Suren Surendiran: These candidates are largely to blame for destroying our people

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As far as we Tamils are concerned, this is not the right time for any sort of election, regardless of who the candidates are.

Those in the traditional homeland are still recovering from the woes of the war; there has been no time for proper healing, rehabilitation or reconstruction. Most do not know where their loved ones are and whether they are still living or dead. They live in fear under a heavy military presence, with restricted freedom of movement.

Out in eastern Sri Lanka, Tamils suffer a continued armed paramilitary presence, and daily human rights violations that are perpetrated with impunity and with no independent investigation of these crimes. In the rest of the country, Tamils are forced to carry identity documents and are the only community compelled to register themselves with the local police.

If you were forced to choose between General Sarath Fonseka and President Mahinda Rajapaksa, then the former military chief is definitely the lesser of the two evils. But should the Tamils be backing him as their candidate in the upcoming election? I don't think so. General Fonseka, like the President, is implicated in war crimes and crimes against humanity. These two men were largely responsible for the deaths of our Tamil kith and kin and for the destruction of our homeland in the island of Sri Lanka.

They should be brought to court to answer for their crimes and, given that, I believe it is morally and ethically impossible to throw one's support behind either of these candidates.

During the past 62 years since independence, successive governments of Sri Lanka have signed many pacts and agreements with Tamils with and without international sponsorship. All of them, without exception, have been abrogated unilaterally on the government side.

We Tamils want a candidate who accepts that the Tamils have legitimate grievances and political aspirations, stands for justice, and works for the resolution for the political problem through genuine negotiations. If someone meets these criteria, then we Tamils will support him or her, regardless of ethnicity.

Previous ballots have always been rigged by government sponsors, bringing injustices to the people of the island, particularly the Tamils. The international community should monitor this election closely.

Suren Surendiran is a Tamil activist based in London

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