By M. A. Sumanthiran-Pages: 1
Today the most important question that is being asked of the TNA is: “Why are you not joining the PSC?” This seems Iike 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 Mahinda 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 the 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 (18) rounds of talks were held from 10th January 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:
(1) Resettlement and Rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons, (2) the removal of High Security Zones and disarming of para-military forces operating in the North and East and (3) the issue of political prisoners and detainees.
The resettlement process continues to be snail-paced with several thousands of displaced people 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 recommence 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 28,000 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 second round of the talks on Feb. 3, 2011 that the next of kin could check if their relatives were 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 militarisation 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 utilised to reduce the representation of the Jaffna District in Parliament resulting in the denial of franchise and the perversion of democracy.