Feature Article

TNA parliamentarians grilled by CID

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 19 November 2008, 22:15 GMT]
Within the last few days, three Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians, S. Jeyanandamoorthy, P. Ariyanethran and S. Kajendran, were summoned by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Sri Lanka Police for investigation after getting stipulated permission from the Speaker of the Parliament. The focus of the questioning was their speeches viewed as a breach of the 6th Amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution, which prohibits any opinion expressed inside or outside of the island, in favour of secession in Sri Lanka

TNA MPs Jeyanandamoorthy, Ariyanethran and Kajendran
TNA MPs Jeyanandamoorthy, Ariyanethran and Kajendran
Mr. Jeyanandamoorthy, MP for Batticaloa, was called on 14 November and was questioned for 2.5 hours. Mr. Ariyanethiran, MP for Batticaloa, called on 18 November was interrogated for 4.5 hours and Jaffna MP Mr. Kajendran, summoned on 19 November had to face the grilling for nearly 8 hours.

Allegedly recorded speeches of the parliamentarians made in Germany were the focal point for the questioning.

Apart from the issue related to the 6th Amendment, the MPs were asked to clarify their allegiance to Tamil nationalism, justification of 'terrorism' and remarks of degradation about the Sri Lankan state, government and military.

The investigating officers told them that their questioning was conducted as per orders from 'the above'.

All members of the Sri Lankan Parliament take an oath of allegiance to the constitution of Sri Lanka when they assume the position.

Even though the 6th Amendment, enacted in 1983 during the presidency of J.R. Jayawardene, totally prohibits anything associated with separatism in Sri Lanka, it has been overlooked in view of the political realities in the island and the need to accommodate Tamil national representation.

The government's move to make the 6th Amendment as an issue at this juncture in the case of the TNA parliamentarians is seen by political observers as a tactic of intimidation, either to silence the parliamentarians and make them agreeable to the government's designs or to expel, ban or imprison them.

Against the backdrop of a hint of snap elections in December, there is a possibility that the TNA parliamentarians could be indicted and be prevented from contesting elections on a Tamil nationalist platform.

The Island, a Sinhala nationalist newspaper, on Wednesday wrote an editorial urging the government to take action against parliamentarians who promote separatism in Sri Lanka.

"The country has come to such a pass that some separatists masquerading as people's representatives are in a position to defy even the basic law of the land with impunity. In Parliament, the Tiger proxies are openly advocating the LTTE's cause and functioning as Prabhakaran's mouthpiece, though the Constitution prohibits the promotion of separatism by lawmakers," said the editorial of the newspaper.

"National Freedom Front Leader Wimal Weerawansa was quoted by this newspaper recently as having asked for a snap general election so as to get rid of Tiger supporters in the garb of parliamentarians. An election may be one way of achieving that objective. But, why cannot some ‘patriotic’ politicians warn the Tiger proxies first and, if they continue to promote separatist terror, institute legal action against them? This is something that Weerawansa himself can do easily," it read.

"Some Opposition MPs made a hue and cry about TMVP leader Karuna Amman's appointment as a National List MP, saying that that he was a former terrorist. Strangely, mum's the word on their part as regards the Tiger proxies' blatant acts of treason," the Sinhala nationalist paper said.

According to the provisions of the amendment:

Article 157 A (1) No person shall, directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka.

(2) No political party or other association or organisation shall have as one of its aims or objects the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka.”

Under this law - 157 A (4) - any person may make an application to the Supreme Court for a declaration against an organisation espousing the cause of establishing a separate state in the island. Upon such declaration by the SC that the organisation has violated Article 157 A (2), then that organisation “shall be deemed, for all purposes to be proscribed”. Any member of such an organisation shall cease to be a member of Parliament. Any person who is a member of such an organisation after the date of the SC declaration “shall be guilty of an offence and shall, upon conviction by the Court of Appeal” would be stripped of his or her civic rights for a period not exceeding seven years; and his or her movable and immovable property would be seized.

The Sixth Amendment was introduced on the heels of the 1983 July anti Tamil pogrom in which thousands of Tamils were killed and maimed by state backed Sinhala mobs in Colombo and the Sinhala majority districts of the island.

The Amendment saw the Tamil United Liberation Front giving up its seats in Parliament and going into exile in India. The TULF was elected to Parliament in 1977 from the on an overwhelming mandate from the Tamils of the island’s northeast for establishing a separate state for the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

A committee of legal experts, appointed by Chandrika Kumaratunga's Peoples Alliance when it came to power in 1994, to inquire into reforming media laws, recommended that the sixth amendment be reviewed as it is a major stricture on the freedom of expression in Sri Lanka.


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