TNA points to devolution promise in poll manifesto

TNA points to devolution promise in poll manifesto

MEERA SRINIVASAN

Sri Lanka’s leading Tamil party also stresses the need to ensure return of refugees currently in India.

November 28, 2021

Colombo

Campaigning for Sri Lanka’s August 5 general elections , the country’s main Tamil party has foregrounded the promise Colombo made to New Delhi on power devolution, the need for greater connectivity to India from the northern Palaly airport, and the need to expedite the return of Sri Lankan refugees living in India.

Releasing its poll manifesto in Jaffna on Saturday, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) — an amalgam of three parties with the largest representation from the Tamil-majority north-east in the last Parliament — said that during the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency, the Sri Lankan government “repeatedly assured” the Indian government that it would “implement the 13th Amendment in full and build upon it so as to achieve meaningful devolution”.

While the promises are yet to be fulfilled, the TNA manifesto pointed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the Sri Lankan Parliament in March 2015, when he observed: “When we accommodate the aspirations of all sections of our society, the nation gets the strength of every individual. And, when we empower States, districts and villages, we make our country stronger and stronger… I am a firm believer in cooperative federalism.”

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The TNA, led by veteran Tamil leader R. Sampanthan, said sovereignty lies with the people and not with the state. “It is not the government in Colombo that holds the right to govern the Tamil people, but the people themselves.” In this regard, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution — born out of the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 — was “flawed” as power was concentrated at the Centre and with the Governor, its agent. “Our political philosophy is rooted in a fundamental democratic challenge to the authoritarian state.” In the November 2019 presidential elections, it backed Sajith Premadasa, against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who secured very few votes in the Tamil-majority areas.

Criticism from voters

In terms of its own constituency, though the TNA has traditionally retained its support base in the post-war decade, the alliance faces growing criticism from voters for its lack of development initiatives, especially in regard to job creation and economic revival, while governing the Northern Provincial Council from 2013. Further, the failures of the TNA-backed former unity government, helmed by President Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe, to deliver on the many promises made to the Tamils have contributed to voters’ disillusionment with their elected representatives.

In this parliamentary election, the TNA will compete mainly with former Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran’s alliance, the All Ceylon Tamil Congress led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and Minister Douglas Devananda-led Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), aligned to the current Rajapaksa administration, among others.

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In addition to underscoring its long-pending demand for power devolution, the release of political prisoners, the TNA said it would challenge militarisation and “attempts to Sinhalise” the Tamil region “in the guise of conservation and archaeology”; the TNA promised an alternative economic vision, focused on local development.

Better access to India

The manifesto also spoke of better access to India through the Palaly International Airport and passenger services through the Kankesanthurai Port to open up new economic, cultural and literary opportunities. The previous government, with Indian assistance, upgraded the Palaly airport into an international airport, enabling resumption of flight services from India to Jaffna after decades.

Referring to Sri Lankan refugees living abroad, including those in India, the manifesto said: “In particular, expeditious steps must be taken for the return of about 1,00,000 refugees in south India with measures in place to enable to resettlement and successful re-integration post-return.”

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TNA backs federal solution through non-violent and peaceful negotiations

20/07/2020

By Sri Lanka Brief
TNA releases 12-point election manifesto Says constitutional arrangement on federal model meets legitimate aspirations of Tamil people

Advocates power-sharing as they existed earlier in a unit of merged North and East
Will continue to advocate for an independent international mechanism for justice and accountability
Party will continue to challenge rapid remilitarisation of democratic space

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), in its election manifesto, strongly advocated for a constitutional arrangement on the model of federalism to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Tamils and other Tamil speaking inhabitants of the North and East and reiterated that this can be achieved within the framework of a united and undivided Sri Lanka through a process of non-violent and peaceful negotiations.

The Tamil National Alliance, the alliance led by the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) launched its manifesto for the Parliamentary Election – 2020 at the ITAK headquarters in Jaffna on Saturday.

“The principles and specific constitutional provisions that the TNA considers to be paramount to the resolution of the national question relate mainly to the sharing of the powers of governance through a shared sovereignty amongst the Peoples who inhabit this island,” the manifesto said.

The TNA said that its demands for power-sharing arrangements are based upon several principles, which are fundamental to achieving genuine reconciliation, lasting peace, and development for all the people of Sri Lanka.

The manifesto said power-sharing arrangements must continue to be established as they existed earlier in a unit of merged Northern and Eastern provinces based on a federal structure, in a manner that does not inflict any disadvantage on any people.

The TNA said that the Tamil people are entitled to the right to self-determination in keeping with United Nations International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, both of which Sri Lanka has accepted and acceded to.

