Tamil Parliamentarian Raviraj shot dead in Colombo 6 days after
Co-Chairs' Failure to Condemn Killinochchi Bombing [TamilNet, Friday, 10
November 2006, 03:43 GMT]
Maamanithar award to Raviraj
Brian Senewiratne on
the Future of Tamil Parliamentarians in Sri
Condemn the assassination of another voice for peace and
justice - Dr. Nimalka Fernando
People of Jaffna pay last respects to Raviraj
Thousands pay homage to Raviraj in Colombo
Raviraj's Final TV Interview
- an hour before being gunned down
'...States that want to oppress a people do so by
breaking their political will to resist injustice. To do this,
oppressing states kill a society's intellectuals and journalists who speak for the rights of
their people. They want the Tamils to be intellectually
rudderless. It is easier to enslave a people who have lost their
ability to understand the nature of their oppression...'
Dharmeratnam Sivaram (who was himself shot dead
on 28 April 2005) speaking at Memorial Meeting for Slain Batticaloa
Aiyathurai Nadesan on 7 August 2004
International Federation of
Tamils calls upon the International Community to Respond Meaningfully to Sri
Lanka's Message of Terror
Pon Ganeshamoorthy: a Tamil Nationalist, murdered by Sri
Lanka Intelligence Operatives, 4 August 2006
Vigneswaran, President of the Trincomalee District Tamil
Peoples' Forum (TDTPF) shot dead by Sri Lanka Para
Military on 7 April 2006
Tamil Parliamentarian Joseph Pararajasingham
shot dead on 25 December 2005
Chandra Nehru, ex-Tamil National Alliance MP shot dead 8 February 2005 ]
Raviraj, 44, Jaffna district Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian was
shot in Colombo around 8:30 a.m. Friday. The MP succumbed to his wounds at
Colombo National Hospital. A lawyer turned politician, former mayor of Jaffna,
Mr. Raviraj, elected twice, has been an outspoken parliamentarian who voiced
against the extra-judicial killings and forced disapperances in NorthEast and
Colombo. The parliamentarian took part in a demonstration Thursday against the
Sri Lanka Army shelling in Vaharai where 47 Tamil civilians, Internally
Displaced from Trincomalee, were killed, Wednesday.
The shooting took place near the MPs residence at Manning Town, Narahenpitiya in
Colombo when unknown gunmen riding a motorbike shot at him while he was
preparing to drive his car. The MP had returned home around 8:20 a.m. from
participating in a Derana TV interview program between 7:00 am to 8:00 a.m. Mr.
Raviraj passed away at 9:20 a.m., according to Dr. Hector Weerasinghe at the
hospital. His bodyguard was pronounced dead on admission.
"A democratic voice of Tamils has been silenced in Sri Lanka's capital today,"
said Selvam Adaikalanathan," fellow TNA MP who charged that resourceful Tamil
politicians, journalists and activists are being systematically killed in Sri
Lanka."Raviraj tirelessly worked to improve the conditions of the people living
under economic embargo to relieve the humanitarian catastrophy. He had a
convincing way of dealing with even the crude bureaucracy of this failed state,"
Mr. Adaikalanathan said. "He fought from their platform. His voice in the Sri
Lankan Parliament, and in South, where injustice and oppression originate, was
"By silencing the democratic voices of the Tamils, the Sri Lankan military and
its paramilitaries such as the EPDP will not be able to silence the Tamil
struggle," the MP added.
Originally from Chavakachcheri, born on 25 June 1962, he attended higher studies
at Chavakachcheri Drieberg College and St. John’s College, Jaffna. He was
enrolled as an Attorney at Law in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in November
Raviraj appeared in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and in High
Courts of Ampara, Batticaloa, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Jaffna and elsewhere in the
south. His Law Firm, Raviraj & Associates, specialised in cases under Prevention
of Terrorism Act, and Emergency Regulations. Raviraj also worked as a human
rights lawyer in Colombo, Home for Human Rights, from 1984 to 1990 and from 1993
till 1997 before embarking on a political career, first appointed as Deputy
Mayor of Jaffna Municipal Council. He joined the Tamil United Liberation Front
(TULF) in 1987, became Central Committee Member in 1990 and the party's legal
advisor in 1998. He was appointed as a member of political bureau of the party
in 2000. Raviraj was appointed Mayor of Jaffna 2001 and appointed as
administrative secretary of the party. He was elected as Member of Parliament
for Jaffna District in 2001 general elections and re-elected in 2004.
