Home » News

TNA leaders meet U.S., U.N. officials

[Hindu, Sunday, 30 October 2011 10:57 No Comment]

Even as Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and its diplomatic corps douse the many fires at the Perth Commonwealth summit, the Tamil National Alliance leaders are in the United States, meeting ranking leaders in the Obama administration and the United Nations to press for an amicable political solution.

Mr. Rajapaksa had travelled to New York to address the U.N. General Assembly too, last month. He held a series of bilateral meetings with leaders to impress on them the progress Sri Lanka had achieved since the conclusion of the bloody war with the Tamil Tigers in May 2009. In Australia too, he is in the same mode, even as the Tamil diaspora has tried to approach the courts to bring him to justice over alleged war crimes.

While the efforts of the diaspora have at best been irritants, the decision of the TNA to travel to the U.S. to engage the State Department, and the U.N. has been viewed with hostility in the Sri Lankan administration. It has made it clear that the TNA is not the sole representative of the Tamil people, and hence, a meet with the U.N. officials is unnecessary. The TNA, however, has the support of the main Opposition party, the United National Party. According to media reports, the UNP has held that there was nothing wrong in the TNA meeting U.N. Secretary-General and the others to help speed up a political solution.

The TNA’s concerns are in three major areas: the militarisation of the North and the East, the lack of economic opportunities, and the slack attempts at rehabilitation.

According to TNA leader M.A. Sumanthiran, after May 2009, the defence forces have occupied more than 7,000 sq km of land owned by Tamil people. There is one member of the armed forces for approximately every 10 civilians in the Jaffna Peninsula. The heavy presence of the military continues to be the most serious concern in the North and East. More than two years since the conclusion of the war, the government has still failed to facilitate the proper transition of these areas from a situation of conflict to a ‘normal’ environment.

A cursory drive through the A-9 highway to Jaffna, or anywhere in the North will reveal that the military is increasingly involved in economic activity in the North and East. Mr. Sumanthiran says that the military has established a string of restaurants along the main Jaffna highway. An entire military tourism industry catering to Southern visitors is run by the military establishment. The Navy uses state resources to run ferry services for the Southern tourist industry.

[Full Coverage]

(For updates you can share with your friends, follow TNN on Facebook, Twitter and Google+)

Comments are closed.