'Pongu Thamil will continue'- Sampanthan
[TamilNet, Monday, 25 March 2002, 20:02 GMT]
"We, the Tamil people held 'Pongu Thamil' (upsurge) rallies in Vanni, in Batticaloa, in Trincomalee and shall continue to do so in other districts of the northeast province to demonstrate our support for peace, to demonstrate our commitment to peace," said Mr. R. Sampanthan, the Tamil National Alliance parliamentary group leader, taking part in the budget debate in parliament Monday afternoon. Mr. Sampanthan said: "we, the Tamil people on whose behalf a very strong and powerful military organisation has waged an armed struggle, are trying our best today to resolve our problem peacefully."
Mr. Sampanthan was one of the chief organizers of the Pongu Thamil rally in Trincomalee. The Sinhala nationalist press and politicians have denounced the Tamil National Alliance for its role in Pongu Thamil. TNA politicians counter the criticism on the grounds that Sinhala nationalists and sections of the international media are attempting systematically to demean Pongu Thamil and "grossly distort" the true nature of the popular upheaval among the Tamils for their rights.
| Mr. R. Sampanthan, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentary group leader speaking at Pongu Thamil rally held in Trincomalee, 19 March 2002. (Photo: TamilNet)|
"Reference had been made during the debate about the 'Pongu Thamil' rallies held in different parts of the northeast province. We, the Tamil people are a distinct nationality. We the Tamil people have a distinct history. We are proud of our culture. We are proud of our civilization. We are proud of our language. We, the Tamil people have in this country occupied historically, certain definite parts of this country, it is a matter that has been acknowledged by leaders like late Mr. S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike and Mr. Dudley Senanayake," said Mr. Sampanthan.
Mr. Sampanthan stated, "I was present at the Trincomalee Pongu Thamil rally and participated in it fully. I find that there is a very strong misrepresentations of it in the media, both locally and also regrettably in the foreign media, particularly in the Hindustan Times.
"We are committed to a peaceful just and durable solution to the Tamil national question. Speeches made by some members in the house tend to misrepresent the Pongu Thamil rally. I appeal to them not to be carried away by emotion. I would appeal to them that if they love this country not to make utterances that tend to disturb the peace process. We all need to get together and find an honourable solution to the Tamil national question," Mr. Sampanthan stressed.
Mr. Sampanthan continued: "Whole villages in eastern province destroyed post 1983 and also post 1990 are yet unoccupied and overgrown with jungle. Tens of thousands of houses destroyed post 1983 and post 1990 have not been occupied, have not been repaired and are yet in the same state of destruction with the occupants living either in refugee camps, or in other parts of the district or in other districts in the country or abroad in other countries."