The President of the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) rejected a possible Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as a solution to the ethnic conflict on the island of Sri Lanka. Outlining the role of a TRC in South Africa and the Apartheid, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam highlighted the “absence of a political solution” and the “sheer gravity of the crime of genocide” in the Tamil context, and said there was “absolutely no room for a TRC”.
Speaking to journalists at a press conference on New Year’s day, he explained the party’s position on the subject.
“The problem is genocide. It’s not just that we want some authority or power. What is happening to Tamils on the island of Sri Lanka, is genocide, that is what the ethnic conflict is, and securing ourselves from that genocide is what the solution is.”
“On this backdrop, regarding the issue of the TRC, the first thing we need to ask ourselves is, is this an acceptable approach to addressing the issues that are taking place on the island, especially the issues expressed by the Eelam Tamils.”
Contrasting the historical context in which the TRC was adopted in South Africa, where the Apartheid ended through a change in leadership bringing the ANC to power, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, said,
“On the island of Sri Lanka, there has been no political solution… the war ended through a genocide. The war didn’t come to an end after a political solution was adopted. One side, ie. the Sinhala side, completely destroyed – militarily – the other side, without attempting any sort of political solution.”
“Eelam Tamils living on the island of Sri Lanka are today living under brutal military rule as prisoners. So with regards to ‘transition’ – in Sri Lanka, there is no transition.”
“There must be a political solution in order to move towards such an approach. What is happening here, since the time the armed conflict ended, is the planned destruction of the Tamil homeland.”
Detailing the pervasive presence of Sri Lankan intelligence operatives in every aspect of daily political life within the North-East, he said,
“In a situation such as this – in the absence of a solution – there is absolutely no room for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
Posing the hypothetical question, would a TRC be acceptable in the eventuality of a political solution in the island, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, said his party categorically rejected it given the sheer magnitude and gravity of the crime of genocide.
“If it had been only war crimes, then in the scenario that a political solution was reached, a mass amnesty could be granted, however, in the island of Sri Lanka, what took place and what is taking place is genocide,” said Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam.
“There is no room for a TRC in any place where genocide is taking place. It is impossible to accept this. Genocide is not just an ‘ordinary crime’, it worst crime of all crimes in the world. For a crime like this – regardless of any reason – there is no space for an amnesty”.