(Reproduced from the Daily Mirror of February 23, 2004)
Hats off to embattled TULF Leader V. Anandasangaree, Eelam People's Democratic Party Leader Douglas Devananda, PLOTE Leader D. Siddarthan and all their candidates for deciding to contest alone despite all odds being against them, while virtually all-noteworthy minority parties have opted to ride piggyback on the two major contenders or simply act according to the dictates of the LTTE.
They are worthy of support by freedom loving people of all communities and religions, who love peace and feel this country is for all its citizens Their independent stand are all the more important as the LTTE, though now does not resort to outright brute force for fear of international repercussions, yet continues to browbeat the Tamil community and much of its leadership into bowing to its dictates. The latest being its reported ban on Tamil candidates contesting the forthcoming general election on the UNF and UPFA tickets in the North and East.
The result of this latest Tiger 'directive' is that it has made it extremely difficult for the main national political parties to get Tamil candidates to contest from the northern and eastern districts, from where 31 members will be returned to parliament.
We like to ask the LTTE whether this is the type of five star democracy awaiting Tamils even in the future? The way the TNA has capitulated to LTTE dictates certainly points to the Tamil Alliance returning LTTE lap dogs to next parliament, instead of watchdogs on behalf of their people.
Respected Tamil commentator D.B.S. Jeyaraj writing in the Sunday Leader has summed up the situation thus: "The Tamil parliamentarians thought that they were smart and the LTTE stupid by repeating the sole representative chorus while enjoying the perks of a parliamentarian. The tables are being turned and very soon the self-fulfilling prophecy of the TNA will become true.
The self-appointed 'sole' representative of the Tamil people will not only be monopolizing the negotiating but also dominating the parliamentary seats allocated to northeastern Tamil representatives."
In this scenario any seats that the EPDP, PLOTE or the independent group headed by Mr. Anandasangaree might possibly win despite all odds placed against them would be the truly legitimate victories of the Tamil people.
And it is incumbent upon not only authorities here, but also the entire international community to ensure that at least no harm befalls them at the behest of the LTTE. One man alone among them must be accorded whatever assistance he needs for he has single handedly cheated Tiger death squads twice so far, so leave no chances for Tigers hit teams again. This man Douglas Devananda is a living legend by anyone's book.
A commando type attack staged by the LTTE on his abode at Havelock Town in October 1995 left four of his bodyguards dead and he himself escaped by a whisker. Then in June 1998 a dozen or so LTTE suspects wielding improvised weapons pounced on him when he went to look into their grievances during a hunger strike at a Kalutara detention camp, but he survived, while suffering some irreparable injuries, especially to one eye.
Much earlier at the time of the 1983 July race riots he survived rampaging Sinhala prison mobs. Unfortunately for this country such heroes often go unheard and unrewarded, while the man who built impregnable bunkers for Tigers was given a national award on an independence day!
True that was by mistake as the authorities did not know his involvement with the LTTE, but at least the award should have been withdrawn on principle even posthumously. We are not calling on the rulers to give national awards to these people or any such thing, but they must be protected at all costs.
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