CTTU leads Rights Conference in Batticaloa

[TamilNet, Friday, 06 December 2002, 17:51 GMT]
"Human rights abuses in Sri Lanka abound because people refuse to accept other people's views. If every community develops the mindset to listen and understand views of others, there would be no war and destruction," said Mr. K. Velayutham, the Badulla district member of parliament (MP), speaking at a conference on "Human Rights and Democracy" in Batticaloa today.

The conference organized by the Ceylon Tamil Teachers' Union (CTTU), the Power Foundation and the Frederick Ebert foundation, was held at the Lake View Inn in Batticaloa. The district leader of the CTTU, Mr. S. Tharmarajah chaired the conference. The chief guests included the Batticaloa government agent Mr. Mounakurusamy, and the additional director of education Mr. T. Ponnampalam

Mr. Velayutham said that the decision by the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) to seek a political solution is a wise decision that has moved not only Sri Lanka but also the international community in a new direction. "Now Piraparharan's name is uttered with respect in the Sri Lankan parliament as well as in the international fora. Our community once had self-rule and there is nothing wrong in seeking self-rule again. The current environment and the past struggle have proved this," he said.

"Some elements do not want peace and are trying to sabotage the peace process in Sri Lanka. We should not give them an opportunity to do that," said Mr. Velayutham. " Without distinguishing ourselves as Tamils, Muslims and Upcountry Tamils, we should all unite as a Tamil-speaking minority. All political leaders should also understand this."

Recalling the disenfranchisement of the upcountry Tamils, he said, "Though it has been 20 years since the war started, the rights of the upcountry Tamils have been denied since independence itself. When their citizenship was denied, G.G. Ponnambalam supported it while 'Thanthai' Chelva (S.J.V. Chelvanayakam) opposed it."

"Even then, the lack of unity among Tamil leaders caused the deprivation of our people at the hands of chauvinists. Many of their rights continue to be denied. Such a situation should not arise again," the MP observed. "The denial of rights and oppression of the Tamil people of the North-East caused the armed struggle and war. Human rights will be respected when the views of an individual or a community is respected by others."


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