TNA kept out of Development Forum

[TamilNet, Sunday, 15 May 2005, 15:06 GMT]
"The programme formulated for the Sri Lanka Development Forum (SLDF) which is to be held in Kandy on May 16th and 17th seeks to marginalize the North East and fails to recognise diversity, and respect the democratic verdict of the people of the North East," said Mr R Sampanthan, Leader of the parliamentary group of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), in a letter he wrote to the Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Sunday, TNA sources in Colombo said.

The full text of the letter follows: -

Mr.Sampanthan"I am in receipt of your invitation to the inaugural ceremony of the Sri Lanka Development Forum to be held at Earl's Regency Hotel, Kandy. The invitation does not extend to the Development Forum to be held on May 16-17 at Mahaweli Beach Hotel, Kandy.

"You are aware that the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK), the party of which I am the Parliamentary group leader has 22 members in Parliament elected on the votes cast in the North East, which is 2/3 rds of the total number of 31 members entitled to be elected to Parliament from the North east.

"That you have ignored this factual reality is indicative of the reluctance on your part to recognize diversity, and respect the democratic verdict of the people of the North-East.

"The 1st and 2nd sessions of the Forum deal with Post-Tsunami Recovery Process. Around 70 % of the death and damage caused by tsunami was in the North East. The programme formulated for the Forum at these two sessions seeks to marginalize the North-East.

"The Tamil speaking people of the North East also have a vital stake in the subject matter of the 3rd session dealing with Economic Policy and Development Challenges, Rapid Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction and the 4th session dealing with Partnership in Development and Peace. The Tamil-speaking people of the North East have been denied the opportunity of having their views presented at these sessions.

"Your conduct is however consistent with other actions of the Sri Lankan State in the recent Post Tsunami phase, when several world leaders despite their anxiety to do so, were denied the opportunity to visit the affected areas in some parts of the North-East, and gain first hand knowledge of the real situation.

"You cannot be unaware that more than three years after the conclusion of the Ceasefire Agreement, hundreds of thousands of displaced Tamil people and also others, despite their yearning to do so, have not been resettled and rehabilitated in their homes and villages. Most of them have been refugees for more than a decade. This is also related to the failure of the Sri Lanka State to comply with provisions of the Ceasefire Agreement pertaining to the Tamil civilian population.

"Much reconstruction yet needs to be done in the devastated North-East, which was also long neglected and underdeveloped.

"Post tsunami activities have proceeded at snail pace and the large number of Tamil speaking people affected in the North-East continue to experience much deprivation and suffering.

"It is the international non-governmental organizations and such other institutions which have enabled the people to survive.

"This has been largely because steps have not been taken to set up at the regional level in the North-East, institutional arrangements to deal with these tasks, in consultation and in accordance with the wishes of the affected people in the region.

"I very much regret to note, that the programme arranged by you for the Forum, denotes the continuance of this practice of over centralisation despite the failures that have characterised such centralised action in the past. This also explains the exclusion of the North-Eastern political opinion, from the deliberations of this Forum.

"I consider it my duty to bring these matters to your notice and that of all concerned", said Mr.Sampanthan in his two page-letter.


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