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Chief Minister Wigneswaran – How about defending Sri Lankan Tamils against Indian Poachers?

Its all fine to be issuing statements about being a martyr for the Sri Lankan Tamils. However, Chief Minister Wigneswaran and the TNA has failed the test of putting their actions where the mouths claim to say they represent Sri Lanka’s Tamils. With not a hum coming from him or party we would like to know why the presence of Sri Lanka’s Military is more of a concern than the means of livelihood for Sri Lankan Tamils who are being denied their rightful catch of fish because of Indian fishermen? Should Wigneswaran not be taking up the issue of Indian fishermen and shouting from the top of his mansion demanding from India to stop sending Indian fishermen to Sri Lankan shores because they are shipping off the fish that belongs to Sri Lanka? Chief Minister Wigneswaran must surely know that our losses from these stolen fish hauls amount to well over US$ 750 million a year and over 20,000 of his men are losing out?

It is disappointing that Chief Minister Wigneswaran has chosen to keep mum and we continue to wonder why when even the Hindu newspaper has admitted that it is Indian fishermen who are interfering into the livelihoods of the Sri Lankan fishermen. Chief Minister’s conspicuous silence cannot be accepted.

For a man who left Colombo his virtual home, living amongst the Sinhalese where he schooled, worked, lived and even became a Supreme Court judge and then in his 70s something he realizes the plight of the Tamils required him to take orders from India to contest the Northern provincial elections and now for the first time living in Jaffna, the new Chief Minister needs to put some action into what issues from his mouth.

When is he going to defend his people against the Indian fishermen poaching on (not Tamils) Sri Lanka’s territorial waters. Lest the Chief Minister turns the issue into another Eelam jostle, he needs to be reminded that the waters surrounding Sri Lanka belong to the Sri Lankan State of which he is just a citizen himself.

Lets wonder why Wigneswaran is silent. Is it because these fishermen are the same lot that transported arms, ammunition and various other needs to the LTTE over the years? We do not need to travel back to go through the smuggling done by Indian fishermen and LTTE over 3 decades and their links to the Church does not need to be again reminded as well. But these are all points that cannot be erased either nor given amnesty for too.

The Hindu newspaper has to be thanked for writing an article that points out to satellite images that establish the fact that Indian fishermen cross the agreed-upon-International Maritime Boundary Line that defines the 2 nations.

The journalist Meera Sirinivasan is asking the same question we are asking ourselves. ‘If Tamil Nadu politicians care for Sri Lankan Tamils as much as they claim to, how come they completely miss the larger point about Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen being worst-hit in this maritime mess? If it is about Tamil Nadu fishermen’s livelihood, what is it then, for Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen on this side of the Palk Strait who are struggling to cope with the after-effects of a brutal war”?

If Meera could ask this being an Indian, we would like to know why Chief Minister Wigneswaran who tries to show he is totally dedicated for the Sri Lankan Tamils is more concerned about chasing the army out but doesn’t mind the army building houses, toilets or even putting up a Christmas tree in Kilinochchi of all places when we well know that the majority of Tamils are Hindus and not Christians/Catholics or Evangelical as the new alarming trends are showing and incidentally so too are most of the fishermen.

Should Chief Minister Wigneswaran be

a) pressing Sri Lanka to take action against the Indian trawlers denying the rightful catch of fish to the Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen because he and TNA knows that it is Sri Lankan Tamils who are gaining livelihoods from fishing and Indian fishermen are denying this?

b) issuing those infamous TNA statements demanding Indian politicians stop sending Indian fishermen to poach on Sri Lanka’s waters

c) Crying to the international community of which they have become masters and putting the case of the Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen – if they can take even domestic matters and weep before the so called international community why is it that Chief Minister Wigneswaran or the TNA has not wept a single tear for the Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen in any of the demands they are making?

We smell more than a fish in the Wigneswaran camp and these fish reek nothing other than opportunism, lies and hypocrisy.

If the Hindu says that the Indian trawlers that trespass on Sri Lankan waters have had GPS monitors it concludes that they are purposely trespassing and the Sri Lankan Navy has every right to arrest them. India has no business to think it can bully Sri Lanka by adopting a tit for tat approach. Trespassing and getting away cannot become an election issue for the Indian Central Government to be held for ransom? What kind of Central Government would be so backboneless to fall for these jaunts of Tamil Nadu politicians? We certainly hope that the BJP will have a strategy to draw away from the manner the Congress has deteriorated international relations by dancing to the tunes of State politicians simply because it comes with the carrot of votes.

We and obviously most Indians do not expect a Central Government to be dancing to the tune of actors turned politicians or politicians trying to be actors!

Chief Minister Wignesaran needs to now open his eyes and mouth whether he likes it or not because his silence is affecting 20,000 Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen and their families their livelihoods. Stealing the fish that belong to Sri Lanka is costing us the loss of over Rs.97,500million annually and contravening the bilateral Maritime Agreement signed between India and Sri Lankan in 1974. Chief Minister Wigneswaran may also need to be reminded that bottom trawling by Indian fishing trawlers are destroying Sri Lanka’s marine resources and damaging the marine ecosystem.

This is just one example of many that proves Chief Minister Wigneswaran is just a political stooge propped in the roll for other agendas that have nothing to do with any real and measurable concern for the Sri Lankan Tamils. What he sees with his very eyes he ignores and when he has not issued a single statement or sent one of those famous TNA letters reprimanding the Tamil Nadu politicians or sent letters of woe to the UN or other agencies about his people losing out on their catch of fish, we and the world and especially the Sri Lankan Tamils should now realize what an empty vessel the TNA is and its Chief Minister is nothing but a loudmouthed political stooge.

In terms of what the army has done and is doing for the people in the North what has the TNA ever done for the Tamils and what has the Chief Minister himself ever done?

“I did never know so full a voice issue from so empty a heart: but the saying is true, the empty vessel makes the greatest sound”. (Henry V)

Shenali D Waduge

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