The Lanka Academic
May 24, 2019
Quaere Verum
Vol.19, No.144

Picture of the Day

Picture of the Day
Panama Beach East Coast
by: Dominic Sansoni

Letters to Mr. K. N. Douglas Devananda

Q. Mr.Devananda, were you informed or updated on the Peace Talks Process by Mr.Solheim? Even the Indian diplomats seem to disregard you in this whole process? Why? - Ruwani Senadheera, Colombo

A. Before my party became a partner in the Government, that is, during the early part of 2000, Mr.Solheim and the Norwegian Ambassador paid a call on me in my office and briefed me about the proposal to begin talks with the LTTE After my party became a partner in the Government, the President has kept me briefed of the progress made by the Norwegians. As for your secondary comment about the Indian diplomats, all I can say is that I do not disclose contents of discussions I have with any diplomats.

Q. Dear Douglas, Were you in anyway resposible for the death of Journalist Nirmalarajan as accused by Journalists without Borders and Amnesty International ? - Miller Ethirverasinghe, USA

A. Dear Miller, the EPDP had in a few instances prior to journalist Nimalajan’s death pointed out that he was conducting his affairs in a manner that would risk the lives of certain personalities. Perhaps these warnings of ours has resulted in some persons pointing an accusing finger at us. We were not in any way responsible from his killing. Those who keep accusing us of his murder seem to have their own agendas to fulfill.

Q. In many press reports, we see that mainstream Tamil politcal parties and organisations such as the TULF and student organisations, repeatedly express the view that the LTTE “….is the sole representative of the Tamil people”. What is your organizations position on this important matter? Also, Does this mean that there are no alternative Tamil political views to that expressed by the LTTE? - s atapattu, miami,florida

A. It is the Tamil people who should decide on their representatives in a democratic manner. The LTTE uses armed threats and claims that it is the sole representative of the Tamils. There are some cohorts of the LTTE who repeat this claim for their own reasons. In a democratic society there cannot be a sole representative. The Tamil people must have the democratic freedom to choose their representatives and their future without any threats. Over the years, the Tamil people have demonstrated their confidence in us.

Q. You were against the conducting of CENSUS in the North. Will you object to holding REFERENDUM in the north for the same reasons? - S.Sivaramakrishnan, Nawalapitiya

A. A Census is conducted every decade to obtain information and study the natural growth or decline of the population in a country or in any part of it. The change in the population in the North and East of Sri Lanka during the past 20 years has not been natural, but man-made. About 800,000 Tamils have left the country over the past 20 years. Within the country, about 500,000 Tamils are internally displaced. Any Census conducted under these circumstances will have no meaning. It is for that reason that we opposed the conduct of the Census in the North and East.

Q. Just over 90% of Eelam Tamils in exile, recognize LTTE lead Eelam National Liberation Movement as their sole representatives. Can you outline whether you can command such support within Eelam and in exile? And could you reason why such support is commanded by LTTE? - M.Kannaki, Munich

A. Well, M.Kannaki of Munich, I do not know how your arrived at the conclusion that 90% of the expatriate Tamils support the LTTE. There are various figures floating around. Hitler and Pol Pot also had their support. Ultimately what came of their leaderships? As for our support among the Tamils, one cannot deny the fact that we are slowly emerging as the dominant democratic leadership of the Tamils.

Q. Dear Mr.Devananda, As your name suggest, Do you still call yourself a christian/catholic? Do you believe in your faith? What message is dear to you from our Lord Jesus Christ? - Fr. Nesakumar Samuel, Colombo

A. My life transcends religions faiths - Although my parents follow Hindu precepts, I have always cherished humanism as my article of faith. I consider myself a Hindu who does not apply the holy ash, a Christian who does not wear the cross, a Moslem who does not wear the fez.

