Brian Senewiratne: Deterioration of human rights in Sri Lanka
IBN Tamil Nadu | Posted on Oct 11, 2012
New Delhi: Sri Lanka’s Tamil National Alliance on Thursday said it would consider joining a proposed Parliamentary Committee to find a political solution if the Mahinda Rajapaksa government removes the “negativity” and hand out an assurance that they would not be “cheated again”. TNA Parliamentary Party leader R Sampanthan, who is leading a delegation of his party MPs, articulated the views after an hour-long meeting with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna during which efforts to achieve a political solution to the Sri Lankan Tamil questions was discussed at length.
MPs of the TNA, which has emerged as the only credible representative of ethnic Tamils, told Krishna that Tamils in Sri Lanka should be given an opportunity to lead a “dignified life” and there should be no effort to “cheat them again”. Here at the invitation of Krishna for consultations on the process to achieve political solution, the delegation told the Indian side that Tamils have the “genuine right” for a political solution and everyone should respect the traditions which are followed by them.
"If we get assurances that we will not be cheated again and that our people will not be deceived once again, we are ready to walk towards the path of finding a (political) solution. The negativity has to be removed," he said. Asked whether the TNA was ready to join the Parliamentary Select Committee, he said, "If the PSC has the intention of thrasing out a solution and has an agenda for (arriving at a political solution), we are ready to consider it. But, we are ready to get cheated again."
The TNA has been opposed to joining the PSC, which the Sri Lankan Government has proposed to find out a political solution to the conflict, saying the agenda was not clear. Sampanthan also claimed that Indian side did not ask them to join the PSC. Sampanthan said they apprised Krishna of the current political situation in Sri Lanka and also deliberated on how India can be of help in the process to achieve “genuine political reconciliation”.
Asked about India’s opinion on the views expressed by them, the TNA leader said he could articulate his views only after concluding their discussions with the top leadership. The delegation will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later in the day. The delegation’s visit is part of India’s continuing engagement with the government and political parties of Sri Lanka over the process of reconciliation and meaningful devolution. The high-level visit has raised hopes in Sri Lanka that India would nudge TNA to join the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee to thrash out a political solution to the conflict that ended in 2009. TNA had secured a landslide victory in northern Sri Lanka in the 2010 parliamentary polls.
The TNA, which handed over its proposals for a political solution to Sri Lankan government last year during its series of talks with the ruling party, has been asking for total devolution of powers to provinces and transfer of ‘extensive financial and fiscal powers’ to the provinces including land and police powers. Talks between the government and the TNA have been deadlocked at the moment given the differences of opinion between the two sides on the participation in the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee.