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Home > Tamil National Forum > Selected Writings - Victor Rajakulendran > Open Letter to President Kumaratunga

Selected Writings - Dr. Victor Rajakulendran

An Open Letter to
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

15 August 2000

Your Excellency

I am writing to you this time in response to the speech you made in Sri Lankan Parliament in support of your government's Constitutional Bill (CB), when it was tabled in the Sri Lanka Parliament by your Honourable Finance Minister Mr. G.L Pieries.

The voting on this bill, according to some of your government ministers, has been indefinitely postponed ... Political commentators, including the BBC, have said that it has been abandoned. You have now come out with a new revelation that the new constitution bill will be passed with a simple majority by converting the new Parliament into a Constituent Assembly. Therefore I thought that the present is the time for me to write...

Your Excellency, at the outset, I would like to thank you for giving the opportunity to the Sinhala chauvinistic forces, including those in the Maha Sangha, to show their true colours to the International Community (IC), at a time when the attention of the IC was focused on Sri Lanka.

"One of the essential elements that must be kept in mind in understanding the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict is that, since 1958 at least, every time Tamil politicians negotiated some sort of power-sharing deal with a Sinhalese government - regardless of which party was in power - the opposition Sinhalese party always claimed that the party in power had negotiated away too much. In almost every case - sometimes within days - the party in power backed down on the agreement." - (Professor Marshall Singer, at US Congress Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Hearing on Sri Lanka November 14,1995)

��Whilst Sri Lanka talks peace it continues with its military efforts. If we look at the past we can see why. Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism has been institutionalised in Sri Lanka and today it has become more powerful than the politicians themselves. Indeed even if some Sinhala politicians seek to settle the conflict, Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism will seek to prevent such a settlement. This is the political reality that those who are aware of the Sri Lankan situation are well aware of. This Sinhala chauvinism which was nurtured by Sinhala politicians for their electoral advantage, has grown into a Frankenstein monster which now has the power to destroy and make politicians. This we understand very well.�� (Sathasivam Krishnakumar, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, in an interview with Melbourne Community Radio CR3, September, 1991)

By boldly tabling this bill in the Parliament you have done a yeoman's service to the IC. Now I am sure the IC will regret for not believing all this time, the claim the Tamils have been making, that the Sinhalese chauvinistic forces will not let any Sinhala leader to grant even  minimum autonomy, let alone self determination, to Tamils. Tamils will be grateful to you, for providing this opportunity.

Your Excellency, you did not get a chance to learn the dirty politics from your father. The Sinhala chauvinistic forces snatched him away from you when you were too young.

Everyone knows that you, once decided to leave your family's party, to join your beloved husband, who was one of the great political visionaries that mother Lanka ever had, to build up an alternative political party to the two mainstream Sinhala parties.

By choosing a man now, who also followed you to join your husband at that time, to replace your mother as the countries Prime Minister, you have demonstrated your belief in your late husband's political principles, even at this time of trouble.

Unfortunately the same Sinhala chauvinistic forces (fitter to be called "terrorists" than those you always refer to by this label) snatched your husband also away from you prematurely like they did with your father.

However, you decided to continue fulfilling his vision. You, who were in exile waiting for your opportunity to jump into the ring, did so at your first opportunity when your mother wanted a better person than herself to fight her rivals, the United National Party (UNP).

I consider this as the biggest mistake you ever have made in your life. Like many others, I still believe that you had good intentions like your beloved husband, to settle Tamil's grievances when you came into power in 1994. This is why you were able to win overwhelmingly with the help of the Tamil votes in 1994. However, those whom you had chosen to be around you in the government spoiled you very quickly.

 I would like to quote the following from my first open letter I wrote to you on the 20th of August 1998 on the issue of Chemmani mass graves -

"Your Excellency, to me it looks like you are willing to do the justice, but you have become a prisoner of circumstances...

