By 29 November 2007

Thamilselvan should have been tried for multiple murders and hung at the Galle Face Green. -V.Anandasangaree

I’m from Kilinochchi, I know the pain… Thamilselvan should have been tried for multiple murders and hung at the Galle Face Green. – Anandasangaree
Tamil United Liberation Front ( TULF ) president V. Anandasangaree says he can’t
understand why the culprits couldn’t be brought to book. In Jaffna , three or
four people were getting killed in broad daylight every day. If a person comes
on a motorbike, shoots another and vanishes, he can’t vanish into thin air. He
has to travel a distance to hide. So what happens in-between, he asks. However,
he says he can’t blame the police in Jaffna as they are not allowed to do their
duty and adds that an Inspector much loved by the people was hacked to death by
the LTTE when he went to hold an inquiry. He was asked to come unarmed and
without security and was hacked to death, says Anandasangaree. But, what is
happening in the South, he queries. The following are excerpts from V. ananda sangaree’s interview with THE COLOMBO POST….

Q: Are you happy with the prevailing situation in the country?
A: Not at all. First of all, I’m greatly disappointment with the government on
one matter, the ethnic issue. I have been repeatedly saying over a period of
time that if this country is not going to find a solution for the problem within
three months of the President coming to power, then we will never find a
Soon after the President was elected, I told him to solve the problem within
three or six months the latest. It is two years since he came to power. The more
you delay, more problems will crop up, like the de-merger and issues like the
JVP demanding the abrogation of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA). All these
problems are new ones because of the delay in finding a solution. This is not
the first time a government has made such mistakes.
When Chandrika Bandaranaike came to power, she was the only one who got the
largest majority in the history of Sri Lankan Presidential election. She got
over 65% of the votes. She came to power with the promise of solving the
problem. She delayed it or was made to delay. It ultimately went for six years
and then another six years and that was the end of it. The same thing happened
when J.R. Jayewardene was President. He was mandated by the people to solve the
problem any way he wanted, but he didn’t do it. It has been repeated over and
over, as far as the ethnic issue is concerned. For the last fifty years this has
been the situation.

Q: How do you see the escalation of hostilities?

A: That is very sickening. I can’t understand why the culprits can’t be brought to book. In Jaffna , three or four people are getting killed in broad day light every day. If a person comes on a motorbike, shoots another and vanishes, he can’t vanish into thin air. He has to travel a limited distance to hide. So what happens in-between? Lots of people would have seen him. However, in Jaffna I can’t blame the police for one reason because they are not allowed to do their duty.

Once an Inspector very much loved by the people was hacked to death by the LTTE when he went to hold an inquiry. He was asked to come unarmed and without security and was hacked to death. I will not blame a single policeman in Jaffna. In the North and East I can understand the situation. But what is happening in the South? In the South it is even possible for the people to get together and
arrest the offenders. I don’t know what is wrong.

Q: Have you lost faith in the political leadership and the opposition in Sri Lanka ?

A: I can’t say that because political leadership is up to the respective leaders. I only find fault for the delay in finding a solution.

Q: Do you think the Southern parties will come to a consensus to resolve the ethnic conflict?

A: This is a challenge. Forget about the Southern parties opposed to a solution.
The people want a solution. I have told the President to go ahead with a reasonable solution and the people would be with him. He is the President elected for the entire country. It is wrong to say that it is the Southern people who elected the President. There is nothing called a government in the North and another in the South.

That is what we want to prevent. He is the President of the whole country and therefore has a duty to satisfy everybody. There is a wrong interpretation of
democracy. Democracy is not the rule of the majority. It is the rule of the majority with the consent of the minority.

Q: Do you think the present government is genuinely committed to a political solution?

A: Yes. I think the President is very serious about it. I have discussed it
several times with him. The President is very much interested in finding a
solution. The main opposition United National Party is also committed to finding
a solution. During the last election they faired well in the Tamil areas.

Q: Is there a collective leadership for the Tamil community?

