Rajavarothayam Sampanthan M.P.
(Text of Introductory Speech made by Tamil National Alliance Leader and Trincomalee District MP Rajavarothayam Sampanthan at the S.J.V.Chelvanayagam memorial lecture Event held in Colombo on April 27th 2013)
Mr. SJV Chelvanayagam QC was the founder leader of the Federal Party and the undisputed leader of the Tamil people.We welcome all those who have come here.
The Theme of the lecture today is ‘ Whither the Sri Lankan Tamils’.The theme would signify the uncertainty that prevails in regard to the future of the Sri Lankan Tamil people. The future is clearly challenging.
The lecture will be delivered by Mr.Justice C.V.Vigneswaran, Retired Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. Mr. Vigneswaran is known for his impeccable integrity and resolute independence. That is probably the reason why the organizers have chosen him to deliver this year’s memorial lecture.
Determined efforts are being made to distort and rewrite the history of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. The Tamil people are resolutely determined to resist this onslaught. It is our firm belief that injustice can never defeat the determined will of a people.
I would in my introduction outline some of the salient features that characterized Mr. Chelvanayagam’s political career and which constituted the bedrock of his political activity.(dbsjeyaraj.com)
His commitment to non-violence was unequivocal and uncompromising. Everyone in the country whether it be in government or in opposition publicly acknowledged this fact. He led a ‘Sathyagraha’ civil disobedience campaign in 1961, based on the principles of ‘Ahimsa’ in which tens of thousands of Tamil people, men and women and children including our Tamil speaking Muslim brothers participated which paralysed the civil administration in the Kachcheries, the Government Agents’ offices in the North and East for several weeks. This was a clear demonstration of his commitment to non-violence. During his leadership over several decades, though the Tamil people were the victims of repeated Anti Tamil pogroms, they never retaliated which was again indicative of the wide acceptance by the Tamil people of Mr.Chelvanayagam’s commitment to non-violence.
He was accepted as a leader who stood by his word. To Mr.Chelvanayakam his word was his bond. Everyone in the country, whether it was in the government or the opposition acknowledged this fact.
He never abandoned the path of negotiations. He relentlessly pursued the path of negotiations. He was clean, and eminently reasonable and pragmatic in the matter of negotiations. Two pacts he signed with Mr. S.W.R.D.Bandaranayake and Mr. Dudley Senanayake, two, much respected Prime Ministers, relating to vital issues, demonstrated this fact.
He would however not abandon the basic and fundamental interests of the Tamil people. He commanded the unflinching loyalty of the Tamil people.
He was genuinely a democrat. Having made every effort to arrive at a reasonable compromise before the enactment of the 1972 constitution, he rejected the same after it was enacted, as it reversed the legal position that prevailed at independence on vital issues, removed the minimum safeguards contained in the Constitution under which the country attained independence and enthroned majoritarianism.
He resigned his seat and called upon the Tamil people to endorse his rejection of the 1972 constitution. He took on the full force of an arrogant government which delayed the election for long but the people through their democratic verdict overwhelmingly approved his decision.
It was the enactment of the 1972 constitution that compelled Mr.Chelvanayagam to demand the restoration of the sovereignty of the Tamil people, but he never abandoned the path of negotiated resolution.
The outbreak of violence and the pursuit of armed conflict commenced after Mr.Chelvanayagam’s demise in 1977. The end of the armed conflict in 2009 has once again rekindled the opportunity for negotiated resolution.
The Tamil National Alliance (T.N.A) of which the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (I.T.A.K.)is a constituent ,is firmly committed to a reasonable, workable and durable negotiated political resolution.
The T.N.A.has engaged in bilateral talks with the Sri Lankan government since January 2011. At the said talks the T.N.A. has in writing submitted proposals for political resolution within the framework of a united ,undivided Sri Lanka. The said proposals are in consonance with proposals made under the auspices of successive governments including the Mahinda Rajapakse government.
The talks conducted by the T.N.A with the Sri Lankan government were within the contours of the said proposals. Though the government agreed in March 2011 to respond in writing to the proposals of the T.N.A. the government has upto date failed to do so.
Agreements arrived at between the Government and the T.N.A. in regard to the structure and the process relating to the talks have been recorded in the minutes of the said bilateral talks. The T.N.A. has never deviated from the said agreements.
In violation of the said agreements the Government defaulted in attending bilateral talks fixed for 17th,18th and 19th. January 2012..(dbsjeyaraj.com)
The Government has not reacted positively to efforts to overcome the impasse.
The Government and the Government alone is solely responsible for the present impasse. The Government’s biggest impediment is that it does not speak with one voice and that the voices of those who speak in public in the name of the Government, are generally negative.
The resolution of the national conflict in Sri Lanka has been long drawn out. The main cause for this situation has been the lack of consensual approach between the two main political parties, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the United National Party. The long and bitter armed conflict, its consequencs and its culmination have created the potential for such consensus which is now a clear possibility.
The main reason for the Sri Lankan conflict being internationalized as never before, is because it has not been possible thus far, to evolve an acceptable resolution to the conflict within SriLanka. This reality has to be acknowledged without merely endeavouring to attribute blame. Efforts by the Government to attribute blame in recent times to the T.N.A. have not been consistent with the truth.
The T.N.A. is prepared to genuinely contribute towards the evolution of a reasonable workable and durable political solution within the framework of a united ,undivided Sri Lanka which will enable reconciliation between the different peoples who inhabit the country.
There is much speculation in the media, some of which is unfortunately mischievous in regard to dissension within the T.N.A.. I wish to categorically state that there is no dissension whatever, within the T.N.A. on any matter of policy, pertaining to the future of the Tamil people.
Every constituent party of the T.N.A. is committed to unitedly working towards a future for the Tamil people marked by equality, self respect, dignity and the fulfillment of their legitimate aspirations.
We are a political formation that functions on the principles of democracy and we are confident that all of us have the commitment and the capacity to resolve any differences pertaining to our internal matters ourselves, in a manner acceptable to all of us without playing into the hands of opponents primarily interested in damaging the future of the Tamil people..(dbsjeyaraj.com)
Member of Parliament / Trincomalee.
President, Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (I.T.A.K),
Parliamentary Group Leader – Tamil National Alliance T.N.A).