Q. Have you ever had an opportunity to read the ‘Vaddukottai Resolution’? That was unanimously voted in by the Eelam Tamils. How would you rate MAINFESTO of EPDP against this? - A.Bahirathan, Bermuda

A. The “Vattukottai Resolution” was the unanimous voice of the Tamils of Sri Lanka at that point of time. The Resolution was the spontaneous reaction of the Tamil people to the obduracy of the Sinhala leadership from the time of independence. Times have changed. Due to the softening of Sinhala opinion, the majority of the Tamils of Sri Lanka now agree that there can be an alternative to an independent Eelam. The EPDP has proposed that this viable alternative should consist of the recognition of the Northern and Eastern Provinces as the autonomous Region of Eelam within a united Sri Lanka, together with power-sharing in the Central Government of Sri Lanka for all ethnic groups.

Q. Dear Hon. Minister, We have heard so much about you but we still do not know your goals. What have you achieved after joining the PA Cabinet? Will there ever be Peace in our country? What is your aim? Is it to Develop the North and East or find an everlasting solution to the ethnic problem faced by our people living in Sri Lanka? Good Luck and May God Bless You. - M. Pillai, Tronto, Canada

A. The war in Sri Lanka has gone on for two decades. A whole generation of Sri Lankas has grown up in a war-torn environment. As for the Tamils 800,000 have left the country. Initially they left due to fear. Later, economic reasons compelled them. There is widespread unemployment among the Tamil youths remaining in the country today. Further, within the country 500,000 Tamils are internally displaced, not living in their own homes. The majority of the children born in the North and East are undernourished. There are thousands of women-headed families among the Tamils. The percentage of unmarried Tamil women in the age-group of 25 to 45 is appalling. No responsible political party can be blind to these problems. We have therefore prepared a programme to address all these problems faced by the Tamil people in parallel with a programme of political resolution of the ethnic problem. On the political front, we are working towards autonomy for a single Region comprising the Northern and Eastern Provinces through devolution of powers, and the sharing power at the Centre.

Q. Thanks a lot for accomodating questions from general public. For the ethnic problem in our country, what do you think of a Singapore type model? Singapore is demographically similar to Sri Lanka, has a sizable Tamil minority, and seems like everyone is happy. - Professor Ranjith Rajasekera, Japan

A. The Singapore model will not suit Sri Lanka for two reasons. Firstly, in Singapore, all the ethnic groups, namely, the Chinese, Malays and Indians are immigrants to the country. Even the Malays are immigrants to Singapore, although they are bumiputras in Malaysia. In Sri Lanka, each ethnic group has its own history. Secondly, Singapore produced leaders with vision at the time of independence. Sri Lanka didn’t

Q. Present govt. claims that all ills are due to UNP and the evils of the present constitution. Couldn’t the govt partake in consensual politics (e.g. national government)? Ronald Regan was able to pass important bills despite the fact that the republican party did not have a majority in either in the house of rep or senate. Why is Sri Lanka failing to produce leaders of that caliber? Thanks - Chandrani De Silva, Toronto, Canada

A. Ronald Reagan is a wrong comparison. He would have failed as the President during the American civil war. In Sri Lanka, we need leaders who have the guts to do what is right.

Q. Do you think that if get the support from the leading intelligence agencies like CIA,Mosad,RAW and M-5, can Sri Lankan government catch LTTE Leader Prabakaran. Do you think Sri Lankan Defence forces have a good intelligence service and a plan to counter LTTE. - John Reeve, USA

A. The ethnic problem is distinct from the LTTE problem, but are related. The ethnic problem has to be resolved to ensure justice to the Tamil-speaking people of this country. The LTTE problem has to be resolved to bring peace to the country. Once the ethnic problem is resolved to the satisfaction of the Tamil-speaking people, the LTTE will get isolated from the Tamils. It is only then that the LTTE problem can be solved. Catching the LTTE leader Prabakaran is not going to solve either of the problems. See also EPDP Website - epdpnews.com

Q. Mr. Deva, I would like to thank you for giving up the arms struggle and joining the democratic politics to build our country and solve our problems peacefully. What is your advice to Sri Lankan Tamils all over the world for a peaceful solution for this uselss war?Do you beleive LTTE can continue this bloody terrorism to ruin mainly the lives of Tamils? - Dr. Ananda Seneviratne, Toronto, Canada

A. Dear Dr.Seneviratne, I thank you for your words of encouragement. My message to Sri Lankan Tamils all over the word is this : The armed struggle conducted by all militant groups up to 1987 has proved its point. Since then there has been a marked change in the thinking of the Sinhala people. We should therefore earnestly work for a negotiated solution within a united Sri Lanka. If however, any expatriate Tamil living in the comforts of the developed world still thinks that only the armed confrontation of the LTTE would produce results, then he should send his sons and daughters to Vanni to fight on behalf of Prabakaran instead of wanting to sacrifice the sons and daughters of hapless Tamils living in Sri Lanka.

