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DateLine Sunday, 23 March 2008

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JVP fails to see geo-political reality - Gammanpila



The Deputy Secretary of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU),
Udaya Gammanpila in an interview with the ‘Sunday Observer’ staffer
Shanika Sriyananda said that
the government has a vision, pledged under the Mahinda Chinthana and
President Rajapaksa had shown the
government’s ability to defeat terrorism.

The Deputy Secretary of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), Udaya Gammanpila in an interview with the 'Sunday Observer' staffer Shanika Sriyananda said that the government has a vision, pledged under the Mahinda Chinthana and President Rajapaksa had shown the government's ability to defeat terrorism.

Following are the excerpts of the interview:

Q: Do you think that India is backing the government for devolution under the 13th Amendment?

A: India has so many neighbours, and for us, whether we like it or not we have only one neighbour. That is India, which is the emerging super power in the world. Our neighbour is just 32 kilometres across from our coast. We should understand that whether we like it or not, we have to live with the geo political reality.

When our neighbour becomes the super power we should know how to deal with that power. If we have hostile relationship with that neighbour we will definitely have unnecessary problems. In fact, the LTTE is the creation of India due to the hostile attitude of the UNP government in the late 1970s. Today we are suffering unnecessarily as a result. We do not say that we should surrender our sovereignty to India.

Though we are very small compared to India we want them to treat us equal. So it is important to have the Indian support to solve the national problem.

Q: But the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) wants to boycott Indian products. Do you think that it is necessary at this juncture?

A: Well. We think that the JVP is the southern front of the LTTE and they indirectly and covertly assist the LTTE for its survival. The JVP did the same thing in 1998 when the LTTE was struggling for its survival at the hands of the IPKF.

Once Velupillai Prabhakaran had told Anita Pratap that the worst period of his life was the period when they fought with the IPKF. Because of the JVP's struggle to send the Indian forces back we lost the chance of destroying the LTTE and failed to save thousands of lives of Sri Lankans as well as billions of worth of properties in this war which dragged on for many years thereafter.

After 1980s, this time again the LTTE is going through a very difficult period. LTTE knows that they can not stand alone and need the support of somebody. The traditional benefactor was India but after they murdered Rajiv Gandhi it is not possible for them to seek Indian support. Although Prabhakaran made an open apology and appealed to India to forgive and forget ,the Indian government was adamant.

If Sri Lankan government rely on the JVP and becomes anti Indian, the present situation would change. Then Indians would naturally become anti-Sri Lankan and anti-Sinhalese. And if they become an enemy of the Sinhalese, then the India will become enemy's friend. I think the JVP is trying to renew the Indian relationship with the LTTE.

I do not think that the Sinhalese should be fooled by the JVP as in late 1980s. I am very much confident that the Sinhala community can not be fooled by the JVP now. There are no anti Indian feeling among Sri Lankans.

Sri Lankans know that Sri Lanka's territorial integrity is very crucial for Indians. We know that the greatest gift we have received from India is Buddhism. If the JVP wants to ban the Indian products then they should start it, from Buddhism.

Q: The JHU had opposed the 13th Amendment earlier. Have you changed your stance now?

A: No. Policywise we are against the 13th Amendment. Strategically we are supporting this. We believe that there is no ethnic conflict in this country and Tamils have not been discriminated. They are an ethnic group and not a nation as claimed by the LTTE. So they do not have a right to self rule. The Provincial Council system was introduced with a view to grant autonomy to the Tamil community. In that sense we are against the 13th Amendment.

But strategically we have found that our internal issue has been internationalised by the successive governments, especially by the then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. As a result we can not solve this problem alone.

There are four very powerful countries in the guise of co-chairs and another 56 countries. In this context our issue has been internationalised very much and we can not solve our problem the way that we want. Unless we are going to be tactful, we may have to succumb to the LTTE.

So we believe that what is of paramount importance is that we should defeat the LTTE. In order to do so we should facilitate our forces to do that. There are three things that we should do.