A: I think there is. Forget about the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Take the 22
TNA members as one member saying yes to everything the LTTE says. Forget about
the number, whether it is 22, 23, 30 or even 100. They are yes men of the LTTE.
They don’t have guts to tell the LTTE what is wrong and what is right. For
example, TNA members go around complaining of Human Rights violations. I’m
telling the TNA there are more Human Rights violations in the LTTE held area
than outside. They, including the LTTE leadership and Thamilselvan have sent
their children to foreign countries for higher education. What about other

I’m from Kilinochchi and I know the pain of the people. People weep over the
telephone. Children have been forcibly taken by the LTTE. Girls from the upper
class have been given compulsory training. At one stage, every family must give
one member to the LTTE, but now every member has to go.

When you say collective leadership, take the TNA as one. The others like the TULF , PLOTE, EPRLF and the EPDP are committed to a solution. So there is a
collective leadership. If there is violation by government forces or by the LTTE, we condemn them. The TNA doesn’t do that.

Q: How progressive is your alliance with the People’s Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and Eelam People’s Liberation Front (EPRLF- Padmanabha wing)?

A: We are committed to finding a solution. We have agreed to continue to fight
to get a federal solution for the ethnic problem. I have seen highly educated people writing rubbish. We shouldn’t forget the fact that this is a country belonging to the Tamils, the Sinhalese, the Muslims and everybody. Who came first and who came last is not the point. As educated people we shouldn’t condemn others. This is a country where the Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims have lived for generations. Sixty million Tamils are living across the Palk Strait .

How radical is it to say that somebody came first? Who came when is utterly irrelevant to the Sri Lankan problem, even if the Sinhalese claim their mothers had been Tamils. According to the Mahawamsa the two hundred followers of Vijeya, who came and formed the Sinhala community, assome radical Sinhalese claim, their mothers have been Tamils from Madurai . Let us take for granted that we all have equal rights in this country. Forget about the past. As the Buddhists are the majority, we consider that Buddhism can be the state religion. We are not talking about it. But other rights like the right to live, the right to move about, the right to do whatever democratically, we all must be entitled to do.

Q: What is the most acceptable solution in resolving the conflict?

A: We know what the problem is. It is fifty years old. The whole world knows what the problem is. The All Party Representative Committee (APRC) is sitting
and they are the block. How can the APRC come to a consensus when people have
radical views? So we know what the problem is. As committed at the Oslo
declaration, which the LTTE too has agreed on, they must come out with a federal
solution. That is what the international community also expects.

The whole world is expecting the country to come out with a federal solution. Use an alternative because some are allergic to the term ‘federal’ and unitary. So avoid those words. Just call it the Indian model or unity in diversity. The
Indians are proud as they are united in diversity. Let us also have a constitution that will be accepted by the minority as well. As far as rights are concerned, there should be minority rights and majority rights. Rights should be equal to everybody and should be enjoyed without discrimination.

Whatever solution we find, it should be once and for all. There cannot be a
solution in installments. We have taken fifty years to and are yet to solve the
problem. If we are to settle it in installments it will take another fifty years
to get the second installment and another fifty to get the other. By that time
there would be some radicals in power. So whatever the solution, it should be
the final one acceptable and reasonable to the Tamil community. As accepted by
the international community, a federal solution or the Indian model.

Q: Can the LTTE be destroyed only by finding a political solution?

A: Every problem has a solution but concerned parties may not accept it as a
solution. We are suggesting a federal solution, but the LTTE may not accept it.
They won’t accept it for two reasons. One is, if a solution is found the Indians
will just come and take Prabhakaran away. He will have to face hundred years of
imprisonment. Even if a separate state is given, Prabhakaran will find some
excuse to get away from it. So, forget about Prabhakaran. Satisfy the Tamils who are agreeable to a solution and for living in a united Sri Lanka , and that is the final solution. Once the Tamil speaking people are satisfied that the government will treat every body equally and give equal rights, then the problem will be solved. We don’t need to bother about the LTTE after that.

Even the small support they have will vanish. Even people like Nedumaran and Vaiko in South India will keep their mouths shut, even though now, because of
certain interests, they are shouting.