Q. Hi Mr Dava Suppose you were not a Sri lankan citizen and well studied the history of Sri lanka since the independent, from your heart do you really think Tamil people can get their political aspirations without an armed struggle? Thank you. Suren - suren, Toronto

A. Hi Suren, armed struggle is only a means to an end. It must result in international support and negotiations to work out a political solution. If it is carried on endlessly and without a goal, it becomes counter productive. The armed struggle of the Tamil people achieved its objective in July 1987. By then it had mobilised international support and created the climate for negotiations to resolve the ethnic problem. But the LTTE sabotaged the gains of that armed struggle. Within a few months it hijacked the struggle of the Tamil people to serve its own hidden agenda. As a result, the Tamil people have lost even what they had. It is important for the Tamil people to clearly analyse the events that had taken place after July 1987 and to take stock of the situation. What has gone on thereafter is a self- serving campaign of a petty warlord in the name of “liberation” of the Tamil people. See also EPDP website - epdpnews.com

Q. In your tenure as a member of parliament you have never condemn the reported rapes of thamil women in North and East. Do you think that it’s your responsibility to condemn such rapes and bring the people involved to justise? If so, do you think that you have succeeded in your job to protect the thamil women from rape? - Sellakilli Thiyagarajah, Sunny San Diego, California, U.S.A

A. Rapes in Sri Lanka are not confined to Tamil women. There is an alarming number of rapes among Sinhala women on well. This is a by-product of the armed culture. You are accusing the EPDP of not condemning the rapes. You have perhaps not read our statements and condemnations. Why don’t you go through the past newspapers and read about what our role had been in the Krishanti Rape and Murder Case, Saradambal Rape and Murder Case and the recent Rape Case in Allarai in Chavakachcheri. Rape is only a symptom of a larger disease, namely, the armed environment. We believe that only a durable political solution can bring an end to the armed environment.

Q. Douglas, the situation in respect of devolution looks hopeless. All indications are that president Kumaratunga will include even less devolution in her forthcoming new constitution than the clearly inadquate provisions of the August 2000 draft. The Sinhalese pubic is in no mood to grant anything substantial to the minorities. Even if you are doing some good development work in the North, this begs the main political question. What hope is there for you to save your reputation? - K. Golding, Dehiwala

A. Dear Mr.Golding, the question is not of saving my reputation. I do not agree that the situation in respect of devolution looks hopeless. I also do not agree with your assessment that the Sinhala public is in no mood to grant anything substantial to the minorities. I am surprised that someone who lives in Dehiwala has made such a wrong assessment of the mood of the Sinhala people. I would advise you to be patient rather than attempt premature judgement.

Q. Mr Devananda, You are the only Tamil leader who has the guts and the foresight to work towards a peaceful Sri Lanka. You are a cut above the rest of the Tamil politicians and many Sinhalese respect you for that. What I would like to ask is in your opinion are ordinary Tamils averse to a united Sri Lanka? And do you think it is better for minorities to join the government in power to ensure their rights? - T Perera, Australia

A. Thanks for your compliments. The ordinary Tamil person is not opposed to the idea of living within a united Sri Lanka. This is borne out by the number of Tamils who have opted to live in the South, the interest shown by Tamil Youths in securing jobs under Government and the Tamil people’s reluctance to sever the social, economic and political ties with Colombo. However, the Tamils have a grievance; that they are not being treated as equals - politically. Only an honourable and just devolution of power would satisfy them. “Power sharing at the centre and autonomy for the states” is our declared objective. Any attempt at establishing the hegemony of one ethnic group has to be condemned - whatever direction it comes from

