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Sampanthan defends decision to attend Sri Lanka's Independence Day event

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader, R Sampanthan defended his decision to attend the Sri Lankan government's Independence Day event on Wednesday, together with TNA MP M A Sumanthiran, amid outcry from within the party.

"The decision to attend the celebration was made after careful consideration," Mr Sampanthan told BBC Tamil.

"Regime change, the Tamil people’s future, and the faith in the new ruler were the key reasons for coming to that  decision," he said, adding that it was "discussed with senior leaders" within the party, but there were disagreements.

The TNA spokesperson and MP Suresh Premachandran called on Wednesday for disciplinary action to be taken against Mr Sampanthan and Mr Sumanthiran for attending the event.

"We already raised our objection against his decision to attend the Independence Day celebrations. It is unbecoming for the TNA leader to go against the traditional party position that reflects the common will of the affected Tamil people," Mr Premachandran told Colombo Mirror. See more here.

Defending his decision to attend however, Mr Sampanthan said: "This Independence Day event did not highlight the military victory like during the previous regime. Participating in this will only send all people in this country a good message."

"This year’s event was hosted in a way that called for a permanent peace [and] reconciliation in this country," he added.

In his address on Independence Day, Sri Lanka's new president, Maithripala Sirisena, said:

"The light of freedom, which remained covered under the shadow of terrorism, began to shine again after the eradication of the brutality of terrorism by the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Year 2009. Although our sovereignty and territorial integrity was retained by this, the need to proceed further towards national unity through genuine amity and friendship among people is a task that needs achievement. Just as the land was united, it remains necessary to join all Sri Lankans with the bonds of unity."

"As we celebrate the gaining of Independence, today, we recognize our bounden duty to give all honour and respect to the members of the Security Forces who made great sacrifices to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity in the battle against terrorism."

See more here.

Related article: Wigneswaran says he will reject Sri Lanka's Independence Day until Tamils free (04 Feb 2015)