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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.

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