Sri Lanka: No need for interim council when efforts to crush terrorism are on

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun Jan 27 14:14:08 UTC 2008

Sunday, 27 January 2008

 No need for interim council when efforts to crush terrorism are on

The proposed Interim Council for the Northern province will not be the
ideal solution to end the national problem at a time the military is
engaging in an operation to crush the LTTE, Foreign Affairs Secretary
of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Parliamentarian, Vijitha
Herath said.  He said the decision to implement the 13th Amendment of
the Constitution, which was brought without the consensus of the
people during the late President J. R. Jayewardene, would be a failure
soon.  "The Government should defeat terrorism militarily and defeat
the LTTE ideology at this juncture, where we are going ahead
successfully capturing the LTTE held areas", he said.

Herath said that the JVP was a patriotic independent political party
which takes the side of the Government when it was taking wise
decisions and protests when it was going in the wrong directions.
"These are not double standards", he said.  Following are the excerpts
of the interview:

Q: The Government has accepted the APRC proposals to resolve the
national problem. What do you have to say?

A: Actually the Committee cannot be called as APRC. The main
opposition party the UNP, the JVP, and the TNA did not attend their
meetings. It is the Government committee where all its political
parties and the minority parties took part. So the proposals do not
represent the collective views of all the parties of this country.
What we know is that the Committee came out with the proposal to
implement the 13th Amendment of the Constitution. The JVP's opinion is
that the 13th Amendment is not the solution for this. From the
beginning our opinion was that the provincial council system is not
the solution for this country. In 1987 former President J. R.
Jayewardene and former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi signed that
agreement with out the consensus of the people of this country. Our
opinion is that a political solution is needed to end this problem but
the provincial councils system is not the practical solution for it.

Q: But under these proposals an interim council will be set up in the
Northern Province. Does the JVP oppose the forming of this council?

A: The reality is that a war to crush terrorism is going on. In such a
situation how can we implement an interim council there. The LTTE
continuously attack the civilians. The other fact is who is going to
be the in-charge of the Council, who are the members of that and who
will carry out the duties of the council freely when a severe fighting
is going on. The JVP thinks that this is utter nonsense.

Q: But the JVP cannot deny the fact that the Mahinda Rajapaksa
Government has fulfilled JVP's three demands including the abolition
of the Ceasefire Agreement. How reasonable is it for the JVP to oppose
the APRC proposals at this crucial juncture, when the country needs

A: No. Those are not the demands of the JVP to the Government but very
important proposals that the Government can do. Those are good for the
future of the country and not for the JVP. Some media has called these
as JVPs' demands but they are proposals that we made on behalf of the
country and our people and the future generation. The country needs
peace and no doubt about that. Yes this is a crucial juncture but the
JVP does not want to be in a hurry to support an idea which is not
feasible now for the reason I mentioned earlier.

Q: What is the JVP's stand to bring peace while meeting the grievances
of the Tamils?

A: We strongly believe that first of all the Government should defeat
the LTTE militarily and also ideologically to prevent the LTTE's
propaganda and various activities internationally. We need to give a
clear picture about the LTTE to the international community. Secondly
we should guarantee equal rights to all the communities which means
that the people in Kilinochchi and Hambantota are enjoying equal share
of resources. We have to decentralise the administration. We can do it
and most of the Tamil people are demanding their rights and they are
not for a separate state. Only the LTTE is suffering from the mania of
a separate state.

In 1956 with the Sinhala only policy this problem was created. The
three languages Sinhala, Tamil and English should be made national

When the Tamil becomes the national language they will get the feeling
that Tamils are also part of this country. Therefore the language
policy should be implemented as soon as possible.

Therefore the JVP believes that when their rights are guaranteed, when
they can enjoy the resources equally and with the implementation of
their language as a national language this problem can be solved but
the LTTE should be defeated before all.

Q: Do you think that the UNP and the SLFP have failed to guide the
country in the right direction?

A: Yes. They have done many mistakes and the root causes for all the
evils that we are facing today are the repercussions of their
short-sighted political decisions to be in power. Particularly the UNP
should be responsible for creating various problems of this country
and the SLFP too cannot get away from the blame. Some irresponsible
leaders of both parties did wrong without considering the future of
this country.

Both parties are to be blamed and are responsible for present
situation of the country. That is why we want the Government to take
wise decisions at least now.

