Political leaders from Tamil Nadu including VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan and MDMK chief Vaiko have raised serious concerns regarding justice for Tamils in Sri Lanka following the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as President. However, the new head of state’s nephew and MP Namal Rajapaksa has slammed the leaders calling them ‘opportunists’.
On Monday, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was sworn in as President of the island nation after he won a mandate with a little over 52% of the votes on Saturday’s election. The war-time defence chief oversaw the most violent phase of the Sri Lankan civil war, which witnessed the deaths of thousands of Tamil civilians during the Sri Lankan Army’s fight against the LTTE. Human rights defenders have condemned the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) leader's ascent to the country's top job even as he stands accused of multiple human rights violations and war crimes.
In a tweet on Sunday, VCK chief and Lok Sabha MP Thirumavalavan wrote, “The Sri Lankan election results are very worrying. The return of the perpetrators of genocide to power and authority will lead to great harm for Tamil society. Justice will be denied entirely.”
“Had international investigations taken place over the past ten years, the Rajapaksa family would have been punished. They could not have participated in the elections. It is a great betrayal that the international community, including the United Nations, has not come forward to cooperate to bring justice to the Tamil people,” he said.
Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, MDMK chief Vaiko said, “This day gives great sorrow and shock. Mahinda Rajapaksa is responsible for the killing of lakhs of Tamils, widowing 900,000 women; innumerable women were violated, genocide was committed without concern for children or the elderly. Thousands who disappeared are yet to be found. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the one responsible for executing all this. He has the blood of Tamils on his hands.”
Responding to this, SLPP leader and Hambantota MP Namal Rajapaksa issued a statement on Tuesday asking leaders from Tamil Nadu to refrain from issuing opportunistic and sensational statements in the media and responsibly work, instead, for the future welfare of his people. Namal is the son of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabhaya's brother.
“Some political leaders in Tamil Nadu have never thought deeply about Sri Lankan Tamils or taken any initiatives to fulfill their basic needs. Instead, the worrying truth is that they have used people of my country as pawns for their selfish and opportunistic political needs.”
Pointing out that many Indian political leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had congratulated President Gotabaya, Namal slammed Vaiko for his ‘crocodile tears’ feigning concern for Sri Lankan Tamils. He also said that statements issued by VCK chief Thirumavalavan, PMK chief S Ramadoss and Tamil National Front leader Pazha Nedumaran were ‘nothing but opportunistic’ in nature.
Namal reminded that it was a well-known fact that a group of DMK MPs and Thirumavalavan who visited Sri Lanka’s Northern and Eastern Provinces in the aftermath of the civil war had had a friendly meeting with his father and then President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“The future government, including the President, will function in a transparent manner with good intentions at all times. I wish to affectionately ask Tamil Nadu’s political leaders that they stop criticising the past President and his government and instead, think about Sri Lankan Tamils under the current government,” he wrote.