“Devolution of power on the basis of shared sovereignty shall be over land, law and order, enforcement of the law so as to ensure the safety and security of the Tamil People, socioeconomic development including inter alia health, education, higher and vocational education, agriculture, fisheries, industries, livestock development, cultural affairs, mustering of resources, both domestic and foreign and fiscal powers,” it said.

The manifesto also emphasised that the contiguous preponderantly Tamil speaking Northern and Eastern provinces are the historical habitation areas of the Tamil people and the Tamil speaking peoples and the Tamils are a distinct people with their own culture, civilisation, language and heritage and from time immemorial have inhabited this island together with the Sinhalese people and others.

The Party reiterated all these can be enacted and implemented within the framework of a united and undivided Sri Lanka through a process of non-violent and peaceful negotiations.

The TNA said all Tamil speaking Muslim historical inhabitants shall be entitled to be beneficiaries of all power-sharing arrangements in the North-East.

The TNA manifesto also referred to the militarisation of the North and East and said it firmly believes that in a democracy the military’s role is one that is clearly delineated and should be subject to civilian authority and oversight. “The TNA will continue to challenge the rapid remilitarisation of democratic space and institutions and call for demilitarisation by using multiple means, including through parliamentary processes, international advocacy and supporting those whose civic rights are being curbed or violated due to militarisation,” it said.

The TNA also said it will continue to advocate for an independent international mechanism for justice and accountability as their efforts made in good faith to seek justice within Sri Lanka have not borne success.

The TNA manifesto also refers to attempts to curb civil liberties and the surveillance, harassment, and intimidation to which civil society organisations, activists and journalists in the region have been subjected. “The TNA will challenge these repressive measures, through parliamentary processes, legal interventions, and international advocacy,” it said. The manifesto also addresses several other issues such as reparations, memorialisation, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and political prisoners, socioeconomic security, the rights of the displaced people, rebuilding the lives of former combatants and the role of the international community.

TNA election manifesto notes 13-A flawed

July 25, 2015

DSC_0860The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) says the 13th Amendment to the constitution, which was part of the Indo-Lanka accord, is flawed as power is concentrated at the Center and its agent, the Governor.

In its election manifesto released in Jaffna today, the TNA said that the Tamil people are entitled to self-determination in keeping with United Nations International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, both of which Sri Lanka has accepted and acceded to.

TNA leader R. Sampanthan, reading out from the TNA election manifesto at the launch event, said that power sharing arrangements must continue to be established as it existed earlier in a unit of a merged Northern and Eastern Provinces based on a federal structure.

“The Tamil speaking Muslim historical inhabitants shall be entitled to be benificiaries of all power sharing arrangements to the North – East. This will no way inflict any disability on any people. Devolution of power on the basis of shared sovereignty shall be over land, law and order and enforcement of the law so as to ensure the safety and security of the Tamil people,” he said.

Former TNA Parliamentarians participated in the event but a notable absentee was the Chief Minister of the Northern Province and TNA member C.V. Wigneswaran.

Wigneswaran has been pushing for a war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka and Sampanthan said that the TNA manifesto also calls for the release of the report on the war in Sri Lanka by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“Accountability and Reconciliation are fundamental to genuine and permanent peace in Sri Lanka,” he added.

The TNA election manifesto, however stressed that all the proposals in the document must be enacted and implemented within the framework of a united and undivided Sri Lanka.

The TNA manifesto also calls for “meaningful demilitarization, resulting in the return to the pre-war situation as it existed in 1983 before the commencement of hostilities by the removal of armed forces, military apparatuses and High Security and Restricted zones.

Sampanthan said that Tamil people who have been displaced in the North and East due to the conflict, must be speedily resettled in their original places.

He also said that it is important that all political prisoners and other prisoners held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in relation to war related activities must be released. (Colombo Gazette)

