‘Separation of the country, I am not in favor' – Sampanthan TNA Leader
Sampanthan has told the Indian Parliamentary delegation that he is not in favour of the Separation of Sri Lanka, but he wants a political resolution workable and durable through dialogue.
I want to be an equal Sri Lankan and thereby a proud Sri Lankan. I don’t want to be a second class Sri Lankan. What I meant is that the Tamils must be equal with the Sinhalese in a united Sri Lanka, said R. Sampanthan MP and the Leader of Tamil National Alliance.
He further said when speaking to Asian Tribune, "I want a united Sri Lanka, but I don’t want the Tamil people live as second class citizens nor do I want the Muslim people live as second class citizens. Irrespective of ethnicity all peoples in Sri Lanka must live as equal citizens."
When asked whether he will be in a position to go, help the Government to formulate an ‘Action Plan’, to take it for Washington for discussion with the US Secretary of State?
TNA Leader Sampanthan said "certainly we will go and tell them what has to be done. Then they have to invite us. We will see".
The TNA Leader R.Sampanthan MP, is a charismatic leader and well respected for his honesty, integrity and for his courage and leadership.
Sampanthan always believed in the unity of the ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, never advocated for secession of the country and has declared that he wants to live as ‘a proud Sri Lankan in a united Sri Lanka.’
Given below the excerpts of the interview Asian Tribune had with the TNA Leader R.Sampanthan:
Asian Tribune:The TNA delegation under your leadership has met the Indian Parliamentary Delegation led by Mrs. Sushma Swarajh, Leader of the opposition in the Indian Lok Sabah. They went back and made a statement that you have said that you are not in favor of the separation of the country? Is it OK?
R.Sampanthan: That is actually correct. We want a political resolution workable and durable through dialogue.
Asian Tribune: Also the Indian Parliamentary leader Mrs. Sushma Swarajh and CPI(M) T.K.Rangarajan MP in their interviews in India they have said that TNA Sampanthan have told them that “I am a Sri Lankan and wanted to die as a Sri Lankan.” Is it correct?
R. Sampanthan: Yes, but I did not say that I want to die in Sri Lanka, but I said that I want to be an ‘equal Sri Lankan’ and I do not want to be a second class, second rate Sri Lankan. That is what actually I have said.
Asian Tribune: That means that you want to have an equal status as all the other Sri Lankans in the country?
R.Sampanthan: What I meant is that the Tamils must be equal with the Sinhalese in a united Sri Lanka. I want a united Sri Lanka, but I don’t want the Tamil people live as second class citizens nor do I want the Muslim people live as second class citizens. Irrespective of ethnicity all peoples in Sri Lanka must live as equal citizens.
Asian Tribune:That is what you have said?
R.Sampanthan: What I said was I want to be an equal Sri Lankan and thereby a proud Sri Lankan. I don’t want to be a second class Sri Lankan. What I meant is that the Tamils must be equal with the Sinhalese in a united Sri Lanka. I want a united Sri Lanka, but I don’t want the Tamil people live as second class citizens nor do I want the Muslim people live as second class citizens.
Asian Tribune: Now only you are very clear of your stance and opening up. This position makes you a ‘nationalist.’
R. Sampanthan: Pardon me?
Asian Tribune: You are a Nationalist? Am I right?
R.Sampanthan: Wait and see what happens. It all depends on how the Government reacts and how they win over our hearts and minds of our people. I don’t matter, but it is the Tamil people who matters and the Tamil people must see things happening in such a way that the wounded people who have been very hurt, they are there for their hearts and minds are to be won over and we can assist in the process.
Asian Tribune: You mean to say that TNA can assist the government in the process of reconciliation?
R. Sampanthan: Reconciliation and it has to be achieved by the Government. They are the ones who can take actions and they can bring that about.
Asian Tribune: What about your position regarding the Parliamentary Select Committee? Indian Parliamentary delegation leader said in one of her interviews with an Indian news media, that they have advised you to take part in the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee.
R.Sampanthan: No that is not what she said. What she has said in her statement is that ‘talks must take place and there must be consultations between the sides in regards to talks being carried in the Parliamentary Select Committee.’
So you see that our simple position is that we have talked for one year, actually it was one year and four months and we have not been able to arrive at any agreements with regards to any matter and this does not inspire us to go into the Parliamentary Select Committee. Particularly when the President and I have agreed that, what is agreed at the bilateral talks will be taken to the Parliamentary Select Committee for discussions.
Asian Tribune: Have you met the President recently?
R. Sampanthan: I have not met him I think after January.
Asian Tribune: So you haven’t met him after January?
