Batticaloa, Human Rights, Human Security, IDPs and Refugees, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance

An exclusive interview with Eastern Province Chief Minister Pillayan after the TMVP’s arms decommissioning

English transcript of an exclusive interview with the Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan (alias Pillayan) conducted by Vikalpa.

Have all the powers in the 13th amendment been given to the Provincial Councils?
It is not possible to say that. It should have been implemented fully as soon as it was enacted. Unfortunately, the North Eastern PC stopped functioning and the PCs in the other parts of the country didn’t care- this could be the reason why PCs did not work. The current govt has established the Eastern PC and is going to est the Northern PC. The govt needs to fully implement the 13th amendment and even go beyond it. It is only by doing this that the govt will be able to win the hearts and minds of the Tamil people. We are running the PC in the belief the govt will fully implement the 13th amendment.

You asked for land and police powers which haven’t been bestowed upon the PC yet- would you like to comment on this?
Power does not vest in an individual- we need power to serve the people. That is the purpose of seeking power. Land and police powers are important. Although there is debate whether these powers are included in the 13th amendment, a Ministry of Law & Order is envisaged under the PC. I am saddened that the govt hasn’t done this yet. The govt has to implement this quickly.

How do you plan to obtain the powers that you have asked for?
At present we are unable to even obtain the powers that are due to us. There is also confusion regarding certain issues. It is not possible to discuss certain issues openly. We are unable legislate for the benefit of the people even after 8 months. The needs and concerns of the people have to be met without delay.

In the current context why did you lay down arms?
Your question implies that we should take up arms if we don’t obtain full powers- that is not our aim. SL’s post- independence history shows that Tamils have been subjected to discrimination. The 1983 riots led to youth uprising against the Sinhala state which led to the Tamil struggle. The struggle also resulted in the killing of several Tamils and impacted adversely on the Tamil community. The SL problem has been internationalised and is at a point where a solution is required. At this juncture we will not be able to do anything if we’re armed. Where the Eastern Province is concerned all parties should unite based on a common platform, ideologically unite, to voice the concerns of the Tamils and resolve their problems. We need to fight democratically. Must democratize politics. At the same time democracy should be taken to the people. That is the only way to strengthen the party. We laid down arms because we believe we cannot do anything with a limited arsenal (Translator’s note: I listened to it several times and I’m not sure whether he said this but am quite sure he did- he chuckles when he says this)

Do you think the LTTE will be destroyed by the current military offensive?
If the LTTE lets the people of the Vanni leave then it will be annihilated. Its high level cadres/leaders will be killed. Once the LTTE is destroyed the terrorist problem in the country will be resolved but the problems of the Tamils will remain. Political parties such as ours need to resolve these issues.

For more videos on war, peace, governance and rights in Sri Lanka, please visit the Vikalpa YouTube channel here.

  • Political puppetry will continue but rights for Tamils will never reach the people of North- East. Now what we need urgently for survival is the right to be free from state genocide. A Human right not political right. War criminaqls must bee arrested and brought to justice.

    Sri Lanka, like Sudan, is a "wild buffalo on a rampage". Both internally and internationally, both countries are arrogantly defiant on matters of safety, security, justice and the rights, of a section of their citizenry, who are repressed constitutionally.

    Sri Lanka(SL) and Sudan resort to military solution to situations wanting a political solution. They know fully well that military force would kill more civilians, create more hunger, more displacements and make the situation more intractable. In other words, they deliberately prefer genocide under their militarys' watch than a political solution.

  • The recent history of SL and Sudan have parallels. Sudan refused to allow a UN force in Darfur, fearing exposure to rights violations. SL on the otherhand refused to allow UN Human Rights Monitors, denied access to their judicial system to a group of eminent persons appointed by the Commonwealth, Unilaterally called a Ceasefire Agreement brokered by the International Community in 2002 and recently turned down a request by Britain to assist with an experienced special envoy.

    International Criminal Court(ICC), issued a warrant for the arrest of Omar Al bashir, the president of Sudan, last Thursday. He is charged with war crimes and rights violations for the genocidal events in Darfur. In retaliation, he expelled some aid workers immediately.

    Also last week, Bruce Fein told a gathering in London that evidence for charges of war crimes and genocide, against Sarath Fonseka, the military commander, and Gotabaya Rajapakse has been presented to the US Justice Department.

  • Wheels of justice grind slowly but surely it does. ICC arrest warrent on Mahinda Rajapakse is also imminent.

    Trust is earned. The performance of governemnt itself and the political institutions such as parliament, judiciary and the army diffuse trust. Political trust therefore relates to how people feel and think about any government and its politics.

    For the past 60 years, the governments in Colombo have failed to gain the political trust of the people of North East(NE). Now the people of NE will not rust Colombo at all for their lives and future. Therefore, any internal solution for the prevention of genocide is impossible. It is criminal to handover victims to a genocidal state.

    Regional Peace Keeping Forces have normally proved to be ineffective in solving humanitarian and genocidal problems because of their friendly relations of the heads of state in the region. They even give tacit support for rights violations, to receive support in return.

  • The failure of IPKF was mainly caused by the friendly relations of JR Jeyawardene, the then president, and Rajiv Gandhi. It interfered with peace keeping function. Violating the peace accord SL navy arrested about 21 LTTE combatants and Rajiv gave consent for the arrest within weeks of signing the accord.

    Strangely, though Tamils are presently suffering unspeakable agony, murder, bombing, starvation and rights violations, none of the countries in the region have called these atrocities what they are – genocide.

    Silence is support. Rhetoric of ceasefire is time wasting. Frozen UN action will result in more civilian casualties. realism is vital. Relief from the prsesnt genocide could come only by appropriate resolutions in the UN and multi national action.

    The UN has a covenant obligation to intervene with meaningful measures until human tragedy is stopped. Establishing a genocide Tribunal for SL, posting UN forces, arresting war criminals and doing justice should be facilitated with utmost urgency. Calls for ceasefire by the UN has only caused more defiance, dangerous bombing and brutal starving of civilians.

  • Death to Eelam

    haha "friendly relations of JR Jeyawardene and Rajiv Gandhi" lmao, that's what armed and trained the LTTE as well, the "friendly relations"… the Sri Lanka navy was protecting the territorial integrity of this country, and no way in hell are we gonna let your little psychopaths break our nation in two… and don't throw the genocide label at us, just because the trapped civis happen to be tamil, that doesn't make it genocide. Then you'd say that just because all the people killed in an air raid in Iraq are Arabs that America is directing a genocide against the Arabs! If you wanna see genocide visit Dafur, coz what's going on here is certainly not genocide.