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Sri Lankan Government

Freedom of Movement

Myth: Tamils do not have freedom of movement in the country.

Reality: Tamils can move anywhere in the country but the Sinhalese cannot go to the LTTE controlled areas in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and to most of the so called "border villages".

The argument of the Tamil ethnonationalist that their free movement is strictly curtailed in Sri Lanka is a total lie. One only needs to step outdoors to find evidences of the freedom enjoyed by the Tamils and other minorities to travel and live in any part of the country.

Taking advantage of this freedom, the LTTE has dispatched suicide bombers and other terrorists to many parts of the country. The government is thus forced to establish check points along the highways and at entrances to government offices and other important economic and religious places where people gather. Everyone, including the Sinhalese who are the victims of Tamil LTTE terrorism is subjected to search at these points. It is common sense that LTTE terrorists are Tamils and they speak Tamils. Tamil terrorists do not travel with a identification badge from Prabhakaran. Thus, it is natural, that suspecting Tamils are checked more carefully at these check points to ascertain their bona fide. This is not curtailing the Tamils' right to free movement. This is ensuring the Tamils' right to life, Tamils' right not to be assassinated and blown to pieces by their own so-called liberators.

These search operations are maintained as a measure of public safety. Thanks to these security measures, we have some consolation that we, including the Tamils, can come home every evening alive. However, there are no Sinhalese in Jaffna peninsula, other parts of the Nothern Province and the LTTE controlled areas. Some of those Sinhalese who lived in these areas , including the so called "border villages" were brutally massacred by the LTTE who have engaged in an ethnic cleansing exercise which can only parallel that of Hitler in brutality. Others had to flee from their ancestral homes leaving behind everything and find a new life in refugee camps. These areas have now become no-go and no-come zones for the Sinhalese.

In the rest of the country Sinhalese parents daily worry about their children until they return from schools, the wives/husbands until their husbands/wives come from work for fear of LTTE bombing. The Tamils either do not have or are prevented from expressing such a fear of LTTE bomb threats.

Myth: Tamil do not have political freedom
Reality: Tamils have the political freedom not only to exercise their democracy but also to engage in terrorism.

One only need to do the following to find out the political freedom enjoyed by the Tamils

1. The Number of Tamil political parties registered.
2. The number of Tamil political parties contested in the previous Parliamentary elections
3. The number of Tamil political parties represented in the Parliament
4. The number of Tamil Members of Parliament
5. The number of Tamil Cabinet Ministers
6. The number of Tamil Deputy Ministers
7. The number of Tamil Provincial Councilors
8. The number of Tamil members in Local Government bodies.
9. The number of Tamil voters in Northern and Eastern Provinces
10. The number of Tamil voters in the rest of the country.

The picture emerging out of all these is that Tamils enjoys political freedom in the same way as others in Sri Lanka, outside the LTTE controlled areas. In the LTTE controlled areas, no one except Prabhakaran himself, not even his deputy as we had come to realized, enjoys political freedom. Since late 1970s the Tamils who live under LTTE grip have not had the opportunity or freedom to vote in any election. While the Governments have made every effort to hold elections in these areas, the LTTE never allows it.

The Government have held elections in areas that were liberated from the LTTE. Although, the LTTE tries to prevent the Tamils from voting in these areas through threats and intimidation, the ordinary masses have defied them and exercised their right to poll. The aversion of the LTTE to political freedom is arises from the fear that it will shatter the myths that they are the sole representatives of Tamils, that they are the liberators of Tamils, that they enjoys the unreserved consent of the Tamils. The last thing that the LTTE wants is to allow free political expression for the Tamils in the areas controlled by them and elsewhere in Sri Lanka as well as in the heartlands of England, Canada and France where sizable Sri Lankan Tamils reside . What happened to Neelan Thiruchelvam says it all.

If there is ever a concept called "political freedom for terrorism" then the LTTE enjoys this fully and at will all over Sri Lanka and only the Sri Lankan armed forces and police spoiling it.

Myth: Tamils do not have freedom of expression
Reality: Tamils enjoy the freedom of expression to the extent allowed by the LTTE.

One only needs to do the following to find evidence for the level of freedom of expression enjoyed by the Tamils.

