‘Prepared to work with government, but cannot wait indefinitely for solutions’, Sri Lanka Tamil party tells UN
July 22, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) told the United Nation that the party is prepared to work with the Sri Lankan government on resolving the Tamil people’s problems but cannot wait indefinitely for the government to take meaningful actions.
The leader of Tamil National Alliance and the Opposition R. Sampanthan told a visiting top official of the UN that the party’s demand is not to divide the country but to find a solution based on consent and the consensus of political parties and people.
The visiting UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffery Feltman met with the Opposition Leader, R. Sampanthan and members of the Tamil National Alliance on Friday at the UN office in Colombo.
During the meeting, Mr. Sampanthan raised concerns related to matters that affect the day to day life of the Tamil people living in the North and the East.
He highlighted that lands belonging to people must be returned to people. “There is no justification for the Government not to release these lands even after 8 years since the war came to an end,” he noted.
Speaking further on the land issues Mr. Sampanthan pointed out that the armed forces are engaged in cultivation activities in these lands that severely affects the livelihood of their people.
Speaking of the Missing persons Mr. Sampanthan noted that there had been over 20,000 people who went missing as per the submissions given to several commissions. And he further clarified not all of them belong to the armed group. “People want to know the truth as to what happened to their loved ones, people are living in trauma, and this must come to an end,” he said.
“The Office of the Missing Persons should be established soon to give some relief to these people,” Mr. Sampanthan noted.
Speaking on the Prevention of Terrorism Act Mr. Sampanthan noted that it was an undertaking given by the government to the International Community to repeal this law. Yet very little progress has been made in this regard he added.
TNA parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran pointed out that Government has made an explicit promise on this to the UN. Yet Ministers in Government make statements that are contradicting the very same promise.
The TNA leader pointed out that the government cannot afford to go backward and that it is the responsibility of the international Community to ensure that these promises are met without delay.
Speaking on the framing of a new Constitution Mr. Sampanthan said, over a period of 30 years so much of work has been done regarding this matter and every successive Government wanted to change the constitution including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“After the change in the Government in 2015 moves were made to make this a reality, and our people had many expectations on this matter. But there seems to be a certain degree of uncertainty especially among the SLFP members who are in the Government he added. They seem to be thinking of their own political agendas and not the overall interest of the country. They must come together and give their cooperation to this matter,” he said.
“We cannot indefinitely wait on these matters, we are prepared to work on these matters,” he added.
TNA Leader stressed that TNA’s demand is not to divide the country but to find a solution based on consent and the consensus of political parties and people.
“We cannot allow these people to play petty political games and victimize our people once again,” Mr. Sampanthan said.
Speaking on the UN resolution Mr. Sampanthan said that the progress shown in the implementation of the resolution is not satisfactory and Government must expedite its actions in regard to this.
“We did not oppose the time extension asked by the government on this because we felt that this time frame will be utilized to make progress to the maximum by the government. But looking at the progress made in the past few months the Tamil people are not satisfied,” he added.
Commenting on the concerns raised by the TNA delegation the United Nations Under Secretary General assured that the UN is watchful over the current developments in the country. He further added that the substance and the processes of the Constitution are vital not only for long term political solution but also for the economic development and prosperity of the nation.
He further noted that the Government’s good intentions must be translated into actions where the people on the ground could experience the difference. He assured that the Secretary General and the UN community is very much concerned about the progress in some of these important matters, and assured the UN’s continuous constructive engagement with Sri Lanka in the future.
TNA delegation led by Mr. Sampanthan included Parliamentarians M.A. Sumanthiran, Selvam Adaikalanathan, S. Sitharththan and Sivashakthi Ananthan while Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffery Feltman along with the UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Una McCauIey and other UN officials participated in the meeting.