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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 108

Tamil leader argues for Indian model as an alternative to federal and unitary constitution.

Colombo, 10 May, ( V. Anandasangaree, leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front, has written to the President Mahinda Rajapakse, arguing that the Indian Model will be acceptable to all sections of Sri Lankan people, as an alternative to both federal and unitary constitutions.V. Anandasangaree: "Next to God, as the Head of the State the destiny of the country can be determined only by you."V. Anandasangaree: "Next to God, as the Head of the State the destiny of the country can be determined only by you."

However, he adds: "It is very unfortunate that the Indian Government both at the Centre and regional level had not shown any interest in my proposal. The Tamil Nadu Government should have taken the initiative to persuade Delhi to help to find a solution acceptable to the Tamils and Muslims, which the Indian Government would have gladly done since it is opposed to separation and want a solution within a United Sri Lanka."

In his appeal to the President he says: "Next to God, as the Head of the State the destiny of the country can be determined only by you."

Here is the full text of the letter written by Anandasangareee to the President:

Excellency Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa,
President of Sri Lanka,
Temple Trees,

Your Excellency,

A brave step is necessary to find the solution for the ethnic problem.

With all respect to you and still with the hope that the ethnic problem can be solved during your office as President of Sri Lanka, I am unable to accept the proposal submitted by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party of which you are the President. With great reluctance I do so, since it is not meeting the aspirations of the Tamil speaking people and even not coming close to the powers devolved on the Provincial Councils under the 13th Amendment of the Constitution, which the Tamil speaking people had rejected.

I view the ethnic problem of our country as a Patriotic Citizen who loves not the country alone but its people as well and not merely as a Tamil. Please be assured that my opposition to the S.L.F.P’s Proposal is based on the knowledge I have of the history of the Ethnic Problem, the efforts taken at various times by various Governments and Leaders and the various losses sustained by all communities due to the Terrorist activities, including loss of life and destruction of property, both private and public, worth several billions much more than what is required to rebuild the nation and to provide decent shelter, proper food and clothing to all our people and to provide the infrastructure the country needs for its development. The degree of loss and suffering may vary from community to community and person to person but the fact remains that several thousands had been killed in all the three major communities, the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslim and several thousands had become widows and orphans. Many thousands had lost their limbs hearing and eye-sights. There had been large scale massacre of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims on the roads in buses and inside temples, Churches and Mosques. Bomb explosions in trains, buses and other public places took many Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim lives. There are regular Clay-more and land-mine attacks every day with frequent hand-grenade attacks that take the lives of several service personnel along with the lives of innocent Tamils, men, women and children. Apart from the other losses the country had lost more than 70,000 lives due to the mistakes of the past. I lost atleast six in our family to the terrorist bombs and bullets. I feel the bitterness of war more than an average citizen of this country.

During this holy Wesak period, I ask you, you being a devoted Buddhist, as to what prevents you from reiterating that all of us are equals and to tell the country that, “They are also humans like the rest of us”. All the religions that are practiced in this country of ours preach equality of all. That is what religious leaders also do and should do. One has a right to ask from you whatever he wants but he has no right to tell you to refuse to the other what the other wants from you. You are the President of Sri Lanka and you are the President for every citizen of this country, including me.

You and I have the same feeling for the poor and the down-trodden. We must build up our country’s economy, I do not deny. But there is one problem, that hinders the progress of every body and of the nation, that needs priority treatment is the Ethnic conflict. Once the Ethnic Problem is solved all other problem will be automatically solved and the country will prosper by leaps and bounds.

Being one of the most Senior Parliamentarian, having entered Parliament 37 years back in July, 1970 you are not unaware of the happenings of the past, in relation to the ethnic issue. Taking the passage of the “SINHALA ONLY ACT OF 1956” as the land mark, the Late Hon.S.W.R.D.Bandaranayake signed a Pact with the Late Hon.S.J.V.Celvanayagam referred to as the B-C Pact in 1957 that got abrogated due to a protest march to Kandy Dalada Maligawa. Then again in 1965 the Late Hon.Dudley Senanayake and the Late Hon. S.J.V.Celvanayagam signed a pact popularly known as the D-C Pact, which too was never implemented due to internal and external trouble. By this time the Ethnic Problem has become 14 years old. The Pact got abrogated in 1969 with the Federal Party withdrawing its support to the Government at that time, after a period of four years.

