ECONOMYNEXT – A political solution to the ethnic problem, which had led to a 30-year war, will help Sri Lanka attract investments needed for people to enjoy a better quality of life, Tamil National Alliance leader R. Sampathan said.
Tamil Tiger separatists resorted to armed struggle as peaceful protests were put down with violence and Tamils were not given legal protection, he said in a speech in southern Matara.
Commitments given to the people and international community to resolve Tamil grievances were still mostly unfulfilled even 10 years after the end of the 30-year war by the Tamil Tigers, Sampathan said at an event to felicitate finance minister Mangala Samraweera’s 30 years in active politics.
Samaraweera had championed human rights during the islands internal conflicts, having led the Mother’s Front supporting cause of the mothers searching for their sons and wives searching for their husbands
“This phenomenon sadly yet continues in our country though the current victims are from different parts of the country of a different ethnicity,” Sampanthan said.
“This only demonstrates that violations can take place against anyone irrespective of who they are and resistance to such violations must be a common effort from all citizens from all parts of the country.”
Sampanthan said successive governments had given commitments to settle minority Tamil grievances both during and after the Tamil Tiger war.
But even efforts by the present government and a parliament resolution to address these issues remain stuck, he noted.
“Somehow things don’t seem to be moving. Can a resolution unanimously adopted by Parliament to frame a new Constitution for the governance of the country reduced to naught and the same Parliament continue to be the whole country’s supreme law making body?
Sampanthan said armed conflict came to an end in 2009 and until then there was some movement. Commitments were made to the international community that once the (Tamil Tigers were) defeated there would be a reasonable political solution.
“But now everything seems dead though the expectations were different,” he said.
“Can there be forward political movement only in the face of armed conflict? Is this the expectation of the world?
Sampanthan said the international community substantially supported the Sri Lankan government to bring the war to an end.
“If the Sri Lankan government is relinquishing its commitments, can the international community be silent spectators?
India, United States, European Union, United Kingdom and several other countries helped defeat the Tamil Tigers.
“That was on the basis of the Sri Lankan government’s commitment that the (Tamil Tigers were) an impediment to the resolution of the national question and to negotiations and that once (the Tigers) were militarily defeated, they would bring about an acceptable political solution,” Sampanthan said.
He said he wants to work with fellow Sri Lankans to resolve the conflict within the frame work of a united undivided indivisible Sri Lanka.
If not, there could be economic consequences.
“Can the country come out of its current economic morass unless it is able to present politically and economically a different image of the country to the whole world?” Sampanthan said.
“Do our people continuously have to endure a poor quality of life on account of the follies of those who govern them?
”We know how other countries have progressed. Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, and today even Bangladesh are progressing but we are lagging behind and our people are suffering through a very minimum quality of life because we have not been able to do the right thing.
“Put things right in this country and enable investment to give our people a better quality of life.
Our international stature and standing is deteriorating day by day and we are being increasingly seen as a failed state. We cannot continue this.”
(COLOMBO, 10 July, 2019)