COLOMBO:MA Sumanthiran, MP and Spokesman of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), has suggested that the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) pass a resolution regretting the en masse expulsion of Muslims from the Northern Province by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in October-November 1990.
Sumanthiran made this suggestion at a function here earlier this week to mark the 25th anniversary of the infamous expulsion of 70,000 to 90,000 Muslims.
“Just as it passed a resolution condemning the genocide conducted against the Tamils, the NPC should pass a resolution condemning the en masse expulsion of Muslims by the LTTE which amounts to ethnic cleansing. If the NPC does not do it, the world will not take the Tamils’ contention that they had been subjected to genocide, seriously,” Sumanthiran told Express on Sunday.
“The Tamils cannot condemn the misdeeds of the Sinhalese majority while ignoring the misdeeds of the Tamil majority,” the Jaffna district MP further said.
Asked if he plans to take up the matter with the NPC, which is dominated by the TNA, he said: “ I am not a member of the NPC. I have given my view. It’s for them to carry it forward.”
Between October and November 1990, Muslims were asked to leave in less than 24 hours. Each person was allowed only LKR 150 to LKR 2000 and a single change of clothing. All other properties were confiscated. Of the displaced, 20,000 continue to live in squalid camps in Puttalam, north of Colombo.
Resettlement of the returnees has been problematical in Mannar district. While some resident Tamils have questioned the returnees’ claims, the Central government had designated some Muslim farms as “forest land”.
The Lankan military also occupies some Muslim farmlands. According to Hilmy Ahamed of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, during the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, some forest land had been cleared to settle 3500 Sinhalese families from Hambantota and Suriuyawewa.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has said that the justice and reconciliation mechanisms to be set up by the Lankan government following the September 30 UN Human Rights Council’s resolution on Sri Lanka, will address the grievances of the displaced Muslims.