`Not on the right path'

Print edition : October 22, 2004

Kathiravelu Nithyananda Douglas Devananda, 47, is the secretary general of the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP), the most vocal critic of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). A founder-member of the Eelam Revolutionary Organisation (EROS), formed in 1975, Devananda received military training from the Al-Fatah faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in 1978. A founder-member of the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), Devananda formed the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) in 1986 and shifted to parliamentary politics after the 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement. Currently the only non-Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Member of Parliament from Jaffna, Devananda is a Cabinet Minister in the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government.

On the present path of Tamil nationalism:

N. SRIDHARAN

It is not on the right path. The ability to think on one's own has been lost owing to threats by the LTTE and the intervention of the LTTE in all aspects of life, which is why it [Tamil nationalism] is tottering. As the LTTE is the armed group, they have to take the main responsibility.

On the LTTE's claim as the sole representative of the Tamil cause:

When I was involved in the armed struggle, I did not subscribe to that. I wanted all of us to contribute together. For instance, I tried to mediate in and sort out, whenever it seemed possible, internecine clashes.

On the contention that democratic politics has not delivered:

I don't accept that contention. In a recent television programme, a caller rang up and said she had gained a lot from us. She even said that no one had helped them in the manner that we helped. Several things are not mentioned out of fear. If we were functioning in a democratic system, we could have achieved a lot. The LTTE's Jaffna political division leader complains that the EPDP is misleading the Jaffna people. So does he concede that the LTTE does not have control over Jaffna?

Now these are the reasons for the formation of the TNA and for the LTTE to be scared of us. Even now the LTTE and its policies are the reasons why we cannot function properly. After the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement, we believe it [the Tamil national question] can be solved through the democratic process. It was the armed struggle that got us the Agreement. We did not use that golden opportunity.

On the response by governments to the armed struggle:

Before the Agreement, the Sinhala governments were indifferent. But after that there has been a change. We have to accept that. We cannot expect an overnight change. That is a reality anywhere. We have to see it realistically. What I am saying is that we did not make proper use of the changes.

On the future of Tamil nationalism:

If it goes on at the present rate, the Tamil community is headed for destruction; that is, if it continues in the LTTE's hand, if the LTTE continues with its present attitude and its hand continues to be strengthened. Prabakaran is doing the same things that Hitler, Pol Pot and Idi Amin did to destroy their communities.

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