ERASING THE EELAM VICTORY Part 19 B2
Posted on September 13th, 2021

KAMALIKA PIERIS

TNA became the dominant Tamil separatist party once the LTTE was eliminated at end of Eelam war IV. It is remarkable how quickly the Tamil National Alliance moved into this new phase, said Chandraprema. The war ended in May 2009 and by the end of that year, the TNA had taken the lead.

TNA then embarked on an aggressive new strategy in collaboration with Tamil parties abroad.  TNA linked with Global Tamil Forum, which had its headquarters in London. Canadian Tamil Congress said it had worked closely with TNA and its spokesperson M.A. Sumanthiran at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.

TNA supported Sarath Fonseka in the 2010 Presidential election. TNA welcomed the Darusman report of 2011TNA welcomed the US resolution against Sri Lanka at UNHRC in 2012. TNA wanted Sri Lanka taken before the International Criminal Court for war crimes committed in Eelam war IV.

TNA welcomed the charges against Army commander Shavendra Silva. The TNA issued the following statement:”Shavendra Silva, the Commander-in-Chief of the 58th Division, should be held accountable for the crimes committed against humanity by the war crimes committed during the latter stages of the war.

TNA became active at the UN Human Rights Council. A TNA delegation went to Geneva in 2015 to meet the members of the UNHRC. In 2020, too, the TNA sent a separate delegation to the UNHRC sessions and this delegation stayed back after the sessions to attend meetings organized by the Tamil Diaspora in Geneva, including some with international representatives. 

TNA was especially active in the UNHRC Resolution 30/1 of 2015.   M.A. Sumanthiran stated at the US Congressional Caucus for Ethnic and Religious Freedom in Sri Lanka, on June 14, 2016,   in Washington, that the Yahapalana   government, the US and the TNA    had come to a tripartite agreement on including foreign judges    into the   UNHRC Resolution 30/1 of October 2015. Sumanthiran’s statement was released in Sri Lanka by Sampanthan’s office. Otherwise Sri Lanka would not have known of this agreement, observed Shamindra Ferdinando.

Sumanthiran had told the Caucus “I was personally involved in the negotiations, with the United States of America also participating in that particular process. There were some doubts created, as to whether the Constitution of Sri Lanka would allow for foreign nationals to function as judges and we went into that question, clarified it, and said yes they can and that is how that phraseology was agreed upon. TNA had settled for a hybrid model though they had originally asked for an international inquiry. The agreement on foreign judges was not negotiable.

At this Caucus Sumanthiran had urged Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN,   to pressure the Sri Lanka government to implement the UN Resolution. Without the help of UN and USA the resolution will not be implemented. The UN and US should also ensure that a long term solution is achieved to enable the Tamil speaking people of Sri Lanka to live with respect.

The Washington Caucus is an initiative launched by the United States House Representatives Bill Johnson of Ohio and Danny Davis of Illinois, in November, 2013.  The Washington event was moderated by Sadhananda Dhume of the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

 The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report on Sri Lanka at 46th session of the Human Rights Council in 2020. (Report of OHCHR on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka (A/HRC/46/20). TNA said: We welcome the report from the Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner. Many would have noticed that the report reflected some issues we raised in the collective letter we sent earlier to the office of Human Rights Chief. That is a coincidence.

  Pohottu government’s withdrawal from Resolution 30/1 was a blow to the TNA. When Sri Lanka withdrew from co-sponsorship of Resolution 30/1, TNA protested. You need the consent of the concerned country to do this. When the State fails to comply, it escalates to other steps such as referral to the International Criminal Court  urge other member states to apply universal jurisdiction, travel bans and freezing assets, howled TNA.

This matter is now vested with the Human Rights Council with the submission of the report by the Panel of Experts in 2011, continued TNA. But from the recent interviews given by the Foreign Secretary, it seems the Government is still continuing the denial mode even after ten years. We need to take a harder position now as the international community also realized after giving ten years for the Government to achieve wartime accountability and it failed to do so, continued TNA.