During the last few months Raviraj participated in the Civil Monitoring
Committee (CMC), working with Mano Ganesan MP (Colombo District), Vasudeva
Nanayakara MMC, Dr.Vickramabahu Karunaratne, and Appapillai Vinayagamoorthy to
monitor extra judicial killings, abductions and disappearances. Raviraj MP has
participated in conflict resolution workshops hosted by Institute of Federalism
in Switzerland, Conrad Adeanaur Foundation in Germany and Peace Institute in
Austria among others. Raviraj is a father of a teenage daughter, and a 11 year
old son. His wife, Sasikala, has an MA degree, and is a teacher at Bishops
Convent in Colombo 3.
The Future of Tamil
Parlimentarians on Sri Lanka - the murder of Parliamentarian Raviraj
Brian Senewiratne M.D
On 10 November 2006, yet another leading Tamil Member of the Sri Lankan
Parliament was gunned down in Colombo by a supposedly ‘unknown’ gunman. This is
a new Sri Lankan term which is synonymous with ‘The Armed Forces and their
Paramilitaries who do their dirty work’. There are no ‘unknown gunmen’ as such.
Nadarajah Raviraj (44), Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian for Jaffna
district, one of only a few Tamil MPs who could voice, in English, the suffering
of the Tamil people in the North and East, was assassinated in broad daylight in
the heart of Colombo, in full view of scores of people.
Even at the cost of making this article too long, it is crucial to detail the
record of the man, since it is these educated, articulate, outspoken, Tamils,
future leaders of the Tamil people, who are being specifically targetted by the
murderous Sinhalese regime in Colombo. Raviraj is not the first, nor will he be
the last, unless the full weight of international public opinion is brought to
bear on the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL).
Raviraj, born in 1962 in Jaffna (Chavakachcheri), was educated in one of the
famous mission schools in Jaffna, St. John’s College. Embarking on a legal
career, he became an Attorney at Law in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in 1987.
He practiced in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court, both
in the Tamil Northeast and the Sinhalese South. His law firm, Raviraj &
Associates, specialised in dealing with cases involving the most repressive and
notorious legislations in Sri Lanka - the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and
He also worked for some 10 years as a human rights lawyer in Colombo’s “Home for
Human Rights”, which I have strongly supported. Raviraj joined the then main
Tamil political party, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), in 1987. His
ability was such that he rapidly rose in the Party, appointed to the Central
Committee in 1990, legal advisor in 1998, the political bureau in 2000, and the
following year becoming the Party’s Administrative Secretary. In 2001 he became
the Mayor of Jaffna. In the 2001 General Elections, he was elected to Parliament
as the MP for Jaffna District, and re-elected in 2004.
There is not the slightest doubt that Raviraj was leadership material. He had a
major role to play in Tamil politics in Sri Lanka. Therein lay his problem and
the imperative ‘need’ for the GOSL and the Armed Forces to ‘take him out’.
He had a major interest in conflict resolution (a crying need in that
war-ravaged country) and participated in workshops hosted by the Institute of
Federation in Switzerland, the Conrad Adenauer Foundation in Germany and the
Peace Institute in Austria, among many others.
With a marked deterioration in the human rights situation in Sri Lanka in 2006,
Raviraj worked with Sinhalese and Tamils in the Civil Monitoring Committee,
monitoring extrajudicial killings, abductions and disappearances, ‘activities’
which have been extensively documented by Amnesty International and every
international human rights group in the world.
My meeting with him
I met Raviraj some years ago when he was visiting Melbourne, Australia. He and I
addressed a public meeting in Melbourne on the situation in Sri Lanka. After my
address, I noticed that he was one of the first in the audience to rise to his
feet and applaud.
At the end of the meeting, he told me that he had never heard a Sinhalese speak
the way I did, adding, “What makes you do it?” Before I could reply, someone
whispered, “He is Edmund Samarakkody’s nephew”. (He was my mother’s brother, a
lawyer like Raviraj and one of his ‘heroes’, and was one of a very few Sinhalese
who had campaigned for Tamil rights over some four decades). The enlightened
Raviraj smiled, and said, “That explains it. It must be genetic”!
We spent the rest of the evening discussing the struggle of the Tamil people for
justice, and the developing chaos in the Sinhalese South. We have been friends
ever since. He has often telephoned me from Sri Lanka to ask when I would come
and visit him there.