Q. Minister, Though introductory remarks do not mention that you are looking after the ministry of Hindu religious affairs too, I am aware that you do. The name Douglas and Devan (Jesus) - anda is a common for the Christian not Hindus. My question is, are you really a Hindu to look after the Hindu religion affairs or is it because of the scarcity of Tamils willing to join this government forced you to burden with Hindu religious affair ministry. - Veerakanapathy, Sweden

A. I have accepted the portfolio to serve the people - irrespective of caste or creed. The department of Hindu Religious Affairs in one of the several Departments coming under my Ministry. There is no special reason for my managing Hindu Affairs Department. There was a time when this Department was under the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

Q. How do you justify your collabarations with the PA administrations, which paved the way for the terrible pains to the North Eastern Tamils who were oppressed by the Sinhalese governments since independence? - Mohamed Imtiyaz, Sri Lankan Student who is reading the Doctoral degree on the Sri Lankan Ethnic Conflict, in Nanjing University, China )

A. The fact is that after Independence, the Tamil people have undergone untold hardships. It is pointless analysing, which government did more damage or which did less. However the Government led by Ms Chandrika Kumaratunga, soon after coming to power in 1994, took certain positive steps - the withdrawal of economic sanctions, initiating talks with the Tigers and making moves to amend the Constitution. It is up to you to reflect upon these. The issue is not who is in power. Rather, maintaining a good relationship with those in power with a view to ensuring the basic political rights of our people and finding solutions to their day - to - day problems. It is my conviction that President Chandrika is sincere and dedicated in her quest for a solution to the ethnic problem, even in the face of the uncompromising attitude of the Tigers and the opportunism of the Tamil parties.

Q. Sir, On EPDP web site, reference to the participation on arms struggle, you states “I am one of the products of the turbulent seventies that denied Tamil youth opportunities…, I was also one of those who witnessed the suppression of democratic protest, unleashing of state terror…”. Do you think now the causes for armed struggle are not existing or accept that it was wrong on your part to take arms for the causes. - Thangamma, UK

A. The present clashes are not the manifestation of the enmity between the Sinhalese and the Tamil Speaking people. Neither is it the result of the conflict between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil people. It is a trial of strength between the Sri Lankan Army and the Tigers. The common people are caught blasted. There is no hiding or denying the fact that we once took up arms. But now we have to fight for our freedom to fight. In other words, the very arms acquired in the name of the Tamil people’s freedom, are used to deny them their democratic rights. We believe what we do today to be right in the same way we did what we felt to be right then.

Q. Mr Minister, In late 1980ies, you faced a police case at Sulimedu , Chenni for firing on people protesting against you, thus killing a person and injuring few others. Could you kindly enlighten us what happen and why did you do so? Veemanponnu. - Veemanponnu, India

A. We take responsibility for the unfortunate incident but we would like to point out that the charges were fabrications, politically motivated.

Q. There is widespread accusation that EPDP won its seats in the last election through thuggery, fraud and rigging in the areas under its control. Even TULF mentioned these words. Also, EPDP is accused of killing the journalist Nimalaranjan. How do you respond to these accusations? - K. Balachandran, Colombo

A. This is a malicious propaganda by those who turned a blind eye to attempts made to dissuade people from voting and their inability to digest our success. It was amidst death threats, disruption of election campaigns and shelling on the eve of polling that people elected us. It was a legitimate victory. Even the monitoring committee has confirmed this. Place refer to my answer to the second question on Nimalarajan.

Q. Mr.Devananda What Makes you to belive that Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranayake and PA will solve the North east Problem. - Dinesh Asanka, Singapore

A. Rather than waiting for a solution offered by the Government, we are considering ways and means of obtaining a solution.

