TNPF's reluctance, NGO-meddling pose challenges to formulating joint Tamil demands to UN: Shivaji

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 05 January 2021, 07:08 GMT]
The three alliances of Tamil national parties with SL parliamentary representation have entered into negotiations to formulate joint demands to the UN System on two key issues. Firstly, the parties discuss how to demand the UN System to specifically address the crime of genocide, which was lacking in the UNHRC-led process so far. Secondly, they debate how to effectively request the UN system to prosecute those responsible for genocide and the already established crimes in the UN findings. Although the Tamil parties have been brought into a negotiation process, mainly by the larger community's efforts, there remain two key challenges, according to veteran Tamil politician and activist M.K. Shivajilingam. The first challenge was the reluctance shown by the Tamil National Peoples' Front (TNPF) to discuss the main demands with an open mind with other Tamil alliances, parties and politicians.

The second challenge was the interference of 'transitional justice' NGO influencers in Colombo, Mr Shivajilingam told TamilNet.

Shivajilingam belongs to the alliance of TMVK, which is led by Justice C.V. Wigneswaran.

M.A. Sumanthiran represented the TNA in the two preliminary talks held on 29 December in Ki'linochchi and 03 January in Vavuniyaa. The TMVK and the TNA took part in the two meetings. The TNPF didn't participate in the first meeting but attended the second one with much reluctance, informed sources in Vavuniyaa said.

The TNPF circles, when contacted by journalists in Jaffna, claimed that the other Tamil parties calling for engagement usually succumb to "deviations at the end" and that the TNPF would remain firm in demanding international investigations into genocide.

The involved alliances, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) with ten parliamentarians, Tamil National Peoples' Front (TNPF) with two MPs and Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Koottani (TMVK) with one representation have agreed in principle to look into ways of forming the joint demand.

The draft demands of the TNA and the TMVK were revealed to Tamil journalists and civil society activists as part of a consultative and transparent process.

While the TNA parliamentarians were being tricked into signing the demands formulated by Establishment-centric diaspora groups, the TMVK, also prone to such influence, has gone through consultation with various actors including the diaspora groups and formulated four key demands.

"The TMVK has spent at least one hundred hours in consultation. Our demands have been consolidated thoroughly, including several rounds of obtaining signatures from the party leaders," Shivajilingam said on Monday.

Mr Shivajilingam said he had the proposals ready for discussion at the meeting in Vavuniyaa on Sunday. However, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam of the TNPF and M.A. Sumanthiran of the TNA didn't have any concrete draft for dialogue. They wanted to take forward the process at the third meeting on 06 January.

Strangely, the meeting they were referring to was to be also attended by Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, the executive director of the Colombo-based "Centre for Policy Alternatives," Mr Shivajilingam said.

"I was told that Mr Saravanamuttu and Nimalka Fernando, who were involved in the deceptive so-called transitional justice process were now intervening to resolve the disputes between Justice Wigneswaran and Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam. It was Mr Sumanthiran who revealed the motive behind the meeting," Shivajilingam told TamilNet.

Mr Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam was reiterating only one issue: the need to initiate the ICC to act outside the UN process. However, he was not going into details on how the roadmap for such a process should be, Shivajilingam said.

It is essential to demand the UN referral to ICC even if the process faced the threat of veto, he added.

Thamil Thesiya Vaazhvurimai Iyakkam, led by Tamil activist V.S. Sivaharan, convened the meetings in Kilinochchi and Vavuniyaa.

Mr Sivaharan, when contacted by TamilNet, said the meetings of formulating the joint demands would continue at the presence of civil society activists in the Tamil homeland and not in Colombo.



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