The background to the murder
Since early 2006, the Armed Forces of the GOSL have been targeting the Tamil
areas – Trincomalee in the East, Mannar in the North West, and parts of the
Jaffna Peninsula. The Indiscriminate bombing and shelling of these areas have
caused a major humanitarian disaster, with civilians fleeing the conflict zone,
adding to the monumental refugee problem caused by the December 2004 Tsunami
which caused such serious damage in the Northeast and East. The numbers involved
were massive - some 200,000 refugees (“Internally Displaced People” – IDPs),
mainly Tamil civilians and a lesser number of Muslims.
The movement of these people and their numbers are on the UNHCR website (1). As
can be seen, the number of IDPs in the Batticaloa District alone, as of 31
October 2006, was 55,126.At the northern part of the Batticaloa district is a
village, Vaharai, north of which is a densely populated coastal hamlet,
Kathiraveli, where several thousand IDPs sought shelter. On 8 November 2006, the
GOSL decided to bomb a school in Kathiraveli where the refugees were
accommodated. Some 65 civilians were killed and more than 125 injured. With
limited medical facilities, more are likely to die of their injuries.
UN Ambassador prevented from visiting the scene
In what can be only described as unbelievable highhandedness, Ambassador Allan
Rock was prevented by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces from visiting the site of the
bombing. Ambassador Rock is Special Advisor to the Special Representative of the
UN Secretary General for children in armed conflict. He is currently visiting
the island to study the situation first hand and report to the Special
Representative. On his schedule, drawn well ahead of the bombing by the GOSL,
was a visit to Vaharai.After being kept waiting for several hours, when the
Ambassador was finally allowed to proceed, he had less than half an hour to
discuss what had happened with the affected people.
There has been widespread international condemnation of this outrageous bombing
of refugees by the GOSL and its military. Important though this is, it is not
enough to prevent more atrocities. Amnesty International (AI)
AI, released an immediate Report on 8 November 2006 (ASA 37/032/2006)
'”Amnesty International is appalled that the military should attack a camp for
displaced people - these were civilians who had already been forced from their
homes because of the conflict. Amnesty International condemns all attacks on
civilians and is particularly saddened and shocked to see such a large-scale
attack on civilians' just days after the government's announcement of its
Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses”..
The Nordic Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission statement: Helen Olafsdottir,
spokeswoman for Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission:-
"Our monitors saw there were no military installations in the camp area, so we
would certainly like some answers from the military regarding the nature and
reasons of this attack,"
The International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in a press release the day
after the bombing, deplored the tragic loss of life and injury to civilians
resulting from the Wednesday shelling of the densely populated area of
Kathiraveli, a coastal hamlet north of Vaharai, where several thousand
internally displaced people had sought shelter.
The Sri Lankan Government response
The response of the GOSL is so absurd as to be hardly worth recording.
“While we regret this whole episode, we also say that national security is
utmost and it has to be maintained, and as such defensive action by the
authorities is something that is inevitable," said Keheliya Rambukwella, Defence
spokesman and a Minister in the Rajapakse Government, whose ‘explanations’ of
this (and other recent atrocities, in particular the recent GOSL bombing of an
orphanage in the Tamil area has been beyond comprehension). They are not
‘explanations’ but downright lies – in ordinary English. They are lies that have
been exposed by international observers who visited the orphanage soon after the
Tamil parliamentarians protest
On 9 November 2006, some 15 MPs, Raviraj included, from the main Tamil political
party, the Tamil national Alliance (TNA) protested opposite the United Nations
Colombo office, calling for the UN to pressure the GOSL to prevent such attacks.
A memorandum signed by the MPs was submitted to the Secretary General UN and to
the head of the UN children’s Fund through the Colombo UN office. Raviraj is 2nd
from the left carrying the banner “UNHCR, UNICEF why are you SILENT?”
The assassination of Raviraj
The following morning (10.11.06) Raviraj had returned to the residence of MPs at
Manning Town, Narahenpitiya in Colombo, after an early TV interview . He was
driving to his office with his body-guard sitting next to him.
A motorcycle with a pillion rider approached his official land cruiser. The
pillion-rider carrying a bag, got off the cycle, walked across the road and
emptied the entire magazine of the automatic rifle which was in the bag. He
dropped the bag with the gun (a T-56), got back on the cycle and sped off. All
this was in full view of dozens of people.
