the University without any incidents. Not a single person who participated
in that function was harmed or threatened by anybody. Our fundamental
rights were not interfered with by any authority.
This is the type of freedom and democratic rights the people enjoyed
in the past. The LTTE cadre had been so brain-washed that they will
not believe that the Tamils were so free and were never subjugated
to the Sinhalese people or to anybody else.
What is happening today in Tamil areas is shocking. Our people cant
talk or write freely. They cant do anything without the interference
of the LTTE cadre. There are a handful of fictitious organisations
representing various trades, unified under an umbrella organisation
calling itself the Federation of Peoples Organisations. They
derive their authority from the LTTE Leadership. This organisation
is made use of by the LTTE for all their activities. Innocent school
children are used in large numbers for demonstrations against the
Government, backed by the LTTE. When even educated leaders of some
Political Parties do not properly understand the provisions of the
Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) how can one expect these organisations
and small school children to understand it. Yet instigated by the
LTTE they all, demonstrate, demanding the ISGA as a prerequisite to
re-start talks with the Government.
The Tamil people are now at the mercy of the LTTE I do not deny that
successive Governments from May, 1972 had been very cruel towards
the Tamil youths who had been actively involved in politics. Some
times even innocent Tamil youths had become victims. There were some
killings, long term detentions, torture etc. But today the LTTE had
broken all records as far as the killings and detentions of the Tamil
youths are concerned. Recently, in Vavuniya, when a Member of the
Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission wanted to visit a youth belonging to
another group detained by the LTTE, he was held by the neck and pushed
out of the LTTEs political office. This is not the type of Political
activity for which provision was made in the Cease Fire Agreement
Apart from those who had the means to flee the country, thousands
of Tamil youths belonging to other armed groups had been killed mercilessly
by the LTTE. There had been abductions with no trace of the abducted.
Even after the cease fire agreement had been signed, many Tamil youths
belonging to other groups had been killed, accused of giving information
to the Army. What is the type of information one could give against
the LTTE when they have easy access to any part of the country, in
Many Politicians, Heads of Schools, Academics, Lawyers, Journalists
top ranking Government Servants, Government Agents etc., were killed
by the LTTE It should be noted that not a single person in this category
had ever been killed by the Sinhala forces. All these killings are
among the Tamils and by the Tamils.
Of the nine provinces in Sri Lanka there is a larger concentration
of Tamil population in the provinces of the North and the East. Each
of these two provinces is divided into two sections, one under the
control of the LTTE and the other under the control of the Government.
Before the Cease Fire Agreement was signed on 22.02.2002 between the
Government and the LTTE the parties to the agreement confined themselves
strictly to the respective areas under their control. No one was allowed
into the LTTE held areas. Behind the LTTEs "IRON CURTAIN"
no one knows as to what is happening there. No information, about
their activities, leaks out. Even a person like Mr. Eric Solheim has
no access to their areas beyond their meeting point at Kilinochchi.
Will Mr. Solheim give a guarantee to the International Community that
every thing is o.k. behind the "Iron Curtain?" Is he in
a position to give a guarantee that people in Vanni are leading a
contended life? I am sure he cant.
The most unfortunate situation is that in this 21st century-in this
modem world in spite of the presence of the United Nations, even long
after slavery was abolished and with all countries, except a few enjoying
full democratic rights, a group of people are kept like slaves by
the very same people who claim to be the liberators of the Tamils.
This situation prevails only in Sri Lanka. Even three years after
the Cease Fire Agreement was signed between the two, the situation
has not changed at all. The irony is that the Government Machinery
is functioning in all the LTTE controlled areas, but strictly under
the control of the LTTE and limited only to the benefits received
through the Government Machinery. The LTTE is so strict about admitting
anybody into their areas that a few months back when two soldiers
strayed into their areas they were arrested and remanded by the LTTE
court. But these two were released after bargaining with the Government
for the release of ten of their cadre in return for the Governments
two. Perhaps there is provision in their penal code for such release,
but how these ten LTTE suspects were released is not within my knowledge.
There are a number of Tamil detenus detained for very trivial offence
for long periods. But unfortunately there is no provision in our laws
to release those youths unfairly detained for fair length of time.