Then in 1970 the People’s Alliance came to power with 2/3rd majority. That is the year you and I entered Parliament. The New Constitution drafted and adopted in 1972 made things worse. It even did away with Sec. 29, the only safeguard the minorities had in the old constitution. Such safeguard was not provided in the 1972 Constitution. In 1977 when the Late Hon.J.R.Jeyawardena came to power with a promise of solving the ethnic problem, the problem had become 20 years old. The people gave him a massive mandate to solve the problem with 4/5th majority in Parliament. He was carrying the resignations of all his party’s Members of Parliament and could have solved the problem easily, if necessary even under threat of submitting the members’ resignations or dissolution of Parliament. He had a massive mandates and everything else needed except the will to solve the problem. He offered the District Development Council as a solution. We pleaded with him to drop the word “ Development” and to call it District Council. He was adamant and refused to change the name as District Council and also remained tuff in devolving proper powers too. The D.D.C. system also failed.

It is he who took away the Leadership of the Tamils from the Moderates and handed it over to the Militants by bringing in the 6th Amendment to the Constitution. It is he who created history by extending the term of office of Parliament by a referendum, never heard of in any part of the world during peace time. He had only paved the way for the Tamil Armed Groups to thrive. He retired with the implementation of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement and the Ethnic Problem has now become 30 years old. After retirement he declared that federalism is the best solution for the country’s problems. He came to power with 4/5 majority under the first past the post system and introduced the proportional Representation System under which obtaining 2/3rd majority is impossible and bringing amendments to the constitution is also not at all easy.

The age old history of the Ethnic Problem is not know to most of the present day Parliamentarians. During the past few years I have heard Parliamentarians from both sides blaming each other for the present situation. Many had blamed the past leadership of Political Parties for their failure to co-operate in the implementation of the B-C and D-C Pacts. Many had suggested a Federal Solution and some others had suggested an Indian Model. Having reached this position I wonder how we can go back to District Council, as a solution to our problem. In my opinion the proposal of the S.L.F.P in this form will be counter-productive and may even strengthen the L.T.T.E’s position in the midst of their supporters. The credibility they lost in recent times due to their childish fire works display in the air, that caused the death of a few service personnel and also caused panic to the civilians, may be regained. The International Community is thoroughly disappointed first with the undue delay on the part of the Government in presenting a proposal and secondly with the S.L.F.P’s proposal itself. The International Community is expecting the Government to fulfil its commitment under the Oslo declaration. This is an International Commitment that the Government cannot afford to dishonour.

Next to God, as the Head of the State the destiny of the country can be determined only by you. Soon after your election as President of Sri Lanka, I warned you that the tradition in our country is that delay in taking action has always proved detrimental. You should have ventured to find a solution within the fist three to six months of assuming office. All the resistance that you are now facing were not there at the time of your election as President. You know that our people have short memories. If only you will remind our people briefly of the events that followed the passing of the Sinhala only Act, of the promises and pacts that gave hopes to the minorities, of the disappointments the minorities faced, how the terrorist activities affected each and every citizen of this country, how the L.T.T.E. had done away with Tamil Leaders, Intellectuals Academics, Principals, Lawyers and such others and how the Tamils are left at the mercy of the people like Mr.Thamilchelvan and the T.N.A Parliamentarians, proxies of the L.T.T.E and how the Tamils are living under the subjugation of the L.T.T.E for so many years and why the Sinhalese should show their Sympathy and help to liberate the Tamils and the Muslims from the subjugation of the LTTE and why the Sinhalese should forget their personal interest and work for the common interest, to build a new society where all the citizens can live happily with mutual love and respect for each other and enjoying equal rights and powers with all others all over the country.

The country has elected you as the President of Sri Lanka at a very crucial time of the country’s history. Our country’s urgent need today is a contended society. The people gave you a clear mandate to solve the ethnic problem. Any commitment you had made with any body should not deter you from re-viewing the problem as you see it today and deciding on a reasonable solution acceptable to not only the minority communities but to the International Community as well, for them to go all out to deal with the LTTE which is bound to give up the demand for separation and accept a Federal Solution. Their failure to do so will be to their detriment. You should take into consideration the fact that your party the S.L.F.P had committed to solve the ethnic problem by a Federal Solution as unanimously resolved at your Annual Convention before the Presidential Election.

