“We Tamils have all the characteristics necessary to be considered a separate Nation.”
“CANAGASABAPATHY VISUVALINGAM WIGNESWARAN” Everybody calls C.V. Wigneswaran . He became the chief minister of Northern Province in 2013. Presently he is a member of parliament for Jaffna district of Tamil Makkal Thesiya Kootani / Tamil People’s National Alliance (TMTK) and the secretary general of Tamil Makkal Kootani / Tamil People’s Alliance (TMK).
He was born on 23rd October 1939 and spent his early life in Kurunagala and Anuradhapura with his family. As a result of that he was able to build up the very close relationships with Sinhalese, Muslims and other communities in Sri Lanka.
Young Wigneswaran entered Royal College in 1951. He became a prefect, a Senior Cadet and finished his training successfully in Diyatalawa while he was schooling. Not only that but also he was a member of English debating team and the leader of Tamil debating team at Royal College, Colombo.
In 1960, Wigneswaran entered Ceylon Law College and became the president of Law Students Union in during 1962 to 1963. He passed out as a lawyer in 1964 and the first to lecture on law in Tamil at the Ceylon Law College from 1971. He completed B.A (London University) as well as LLB (Ceylon University).
He joined judiciary in 1979 and served as a Magistrate and a District Judge in North and East, and later as a District Judge in Colombo. He was appointed to the High Court in 1988 and then to the Court of Appeal on 1995 and finally as a judge to the Supreme Court. He retired in 2004.
Furthermore he is the patron of COLOMBO KAMBAN KALAGAM for fifteen years (TAMİL LITERARY ). And also AUTHOR of books in English and Tamil, several articles on Hinduism, History, Law and several other matters published.
On behalf of “Left Voice” Samantha Rajapaksha is politically questioning Parliamentarian C.V. Wigneswaran. The interviewer is a social and Trade Union activist of Sorbonne University in Paris. His involvement is in the field of public sector Education Trade Union of C.G.T. in France.
Could you please explain in short the present plight of Tamil people in Sri Lanka?
Tamils are an ancient Race. The original inhabitants of Sri Lanka were Tamil speaking. Originally the Saivaites occupied the entire Island. The pre historic Shiva Temples Naguleswaram ( in Kirimalai in the North),Thiruketheeswaram(In the Mannar District),Thirukoneswaram (in Trinco District in the East), Munnneswarm (in the West in Chilaw District) and Thondeswaram (Dondra in the South) show Saivaism was the original religion of this Island people. Many conquests by the Pandiyas, Pallavas, Cholas and others swelled up the numbers of the original Tamils in Sri Lanka and today the Tamil speaking are the majority in the Northern and Eastern Provinces despite many steps taken by successive Sinhala Majority Governments to change the demography in the North and East in favour of the Sinhala speaking. But Signalization and land grabbing still goes on in the North and East.
The Sinhala leaders cheated the British and the Tamil speaking people by removing Article 29 (2) of the first constitution and have now taken over completely the reins of government in the entire Island to keep the Tamil speaking as a subject race. They are keeping an occupation Army in the North and East, even 12 years after the War. Our resources are expropriated, our lands continued to be grabbed and given to the Sinhalese speaking, the Military continue to occupy over 60000 acres of State lands and over 3000 acres of private lands, forcible conversion of the North and East to Buddhism is continued with State sanction under various pretexts, less and less Tamils are taken into Government Service, unemployment is rampant, Police in the North and East are non Tamil speaking and first complaints are taken down in Sinhala and translated, no proper Needs’ Assessment nor economic planning for the North and East have been undertaken after the War despite my requests to the Central Government while I was Chief Minister. Education in the North and East has been given a foster mother treatment. So, too in many other fields. The Tamil speaking people as a Nation has no control over their administration and governance in their own traditional homelands. We are an enslaved race.
The first Tamil political party founded in Sri Lanka is All Ceylon Tamil Congress. Now, there are more than 20 registered political parties. How do you see this division among Tamil people?
Shows that, We Tamils have taken Democracy seriously. No one person or Party is given the right to dominate or arrogate! Whatever it is, there is no big difference in terms of policy and purpose among most of these parties. I accept the need for these parties to work together on some common issues that affect the community as a whole. For example, the Eastern Provincial Council election must be handled together.