Firstly we should ensure that our forces receive adequate weapons and other logistics that they need. Secondly we should maintain a conducive environment for the Forces to go and defeat the LTTE. Thirdly we need to manage the foreign factor in a prudent manner. Otherwise we would not be in a position to defeat the LTTE.

This is the time that the LTTE has reached a situation that we can definitely defeat the LTTE.

We do not want the same tragic drama- where the Indian government threatened military intervention and later signed the Indo Lanka Accord- to be happened again after 20 years.

In this situation some sort of a devolution package is a must.

We think that the LTTE pose a greater threat to Sri Lanka than the Provincial Council system so we do not mind using lesser threat to destroy the greater threat.

Q: Does this mean that the JHU is against giving more powers to minorities?

A: We do not mind devolution as a development tool. And we believe that we have to strengthen the administrative unit at the grassroot level. So we are not very much supportive of having big administrative units like provincial councils. We believe that we should adequately devolve power to the lower level of the administrative hierarchy such as local authorities.

The JHU support the Grama Sabha concept which prevailed in Sri Lanka for more than 2200 years. We want to empower the people at the grass root level rather than duplicating extravagant units such as PCs where they have Ministers and other members who will have luxury vehicles, and other facilities on public money. Provincial councils will be a burden to the people. People would not derive any benefit but only the politicians will get the benefits through this system.

The JHU said the Presidential Candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa if you are going to give up federalism and embrace unitary concept we were ready to assist you in devolution under a unitary set up. That was our agreement just prior to the Presidential election 2005.

President Rajapaksha has honoured this pledge upto now. As long as he preserves the unitary character of the country, the JHU is duty bound to assist him to devolve power under the unitary system.

Q: How do you see the TMVP wining Batticaloa Municipal Council where the Opposition claim they won it at gun point?

A: That is a victory of the democracy more than else. It is the defeat of the LTTE, UNP and the JVP. Because the TMVP by contesting in the election had showed the world that they have given up their faith of the bullet and they have now faith in the ballot. Secondly by getting a clear mandate from the people the TMVP has told the world that the Tamils are not with the LTTE and Tamils are not for separation.

Thirdly, the TMVP has expressed its willingness to work with Sinhalese and Muslims. With that the so called ethnic differences and hatred are not there any more. It is a emerging ethnic harmony.

Q: However the UNP at last agreed to support the 13th Amendment

A: The UNP is more interested in gaining power than serving the country. We accept whatever the support pledged by the UNP but we do not think the government should rely on the UNP's support. Because they are so unreliable.

Q: As an ally that helped the Mahinda Rajapaksa government to come into power, do you think this government has been able to fulfil the aspirations of people?

A: Normally political parties talk about their election manifestos only during the election time. After that they forget about and only the Opposition talks about the government's pledges. But this government always refer to the 'Mahinda Chinthana'.

This is some thing positive and did not take place in Sri Lanka until 2005. For the last 30 years the biggest problem we had was terrorism. Even fighting with the war the government has been able to record an economic growth of more than 5 percent. It is a good indication that the government's duty is to defeat terrorism and to make a conducive environment for the economic prosperity.

Defeating terrorism is a pre- condition for economic prosperity and the government will definitely do that. The JHU has faith in the President and he has showed the ability to defeat terrorism.

Q: If the LTTE try to resume Peace Talks, do you think the government should accept their invitation?

A: Throughout history we have made the same mistake. Whenever the LTTE was weak the international community pressurises Sri Lankan government to go for talks. During these talks the government was very much moderate and tolerate but the LTTE had exploited that opportunity for re-arm and regain their lost power.

It had happened in 1990, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2002 and also in 2005. We have repeated the same mistake for six times. Once Albert Einstein had said that if you repeat the tests under the same condition expecting different results you are insane.

So, if we are going to have talks with the LTTE with the same Vellupillai Prabhakaran expecting different results, we must be insane. The JHU does not want the Sri Lankan government to repeat the same.

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