Q: Are you satisfied with the progress achieved under Mahinda
Chinthana which made the JVP to support the Government?

A: The Government has made progress only in defeating terrorism under
the Mahinda Chinthana. It is highly successful when compared to the
former governments and their decisions to defeat the LTTE. But what we
can tell is when we consider the economic development, the Government
has failed. The Government does not have a vision or practical
programs on how to develop the country and its economy. What we can
say is that the Government has deviated from the Mahinda Chinthana,
which really highlighted how to develop the country and the national
economy. It is sad that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ignored and
forgotten the Mahinda Chinthana policy now.

Q: Do you still believe in forming a national front to overcome the
main issues?

A: Actually the JVP's main objective is to form a national front and
to achieve our target a national policy including the economy,
politics and culture should be prepared which cannot be changed with
the change of governments. The policy should be totally Sri Lankan.
The JVP has already initiated preparing the policy and we hope to
re-build the country in the near future under this policy. In this
country there is no good governance and especially the country lacks
responsible politicians. The majority of them are corrupt and are
violating the normal rules and regulations in society. Ordinary people
of this country are desperately looking for good governing bodies in
future. We believe that if we can build a national front like in India
which was formed by Mahatma Gandhi it will be successful. We hope
there is need of a such a body with the participation of all the
communities and that is the ultimate objective of the JVP. We also
think that it will be the future hope for the Sri Lankans.

To achieve this goal the JVP has to seek the support of all
individuals even from politicians, various organisations and
societies. Though there is no specific time frame for this national
front to be formed, when considered the situation of the country we
have to form that within a short period of time. Then we can solve
many problems which we are facing today.

Q: The JVP insisted on the abolition of the executive presidency. Do
you still want to do that?

A: Yes, it is obvious. The Executive Presidency is not feasible and
also not suitable for us. We have very bad experiences in the past.
The JVP's stand is that if we have a chance we must abolish it.

Q: Will it be the next demand of the JVP to support the government?

A: No. As I said earlier the JVP does not have demands as such. We
have explained our opinion about the Executive Presidency from the
beginning and even in the Mahinda Chinthana it is clearly mentioned.
So it is not a new demand and we want the Government to consider our

Q: Once the JVP has claimed that the rapport with the Government is
'an unhappy marriage but does not want a divorce'. Why does the JVP
want to continue its support to the Government and is it just for your

A: We have submitted our proposals, 20 proposals including the
abrogation of the CFA - before joining the Government to support them,
even without taking any portfolio. But unfortunately the Mahinda
Rajapaksa Government rejected them and got the support of the UNP
Democratic Front. Therefore our link with the Government collapsed and
I think we cannot do that now as the political situation has changed
now. The JVP is an independent patriotic political party. What we do
is for the country. And as the main opposition party we do not have an
intention to topple the Government and disrupt the economic policies
but as a responsible political party we think that our responsibility
is to correct the Government when it goes wrong. Our duty is to be
patriotic. And if we want we can survive with out supporting the

Q: But the general view is that the JVP is misleading or fooling the
people by having double standards where once you support and protect
the Government and in another occasion protesting against the
Government. What is your policy?

A: If the government is doing right we are supporting the Government
and we have openly said that. We supported the emergency regulations
as we want to defeat the LTTE. When the Government is taking vital
steps we are with the Government for the benefit of the country. When
the Government engages in corruption and things that destroy the
sovereignty and integrity of the country we vehemently oppose them.
The JVP hopes that is our duty. It does not mean that we have double
standards and fooling people. People know what we are doing.

Q: Are you basically with the Government or not?

A: No we are not with the Government we are an independent political
party with our own missions and objectives.

Q: Ignoring the pressure of the international community when solving
internal issues is another demand by the JVP. What are your views
about the international community and do you think that we do not want
the support of our neighbours at least?

