Batticaloa, Constitutional Reform, Peace and Conflict

From Akkaraipattu

This video clip contains a brief interview with A.L Thavam – Chairperson of Akkaraipattu Pradeshiya Saba (local government).

It is presented here as is, without analysis or comment.

Summary of the interview.

  • Feels that Batticoloa election was successful because of the lack of incidents, and says therefore Government has been successful in liberating the Eastern Province.
  • Acknowledges there may have been ‘little incidents’ but says these do not carry significance when the bigger picture is considered.
  • Says that if the people did not want to vote, they could have made a mark on the ballot paper and submitted it – in effect, just pretended to vote. But says the number of these kinds of votes were very little, so feels that most people voted for who they wanted to. Also says (not on the video clip) that only “two or three seats were there for the Muslim community” and therefore the theory that the Tamils voted in order to prevent Muslim members having control over the district, is “rumour”.
  • In terms of fighting for Muslim rights and autonomy, says they (Muslims) believe in the democratic way because the experience of the Tamil community shows that the “extremist way” won’t work.
  • Says that from time to time there are “communal feeling leaders” who cause problems, but generally they are unsuccessful. Says that “a majority of the Sinhalese and the Tamils and the Muslims are willing to live together and willing to respect each other”. Continues on to say that he doesn’t think the JVP or the JHU or other groups can divide the people through communalism.
  • Asks why Sinhalese can’t come to the East, if Muslims can travel to other parts of Sri Lanka and purchase land and build mosks. But stresses that the motivation for Sinhalese coming to the East should not be as part of a military strategy.
  • Concludes by asking “Why can’t the Tamils come to Akkraipattu? Why can’t the Sinhalese come to Akkaraipattu? And why can’t we live together?”