Sri Lanka President sets hurdle for stateless Tamils

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 13 January 2004, 15:07 GMT]
The Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga Tuesday ordered that the granting of citizenship to stateless Tamils in the island “should not be done in a manner that would provide political advantage to one party." The order refers to the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC), the Tamil trade union and political party that lobbied for and succeeded in passing legislation to grant citizenship to thousands of stateless Tamils in Sri Lanka last year. The CWC was recently involved in a program by the UNHCR to help stateless Tamils apply for citizenship.

CWC is a coalition partner in the government led President Kumaratunga’s rival Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe.

A senior CWC official in Colombo told TamilNet that the President’s directive to the Ministry of Internal Security is illegal. “We will challenge the order in the Supreme Court. We have every right as a trade union to help our people register for citizenship," he said.

“The intent of the President’s order is racist," he added.

The President’s directive to the Ministry of Internal Security states that registration of stateless persons should be done through the district secretariats, divisional secretaries and Village Officers (Grama Sevakas).

President Kumaratunga precipitated a crisis when she took the Ministry of Interior from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in November last year and reconstituted it as the Ministry of Internal Security.


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