Q. Could you please list the achievements of your ministry in the developement of the north. Thanks - Sunil John, Toronto, ontario

A. It’s only six months since my Ministry was established you will have to wait for some more time evaluate our work. However information about our work is available on our party website. www.epdpnews.com

Q. Mr. Devananda, What are your views about the crossover by Mr. Rauff Hakeem? - Jayatunga, London

A. It’s a political decision taken by him and his party.

Q. Before the election, you stated (refer Island 20.11.2000), Miss. CBK has agreed to solve the ethinc problem based on your three pased solution, such as Interim Council, Amendment of Chapter 17A of the consitution (to do away with concurrent list) and decesion on the character of the unit. Eventhough non of these are not fullfilled, still you seems to have more confident on Miss.CBK than Mr. Ranil, Why? Pallapi Nadaraja - Nadaraja, Denmark

A. Ms Chandrika accepted our suggestions - in principle. True, she didn’t implement them. Because the opportunist Tamil political parties did not co-operate.

Q. EPDP is suspected for the murders of Karavi Kandasamy (PLOTE), Vinothan (SLFP), K.S.Raja (Broadcaster) and Nimalan (Journalist). My question is (1) Did yourself or any other representative of you have gone to the Nimalan’s funeral either to show solidarity with press freedom or sympathise with the family. (2) The murder happened in your domain, thus what are the initiatives, you have taken to bring the barbarians (killers) to the court of justice. Kombiali Vanar, - Ambalvanar, France

A. Representatives of our Party did attend Nimalarajan’s funeral. I don’t think that solidarity with press freedom is expressed only through attendance at funerals. Rajini Tiranagama, I. Shanmugalingam (of Eelanadu), Nadarajah Atputharajah (of Thinamurasu) and Sezhiyan Perinbanayagam were all killed by the Tigers for their convictions. While condoling the death of Nimalarajan, we are at a loss to find most people tight - lipped about the murders of these media - persons.

Q. Deva; Does Sri Lanka need further devolution of power or does it need need principles like equal employment opportunity , fair and just treatment to all communities? More than 50% of the Tamils live in the South with Sinhalese and Muslims. Isn’t further devolution of power a political myth? Every community has aspirations not only the Tamils isn’t it? - NR, Australia

A. Devolution of power is essential. The Tamil - Speaking people feel that they are discriminated against. Their grievances should be looked into. If the Sinhalese people feel they have no such problems, then they many not need devolution. It is true that substantial numbers of Tamil - Speaking people have moved south. It is a result of the lack of security in their own areas and restrictions on their democratic rights. It should also be noted that there is no outlet for such people to give shape to their political aspirations. Any community has its own aspirations but one’s aspirations should not run counter to those of somebody else.

Q. While the Tamil Tigers and the other politically elected Tamil groups are working together as a team to achieve what is best for Tamils as a whole, is there a particular reason that you and your organisation do not want to be part of this team? - Yogesh, London

A. I beg to disagree with your assessment. The Tigers are keen on continuing the war. Most of the Tamil political parties play second fiddle to the Tigers. Moving further and further towards war brings only loss of valuable life and loss to property. Any right - thinking person who considers the displacement of thousands of people, an ever - increasing number of widows and orphans, several hundreds of disabled civilians and very old people left destitute will not encourage war. We represent this point of view. Further, at the initial stages of the armed struggle, there was no Prevention of Terrorism Act. There was no harassment by the Security forces. In the seventies, we were protesting against standardisation and insisting on University admissions on merit. Today we have to clamour for concessions and quotas. All this shows that the armed struggle has pushed us further back wards.

Q. Dear Douglas, After joining the main stream politics, what have you achieved for the Tamil people? In Kayts members of your parties have been harrassing the local population. I personally have evidence for this matter as I am from Kayts. What action have you taken or will take to punish those who are doing these acts against their own people? - Dravid, Canada

A. It is difficult to spell out what we have achieved. It is a fact that we have paved the ways for the Tamil people to resettle in their own native land and exercise their franchise freely. We do not appeal to them to lay down their lives, to rouse them to demonstrations that lead to bloodshed; we do not force them to flee their own hearth and home. We are not the cause of the losses they sustain. This much I can certainly say. You say that members of our party have been harassing the local population. If you could pass on to me the evidence you have, I shall be grateful. I have even not hesitated to take action against Members of Parliament of my party when such allegations were proved.

