MR Could Not Achieve A Honorable Solution For Tamils – Douglas Devananda

Former Minister Douglas Devananda says the political situation in the country has become more democratic, tolerant and conducive for the Tamil people to express their frustrations and grievances openly without fear and intimidation. The Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) leader also insisted that his party never operated as a paramilitary organisation.

Excerpts of an interview with The Sunday Leader:-

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

Q:  What is your opinion on the measures taken by the government to address the issues faced by the Tamils?

A:  There has been some progress in the release of lands in the possession of security forces. Still quite a lot of work has to be done regarding this issue. Security forces camps can be relocated to state lands and the very fertile agricultural lands handed back to their rightful owners, so that they can improve their livelihood. It would be a win-win situation for all the parties.

Not much has been done in other aspects such as the release of political prisoners, missing persons, welfare of women headed families, war widows, maimed persons and unemployed youths. A new constitution is being drafted to find a just honourable and lasting solution to the Tamil national question. But whether it would pass muster, nobody is sure of it.

The political prisoners are a forgotten and forsaken lot. Nobody seems to care about them. The war ended seven years ago but these prisoners are languishing in prisons without an end. They should be pardoned and brought back into the national mainstream. Every citizen of our motherland is entitled to the peace dividend. Therefore government should grant them a general amnesty in order for them to integrate into the wider society.

The political situation in the country has become more democratic, tolerant and conducive for the Tamil people to express their frustrations and grievances openly without fear and intimidation. This is a very welcome development indeed.

As for the missing persons an Office of the missing persons has been established to find answers to their whereabouts and their fates. We have to wait and see how it conducts its business. It is a positive step in the right direction.

The living conditions of women headed families, war widows and maimed persons are very pathetic indeed. Something should be done on a war footing to alleviate their sufferings. The rampant unemployment and under employment among the Tamil youths are becoming unbearable leading the youths into crime and drugs. Progress on these issues is moving at snail’s pace. Much needs to be done to overcome these shortcomings.

 

Q:  You were once seen as a threat to Tamils in the north. The EPDP was accused of being a paramilitary group. Were those allegations fair?

A:  The Sinhalese people and their political and religious leaders seem to have mistaken Tamil people for the tigers. Tamil people never ever considered me a threat to them but only as a savior. They could not express their freewill out of fear of the tigers and their political cronies such as Tamil National Alliance. That is why I have been continuously elected by them so many times as their representative to the parliament.

But it’s true that tigers felt threatened by me because of my fearless and selfless service to my people which unnerved them. I demonstrated to the Tamil people that there is another way to win over our rights through democratic means instead of resorting to the senseless, mindless, murderous and terrorist ways of the tigers. I showed the Tamil people the democratic, civilized and cultured way of struggling to win and safeguard our rights. This naturally infuriated tigers and their cohorts. Because of this they tried to physically eliminate me so many times. But they could not succeed in this venture but somehow I feel they had succeeded to an extent to assassinate my character. The whole world knows how many times the tigers tried to assassinate me.

There was constant threat to my life and EPDP members by tigers. Therefore the Government provided security to our political party. We never operated as a paramilitary organisation. It was a misconception. I was one of the founding members of EPRLF. Later I left that outfit and founded the EPDP. This party came into being after the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement. From the outset we have been a democratic political party shunning violence of all kind whatsoever. After the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement we came to the conclusion that the armed struggle by the Tamil people was no longer necessary. Our party decided to continue the struggle to win and safeguard our rights through democratic means.

 

Q:  What is your opinion on former President Mahinda Rajapaksa?

A:  He brought the senseless and destructive war to a successful conclusion by decisively defeating the tigers militarily. The whole country is indeed indebted to him for that great deed and service. But he could not follow it up with a just and an honorable political solution to the Tamil national question. He could have won over the hearts and minds of the Tamil people. We all earnestly hoped that he would make use of this God sent golden opportunity to raise himself to the occasion to become a great statesman and attain the status of Dharma Ashoka. Tamil National Alliance is also greatly contributed for this sorry state of affairs by rejecting the overtures made by our former president outright.