Our Election Manifesto November 12, 2001

The parliamentary elections scheduled for 5th December 2001 will be an important landmark
in the political history of the Tamil nationality.
It is imperative that the present situation of drift and uncertainty be ended and that the Tamil
national question be addressed with all the seriousness and urgency it deserves.
A brief reiteration of the political experiences and history of the Tamil nationality in the past
fifty-two years since independence would be relevant.
The Citizenship and Franchise Laws deprived hundreds of thousands of Tamils of recent
Indian origin, who were domiciled in Ceylon at independence, of their citizenship and
franchise rights. Though subsequent efforts were made to remedy this grave injustice, more
than three hundred thousand of these people have been compelled to leave the country, while
almost a hundred thousand yet remain stateless. This has diminished the political strength and
representation of the Tamil people.
State aided colonization of the Tamil homeland with Sinhala people, from the time of
independence has continued unabated despite agreements entered into by successive prime
ministers with the Tamil political leadership, which if implemented, would have brought to an
end this pernicious practice, that diminished the political strength and representation of the
Tamil nationality, in the Tamil homeland and also deprives them of vital resources in the
areas of their historical habitation. Successive governments have through the activities of
State-funded corporations and through the encouragement of unlawful occupation of State
land by the Sinhala people contributed to the worsening of the situation.
The harmful impact of state-aided Sinhala colonization of the Tamil homeland is
demonstrated by the inconvertible fact that while the natural increase of Sinhala population country wide-between 1948 (the year of independence) and 1981 (the year of the last
available census) was 238 percent, the Sinhala population in the eastern province increased
during the same period by 883 percent. The position now in the year 2001 is far worse than
what it was in 1981.
The enactment of the Sinhala Only legislation and the implementation of that policy for over
three decades, gravely impinged upon the employment and other opportunities of the Tamil
nationality in the administrative system and reduced the Tamil nationality to a position of
second class citizenship.
The dubious provision, by which Tamil was purported to be elevated to the same status as
Sinhala, remains a dead letter. The Sinhala language is yet the only language used, even in
some parts of the Tamil homeland. The resulting position is that the status of the Tamil
nationality in the administration yet continues to remain the same.
Standardization in admissions to university education in the 1970s embittered Tamil youth
who were deprived of equal opportunity to higher education. The district-wise admission to
university education now in force is weighted in favour of the Sinhala nationality, and does
not accord merit its rightful place in the higher education system. Equal facilities are not
provided to Tamil students in the matter of the educational infrastructure and services.

There is much frustration within the Tamil nationality in the field of education. Non-recognition of
merit, deprivation of social development, and denial of economic opportunities, step-motherly
treatment in the fields of industries, agriculture and fisheries, have led to social
underdevelopment, and economic impoverishment of the Tamil nationality.
There is gross discrimination against Tamil youth in the field of public sector employment.
The same practice is spreading to private sector employment. Not even three percent of the
total employment is provided to the Tamil nationality in the public sector. Such blatant
discrimination against the Tamil nationality, particularly Tamil youth, has continued for
decades and successive governments have been utterly insensitive to the legitimate grievances
of the Tamil nationality in this regard.
Racial pogroms against the Tamil nationality have been a regular phenomenon since the
1950’s.The Tamil nationality has lost lives by the tens of thousands, many more have been
grievously wounded and billions of rupees worth of property owned by Tamils has been
destroyed in the northeast and other parts of the island. Places of religious worship,
educational and cultural institutions including the public library of Jaffna were destroyed by
the armed forces of the Sri Lankan State. The disappearances of Tamil people, particularly
Tamil youths, and frequent sexual assault against Tamil females has been a continuing feature
of the violence unleashed against the Tamil nationality: some governments have even
collaborated with the perpetrators of violence.
Arbitrary and indiscriminate arrests of Tamil youth, prolonged detention under the draconian
Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Regulations without trial, physical and
mental torture, the humiliation and insults inflicted on the Tamil nationality allegedly on
grounds of security, have been a continuing feature. Aerial bombing and shelling both from
land and sea into Tamil civilian settlements has resulted in death and injury and in the
substantial dislocation of the Tamil civilian population, and the dreadful fear amongst noncombatant civilians that they could be the victims of such bombing and shelling.
Having failed to resolve the Tamil national question, through negotiations, and civil
disobedience campaigns, such as the massive ‘satyagraha’ campaign in the northeast in 1961,
when the repression of the armed forces was unleashed on the Tamil nationality, and the
Tamil political leadership detained in an army camp, the Vaddukoddai resolution was adopted
on 14th May 1976, for the restoration of the sovereignty of the Tamil nation.
The position today is much worse than it was in 1976.
It was in this background and in the context of the failure of successive governments to
evolve a just solution to the Tamil national question, that Tamil youth – left with no
alternative – were driven to resort to an armed struggle.
Even after the adoption of the Vaddukoddai resolution, and even after the commencement of
an armed struggle, the Tamil political leadership had always been willing to, and has made
every possible endeavour to negotiate a just solution to the Tamil national question. The
opportunities that thus became available were not availed of by successive governments.
There has thus been dismal failure on the part of successive governments, during the past fifty
years, to evolve a just solution to the Tamil national question.
Consequently, it was inevitable, that the armed struggle gained in strength, and the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam came to occupy a paramount position, and play a pivotal role in the
struggle of the Tamil nationality to win their rights. It would be futile not to recognize this
reality.
It would be relevant to recall the statement made by the widely representative delegation of
the Tamil nationality on 13th July 1985 at talks with representatives of the Sri Lankan
government at Thimpu, Bhutan.
‘It is our considered view that any meaningful solution to the national question of the island
must be based on the following four cardinal principles’.