Your Excellency, you quickly started forgetting the same Tamils who loyally voted you in and allowed those around you to be cruel to them. I need not elaborate on this but I would like to quote again from my first letter what I reminded you then;

Don't you know that many of these Chemmani victims voted for you to elect you as President, after seeing your courage and justice in ordering to excavate the Sooriyakantha Mass Graves, in the hope that they don't have to end up in Mass Graves any more? Don't you think that you have disappointed these innocent youths? Don't you think that these innocent people would have thought about you during their last few minutes of their lives when they were going through the torture before being killed? Don't you think that these victims' souls are going to haunt you for your lifetime if you fail to deliver the justice?"

Your Excellency, you were born into a Christian family and your father changed his faith to Buddhism for political reasons...

Whatever extent your father tried... he could not convince the Maha Sangha, and he was assassinated by one of the members of the Maha Sangha itself. Now the Maha Sangha, by their recent actions, are trying to give you the same message.

From the beginning you tried to ignore the Maha Sangha's views. You thought you could separate the state and the religion. But you learnt very late that this would not work in the Sri Lankan society. You tried to appease them, but you have failed.

You would have started to learn this without any doubt within the last 2 weeks. For the first time in the history of Sri Lanka, the Mahanayakas of the Malwatha and Asgirya chapters refused to meet the leader of the country. They gave you the message loud and clear in advance by bestowing the highest Buddhist honour on your Honourable Minister Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse to indicate that they prefer a true Buddhist like him, and not a convert like you, to lead the country in the future.

Although you have not said this, Mahinda Rajapakse is the reason for you to make the decision to postpone the voting on the CB. At this stage I would like to quote again what I wrote to you in this regard in my first open letter to you:

"I also tend to think now that, like your father, you have started to yield to the pressures from the Sinhalese chauvinistic forces not to grant justice to the minorities in Sri Lanka".

Your Excellency, it is not too late yet for you to change. You told the SLFP members of your government just before tabling the CB that, you have no compulsion to stay as the leader of the country and you are prepared to leave at any time now. At that stage you urged them to go back to their electorates and secure their seats in the forthcoming elections. Therefore I sincerely urge you to consider makin your threat to the SLFP members, a reality - for the sake of yourself, your children and for the nation. I would like to quote for the last time something I wrote in that first open letter of mine to you here:

"Your Excellency, when Jesus was walking in this world he said to those Jews who resisted to believe him as the real Messiah, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32). What Jesus meant was that they shall know the truth that he was the Son of God and this truth will set them free from their slavery to sin. All what I can do from Australia is to pray to that almighty, for you to know that truth, so that, that truth shall set you free from the bondage you are caught up in the forces of evil around you".

Your Excellency, I shall continue to pray for this.

Your Excellency, now I shall dwell into you speech you made in the parliament on the 3rd of August, 2000 which I had the opportunity to read from an electronic version of your own government's mouth organ, the "Daily News" by clicking http://www.lanka.net/lakehouse/2000/08/07/fea01.html

Your Excellency, you were expecting the cooperation from the UNP to get a 2/3 majority to pass your CB. But surprisingly, you began your speech by accusing the same UNP of deepening the ethnic crisis by starting the war by killing, burning and looting the Tamil people and their property on five occasions between 1977 and 1983.

While you have forgotten to mention the looting and burning of Tamil people and their property during your father's administration in 1956 and 1958 (I am not trying to defend the UNP here - I agree that they were responsible for all what happened in 1983), this attitude of yours from the outset of your speech creates doubt in anyone's mind that whether you were really keen on getting the bill passed in the present Parliament.

Tamil Child in the VanniI would like to point out to you also that, in your administration only, more innocent Tamil people were killed by your security forces, for which you are the commander in chief, and more Tamils became displaced people both within and outside the country. The Sri Lankan armed forces under your command only used Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers and Kfir jet bombers to kill and maim innocent Tamil civilians. Under your administration only Tamil people faced the worst economic embargo and suffered from the lack of medicine and malnutrition.

