|Negotiations with terrorists, not the only way to achieve a political solution- SL Peace Chief|
|Tuesday, 23 September 2008|
The following article appeared in a Human Rights journal in Geneva. It is reproduced here with the following clarifications by SCOPP Secretary General, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha.
a) As noted later in the article, the manner in which the TNA got so many seats in the North and East was explained to Isolda Agazzi during the telephone interview, and that monitors, including the European Union ones, had pointed out how flawed the election in those areas was. The manner in which Eastern representation was particularly flawed was also pointed out, and how the citizens of the East had, to some extent, compensated for that in electing as Mayoress of Batticaloa, the daughter of an Eastern Province politician killed by the LTTE, though he had been on the TNA slate, to be replaced by someone they could control.
b) I did not say Mr. Senathirajah was capable, though he doubtless is. The 'but' was because I said he was decent, but had to perform in certain ways under pressure.
d) Louise Arbour met plenty of people in Sri Lanka, ordinary people as well as the TNA and other opposition parliamentarians. The government had no problem about the Bishop of Jaffna arranging a meeting for her to meet ordinary people without government presence, and any restrictions were those decided on by the Bishop and his advisers on that occasion.
e) Eric Solheim has never been denigrated by the government, and continues to be involved in the Peace Process in which the government continues to use Norway as a facilitator, though the Norwegian government decided to replace him with Mr. Jon Hanssen Bauer as the lead figure in the process. The Norwegian Embassy, with more sensitivity to political developments than most, has now established contact also with Tamil democratic pluralist forces, whilst continuing with government approval to maintain its contacts with the LTTE.
f) The sub-heading 'Political Solutions blocked' is absurd, since it was explained to Ms. Agazzi that political discussions continued with democratic forces, and indeed it was hoped that the TNA too would soon be free of LTTE controls and be able to join in this process. Hence, satisfaction at the positive responses of the TNA with regard to informal discussions, though its inclusion in formal discussions might take time. The use of such headlines by journalists such as Ms. Agazzi on the basis of the UN Secretary General's statement is precisely why the Peace Secretariat thought it essential that he be briefed so as to be well aware that the Sri Lankan government was absolutely committed to a political solution. It was important however to register that negotiations with terrorists was not the only way to achieve a political solution, and that democratic pluralistic forces amongst Tamils had to be encouraged and given due recognition, instead of being subordinated to terrorists as in the past.
g) Mr. Senathirajah, whose democratic credentials go back a long way despite what seem current restrictions on his activities, would be an admirable element in a post-conflict democratic dispensation.
Displaced persons camp in Sri Lanka. 18 September 08
Isolda Agazzi/InfoSud - In a letter dated September 5, the Sri Lankan government ordered NGOs to leave the region of Vanni, currently in the hands of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) because it can no longer assure their safety. For its part, in a communiqué published on September 9, the office of the UN High Representative in Colombo announced he would be redeploying his activities in regions under governmental control.
'The departure of humanitarian agencies will accentuate the catastrophe', says Senathirajah, the Tamil parliamentarian. 'The monsoon has begun and there is neither shelter for the displaced persons nor food, nor medicine.' According to him, ever since the beginning of the conflict at the end of the 1970s, the government used refugees, displaced persons and the economic embargo as a weapon of war. 'When Louise Arbour (former High Commissioner for Human Rights) visited Sri Lanka, she was prevented from meeting with ordinary people. When Erik Solheim, the Norwegian mediator, spoke in the name of the Tamils, he was treated like a terrorist. When Kofi Annan wanted to visit the Northeast after the tsunami, he did not get authorization.'
advocating full independence for Tamil Eelam, the Tamil state created in the northeast.
The TNA is seen as an 'ersatz' LTTE, according to Professor Wijesinha. They carried nearly all of the seats during the 2004 parliamentary elections but the European Commission found serious fault with the process. The TNA is perhaps beginning to modify its positions. Last week, Mavai Senathirajah agreed to an informal discussion of electoral reform. Senathirajah is a true democrat. If we manage to achieve an electoral system that is truly democratic, that will be one of the leaders of tomorrow.'
|Last Updated ( Monday, 09 March 2009 )|
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