Raviraj was critically injured and died shortly after (9.20 am) in Colombo’s
National Hospital. His bodyguard was dead on arrival at the hospital.
The ‘efficiency’ of the Sri Lankan media.
As anyone who is even vaguely familiar with Sri Lanka knows, things do not move
too fast in Sri Lanka. This was the exception. The Media Centre for National
Security of the Ministry of Defence, National Security, Law and Order. lost no
time. Just 17 minutes after Raviraj was pronounced dead, it proclaimed
“Parliamentarian Raviraj shot dead”.
President Mahinda Rajapakse has instructed Inspector - General of Police Victor
Perera to conduct a speedy probe into the killing. Rajapakse has also initiated
steps to bring in Scotland Yard detectives from Britain to assist in the
A top Police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the Police,
if allowed to function independently, could “crack ” the case easily. “We don’t
need Scotland Yard. We can do it but will we be allowed to do so”? He asked.
There are no prizes for guessing the answer.
I might add that an
Inquiry, with or without Scotland Yard, is an exercise in futility. When
Tamil Parliamentarian Joseph Pararajasingham was gunned down in Church a year
ago, in front of hundreds of worshippers, the assassin was identified and the
details supplied to President Rajapakse by TNA Parliamentarians, including
Raviraj. No action has been taken.
As for Scotland Yard, when expatriate Tamils offered to finance the cost of
getting Scotland Yard to Sri Lanka to investigate the murder of Foreign Minister
Lakshman Kadirgamar, the GOSL refused the offer. The murder remains unresolved
before the Supreme Court. The reason is that the evidence points in an entirely
different direction to what the GOSL (and the International Community) claim –
the Tamil Tigers
The Sri Lankan Opposition response to the murder
Ranil Wickremesinghe, leader of the Opposition and head of the United National
“Within a year of parliamentarian Joseph Pararajasingham’s assassination,
Raviraj has been killed. This is a threat to democracy. We strongly condemn this
cowardly act and urge the government to take legal actions to bring the killers
to justice besides providing adequate security measures to Tamil
It is of interest that Wickremesinghe’s UNP has just (12 October 2006)
MoU with Rajapakse’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party. If Wickremesinghe was as concerned
as he says he is, he could have done a little more than ‘urge’ the government –
his recent bed-fellow. The very least the Opposition could do at the
cold-blooded murder of a fellow parliamentarian, indeed a member of the
Opposition, was to censure the Government and demand the resignation of those
responsible for the conduct of the Armed Forces. Would they do it? Of course,
they will not. “Urge’ is about as far as they will go.
The National Peace Council of Sri Lanka
“We are also greatly grieved at, and condemn, the callous assassination of
Nadarajah Raviraj, Member of Parliament for Jaffna District, who was killed in
Colombo along with his bodyguard. It was only the day before that he had been in
the forefront of a protest demonstration in front of the United Nations Office
in Colombo about the humanitarian crisis in the country. Next week he was
scheduled to participate in a public event organized by the National Peace
Council and other civic organizations that sought a public dialogue on peace
between political and religious leaders. Raviraj was always prepared to engage
with like and unlike-minded persons inside and outside Parliament with dignity
and with great courage”
United States of America ‘deplores’ the murder
There was a refreshing departure from the pro-Government partisan stance the USA
has adopted for years. A statement from the US embassy in Colombo:
“The United States deplores the assassination on November 10 of Mr Nadarajah
Raviraj, member of the Sri Lankan Parliament. We express our deepest sympathy
for this loss to the family of Mr.Raviraj, to his parliamentary colleagues and
the people of Sri Lanka who have been unjustly robbed of his energy and talent.
It is critical that crimes such as the murder of Nadarajah Raviraj not go
unpunished. We urge the government to begin an immediate investigation into the
circumstances of his killing and to find, arrest and prosecute those responsible
on the most urgent basis”
Neither “deploring” not “urging” are enough. Unless there are some real
consequences, the GOSL will simply laugh, and then it will be ‘business as
Not the only outstanding Tamil to be assassinated
As I have said, Joseph
Pararajasingham, MP for Batticaloa was gunned down by one of the
paramilitary murderers who the Armed Forces use to do their dirty work. He was
assassinated in a Church in Batticaloa on Christmas Day last year. I met his
charming wife only two weeks ago, and she showed me the extensive injuries she
had sustained when she was shot at the same time as her husband. She is very
lucky to have survived.
