Political leaders of Tamil Nadu, including Chief Minister Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi, condemned Monday Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka for his derogatory comments on Tamil Nadu leaders in an interview to a Sri Lankan state-owned newspaper on Sunday. Vaiko, the General Secretary of the MDMK has announced a protest in front of the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission in Chennai on December 10 demanding unconditional apology from the Sri Lankan Commander-in-Chief Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Army Chief Sarath Fonseka to the latter’s astonishing remarks in the Sunday Observer newspaper.
“If Sri Lanka fails to extend apology, the Indian Central government should expel the Sri Lankan High Commissioner from India,” Mr. Vaiko has demanded.
The Sri Lankan army chief had labeled Tamil Nadu leaders who were seeking a ceasefire in Sri Lanka as ‘political jokers’ and accused them of being ‘corrupt’.
Fonseka’s comments follow an all party delegation to New Delhi headed by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi seeking a ceasefire in Sri Lanka.
Fonseka had expressed confidence that the Indian government “is not interested in a ceasefire in Sri Lanka” as it has listed the LTTE as a terrorist organisation and added that the Indian Government would never influence Sri Lanka to restore the ceasefire with the LTTE and it would not listen to the “political jokers” of Tamil Nadu whose “survival depends on the LTTE”.
When asked by the newspaper reporter about allegations of Sri Lankan security forces’ disregard for civilian casualties, Fonseka replied: “These allegations are made only by the corrupt politicians in Tamil Nadu who have been bribed by the LTTE. Though they are very much aware that the civilians are not getting killed in any of these military operations they try to utter some words on behalf of the LTTE as their survival depends on the LTTE.”
“This is the time for them to realise the truth. And they should also realise their attempts to save the LTTE would not be successful as the LTTE is on the brink of extinction. Most importantly, they should realise that LTTE is an internal problem of Sri Lanka and need to honour the sovereignty of Sri Lanka.”
Warning that the LTTE’s separate state ideology is a “threat” to India, the Sri Lankan Army chief said: “If you consider the overall thing, the LTTE’s separate state ideology is a threat to India, because this ideology will spread in Tamil Nadu too. It is now proved by Tamil Nadu by staging protests against the Indian government and seeking help to take the side of the LTTE”.
This is not the first time for the SLA commander to come up with such remarks. In an interview to Canada’s National Post in September this year, Sarath Fonseka had said he “strongly believed that Sri Lanka belongs to Sinhalese,” and that the other communities “must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things.”
The SLA commander or his C-in-C failed to extend a public apology despite his comments had drawn protest from many political quarters.
Fonseka-Rajapaksa rift widens: Nedumaran
Tamil Nationalist Movement leader, P. Nedumaran, on Wednesday said the recent remarks of the Sri Lankan Army chief about the Indian leaders were indicative of the attempt by the Armed Forces to gain an edge over president Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Island nation.
Addressing a black flag demonstration organised by MDMK in front of the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission office here, Nedumaran said those remarks reflected the growing differences between the Sri Lankan president and the Army chief. “He (Fonseka) does not bother about anything.
If he continues with his acts, that nation may witness army rule in the near future,’’ he said.
Nedumaran, who was a former TNCC leader and now a supporter of LTTE, claimed that the rebel organisation was “teaching hard lessons’’ to the Lankan armed forces.
The TNM leader said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would be responsible if “something happens to Sivajilingam, Sri Lankan Member of Parliament, who was asked to leave the country.’’ Nedumaran revealed that Indian government has asked Sivajilingam to go back to Sri Lanka as his visa expired. “There is a threat to his life. There were incidents in the past in which the Sri Lankan Tamil MPs were killed by the Lankan armed forces,’’ alleged Nedumaran.
CPI leader Mahendran, who also addressed the gathering, said the army chief’s remarks on the Indian leaders were a shame for an elected government.
“The Lankan army chief’s remarks on another country’s political leaders is a shame for that country’s elected government,’’ he said. The Communist leader said even the United Nations has accepted the Lankan Tamils struggle for their rights and the Lankan government now stood isolated for their inhuman violence unleashed on the ethnic Tamils.