I also would like to ask you; didn't the UNP cooperate for the first time in history to reach a consensus with you on your Devolution Proposal? Is it not also true that they only disagreed on your transitional procedures? I feel that you should have avoided using this opportunity to try and gain political mileage for your election campaign, if you were genuine in passing this bill.

Your Excellency, you talked about the lives of thousands of young soldiers have been destroyed, villagers are being cut and chopped to death and the lives of civilians are being destroyed by your enemy exploding bombs in Colombo. Your Excellency, a war has always two sides. As a President, who is ostensibly or otherwise, pretending to be introducing this bill to solve the ethnic problem have failed to mention even a word about the sufferings the Tamil people in the North-East have gone through and are still going through. How can you expect these Tamil people to believe that you are genuinely interested in solving the ethnic problem when you do not have any feelings for their suffering. You also have boasted that your government has liberated 85% of the North, which the UNP could never do. This shows clearly again that you are doing your election campaigning in Parliament.

But you have failed to realize that very recently the LTTE's political advisor Dr. Anton Balasingam claimed that 70% of the North-East is under LTTE control. The Sri Lankan people have heard his message already loud and clear, even under your strict censorship laws.

Your Excellency, you appealed to the Parliamentarians to act with a sense of responsibility to give their cooperation to the CB to save the lives of people. Were you trying to fool the Parliamentarians, including the Tamil ones, expecting them to believe that when the CB is passed the war will automatically stop. Your excellency, if you are really keen on saving the lives of people you should try hard to have a cease-fire and negotiate with LTTE with the help of the Norwegians who have already worked towards this.

At this stage you may be interested to read the appeal I made to the Tamil Parliamentarians while they were sitting on the fence, contemplating what to do. This appeal was hand delivered to most of the parliamentarians. Your Excellency, it will be difficult to fool a sensible Tamil Parliamentarian who have read this appeal and got convicted in his heart.

Your Excellency, you have stated in your speech that the Tamils are asking for their just rights and the government should create confidence in them by clearly granting their rights legally. Your Excellency, you and the whole world know very clearly what are these just rights the Tamils are asking.

As the Tamils unitedly put forward at Thimpu, these are the right to the nationhood, right to their homeland, right of self-determination and the right to full citizenship and other democratic rights. Have you ever even attempted to accommodate any of these rights to be assured to the Tamils through your new proposed constitution?

While your father in 1956 stripped the language rights of the Tamils off, your mother stripped off their right to Higher Education in 1970, now you are trying to strip them off their Land Rights with your proposed New Constitution. But at the same time you were trying to preach to the parliamentarians the other day, that you were in the process of legally granting some rights to Tamils. I do not understand what rights you were talking about...

Your Excellency, you have said in your speech that;

"Once this constitution is passed the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities and other minorities will live in mutual trust without terrorism, saying that they do not want war. It is when that happens that Pirabaharan will be chased away."

How on earth you could tell this and convince the knowledgable parliamentarians, while most of the sensible Tamil parliamentarians have already rejected your proposed New Constitution even before you made this speech. How can you expect the Tamils to live in mutual trust with the Sinhala community, when the leader of that community has miserably failed in accommodating even the basic demands of the Tamils in the proposed New Constitution?

Your Excellency, you have also told  Parliament that the New Constitution was discussed with the Tamil parties for two weeks. However, you have failed to mention the truth that, you did not agree to accept any of their suggestions and make appropriate changes in your proposed New Constitution.

Your Excellency, in the 30th paragraph of your speech you have stated that;

"There is another section Mr. Speaker which has solutions for the most dangerous problem of this era, the ethnic problem, specially of the Tamil people which had been aggravated over the last several decades, by devolving power to the minorities. Some of the major problems the minorities and minority religions have are the inability to find schools for their children and non-availability of employment opportunities. These are problems common to under-developed countries. We should find solutions to these, while finding solutions to the other problems of our people."

