Northern Provincial Council (NPC) Chairman C.V.K. Sivagnanam commenting on the Ezhuga Thamizh (Arise Tamils) procession said, there is nothing fresh in the demands that have been proposed or raised at the rally that was recently held in the North. “At this juncture such a rally is unnecessary. I, personally, on these grounds, would not have taken part in the rally, even if I was in Jaffna. I don’t see anything new in this procession. Every demand is something that we advocated. There is no necessity to participate in it,” he said.
Following are excerpts from the interview:
?: How do you view the Ezhuga Thamizh (Arise Tamils) procession organized by the Tamil People‘s Council (TPC)recently and the demands raised at it?
A: I must frankly say that I was not in Jaffna on the day when the procession was held. I was in Kurunegala attending a Provincial Council Chairmans’ Conference. But my assessment was that around 5000- 6000 people were assembled for the procession.
We have seen several processions and this is also one of those. If we see the demands raised at Ezhuga Thamizh, these are similar things we have been mentioning and raising for quite a long time. There is nothing new in the demands that they have put forward or raised at the rally. Those are things we did observe. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is also asking for the same demands, those who are involved in the TPC are also part of the TNA. Thus it is a reproduction of TNA policy.
?: You said about participating in another event in Kurunegala on the day of the rally, while your Chief Minister himself participated in the rally. Does that mean you would have participated in the procession if you were in Jaffna?
A: No. I would not have participated! Initially I must fall in line with my party’s decision and personally speaking there is nothing new in their demands. As far as the political solution is concerned, for sometime after the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in 2015, we had been working on a strategy and our leader R. Sampanthan had been working on a trial to cooperate with the government and see how best we can arrive at a solution without confrontation. So our leader is on that process and we are also falling in line with that. He had also said that something favourable and acceptable to the Tamil community would take place with the constitutional change, which is in progress at the moment. Any agitation at this stage is unnecessary. It is not an opportune time for a rally.
At this juncture such a rally is unnecessary. I, personally, on these grounds, would not have taken part in the rally even if I was in Jaffna.
?: When TNA‘s coalition parties EPRLF, PLOTE and TELO took part in the TPC rally, why did the ITAK boycott?
A: ITAK being part of the TNA had its own policy. I am unsure whether the parties you mentioned are trying to paint the picture and have their poster on ultra nationalism. As far as the ITAK is concerned, we are always consistent in our policies and there is no inconsistency. We don’t play to the gallery in our policy making; we don’t deceive the people by making false promises. When we think of activation, we stand by that. I don’t see anything new in this procession. Every demand is something that we advocated. There was no necessity to participate.
?: You have continuously stressed that TPC‘s demands are similar to ITAK‘s in the context of a suitable political solution. Tell us the similarities you see?
A: As a political solution they have proposed a federal form of government; we are asking for the same solution. This is the basic and most important demand. They don’t want separation and we don’t want either. We want power sharing and they have demanded the same. What else are they asking in special?
We also speak of the merged North and East, they also insist on the same. This is why I have continuously said there is nothing new in the demands of the TPC.
?: One of the demands of the TPC is to do away with the Sinhala colonies taking form in the Northern Province. You being the NPC Chairman tell us if such activities are actually taking place in the region?
A: Actually here and there it is definitely happening. For instance the Buddhist shrine constructions are happening in the Northern Province. Not that the TNA is not taking any action. Specifically there was a Buddhist construction at the Kanagambigai Temple premises in Kilinochchi. I wrote to the President, Prime Minister and Religious Affairs Minister. The Prime Minister immediately responded to my letter based on the NPC resolution referring the matter to the Ministry of Prisons Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs. So we are taking action. It is not a question of releasing statements. We have specifically written and it is not a matter for media consumption, but a matter for action. We have done that and will continue to do it.
We are protesting over colonizations, Southern fishermen poaching in our territory and establishing vaadis in the Kokkilai-Mullaitivu region.
About a month back, Sampanthan in an adjournment motion raised all these issues in his speech in Parliament. In Sri Lanka, Parliament is the highest forum in which we can express our grievances. Sampanthan had performed his role.
?: Why is the issue on Buddhist construction continuously being raised only now, but not before, although such constructions were taking place in the
A: We are against it! There is no necessity to build Buddhist constructions in our region. My view is that it is now happening according to a planned agenda. This is carried out to disturb the demographic pattern of the province. This is the problem we have in connection with Buddhist constructions.
?: There are various allegations that the TNA had become the supporter of the current government, and has failed to fulfil the promises given to the people of the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Why do you think such allegations are being raised against the TNA?
A: We have also pointed out to the government about its failure to fulfil the promises they have given to the people. Apart from that the government had even failed to comply with or honour its own promise to the UNHRC in Geneva. The repealing of the Prevention of Terrorism Act has not happened so far.
If there is any problem in repealing or abolishing it, alright let it have it that way. But it has promised and agreed with the UNHRC to refrain from acting under that Act but it has not done it.
Currently the TID has been following the ex-combatants who had been released after rehabilitation. They are harassing and arresting them. By chance if there is somebody involved in any criminal activity, according to the normal procedure the Police must take action not the TID. This issue had been very clearly explained by Sampanthan in Parliament.
?: Eelam People‘s Democratic Party Leader Douglas Devananda also participated in the TPC procession. How do you view the change in his stance?
A: For some time, Douglas Devananda was not seen on the local political scene. But around three months before, he was seen all over the place at government events. I don’t know if he had come to any understanding with the government. As far as he is concerned, he emphasizes to release the prisoners and resettlement. What did he do when he was in power with Rajapaksa? What is his political stand now?
Apart from all that the irony was the TPC people didn’t want him to join them.
?: You are one of the important members of the ITAK and you know the ups and downs of the history of the Northern politics. How do you view the moderates and extremists in Tamil politics?
A: At the end of the day it is going to be moderates who will prove them right. Extremism will not prove anything. If the moderate people are firm in their convictions and aspirations they can achieve their goals. Extremists though they are speaking and releasing statements will not be able to achieve what they want.
Moderates are people like me; I’m very firm in my conviction. I will have chances of achieving things better than extremists. (Ceylon Today)