Ethnocentric military dictatorship in the making in Colombo – Vanni MP
Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian for Vanni, Selvam Adaikkalanathan, who blamed Sri Lanka Army commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka for his Sinhala ethnocentric comments to a Canadian paper, said Sunday that the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as Commander-in-Chief and the Executive President, should instruct the SLA commander to apologise for the statement. Fonseka’s statement not only undermined democracy by justifying an ethnic majoritarian rule in the island of Sri Lanka, but also alluded that a military dictatorship was in the making in Colombo, he said. Meanwhile, Rauff Hakim, the leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, also blamed that the “attack on the minorities ” by the SLA commander “bordered on racism.”
The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, in an interview to Canada’s National Post published on Thursday, said he “strongly believed that Sri Lanka belongs to Sinhalese.
“I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people,” quoted Stewart Bell of the Canadian paper National Post the Sri Lankan commander as saying.
“We are also a strong nation. They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things.”
Reacting to the SLA commander, Mr. Rauff Hakim, said that the nature of the attack on the minorities in the interview bordered on racism. “His request for minorities not to make demands is totally uncalled for and only goes to create a fear psychosis among the minorities at this critical juncture of the conflict,” he said.
Mr. Adaikkalanathan said the comments from the SLA commander, seen together with an intimidating campaign by the Sri Lankan Police of forced registration of Tamils from North residing in Colombo, violating even the concerns of the Sri Lankan judiciary, resembled an agenda of ethnic cleansing was being exercised as the interview exposed the inner mind of the military establishment.
Saying that the Tamil Internally Displaced Persons are forced to live inside detention centres in Mannaar, Mr. Adaikkalanathan questioned whether it was the way the Sri Lankan Commander wanted to treat the Tamils in what he attempts to describe as his ‘Sinhala country’.
The fear psychosis among the displaced civilians have gone to the extent that they counter interpret the propaganda material that originates from the Sri Lankan military, the MP said, referring to recent news reports on chemical weapons.
“Especially after the International NGO workers were ordered to leave Vanni, civilians express fear of a catastrophic choice: whether to face famine and death in the attacks of the invading forces or to face ethnic cleansing as IDPs in Sri Lanka Army controlled territories.”
Mr Adaikkalanathan added: “It is not difficult to imagine how the Tamils, whom Colombo wants to flee southwards to Vavuniyaa, perceive the call, after witnessing throughout the years how the residents of Jaffna, who have been under Sri Lanka Army control for more than a decade were being treated by the military.”
“The Jaffna peninsula has become an open prison where those who face death threats have to seek security inside the real prisons,” he said.
The Sri Lankan forces have severely restricted the free movement of Tamil civilians for more than two years, especially after the closure of A9 highway.
Sarath Fonseka in his interview to the Canadian paper also said that it could take nearly 20 years to clear land mines in the areas being brought under the control of the SLA.
Karunanidhi not a Tamilian, says Swamy
Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swamy on Thursday remarked that Chief Minister Karunanidhi made the “ridiculous comments on AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa to hide the fact that he himself is not a Tamil at all and, in fact, had migrated from Andhra Pradesh.’’
In a statement, he said Karunanidhi had made himself look ridiculous by criticizing the AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa for not condemning the Sri Lankan Army chief Sarath Fonseka for calling Tamil Nadu political leaders Vaiko and P Nedumaran as “jokers’’.
He said the “Chief Minister has made the outrageous comment that Jaylalithaa’s silence is due to her being not a Tamil, as otherwise she would have reacted to a foreigner (Fonseka) defaming Tamil leaders.”
Dr Swamy asked Karunanidhi “to explain whether the same remark would apply to TNCC president Thankgabalu, who has been silent on this matter.’’ He said the “the problem is that Karunanidhi is in the habit of making wild statements which contradict what he practices.”
Swamy pointed out that “Karunanidhi also appeared to have forgotten that in 1987, when the Swedish radio broadcast a statement that the then PM Rajiv Gandhi had taken a bribe in the Bofors arms deal, he took that as a truth and demanded the resignation of Rajiv Gandhi.
“Was it right for an Indian to demand the prosecution of a Prime Minister of India merely on the word of a foreigner? If so, he should have also demanded the prosecution of Vaiko and Nedumaran for receiving funds from the LTTE since this has been authoritatively stated by an important spokesman of Sri Lankan government.’’
(Express News Service)