By M A Sumanthiran
Today the most important question that is being asked of the TNA is “Why are you not joining the PSC?” This seems a very reasonable question since the Government has quite successfully carried on a campaign to convince everyone that the only reason why a political settlement cannot be reached is because the TNA is being obstinate and is refusing to join this very democratic process of the PSC that has been initiated by the Government. We owe it to the people of this country to explain the actual reason for the present stalemate in the talks between the TNA and the Government. For this a recollection of events from the beginning of the year 2010 is necessary:
It must be remembered that President Rajapaksa did not win in the North and the East, although he got a clear mandate from the rest of the seven provinces at the Presidential Election held in January 2010. In fact he did not win in Nuwara Eliya District and Colombo Municipal limits. Basically his mandate was only from the Sinhala majority of this country. A telling result, after he claimed to have freed the Tamil People from the clutches of terrorism!
The TNA made a public request in April 2010 that the Government must engage the TNA with regard to the evolution of a political settlement and the immediate concerns of the Tamil people in the aftermath of the war, and despite the President agreeing with the Leader of the TNA that two committees would be set up for these two matters in November 2010, only one committee was appointed in January 2011 consisting of representatives of the government and representatives of the TNA for ‘long-term reconciliation’. It was clearly stated in the letter of invitation to the representatives of the TNA that the other members were ‘representatives of the Government of Sri Lanka’.
Eighteen rounds of talks were held from January 10, 2011 throughout that year on the evolution of an acceptable political solution. Although no separate committee was set up with regard to matters of immediate concern of the Tamil people, at the invitation of the Government delegation, the TNA raised the following matters of immediate concern:
The removal of High Security Zones and disarming of para-military forces operating in the North and East
Resettlement and Rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons
The issue of political prisoners and detainees.
The resettlement process continues to be snail-paced with several thousands still in the camps and many more tens of thousands in transit camps and with friends and relatives. Even those who have been permitted to return to their original places, are without proper shelter and are unable to re-commence their livelihood activities, resulting in there being no qualitative improvement in the lives of these people. Although some progress has been made in the Palaly High Security Zone area, several other areas in the North including Sampur in the East continue to be prohibited zones for the civilians.
Even in Palaly, now a long barbed-wire fence has been erected across the peninsula, physically preventing the resettlement of about twenty eight thousand people who have been displaced for over twenty six years. Para-military personnel continue to operate with impunity causing abductions, demanding ransom and even carrying out killings.
This is acknowledged by the Government in the recent Action Plan to implement the LLRC recommendations, and the Key Performance Indicator for this to be completed is six months! The Government delegation also gave an undertaking in writing at the 2nd round of the talks on the February 3, 2011 that the next of kin could check if their relatives are held in detention at a specified place in Vavuniya. At least three separate dates were fixed for a representative each from the Government and TNA to go to Vavuniya and check this out, those visits were always called off by the Government and never took place. To date this has not happened and real information pertaining to the detainees continues to be withheld and denied to the next of kin.
After the end of the war in May 2009, a programme is being implemented whereby cultural and religious places in the Tamil areas are misused, damaged and destroyed, increased militarization and military’s intervention in civilian life, lands being allocated to persons from outside the North and East ostensibly for development purposes resulting in demographic change in the North and the East, the transformation of the cultural identity of areas in the North and the East, all of which will have irreversible evil consequences to the future well-being of the Tamil people.
Representations made to the Government in regard to such matters have not resulted in remedial action indicating that they have not received due consideration by the Government. While the Tamil people have not been enabled through appropriate action by the Government to return to their homes within the Jaffna District, their absence is sought to be utilized to reduce the representation of the Jaffna District in Parliament resulting in the denial of franchise and the perversion of democracy.
In regard to a political solution the TNA placed before the Government delegation in writing at the very first meeting itself, the speech made by President Rajapaksa at the inaugural meeting of the APRC and the Committee of Experts in July 2006, which was referred to in my article last Sunday, as the position that would be acceptable to the TNA. On the invitation of the Government delegation a further outline was given at the second meeting.
Again at the invitation of the Government delegation, the TNA tabled a comprehensive set of proposals at the third meeting held on the March 18, 2011. This included proposals in regard to the structure of governance, the division of subjects and functions between the centre and the devolved units and fiscal and financial powers and other matters relevant to the achievement of an acceptable and durable political solution. The TNA invited the Government’s response to these proposals and despite the Government’s commitment to so respond, no response was forthcoming for several months.
Consequently no meaningful or purposeful discussion could be held on the discussion papers tendered by the TNA. This was clearly demonstrative of the lack of a genuine commitment on the part of the Government to the evolution of an acceptable political solution. While attempting to show the world that the Government was engaged in a political process as an integral part of reconciliation, what the Government was really engaged in was no more than a deceitful exercise. It was in these circumstances that the TNA questioned the continuance of such a deceitful process. The TNA therefore called upon the government to meaningfully define and state the Government’s response to three issues: 1. The structure of governance, 2. The division of subjects and functions between the centre and the devolved units and 3. Fiscal and financial powers, within a period of two weeks, to carry forward any future dialogue. However, as usual, the Government went to town, accusing the TNA of behaving like the LTTE - laying down conditions and setting deadlines!
To be continued
Why do we need this PSC? What is the purpose of this commitee? To solve the ethnic problem, just implement the 13 th amendment and LLRC. Thats all. To achieve this, no commitee needed. The agreements on 13 A and LLRC are already accepted by MR. So, don't waste the time by forming unnecessary commitee and unneccessary discussions.TNA should not join and if necessary bring this issue to UNO.
srinath.gunaratne Friday, 26 October 2012 09:35 AM
What authority you have to hold talk with government to solve ethnic problem, Just because you have a majority in north, you do not automatically become the sole representative of the Tamils. This is a matter to be discussed by all the parties and all the communities in SL.
kumar Friday, 26 October 2012 11:24 AM
They are the representative of the Tamils in North-East. They have all the rights to represent them.
true sri lankan Friday, 26 October 2012 03:59 AM
When will this end?
Hussain Friday, 26 October 2012 04:52 AM
The motives of the TNA , which is an ethnic party are the same as that of the LTTE without the guns and bombs. Ethnic parties the world over is the bane of civil society and of democratic countries. The TNA wants it ALL. Its time someone called their bluff.
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