The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tami-majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, has said that the time is not far off when the Tamils will ask the Sri Lankan army, navy and air force, to quit the province.
Addressing the public gathered in Mulliwaikkal in the Northern Province on Thursday to commemorate the “genocide” which took place there in the closing stages of the war, Wigneswaran said he saw no reason for the Sri Lankan government to station 150,000 troops in the province when the war against the Tamil Tiger rebels had ended eight years ago.
When he asked a former local military commander as to why so many troops were deployed eight years after the war, the commander said that they had come to know that some Tamil Tiger activists in France and Norway had made phone calls to persons here about re-starting terrorism. When asked whether so many troops needed to be deployed on the basis of some phone calls, the commander said that they had to be here to meet any eventuality.
Wigneswaran said that in these days of sophisticated technology, information about suspicions activities can be gathered sitting at a computer in a room located far away. The task does not require massive troop deployment on the ground.
“The good day when the people will loudly demand: Go back army, Go back navy, go back air force, is not far off. The unnecessary deployment of forces with bad intentions will lead to heated arguments,” he predicted.
The Chief Minister said that the troops in the Northern Province are still holding vast tracts of land belonging to the locals, and are cultivating these lands depriving the local people of their livelihood. They are running businesses and air services, which can be done by private individuals. They are enabling fishermen from other parts of Sri Lanka to fish in the northern waters, depriving local fishermen their livelihood.
The incumbent government which was installed on January 8, 2015, with the backing of the Tamils, is still to address the Tamils’ basic demand for post-war justice. War crimes allegedly committed by government forces are yet to be investigated. Missing persons are yet to be traced and Tamil political prisoners are yet to be released.
In an effort to being the Muslims and Tamils under a single umbrella, Wignewaran kept using the term “Tamil-speaking people” and said that all Tamil-speaking people should unite to remember the civilian dead every year on May 18.
“A peaceful demonstration of the unity of the Tamil-speaking people on this day will help reinforce their unity, create international awareness of their problems and encourage them to struggle for their rights peacefully,” he said.