Para’s murder was preceded by that of the murder, in Colombo, of another Tamil
politician, the charismatic and
outspoken Kumar Ponnambalam, who was the Leader of the Tamil Congress and a
Ex-Tamil MP, Chandra Nehru Ariyanayagam, left the
planet the same way.
A dozen Tamil reporters, newsmen and others, have been ‘eliminated’. The best
known, and perhaps the greatest loss to the Tamil people, was the murder in
Colombo, of the brilliant far-sighted
Taraki Sivaram who had an exceptional knowledge of the problems facing the
Tamil people, the geo-politics and geo-strategies.
It is not a coincidence that all these people were all highly articulate,
knowledgeable and able to forcefully present to the international community, the
terrible suffering of the Tamil people. What we see is a deliberate well
thought-out plan to prevent the outside world from appreciating the plight of
the Tamil people.
Next in the line
The next to go, as sure as day follows night, will be Kumar Ponnambalam’s son,
the outspoken and articulate lawyer,
a leading MP in the TNA. After Gajan, will go the lesser Tamil mortals. Once the
articulate Tamils are ‘removed’, the Sinhalese regime will mop up the articulate
Sinhalese, the likes of
Kumar Rupesinghe. Then will follow
the Editor of the challenging Sinhalese newspaper, Ravaya, followed by the
lesser mortals among the Sinhalese.
What will be left are the Rajapakses (all three of them), the Weerawamsas in the
so-called Marxist Party, the Buddhist Clergy. and other Sinhalese extremists.
Sri Lanka will then truly be a Sinhala Buddhist Nation as envisaged in the
1972 Constitution of the Democratic
Republic of Sri Lanka, later to be styled the Democratic Socialist Republic
of Sri Lanka!
The future of Tamil politicians in Sri Lanka.
The question that must arise is, “What is the future of the Tamil politicians in
Sri Lanka?” They have one of two options – to join the Government and survive,
or not to join the Government and be assassinated.
What about representing the Tamil people? Representing them where? It cannot be
in the Sri Lankan Parliament because for decades, if not longer, it has been a
Sinhala Parliament concerned about the Sinhalese people. One Sinhalese ‘leader’
(for want of a better word), President J.R.Jayawardene, in an interview given to
Ian Ward of the London Daily Telegraph, on 11 July 1983, days before the
attempted genocide of the Tamils in Colombo said,
“I am not worried about the opinion of the Jaffna people now….Now we cannot
think of them, not about their lives or of their opinion about us”.
The quote usually ends here, but Jayawardene said something more,
“The more you put pressure in the North, the happier the Sinhala people will be
here…really, if I starve the Tamils out, (which his successor, Mahinda
Rajapakse, from the other side of the Sinhala political divide is doing right
now), the Sinhala people will be happy”.
The Tamils are mentioned in this Sinhala Parliament only when it is time to
renew Emergency Regulations, not because there is an ‘Emergency’ but because
these repressive Regulations, adopted from Apartheid South Africa, can be used,
and are widely used, to intimidate, harass and murder Tamils, with no questions
asked. As is the answer to all problems in Sri Lanka, these repressive
Regulations are necessary. “because of the continuing problem with terrorism”.
The real terrorism is that generated by these Regulations.
In an earlier version of this article, I suggested that the 22 Tamil MPs should
review their position and consider quitting Parliament rather than provide a
degree of legitimacy to an irresponsible, ruthless and barbaric regime that
masquerades as a ‘Government’. There are, however, problems with this. It is
quite conceivable that the Government will simply appoint one of their Tamil
stooges, even Karuna, who has been responsible for so many murders and recent
abductions of Tamil businessmen in Colombo for ransom, and appoint them as MPs
(with 3 votes from the ‘Tamil voters’). It has happened before.
If the Tamil MPs are to remain in Parliament, and survive, the responsibility
will be with the International Community, to unleash the entire weight of public
opinion on the GOSL There must be some real consequences for the GOSL.
Unfortunately, despite the recent ‘condemnations’, by foreign governments, human
rights groups and NGOs, I doubt if there will be the necessary sustained
pressure on the GOSL or the ‘real consequences’ I have referred to. So, ‘the
fate of Raviraj’ awaits many more.
Sri Lankans must have a sense of déjà vu, as the murderous regime of President
Mahinda Rajapakse, complete with ‘white vans’ which pick up those destined for
life outside this planet, appear. They must surely think that President
Ranasinghe Premadasa’s regime, the most murderous regime that Sri Lanka has ever
known, has been ‘reborn’ in true Sri Lankan Buddhist style.
