Media should promote ISGA- paper

[TamilNet, Friday, 12 November 2004, 11:48 GMT]
Pointing out the declaration by South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) that said "ISGA proposal could serve as useful basis for the commencement of talks to map out an interim structure," and to the statement made by Prof Uyangoda that there is "imperative need for the Sinhala leadership to abandon its mindset vis-à-vis the State structure based on majoritarian hegemony," Tamil daily Thinakural in its Wednesday editorial said that the "regional and the national media organizations which have taken hardline positions on ISGA should adopt a positive, flexible attitude."

The Secretary General of the SAFMA, Imtiaz Allam, at the end of the 5-day conference in Colombo on the topic of "Intra-State Conflicts in South Asia," gave Sri Lanka's Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapakse, and the Deputy leader of the UNP, Karu Jayasuriya a Declaration on intra-State conflicts in 5 South Asian States of Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

The declaration said, according to the editorial, "The political crisis in Sri Lanka over the so-called ethnic conflict has defied a solution for well over half a century. Ethnic minorities in Sri Lanka came to be marginalized in the Sri Lankan body politic in the decades following Independence. Thus, a substantial section of the population have had to feel alienated from the State. The Tamil community has been pressuring through its leadership to negotiate a genuine power-sharing arrangement. If the State proceeds on the basis of ethnic majoritarian hegemony it isn't possible to meet the aspirations of the various other communities.

"The Sri Lanka State should concede the North East as the symbol of the distinct identity of the Tamils while guaranteeing the equal rights of all other communities living in that region. As far as interim arrangements are concerned, the 2002 February ceasefire agreement (CFA) should be strengthened so as to prevent the destabilization of the temporary peace. The immediate needs of the people in the war affected region dictate the setting up of an interim administration without further delay. The ISGA proposal could serve as useful basis for the commencement of talks to map out an interim structure."

The Declaration goes on to stress that the media in Sri Lanka which has contributed in some ways to ethnic-related misconceptions has now a great responsibility to offer unbiased, deliberate support to the peace effort., the edit said.

Speaking at the recently held Pieter Keneuman Commemoration Seminar, Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda, political analyst and Head of the Political Science Dept of the Colombo University said that the challenge posed by LTTE's ISGA proposal to the Sinhala political leadership is to effect a complete transformation of the Sri Lankan State, but the leadership is not equal to the task, the paper said.

What Prof. Uyangoda has highlighted as the challenge and what the Declaration of the SAFMA says, is that there is imperative need for the Sinhala leadership to abandon its mindset vis-à-vis the State structure based on majoritarian hegemony to enable the aspirations of the different communities to be met, the editorial opined.


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