|Photograph: Tamil Guardian|
United and coordinated action between the homeland and Tamil diaspora is needed to achieve the Tamil nation’s aspirations of redeveloping the North-East, seeking justice for genocide and finding a political solution based on the Thimphu principles, said the Chief Minister of the Northern Province during a visit to the UK last week.
A full English translation of his statement made on Friday can be read here.
Addressing a full auditorium at the annual lecture of the International Association of Tamil journalists (IATAJ), CV Wigneswaran said,
“Offering the humanitarian support to rebuild our land is a short term goal. For this your support is needed. Ensuring justice for the genocide that was committed is a medium term goal – for this too your support is needed. Finding a political solution based on the Thimbu principles is a long term goal – that too must take place with your support. I end my talk trusting that you will give your understanding and support for all of us to work together with dedication for this.”
Condemning the failure of Sri Lanka’s new government to address Tamil issues, Mr Wigneswaran said the Northern Province was working to facilitate a mechanism that would allow the diaspora to contribute to the North-East, adding,
“Rebuilding our society and our lands by our own people will be paying respect to and offering to those who sacrificed their lives for us. At the same time it will be an answer to those who are destroying our nation.”
Mr Wigneswaran highlighting that several regimes had ignored Tamil sentiment and deceived Tamil politicians, said,
“However, none of the majority government that have till now come to power have given a responsible response to the Tamil struggle. Instead they have been ignoring our demands. Whenever they are at a tight juncture, in order to resolve it, they have called upon Tamil leaders for support. In the end we have been deceived. We need to put a full stop to these acts of deception. We cannot henceforth be a nation that is deceived.”
Reiterating comments made by the previous speaker Dr Suthaharan Nadarajah of the University of SOAS, Mr Wigneswaran, said,
“Within the majoritarian state it is not possible to find a solution to the ethnic problem – this is something we have learnt from many incidents throughout history. The professor spoke of this earlier.”
Drawing on Dr Nadarajah’s comments highlighting the permanent internationalisation of the ethnic issue in Sri Lanka, Mr Wigneswaran called on the next Tamil generation to work with the homeland to increase "international support" for the Tamil cause.
The Chief Minister added,
"I believe that the younger generation who live here, can democratically and within the laws of where they live, struggle for the rights and justice of their loved ones in Ceylon. The professor mentioned this earlier. We need to tell the world what we need. We need to take this forward. Therefore to do this - all youth, unite."
Stressing the need for any political negotiation with the Sri Lankan government to start from the Thimphu principles, Mr Wigneswaran said,
“Those engaged in finding a political solution must act holding the Thimbu principles in their mind. Steps towards a political solution must be taken on the basis that within international law the Tamil people have a right to self-determination.”
Condemning the new government’s failure adding the need for a victims based approach to justice, “across the world” to come forward and “increase international support for the cause.”
Drawing on a Northern Provincial Council resolution calling on the international community to investigate the ongoing genocide of the Tamil people, Mr Wigneswaran, added,
“If progressive Sinhala people will join the struggle to find justice for the genocide committed against the Tamil people, it will pave the way to see a political solution to bring out a lasting peace. It is only if the truth is known that true reconciliation can be sought. You may recall that the South African commission for called the “truth” and “reconciliation” commission. The South African people understood that only if the truth is known that reconciliation can be created.”
Adding that the claims of genocide were not newly found, he said,
"The use of the term genocide was not brought by me. Mr Chelvanayagam used it first. He submitted a notice of complaint to dignitaries taking part in a Commonwealth Conference in September 1974. In that he clearly outlined the Sinhala nation’s genocide against the Tamil nation. Therefore we cannot back track from the position that what happened to our people was a genocide, despite the name calling and complaints."
Refuting news reports that the US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Nisha Biswal had told him to stop speaking about genocide, Mr Wigneswaran said,
“In fact, she said that we will not ignore the Tamil people’s expectations and aspirations and we will continue to work for a better life for them.”
Responding to a question from the Tamil Guardian asking how his view on the Tamil ethnic issue had changed during his time as Chief Minister of the Northern Province, Mr Wigneswaran said,
“It has been crystalised now. I was born and bred in Colombo… so therefore I had a different opinion of everything with regard to politics. Only after coming to the Northern Province and having discussions with the people and listening to the complaints of the people have I understood their predicament, plight and aspirations. It is because of those things that there has been a change. My outlook has changed."
"This is why I say that the Tamil leaders must be very careful that they do not allow themselves into a position of appeasing the Sinhala thoughts and politicians. There is a tendency for those who live in Colombo, naturally, to please the Sinhala people around them. They do not want people with whom they are in the best of relationship with to feel unhappy. So we automatically water down our thoughts, when we talk to them. If we take that over to the political arena, without knowing the consequences, it may affect the feelings and future of our people. If we do that, we are being extremely hard on our Tamil people."
"So if you ask me what the 1.5 years have done to me. It has changed my outlook. It has taken away my Colombo outlook to have a Northern Provincial outlook. That provincial outlook has been formulated around the people around me. You feel humbled by the expectations they have.”
See Dr Suthaharan Nadarajah's statement in English below.