Speedy relief essential for success of talks - TNA

[TamilNet, Thursday, 24 April 2003, 11:26 GMT]
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Wednesday requested the United National Front (UNF) government to formulate and implement a new approach that could provide speedy relief to the grievances of several thousands displaced Tamils without further delay fulfilling the justifiable expectations of Tamils since the signing of the ceasefire agreement, sources said.

"Fourteen months have gone since the signing of the ceasefire agreement by the UNF government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Several rounds of peace talks have been held between the GOSL and LTTE abroad. Preliminary discussions on core issues associated with the ethnic conflict for finding a political solution have also commenced between the parties concerned.

"Even after these developments, hundreds of thousands of displaced Tamils still languish in refugee camps and welfare centres throughout the northeast province unable to return to their own homes and lands. The people are losing confidence in the peace process and the decisions arrived at peace talks held so far," a TNA delegation told the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe when the delegation met him Wednesday night in Colombo, sources said.

The TNA delegation led by its parliamentary group leader Mr.R.Sampanthan held the first extensive discussion with the Prime Minister regarding the latest situation which followed by the LTTE's announcement that it has suspended participating in peace talks with the UNF government, sources said.

The TNA delegation comprised parliamentarians Mr.Joseph Pararajasingham and Mr.N.Raviraj. Ministers Karu Jayasuriya, G.L.Peiris and Milinda Morogoda were present with the Prime Minister. The Defence Ministry Secretary Mr. Austin Fernando joined in the discussion at a later stage.

The talks commenced around 9 p.m. Wednesday concluded around 12 midnight, sources said.

"We have repeatedly told the UNF leaders at every discussion our dissatisfaction over the manner the government is dealing with the question of resettling the displaced in their homes. We have been urging the Government of SriLanka to allow the people to resume farming in their lands.

"However the government has failed to take serious note of our representation," TNA delegation told the PM.

TNA delegation brought to the notice of the Prime Minister that Tamil people showed more enthusiasm in the peace process since the ceasefire agreement came into force as they expected to be allowed to live and do farming in their own lands. But the government has failed to fulfill the expectation of the Tamils who have suffered for two decades under the repressive rule of the military, the delegation said.

Except supplying food to displaced people no concrete steps have been taken by the government to rehabilitate them in their own villages ensuring a decent life, TNA delegation pointed out.

Referring to the security situation in the northeast after ceasefire agreement came into force, the TNA delegation submitted to the Prime Minister that some sections of the security forces are deliberately engaged in obstructing the return of normalcy in the lives of the Tamil civilians.

Another section of the security forces are not doing any thing positive towards bringing normalcy although they express sympathy to the displaced, TNA delegation pointed out.

"We are against relocating army camps among populated areas. More than four hundred thousand Tamil civilians reside in Jaffna peninsula and forty thousand SLA soldiers are stationed there. The high presence of government troops should be reduced to minimum, enabling civilians to move freely in their own areas.

"We are not demanding the complete withdrawal of security forces. But we want the army to move out of densely populated places to elsewhere where civilians do not feel the presence of army. The traumatic experience under the repressive rule of the military is still remembered by the Tamils in the northeast even after the MoU has been signed," TNA delegation told the Prime Minister, sources said.


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