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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2643

No one know what's happening now in the prevailing confusion -- JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe

By K.T.Rajasingham

Colombo, 16 March, (Asiantribune.com): Somawansa Amarasinghe, leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), is the last remaining member of the old guard that led the Marxist uprisings in 1971 and 1980s. He went into exile and led the party from London. When the JVP took to mainstream politics he returned to take over the leadership of the party. The JVP is now considered to be the Third Force in southern politics, next to the SLFP and UNP.Somawansa Amarasinghe:  "We also are of the opinion that the Government is distancing itself from the people and also from the JVP."Somawansa Amarasinghe: "We also are of the opinion that the Government is distancing itself from the people and also from the JVP."

He speaks to K.T.Rajasingham on the stance of the JVP on many issues. In his interview with the "Asian Tribune" Somawansa Amarasinghe surveys the current political situation. He was very critical of the Ceasefire Agreement signed by Ranil Wickremasinghe and Velupillai Prabakaran. In his interview he stated that all three languages, Sinhalese, Tamil and English should be made as National languages.

Given below are the excerpts of the interview with Somawansa Amarasinghe – Leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (Peoples Liberation Front):

Thank you for agreeing to this exclusive interview with Asian Tribune.

Somawansa Amarasinghe: It is my pleasure to clarify our position through Asian Tribune.

Question: Thank you. What is JVP’s position with the government led by Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse?

Somawansa Amarasinghe: There are some problems because we think the Government is distancing itself from the mandate it received in the 2005 Presidential election. We also are of the opinion that the Government is distancing itself from the people and also from the JVP.

Question: Is it possible for you to elaborate on this issue?

Somawansa Amarasinghe : Sri Lanka President invited us to join the Government after his victory in the elections. Then we wanted to know exactly what the Government wanted us to do? JVP is a serious political party. We are always serious and we wanted to know what the Government wanted to do with us by inviting us to join the Government and also the Government’s political program.

As the request to join the Government was pending with us for sometime, we started discussions within our party and subsequently we inquired about the political program proposed by the President for the JVP to join the Government. In fact, he did not have any such program. He invited us to draft a political program for the Government which he proposed to form with us.

So we did it and wrote a program. It constituted of 20 clauses. That program we thought would be the basis for the Government and for the JVP to work together.

We had discussions about draft program with the President, as well as with the leaders of the SLFP such as Mr.Maithripala Srisena, Mr.Nirmal De Silva, Mr. Dullas Alahaperuma and others.

After three weeks of discussions last year, they said that they agree in principle but they were not prepared to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the JVP.

Our Party, whenever we agree with another political party on matters of serious political issues, we always sign a MOU with our intended political partners.

As you know our party sacrificed a lot to achieve this present position in the country. We are responsible for all those who sacrificed their lives for us to achieve this position.

So we are always very cautious when we come to an agreement with other political parties. We did the same when the President sought our assistance and cooperation when he came forward as a presidential candidate. You may also recollect that in 2004 when we joined the Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratungas Government we entered into a MOU.

Although President and the SLFP agreed with the political program drafted by us, they did not want to sign a MOU with us.

Unfortunately, before the conclusion of the discussions to form a Government, the President invited the UNP and they started the process of discussion with them. President and the SLFP should have informed us about that. So it amounted to a sort of betrayal of our trust.

This showed that the President was distancing himself from us. So that was the end of the discussions and JVP joining the Government.

Subsequently, UNP members 18 in all and 06 Sri Lanka Muslim Congress MPs joined the Government and as a result we are having a jumbo Cabinet, the largest in the world.

I think President failed to achieve stability and strength. This has led to considerable confusion. And no one knows what is happening now in the prevailing confusion. We just can’t understand how he is going to implement the ‘Mahinda Chinthanaya’ with those who have just joined the Government.

Somawansa Amarasinghe: "We are the first political party in this country to say in public that all three languages, namely Sinhala, Tamil and English, must be treated equally and must be accepted as the National Languages of the country. "Somawansa Amarasinghe: "We are the first political party in this country to say in public that all three languages, namely Sinhala, Tamil and English, must be treated equally and must be accepted as the National Languages of the country. "

Question: So far the JVP has not spelt out is program or proposals regarding the issues related to the Tamils in this country?

Somawansa Amarasinghe : We have a program for the people of this country for Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and others. We stand very firmly by national integration but not segregation, not isolation and not separation.

Our program is based, if I may summarize the program, on the basic principle of establishing equality and democracy for every citizen in this country. Every citizen in this country must have the right to use his or her language in any part of the country. He or she should have the right to settle down in any part of the country.
He or she must be able to work in any part of the country. In short this is our policy. We rejected attempts to isolate, or separate communities in Sri Lanka.

We are the first political party in this country to say in public that all three languages, namely Sinhala, Tamil and English, must be treated equally and must be accepted as the National Languages of the country.

