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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2707

Anandasangaree level charges against EPDP leader Douglas Devananda

Colombo, 02 June , ( The following is the first of a two-part letter Mr. V. Anandasangaree, President of the Tamil United Liberation Front, wrote to President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week

With all respect to you, I wish to lodge my strong protest against the setting up of a Special Task Force with Hon. Douglas Devananda as its Head, to administer the Northern Province. I have a right and also a sacred duty to my country to bring to your notice my protest. I have very many justifiable reasons to do so. The reasons for this belated protest are due to your being kept fully occupied in the Eastern Provincial Council problems and the assassination of Ms. Maheswary Velautham, a key Member of the EPDP of which Hon. Douglas Devananda is the Leader about whom this protest is being lodged.

What we need is a lasting solution for the ethnic problem without giving room for further agitation in the future. I strongly believe that a solution that could not be found under a Unitary System for over fifty years can now be found under that system, after so much of destruction of life and property. You are well aware that it is for this reason that I am fully supporting a Federal Solution to the ethnic problem and also agreeable for the Indian Model as the only alternative. I have found wide acceptance for my proposal among various sections of the people when I met them and discussed my proposal during the last four years. Apart from this my commitments to my country extend to bringing back democracy, peace and normalcy and also fostering equality and goodwill among all sections of the people in a United one Sri Lanka.

These are the country’s prime needs today and this is exactly what the people and the International Community too want. But Hon. Douglas Devananda’s agenda is entirely different and totally unacceptable to the People of the North in particular and cannot be different in other parts of the country. Furthermore the task of redeeming the North cannot be entrusted to him since his behavior and those of his cadre from the time he took over the Kayts electorate under his command in the early nineties had been dictatorial in character. The new culture of electing Members of Parliament without allowing any rival candidate to canvass support and by large scale impersonation was introduced by him. It is clear that the damage caused to Democracy by the EPDP is no less than what the LTTE did.

The TULF attaches great importance to Democratic Principles. Your Excellency will recall as to how seventeen of us of the Tamil United Liberation Front quit our seats in Parliament in 1983 as a protest against the extension of the term of Office of Parliament, by holding a referendum. This is never done in any democratic country except during a world war. The Government of Hon. J. R. Jeyawardena got the sixth amendment to the Constitution passed deliberately to keep out of Parliament all those 17 members who quit office and thereby took away the Leadership of the Tamil People from the Moderates and gave it to the armed groups. He also unjustifiably continued to rule the country, without a proper mandate for an additional full term of six years, deliberately denying the opposition their right to face an election on completion of their term of six years to seek a fresh mandate. The party that was given a Mandate by the People to rule for only six years unreasonably ruled the country for 12 years. Can anyone in this country deny that the last Island-wide free and fair election was held only in 1977 and since then no such Island-wide free and fair election took place up to now. The major contribution to create the present-day situation came from the North and the East with Hon. Douglas Devananda contributing liberally towards it.

During the 1994 General Elections this Group contested the Jaffna Electoral District as an Independent Group and won nine seats. All their 13 candidates jointly polled only 175 votes in 10 of the 11 electorates and polled 8,638 votes in one electorate – Kayts which was virtually under their full control, where mass scale impersonation took place and also no other contestants were allowed to step in, from the day of the nomination. When these nine Members got elected to Parliament by foul means and by obtaining a very low percentage of votes out of a total of 596,366 votes, I expected the Government to rectify this by either an amendment to the Constitution or to the Election Law. If the Government had taken proper action then to rectify this, the LTTE would not have got 22 TNA Members Elected to Parliament to represent only them and not the people. It is very unfortunate that successive Governments had made use of these Members from minority Tamil Parties either to capture power or to remain in power. The country as a whole is now suffering for the sins committed by some leaders in the past who acted selfishly and without any patriotic feeling.

The whole world applauded the stand taken by the TULF at that time, recognizing it as the greatest contribution of the TULF to safeguard democracy in the country. But unfortunately that generation of leaders are no more. Some had been assassinated, some died and some others quit politics. Of the two from the old guards who are still active in politics, one entered Parliament fraudulently destroying the good tradition established by the TULF Leaders, leaving me all alone to face several odds single handed and at grave risk to my life, to try to save democracy. I have not deviated from the path shown to me by my Leaders. But the embarrassments and humiliations I suffered during the last four years cannot be described in words.

The adjectives used by Editors of many pro-LTTE Tamil Tabloids published all over the world in reference to me are mostly demeaning and defamatory. The words used by them are very wounding. I do not act as a stooge of any body and do not hesitate to call a "spade" a "spade" I always take a neutral stand. Yet I tolerate all these, because I love my country so much and want it to be freed of unpatriotic and anti-democratic elements. I am fully with you in the eradication of terrorism and in restoring democracy. I am prepared to lay down my life for that cause. But please note that Tigers are not the only Terrorists operating in the North. The people of the North like the people of the East had suffered enough, had lost enough and also continue to live in constant fear and tension. Let them not be allowed to jump from the frying pan in to the fire. I will be 75 years old on the 15th of June. Before something happens to me I like to see all sections of the people living in this country under the subjugation of someone or living under threat or constant fear and tension, liberated or freed of the agony they had been enduring for several years.

My opposition is both for the setting up of the Special Task Force and also to its composition. You may remember as to how off and on I had been bringing to your notice the conduct of Hon. Douglas Devananda whom you have appointed to head the team in addition to the portfolio he is already holding which is bad enough for the country and more than enough for him for what he had been doing to the Government. As for the other two members of the Special Task Force I have nothing against both of them other than that they are overburdened with many other duties. They could hardly find time to serve in the Special Task Force. Their failure to attend the first meeting itself confirms my suspicion that this is going to end up as a one-man show and the recent history of the EPDP is going to be repeated to the detriment of the poor Tamil suffering masses.

