It was because of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that Tamils were “treated with respect in Sri Lanka's parliament,” said Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) leader MP Selvam Adaikkalanathan in an interview last week.
Adaikkalanathan was speaking to Vasanatham TV on his view of the liberation movement and the armed struggle, telling the interview “What I feel now, What I think now, is that I should have remained with the armed struggle”.
“Because the situation is so grim at present,” said Adaikkalanathan.
“If you look at our north and east now, although there are no gunshots, everything else is happening. Efforts to erase the history of the Tamil people, of the people who are the guardians on those lands, is underway. The situation that existed when we had arms, the situation that was there when the armed struggle was at its peak....is no longer there.”
“It is as though we are being viewed as foreigners in our own land,” the lawmaker continued.
He went on to describe recent arrests of Tamils under Sri Lanka’s much criticised Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
“The PTA is being used to persecute even trivial activities, such as decorating a cake with the name 'Prabhakaran',” he said. “Even the UN has said this PTA should be repealed. But they don't seem to care. The PTA is being used all the time.”
“The climate exists today where the fundamental rights of a people to express their views democratically are denied. As I said before, the only things absent are the sound of gunshots... we are being silently destroyed.
“The military is appropriating our lands. They are stealing land for Buddhist temples. The PTA is being unleashed on our people. They are of the mindset that we should toil under them, that we should be their slaves.”
When asked about how he felt the situation would be different if the LTTE was present, Adaikkalanathan said that “at least the Sinhala nation would have been afraid to some extent”.
“The aim of the armed struggle is to force the protagonists to come to a table to discuss a political solution,” he added.
“When the LTTE were there that sort of situation existed. Because of the armed struggle we were treated with respect in Sri Lanka's parliament. If the armed struggle was still going on now, the situation today would be very different.”
See his full interview below.