Join us to evade type of misery suffered during several decades says the leader of the JVP and candidate of the National People’s Power (NPP) Comrade Anura Dissanayake addressing the seminar under the theme ‘Let us build the shattered country’ organized by the NPP at Trimmer Hall in Jaffna.
Speaking further Comrade Anura Dissanayake said, “First of all I thank all those who gathered here today to listen to us and talk with us. I believe Comrade Kokilan would translate what I speak in Sinhalese.
16th of November has been fixed to hold the presidential election. Normally, the people in the North do not consider the presidential election as their election. They consider it as an election held for political parties in the South to elect a leader for the South. There is no interest in this election when compared with the interest other elections get. Why do you consider this election as a struggle by the political parties in the South for power? It is the ruler and his administration elected at the presidential election that decides your and our future. As such, wherever we live, whatever language we speak and whatever culture we follow, this election cannot be avoided.
It is the election which chooses what the future holds for our children and us. As such, we believe the presidential election is the most important election for you. When only political parties in the South are in the fray, and you have to choose from them, your choice would be very important. The two political parties that ruled this country for 71 years have created wars and famine. They carried out administrations full of frauds, corruption and waste. The children do not have a proper school to study and a situation was created where people do not get proper health facilities. The question about our children’s future is an issue that torments us.
All these issues were created by two parties that are in the same camp. Do not consider as a political movement of the South only. We are a political movement that dedicates itself to do political work with the North as well. As soon as the war was over, we appointed our comrades, who work full time, to work in the North. We have a very comprehensive political dialogue with the North. With the understanding we have developed, we believe the National People’s Power would be the strongest political force in the North.
We have come to the North to invite you to choose us instead of the old, outdated, impotent political camp that has dragged the country and the people towards a precipice. It is only the NPP that rakes the responsibility on behalf of you. We, together, have a struggle to carry out to salvage the country from the precipice it has been dragged to. We have this common struggle before us. We, together, have the struggle to liberate this generation from the political camp that has tormented us and has made us destitute. Hence, we call upon you to rally with us.
In addition to the general suffering the people have been subjected to, the people in the North have been subjected to particular distress as a result of the thirty-year war. The people in the South had only fear. However, people in the North suffered and uncertainty of lives due to conflicts between armed groups, the destruction caused by invading Indian armies and the activities of the security forces during the war. You are the chief sufferers of the thirty-year war. We have regrets regarding not being able to pay much attention, as a political movement, to difficulties, serious issues confronted by the ordinary people in the North. However, we are a political movement that acts on behalf of the suffering people in the North as well. We genuinely regret not being able to act the way we should have. We still suffer from this inattention of ours. Let our conscience bear witness.
Where do we go from here? You, especially, are confronted with several main issues due to the war. The issue regarding the disappearances of your child, the husband, is very painful. It is more painful than a person’s death. My brother too has been made to disappear. We know the sorrow the parents and loved ones suffer from such catastrophes. We wait for agest hoping they would be with us tomorrow, the day after or next week. As such, getting information regarding the disappeared and access to justice to them is a just right of the citizens. Such rights should not be allowed to be buried in the shores of time or memory. We would assure you that we would create the opportunity for you to know the truth regarding them.
Also, those who were arrested are languishing in prisons for the last 20 to 30 years. I met some of them at Welikada prison. If they had committed a crime, the maximum prison term they would get is seven years. However, some have been in prison for more than 20 years without being charged. It does not come under any principles of fundamental justice. After the war, Kumaran Patahmanathan became the leader of the LTTE. He was not in prison, even for a single day. He was never brought before courts. Why was that? He had ships, bank accounts. If so, does the law consider the weight of bank accounts or according to the number of ships a person possesses to judge him? This is not at all justifiable. A youth who had in his possession an identity card with Daya Master’s signature is in prison. However, Daya Master who signed the ID card is free. We would commence a process to release all political prisoners detained by these rulers without any charges.
Next, you have a very serious issue regarding land. According to our culture, the land is not only an asset. The land is our relative. We have a relationship link with lands. The Army has been holding lands belonging to the people in the North for over thirty years. Now. The weapons are only with the Army. Hence, the Army no longer has any need to hold on to the land of the people. The people have a just right to have their lands. We invite you to be partners of an administration that would bring in a just society.
There are about 45,000 war widows in the North. There about 2500 children who have lost both their parents. Issues regarding normalizing lives of all of them have to be solved. A large community that has made agriculture their livelihood lives in the North. Special attention should be given to farmers who cultivate drumsticks, mangoes, chillies, red onions etc. While farmers in the South use chemicals as fertilizers farmer s in the North continue to use organic matter such as livestock manure as well as agricultural waste. However, they do not get a fair income. The farmer in Killinochchi gets a lesser amount for his kilo of paddy than that of a farmer at Polonnaruwa. We would guarantee that this state would be changed. We would crus the mafia that plunders the farmers. We will implement agricultural policies that will get the farmers a just income.