  1. Recognition of the Tamils of Sri Lanka as a distinct nationality.
  2. Recognition of an identified Tamil homeland and guarantee of its territorial integrity.
  3. Based on the above, recognition of the inalienable right of self-determination of the Tamil
    nation.
  4. Recognition of the right to full citizenship and other fundamental democratic rights of all
    Tamils who look upon the island as their country.’
    The statement went on to state – ‘Different countries have fashioned different systems of
    governments to ensure these principles. We have demanded and struggled for an independent
    Tamil state as the answer to this problem arising out of the denial of these basic rights of our
    people…
    In view of our earnest desire for peace, we are prepared to give consideration to any set of
    proposals in keeping with the above principles that the Sri Lanka government might place
    before us’.
    The Sri Lankan State has lacked comprehension and consistency in its purported efforts to
    evolve a just solution to the Tamil national question. The sincerity of the commitment of the
    Sri Lankan State has thereby been called into serious question. By reason thereof, the Tamil
    nationality has encountered immense hardship and suffering, valuable lives have been lost on
    all sides, and the whole country has had to endure the multi-faceted adverse consequences of
    the continuing war.
    The seriously flawed policies of the Sri Lankan State in the past six years, of claiming to
    ‘conduct a war for peace’ and claiming ‘that the war is being conducted against the LTTE and
    not against the Tamil people’ has aggravated the situation and made a just solution to the
    Tamil national question even more complex. We have consistently rejected these positions,
    and asserted that war can never bring about peace, and that peace can only be achieved
    through rational dialogue. We have also consistently asserted that any attempt to draw a
    distinction between the LTTE and the Tamil people was meaningless, when there was no
    aspect of Tamil civilian life which was not gravely impaired by the continuance of the war,
    and that the war should therefore be ended. The hollowness of these two slogans of the Sri
    Lankan State today stands fully exposed. It is such misconceived thinking on the part of the Sri Lankan State, that resulted in tardiness in accepting an international third party role, in order to evolve a just solution to the Tamil national question and the failure after the acceptance of the Norwegian initiative to grasp opportunities that because available to terminate the war, and further the negotiation process; and thereafter in the stultification of the Norwegian initiative on frivolous pretexts and the consequent frustration of the peace process.
    The above factors have made it imperative for the Tamil nationality to formulate a cohesive
    and coherent position in regard to their future political struggle.
    The immediate aims and objectives of the Tamil Alliance comprising the Tamil United
    Liberation Front (TULF), the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC), the Tamil Eelam
    Liberation Organization (TELO) and the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front
    (EPRLF) are the following: –
    i) The immediate lifting of the economic embargo currently in force in parts of the northeast
    province
    ii) The withdrawal of the residential and travel restrictions foisted on the Tamil nationality
    iii) The immediate cessation of the war being currently waged in the northeast
    iv) The immediate commencement of the process of negotiations with the Liberation Tigers of
    Tamil Eelam ( LTTE) with international third party involvement.
    This Alliance also states that unless meaningful negotiations are held with the L.T.T.E. no just
    solution can be found to the Tamil national question and that such negotiations should be held
    immediately only with the LTTE. This Alliance further states that in order to ensure that the
    negotiations are properly focussed and are purposeful and successful, no parallel negotiations
    should take place with any other Tamil political formation.
    v) That to facilitate the commencement of such negotiations, steps should be taken to lift the
    proscription imposed on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, and
    thereby ensure such proscription does not constitute an impediment to the free and full
    participation of the LTTE at such negotiations on behalf of the Tamil nationality.
    The Alliance contests the forthcoming parliamentary elections in order to achieve the aims
    and objectives, outlines above, and will campaign both nationally and internationally for the
    achievement of the said aims and objectives.
    This Alliance will mobilize the Tamil-speaking people of the northeast, in order to achieve the
    said aims and objectives.
    The Tamil nationality is today at the crossroads, between despair as a result of their present
    pathetic plight, and hope for a better tomorrow.
    We urge the Tamil speaking voters to repose faith in the hope for a better tomorrow, and
    extend their total support to the Tamil Alliance, by casting their votes for the rising sun, the
    common symbol of the Tamil Alliance.
  5. TNA_Election_Manifesto_2001.pdf
About editor 2669 Articles
Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist.

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