The Sunday Leader

TNA’s Relationship With Government On The Rocks

by our Jaffna correspondent

TNA leader R. Sampanthan and President Maithripala

The relationship between the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the government is on the rocks with Tamils in the North losing faith in the administration. The TNA has said enough is enough and the international community must now intervene to address the issues faced by the Tamils in the North.

The TNA’s official website quoted TNA leader R. Sampanthan as saying the government has begun to divert from its political goals and so it is time the international community stepped in. He said the failure by the military to release all occupied private lands in the North will not help the reconciliation process. Sampanthan said that the Tamil people have now lost patience.

“Foreign countries must not remain silent anymore. They must intervene,” he said.

Sampanthan had expressed these views in letters addressed to the UN and foreign diplomatic missions in the country. The TNA leader has also sought a meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena to discuss the political situation in the country but has yet to be given a date for the meeting.

Meanwhile TNA spokesman M.A. Sumanthiran has said the TNA will not support the 20th Amendment to the Constitution in its current form.

He was quoted by the Tamil media as saying there is a move by the government to bring the Provincial Councils under Parliament and dissolve and hold elections for all Provincial Councils on one day.

Sumanthiran said the government has not had any talks with the TNA on the 20th Amendment.

Meanwhile last week the National Movement for the Release of Political Prisoners submitted a memorandum to Sampanthan on political prisoners. The memorandum called for the release of the political prisoners arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

Also last week the families of those reported missing during and soon after the war also demanded answers. The TNA and the Tamil community in the North backed the government and supported change at the last elections yet their expectations have not been fully met.

Even the Tamil Diaspora which supported the current government has expressed disappointment.


GTF dismayed


The Global Tamil Forum (GTF), which supported the unity government at the last election, said recently it was dismayed that more than eight years after the end of war, Sri Lanka has yet to demonstrate that it is genuinely committed to addressing the accountability issues occurred during the brutal armed conflict. Despite twice co-sponsoring UNHRC resolutions calling for comprehensive transitional justice measures, the present coalition government has not lived up to its commitments and yet to take any meaningful steps in this respect.

The lack of progress to-date in many ways is eerily reminiscent of the past when commitments made on political and governance issues concerning to the Tamil people (such as Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam or Dudley-Chelvanayakam pacts) were reneged at the slightest of political opposition. While GTF acknowledges that some progress has been made it is far from adequate.

A careful comparison of the commitments made and the actions carried out unambiguously shows a glaring disparity. No efforts have been made by the top Sri Lankan leaders to integrate credible international participation in the local judicial processes as stipulated in the UNHRC resolutions. The report from the government’s own Consultation Task Force (CTF) set up to recommend transitional justice measures based on country-wide consultations has remained ignored for more than six months after its official release, reinforcing the impression most Tamils have that setting up Commissions and then discarding their reports is a continuation of delaying strategy practiced by many previous governments.

The Office of Missing Persons (OMP), the only transitional justice mechanism Sri Lankan Parliament enacted exactly a year ago, was signed into law by the President only recently and yet to be operationalised. Mothers of disappeared have been protesting for over five months crying for attention living with the agony of not knowing the fate of their children for so many years.

A month has passed since President Sirisena met with the relatives of the missing, but his promise to release any existing lists of surrendered and detained within 48 hours remains unfulfilled. We fail to understand the obstacles in bringing justice to these mothers, four of whom have died since the vigils started, and the unwillingness on the part of the government to bring closure to this highly emotive issue.

The parliamentary process to ratify Enforced Disappearances as illegal has been indefinitely postponed and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) is yet to be repealed, while continuing use of torture to extract confessions is widely reported. Complete elimination of this dreadful practice from Sri Lanka needs leadership from the government which is solely lacking.

The government has utterly failed to engage the majority Sinhala community about the need for true reconciliation and the indispensability of transitional justice to achieve that.

In fact, a consistent narrative articulating the above and the need for ending the culture of impunity is absent in the political discourse of the country.  If Sri Lanka is to enter a new era of respect for rule-of-law and good governance, resolute and consistent efforts are imperative.

Though the GTF commends Sri Lankan Government for allowing external scrutiny of the human rights situation by facilitating visits by various UNHRC Special Rapporteurs, their assessments and reports are unsurprisingly scathing. The latest (July 14, 2017) is from Ben Emmerson, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, who told reporters at the conclusion of a four-day visit: “There is little evidence that perpetrators of war crimes committed by members of the Sri Lankan armed forces are being brought to justice,”… … “None of the measures so far adopted to fulfil Sri Lanka’s transitional justice commitments are adequate to ensure real progress” … …  and progress on meeting commitments made under a 2015 U.N. Resolution have ground “to a virtual halt.”


Report by the UN Special Rapporteur


A report tabled at the 35th session of the UNHRC (May 2017) by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Diego García-Sayán, was again highly critical of the Sri Lankan justice system.