1. There are two ways to get to this important website
a) The simplest is to go to
go down to “IDP movement trends between Districts Sri Lanka – on at 31st
October 2006” and click on that.
b) The direct access is a very long web address
Raviraj's Final TV
Interview - an hour before being gunned down
Sinhala Owned Sri Lanka Daily Mirror, 10 November 2006
Following is the complete text of the last live programme Mr. N. Raviraj
attended on Derana TV yesterday. Mr. Raviraj was invited for the Derana Aruna
programme last morning from 7.30 am to 8.00 am to discuss the A-9 closure and
recent attacks on civilians. He was in the Derana studio in Nugegoda for about
45 minutes before being attacked by an unidentified gunman in Narahenpita within
two hours after the interview.
Q: Hon Member, Your party launched a massive protest in parliament against the
de- merger of the North and the East following the recent Supreme Court
judgment. What was the reason for these protests?
A.We in the TNA started agitations demanding the reopening of the A9 Road…
Meanwhile on Oct.16th, the Supreme Court passed the judgment on de-merger of the
two provinces. However, we do not have a problem with the judgment… we have a
political problem. The people in the north-east aspire to live together. They
aspire for the merger of the two provinces, it is a basic human right of those
In the ancient times, there were Sinhala and Tamil kingdoms in Sri Lanka. It is
not new to our people. That is mainly an area of Tamils from ancient times. It
does not mean that we want to divide the country. We believe that North and East
be considered as a one unit. That should be the base if to find a solution to
the ethnic crisis.
In fact, the Sinhala or the Tamil people do not want to see a military struggle
and bloodshed in the country. They are prepared to live in peace. When the
tsunami hit Mullaithivu area, it was the Sinhala people who helped the Tamils.
They do not want war. I am for a negotiated settlement. This was not only what I
say. The first such example was set by the Emperor Ashoka after Kalinga war.
First of all the people who are starved should be given food and build
confidence. The TNA is committed to support any such endeavour.
Q: Why do you insist on the de merger of the two provinces, and what special
privilege will the Tamil community have by that or in what manner does the
merger benefit them?
A.Why do you people say that this country should not be divided? Because, then
only people feel more strong and powerful. Likewise, Tamils will feel more
powerful when they are together. The merger will enhance their strength and
provide them the opportunity to look into their affairs well. It is their
aspiration. The two provinces are prominently Tamil areas.
Q: If you are accepting that living in unity will make people more powerful, why
don’t you support the unitary state concept ?
A. Unitary state concept is no longer acceptable now. It is an old system and
has no validity today. When we achieved independence in 1948, not a single Tamil
leader talked about a separate state or a federal state. Who forced us to the
Q: You say that Tamil leaders did not demand a separate state. But, wasn’t
Mr.Ponnambalam’s 50-50 demand the origin of this crisis?
A. In 1947 when India achieved independence, Mohamed Ali Jinnah demanded
Pakistan to be separated. We asked for 50-50 and then a Federal system and now
the LTTE is fighting for separate state. However, as politicians we still
believe in a united country. Who is responsible for this state? Since
independence, we were being discriminated. First, they abolished the clauses in
Soulbury Commission, which provided safeguards for the minorities, and then they
brought Sinhala Only Act. Thus, who pushed us to this state? India that gained
independence in 1947 has 22 states now. Yet, it is a united country today,
because they implemented the right administrative system. Some fear federal
system would divide the country. But the best example we can get is from India.
In 1965, Tamil Nadu demanded separate powers. But today if you ask a Tamil in
Tamilnadu, they will say we are all Indians..! Jaffna people are starving due to
the closure of the A9.
We are one family. In a family, mothers generally tend to love or treat a
disabled child or the youngest more than others. What we do is taking all the
facilities including food from that child. That is what they did exactly by
closing the A-9. In 1995, government launched operation Jaya Sikuru to open the
A-9. Vice –versa, this government says it cannot open it, giving the impression
that those people do not belong to our country. Thus, we will provide them goods
in ships. What is this all about?
Q: The issue of the A9 road is an outcome of terrorist activities… everybody is
aware that LTTE take ransoms and tax people on the A9 road?
A. They say LTTE taking ransom. What a lie…. A9 was opened only in 2002. how did
the LTTE survive so far? Didn’t they earn before? Didn’t they have enough food
and other facilities? This was a downright lie of the government. I returned
from Jaffna only yesterday. I accept that LTTE tax people.
