Alleged war crimes:
TNA in turmoil as Vanni protest gathers steam

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) yesterday alleged that the on-going protest campaign in the Vanni demanding an international war crimes probe was aimed at undermining the national reconciliation process.

EPDP spokesperson Nelson Edirisinghe said that an influential section of the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) was behind the campaign. The grouping comprises the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) and three former militant groups namely the TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF.

The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of complacency, Edirisinghe said, asserting that the TNA was pursuing a strategy inimical to the national interest.

The EPDP was reacting to the launch of a TNA protest march in Kilinochchi on Thursday (Sept 10). A crowd led by Northern Provincial Council members, M.K. Sivajilingam and Anandhi Sasitharan gathered at the former LTTE administrative centre. The five-day march is scheduled to be concluded on Monday (Sept 14) at the Nallur Kandasamy Kovil.

Edirisinghe said that the TNA had conveniently forgotten the role it had played in promoting the LTTE’s interests since April 2004 parliamentary polls. Had there been a proper inquiry the world would have known the circumstances under which the TNA secured 22 seats at the April, 2004 polls, Edirisinghe said.

Responding to a query, Edirisinghe alleged that the TNA had never repented its backing for the LTTE project. Edirisinghe said that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government hadn’t so far responded positively to their offer to join the coalition.

The EPDP secured only one seat at the Aug. 17 parliamentary polls. Edirisinghe said that the TNA would demand the full implementation of the recommendations made by an international team of investigators in accordance with a resolution adopted at the March 2014 session. The TNA wouldn’t change its stand whatever the consequences; Edirisinghe said, urging the government to be mindful of the challenges ahead. The Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration would soon realise the TNA’s true face when the Sri Lanka war crimes report was presented in Geneva during the on-going session, Edirisinghe said.

Justice and Buddhasasana Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, PC, yesterday told the SLBC’s Subarathi that the TNA would act responsibly though there were extremists bent on disrupting national reconciliation process. Responding to interviewer Janaka Suneth Bandara, Minister Rajapakshe said that extremists had been rejected both in the Northern Province as well as the South at the recently concluded polls. Those who had campaigned on ethnic lines managed to secure just several thousand votes, Minister Rajapakshe said, adding that perhaps 12,000 persons fought for the LTTE during the final war. That shouldn’t be the basis for the entire Tamil community to be categorised as terrorists, the minister said.

The UNPer expressed confidence that the TNA wouldn’t pursue a separatist agenda.

Responding to another query, the Minister emphasized that the government hadn’t promised the international community that the proposed inquiry would be conducted in accordance with their standards. However, the international community could look into the inquiry undertaken by the government, the minister said, adding that the country had to experience severe international criticism for want of a sensible foreign policy.

Minister of National Dialogue and Consensus Mano Ganeshan told the SLBC that Sivajilangham et al had been propagating a position contrary to that of the TNA. The minister said that the TNA supported an internationally backed domestic investigation into accountability issues. Mano Ganeshan pointed out that TNA leader R. Sampanthan had accepted the post of the Opposition Leader and Selvam Addailakanathan, also of the TNA receiving the post of the Deputy Chairman of Committees; therefore the TNA was ready to work with the government.

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