Armed struggle destroyed TAMILS

sithadthanLeader of People’s Liberatio n Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and Northern Provincial Councillor Tharmalingam Sithadthan said, there are allegations against his organization on killings and abductions. If the allegations are proven the culprits should be punished. There is no second question about it “I have no problem about it. However, as an organization we never allowed such acts,” he said.  Following are excerpts:

Ceylontoday, 2015-04-28 By Mirudhula Thambiah

Leader of People’s Liberatio n Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and Northern Provincial Councillor Tharmalingam Sithadthan said, there are allegations against his organization on killings and abductions. If the allegations are proven the culprits should be punished. There is no second question about it “I have no problem about it. However, as an organization we never allowed such acts,” he said.  Following are excerpts:

: Do you feel the 100-day programme fulfilled the aspirations of the Tamil people
A: As far as the Tamils are concerned I don’t see any change. Even though the people voted only to see the former government out of power, but still there was an expectation that they can have some sort of change in their lives. They are unable to see that!
We know that a political solution cannot be reached within a short period of time. Also they did not promise that a solution will be given in 100-days, but said it will be addressed after elections.
Yet, day to day issues should be looked into in the 100 day programme. Generally we feel nothing has happened in the 100-day programme.

: Do you feel the new electoral reforms may bring in positive effects to the representation of Tamils
A: The representation should be decided on the population percentage, especially for the minorities. I don’t feel that the first-past-the-post system can fulfil the requirements.
Any proposal should ensure that representation to Parliament should be proportionate to the population of each community.
Minority communities and minor political parties would face challenges with the first-past-the-post system. In order to cater to all these aspects, serious consideration should be given.

: Do you believe the 19th Amendment can actually solve the issues of minority communities
A: With the Supreme Court decision, I don’t feel there would be major changes. We expect that the powers should go to the Prime Minister, but the 19th Amendment has only slight changes with the powers vested to the President.
We welcome it, as at least the dissolution and contesting for the third term are done away with there can be democracy to a certain extent.
The country as a whole we believe that certain problems can be solved through the Amendment, but Tamil people would benefit less.

: During the latter part of 1980s, the PLOTE was very popular among the Sinhala community because your organization did not consider race or Tamil nationalism in politics. In such a case how did you join the Tamil National Alliance (TNA)
A: I don’t see the TNA as an extreme Tamil party. There are few members who tried to show they are Tamil nationalists more than Prabhakaran. But TNA leader Sampanthan is very balanced. Apart from that, after the war there was general pressure on all Tamil parties to come together. People were expecting us to function together to solve issues after the war.
After the end of the war, the Tamil community became very weak in every aspect, especially militarily, economically and in numbers. Therefore, people wanted us to come together in order to achieve something on the political side. That is the main reason for us joining the TNA.
When the TNA was formed during the LTTE period, we opposed it. We were on the other side and functioned independently. At that time TNA being the political mouth piece of the LTTE, we thought it will not work and it will not help the Tamils in any way, but after the end of the war we feel the differences among Tamil parties will not help the Tamil community. Therefore, we forgot our differences and joined hands with the TNA to ensure the betterment of the Tamil people.

: How would you currently work among the Sinhala community to obtain their support to solve the ethnic issue
A: The TNA leader is having a very good rapport with the current government, President and Prime Minister. He is trying to solve the political issues being a member of the Executive Committee.
As a separate party we continue to have our rapport with the left parties, especially with pro devolutionists. We are continuing our dialogue with those who are with similar ideologies.

: What is your stand on the 13th Amendment? Are you demanding for 13 plus? Is it devolution of powers or right to self determination
A: I don’t want to name anything. We should be able to look after our own affairs. We have to carry out our development activities without any interference from the centre.
A system which would give power to our community; to tackle our own affairs. When the 13th Amendment was discussed under the Indo-Lanka Accord, on behalf of our party, we had long chats with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
We clearly emphasized that the 13th Amendment is not enough and it will not meet the aspirations of Tamil people and PM Gandhi accepted by assuring that he would work on it to take it further.