M.A. Sumanthiran said that the government cannot pull out of international commitments. You cannot withdraw from an act that is already done.”  In the international system, these obligations are taken seriously.  Ladduwahetty replied, the international law provides for sovereign States to withdraw from commitments made by irresponsible members of  a State under Article 46 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

US and UK were working together to introduce a fresh UN resolution against Sri Lanka during the 46th Council meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, March 2021.  Media reported that   in December 2020 that there was a sudden meeting between US ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz and Spokesperson of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) M.A. Sumanthiran at the residence of the ambassador. Mr. Sumanthiran assured the support of the TNA to the initiative.

 TNA has decided to focus on foreign intervention, to get their Eelam. TNA cultivated UN agencies.During Yahapalana rule, TNA met the  UN  specialists  sent by the UNHRC such as Pablo  de Greiff, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence. TNA had complained about release of lands belonging to civilians, missing persons and political prisoners.

TNA has also  run to sympathetic foreign countries asking them to help create Eelam. When India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’ visited Colombo in January 2020 TNA met him. TNA thereafter held a media conference at Indian High Commission.

 We discussed in detail issues that are critically important to the Tamil people. The Indian External Affairs Minister had  also made it clear to the Government of its commitment to implement the 13th amendment and go beyond that to resolve the ethnic conflict as promised to India in the past.  Both parties have decided not to publicize the things discussed but I assure you that all the critical issues faced by the Tamil community were taken up,”

Sampanthan announced in July 2020 that the international community and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are “standing behind us “.   With reference to External  Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s visit to Colombo immediately after the Presidential election of 2019 and  the Presidents and Prime Minister’s  visits to New Delhi thereafter , Mr. Sampanthan said India had, on all three occasions, emphasized the need to settle the Tamil question.

In June 2021 Sampanthan met Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay at his official residence, India House for a discussion.TNA was  seeking a one-on-one meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sampanthan briefed the Indian envoy on the need to find a solution for the ethnic conflict.

The TNA leader also sent an invitation to Prime Minister Modi through  ambassador Baglay, to  come and take part in the opening ceremony of the Rs 1.2 billion funded Jaffna Cultural Centre . High Commissioner Baglay assured the TNA leader that he would take up the issues they discussed.

The Indian High Commission issued a statement on the visit. A five member Tamil National Alliance (TNA) delegation led by R. Sampanthan, Member of Parliament called on the High Commissioner Gopal Bagley. The pre scheduled meeting took place on 17 June 2021 at India House. Leader of Ilangai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) Mavai Senathirajah and TNA Members of Parliament Dharmalingam Sithadthan, Selvam Adaikkalanathan and MA. Sumanthiran were present during the meeting. The High Commissioner reiterated India’s support for devolution within the framework of a united Sri Lanka on the basis of full implementation of the 13th amendment which would be in line with Tamil aspirations for equality, justice, peace & reconciliation and would strengthen Sri Lanka.”

TNA has always had contact with the UK. In 2017, Sampanthan metUK Minister of State for Asia and Pacific, Mark Field at Westminster House, Colombo, where Sampanthan repeated his call for the re-merger of the Eastern and Northern Provinces.

 United Kingdom Parliamentarian Lord Malcolm Bruce,  visited Sri Lanka in February 2020.  Sampanthan and Sumanthiran met him. They issued a statement which said that Sampanthan briefed  MP Bruce  on the history of Tamil people’s struggles ever since independence. Sampanthan highlighted the fact that the Tamil People did not demand separation until the state led land grabbing and illegal settlements took place after independence.

Lord Malcolm Bruce  told TNA that their demands were fair.  He had assured the TNA that the UK would work with the Sri Lankan government to reach what he called a reasonable solution to the longstanding issue. The position you have taken is extremely constructive and your demands are fair. Your rational, reasonable and peaceful approach in these matters is commendable, we will work with the Sri Lankan Government to arrive at a reasonable solution to this longstanding issue,” concluded  MP Bruce.

