Ampara, Batticaloa, Human Rights, Human Security, Peace and Conflict, Trincomalee

Brotherhood Bloodshed Again?

The TMVP has given a request to the government to conduct eastern provincial council elections and before that to setup an interim council.

Because most of the eastern province is now under the control of the government this becomes an important matter.

The statement of TMVP that they are the only representatives of the Tamil people in the east has worried other Tamil political parties. Due to this they fear “brotherhood bloodshed”, something that happened in the past with the LTTE.

Also if the government doesn’t agree with their request will they resort to violence? Do they want a federal system of devolution or will they even ask for a separate state if their requests are not met? They have not clarified on this matter.
Such suspicions and questions are now important in the eastern ground situation.

Regarding this, when I spoke with a number of political parties there seems to be major differences in points of view.

Speaking with the TMVP spokesman:

Q The TMVP is talking about eastern provincial elections and interim council. Why is this?

A We are clear in this matter. Most part of eastern province is now under government forces. In this situation, we have much strength in the eastern part as representatives of eastern Tamil people. So we have to confirm our representation through an elections.

Q If there is an interim council are other tamil political parties and muslim and sinhalese parties going to participate and will they be included?

A We should include Muslim and Sinhalese community political parties in the east. Also we are the only representatives of the Tamil community in the east.
Speaking to a senior member of the Tamil Liberation Alliance, who did not wish to give his name:

Q The TMVP is talking about eastern provincial elections and interim council, and they are saying they are the only representatives of the Tamil community. What are your thoughts?

A This is the same story as the LTTE and from an LTTE school of thought.
Now the government has to decide will there be elections or not inside the eastern province. Current administration of the east is by the government now. So there is no need for an Interim Council.

Q If there are elections or an interim council, what is your position. Will you take part in this?

A All tamil political parties who are in the democratic process have to take part. If there is a secure environment, muslims, sinhalese and other parties should take part.

Speaking to JVP parliamentarian Muzamil

Q The TMVP is talking about eastern provincial elections and interim council. Is it possible in this situation?

A The eastern province must be separate from the northern province. This is our strong belief for a long time. However, the question is, are elections possible now? Because all part of eastern province hasn’t come under the control of government forces yet. Also peace talks will start in coming few days. If this happens the military operation in east will be stopped by the pressure  of the international community.

So the government can’t control the entire eastern province. So in this position an election or interim council is impossible.

Q In the past your party said that the LTTE should lay down arms, then you will be willing to discuss devolution. At the same time now the TMVP is armed. What is your position?

A If there are any groups or movement they have to lay down their weapons. This is our strong belief. This applies to TMVP also.

Speaking to Minister Basheer Segudhawood of SLMC

Q The TMVP is talking about eastern provincial elections and interim council. What are your thoughts?

A There must be elections in the east because a lot of political parties are still in the eastern province, so every party member who have to prove who are the real representatives of their communities. This will be the test to see whether they are recognized among the people.

At the same time there is no need for an interim council in the east.

Q If there are elections or an interim council are you willing to contact or participate in such a process?

A If there are elections we are ready to face them. But still we haven’t discussed regarding an interim council.

Q The Karuna’s faction is saying that they are the only representatives of the Tamil community. What are your thoughts?

A Like the SLMC, the TNA and TMVP and other parties are in eastern province. We can’t say anymore regarding the TMVP position.

  • foobar

    “Most part of eastern province is now under government forces. In this situation, we have much strength in the eastern part as representatives of eastern Tamil people. So we have to confirm our representation through an elections.”

    I find this language particularly ominous. Liberation yes, but at cost I wonder.

  • foobar

    Incidentally, the TMVP website – – is closed for maintenance.

  • it is not the claims that are important but the ability when it comes to use of violent action. sole representative status is necessarily enforceed through projection of violence. so the question to ask is, can they?

    difference between tmvp and ltte in 2004 /2005 nov is that ltte could enforce its pretension through violence bc large areas were abandoned to their overt and covert control by former governments without resistance. now government will resist any such effort and alternative politicians will have relatively more security.

    while tmvp may try ( which is uncertain since their stand is not clear in spite of what the poster says ) it probably doesn’t have the ability to suppress opposition in government controlled areas for the most part.

    in fact even ltte may not be able to enforce its writ through intimidation in government controlled areas in the north including jaffna itself as they used to. if a election is held there and ltte decides on a boycott it would be hard put to achieve the same success as in 2005 nov. main evidence for this is the behavior of the residents there who have repeatedly disobeyed ltte commands ( intended to create refugee flows and civil disturbances inside jaffna during military and ltte offensives ), and the relatively low level of attacks against military there ( compared with period dec 2005 to about middle of 2006). militray has been able to more or less secure jaffna using fairly successful counter insurgency methods. this is one of the least commented but most important ( imo one of the most welcome) of recent military successes .

    elections should be held ( at least for local councils) as soon as possible in the area under government control in east. ppl who fear elections have no place in democracy.

  • foobar

    And with the impeccable democratic credentials of the TMVP supported by those of the State, I’m sure they would fully support, and we will witness, free and fair elections. I’m sure the children in particular look forward to these elections, and a bright future with a TMVP in charge of their future.

  • why this fear of ordinary ppl expressing their opinion through elections (or through any other means for that matter)?
    tvmp may not have impeccable democratic credentials ( how they will act and their capability to act in an election is still mere speculation after all) and democratically elected government may not be perfect, but there is no doubt whatsoever about what happens to ppl and elections when they are/were under ltte with or without peace.
    advocation of political solutions which institutionalize such oppression and undemocratic stances like sole representative status, without reference to ppl’s opinion is why some ppl get defeated, sidelined, and above all ignored, in politics. as they deserve imo

  • I don’t see much difference between UNP government attitude towards LTTE activities in 2002/3 and how this government is now treating the Karuna faction and TMVP. These people who are now accusing the government of turning a blind eye to Karuna’s crimes were up in arms to defend UNP when they were silent about forcible conscription, terror attacks, assassinations etc by the LTTE during the peace talks. In fact, they called Chandrika a party pooper and a sore loser when she tried to bring attention to the child soldier issue.

    What do they expect the government to do, go and start another war against Karuna? How could the same people who say there’s “no military solution to the conflict” expect the government to take military action against its ally but not the enemy. The government cannot afford to fight two wars, and they would be stupid to fight a group that helps its war campaign against the LTTE.

    The government gives police protection and state assistance to the legitimate political activities of both Karuna’s TMVP and LTTE’s TNA. They don’t go and abduct children for Karuna. What they do is not try to get into confrontations with Karuna’s cadres. The government needs Karuna to defeat the LTTE and he’s an ally to the government the same way Northern Alliance and Kurds helped the Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq. It does not mean that the government helps or condones Karuna’s illegal activities. Why would they want to give away the East to Karuna when they’ve spent so much money and lives trying to free it from Prabhakaran.