Q. Dear Mr.Devananda , Could you Please Let us Know the The History of EPDP. Since you left for Arms Training in Lebanon. - Raj, Jaffna University Jaffna

A. I can understand that the history of the E.P.D.P cannot be a course component in the Jaffna University curriculum. I do know that if you are really interested, there are sources which you could approach. Time has proved that the contribution of the E.P.D.P is substantial in the post - Indo - Sri Lankan Accord period history of the Tamil people.

Q. Dear Sir, It is an excelent idea, realy I apriciate this site. My question is when will the brachess of IT Park open? Please state about our progress in IT Park? - Kugathasan Nandakumar, Director IT Park, Jaffna

A. The seed has just been planted when it sprouts, gradually the branches will spread out.

Q. The late Lalith Athulathmudali once said “had all the armed tamil groups got together Eelam would have been a reality”. Could you comment - V.Nagaratnam, Tornto Canada

A. It is his view. Though eyes are two, the vision should be one. Though our hands are two, the action should be one. Though our legs are two, the walk should be one. Our people have been lamed by the view that one would do - leg, hand or eye. It is as a result of this distorted view that our people are still experiencing a lot of hardships now.

Q. Could, the Foreign Minister, Kathirgamer become a President of Sri Lanka? and solve the ethnic conflict? - Suresh Kumar, Colombo

A. Yours is not a reasonable expectation.

Q. Dear Sir,If the UNP form the next government inorder to solve the present situation with the support of India,USA and LTTE,what will be your position?.Will you be with SLFP in the opposition or support LTTE ,UNP and other tamil parties ?. - Mr.M.G.Devan, London

A. I don’t subscribe to the proverb that even a keerai kade needs competition. Rather, I agree with the proverb “Whoever mills the paddy, what we need is rice” Also, if there are too many millers, the rice will be spoilt.

Q. Appreciate you for founding IT Park, Do activities at Park include assembling computes and making software’s or is it just another (computer) tutory. Also, you may aware Prof. Thurairaja initiated talks with Norwagian to set up a Fisheries Department at Jaffna University (future economy of Peninsula should based on this industry including aquaculture). Thus, did you take any further steps on this or atleast in establishing a station of National Aquatic Resources Agency? Arulananthan [edited by moderator] - Arulananthan, Point Pedro

A. Thank you for your compliments. We are certainly, forging ahead in the path of progress.

Q. Rt.Minister Devananda, The history tells, that so many PACTS and ACCORDS been either wittled down, abrogated or simply not implemented to its true sincerety. Do you accept that there’s partiality towards Tamils? Do you think there should be another PACT signed between Tamils and sinhalese? - S.Kohilavaani, Hatton

A. One palm alone cannot clap. Attention should be paid not only to finding a solution to the ethnic problem, but also its successful implementation.

Q. Dear Sir- What attributes would you credit yourself in comparison of characters between you and Mr.V.Pirapakaran? - L.Raviraj, Bogawantalawa

A. I do not want to waste my time.

Q. Dear Deva Your life is resembling one of Trotsky. A good politician like you is now on the other side of the fence (opposite of where you started from. In a world of globalisation I think you have more foresight than your ex-comrades. Do you have a vision for the Tamil people of the World as a whole? How do you think the history will judge you? - Jim Murray, Australia

A. When the mother is starving, the son cannot be performing annadanam. Our priority is the welfare of the Tamil Speaking people of Sri Lanka. It is left to History to pass judgement on us.

Q. Dear Deva Do you think the Tamil problem can be solved by cooperting with the Sri Lanka government? During your days in India what contact did you have with Indian politicians? What kind vision you have for the Tamils as a whole unit in Sri lanka and South India? Is an economic and political union of both countries will solve all the problems? - Curt Roane, Australia

A. We are co-operating with the government in the hope of finding a solution. We are trying our hest. Our relationships with the Indian politicians have been cordial. Considering South India and Sri Lanka as one unit can only be a figment of your imagination. Rather than constructing a road through Sethusamudram, I think, if Palk strait is deepened both the harbours could be developed and both the countries would benefit.

Q. Mr. minister, What is your view of the “Sihala Urumaya”? - DE Silva, Colombo

A. One interpretation of the term ‘Sihala Urumaya’ is an organization for the rights of all’. If it is so, the rights of the Tamil people cannot be excluded, can they?

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