Attending Independence celebration: A principled stand in emerging developments

reconciliation.jpg 2Tamil National Alliance (TNA) spokesman and parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran called for disciplinary action to be taken against party leader R Sampanthan and MP M A Sumanthiran for attending Sri Lanka’s Independence Day ceremony in Colombo, on Wednesday.

Mr Premachandran, stated that they had violated the position of the party and that of the Tamil people. “This is a very serious matter. It raises a moral question whether they can actually give leadership to the Tamil people any longer,” said Mr Premachandran. “The people are going to question about this and we will have nothing to hide.”

“We already raised our objection against his decision to attend the Independence Day celebrations. It is unbecoming for the TNA leader to go against the traditional party position that reflects the common will of the affected Tamil people.It is their individual decision and the TNA has nothing to do with it.”

The event was also boycotted by the chief minister of the Northern Province, C V Wigneswaran, who said he “will only take part in such events when the Tamil people get freedom”. Meanwhile multiple protests took place across the North-East, calling for justice, accountability, the release of political prisoners and repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

However, Tamil National Alliance Leader R.Sampanthan defended his participation and that of TNA Parliamentarian Sumanthiran in the Independenc Day Celebration this year stating that the decision was taken after careful thought in the larger interest of the Tamil people and the Tamil speaking people.

Responding to a query by the BBC Tamil service, Sampanthan explained that the participation was a symbolic gesture to the new Government and the people of the country. It is our response to the new Government’s commitment to resolve Tamils’ grievances. They have also made certain initial steps. We have responded. It is in fact a principled stand. Participating in it would only have sent all people in this country a good message as this year’s event was hosted in a way that called for peace and reconciliation in this country.”

“Regime change, the Tamil people’s future, and the faith in the new ruler were the key reasons for coming to that decision,” he said, adding that it was “discussed with senior leaders” within the party, but there were disagreements within the party.

The Tamil National Alliance last took part in the national independence day celebrations only in 1972 and had boycotted national independence day celebrations in the past on the basis that Tamils in Sri Lanka had yet to experience true independence.

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