Gotabhaya: ‘ITAK’s resolutions meant to cause political turmoil’


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday alleged that the majority of resolutions adopted at the 15th National Convention of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) held in Vavuniya recently were meant to cause fresh political turmoil. Therefore, a tangible campaign was necessary to neutralise the ITAK’s threat , he said.

The ITAK is the dominant partner of the five-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which controls the Northern Provincial Council.

The ITAK adopted 15 resolutions at its three-day convention where veteran politician Mavai Senathirajah, MP was elected the ITAK Leader.

Senathirajah succeeded R. Sampanthan MP.

Alleging that almost all resolutions encouraged separatist sentiments thereby undermining the government of Sri Lanka, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa urged those among the international community supportive of the TNA’s strategy as well as other local political parties to closely examine the set of proposals at issue.

The Defence Secretary asserted that some of the proposals were akin to longstanding LTTE demands. An irate Rajapaksa took exception to the ITAK’s first resolution which calls for what the grouping calls autonomous rule in the North East based on the principles of self-determination and shared sovereignty within a united, undivided Sri Lanka.

Responding to a query, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that the ITAK’s resolutions should be studied together with the LTTE’s Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) proposals unveiled in November 2003. "How could we forget that the LTTE forwarded ISGA proposal to the then UNP-led UNF government through Norway on the basis of it  being the sole representative of the Tamil speaking people", Defence Secretary said. The LTTE had the TNA’s backing to quit the negotiating table in April 2003 and then demanded an ISGA, the ex-frontline combat officer said.

Commenting on the ITAK’s second resolution for the full implementation of the Indo-Lanka accord of July 1987, Rajapaksa expressed surprise that the ITAK/TNA leadership couldn’t comprehend that its execution was subject to the peaceful disarming of all Indian trained terrorists groups by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF).

Defence Secretary pointed out that the ITAK’s declaration (resolution number 14) that the national question could be resolved only through maximum possible devolution of political power to a merged Northeast Province underscored the urgent need to review varying positions taken by key stakeholders on critical issues.

Rajapaksa stressed that the demerger of the Eastern and Northern provinces could not be made a political issue as the Supreme Court had declared in October 2006 that the September 1988 merger of the two provinces was illegal. He insisted that the re-merger of those Provinces was out of the question consequent to the Supreme Court ruling.

Referring to the resolution number 4 that dealt with the ongoing UN inquiry, the former Gajaba Regiment officer said now that the ITAK had urged Tamil speaking people to assist the UN investigation a genuine attempt could be made to ascertain the culpability of the ITAK/TNA in LTTE terrorism.

The Defence Secretary said: "The ITAK/TNA never contradicted a high profile report put out by the European Union Election Monitoring Mission in 2002 which alleged that the political grouping directly benefited at the Dec. 2001 parliamentary election from LTTE terrorism. Let those affected by ITAK/TNA/LTTE operations go before the UN. The EU report is in the public domain. Anyone with information regarding the anointing the LTTE by the ITAK/TNA as the sole representative of Tamil speaking people in the run-up to eelam war IV, too, should go before the UN."

The ITAK/TNA revealed its relationship with the LTTE on November 10, 2005 when the grouping on the LTTE’s behalf ordered Tamil speaking people not only in the Northern and Eastern Provinces but other areas as well not to exercise their franchise at the presidential poll, the Defence Secretary said.

Responding to resolution No 5, Rajapaksa said that the vast majority of those categorised as missing could be found overseas. The ITAK should seek the assistance of Western embassies to establish the true identities of Sri Lankans living abroad. Citing an example, he said the disappearance of Kathiravel Thayapararajah in September 2009 had been blamed on the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), but the missing person had been found in Tamil Nadu last May. That disappearance had even been raised by the US State Department, he said, adding that thousands of persons categorised as missing during the conflict and after were living overseas under new identities. "The ITAK is aware of the situation though it pretended otherwise."

The Defence Secretary said the Tamils and the international community couldn’t be deceived by the ITAK lies that women and children were being abused and subjected to violence in the Northern and Eastern provinces. He was responding to resolutions No. 3 and 15. He added that the LTTE had thrown children into high intensity battles and also used them in suicide bombings until May 2009. An agreement between the LTTE and the UN finalised in May 1998, too, had failed to stop forcible recruitment of child soldiers, he said, adding that members of the ITAK/TNA had gone to the extent of attending the passing out parades of child soldiers. The UN investigators could establish the number of women and children who died in war with the Sri Lankan military, the Indian Army, fighting among various terrorist groups both here and in India and during an abortive raid on the Maldives in November 1988.

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