You’re the leader of Tamil Makkal Thesiya Kootani (TMTK). Could you explain us your strategy to build up United Sri Lanka?
The power to achieve this lies in ‘Truth’. We need to make ordinary people aware of the true history of this country. The Tamil people need to know the true history of the Sinhalese people. The Sinhalese people need to know the true history of the Tamil people. I am doing this these days as much possible as I can. Similarly, the Sinhalese people need to know the truth about what happened in the final war. The Sinhalese people need to know how many people were killed in the war, what happened to the surrendered people and the militants. That is why we demand an international independent inquiry. We are not calling for an international inquiry with the purpose of hanging anyone. People whether Sinhalese or Tamils must know the Truth. We cannot seek reconciliation by keeping the Sinhalese people in the dark. The path to reconciliation is ‘Truth’. Powers that be are trying to keep away the Truth and offer falsehoods instead. Even with regard to the April 21st tragedy the Truth must come out. Helping locals and the International community to come by the Truth is our strategy.
From the Independence in 1948, nearly for the past 73 years, Tamil political parties were fighting for the democratic rights of Tamils. After the last elections, today Tamils have lost their bargaining power. How do you see their political struggle in the future?
I will not accept the claim that the Tamil people have lost their bargaining power after the last election. Did the bargaining power that you say exist for the Tamil people during the period of good governance and help solve the problems of the Tamil people? Once upon a time the Tamil people had tremendous bargaining power no doubt. But we did not use that benefit for the community’s betterment. However, it is wrong for the government or anyone to reckon that we have no bargaining power due to proliferation of Parties. Our strength lies with the millions of Tamil people around the world. When we use their support properly through democratic means, we can regain what you call as the lost bargaining power. Similarly, when we use our knowledge and economy wisely, we can regain our bargaining power. We must not forget that our diaspora around the world have a great opportunity to make us rebuild. If we think and act innovatively in politics and economy, we can gain tremendous bargaining power. At the same time, the reality is that the more the government oppresses us, the more we will gain our bargaining power. Our political struggle must be coordinated between our diaspora and our Tamil speaking locals.
What is the right of self-determination and separatism from the point of view of yours?
When the son comes of age and marries and decides that he should live separately within the boundaries of the mulgedera itself, then it is self-determination. When he decides to leave any part of the mulgedera to set up a family separately elsewhere, it is separatism.
I say, I agree with self-determination of Tamils and Muslims. Are you also in same attitude?
Self-determination of groups of human beings is a right given by International Law to such units. We Tamils have all the characteristics necessary to be considered a separate Nation. We have asked for a Confederated Constitution before the Romesh de Silva Committee appointed to draft a New Constitution. I hope you and I are working in the same wave length.
The caste oriented mentality is disaster for the society in north, east and south too. Show how we could overcome from this caste system?
Education and love are the two weapons to overcome caste system. Education will bring enlightenment among the people. It will stress Man is born equal but is in chains everywhere because of the outdated conditionings that have gripped the minds of our people. Love in our hearts would give the power to work towards the fulfillment of what we have understood by education and execute our enlightened goals.
Do you have confidence in the International community or India to win the basic rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka?
I do not believe that the International community and India will win our rights. But I believe we can win our rights if we handle the international community and India diplomatically and wisely. For this, we need to build basic institutions like Think Tanks and Experts Committees to advise all our Political Parties and Political Institutions.
Do you not have confidence on Sri Lankan Left and Socialist parties?
I had. But no more since racialism has taken control of their hearts and minds. They are now only potheguras! In heart they are racialists like any others among Sinhalese. I have confidence in the Sinhalese who have love in their hearts and not hatred.
As an elected representative, you have certain privileges to speak freely. But freedom of speech for ordinary citizens is threatened by PTA. You are accused of fuelling the racial tensions in the country by your statements and speeches. Are you against reconciliation?
If you look at my life I was always for peace, reconciliation and prosperity. I shunned violence nearly fifty years ago. But when you deal with racialists who are conditioned wrongly and tell them the Truth they get a distorted view of my bona fides. That must be my karma!