Sri Lanka rejects self-determination for Tamils

[TamilNet, Thursday, 14 December 2000, 11:42 GMT]
The Sri Lankan government Thursday criticised comments by a visiting British Minister last month that the international community will support self-determination for the island’s Tamil community as well as the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. Foreign Minister Laxshman Kadirgamar was quoted in the state-owned Daily News as saying he “took strong exception” to comments three weeks ago to Britain's Junior Foreign Minister Peter Hain as they were an infringement on Sri Lanka’s affairs.

Addressing the British Council November 22, Hain, on his first visit to Sri Lanka said “whilst a Tamil Kingdom constitutionally split from the rest of the island will not receive recognition by Europe, the USA or indeed India, the principle of self-determination and control over most if not all the key policies affecting daily life would be supported by the international community."

Kadirgamar rejected the suggestion in an exclusive interview with the Daily News, saying “I take rather strong exception to that statement. Because, self determination could very well mean, the right to cessation. The State of Sri Lanka cannot under any circumstances whatsoever, contemplate the possibility of a right of cessation.”

“And I do not see any reason whatsoever, why we should confer, on anybody in Sri Lanka, on any minority, the right to self determination in the sense of including the right to cessation,” he said further.

“I do not welcome statements made by people outside the country, even though they come from very friendly countries, prescribing remedies for our problem,” he said. “I find some of these remedies are very academic. They are based on the experiences of the other parts of the world which do not necessarily relate to us.”

“So, statements of that kind disturb the situation in the region, needlessly create problems,” Kadirgamar said. “I would ask our friends abroad to desist from making statements which infringe on our right to resolve our own problem.”

“We are going to respond. We will make it clear to the British Government that we do not welcome such statements,” the Minister said further. He did not say why he had waited three weeks.

However Kadirgamar welcomed some of Hain’s comments. “The statements that I do appreciate highly are those which uphold the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka,” he said. “I am very happy the entire international community takes that line.”


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