1. Read Sri Lankan dailies or weekend newspapers published in Tamil and English
2. Read the newspapers published in Jaffna
3. Listen to Voice of Tigers
4. Follow the proceedings of any national conference on the ethnonationalist problem in Sri Lanka.
5. Follow the Hansards
6. Listen to the Radio and TV debates and Talk shown on the ethnonationalist problem in Sri Lanka.

Although advocating separatism or supporting separatism is a constitutional offence in Sri Lanka, the Tamils, this time not only the LTTE terrorists, but also Tamil politicians, academics, columnists and even the man on the streets commit this offense at will without any fear. This clearly shows the , level of freedom of expression enjoyed by the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The only limitation for the freedom of expression is the LTTE's threat. Thus no Tamil dare to criticize LTTE. Those who defy this have to pay the supreme price or go hiding. The number of Tamils who met this fate (including Mahattaya, the once second in command of LTTE to Neelan Tiruchelvam, internationally respected human rights lawyer and Murugyya Asokan, who refused to send his boy to become one of LTTE terrorists) is too long to present here. The LTTE has taken the freedom of expression to a new level by permanently shutting the opposing views and criticisms.

The nature of freedom of expression in Sri Lanka defies any rational analysis. While the Tamil terrorists enjoy the full freedom of expression guaranteed by the state against the state itself, the law-abiding Tamil citizens are denied this freedom by the very terrorists. Now who is responsible for the denial of freedom of expression of the Tamil people? However, the Sinhalese, who have been on the receiving end of Tamil LTTE terrorism, are branded as extremists, chauvinists, and racists when they merely mention these atrocities by the Tamils and as trying to disrupt peace and create ethnic disharmony by the government.

The best example of the denial of expression was when one of the vice-chancellors appointed by this government refused to authorize a student organization because the word "Sinhala" appeared on the name of that organization. They were asked to come back without the word Sinhala.

Myth: Tamils have been displaced by colonization schemes

Reality: No Tamils were displaced by colonization schemes but over 200, 000 Sinhalese were displaced from their ancestral homes due to colonization schemes.

Colonization schemes were located in the areas in the North Central Province, Eastern Province and very little in the Northern Province (due to no rivers) where there were ancient tanks (reservoirs) built by the Sinhalese-Buddhist Kings. These areas continued to be populated by the Sinhalese although the population density was low. These tanks, after over a millennia of neglect, were rehabilitated first by the British and then by the Sri Lankan government and the Sinhalese selected from the thickly populated areas were settled in these areas. Most of the settelements and irrigated paddy lands were developed by clearing the jungles. According to British reports, Tamils refused to settle in these colonization schemes. No Tamils were displaced in the process of rehabilitation of these ancient irrigation works. The Gal Oya scheme, a new reservoir project led to displacement of some Tamils but they were provided with alternative lands in the vicinity.

On the other hand under the Accelerated Mahaweli Development project launched in the name of national development over 200 000 Sinhalese people who lived in the prosperous valleys of Hulu Ganga (Teldeniya) and Kotmale Oya, lost their ancestral lands for ever. They were settled in the System C and B in downstream Mahaweli. Thus if any, who lost their lands, it was the Sinhalese.

This was not the first time the Sinhalese had to sacrifice their land. In the mid 1800s after the Uva Rebellion the British selectively and also indiscriminately killed a large number of Sinhalese in the central highlands and even a larger number of Sinhalese fled these areas. Then in late 1800 a large number of Sinhalese lost their land to the draconian land laws of the British colonial rule. These lands which once belonged to and occupied by the Sinhalese were converted to plantations and Tamils who were brought from India to work as labourers in these plantations were settled in these areas. Today the Indian Tamils have begun to claim the ownership of these lands as "malainadu".

The ethnic riots in 1983, 1986 and 2000, the Indian Tamils have engaged in a calculated strategy to chase away the few Sinhalese who live in isolated villages in the plantation areas. It has been the undeclared policy in the plantation areas not to allow the expansion of Sinhalese villages. A clear example of this is the destruction and removal of the Buddhist temple built by the villagers of Bogahawatte. All requests by the villagers have fallen into deaf ears for the last 20 years. However, the number of Hindu Kovils and Christian Churches are mushrooming in the vicinity. The ethnic cleansing by the LTTE has completely forced off the Sinhalese from the Jaffna peninsula and the LTTE controlled territory. The total number thus displaced was over 100,000.

