‘Tamils want a united system with a federal framework’
Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) Leader V.Anandasangari while condemning the Ceasefire Agreement that exists between the government and the LTTE, says the government without discussing the agreement at the first round of talks, should immediately abrogate it. He said it is the CFA that has
paved the way for LTTE infiltration into the entire country and added it is the same agreement that also gave room for the LTTE to subjugate the Tamil population. The Tamils are not free. They are under the LTTE control. What are the so called facilitators and the government doing about it?
Nothing. “The government has totally failed to liberate the Tamils from the clutches of the LTTE,” the seasoned politician told The Sunday Leader in an interview.
Following are excerpts:
TULF Leader, V. Anandasangari
By Wilson Gnanadass
Q: Both the government and the LTTE are once again planning to hold peace negotiations in Geneva. Are you satisfied with the venue and the entire peace process?
A: I have no faith in the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) and the government must cancel it and the CFA must be renewed with fresh terms and conditions. After the Sri Lanka Army liberated Jaffna the people were free. But now what is seen is a completely different thing.
Even in democratic Sri Lanka the majority of the people are not free. The LTTE is controlling every nook and corner. And how is it done? This is done with the help of the CFA. The CFA has paved the way for the LTTE members to enter the entire country. According to the CFA the first month 50 Tigers were allowed to come into the government areas to do political work. The second month it was
100 and now we see them all over the country. But the government forces, even those who go on leave don’t cross the A 9. I asked the Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim when I met him last whether he could visit the iron gate of the LTTE and he could not answer me. He had every access to the Wanni but could not go beyond the iron gates of the LTTE.
Q: You said the CFA should be abrogated. Why? If the CFA is abrogated do you think the situation would be better?
A: You see the CFA has not brought any benefit to the Tamils in the northeast and to the entire country in general. Of course the combatants were able to save their lives. Apart from that the people who have been living free in the north-east are under the control of the LTTE. They are under their subjugation.
Take the CFA clauses for instance, there are provisions that clearly state that there should not be abductions and assassinations but they happen almost every day. The SLMM was nominated by the Norwegian facilitators and according to their complaints the LTTE has violated the CFA more than 3000 times. Of this over the first year of the CFA in 2002, 141 adults have been abducted, in 2003 191 adults abducted, 2004, 155, and in 2005, 100 people have been abducted, totalling 587.
Now what action has either the SLMM or Norway, or Solheim or even the government of Sri Lanka taken against the LTTE? These abducted people are with families. They are not animals. Then take the conscription of children into consideration. In 2002 some 676 kids were conscripted. In 2003, 593, in 2004,
346 and in 2005 179, totalling 1,794 children. My question is, what has happened to these people? Did the LTTE ever bother to give an account of these abducted kids or did the Norwegian facilitators ever try to find out what has happened to them or did even the government demand from the LTTE to reveal the whereabouts of these people?
Q: But don’t you agree that it is the CFA that has prevented a major war in the country?
A: Merely because there is no war, can we subjugate the entire Tamil community to the LTTE? It is the bounden duty of the Sinhalese government including the opposition to help the Tamil community to liberate themselves. The Sinhalese have suffered only economically or due to loss of someone in the family. But take the Tamil community. They continue to suffer. Unfortunately the people of Jaffna
think that the government forces did the entire destruction. It is not so. It is the LTTE that attacked first and the government retaliated. In any retaliation destruction is bound to happen.
Q: The CFA also speaks of disbanding the paramilitary groups. And it is a known secret that the government is harbouring Karuna. The government knows where and how he operates but does not take any action. Is this not a serious violation?
A: I don’t think so. Because when there are two people fighting, norms and rule of laws are not adhered to. I am not justifying the government harbouring Karuna. When Karuna broke away the government could have taken over Batticaloa just like that. But the LTTE said it was an internal matter and the government should not interfere. But then why is
the LTTE asking the government to now control Karuna?
Q: Since the meeting Norwegian Minister of International Development Erik Solheim had with the LTTE Leader and convinced him to accept the compromise venue for talks, three major incidents have taken place. The killings of a local Tiger commander, a journalist and the abduction of TRO officials. The army while rejecting LTTE claims that it was involved in these incidents openly declared that it was Karuna who was responsible. But the government has so far not taken any action against Karuna. How do you view this?
A: You see, the LTTE is not part of the government and is hostile to the government. On the other hand the government armed forces comprise mainly Sinhalese. During the last few years, how many Sinhalese officers have been killed? When nobody talks of this, why only talk of these three incidents?
I am not defending the government. All what I am saying is that it may be beneficial for the government forces when these two factions — the LTTE and Karuna — are killing each other. I am sure the government must be happy about it.
Q: Do you think Karuna is a force to reckon with to be included at talks?
A: If the LTTE is complaining against Karuna, that means the LTTE considers Karuna as a force. This is why the LTTE asks the government to control Karuna. I would say both LTTE and Karuna should stop killing each other and if that is the case both could be included in the peace talks.
Q: The LTTE also is not in favour of accommodating a separate Muslim delegation at talks and is against giving the Muslims third party status at talks. What is your opinion?
A: After driving away the entire Muslim population from the north and for the LTTE to say that Muslims should not be part of the discussion… who will accept it? If the LTTE had treated the Muslims like their brothers then we could understand LTTE talking on behalf of the Muslims. But the LTTE has right along been hostile to them. Therefore they must be a party to the talks and to a future
Q: Are you optimistic that the much expected talks in Geneva would be fruitful?
A: No, it would be a thorough failure. I am very angry that only the CFA is going to be discussed at the first round of talks. The Swiss and the Norwegian ambassadors met Tamilselvan yesterday and he said the first round of talks would centre on the implementation of the CFA. How can this happen when people are dying?
Tamilselvan takes everything as a joke. He only smiles. The LTTE has no consideration for the sovereignty of the people. SLMM has been nominated to monitor the violations. What is the remedy? I asked Solheim whether his skin was so thick? I told him that he was responsible for the violations of the CFA.
I told him everytime the CFA was violated the LTTE insulted him. I told him the LTTE has violated more than 3000 times and said each time a violation took place it insulted him and further asked Solheim whether he was not ashamed of it. I am accusing the government for failing in its duty to liberate the Tamils who are now living under LTTE subjugation.
Q: The government has decided to hold local polls in the north and east and the TNA it is learnt is planning to contest. Do you think it is prudent to hold elections in the north-east given the present ground situation?
A: TNA has no brains on its own. They have to go to Tamilselvan to get his advice. They are going to contest because the LTTE has given the assurance. If the TNA is contesting it means the LTTE is contesting. And with two bullets the LTTE will make sure the TNA wins. When no one was allowed to vote for the presidential election, how could we have elections in the north and east?
It is a mistake. It should be postponed. The people would become more subjugated. If they are allowed to vote independently then I can understand.
Q: The government is keen to solve the ethnic crisis under a unitary system. Do you think this is practicable?
A: First of all I must say that unitary has become an allergy to everybody. United is a good term and we would be united. Unitary system would never work. For the last so many years we have been having this problem.
Q: The Tamils also say they want a united system with a federal framework. Do you agree?
A: I fully agree. This is the only solution that we could see.
Q: Do you intend contesting the local authority elections?
A: No. With two bullets the LTTE would drive away the democrats.