Your Excellency, if you think that the lack of schools and employment are the main problems of the Tamil minority, then you have either not understood the problems of the minorities or you do not want accept that they have serious problems. No one can expect solutions from a person who cannot understand the problems or is not willing to accept that there are problems.

Your Excellency, you also have said in your speech that you have already started talking to the Tamils like me, who have fled Sri Lanka and now living abroad. Is there any truth in it? I have not seen or even heard that you have made even attempts to do this in Australia.

You have said that if the LTTE is willing to talk about this proposal, your government is willing to talk. You also have said that the only condition is for LTTE to stop killing, freeze the war and hold discussions.

You are acting like a parrot, trying to repeat what Pirabaharan has publicly asked you to do, if you want to negotiate peace with him. How many times has he publicly declared that, before negotiations with the Sri Lankan government begins, a conducive environment has to be created by removing the hardships that has been imposed upon the Tamil people, a cease-fire has to be implemented and negotiations have to be conducted with a third party mediation.

Your Excellency, when you said in your speech that;

"Unless we give the guarantee to the Tamil people, including the 7 lakhs supporting the LTTE, that we would not at least kill or burn them through this constitution, it will be our people who will be killed on the streets of Colombo by Pirabaharan",

you have accepted that there has been killing and burning of Tamil people by the Sinhalese.

You also have said that there is only a handful of Sinhalese who think that all Tamils and Muslims should be killed and only the Sinhala Buddhists should live in this country. But, by withdrawing the debate and the voting on the CB, under the pressure from this handful of people, you have demonstrated that you are prepared to dance to their tune only.

Your Excellency, you also have said that; "I tell this house on this occasion that we can definitely and successfully win the war in the North by granting their rights".

Your Excellency no one can win a war without fighting a war to the end. But by granting their rights you could only bring the war to an end without any victors or losers. This statement itself clearly shows that you are keen on showing the Sinhala masses that you are winning the war in order to gain political mileage rather than putting an end to the human tragedy.

Your Excellency, you have stated that;

"Mr. Speaker, we are doing this (submitting the CB) regardless of the number of votes we will get. Unfortunately hitherto no government that ruled this country has come forward to solve this question because they were only mindful of the number of votes they expected to get."

However, you could not hold on to your word even for more than five days. The issue of number of votes has started to haunt you as it did to other leaders, and you decided to postpone solving the question, if not abandoned altogether.

Your Excellency, I have dealt in length all the political manoeuvring you have attempted in the last two weeks, trying to hoodwink the people of Sri Lanka and the International Community. When you have failed in all your manoeuvring, you have now resort to the new strategy of passing the New Constitution with a simple majority in the new Parliament.

You have said in your latest Rupavahini Television interview (11.08.00) that, "the mandate we received in the past elections would be used to this effect".

You also have mentioned in your speech in parliament on the 3rd of August 2000, that you have asked the people for a mandate to enact a New Constitution, during nine rounds of elections between 1993 and 1999. Now you are telling that the new parliament would be converted into a Constituent Assembly for the purpose of approving the New Constitution with a simple majority.

You also have said that you have already obtained advice from internationally recognised constitutional experts in this regard. You have also stated that your government knew that the united National Party and as well as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam would oppose the new constitution.

Your Excellency, if all this is true and if you were sincere, why you did not follow this approach during the lifespan of the present parliament?

Your Excellency, you think that the people of Sri Lanka and the International Community are fools, to be fooled around by you forever. Your Excellency, I think you are trying to live in a fool's paradise.

I humbly urge you to consider all the facts given above and seriously consider my advice I have given you at the beginning of this letter, at least for the sake of your children and yourself if not for the sake of the people of Sri Lanka. Otherwise I have no alternative other than to pray to that almighty God, to provide you the 2/3 majority in the new Parliament so that you could not put the blame on others and hoodwink the people of Sri Lanka and the International Community any more.

God Bless You!
Sincerely yours
Dr. Victor Rajakulendran


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