Tampoe: Sri Lanka is a virtual Police, Military dictatorship
[TamilNet, Sunday, 24 February 2008, 16:42 GMT]
Prominent Trade Union leader, Bala Tampoe, says Rajapakse Government falsely states that their military objective is to defeat terrorism. The main objective is to wrest control from the LTTE the areas of North and east. "...[Colombo] can never achieve a proper political settlement till and until they recognise the right of self-determination, which is a democratic right, of the Tamil people and the Muslim people in the North and East, Tampoe says in an interview to Vikalpa, a citizen journalism initiative in Sri Lanka built on the effort pioneered by the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a Colombo-based think-tank.
Excerpts from the interview follow:
"JVP and Mahinda Rajapakse have not admitted that the LTTE has gained control over large parts of North and East at the time of the ceasefire. They are opposed to the ceasefire because they felt that, that amounted to an acknowledgement that the LTTE was in control of that part of the country. The JVP has said not to refer any part of the country as in LTTE control. This is in fact something that is contrary to the reality," says Tampoe.
Bala Tampoe, Trade Union Leader
"LTTE has gained control over many parts of North and East by military means; not by terrorism. They have used guerilla warfare, subsequently even using land warfare using conventional forces. Seizing Elephant pass is not terrorism. Seizing Mullaiththeevu a nd destroying thousands of army people there is not terrorism. They were highly successful military victories they achieved.
"Today LTTE controls Kilinochchi, Mullaiththeevu, and the important base Elephant pass. As long as LTTE controls these three important bases the government cannot say they exercise control in the northern province.
on top of that they are talking about a political settlement. [Colombo] can never achieve a proper political settlement till and until they recognise the right of self-determination, which is a democratic right, of the Tamil people and the Muslim people in the North and East, and establish some kind of proper constitutional basis for them to exercise that right within the framework of a democratic constitution. But they cannot have a democratic constitution in the first place when the rest of the country is under a Presidential Executive which amounts today to a virtual military police dictatorship under the Emergency.
Bala Tampoe was general secretary of the Ceylon Mercantile, Industrial and General Workers Union (CMU) in Sri Lanka. The CMU was formed in 1928 as a white-collar union in the mercantile sector. After Bala Tampoe became its general secretary in February 1948, the union came under the influence of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP). In the 1950s and 1960s, Tampoe was known for his militant challenges to the political decisions of the government of the day. In 1963, he led a strike in the Colombo port that escalated into an all-island general strike and defied the government of Sirima Bandaranaike when it invoked its emergency powers.