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TELO’s demands and the national question - EDITORIAL

7 December 2018 02:52 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



he support of Tamil minority parties to elect a government has never received such importance as of now. The United National Party (UNP) is hellbent on obtaining the support of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in its bid to form a Government which will have a nominee from the Green Party for the prime ministerial post. 
But one party of the alliance, Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) maintains quite staunchly that its support would only be offered if several demands are met. 
Some of these demands are rather sensitive, but TELO finds itself in a position to make a key player in the political equation like the UNP listen to the voice of the Tamils. 

Out of these demands, the ones to release LTTE suspects (who they term as Tamil political prisoners) and to repeal and prevent the Prevention of Terrorism Act are disturbing. This is because we still hear of violent acts taking place in the north; often those disturbing the peace there have been gangs armed with swords. 
Recently the killing of two policemen in Vavunathevu raised some eyebrows in Colombo and posed questions as to  whether the security is adequate in the north?
Going by the pulse of the people in the North, the northerners dread a war again and say that much was lost during the almost three-decade strife which brought buildings to the ground and took the lives of thousands of innocent Tamils. Some say its a miracle that a Tamil community up in the north survived to tell a story of blood, tears and bombs. The sporadic incidents of violence however give the indication that the north is still not fully stable and demands some form of a military presence. 

The TNA is not so aggressive with these demands and maintains that they should not be presented in writing. In fact the majority forming the TNA is said to be on a different line of thinking when it comes to presenting the grievances of the Tamil community. 
The perspective of the Tamils has never been included in the country’s thinking machine which decides which way the country is progressing. A good example is the recent decision taken by president Sirisena to dissolve parliament. The Tamils now pose the question why on earth he did that when the majority of Sri Lankans including most Tamils voted for Sirisena having faith that he would continue with his Cabinet for a period of five years. Tamils now feel betrayed by Sirisena. 
Wanni Parliamentarian Shanthi Sriskandarajah has said that the Tamils have been sidelined as a community. But she is quick to point out that the present times are such that the major National parties have to kneel down before Tamil parties to obtain support and survive in politics. 
The TELO maintains that the TNA didn’t resolve the problems of the Tamils and that it can’t trust the UNP. 

Politics in Sri Lanka has boiled down to a question of trust. One must fathom that if the majority Sinhalese can’t trust their own lawmakers then what helpless position would a minority community like the Tamils be in at present!
In this context the TELO has decided to seize the opportunity when the UNP now can be brought to the negotiating table, for the sake of the 
Tamil community. 

The TELO has also decided to be vociferous with its demands given that the TNA has been rather passive in its dealings with Government decision makers. The controlling party of the alliance ITAK is said to be maintaining a stark silence these days; hence the rhetoric of the TELO. 
If there was one good thing which came out of the whole Yahapalama regime it was the absence of a fear psychosis in the north. Military surveillance was almost absent there. This is a past, even if it’s small as three and half years, that Tamils would cherish. This is one reason why the TELO is eager to negotiate and strike a deal with the UNP. Can anyone blame the TELO for its thinking?   

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