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Thousands of Tamils still continuing to be denied the right to vote

August 7, 2009

BBC’s today programme reports…
Click here to listen.
Click here to read.
Mano Ganeshan is an MP and Leader of the Western People’s Front, a Tamil opposition party. He claims many thousands of Tamils have not been granted government ID cards and therefore cannot vote in this week’s important poll.

“In the last election there were 250,000 Tamil voters in the (central) Nuwara-eliya district, the government agent said that 75,000 people didn’t have ID cards,” he says.

Mr Ganeshan believed the situation was little different today and claimed that Tamils had been deliberately deprived of the cards.

…”They [the government] have a mobile service that issues ID cards but it hasn’t been here for two years. There are people who’ve lived here for over 30 years who haven’t got a vote card,” he says.

…Politicians on all side are all too well aware that the failure by previous governments to address the legitimate grievances of Tamils when they were being expressed peacefully in the 1950s and 1960s led ultimately to the creation of the Tamil Tigers and the explosion of violence in the 1980s.

…”The demand of a separate [Tamil] state was created because of the discrimination,” he said.

“When the Tamils tried to work through parliamentary means – peaceful means – they were pushed to take up arms. Although terrorists are defeated, the reasons for the foundations for the Tamil separatist struggle still remain intact.”

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