The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) yesterday urged the Sri Lankan government not to engage in futile propaganda exercises to deceive the international community ahead of the forthcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.
UK based GTF spokesman Suren Surendiran told The Island that there was absolutely no basis for recent GoSL claim that it was in touch with Tamil Diaspora organizations and a meeting between them and President Rajapaksa was likely in Colombo soon.
Asked whether the GTF was concerned about losing its clout among the overseas Tamil community, Surendiran emphasized that the GoSL was not in contact with what he called credible Diaspora organizations.
The GTF was responding to GoSL spokesperson, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella’s declaration last Friday (19) that a meeting between senior representatives of Tamil Diaspora and President Rajapaksa was now a possibility.
Surendiran said that the GTF had made representations to the UPR.
He stressed that the GoSL had no option but to engage in a genuine dialogue with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). The GoSL should realize that the TNA represented Tamil speaking people at parliamentary, Provincial Council and Local Government level and there couldn’t be a substitute, Surendiran said.
The GTF official accused the government of failing to make a genuine effort to address grievances of Tamil speaking people even three years after the conclusion of the conflict. The Tamil community wouldn’t under any circumstances give up its demand for an international war crimes inquiry, he said. Responding to a query, the GTF spokesman said that they wouldn’t quit their ongoing campaign for war crimes inquiry in return for resumption of political negotiations or some sort of understanding with the GoSL. "We want to know the circumstances, under which over 40,000 people perished on the Vanni east front during the final phase of the war," Surendiran said.
He stressed that the GoSL accepts that there was also a Tamil Nation in the island. Asked whether the GTF was ready to work with Kumaran Pathmanathan, alias KP, the GTF spokesman said the former top LTTEer was now a captured man in GoSL custody. But the GTF wouldn’t see anything wrong in Pathmanathan providing some relief to those affected by the conflict.
Dr. Panchakulasingam Kandiah, the president of the Norwegian Council of Eezham Tamils (NCET) and a director on the board of the GTF, told The Island that the GoSL was making an effort to give legitimacy to its propaganda campaign by arranging a meeting between a handful of Tamils living overseas and the President.
Kandiah described the recent GoSL announcement as a deceptive move timed for UPR process on Nov 1 in Geneva and four months before the UNHRC was due to review progress on the US sponsored resolution that was passed last March targeting Sri Lanka.
"Majority of the Tamil Diaspora is very clear on a few matters, we as an organization pro-actively promote non-violence to achieve our rights and political aspirations in Sri Lanka," he said.
Commenting on war crimes, Kandiah said those responsible for atrocities should be held accountable. "No government or group should be allowed to breach international laws and conventions and get away with it. That will set the wrong precedent and that’s plainly wrong."
Kandiah, too, said that their push for international war crimes inquiry wouldn’t be given up to facilitate a negotiated political settlement.
"Tamils have lived in the North and East of the island for many centuries and historically have established those parts as their homeland just as the Sinhalese in the rest of the island except the ‘up-country’ where Tamils from Indian decent have lived. Just as we Tamils, respect this historic fact that there is a Sinhala nation in that island, we want the Sinhalese to acknowledge and respect that there is a Tamil nation in that island too," he said.
"Finally, in any genuine negotiations with the will to deliver a lasting solution there shouldn’t be any pre-conditions imposed by either party. This must mean that everything including the right to self determination for Tamils be part of that conversation. When we formed the organization NCET, I stood for elections in Norway and won an overwhelming majority, with a clear mandate calling for a separate state for Tamils in Sri Lanka," he added.
The Eelam official called for resumption of genuine negotiations without conditions or restrictions. But proposed talks should be monitored by relevant international stakeholders such as the co-chairs established during the Norwegian-arranged failed ceasefire agreement (US, Japan, EU and Norway), India, China and other well meaning countries like for example Republic of South Africa.
Courtesy - Island