: So are you unclear about your demands to solve the national question
A: We are very clear that only a federal set up can meet the minimum aspirations of the Tamil people. Identifying a term as the Right to Self Determination does not mean anything. As I said earlier, a set up that can give us the right to look after our own affairs, in a part of the country, would suit. So, basically devolution and autonomy should be given to tackle our own issues.

: How will you tackle your demands with the government
A: I don’t think a political solution can be reached before elections. After elections it depends how the government would function. We don’t envisage going back to a violent struggle. We believe that by dialogue and goodwill of the International Community we can achieve our aspirations.
Most of the minority communities in our country who are in favour of devolution, they think power should be devolved. It will be a very long process and we will have to follow. I don’t see anything in the near future.

: It is said that PLOTE was crushed by the Indian Forces when your organization was trying to capture Maldives through an armed aggression in 1980s. Is it true
A: Many believed and even the Indian Government suspected it, that we tried to capture because the Sri Lankan Government demanded us. At the same time the Sri Lankan Government thought that we tried to capture Maldives because of the Indian influence. All the guessing was wrong.
We actually did it because at that time there was a change in the policy of India. We thought that India will not allow us to operate from there. This happened during the period of my leader Uma Maheswaran. He was responsible for the action and he believed that he should have a base outside Sri Lanka.
He never said this to anyone, but this is the first time I’m telling you. Some people at that time thought we were doing a mercenary job, but the truth is we had a different thinking under our leader. My leader failed to understand the international implications and the reactions. But later we realized that we should have a settlement within Sri Lanka without any armed struggle; a peaceful devolution of power within a united Sri Lanka.

: It is also said that when PLOTE was involved in the armed struggle, a few ships loaded with weapons was captured by the Tamil Nadu Government during the period of Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran. Is that true? Did that bring about a military setback to your organization
A: Yes! At that time we were not in favour of the Indian Bureaucrats. We believed that we were independent of any other militant group. Therefore, the Indian Government thought we should not be allowed to go beyond a limit and that was the reason for certain moves taken by India, especially the seizing of weapons.
It was a big setback for our organization and it was the beginning for our setbacks too. In 1980s we were one of the biggest organizations.

: Can the international inquiry on war crimes actually settle issues relating to the war within the country? Would it bring justice to the affected parties
A: I don’t feel so! But I feel that justice should be meted to the affected parties. At the same time the international inquiry should not create further differences between the Tamil and Sinhala communities.
The truth must be brought out and justice must be done to those who suffered. At the same time we must be careful that differences don’t create further serious problems to the country.

: You have always been with the government in the past and even during the former government you were supporting President Rajapaksa. But after the war you joined to the TNA coalition. You were antagonizing the LTTE throughout in history. As it is known the TNA operated as the mouthpiece of the LTTE. Did you join the TNA because the LTTE was no more
A: After the Indo-Lanka Accord, there was a serious problem that we believed; continuing an armed struggle for a separate State would further destroy our community. It will be instrumental in a greater loss to the Tamil community. Therefore, we decided to stop the armed struggle where as the LTTE continued it. They thought anybody who is not in line with them is their enemy. They tried to hunt us down and we had to operate in the Army controlled area. We were told that protection to everyone of our cadres could not be given. Therefore, we had to carry weapons as an aid for protection. We were in situation to have an understanding with the armed forces. Therefore this does not mean we support every political action taken by the Sri Lankan Government. When we were in Parliament we voted against the emergency. We might have had good rapport with the government but that does not mean we accepted everything they did especially on the Tamil issue.

: There are allegations against PLOTE on extra judicial killings and abductions. How do you justify
A: There are allegations. But I’m not sure whether there are complaints at the Missing Person’s Commission. If the allegations are proven the culprits should be punished. There is no second question about it and I have no problem.
However as an organization we never allowed such acts.

: Also it is said that your organization supported the Sri Lankan Government and was involved in spying on LTTE cadres and eradicating them. Is that true
A: We were carrying weapons for our protection. Therefore, we might have to adopt certain moves to protect ourselves. We cannot allow the LTTE to come near us and then claim for protection.

: Would you remain in the TNA coalition at the general elections
A: Yes! We will contest as TNA.