PTA regulations not conducive for talks - Selvam
[TamilNet, Thursday, 20 December 2001, 14:14 GMT]
“The United National Front government should take steps remove the Prevention of Terrorism Act and to release Tamil political prisoners if it wants to positively and constructively respond to the ceasefire unilaterally declared by the Liberation Tigers and restore normalcy in the north and east”, Selvam Adaikalanathan MP in a statement Thursday welcoming the LTTE’s truce announcement. “We see the PTA as a serious obstacle to the peace process because the armed forces would remain empowered under its provisions to arrest and detain members of the LTTE even during the period of mutual truce”, he told Tamilnet. The Liberation Tigers were banned under the PTA after the Emergency lapsed in October when the People’s Alliance lost its majority in Parliament.
“The Sri Lankan armed forces enjoy the same powers under the PTA today which they had in 1987 when they arrested and detained 17 senior members of the Liberation Tigers despite the truce established by the Indo-Sri Lanka treaty at the time, precipitating a crisis that eventually led to the war with the Indian army”, Adaikalanathan said.
The PTA gives powers to the Sri Lankan security forces to arrest, detain, search premises, establish and run checkpoints, ban fishing, agriculture, the transport of specified items etc.,
“The administration of civil affairs in all the districts of the northeastern province is ultimately under the military. The Tamils should be able to live without fear of arbitrary arrest, detention and search. They should be able to ply their trades without being hindered or blocked by restrictions and bans imposed by the Sri Lankan security forces. Restoring normalcy in the northeastern province is indispensable for starting negotiations on a durable basis because it is the only way to make the Tamil people have trust in the peace process. We do not see how the UNF government is going to restore normalcy while the Tamils of the northeast are still living under the Damocles Sword of the PTA”, the MP for the Vanni said.