Jaffna Parliamentarian R. M. Emaam appeals to negotiate for Peace

Full Text of Speech delivered by R. M.Emaam MP in Sri Lanka Parliament on Jun 5, 2008:

Hon. Presiding Member, with your permission, I wish to express my views on the present situation in the country. I always listen to the customary speech of the Hon. Prime Minister during the extension of the Emergency. His speech indicates that there is no room for peace.

Once in this house, an ex-Finance Minister, the Hon. Ronnie de Mel, said that peace on knees is better than war on feet. The present situation affects everyone irrespective of the difference of race or religion. I inform this House that the Muslims from the North, particularly from Jaffna, where I hail from, are the most affected. The Tamils do not have political rights and the Sinhalese do not have economic resources, but my community from the North does not have both. Since I am from this community, I urge the government to go for negotiations with the Tamil Tigers. The LTTE always expresses its willingness for negotiation.

I had the privilege of listening to an interview of the present Army Commander on the electronic and print media. In his recent interview on the ITN channel, he said that the LTTE being supported by the Tamils in Tamil Nadu, the expatriate Tamils all over the world and the Tamils in the Island. Again, in the same interview that appeared in the “Lankadeepa”, to the question as to how the LTTE was able to achieve victories, he said that in the battle field its leaders are in the front and, as per his words “labala” cadres or novices or privates are behind.

As per a verse in “Thinakkural”, before commencing a war, the power of oneself, the power of the enemy and the power of the persons who are behind him and the enemy must be assessed. Though the government says that it could wipe out the LTTE before December 2008, the battle scenario repudiates that thinking. It is an unwinnable war. It is a battle between two brothers over the sharing of property of their mother. Since the elder brother is trying to grab the whole thing, Sri Lanka has been pushed into the present deplorable situation. As per the said verse, the LTTE enjoys sufficient moral and physical support from the above sources I urge the government to think of this.

With these forces behind, the LTTE can continue to resist. As per another verse in “Thinakkural”, the leaders must lead the war for victories. The Army Commander had acknowledged that on his side, novices or privates are in the front line. According to that interview, the Commander has an inherent grudge against his commanders. As per the verse I mentioned last, unless leaders command their forces in the front, whatever number of weapons and soldiers would not bring victories. In the said “lankadeepa” interview, the Army Commander had further accepted the LTTE as a most formidable force. Also, I thank the Military Spokesman, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, for addressing the LTTE cadres as “LTTE members”, but spokesmen from the other forces address them as “terrorists”. Those officers are not gentlemen.

Why is the LTTE fighting? Why is it being supported by the Tamils and the Tamil-speaking persons? Barring Jayalalitha, it enjoys the support of the Tamils of Tamil Nadu. Barring the Hon. Douglas Devananda, it has gained the full support of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

It must be acknowledged that the Tamils have grievances. Though Tamil was made an officials language in 1988, even today it does not have official status in any government department. I wish to quote a simple incident. I, as a practicing lawyer who does conveyancing also, very often go to the Land Registries in Colombo and Mount-Lavinia where all the name boards are only in the Sinhala language, a language I do not know. This is the prevailing situation in almost all government departments.

Though the Tamils are learning Sinhala, the enthusiasm to learn Tamil is not seen in the Sinhalese brothers. In the third year anniversary supplement of “Rivira”, a columnist had acknowledged this fact.

The present military exercise will end up in fatality and their will be a mass loss of human lives. It will create a big wedge between the two communities. The persons who wish to eliminate terrorism through war do not have an once of knowledge of the realities of the ground situation. It is being pursued for monetary considerations. My view is held by several generals who led this war in the by gone era. It is a matter for happiness that a general who said this cannot be won militarily was a recipient of presidential honours recently. I admire his sagacity and openness. Due to the present conflict, the Muslims from the North are undergoing severe hardships.

Of them, the Muslims from Jaffna are the most affected. As a representative of theirs, I wish to appeal to the Government to negotiate with the LTTE. Due to the war, the coffers of warlords are overflowing with foreign capital whereas we, the Sri Lankans, are becoming poorer and poorer day by day on account of this war. Due to the intransigent attitude of the warlords, youths who have not passed their prime age lose their lives in the battle field. The lifespan of a person is three scores and ten. Unfortunately, the life of the combatants on both sides does not span for even one score.

The persons who think that war is the only solution to defeat terrorism are not thinking of the factors which are in the way to win this war. The Government says that it is waging war on the LTTE. Unfortunately, the Government has not addressed itself as to why the LTTE is fighting against it. Since the Tamil community has grievances, the LTTE is backed by it not only within Sri Lanka, all over the world. It is headed by Prabaharan who has surpassed the war skills of Moshe Dayan, the Israeli General. Prabaharan is not Pillayan to prostrate himself before every Tom, Dick and Harry or to curry flavor with those in power to the detriment of the Tamil Community. Pillayan, who sent a lorry laden with explosives to the Dalada Maligava, was given a rousing welcome by the prelates. Unfortunately, the persons who got involved in this crime unwittingly have received jail terms of over 19 years.

The government should negotiate with the LTTE to find a permanent solution to this problem. The Government should not believe bankrupt politicians or opportunists. Since the LTTE is ready for peace, the Government should welcome it. I wish to say that the present alliance between the cutthroat Tamil groups and the Government will not go on for a long time. Unless this problem is settled with the LTTE, no power in the world could restore peace in our country.

[Raseen Mohammed Emam MP, TNA]

[Raseen Mohammed Emam was sworn in as a national list MP of the Tamil National Alliance on Feb 5th 2007; The 61 year old lawyer hailing from Moor street in Jaffna town became the first ever Muslim from Jaffna district to become a Parliamentarian]

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