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Sri Lanka Election Shows Tamils Reject the Status Quo

Sri Lanka Election Shows Tamils Reject the Status Quo

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Published by: Thavam on Sep 23, 2013
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Police in Kilinochchi train station, on their way back home. They’d been brought upfrom the south to provide law enforcement for the election, with the Sri Lankan Armyin barracks and off the streets.By:
Published on Sun Sep 22 2013
 The Toronto Star
KILINOCHCHI, SRI LANKA—In an election that was largely symbolic, perhapsnowhere is a dewy sense of back-to-the-future envisioned more poignantly than here —the former de facto capital of Tigerland.This is the town that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam captured at the beginning of a brutal civil war and kept as a formidable stronghold until almost the very end.Guerrillas blew up the train tracks, severing commuter travel from the south, using therail ties to construct fortified bunkers. When Kilinochchi fell in early 2009, so did the dream of a sovereign Tamil homeland.On Saturday, 81 per cent of the vote in the district went to the Tamil National Alliance, which took three of four provincial council seats.In all of the Northern Province, where Tamils comprise some 95 per cent of the
population, the TNA won 30 of 38 seats, handing President Mahinda Rajapaksa hismost humiliating defeat since taking power in 2005.The ruling government coalition was trounced, held to just seven seats across theprovince, while a Muslim party secured one.It will be impossible for the regime to rhetorically spin the outcome as anything otherthan what it so obviously is — a thorough denunciation of the status quo as engineeredin Colombo, and a shout-out that Tamils remain no less yearning for some degree of self-determination.Tamils were not bought off by the extensive reconstruction, all the multi-millions —from China, mostly — poured into new roads, new infrastructure, new hospitals, new commercial buildings, even a new sports stadium that’s going up outside the new trainstation. While there were hundreds of election violations, primarily by government candidatesupporters, threats, some violence and palpable intimidation of civilians by theoccupying Sri Lankan Army, 68 per cent of registered voters cast their ballots. Theelectorate turned a deaf ear to warnings that a vote for the TNA — cast by Colombo as adescendant proxy of the LTTE — was a vote for a return to secessionist disruption,chaos and “ethnic chauvinism” that could tear apart the island nation again.Marquee chief magisterial candidate C. W. Wigneswaran, retired Supreme Court judge, insisted throughout the campaigning that the TNA no longer aspires to anindependent homeland, the Tigers are good and buried — if many of their bodies neverreturned to families — and committed to advancing Tamil rights through the politicaldemocratic process.
They must trust us,” Wigneswaran told reporters at a press conference in theprovincial capital, Jaffna.
 We are for an undivided Sri Lanka, where there is a certain amount of self-rulingunder the federal constitution.”In a country of 20 million people, about 15 per cent are Tamils, primarily Hindu andChristian. The majority Sinhalese are mostly Buddhist. They have been at each other’sthroats since ancient times of rival kingdoms, culminating in a merciless 27-year civilthat cost upwards of 100,000 lives.Few want to go back down that bloody road.The wounds have not healed.Tamils, in the war-ravaged north, feel endlessly oppressed, chafing under thetriumphalist policies of Colombo, resentful most especially of the heavy military presence — soldiers who don’t speak their language, swagger through their streets and build bases on their seized land.
During the war, there were LTTE cadres everywhere but the people weren’t afraid of their guns,” says Thayparan Sundarmoorthy, an elected administrator on the localcouncil in Kilinochchi. “Now the soldiers carry guns but the people are afraid of those.
The LTTE were familiar to the citizens, we could communicate with them. Thesoldiers are Sinhalese and they cannot even speak to us. If they a group of menstanding together, they demand to know what we’re doing. Nobody walks on the streetafter 7 p.m. We fear they will shoot us.”Sundarmoorthy acknowledges that reconstruction has been a boon for Kilinochchi,

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