The Sunday Leader

“We Do Not Support A Separate State” – C.V. Wigneswaran

By Nirmala Kannangara

The TNA Chief Ministerial aspirant for the Northern Provincial Council former Judge of the Supreme Court Justice C.V. Wigneswaran in an interview with The SundayLeader said that his party is confident of winning the vote if a free and fair election is held and added that the TNA could bring a ray of hope into the lives of the Tamils.

“In the fields of economy and development we intend receiving benefits from the state as well as the international community. If the finances are allowed to come in, certainly the lives of those who have suffered so long could be ameliorated and enriched. We are confident that we could bring sunshine into the lives for our troubled community members,” Justice Wigneswaran said.

Refuting allegations levelled against the TNA that they are to support for a separate state, Justice Wigneswaran said federalism is not separation but the exact opposition of separation. “We do not support a separate state. As a community with its own individuality we like to determine our way of life ourselves. That does not mean that we want to separate. It only means that we should be allowed to preserve our individuality while being part and parcel of a multi ethnic, multi religious and multi lingual state. There seems to be some fear that if we wish to preserve our individuality it could lead to separation. This comes from a fear built up by politicians from 1956 to date. But it is imaginary rather than real,” he added.
 
Excerpts:

Q: The TNA election manifesto has drawn a lot of controversy with some saying it supports a separate state. Is that the case? Can you explain the main focus of their manifesto?
A: Certainly it does not support separation of any sort. The Tamil speaking community has characteristics of its own. They speak a different language and most of them belong to the three religions other than the religion of the majority and they have developed cultural and sociological characteristics of their own throughout their long residency in the North and East. They would like to preserve their individuality and live their lives unhindered by others. But they certainly would like to be part and parcel of the country of their birth. So they are looking forward to working out their political future with the cooperation and the consensus of the central government.

It must be remembered that federalism is not separation. Actually it is the antithesis of separation. We have explained our concern regarding the unnecessary interferences in the day to day activities of our people by the central government and its armed forces. Naturally as a community with its own individuality we like to determine our way of life ourselves. That does not mean that we want to separate. It only means that we be allowed to preserve our individuality while being a part and parcel of a multi ethnic, multi religious and multi lingual state. There seems to be some fear that if we wish to preserve our individuality it could lead to separation. This comes from a fear built up by politicians from 1956 to date. But it is imaginary rather than real.

Our focus is unity in diversity. Unless there is trust between communities this unity cannot be forged. I hope the majority community politicians will look at the manifesto from a legal and practical standpoint rather than from an emotional and suspicious standpoint. Denuded of their suspicions they would indeed welcome the manifesto.

Q: If the TNA wins the Northern Provincial Council Elections what changes can you bring to the people of the North?
A: The fact that people of the Northern Province elect their representatives for the Northern Provincial Council democratically if the election is allowed to take place legally and properly, would be the first change though a psychological satisfaction
In the fields of economy and development we intend receiving benefits from the state as well as the international community. If the finances are allowed to come in certainly the lives of those who have suffered so long could be ameliorated and enriched. We are confident that we could bring sunshine into the lives for our troubled community members.

Q: In the event you are Chief Minister, will you be looking at working with the government in some areas?
A: Certainly. After all we are thinking of unity in diversity within a united Sri Lanka. It is the duty of the central government to treat us as part and parcel of the state rather than as aliens come down from a different planet.

Q: With this election Justice Wigneswaran are you making politics your long term goal?
A: How long will I be able to be in politics since I am 74 now and reaching 75? I had a fairly decent life in law – lecturing, practicing and serving as a Supreme Court Judge. I have also been involved in literary activities, social activities and religious work and am quite satisfied with my life. I have never been in politics nor have taken any interest. Politics came after me and for those who want my help I will help them. Politics cannot give any benefits to me.

Q: How do you look at obtaining the support of Diaspora for the North?
A: The Diaspora is ever ready to help us out. It all depends on the part the government would play in the process. If the government is reasonable, the Diaspora will help us and would like to be in touch with us. However if the government wants to put obstacles it will be difficult for us to get the support of the Diaspora.

Q: The presence of the army in the North is still a key issue being raised by the TNA. Do you feel they do not need to be in Jaffna even for security reasons? Are you planning to get back the properties which the security forces are now occupying in the North?
A: They are not in Jaffna to provide security for the Tamils but for political reasons. There is no necessity for the security forces to remain in Jaffna. Four years have passed since the war came to an end and democratic institutions in the Northern Province are being established only now. The security and law and order could be looked after by an efficient police force.

