Wigneswaran urges India to secure Internal Self-Determination for the Tamils of Sri Lanka

B. Kollappan, in The Hindu, 10 November 2014, where the title reads: “Reverse militarisation, Wigneswaran urges India”

Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province C.V. Wigneswaran on Sunday made a fervent appeal to India to prevail upon his country to reverse the ongoing militarisation of the Tamil-majority region and stop what he called harassment and abuse of minorities there. Mr. Wigneswaran, on his first visit since being elected, alleged that militarisation was taking place “not due to any real security threat, but to maintain a stranglehold over the populace; subjugate them and make them compliant; and to stifle any form of democratic or political dissent.”

Wigneswaran-islandCV Wigneswaran

Delivering the K.G. Kannabiran Memorial Lecture, organised by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) here, Mr. Wigneswaran, a former judge of Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court, said in the last few weeks, the government was arresting and openly intimidating those trying to collect evidence for an UN-backed investigation into violations of human rights. “The State does not want the evidence to leave the shores of the country.”

Arguing that India had a “fiduciary duty” towards Tamils in Sri Lanka, he wanted it to ensure that Tamil-speaking people realised their right to self-determination within a united Sri Lanka. His suggestion was a ‘13th Amendment Plus Plus’ to the Constitution to shed its unitary character.

Mr. Wigneswaran had a wish-list for the Indian government: hold Sri Lanka to its promises; lend support to international processes in furtherance of justice and truth and for the return of rule of law and democracy in the country; halt harassment of the minorities, and help the return to civilian life by reversing militarisation and demand the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act of Sri Lanka.

“In the absence of external pressure, there can be no hope of the Sri Lankan government changing its recalcitrant position. We, in the Northern Province, remain open to cooperation, but have only faced broken promises and interference,” he said.

Mr. Wigneswaran said the Army continued to destroy whatever was left of the buildings, homes, holy places or school premises inside a high security zone. When he, as Chief Minister, tried to visit these places, he was told to get permission from the Defence Secretary.

He said the Sri Lankan judiciary had been beaten into submission. The judiciary failed to prevent the culture of impunity and directly contributed to the executive’s authoritarian rise.

Earlier, Zak Yacoob, former Judge, Constitutional Court of South Africa, and a friend of K.G. Kannabiran said though an outstanding lawyer, Kannabiran considered himself to be a humanist first.

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