Wiggy claims Ranil agreed to all his conditions before vote 

  • Included releasing Tamil ‘political prisoners’ and halting land grab and ‘colonisation’ in North
  • Wijeyadasa awaits report regarding political prisoners      

BY Safrah Fazal

Tamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK) Leader and Jaffna District MP C.V. Wigneswaran claimed that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had agreed to release all Tamil political prisoners, abolish the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act (PTA), withdraw the Presidential Task Force (PTF) for Archaeological Heritage Management in the Eastern Province and halt related land grabs, demilitarise the North and East, and end the Sinhalese “colonisation” of Tamil-majority areas. 

According to Wigneswaran, Wickremesinghe had agreed to such in order to secure the former’s vote at the election held in Parliament on 20 July to elect a President.

Speaking to The Morning yesterday (11), Wigneswaran said: “On 19 July, in Parliament, then-Prime Minister and Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe came to my seat and said that he wanted to meet me. I said that in order for me to vote for him, I had a lot of requests to make pertaining to the Tamil people, and at this point I handed him a document that was prepared by myself and five or six other parties, stating our requests. He agreed to these demands, so I gave him my vote openly.”

Wigneswaran, a former Supreme Court Justice, said that the first of the demands was the release of the 46 Tamil political prisoners who have been held under an “illegal law”, as they have been detained for minor offences. 

He said: “I’m aware that work is being done in this regard. Minister of Justice, Prisons Affairs, and Constitutional Reforms Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe PC and Foreign Minister M.U.M. Ali Sabry PC are working on it. It was to be taken up for discussion on Tuesday (9) or Wednesday (10), but they had to postpone it to 18 August.”

When The Morning contacted Dr. Rajapakshe PC in this regard, he affirmed that measures are being taken concerning the matter, and also said: “We are waiting for a report from former Chief Justice (CJ) Asoka De Silva, who was appointed for this task.”

Wigneswaran also noted that the withdrawal of the PTA was also a request made to the President. 

“Under the PTA, these people were sentenced to long jail terms for a mere confession. This is wrong. It is the duty of the court to identify if the offence was actually committed or not. The international community has called for the withdrawal of the PTA, but the Sri Lankan Government has been postponing it.”

Speaking further, he said: “The aforementioned PTF has been arbitrarily taking the Tamil people’s lands in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, claiming that they are archaeological sites and so on. Even if they are archaeological sites, you cannot go about taking their lands. You mention that it is such a site and conduct the necessary investigations and research. They are taking hundreds of acres of land from the Tamils. We ask that the said lands be returned.”

He also claimed that the colonisation that is taking place in the Mullaitivu and Vavuniya Districts as well as the increased presence of military (Army) personnel in these areas were also raised in their requests. 

“With regard to the colonisation that is taking place, the Sinhalese people are being brought into Tamil-majority areas, and the Tamils are being brought into Sinhalese-majority areas. This has to stop. We also asked to reduce the Army personnel in these areas, at least by half. They have taken over the people’s land and are cultivating them. There are lots of issues with regard to these.”

When The Morning queried from Wigneswaran as to whether he believes that the President would keep his word on his requests, he said: “He may have to keep his word, because it is going to be very difficult for him at the United Nations (UN) meetings that are to be held in September. He may be forced to do so if he wants the UN to view his Government favourably.”