While no Tamils were displaced by the colonization schemes, the British plantation scheme, the Mahaweli scheme, the ethnic cleansing scheme and the Indian Tamil's malainadu scheme together has displaced over a million Sinhalese during the history of this country. Some of them had to make the supreme sacrifice as well.

Myth: Sri Lankan governments have been Sinhalese governments

Reality: Sri Lankan governments have accommodated the minorities and their interests to the neglect of the Sinhalese interests.

Tamil ethno nationalists and especially the LTTE terrorists have always refered to Sri Lankan government as Sinhalese governments. However, we the Sinhalese find it very difficult to believe that the post-independence governments have actually being Sinhalese governments, although we wish that it were the case. If they were Sinhalese governments why then there has been so much resentment against these governments from the Sinhalese. What was the need to have a Sinhala Commission appointed by the civil society to look into the grievances of the Sinhalese after 50 years of "Sinhalese governments".

It is true that the post independent prime ministers and Presidents were Sinhalese in ethnicity but in their policies and politics they have not behaved as Sinhalese. In fact, if they did pay any attention to the Sinhalese, it is only to come to or to stay in power (e.g. SWRD Bandaranaike's Sinhala Only Bill, elevating Buddhism to constitutional status by Sirmavo Bandaranaike's 1972 consitution). In practice they meant nothing for the Sinhalese save rhetoric. Even Buddha Sasana is manipulated and misused by the so called "Sinhalese governments". These governments have never genuinely and sincerely supported the Sinhalese. We only need to see what has happened to Sinhalese language and Buddha Sasana in the post-independence Sri Lanka.

If the post independence government were in fact looking after the Sinhalese interests, the Sinhalese should have been better off economically, socially and culturally and politically. Sri Lanka would have been like Malaysia where Sinhalese would have become the Bhumiputras. Kandy, Anuradhapura and other cities that were the ancient political and religious centers of the Sinhalese-Buddhits would have been exclusively Sinhalese-Buddhist cities. Tamils and Muslims would not be serving in the Cabinet. Tamils and Muslims would not have received the political bargaining power they now enjoy. Tamils and Muslims would have been reduced to the second class citizens. If the post independence government have been Sinhalese governments, the name of the country would have changed to "Sihaladesa". This is no at all different to Norwegians having Norway, French having France and Germans having Germany!

Myth: UNP and SLFP are Sinhalese parities
Reality: UNP and SLFP are multi ethnic parties.

The Tamil ethnonationalist claim that UNP and SLFP (and its coalitions, SLFP has never formed a government alone) the two main political parties of the country are Sinhalese political parities is absolute parse. They are multi ethnic in its membership, organization, management and policies One only need to examine the Parliamentary and Provincial and Local Government candidate lists of the two political parties, and the composition of the cabinet to ascertain the multi ethnic constitution of these parities. Very often the two parties have nominated minority members for electorates where the Sinhalese are the majority.

At the height of Tamil ethnonationalism in Sri Lanka the PA's national list included Vartharajah Perumal. He is not just a Tamil, but a Tamil who declared UDI for Eelam. His name should really be in list of criminals who violated the constitution. The election results (when they were conducted fair and just) are also a good indicator of the minority support for the two main parties even in the areas where they are majorities. However, the Tamil political parties have been exclusively Tamil while the SLMC exclusively Muslim. The minority political parties have never been interested in national issues but concentrated only on issues and fantasies confined to themselves. Thus, they have been reduced to inward looking ethnic political parties.

The birth of Sihala Urumaya, a new political party, is the best evidence to prove that UNP and SLFP are not Sinhalese political parties. The main reasons for the emergence of Sihala Urumaya, according to party documents is the failure of the post independence governments formed alternatively by the two main political parties to address the grievances of the Sinhalese. Even yet, Sihala Urumaya is not an exclusively Sinhala political party. While protecting the birth rights of the Sinhalese as the creators of the Sinhala civilization which is the foundation of this country, Sihala Urumaya will ensure and safeguard all the democratic legal rights of all of its citizens irrespective of their ethnicity.

 

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