திங்கள், 27 ஜூன், 2016

Colombo maintains ethnic chauvinism, majoritarianism in North-East: Bishop Ponniah

Colombo maintains ethnic chauvinism, majoritarianism in North-East: 

Bishop Ponniah

[TamilNet, Saturday, 25 June 2016, 19:19 GMT]
“I can categorically state that a lot of promises made by the [new] government [towards the Tamil people] have not been fulfilled,” said Bishop of Batticaloa Rt. Rev. Dr. Joesph Ponniah in a recent interview to TamilNet. Some of the root causes to the escalation of ethnic conflict were SL State-backed Sinhala colonization of lands in the North and East and the discrimination in providing equal opportunities. These have a 60-year old history. The reality remains the same even today. What prevails in the North and East is not peace. There is an enforced silence coupled with threat, oppression and militarization by the ethnic majority. There is no change in the attitude of ethnic chauvinism, the Bishop said questioning the hidden motives of Washington and New Delhi collaborating with Colombo and how the situation of the people in North-East getting affected by the motives of these powers.



The USA and India were backing Colombo in the war and were telling Tamils that there will be a peace after the end of war. The war is over. But, they have also failed to deliver what they promised, the Bishop said. They are coming and going, signing various pacts with Colombo. “I have no idea what their internal motives are,” he said.

It is Colombo that mainly continues to benefit from the partnerships with these powers, the Bishop said questioning how the people in the North and East are going to be affected by these partnerships.

“Take the North, for example. The resettlement is fully hampered by the military occupation,” the Bishop said.

“At Champoor in Trincomalee, where resettlement was commenced, only a few people have been allowed to resettle. Most of their agricultural lands are still under military occupation. They are unable to sustain their livelihood. Above all, their future is threatened with the Coal Power plant, which the people have been protesting,” he said. The government doesn’t listen to people, be it at Nuraich-choalai or Champoor, he added.

The conduct of the SL Government, which has failed to honour and act on the requests and protests coming from the people in the North and East, has only contributed to sustain the situation of threat as before, Joseph Ponniah said.

The Bishop was reiterating throughout the interview that military-backed colonisation, which is also known as illegal settlement, is a huge problem depriving the Tamils their lands in Batticaloa. The Tamil farmers are also being robbed of their livelihood, he said.

The efforts by the Tamil officials to contain illegal occupation of lands have failed. The SL government has not respected the people protesting against such land grabs, the Bishop said. The colonisation is being schemed and executed on the orders from top levels and the officials have not been able to change the attitude from their bottom-up approach, Joseph Ponniah hinted.

Even the recent increase on VAT has affected the deprived people most, he said.

The Bishop didn’t fail to underline that it was Batticaloa district, that has most war-affected and tsunami affected women.

While majoritarian chauvinists are provided job opportunities [in East], thousands of Tamil graduates have been protesting without jobs, he said.

Equality and ‘good governance’ is not possible without an attitudinal change [on the part of SL government], Joseph Ponniah said.

“Without Justice there will be no reconciliation,” he added.

There is a serious question how federalism could be achieved under this context, he implied.

While questioning what the Opposition and TNA Leader R. Sampanthan was able to achieve so far, the Bishop of Batticaloa also condemned the other formations for creating more divisions than unity.

When confronted with the question whether the council of the Bishops in the island had taken a position on openly calling for the establishment of a federal unit for North-East, the Bishop of Batticaloa said the Bishops’ Conference or the Council were yet to take up the matter with the SL President. But, he was alluding that the issue was on the cards.

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