In  February 2021 Sumanthiran  had met  British High Commissioner  in Colombo, to discuss the TNA proposals made to UNHRC. He had told High Commissioner that Britain and other western countries should intervene and push Sri Lanka government to fulfill obligations on transnational justice.

TNA met the visiting EU delegation. In  February 2020;,TNA urged EU to pressure President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government to fully implement resolution 30/1.

Jens Frølich Holte Norwegian State Secretary for Development Cooperation, visited Sri Lanka   in 2018 and had met with a Tamil National Alliance delegation led by R. Sampanthan.TNA said that people in many areas in North and East are staging protests over land, persons in custody and on the issue of missing persons. “These are matters that are of concern to our people and we want the international community to play an important role in finding solutions to these issues”.

Special Ambassador Yasushi Akashi met  Opposition leader  Sampanthan at his residence in Colombo in 2019. Sampanthan  told him that though the armed conflict has come to an end, the solution to the Tamil people’s grievances which were the causes for the armed conflict is yet to be fulfilled. Further, he said, the international community played a key role in bringing the war to an end.

The government of Sri Lanka gave several commitments to the international community concerning a lasting solution to the ethnic conflict. But none of those commitments have seen a positive end. The international community cannot be a mere spectator anymore Sampanthan said.

 He further said that the international community must remind the Government of Sri Lanka of their commitments to the international community and ensure that the government delivers on those commitments. If Sri Lanka fails to keep its commitment, it will not only be harmful to the Tamil people but the whole country.

Netherlands Ambassador called on Sampanthan at his residence in Colombo  in March 2020. Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from the UNHRC resolution will not do any good to the country Sampanthan told the ambassador. There is no Sinhala or Tamil issue when it comes to human rights. It concerns whether anyone violated international humanitarian and human rights law, and if they have done so, those responsible must be brought to justice, said Sampanthan.

The Ambassador assured that  Netherlands will be evaluating the policies and the directions of the government of Sri Lanka concerning these matters and will take appropriate steps to address them. The Ambassador assured support towards the development of the North and the East.

TNA has had  continuous contact with the USA. Rajiva Wijesinghe recalled that, during Eelam war IV, he met Sambandan in close conclave with the US Ambassador and the European Union representative, at the resident of the Political affairs Officer of the US embassy.

In February 2020. Sampanthan  told visiting US Congressional delegation led by Rep. Ami Bera Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Non-Proliferation that unless the Tamil community was given a meaningful political solution, things could turn bad for the country. We want a political solution based on the power-sharing arrangement that is practiced all over the world.

In July 2021 US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B Teplitz and a group of American delegates  met a TNA delegation at the TNA leader’s official residence in Colombo. The TNA leader was accompanied by MPs M.A. Sumanthiran, Selvam Adaikalanathan and former MP Mavai Senathirajah.

The two groups had a lengthy and fruitful discussion on  Sri Lankan Government’s commitment to the international community to resolve the Tamil issue and the resolutions discussed at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), said TNA

Sampanthan told the media that they had a discussion with Teplitz about the promises made by the Sri Lanka  government to the international community on resolving the issues faced by the Tamil people.

 We told the Ambassador that all governments were not sincere in their proposals to resolve the grievances of the Tamil people in the North and the East. Therefore, this issue had been dragging on for decades. The time has come for concrete solution to the issues faced by the Tamils in the country,” Sampanthan said.

Sampanthan has told US Ambassador that the Provincial Council system alone was not enough to resolve the issue in the North and the East and that it was important for the two provinces of the North and the East to be considered as a single political entity and to be governed by the Tamil people. The international community must directly intervene .The full intervention of the United States and the international community is needed to find a clear solution the TNA said. (continued)

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