Lord Naseby’s revelations, food for
In days gone by, it was the
Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) which was in mainstream politics in
the North and the East, along with the two major national parties - the
Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP).
The emergence of Veluppillai Prabhakaran’s terrorist outfit, the
LTTE, eroded the chances for democracy in these two provinces. Former
TULF leader T. Amirthalingam and many Tamil leaders, scholars and
moderate Tamil personalities were brutally killed by Prabhakaran and his
blood-thirsty Tigers in broad daylight.
Following decades of terror, the Tigers invariably silenced
democratic Tamil leaders in the North as many armed groups emerged in
the North in the ‘80s. Tamil politicians, who reposed faith in
democracy, had little or no choice but to abandon their activities and
remain taciturn, chiefly through fear for their lives. The LTTE
nullified the power of the ballot through the bullet.
Eventually, almost all Tamil leaders, except TULF leader T.
Anandasangaree and EPDP leader and Minister Douglas Devananda, formed a
political party under the patronage of the LTTE. The Tigers got all
political parties in the North and the East to come under one umbrella
and this gave birth to a new party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
It was more or less the democratic arm of the LTTE as Prabhakaran
remote-controlled it from his jungle hideout. All decisions were taken
by the LTTE leadership and its decisions foisted on TNA leaders who were
The TNA leaders lived in mortal fear during the height of LTTE terror
and did not utter a word on the sufferings of Tamil civilians, but
emerged from nowhere after the Security Forces crushed terrorism and
liberated over half a million civilians from the clutches of LTTE
After the LTTE annihilated all democratic political parties in the
North and the East, they claimed to be the sole representatives of the
Tamils. In similar vein, when the LTTE was crushed by the Security
Forces militarily, the TNA called themselves their saviour.
Nevertheless, there are other prominent political parties and leaders
such as Ministers Douglas Devananda, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias
Karuna Amman, T. Anandasangaree and Chief Minister of the East,
Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan.
The priority of the State is to ensure that communal politics are
dispelled from North-Eastern politics. As Defence Secretary Gotabaya
Rajapaksa quite rightly pointed out recently, there is a vast number of
voters in the Northern Province who do not favour ethnic politics, TNA
or any separatist-inclined organisations engaged in ethnic politics over
the past years.
After the Security Forces liberated the North and the East, a large
number of Northern voters was keen on participating in mainstream,
non-communal politics. As the Defence Secretary had said, these voters
should be given a chance to exercise their democratic right as leaders.
These leaders should be given political guidance by national level
political parties, such as, the SLFP and the UNP.
Only a microscopic segment of the elderly Tamil community approves
TNA politics as they had been brainwashed into believing a so-called
separate State by the LTTE. However, the majority of voters in the North
are yearning for a new and moderate political leadership from their own
area. ‘Exporting’ political representatives to those areas from the
South will by no means fill that political vacuum.
The SLFP and the UNP should allocate at least half of their national
list Members of Parliament to moderate social leaders in the North. This
could be the stepping stone for moderate Tamil leaders and youth to join
mainstream, non-communal national politics. If such an offer is made to
leaders who are socially accepted in the North until the next general
election, a conducive environment could be created for democratic
politics in those areas. Else, the TNA would continue to brainwash Tamil
youth with the LTTE ideology.
TNA leader R. Sampanthan is now globe-trotting, dishing out concocted
stories to mislead the international community, that the Tamil community
in Sri Lanka is being discriminated. These sweeping statements are to
woo international sympathy and strengthen the TNA’s position after the
LTTE was vanquished. Sampanthan is backed by a section of the Tamil
diaspora and front organisations of the now defunct LTTE.
Tamils have, by no means, been discriminated in Sri Lanka as
Sampanthan alleges to gain petty political advantage. On the other hand,
they could reach the zenith in any field - be it political or otherwise.
Tamils can now live in peace in any part of the country. It was the
unrelenting LTTE which got rid of Sinhalese and Muslims in the North.
The LTTE massacred and chased away Sinhalese and Muslims from their
traditional homelands in the North and the East. In this scenario, it is
crystal clear that it was really the Sinhalese and the Muslims who had
been discriminated against.
Lord Naseby, PC, Baron of Sandy and chairman of the All Party
Parliamentary Group on Sri Lanka debunked all such allegations. He said
that the allegations levelled by several Labour Party MPs in the UK that
Tamils who return to Sri Lanka from the UK are being harassed,
persecuted and not allowed their rights, were totally misleading.
After an extensive tour of Sri Lanka on a fact-finding mission, Lord
Naseby took certain British media outlets to task for stating that
Tamils who return to Sri Lanka from the UK are being harassed,
persecuted and denied their rights. “This was totally wrong considering
the ground reality in Sri Lanka,” he said.
Lord Naseby said that the UK has huge problems with the diaspora,
especially with the British Tamil Forum and Global Tamil Forum. The
bogus money-raising charities are still in place in the UK and this
money is channelled to the Eelam movement which is totally unacceptable.
The mechanism to meet the aspirations of all communities lies solely
with Parliament. All Sri Lankans, irrespective of caste, creed and
religious affiliations, should repose faith in the proposed
Parliamentary Select Committee in the true spirit of democracy, rather
than relying on imported solutions and being swayed by foreign
Lord Naseby’s revelations, based on first-hand experience, are indeed
food for thought. The US and other countries in the West must see for
themselves the ground situation in the North before jumping to