Japan & the
Struggle for Tamil Eelam
Japan's aid not conducive to peace in Sri Lanka - Tamil
TamilNet, Monday, 2 July 2007
R. Sampanthan, Parliamentary group leader of the Tamil National
Alliance (TNA), has said that the decision by Sri Lanka's major donor country
Japan, to continue economic aid to Sri Lanka, will soften the International
pressure on the SL government to seek a political solution and strengthen
Colombo to pursue the military option. Pointing out Sri Lanka President's
categorical statement that there would be no change in his policy on a "unitary
structure of a government" with the "district as the unit of devolution," Mr.
Sampanthan dismissed the efforts of All Party Representatives Committee (APRC)
as "no more than a mere pretense" to show some action is being taken towards
"We are not satisfied that Japan is using its influence at all
to bring about an end to the military confrontation, or in the evolution of an
acceptable political solution, bearing in mind the long standing suffering and
legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people," Sampanthan said.
The senior Tamil politician is heading the TNA delegation to Europe, comprising
parliamentarians Gajendrakumar Ponnampalam, Selvam Adaikkalanathan and Suresh
Premachandran. Mavai Senathriajah MP is also expected to join the delegation
currently in Oslo.
Full text of the Interview with Mr. Sampanthan:
TamilNet: Do you think the Co-Chairs would decide to pressure the GoSL by
curtailing the economic aid?
Mr. Sampanthan: I am not certain about the decisions the Co-Chairs have taken in
regard to aid being given to the government. But we are aware U.K, EU and USA
have reduced their aid to Sri Lanka. But I believe Japan is not favor of cutting
aid. And what pressure the Co-Chairs and the international community will be
able to exert on the Sri Lankan government to compel them to take positive steps
in regard to the matters [related to peace] is not very certain. But I do think
the international community wants to bring about a peaceful resolution through
negotiation than through military means. Action should be such that would make
the Sri Lankan government realize that they cannot persist in their present
course of action.
TamilNet: Do you think that Japan�s decision to continue giving economic aid to
Sri Lanka would lessen the impact of aid reduction by other countries on Sri
Lanka? And what is your comment to the reports that more than 40% of Japanese
aid is going to NorthEast?
Mr. Sampanthan: The Japanese ambassador in Colombo frequently talks about
construction of Ki'linochchi hospital with Japanese funding. But, I am inclined
to think that the Japanese government's contribution to NorthEast falls far
short of the claimed figure of 40% of the total Japanese aid to the Sri Lankan
state. And this is a matter which I think the Japanese government should clarify
and monitor. Furthermore, any development with money expended in the NorthEast
in the present situation, could be destroyed due to aerial bombardment, multi
barrel rocket fire and military confrontation.
Before the aid is spent on development activities in the NorthEast, peace must
prevail in the Northeast. And people must be able to live in the NorthEast
without fear of shells and air raids. Now, in the Moothoor High Security Zone,
people can't resettle. If people cannot resettle in their own areas, what is the
purpose of development in those areas? Development must be for the benefit of
the people. So there is a contradiction between the claim of Japan that a
substantial percentage of their aid is being distributed to the NorthEast and
the extent of the development activity there. For, any development to be
meaningful, the area must be safe for living and local residents should be the
real beneficiaries. This is not the case in the Northeast.
We are not satisfied that Japan is using its influence at all to bring about an
end to the military confrontation, or in the evolution of an acceptable
political solution, bearing in mind the long standing suffering and legitimate
aspirations of the Tamil people.
TamilNet: What is your view of the progress of the APRC? Certain members of the
International Community appear to express hope on APRC�s efforts?
Mr. Sampanthan: In the meeting between the representatives of the APRC and Sri
Lanka�s President, after the proposals have been submitted by the SLFP, the
President categorically stated he was committed to both the unitary structure of
the government and districts as the unit of devolution.
President�s position takes Sri Lanka more than 50 years backwards, to the period
before the Bandaranayake- Chelvanayagam Pact of 1957. So we do not see much hope
in the prospect of a political solution emerging through the APRC process.
I have so far refrained from commenting adversely on the APRC proposals. But
after the SLFP proposals were placed before the APRC, I recently made a
statement in Parliament stating that in the context of the proposals placed by
the SLFP before the APRC, the APRC has become a shroud. It is no more than a
mere pretence that some effort is being made to resolve a political solution.
If the President's own party states, that they are committed to a "unitary
structure of a government" with the "district as the unit of devolution," then I
do not think there is any chance whatever - of the APRC being able to come out
with the proposals that will be even remotely acceptable to Tamil aspirations;
It will not satisfy any section of the Tamil political spectrum.
TamilNet: What is your impression of the situation following the recent meeting
in Oslo, by the Co-Chairs of Tokyo Donor Conference on the Sri Lankan Peace
Mr. Sampanthan: It appears that the Co-Chairs have spent more time discussing
the various dimensions of the current political, military and Human Rights
situation in Sri Lanka. The Co-Chairs were allegedly in agreement that there
could be no military solution to the Tamil question in Sri Lanka and that the
Tamil question would have to solved politically.
The Co-Chairs seem to have emphasized the need for a political solution that
could meet the aspirations of the Tamil people while safeguarding the rights of
others such as the Muslims living in the NorthEast.
The Co-Chairs also been very much been concerned about the human rights
situation in Sri Lanka. There are two aspects of human rights situations in Sri
Lanka. One, is the violation of the human rights that occurs as the result of
the military action that is persued by the Sri Lankan government and its armed
forces in different areas both in the East and in the North, such as aerial
bombardment, multi barrel rocket launcher fire. Large numbers of Tamil civilians
� men, women and children � are killed and injured. Civilian owned property is
destroyed. People are displaced and deprived of livelihood.
The second, aspect of Human Rights violations is the targeted killings of
civilians by the armed forces and SLA-backed paramilitaries in areas under
government control. The enforced, disappearances, abductions, extortions and so
It is our fear that if the military offensive is proceeded within the North, it
could result in the displacement of several hundreds of thousands of Tamil
people. It could result in the death of tens of thousands of Tamil people and in
widespread destruction of Tamil civilian owned property.
And while we have raised these matters pertaining to individual violations in
Parliament and with the President. There has not been a single instance where
the offending party has been arrested and produced in Court, or where there has
been any conviction, clearly indicating that the government is making no serious
attempt at all to bring an improvement in the grave human rights situation that
prevails in the country.
This is a matter of grave concern and this is one of the matters, which I think,
the Co-Chairs should after their deliberations bring to the notice of the
government. The Co-Chairs would also, I believe, prevail upon the government not
to pursue its military offensives.
However, I am not optimistic that the articulated views of the co-chairs is
sufficient to change the course of Colombo. Sri Lanka�s military intends to
continue offensive both in the East and in the North, and unfortunately, large
scale destruction to lives and property appears inevitable.