The main path for the development of the North is education. There is a large number of people in the North who have cultivated the habit of reading. Jaffna can boast of maintaining provincial newspapers. There are paper reading centres within villages. I have been to several libraries in Sri Lanka. Only at the library in Jaffna, people are asked to enter after removing their shoes. This shows that you treat the link between reading and education with deep respect or reverence. In 1983, during development council elections, then rulers, the UNP ministers brought down thugs from the South by ‘Yal Devi’ train and set fire to the Jaffna library. Gamini Lokuge, Gamini Dissanayaka, Gamini Jayawickreme Perera, the ministers then, gave those thugs leadership to carry out the atrocities. Several ballot boxes in this development council election were filled with ballot papers at Pannala Police. They not only denied the democratic rights of the people but also set fire to the library that was like the heart of the Jaffna people.
In an administration under us, the greatest attention would be given to the education of our children. Currently, the whole education machinery has been broken down. We would create a school network in which the children need not travel for more than two kilometres to attend school. Also, today, education is away from school and stays where the tuition master is. We would make a revolutionary change and get the children’s education back to schools. Next, the health issue in the country is very serious. Most of pregnant mothers suffer from anaemia. 21% of the children below five years of age suffer from malnutrition. As such, we will create an environment where children would get a nutritious meal so that our children will be very active and robust. For, they have to take over the country in the future.
Despite all what we say is true, you want to know how you would become partners in the administration. I should explain this to you. The base of our political path is a rejection of communalism. The politics in our country should not be allowed to be preyed upon by any communalism. These communal politics created wars. Youths in the North as well as in the South were devastated due to the war. During the thirty-year war, not a single child of those who represents and represented the Parliament died in the war. However, the war was created by the politicians in the South as well as in the North. It is the children of ordinary people who died in the war. Hence, no communal or religious extremism should be allowed to create conflicts in our country, hereafter. Ours is a political movement that holds high, despite very difficult conditions, the banner of national unity against communalism and religious extremism. We would never let go of this banner whatever pressure is applied on us.
Also, our politics is built around building national unity. How could it be created? No citizen in our country should feel he is a second class citizen. At a discussion I had with Mr Sambanthan he said he liked to call himself a citizen of Sri Lanka, but he did not like to say he is a second class citizen of this country. We completely agree with it. There should not be first-class citizens and second class citizens in our country. There should not be a distinction due to the language we speak, the different cultures we follow and the religion we practice.
As such, we, fundamentally, accept that Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims are equal citizens of this country. We make laws accepting and respecting the unique identifying characteristics of all citizens. Religion is your belief. There are no superior religions or inferior religions. Can we distinguish between your culture and our culture? Language is similar. Your language is Tamil and mine is Sinhalese. Can we say one is higher and the other is low? This environment where everything is equal should be activated not only in the constitution and the law of the country but also practically with and by all citizens. We would assure you that we’ll create moves as well as laws to build a society that promotes equality.
We are born in this country, participate in the economic struggle, die and become manure to this land. What are the differences between us? We would create a society that would not allow any differences. We will give the right for all citizens to be partners in political power. There shouldn’t be any administration that isolates any community by using its political power. We will create an administration in which there would be no distinction between the Sinhalese, the Tamil and the Muslim masses in sharing political power. They would become joint partners of political power.
The Chairman of the Committee which collected views regarding a new constitution Comrade Lal Wijenayake is with us now on this stage. They visited Jaffna, Trincomalee and other places to get people’s views. Comrade Dr Harini Amarasuriya was also a member of that committee. As such, we have a good understanding of the views, wishes and aspirations of the people. Dr Vijitha Rohana and Mr Ashoka Peiris who are with us had a broad political dialogue with you all which give us a broad understanding regarding the changes that should be brought in the constitution as well as in the laws of the country. We have collected all those views to create a country where we all can live as equal citizens in this country.
Our generation was sacrificed for a thirty-year war. This earth is soaked with the blood of our generation. The eyes of our mothers shed streams of tears. We all were terrorized. Our children need not be handed down such a miserable environment. We, who have experienced the suffering, have the responsibility of not allowing such a situation to arise again. Our responsibility is to act in a manner to prevent such a situation. The two communal political parties in the South hover over communalism. The steering committee to formulate a constitution has for more than 75 times. On every occasion, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe spoke only a few words. They did not have an interest in genuine national unity. They not only wasted time but also deceived the people in the South. We need not allow such deceptions.
We should come forward for a new political culture that does not deceive people, that does not trade people’s poverty, that tells the truth to the people and act according to the needs of the people. Everyone’s identity should be accepted and togetherness should be developed. We believe that a comprehensive political dialogue regarding this could be carried out within this presidential election campaign. Comrades who were attached to old political movements, university students such as Comrade Kokilan representing the youth are on this stage now. As such, a new political dialogue has erupted in the North and expectations for the future are kindled.”