I have been discussing of the possibilities of the armed forces being made available to the UN Peace Keeping Force. That way they could be asked to serve in the UN Peace Keeping Force and benefit themselves as well as leave us in peace. If the security forces are in Jaffna only to provide security what was the reason for them to question the Tamils who met UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay. This is not good for the country and that is why Navi Pillay was concerned about the security of those whom she met whilst touring Sri Lanka.

The security forces must leave North. A fully fledged police force can look after the people and their security in the North.

In regard to private properties, more than 6500 acres of lands have been taken over by the security forces to build palaces with swimming pools for themselves and for the President.

Those who own these lands are undergoing severe hardship in makeshift camps and houses. This is a matter we will take up with the government, if we come to power.

Q: What sort of place will other Tamil political parties like the EPDP have in a TNA run administration?
A: We do not want to take revenge against those who did not vote for us. They need not feel suspicious of any sort of reaction from the TNA. As Tamils, there is a responsibility for the opposition to work with the ruling administration and to make the Provincial Council work successfully.

Q: The ruling party alleged that the TNA is working hand in glove with TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF who too were supporting separatism earlier. Is this true?
A: PLOTE, TELO and EPRLF have given up arms and have come into the political mainstream. The ITAK did not support separation.
They were for a federal constitution. But who are Karuna Amman, Pillayan and KP? Are they saints? It is they who gave orders to massacre thousands of security personnel, the Buddhist clergy and to attack the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura and the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.

Where are they now? Since they are in the government fold, the ruling party and the EPDP have forgotten the crimes such people had committed.
Although they are with the government, they still have armed persons with them. Without levelling allegations at the parties who have now entered the political mainstream the EPDP and the government should explain what Karuna Amman, Pillayan and KP are doing in the government now.

5 Comments for ““We Do Not Support A Separate State” – C.V. Wigneswaran”

  1. Federal State of Sri Lanka similar to UPFA. There are so many constituent parties in the UPFA. But, UPFA is one party with one simple the betel leaf. So, there may be so many or only two states in the Republic of Sri Lanka. But Sri Lanka is one country with one Parliament and one President. Though they NFF, JHU and parties like those never dissolve their parties but to bind with SLFP led UPFA. Similarly Tamils and Muslims won’t give up their ethnicity, religions domicile to be deteriorated by their powerful politicians of their big brother, the Sinhalese. That is why they, I mean here Tamils, want to be Sri Lankan with their autonomy. It should understood by JHU and NFF that Tamils and Sinhalese have had lived with harmony for more than two thousand years in Sri Lanka until late D.S.Senanayake enfranchised 01 million plantation Tamils that they supported the leftists in the 1947 general election and refused to join to form a UNP government. However the traditional Sri Lankan Tamils gave hand in him to form the government. But, in 1956 late Bandaranayake kicked them away by making Sinhala as only official language whilst Tamil too a language with reasonable proportion in Sri Lanka for two thousand years. . Between 1948 and 1978 somany traditional Tamil areas in the North and East colonized with Sinhala people. It made the situation of Tamils as falling from frying pan to fire. That is why Tamil youths took arms. Otherswise Tamil youths were naturally sober. Sinhalese a highly developed and cultured people following the path of Lord Buddha. Please understand the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils.

  2. Gota can have dual citizenship, but Tamils can’t. The brutal war is over. Why the government can’t bring the police to manage the civil affairs. Since 2009 I have been doing my best to find a solution, and writing many letters to the government to build bridge between the government and diaspora, but the government thinks it is our weakness, when we open a dialogue. The West gives wrong information about me to the government to make sure people won’t take me serious, in order to keep the division. The Rajapaksa brothers are not smart enough to deal with the West, India and China. The country has been fighting since 1948, the leaders have been encouraging communalism to keep their power, people have grown up with hatred. When the highest number of Tamil people were killed in May 2009, Sinhalese people were celebrating and dancing. This shows how deep the hatred is, therefore I have doubts about united Sri Lanka. I believe, unrepairable damages already have been done to the country.

  3. Kumar

    Justic Wigneswaren has a very clear view & he is the only person where President can do the business to a politcal solution. We should not miss this opportunity.

  4. Sellam

    It is too early to comment. We have to wait and see if the TNA wins, what they are going to do for the Tamils.As to Mr.Wickneswaran’s answers to the questions put, he is correct, the rest we have to wait and see.

  5. Teacher

    My question to the TNA and others who want a separate Tamil identity in the North is to ask what of the the other Tamils living in other parts of Sri Lanka? Will you be requiring them to move to the North? I believe this idea of the TNA will further divide the country along ethnic lines and create problems for all Sri Lankans.

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