R. Sampanthan: I think I have met him a month ago or a month and half ago .
Asian Tribune: In the Parliament?
R.Sampanthan: I think I met him in the Temple Trees as he has invited me to come there. I had a very brief meeting with him at the Temple Trees about a month ago, I think if I recollect correctly, shortly before the Geneva resolution was passed
Asian Tribune: What is your position about this Geneva Resolution? Last time also I posed this question and you have said something. Now the External Affairs Minister has been invited by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In this context you wanted to say anything?
R. Sampanthan: We are waiting to see what "Action Plan' they submit.
According to the media report the government is preparing an ‘Action Plan’ for the implementations of the constructive recommendations of the LLRC and so we are all waiting to see what this ‘Action Plan’ is going to be.
Asian Tribune: Before the Government formulate an ‘Action Plan’ don’t you think that it is good for you to meet them and talk to them?
R. Sampanthan: We have no invitation so far for any such meeting. But we will see.
Asian Tribune: If in case, we will say, that the government invites you, then are you be in a position to go, help the Government formulating an ‘Action Plan’, to take it for Washington for discussion with the US Secretary of State?
R. Sampanthan: If they invites us, certainly we will go and tell them the plans to be adopted in the national interest. We will contribute our side story in the national interest.
Asian Tribune: Basically what are the things you wanted the Government to do for the Tamils? What are the basic things you have in mind?
R. Sampanthan: Well in the ground situation, there are many issues pertaining to land, Military High Security Zones and other issues which demands political solutions ………
Asian Tribune: I think about 65 per cent of the areas allocated as High Security zones has been removed?
R. Sampanthan: Well they have been removed some time ago. I went to Palaly recently and they are fencing a part of the land in Palaly. There is no reason at present for a high security zone in Palaly. The LTTE is not there, the Artillery is not there and the rationale for the high security zone does not exist.
That is rich fertile lands, People came and complained to me that they want to get back to their lands, but they are unable to do so, because part of the lands are not opened yet.
Asian Tribune: Have you ever represented these matters to the Government?
R. Sampanthan: Of course on number of times.
Asian Tribune: Did you recently made representation to the Secretary to the Defense?
R. Sampanthan: We have talked about it number of times, we have talked about it in the Parliament, we have talked about it with Ministers, we have talked about it with Secretary of Defense, - everybody concerned, but they are not moving in that matter sufficiently, Land issues, issues regarding the religious places, with regards to cultural places, issues regards to further militarization, the presence of the military particularly in civilian administration must be stopped, there must be effective civilian administration, there are land issues, These matters have to be attended to and doesn’t has to take time. But none of these things are happening, very very slow progress.
I met a diplomat last evening, who just come from the Vanni, who told me, her impression. She said that the people were much more frustrated this year than they were in the last year.
Asian Tribune: Why don’t you go to Vanni and see these things for yourself?
R. Sampanthan: I have gone and seen them personally.
Asian Tribune: But you said you couldn’t go to the restricted areas?
R. Sampanthan: I have not been able to go to Mullywaikkal or some of those areas, but generally I have travelled through the Vanni, I proposed to go again.
Asian Tribune: I suggest that you talk to Defense Secretary and also to Minister Basil Rajapaksa and go and visit these places. Go to the place where Prabhakaran had his underground fortress and all these places. And also you must see on the way to the wreck of the Farah Ship, thousands and thousands damaged burnt out of vehicle wrecks.
R. Sampanthan: I saw that.
Asian Tribune : Some of them belongs to the LTTE, some of them belongs to the civilians and people are trying to take the liberty of ripping those wrecked vehicles illegally and selling them for spare parts and also as iron scraps.
R. Sampanthan: Some Government politicians are making plenty of money on it.
Asian Tribune: We must stop that and do something about that. My heart was almost bleeding when I saw those thousands and thousands of wrecked vehicles.
R. Sampanthan: Did you went to Vanni recently?
Asian Tribune: I was there in last January. I also wrote and serialized article about my trip to Vanni. I think you also should go and see those wrecks and do something about them.
R. Sampanthan: Yes I will go. I want to go soon. I will go.
Asian Tribune: When you go to Vanni, I also wish to join you.
R. Sampanthan: I will see when the time will permit me to go to Vanni next.
Asian Tribune: I saw somewhere that you have made a statement about the Dambulla Mosque issue:
R. Sampanthan. Yes we have made a statement. It is very very unfortunate things and these types of things should not take place. It is the majoritarian hegemony, or in other words majoritarian tyranny, thoroughly misplaced and thoroughly misguided and certainly it is not good for the country.
- Asian Tribune –