01/27/2015, 00.00
Send to a friend

Sri Lanka's Tamils ​​welcome the new president "with hope and fear"

by Melani Manel Perera
Tamil votes in the northern part of the country were crucial in ensuring Maithripala Sirisena's victory. Now Tamils want basic human rights restored, the military back in their barracks and new economic policies to curb the price of basic necessities.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Tamils in northern Sri Lanka have welcomed the election of Maithripala Sirisena as the country's new president. They are full of "hope" that the new government will guaranteed basic rights to all the people.

However, "the possibility is high" that the new government will not take into account the role Tamil voters played in its victory, and thus "betray the expectations" of a broad spectrum of public opinion.

In Jaffna, a city in the northern part of the island-nation, several people spoke to AsiaNews on condition of anonymity about the country's political situation.

For them, the government should remember that northern voters chose the new administration "without preconditions". However, they all hope that that "nothing untoward will happen in terms of human rights."

The elections "went well, because there was a change," a woman with children said. "The new president won thanks to Tamil votes, and so has to solve Tamil problems." The top priority "is the release of prisoners and finding what happened to the missing."

The new president, she said, "must be grateful to Tamils and give us justice. Sadly, once in power, people change. Hence, I am not sure what will change."

Usually, she added, "this is how it works: During political campaigns, politicians make promises, but once they got the votes they show their true selves. Despite this, let us hope that Maithripala Sirisena will not change. We will wait, with hope."

A young man from Mullativu agrees. "We expect many changes from this government. Prices must come down. We must be able to find what we need in Sri Lanka without going elsewhere. The prices of basic necessity must come down first. The same goes for fuel. This way we can stay in the country and build a future."

"The new president has never talked about Tamils' problems during the election campaign," said a nun from Mannar. "In fact, he said that he is not going to reduce defence spending nor lift checkpoints."

"On more than one occasion, he said he was going to protect his predecessor, and military leaders from charges related to war crimes. He said this to win the Sinhalese vote, but he owes his victory to Tamil votes. If he does not help the Tamils, and withdraws the army, we are still at square one."

Still, political considerations are not enough. "I doubt Sirisena will protect the Tamils. How can you hand out land if soldiers are not removed? How can you have justice if the guilty are not charged? How will the tragedy of the missing be solved? If these questions are not answered, Tamils will feel betrayed."

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Ramos-Horta loses E Timor presidential election, Guterres and Ruak in runoff
New Sri Lanka cabinet appointed
Arab press in waiting mode, uncertain and fearful after Hamas victory
Protest against press censorship
Tamil and Sinhalese cast their votes for new president of Sri Lanka


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”