A few days back when two soldiers strayed into the no mans
land from the defence line at Kilaly, the LTTE fired at them, killing
one and severely injuring the other.
On the other hand, from the day the CFA came into force the LTTE
cadre started going into the areas held by the Government very freely,
making use of the provisions in the agreement in batches of 50 during
the first 30 days, another 50 during the next 30 days and any number
after 90 days, to do political work. The only restriction imposed
was that they should be unarmed. This provision was very cleverly
manoeuvred to out-wit the Government. The Government failed to take
into consideration that these area were recaptured from the LTTE which
held these areas for a long time. Today they are not only in the so
called cleared areas, they can be found in every nook and corner of
Another provision agreed on was relating to the disarming of the
other groups. The Governments failure to get an assurance that
the LTTES arms will not be used against anyone resulted in hundreds,
belonging to the other groups, getting killed. Before the CFA anyone
could go to any area held by the Government. But today the LTTEs
dominance all over, prevents others opposed to the LTTE from going
freely to any part of the area held by the Government in the North
and the East.
A matter that should be condemned is the recruitment of small children
by the LTTE to their cadre. Even the Member of Parliament of the TNA
who themselves have children had not protested to the LTTE against
Civilians and school children are compelled by the LTTE to take part
in anti-Government demonstration, under threat. Demonstrations and
hartals are organized by the LTTE for trivial matters, merely to promote
themselves. LTTE is behind all hartals and demonstrations. In many
cases the poor civilians become victims due to the LTTE provoking
the army. If an army vehicle meets with an accident, the civilians
are incited to set fire to the vehicle. The LTTE is going all out
to provoke the army to precipitate communal riots.
Every LTTE cadre is a leader. The people have to carry out the orders
without questioning. The people live in constant fear and tension.
Unfortunately the electronic and the print media do not say or write
a word against the LTTE. The Tamil media in foreign countries also
are under the control of the LTTE.
I have not given an exaggerated report of the prevailing situation
in the North and the East. Much more could be said about the LTTE.
I humbly request the International Community to study the situation
carefully and find out the ways and means of reaching the ordinary
people in these areas to know the truth. It is not easy to get anything
from them without strong assurance that strict secrecy would be maintained.
The LTTE is trying to establish a dictatorship. They are not interested
in finding a solution to the problem that will be acceptable to the
Tamil people. They want a solution the way they want. Today they are
in control of the North and the East. They dictate terms to the government
officers who, from top to bottom, obey the orders of the LTTE. Ministers
cant visit even areas under the control of the Government. The
Governor of the North - East was warned not to visit Jaffna. All the
Tsunami relief had to be handed over to them. They have not allowed
the 22 Members of Parliament to take part in any discussion with the
President or with the Prime Minister about Tsunami relief. By their
arrogance they have already deprived the Tsunami victims of their
due share. The Tsunami victims will have to pick up the crumbs and
the left oversa, after all the requirement of others are met.
Off and on the LTTE organises demonstrations and engage in provocative
acts. They insist on hoisting their Tiger flag in every function in
the cleared areas also. A number of people had died in accidents,
in their areas. If by chance an army vehicle knocked down a person,
they made capital out of it and organized hartals and demonstrations,
at which throw stones to provoke the army. The conscription of children
continues to take place. They do everything they want and any way
The time has now come for the International Community to tell the
Tigers that they must now tame themselves or get tamed.
The Government of Sri Lanka has given in too much to the LTTE to
the detriment of the Tamil people. The interests of the Tamils were
not considered at all. In the enxiety of bringing peace, the preservation
of the rights of the Tamils is forgotten.
The Tamils will be satisfied with a Federal solution. The Indian
type or any other model recommended by the International Community
should be acceptable. I am positively sure that the International
Community with the participation of our neighbour India can easily
find a solution to the satisfaction of everybody. The responsibility
of liberating the Tamils from the LTTE is now in the hands of the
I strongly urge you your Excellency to persuade your Government also
to get involved fully in finding a reasonable solution to the ethnic
problem. If it is not now it will then be never.