COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Tamil leaders want Indian MPs, who are to visit Sri Lanka next week, to talk to all stakeholders in the war-affected areas and not restrict themselves to meeting ministers, officials and military commanders.
“MPs must meet the people on the ground. If they do, the visit will be useful to the Tamils,” said Suresh Premachandran, spokesman of the Tamil National Alliance, the single largest Tamil party in the Lankan parliament.
Mano Ganeshan, leader of the Democratic Peoples’ Front (DPF), a party of Tamils of Indian origin, said that the MPs should also meet Indian Tamil leaders who were not in the government. “They may not get the full picture if they talk only to Arumugan Thondaman, who is a minister in the government,” Ganeshan said.
Premachandran said that the MPs should go into the interior of the war-affected districts to see the amount of militarisation taking place in Tamil areas. “In the districts of Wanni (where the war was fought) the army is taking over thousands of acres of privately-owned land for constructing cantonments and camps. The main A9 highway is dotted with army camps,” he told Express on Saturday. “If the MPs go by chopper, they will not be able to see the ground situation.”
Premachandran charged that Sinhalese settlements were cropping up in the Weli Oya region of Mullaitivu and the navy was not allowing resettlement of the displaced in certain places on the coast even though the Mullaitivu district administration had allowed resettlement there.
“The Rajapaksa government must be pressured to implement the devolution package contained in the 13th Amendment of the constitution and to abide by the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission,” he said.