Former CM and Leader of Tamil People Kooddany, justice C.V.Wigneswaran has said the merger of the North and East and self-Government to the people of the North and East are essential to the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.
He said as above in answering a question regarding President Srisena’s interview to an Indian Press during which he said devolution under 13th Amendment would be sufficient for the North and all they want are economic benefits.
In his reply Wigneswaran said if the President thinks that the Government could buy the Tamil people economically and deprive them of their Political rights he is sadly mistaken.
Wigneswaran’s full answer is as follows:
Those who have to decide on this matter are our people not the President. We worked hard in 2014 and 2015 to bring in the President into power in order that he would discuss our political problems and find solutions for them. Has the President made this statement after discussing with our political representatives or after discussing with his obedient henchmen and handmaids?
When the 13th Amendment was discussed 1987 many matters that were agreed upon between India and Sri Lanka were not allowed to be included into our Statute Book by President Jayewardene. Initially there was agreement that more or less all powers enjoyed by different States in India should be enjoyed by the Northern and Eastern Provinces. That did not happen. On the 28th of October 1987 our Tamil leaders Amirthalingam, Sivasithamparam and Sambandan wrote to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi about the insufficiency of the 13th Amendment. Rajiv Gandhi did not pursue the matter further. President Jayewardene made the dilapidated 13th Amendment applicable to all the Provinces in the Country and diminished the importance of the 13th Amendment to the North and East. Whenever North and East spoke of insufficiency of devolution the Sri Lankan Government would point out that other Provinces were not agitating for such rights. Thus the problems of the North and East were not given adequate attention.
President Sirisena has forgotten the meeting all nine Chief Ministers had with him in Anuradhapura in some years ago. NCP Chief Minister Hon’ Peshala Jayeratne at that meeting pointed out that all Provincial Councils must be given complete power and authority over the administration of their respective Provinces and full devolution must be given. But he also said we do not want federalism. When I asked Peshala later how he could ensure full devolution under a unitary constitution unless it was federal he replied “we don’t want federalism but we want uninterfered full devolution. I replied that his leaders had made federalism a dirty word.
Is the President talking of matters mentioned in the original 13th Amendment or is he talking about whatever rights still enjoyed under the 13th Amendment currently? For example the 13th Amendment spoke of the Northern and Eastern Provinces being the traditional homelands of the Tamils. Is the President accepting such position today? If so why does he want to import a lakh of Sinhalese to the Trinco Port without discussing matters with the elected representatives of North and East? Furthermore North and East were merged and they stood merged for 18 years. A self confessed politically motivated Chief Justice and other Judges demerged North and East due to a procedural flaw. If so why was the procedural defect not corrected and the North and East merged so far? On the contrary with the help of the President’s Ministries including the Mahaweli Authority, the Military and Local Officials are involved in intensive Sinhala colonization of Kokulai and Kokkuthoduvai. At this very moment such colonization is taking place in order to say that North and East are contiguous.
Furthermore is the President not aware that in 1992 Government Agents, District Secretaries, Grama Niladharis who were under the administration of the Provincial Government were taken way and brought under the administration of the Centre?
The President has glibly said that what our people in the North and East desire is economic re generation and not political rights. It is true there is severe curtailment of economic activities in the North. Unemployment, lack of capital investment, delay in rehabilitational activities, considerable problems faced by the people from credit agencies, continued occupation of the Province by the Military have all added to the miseries of our people.
The President seems to think depriving and delaying economic benefits to to our people and then showering them subsequently during election times would make our people forgot their legitimate rights. But he must remember all possible economic sops and benefits were given by the then Government in 2013 of which the President was a Senior Minister and if our People were only concerned of economic benefits and only wanted such benefits how did over 133000 people vote for the person who became Chief Minister of the Northern Province who did not to toe the line of the Government? Why did our people not vote for those who gave them economic benefits? If the President thinks that the Government could buy over our people economically and deprive them of their Political rights he is sadly mistaken.
Even now I advise our people to accept all economic benefits showered on them by the Government and the Political Parties which are close to the Government but to make sure that when it comes to elections they must vote for those representatives who will work hard to obtain Political solution for the Tamils. I tell them that the Government and its acolytes owe our people millions in compensation for the death, damage and destruction heaped on our people. The Government is not giving any economic benefits out of the largeness of their hearts. They are paying back a small portion of the reparation they owe our people who were deprived of their legitimate and reasonable political requests and continued to be deprived even today.
Of course in recent times some of the hitherto trusted representatives of the Tamil People our fast becoming adjuncts of the Central Political machinery. Just a few days ago there were conflict between such representatives and Central Government representatives with regard to the distribution of Samurthi.
Therefore Hon’ President must realize that we in the Northern and Eastern Provinces belong to separate communities, follow separate religions and speak a separate language. We have our traditional homelands from pre historic times. Therefore merger of the North and East and self Government to the people of the North and East are essential to our people. Not the dilapidated 13th Amendment nor economic sops.