Q: But didn’t the LTTE attack the military checkpoint?
A. Ok let me finish on the tax affair. Goods were sent in ships even when I was
the Jaffna Mayor since 1995. A petrol litre was sold at Rs 1000. To whom those
taxes went? I want to emphasize one thing. The LTTE never ever imposed tax on
essential items sent by the government to be distributed freely among poor
people in the area through Divisional Secretariats and on items related to
education. Also who are paying taxes for the LTTE. Not the people here, not Mr.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, not Keheliya Rambukwella, not even Raviraj… it’s the people
of those areas. When A9 was opened, the difference of a Petrol litre in Jaffna
was only Rs 10 including LTTE taxes.
Q: Why are you opposing an alternative route?
A. Is not the Pooneryn route also going through Kilinochchi. Will there be no
taxing then. Moreover, it is a more distant and difficult road and only two
kilometres away from the sea. Besides, what happened to the people who went to
observe the road yesterday? SLMM chief managed a narrow escape from an attack
and had to hide in a bunker.
Let me tell one thing to Mr. Rajapaksa. Let’s close the main road to Hambantota
and send all goods in ships from Colombo.
Q: But there is no terrorist issue in Hambantota?
A. Why are you always talking about a terrorist issue? If there is terrorism it
should be suppressed using similar methods. In 1.1 clause, it’s clearly
mentioned in the CFA that the A9 should be opened. If the government is not
willing to do so, what they should do is to say that they do not accept the CFA,
CFA is over and that they have started war. It has nothing to do with the
innocent people of the area. .Now the A9 road is closed causing innumerable
hardships to the innocent people. Even the animals in the area are starved to
death. We have to obtain visas from the Army camp in the area to come to
Colombo. Do you know that?
Q: Wasn’t it the LTTE who closed the A9 in their areas?
A. What nonsense! I even went to Kilinochchi and Pallai recently. I barely
escaped a shell attack.
Q: From which side?
A. Obviously…. You do not look up to see from which side you have been attacked
during a war. When I was in Jaffna, there were 50-60 shells from this side to
retaliate one or two shells from the LTTE side. Situation is such that people of
the area could not sleep in peace when there are no shell attacks. The LTTE is
willing to reopen the road in their area with the intervention of international
Q:These are happening because the LTTE attacked a ship carrying civilians. What
are your comments on such terrorist activities?
A. Why does the government ferry civilians by sea? Let me explain. In one ship,
have more than 1000 travellers aboard. Who are they? Only 300 of them are
civilians and others are security personnel. I do not say that the security
personnel should not come to see their kith and kin. But the government is only
providing a civilian cover to ferry soldiers. You will understand that if the A9
road is open, these problems will not crop up. In 1995 the government launched
Jaya Sikuru operation to open A9 road. Thousands of our youths were killed. Now
the government has closed the same road.
Q: What solution do you proposed to overcome this problem?
A. There are many personal problems. My good friend J.VP Leader Somawansa
Amarasinghe has problems. The JHU has problems and even general Fonseka has
problems… The Buddha preached the benefits of alms giving. Buddhists say that we
must help others. However, the monks who follow Buddha are opposed to the
opening of A9 road to supply food to the people in Jaffna. Wimal Weerawansa said
that if the UNO intervenes in the problems it will be a violation of the
country’s sovereignty. What right does he have to talk about sovereignty? It was
them who took up arms against the democratically elected government in 1971. In
1988/89 period, they did not allow us to light even a kerosene lamp. So how can
they talk about sovereignty today.
Q: Several solutions have been proposed to the national problem. Indian
Panchayath system is one such. What is your opinion in this regard?
A. Indian Panchayath system is a system in a village administrative system.
After devolution of powers at higher level, some measure of autonomy is given to
the village level. However, I have not yet heard that this system is to be
implemented in Sri Lanka.
Q: Hon. Member, what measures do you proposed do you propose to resolve this
A. In fact, the Sinhala or the Tamil people do not want to see a military
struggle and bloodshed in the country. They are prepared to live in peace. When
the tsunami hit Mullaithivu area, it was the Sinhala people who helped the
Tamils. They do not want war. I am for a negotiated settlement.
This was not only what I say. The first such example was set by the Emperor
Ashoka after Kalinga war. First of all the people who are starved should be
given food and build confidence. The TNA is committed to support any such