For example, Thamilselvan who should have been tried for multiple murders and hung at the Galle Face Green is now being hailed as a hero by some Tamil Nadu
politicians as they don’t know what is happening here. Prabhakaran and Thamilselvan should have been tried for sending the 21 suicide bombers alone,
but they are being glorified. If a reasonable solution is found then the LTTE
can’t exist.

Q: How would the budget help the Tamils in the North and East?

A: I don’t see the budget from a Tamil point of view or Sinhala pint of view.
Our country is rich in natural resources. No one will die of starvation. We must
consider one thing. I don’t justify the government allocating such a large amount of money for defence. But then how can you blame the government when a rebel organization starts destroying the airport and giving an impression to the world that they have a strong army?

The government is concerned about the security of the country and has to take that decision. If we are to find fault with the government for allocating such a
large amount for defence, we must condemn the LTTE before doing that. In one
night they caused losses of billions of rupees. So, without finding fault with the budget let us all get together and find a solution. The moment a solution is found; all what is spent on defence can be allocated for development. This is a war situation. We are not fighting against an ordinary rebel group. We are fighting against a group which has air power also.

Q: What else do you do apart of issuing statements and writing letters?

A: My letters have generally not been challenged by anybody. My writing had brought a big impact on the citizens of Sri Lanka . Unfortunately, I have a
threat on my life. Otherwise I will prefer to take my message to every corner of
the country.

Q: The media in Sri Lankan is under fire. Doesn’t that mean democracy is under threat?

A: I strongly condemn those who meddle with the media. You have a right to write. But you see, we speak only about the English media, no one talks about
the Tamil papers. Tamil papers enjoy more freedom than any other papers in the
country. They have the liberty to write anything. They write all rubbish, they
enjoy press freedom but no one speaks about that. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, press freedom is limited only to others. The Tamil media can write
anything, they glorify the LTTE and give them full publicity.

No one should meddle with the media and the press also should see that they
don’t come out with unwanted things. People who are killing and threatening
journalists also should think that this can happen to them also when things
change. There is a proverb in Tamil that says just by hiding the comb you can’t
prevent a marriage. The bride can even come without dressing her hair. Threats
will not prevent journalists from writing or editors from publishing.

Q: When you say the Tamil media has freedom, how do you see the Tamil journalists being killed and threatened?

A: I didn’t look from that angle. But with my experience, I see that the Tamil journalists have the utmost freedom, and I will hold some of the newspapers
responsible for this large number of killings. But they don’t condemn. There isn’t a Tamil paper that has condemned the killings by the LTTE. That’s how I look at it. But I don’t know why and who are punishing them. Whenever the LTTE makes a mistake the Tamil papers have to collectively condemn.

Q: A top international terrorism expert says the government should protect the
democratic Tamil leaders much more than the Sinhala politicians. Are the democratic Tamil leaders happy with the protection given to them?

A: All members of parliament are having their own security. In my case I’m given more protection because the risk is different from the others. Take the TNA.
Aren’t they aware that all these are happening because of the LTTE? There are
many people in their prisons. They are failing in their duty and I’m doing my duty. I’m not pro-government or anti-government. I’m doing my duty as a patriotic citizen of this country.

Q: When did you last visit the North?

A: I didn’t visit the north for a long time. This is the type of democracy we
have in this country. If I go to the north what is the guarantee that I will return safely?

Q: As a democratic Tamil leader, what is your message to the people of the

A: I’m fully confident that the people in this country want to live in peace.
I’m happy that that the Sinhalese in the south are not harassing the minorities.
The Tamils in the north and east are a new type of minority for them. The Muslims have been there for a long time and the Tamils are just moving and live across Colombo to Puttalam.

Jaffna Tamils live along Colombo to Moratuwa. So the Tamils are confident that the ordinary Sinhalese are prepared to live as equals. People shouldn’t be
disturbed by ideas like who came first and who came last, who enjoys more rights
and who enjoys fewer rights. Let us all live as equals so the country can
prosper and even beat a country like Singapore .

—(Fazeena Saleem – THE COLOMBO POST)—

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