A: First we need to understand what the so-called international
community is. Some people and some political parties think that the
USA, UK, Japan and the EU are the international community. But the
reality is they are not the real international community. There are
other countries such as China, Russia and India. We have to clarify
and understand what the international community is and the second is
we have to have a good relationship with the other countries as well.
As a developing country we can not be isolated and we want to learn a
lot from them. We have to share their experiences as well. The JVPs
view is that Sri Lanka does not need to live separately from the other
countries but at the same time we cannot allow these countries to
interfere in our own affairs unnecessarily. We have to identify our
boundaries when dealing with the international community. Especially
we want to highlight that the USA, UK and EU cannot interfere in our

We want to protect our sovereignty and integrity. The JVP believes
that if we can have relationship on the basis of that we can have a
good rapport with the international community. The Government should
have confidence about our own resources and capabilities of our won
people. We should not depend on other countries and we should harness
our talents not to be dependent on the so-called international
community while maintaining a good relationship with other countries.

Q: Do you think that the JVP can remain as the third force in the
future and how genuine are you as a party in solving people's

A: Yes, we are the third force in the country now and our target is to
top all the political parties one day. Our objective is to come to
power soon.

All those problems have arisen because of the bad economic policy. So
we hope to introduce a well planned economic policy which will be the
foundation to solve most of the problems that we are facing today.
Even the national problem has arisen because of the bad economic
policy where there is no equal distribution of resources to all the
communities as I said earlier.

As a first step towards this the JVP intends to boost national
production and the second is good governance. Today there is no
disciplined political party and politicians. People are very well
aware of the situation and they want a change. So the JVP is there to
address peoples grievances.

Q: Are you confident that the JVP would be able to achieve your target
in the next election?

A: Yes. We do not know that will happen in the next election or after
but aim is that and we strongly believe that people will support us.

Q: Securing human rights has become a hot topic today. Last week the
JVP again protested against the Human Rights Commissioner Louise
Arbour. What do you have to say about the present situation of human
rights in the country?

A: We must protect the human rights meanwhile other countries have the
right to say to us to guarantee the human rights. But they can not
interfere saying us to do this and that. Arbour actually threatened
the Sri Lankan Government saying that if political or military leaders
take action violating human rights they will be brought before the
International Court.

The JVP feels that this is an indirect threat to the Government to
stop going ahead with military actions. Arbour did not threatened the
LTTE leader to stop violating human rights of Tamils and never asked
Prabhakaran to stop the war. Her press release was biased and in
favour of the LTTE. She used the concept 'Responsibility to protect',
which was in the International Commission on Intervention and State
Sovereignty. There are three categories in that concept and the first
is the 'Responsibility to Prevent' the second is the Responsibility to
Re-act and the third is to Responsibility to build. Now Arbour is
doing the second step, the Responsibility to react.

And she is trying to stop some economic relationships between us and
other countries. She tried to put economic blockades. The JVP thinks
that this is an indirect way of threatening and interfering in our
country using that concept. The JVP also thinks that this is the new
method of imperialism. They are using HR to interfere in our affairs

Our explanation for this concept is the re-colonisation to plunder and
it is not the responsibility to protect as the UN classified. The UN
interfered in Sudan using the same method. So it is time to understand
the objectives of the UN and Arbour. Sri Lankan people must understand
that. There are some violations and the LTTE is doing the highest
number of human rights violations against the people belong to all
communities. The main responsibility lies on the Government and the
Government should take some responsibility to bring down the HR
violations. If this does not happen the so-called international
community will come and try to interfere in our affairs. On the other
hand in this war situation, the Government cannot stop HR violations
completely but can reduce them to a certain extent.

Q: Norway was one of the JVPs' main headaches until the abrogation of
the CFA. Do you think Japan will succeed Norway?

A: Actually the Norwegian government policy was a head ache but not
the Norwegian people. If Japan try to succeed Norway it would be an
unfortunate situation. We told Akashi not to behave like Solheim. If
he behaves like Solheim we will definitely oppose him too.

The meeting with him was very important and we emphasised to him the
Sri Lankan situation and told him as the Japan which is a unitary
state, Sri Lanka needs to be a unitary state. He tried to re-start
negotiations with the LTTE but he could not do that.

Q: Do you think that we have room to commence negotiations?

A: No. we do not think that there is room for it now. We know for sure
that the LTTE's prime objective still is to have separate state Eelam.
So we do not believe in negotiations any more.

Q: Did Akashi warned about stopping financial aid to Sri Lanka?

A: Yes, indirectly he said. But he did not use the word stop but he
indirectly said that they had to stop some of donations and they are
now considering that. We think he also tried to threaten us
indirectly. We told him that we are not depending on their donations.

shanika at

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