Peace secretariat official's visit to China deplored

[TamilNet, Saturday, 15 June 2002, 18:25 GMT]
"It is most disturbing that a member of the Peace Secretariat has gone to China along with the Defence Minister and the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy presumably to procure arms and to modernize the Navy at the expense of the poor people of this country. This has to be viewed in the context that Tamil fishermen in the northeast view the Sri Lanka Navy as an undisciplined force," said Tamil Human Rights lawyer Mr.K.Sivapalan Saturday. Mr. Sivapalan is a member of the Trincomalee Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission.

Mr. Bernard Gunatilaka is the head of the Peace Secretariat established by Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to assist peace talks between Colombo and the Liberation Tigers. He was serving as Sri Lanka's ambassador to China when he was asked to head the peace secretariat.

sivapalan_k.jpgIn his comment to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) Saturday Mr. Sivapalan observed: "The Prevention of Terrorism (Restricted Areas) Regulation No:01 of 2002 published in the Extra Ordinary Gazette of 23rd May, 2002 restricting the movement of any boat or vessel in the northeast sea, should be repealed".

"Any relief from the Prevention of Terrorism (Restricted Areas) should not come as concessions. The regulations should be repealed", Mr. Sivapalan said.

Mr. Sivapalan informed the SLMM that the Regulations now in force run against the letter and spirit of the ceasefire agreement of 23rd February 2002.

Mr. Sivapalan Saturday made this observation to the SLMM following reports that at a conference held Thursday in Colombo, the Defense Secretary Austin Fernando agreed to consider revisions for the Government Gazette of May 23 once the Defense Minister returns from his visit to China.

Referring to the Article 2.11 of the cease-fire agreement, which states, "a gradual easing of the fishing restrictions shall take place starting from the D day. As of D+90 all restrictions were to be removed except for fishing within an area of one nautical mile on either side of the coast and two nautical miles seawards from all security forces camps on the coast," Mr. Sivapalan submitted to the SLMM several incidents where Tamil fishermen had been harassed and threatened by the Sri Lanka Navy in the sea and on land.

He has told the SLMM that the regulation gazetted by the Defense Minister under the Prevention of Terrorism Act on 23 May should be seen in the light of the incidents as an extension of the acts which aid and abet the oppression of Tamil fishermen.

"When it has been agreed under the Article 2:12 not to carry out search, arrests etc under the PTA and to carry out all arrests under due process of law in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code, this new regulation permitting such acts under the PTA violates the said Article," he added.

Mr. Sivapalan further said:

"Further the Competent Authority appointed under Article 2 is vested with arbitrary powers under Article 3 (iv) of this new regulation.

"Article 5 even shuts out any indemnity or other payment being paid under any policy of insurance in respect of any death, injury or damage which, to say the least, is both inhuman and not in keeping with the norms of Human Rights as there is every possibility of some boat with innocent fishermen might stray into the so called restricted areas due to bad weather etc.


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