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February 01, 2004

 

PRESS RELEASE

Observe February 4th as  Black Day  

February 4th is once again a stark reminder to the Thamils that they lost their freedom on this black day 56 years ago. It is the day hegemonic rule was imposed on the unsuspecting Thamils by the ungrateful Sinhalese leaders.  

The hopes of the Thamil people that they will be treated on equal terms with in a multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society in which they will find the political space to live in freedom and dignity has been rudely shattered. Over the years, Thamils have been brutally excluded from the corridors of power and robbed of their language, cultural and employment rights.

Through systematic state sponsored Sinhalese colonization of traditional Thamil homelands, the demographic composition of the Northeast has been drastically altered in favour of the majority community.

The two year- old MoU signed between the LTTE and the GOSL has not restored the much-touted normalcy to the people of Northeast. Except the fact the guns have fallen silent, Thamils continue to live under the jackboot of an occupation army. The armed forces have refused to vacate HSZs in terms of the MoU and as a result   thousands of Thamil families continue to languish in refugee camps and welfare centres. 

 

Resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced people and reconstruction of damaged homes, schools, places of worship had turned out to be a cruel joke.

 

Farming and fishing, the mainstay of the Thamil people, continue to be crippled by the imposition of humiliating restrictions by the occupation army. Their freedom of movement both on land and sea has been severely restricted.

 

The fishing community is still subject to restrictions imposed by the army in regard to hours of fishing and area of fishing. The humiliation of obtaining daily passes from the army to put out to sea is an insult to their dignity and self-respect.  Likewise Thamil farmers have been prevented from cultivating their traditional farmlands falling within the HSZs.  

 

Hundreds of Thamils arrested under the PTA are still locked up in prisons in the south.  GOSL used or misused the PTA to incarcerate Thamils on flimsy grounds.

 

Several schools, hospitals and places of worship still remain within the HSZ  without access to people.  The MoU has only helped to convert the Northeast into an open prison for our people. 

 

While talking about  peace and seeking a negotiated political settlement  to the ethnic conflict, the government is also busy recruiting men and procuring arms to strengthen the armed forces. The government is also signing defence agreements with countries like India, USA and Russia, which will upset the military equilibrium and undermine the MoU.  Apparently these defence agreements form part of the so-called “safety-net” strategy pursued by the Prime Minister to crush the LTTE militarily in case war resumes.

 

Despite the MoU, the government is still using state terror as an instrument to cow down the Thamils.   Assaults, torture, detention and harassment of Thamils by members of the armed forces continue albeit on a reduced scale. The army’s mentality that it is above the law continue to dominate their psyche

 

To compound the already muddied waters, the power struggle between the legislative Prime Minister and the executive President has tied up the government in knots and paralyzed the functioning of the state. The President who is the head of state is also at the same time the leader of the opposition, a hypocritical mockery of democracy.  Massive foreign aid by international community has been put on hold till peace prevails between the two.

 

President Chandrika has now embraced bogus revolutionaries and pseudo-Marxists like the JVP and MEP who fan the flames of divisive politics.  By embracing warmongers, she has wittingly damaged her already dented image and irrevocably lost the trust of the Thamil people. Apparently her propensity for self-delusion is indeed very remarkable and appears to have no limits.  Lest someone forget, we like to remind that her previous subterfuge of “Peace through War” wrought death, destruction and rivers of blood for the Thamil people.

 

We, therefore, join the civic organizations in the Northeast in calling upon the Thamil people to observe February 04 as a Black Day. This is the only way we can register our protest against the continued denial of Thamil people's basic rights.    

 

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