The TNA has called for the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces in its manifesto presented yesterday for the Northern Provincial Council election.
The manifesto also states that devolution of power should be on the basis of shared sovereignty, necessarily over land, law and order, socio-economic development including health and education, resources and fiscal powers
“To achieve the above including self-reliance it is imperative that we need self-government. We have set out a two-stage constitutional process to secure this. Whilst we do our utmost to play a positive role in promoting self-government for the Tamil-Speaking Peoples in the North-East, we will carry on with our political negotiations for meaningful sharing of powers of governance. We cannot emphasise more the immediate necessity for a democratically elected body with legislative, executive and fiscal powers -- to take over those functions of governance rightly belonging to us,” the manifesto states.
The TNA manifesto is as follows:
“The principles and specific constitutional provisions that the TNA considers to be paramount to the resolution of the national question relates mainly to the sharing of the powers of governance through a shared sovereignty amongst the Peoples who inhabit this island. The following salient features of power sharing are fundamental to achieving genuine reconciliation, lasting peace and development for all the Peoples of Sri Lanka:
The Tamils are a distinct people and from time immemorial have inhabited this island together with the Sinhalese People and others
The contiguous preponderantly Tamil-Speaking Northern and Eastern provinces are the historical habitation of the Tamil-Speaking People
The Tamil People are entitled to the right to self-determination. Power sharing arrangements must be established in a unit of a merged Northern and Eastern Provinces based on a Federal structure, in a manner also acceptable to the Tamil Speaking Muslim people. Devolution of power on the basis of shared sovereignty shall necessarily be over land, law and order, socio-economic development including health and education, resources and fiscal powers.
In addition to continuing to pursue a just and lasting solution, we will actively engage in addressing the immediate and current concerns of our People.
The alliance also wants to seek to enforce the recommendations made by the Panel of Experts appointed by the UN Secretary General and the Resolutions adopted at the UN Human Rights Council in March 2012 and March 2013. The specific matters are as follows (Excerpts):
There must be meaningful de-militarization resulting in the return to the pre-war situation as it existed in 1983 before the commencement of hostilities by the removal of armed forces, military apparatuses and High Security/Restricted Zones from the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
Tamil People who have been displaced in the North and the East due to the conflict must be speedily resettled in their original places; housing provided, their livelihoods restored and their dignity respected
An Independent International Investigation must be conducted into the allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws made against both the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE during the last stages of the war, the truth ascertained and justice to victims and reparation including compensation must be ensured
Persons who are detained without charges must be released promptly and a general amnesty should be granted to all other political prisoners. There must be finality reached with regard to thousands of missing persons and compensation must be paid to the next of kin. Tamils who fled the country must be permitted to return to their homes and a conducive atmosphere created for their return. A comprehensive programme for the development of the North and East including the creation of employment opportunities for the youth will be undertaken with the active support of the Sri Lankan State, the Tamil Diaspora and the International Community.
The present constitutional arrangements in this regard have proved to be unsatisfactory. A constitutional framework which favours the majority and a majoritarian hegemony is what is in place. Democracy in a plural society cannot function without a constitutional framework that provides for equity, equality, peace and security. It is in this context that we view the forthcoming Northern Provincial Council Election.
The TNA firmly believes that sovereignty lies with the People and not with the State. It is not the government in Colombo that holds the right to govern the Tamil People, but the People themselves.
In this regard the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka is flawed in that power is concentrated at the Centre and its Agent, the Governor. Our political philosophy is rooted in a fundamental democratic challenge to the authoritarian state. Our political programme is therefore rooted in the needs and aspirations of the Tamil-Speaking People for justice and equality.
To achieve the above and self-reliance it is imperative that we need self-government. We have set out a two stage constitutional process to secure this. Whilst we do our utmost to play a positive role in promoting self-government for the Tamil Speaking Peoples in the North-East, we will carry on with our political negotiations for meaningful sharing of powers of governance. We cannot emphasise more the immediate necessity for a democratically elected body with legislative, executive and fiscal powers - to take over those functions of government rightly belonging to us.
We are committed to ensuring that all the Muslims who left the Northern Province return to their respective areas and resume their livelihood activities as soon as possible. They would be encouraged to return and the Northern Provincial Council would provide all the help needed to enable them to re-start their lives.
The war has left behind over 50,000 widows in the Northern Province alone. There is a need for a clear policy to build their capacity and uplift the lives of the war widows. These widows have become economically and socially vulnerable. In the circumstances the Provincial Council will take the responsibility to swiftly and effectively create livelihood programmes and other necessary measures to alleviate their present condition.
Even four years after the end of the war the government still designates areas as High Security or Restricted Zones and prevents the inhabitants from re-settling in those areas.
Large amounts of lands have been seized by the government from the owners without due process. No democratic government has the right to seize land without due process. The government will have to respect the rights of private property owners and restore such lands to the rightful owners. A significant proportion of those evicted from these lands are living in very harsh conditions. The government’s draconian regulations on land acquisition and re-occupation have deprived thousands of Tamils of rich agricultural lands and restrictions imposed on fishing have denied thousands of Tamil fishermen their livelihood.
The TNA believes that the most effective police force for the North-East would be those directed by the Provincial Council. Currently there is no trust between the people and Police service in the Northern Province. The People have no confidence in their police officers and are often afraid to approach the police with concerns about crime and conflict in their communities.