The report identified ‘continuation of a normative framework based on PTA’, ‘persisting impunity for any abuses committed by the police or the security forces’ and ‘the lack of effective victim and witness protection’ as key areas where urgent action was needed. Both Special Rapporteurs concluded that it was the Tamil community that was at the receiving end, disproportionately.

Various statements released by International Crisis Group (ICG), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Truth and Justice Project during the last six months also concur with the findings and sentiments expressed by the UN Special Rapporteurs. Clearly stating that Sri Lanka is faltering on its commitments made to its own people as well as to the international community, these institutions have called for re-energising the process of addressing the war’s legacy. The latest report from the ICG (July 28) highlighted the plight of the Tamil speaking women in the North and East, stating that these women “have been marginalised during the transitional justice process” and called on the government to act “promptly by establishing the offices on missing persons and reparations” to prevent the emergence of “renewed grievance that damage already slim hopes of reconciliation among communities, and between the state and its Tamil citizens.”

GTF calls upon the International Community and the Government of Sri Lanka to take serious note of the impartial assessments made by such eminent organisations and mandate holders, and to recognise that Sri Lanka is truly in danger of losing the momentum in addressing the accountability issues that are critically important at this juncture.

The Tamils are seeing the same old political dynamics that has plagued Sri Lanka since Independence and are understandably becoming cynical of the Government. For our part, the GTF would like to reaffirm its commitment to assist in any meaningful initiatives to arrest this dangerous trend.

GTF notes it is essential that Sri Lanka take urgent concrete measures that will assure confidence to its entire people, and most importantly to the victims, that achieving justice that has been denied for so long is possible.

10 Comments for “TNA’s Relationship With Government On The Rocks”

  1. Tamils should understand that politics in Sri Lanka is always done Tamils issues. Our country will never prosper until such time the minority issue is resolved. We Srilankan listen to China more than our own Tamil brothers and sisters.

  2. srilanka want a democratic government they must cooperate with the minority last 60 years cheating the minority. .UN has given two years tamil problem. mr Rajapaska killed one hundred thousand. he and family was murders and corruption. they were supported by prime minister and Buddhism minister, he is father of BBS must resign forthwith. communal minister and corruption high rocket.

  3. raj

    “If Sumanthiram was not TNA member, he would say that just complaining won’t work and no use since past complaints were ignored and the government will do whatever it wants to do. It is no use of complaining . ” (ideal sumanthiran’s statement)

  4. gamarala

    The armed forces constitute the unofficial government in the northeast.
    The army is against any inquiry about what happened to civilians at the end of the war, and wishes to continue the repression, plunder of lands, persecution of civilians, deprivation of livelihoods and civic rights of citizens. The bogey of LTTE resurgence is trumpeted as the excuse.
    The governor and the president are helpless and dare not displease the army.

  5. Jey

    Accountability and transparency is lacking both in Sri Lankan political vision and Tamil leadership. It is sad that the myth of ethnicity and religious bigotry rules the mindset of Sri Lankan. As long as these are ingrained, no progress can be made. Sri Lankan of all ethnicity always looks back rather than the front and corrupt policies and politics are ruining this beautiful land. Is there a visionary person in Sri Lankan politics who can lead the people out this quagmire?

    • Asoka


  6. Ragu

    TNA was dancing to the tune of Ranil-Sirisena combine and GTF served as the His Master’s Voice of TNA. Both TNA and GTF lack the wisdom to learn lessons from history and went to the extent of declaring that the solution will be found before the end of 2016 as if it is something they were holding in their own pockets. Repeat of betrayal!

  7. raj

    Tamils should eliminate barbaric cultural practices if they really want to have good civilized society. Dowry practice, using sons to make dowry or run family are considered to be barbaric cultural practice. Tamils also have tendency of not accepting individual rights. For any civilized society, the number one priority is respect individual right and respect privacy. Sometimes, if I ever happens to talk to any Tamils in the country where I live, they will ask too many questions without hesitation. Because of that behavior, I try not to have conversation because they will become intruder.

    If anyone can do research about Tamils’ cultural practices at village level, they can identify some of the cultural practices are considered to be barbaric cultural practice. Tamils should eliminate this practices. Leaders like Sampanthan and Wigneswaran and Sumanthiran should condemn those practice rather than ignoring.

    Though I mentioned only Tamils, any cultural people if they identify some of their cultural practices are considered to be barbaric, then they should eliminate. In western countries, if barbaric cultural practices are punishable crime and it will end up in either loosing citizenship or end up in jail.

  8. raj

    Sri Lankan leaders should never hesitate to condemn barbaric culture if they are against those practice

  9. raj

    the more Tamils focus on dowry and conducting barbaric cultural practices, the less rights they will have. First, Tamils should build a community that has higher standard – respect individual rights and freedom and privacy, eliminating dowry, no child labor for the family, reduce infighting, respect each others’ opinion. Then ask for rights. Otherwise, what is the purpose of getting the rights? To have more dowry and create more dowry criminals?

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