The whole country and the International Community are aware that your predecessor President Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumarathunga had declared while in office that the country is prepared for a Federal Solution. Apart from this 49.7% of the voters had cast their votes in support of a Federal Solution. The fact that the Tamils in the North were not allowed to take part in the Presidential Elections should be taken into account. Further more the left parties, the Tamil and Muslim parties other than the L.T.T.E’s proxy T.N.A. who had voted for you were for a Federal Solution and not for any solution under a Unitary System, under which the country could not find a solution for over fifty years. As far as the ethnic problem is concerned you have a massive mandate to find a Federal Solution.

I had discussed my proposal with very many within the country and outside. I had sought the opinion of the very Revered Mahanayakas, Rt.Rev. Bishops, Hon. Ministers and Members of Parliament from both the Government and the opposition and leading personalities both here and abroad and also with many Diplomats and hardly found any opposition to my proposal.

This proposal had been discussed at Seminars and had also been referred to by Renowned Journalists, Political analysts and also editorially commented in local national dailies. I can say with confidence that the Tamil speaking people are prepared to give up their demand for separation and are prepared to accept a federal solution or an Indian Model within a United Sri Lanka. We very much welcome the Government making any provision, however strong, in the constitution to deter everyone from talking of separation. Many Sinhalese personalities had told me very clearly that they are opposed only to a division of the country. Some very important personalities had even said, “Take anything without dividing the country”.

It is very unfortunate that the Indian Government both at the Centre and regional level had not shown any interest in my proposal. The Tamil Naad Government should have taken the initiative to persuade Delhi to help to find a solution acceptable to the Tamils and Muslims, which the Indian Government would have gladly done since it is opposed to separation and want a solution within a United Sri Lanka.

Although not obliged to do so, the Sri Lankan Government has a moral duty to keep the Indian Government and Tamil Naad informed of the proposals, in appreciation of the efforts taken by the Indian Navy and Tamil Naad Police to curtail the activities of the L.T.T.E. and causing the arrest of the L.T.T.E. cadre and the Tamil Naad Nationals involved in transporting materials used to make bombs. If not for the Tamil Naad Police and the Indian Navy, we would have faced grave disaster. To remind what Mahatma Gandhi said, “India and Ceylon can’t afford to quarrel each other”. Please see that due to our lapses the International Community does not loosen its grip on the L.T.T.E. We always need India’s, especially the Tamil Naad’s assistance to keep the L.T.T.E at bay.

During my recent visit to South Africa I was astonished at the love and respect the South Africans show to their Leader His Excellency, Nelson Mandela. Inspite of the fact that he was imprisoned for about 27 years, he did not harbour any grievance against the white rule which kept him in jail for so long. Under the apartheid laws the natives underwent hardships beyond one’s imagination. A visit to the Apartheid Museum gives a clear picture of how the coloured were treated. Yet with one word from their leader H.E. Nelson Mandela every one brushed aside the animosities they had against the whites and now live peacefully irrespective of their colour differences and without showing any animosity against one another.

I want you to take a lesson from the South African Ex President H.E. Nelson Mandela. His insistence that the coloured should shed all their grievances against the white rulers they accepted his words as a magic spell. This is what I wish you to do. Please draft a Constitution or have one drafted to meet the aspirations of the Tamil and the Muslim minorities and place it before the country for its acceptance and tell the people why all of them should accept it. The founder of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party the Late Hon.S.W.R.D.Bandaranayaka wished to have a Federal Constitution for Sir Lanka even long before we gained Independence.

I assure you that the right thinking and God-fearing Sinhalese will give you full backing and you will certainly go down in the history of our country as the Nelson Mandela of Sri Lanka. A New Sri Lanka will be born where all men will treat each other as equals and live with mutual love and respect for each other. Unbelievably this is happening in South Africa and all South Africans are proud of it.

In such a situation the L.T.T.E will be compelled to stop the war and give up arms. Apart from the blessings you get from the God, the widows and orphans who had been created by the war too will give you their blessings. If the LTTE still refuses to fall in line, the International Community will deal with them in the proper way. The entire country will stand by you.

With utmost regards.

Yours Sincerely,

President – TULF.

- Asian Tribune -

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