The Tamil People’s Council reiterated its calls for transparency in the constitution making process, and the resultant formation of a sovereign institution of self-governance which recognised the Tamil people in the North and East as a distinct nation, whilst acknowledging their right to self-determination.
In a declaration made at the second ‘Elhua Tamil’ gathering, which saw thousands of Tamils march through the streets of Batticaloa, the TPC said,
“Our demand is that the proposed constitution reflect the political aspirations of the Tamil people. Our intention is not to disrupt the current constitutional process but to project the voices of the Tamil people in the process. We also condemn attempts made to malign and discredit attempts made by the Tamil people to air their genuine political aspirations through democratic means.”
“While this rally resolutely demands that inalienable political rights of the Tamil people be fully guaranteed, it is no less resolute in advocating for inalienable rights to be guaranteed of an irrefutable part of the Tamil nation—our Muslim brethren. This rally would also wish to make it clear that individual rights and liberties of the numerical minority within the Tamil nation, the Sinhalese, should never be forfeited,” the statement went on to say.”
The statement went on to outline key demands and concerns of the Tamil People’s Council including the rejection of a domestic accountability mechanism to investigate war crimes committed by Sri Lanka’s armed forces, the need to de-militarise the North-East, the immediate repeal of the PTA, the release of detained political prisoners and information on the whereabouts of those that surrendered to the government at the end of the armed conflict.
Lamenting the impact of Sri Lanka’s military presence and Sinhala colonisation in the North-East the statement said,
“Traditional fishing waters of North- Eastern fishermen continue to be lost to Southern fishermen, who continue to arbitrarily drive Tamil fishermen away by their capturing boats and illegally establishing permanent dwellings on the North Eastern shores. Further, these fishermen from the South engage in illegal fishing methods, which have harmed the marine resources of the North and East, resulting in the loss of livelihood of Tamil fishermen. This rally demands that the government take immediate measures to ensure that Tamil fishermen of the North East securely engage in their livelihood.”
“This rally vehemently condemns the poaching of marine resources of North Eastern fishermen and demands that the rights of Tamil fishermen, who earn a daily wage, be protected.”
“Despite deep surveillance in the North and East, the occupying military has been unable to prevent the smuggling of hundreds of kilos of cannabis into the peninsula in recent years or prevent the fast spread of narcotics such as heroin in the North and East. Instances of the military plying Tamil youth with alcohol at military- organized sports festivals have been well documented after the end of the war in 2009. We are therefore forced to conclude that the lethargy, and even connivance, shown by the security sector in preventing narcotic smuggling in the North and East is deliberate.We demand that the government take urgent steps to immediately halt such activity.” (Tamil Guardian)