Q:  Would you join the current Government if invited?

A:  I have been a government minister for a long time. Now without being in government I am serving my people to the best of my ability. I can criticise the government whenever I feel I should in a constructive manner and support them whenever it is in the interest of the people and the country. I feel very content with my present status. By interacting with people without being in power I gain new insights into the problems the people face on daily basis and it’s a pleasurable learning experience indeed.

 

Q:  Is there too much Indian involvement in Sri Lanka?

A:  India is our closest neighbour with whom we, all Tamils and Sinhalese, have religious, cultural, ethnic, linguistic and commercial relations for millenniums. Buddha, prince Vijaya, Mihindha and Sangamithira were all from India. We can change friends, enemies and partners but not neighbors. India is just 18 miles away from Sri Lanka. So it’s natural for them to take a keen interest in the affairs of our country. There is nothing abnormal about it. We should conduct our affairs in a way not to alarm India in anyway. That’s called diplomacy.

 

Q:  Is there too much division among Tamil political parties?

A:  All democratic parties have dissent and dissidence. That’s what democracy is all about. It is same thing all over the world. Even the southern parties of Sri Lanka are not immune to it.

 

Q:  What political solution do you think that Tamils in the North and East must be given?

A:  As we have been saying for a long time the 13th amendment to the constitution should be implemented in full. When the mutual trust among the communities grows we can improve upon the 13th amendment. This is the way to go about solving the National question and achieving everlasting peace and prosperity for all our citizens.

Q:  Tamils have been calling for justice over some incidents related to war. Can there be justice through a domestic process?

A:  The government should device a method of finding a solution to the war affected people. It should be in a way not to harm the delicate peace we have at the moment and should foster and strengthen the reconciliation process. A domestic mechanism with international help and input could help in this process.

 

Q:  Do you believe the human rights violations were committed during the war?

A:  War is a brutal activity among mankind. That’s why we have created the Geneva Convention. Human history is a compendium of all wars. If basic human rights are violated in a war they should be investigated and remedial actions taken. Otherwise we cannot consider ourselves to be a civilizsed nation and cultured people.

 

Q:  Can Tamil refugees in India come back and be happy?

A:  They are our kith and kin and citizens of this county. Government should make every effort to make them come back to their motherland by providing everything necessary for them to lead a peaceful and dignified life such as housing, monthly grants for a year or two, creating livelihoods for them to look after themselves and so on. It’s indeed a national shame and disgrace to leave our countrymen to lead a stateless life as a destitute in a foreign country. We should all be ashamed of it. 

 

4 Comments for “MR Could Not Achieve A Honorable Solution For Tamils – Douglas Devananda”

  1. ranjith

    Send him back to Pondi Bazzar his buddies are hiding in a womans saree there.

  2. Naga Ramalingam

    Mahinda Rajapakse faced myriad of issues in the country as well as from outside forces like US, Europe and India during the post war years. Douglas knows how difficult it is for a politician to work under duress, pressure from foreign countries and international human rights organizations. We should give the benefit of the doubt to Rajapakse who was under the cloud of a foreign investigation after 2009. it was a tough time for him to steer through all these obstacles. Above all the Tamils fresh from the effect of war were totally against him.

    Well Sirisena inherited a country with peace and stability, and with the blessings of the Tamils (TNA). What has he done in the past two years and more? TNA is backing him to the hilt, and even prepared to drop the much avowed ‘international probe’. In all respects Sirisena is lucky to have inherited a peaceful Sri Lanka, thanks to Rajapakse who eradicated terrorism. He is now having a free ride on the back of the TNA. Has he done anything wonderful for Tamils? NO. He is just cheating the Sinhalese, Tamils and the whole world with false impressions. Even the Tamil men and women languishing in Colombo prisons without any charges in the last 15 years could not be released by Sirisena who receives unconditional support from TNA.

  3. Robert

    This MR stooge crying through his backside. I have seen photograghs showing Doug Deva liking the floor MR walked minutes before

  4. Robert

    Not the least to be said about the murders this man’s gang committed to save MR’s rule in the north after the war.

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