We don’t accept anything as ‘Official Language of the Country’ as the state cannot have a particular language. The Government should have only national languages.

If a citizen writes a letter to the Government in Sinhala, the Government should reply him or her in Sinhala language only. Similarly if a citizen writes a letter in Tamil or in English, he or she has the right to receive the reply from the Government in Tamil or in English languages. It is duty of the Government to respect the languages of the people.

Question: Regarding religion… Should there be a state religion?

Somawansa Amarasinghe : Religion is one’s personal affair. Why should anyone interfere with another's religion?

Question: What opportunities should be there for the minority ethnic groups to participate in the day-to-day administration of the government?

Somawansa Amarasinghe : All the citizens of this country should be treated equally and must be able to participate in the governing the country. They should have the opportunities to raise their voices regarding their rights. There shouldn’t be privileges.Somawansa Amarasinghe : "Today the duty of the security forces is to liberate the people and restore democracy in the east, before they do that in the Northern Province." Somawansa Amarasinghe : "Today the duty of the security forces is to liberate the people and restore democracy in the east, before they do that in the Northern Province."

Question: Regarding the merger of the North East provincial Council you instituted action against it in the Supreme Court and the country’s highest court ruled that it should be demerged. However, there has been a vacuum in the administratin of these provinces. Since the introduction of Provincial Council system only one election was held for the North East Provincial Council. It was later dissolved in 1990. Successive Governments failed to hold the election for the North East Provincial Council. Even now after the demerger, no elections hae been held. Don’t you think that there is need at least to fill the vacuum by providing an interim administration of a responsible political group nominated by the government to run the day-to-day administrations of these two provincial councils?

Somawansa Amarasinghe : We stand by democratic centralization and not autocratic centralization and also and vice versa. We don’t accept any autocratic centralization. If the merger was done democratically, there would not have been any questions. The merger was imposed on the people living in those two provinces. It was also an attempt to isolate the people, those who are living in the North and East from the people in the other provinces. If you think of the Tamil people in particular, it was an attempt to isolate them with the Tamils who are living in the other provinces, which is not acceptable to the JVP. So any autocratic decentralization or merger is not acceptable to JVP and that is why we wanted to get the two province de-merged.

The next demand of the JVP is that the Government should hold the elections for the two Provincial councils, as soon as possible, at least in the East. We are for election and the Government should give the opportunity to all peoples, Sinhalese, Tamils and the Muslims to elect their representatives and strengthen their provincial councils and other local government institutions so that they could run their own affairs according to their needs and wishes.

If the Government is not prepared to conduct the elections in the two provinces, we don’t think that the Government would establish an interim administration.

Today the duty of the security forces is to liberate the people and restore democracy in the east, before they do that in the Northern Province.

It is the duty of the president to instruct the Commissioner of Elections to call for provincial council elections in the East. It is the duty of the Security Forces and the Police to see that elections are held in a free and fair environment. Then the people in the Northern Province will get a very very clear message that they must get rid of the LTTE, the main enemy of the people.

Question: Do you think that Sri Lanka Government should continue to have negotiation with the LTTE?

Somawansa Amarasinghe: No, because the LTTE is not interested in peace. JVP’s position is that LTTE is not interested in negotiations.
It is not for restoring democracy. How can you expect these democratic values to come from an organization which is led by a person who calls himself ‘Sun God’?

Question: Do you agree with Norway’s role as a peace facilitator?

Somawansa Amarasinghe: We never did agree in the past and we do not agree in the present to accept Norway as a go-betwen. This mainly because we strongly believe that Norway is not impartial. The Norway leaders who come to Sri Lanka were seen in the fund raising functions in Norway. The Royal Norwegian Government has diverted millions to the LTTE. How can the Norwegians be impartial facilitators for the peace process?

Question: You have been critical of the Ceasefire Agreement. What are your main criticisms?

Somawansa Amarasinghe: There should have been a time table for the restoration of the democracy. A time table for the decommissioning of the weapons in the possession of the LTTE. Instead of that, the LTTE dictated to the Government the terms for the decommissioning of the weapons held by the other Tamil groups. They have refused to include decommissioning of their weapons in the CFA. Who is to be blame for this? The Government and the LTTE must be blamed equally. Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe made the biggest blunder and the LTTE exploited it. The LTTE got strengthened militarily and politically. It should also be remembered that it was a secret agreement between the then Prime Minister and Prabakaran.

For the first time the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka admitted in writing, in black and white, that there are areas controlled by the LTTE – the terrorists’ organization. In other words the Prime Minister abdicated the sovereignty of the country to a terrorists group. As a result the LTTE got strengthened and that was done according to agenda of the Norwegian Government. It has also caused considerable confusion, both nationally and internationally.

- Asian Tribune -

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