Given an opportunity I know what Hon. Douglas is capable of doing. He is not incapable of misusing his new position more to promote himself than to develop the North. He has a crowd to rally round him for personal gains but support and co-operation from the ordinary people of the North will not be forthcoming. Leaders of the people must be elected by the people and should not be forced on them.

I am indeed surprised that you are unaware of his past conduct and of his track record in spite of the fact that you were associated with him since 1994 a period of 14 years and also as a cabinet colleague for a fair length of time. I have a duty to bring to your notice some of the unpleasant activities of his cadre whom he had failed to keep under check.

During the election campaign of April, 2004 the LTTE over powered the EPDP and left only one seat for them. The EPDP and we were kept indoors with almost all our rights to campaign denied. The EPDP however with all the previous experience they had, manipulated and managed to get only one seat. At the previous election held in 2001 a team of TULF Volunteers who went to Velanai for canvassing were waylaid by the EPDP cadre and attacked with guns and swords. Two of our volunteers were hacked to death and several others were seriously injured. Right along they had been demanding to know of my whereabouts. Hon. M. K Sivajilingam had his leg broken and Hon. S. Senathirajah had a grievous head injury. At the election held previously in the year 2000 while Hon. Douglas Devananda was present at his Srithar Theatre Office on the Stanley Road, Jaffna he sent a procession with over 1000 people to my office in a by lane on the same road to demonstrate against me.

A good number of them were drunk. They shouted slogans, burnt my effigy and left after damaging my office name board. Intimidation and threat are violations of election laws. Yet the Police and the Army just looked on helplessly because Hon Douglas was a Minister at that time. Now as the Head of the Special Task Force I won’t be surprised if all the Government servants are mobilised to do election work for him. At a previous election the Government servants started working for him from the evening of the day previous to the election. I hardly see any difference between the EPDP and the LTTE who learnt everything from the EPDP itself.

I am quoting below a few paragraphs from a letter dated 27th September 2000 sent to Heads of all Diplomatic Missions in Sri Lanka requesting them to pressurise the Government of Sri Lana to liberate the people of Kayts from the EPDP for conducting a free and fair election. – a copy of which is annexed.

"The prime duty of everybody today as I see, is the liberation of the innocent people of the Kayts Electorate in general and the people of Delft in particular. In the absence of the Army, the Navy and the Police in this Island, which has about 4100 registered voters and forms a part of the Kayts Electorate, the EPDP, a pro – Government – armed group is in full control. The people there have undergone untold hardships during the past few years. Those suspected as having voted for the UNP during the Presidential Election held in last December, had been very badly beaten by the EPDP cadre.

An Assistant Government Agent is now designated, as Divisional Secretary. He is in-charge of the Government administrative machinery in a Division. A few years back, the Divisional Secretary of the Delft Island is supposed to have been killed by the EPDP cadre. Up to now the Government had not taken any action, neither to compensate this family nor to punish the assailants.(He is identified as one Mr. Nicholas beaten to death.)

A couple of years back a teenager was alleged to have been shot dead by the EPDP cadre at Suruvil. Four of the EPDP cadre were charged at the Kayts Court for murder. The accused fled to Delft and the Magistrate, who has jurisdiction over this Island as well, issued warrants for the arrest of these accuseds. The warrants could not be executed and the Magistrate summoned the Navy officer who is in control of the Naval Base at Karainagar. The officer appeared and produced evidence to prove that the Delft Island, a part of the Kayts Electorate is out of bound for him. The matter ended with the transfer of the Magistrate. Anyone wishing to visit Delft including you, your Excellency, will have to obtain permission from the EPDP.

In the other parts of the Kayts Electorate also, the EPDP has a number of camps, with their armed cadre manning them. The poor innocent people are living under subjugation of the EPDP cadre. The only difference is the Navy in-charge of this area, is giving the EPDP, protection from the LTTE and also protecting the civilians from the EPDP. Yet the atrocities of the EPDP goes on unchallenged. The irony is that the EPDP has nothing to do in any part of the Kayts Electorate including the Delft Island. Their armed cadre is only terrorising and intimidating the innocent civilians.

One will like to know as to why the Government should allow an armed group to terrorise a section of the population. The reason is simple. It is with the votes obtained in the Kayts Electorate, that the EPDP managed to win nine seats at the last General Election, held in 1994. Under the proportional representation system, 11 electorates in Jaffna are clustered to form the Electoral District of Jaffna. Of the 11 electorates, the Kayts electorate was under the control of the EPDP and the remaining Ten Electorates were under the control of the LTTE. As a result no voting took place in these 10 electorates. The EPDP that had full control over the Kayts electorate won nine of the ten seats by polling only 175 votes in the 10 electorates and about nine thousand votes in the Kayts electorate that too by unfair means, as reported by the Election Monitoring Committees. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress that got a few thousand votes from the Muslim refugees, who were displaced from Jaffna and living at Puttalam won one seat."

I think enough facts had been placed before you to enable you to do a re-thinking in this matter. People have already started asking me as to what guarantee the Government will give to the People of the North that the EPDP cadre will not repeat their earlier performance once again in an extended territory from an electorate to a Province. Several others too including me have to do a complete re-thinking of the whole thing. This move instead of solving the ethnic problem will only aggravate the situation and drive the people into the hands of the LTTE. If you are still not satisfied with my explanation I will be sending part II of this letter soon with more facts.

- Asian Tribune -

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