President ready to revert back democratic rights of Tamils taken away by flawed pact

By Walter Jayawardhana

PRESIDENT MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA TELLS BBC THAT HE IS DETERMINED TO REVERT BACK TO THE TAMIL PEOPLE THE DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS ROBBED OF THEM BY A FLAWED PACT   

President Mahinda Rajapaksa said he is determined to revert back the democratic rights of  the Tamil people of Sri Lanka which were robbed of them by an agreement that was basically flawed.

He was speaking about Sri Lanka’s controversial Ceasefire Agreement brokered by Norway that would be five years old on February 22  2007.

It was wrong on the part of Sri Lanka to enter into a Ceasefire Agreement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam  ( LTTE) depriving a section of the citizens of Sri Lanka their fundamental democratic rights said President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka.

In an interview partly broadcast by the Sinhala Service of the BBC, Sandeshaya with the radio’s Colombo correspondent Ronald Buerk the Sri Lankan President said that he was determined to give back the rights of the Tamil people of the Eastern Province so deprived as soon as possible and said while the other citizens of Sri Lanka were voting governments in and out of power the Tamil people who are living under the jack boot of LTTE terrorism have not seen a ballot paper for ages.

He said he would supply the fundamental needs of the Tamil people now liberated from the LTTE in the East like water, electricity and the roads and the government would do everything that could bring their lives to normalcy. He said such development work would start as soon as the troops were able to remove the thousands of land mines buried in the area by the LTTE.

When the President was asked whether it was his idea to bring such democracy to the North of the country too President Mahinda Rajapaksa said it was the duty of  any government to bring back the lost democratic rights to sections of its citizenry.  He reiterated that it was wrong on the part for anybody to demarcate parts of a sovereign nation calling them LTTE controlled areas.

He said in those areas the people have been deprived of their rights to perform their normal political rights as having political parties and elect their representatives. Their children are being conscripted to the terrorist army.

The President said such a situation prevailed only in two districts in the country, namely Kilinochchi and Mulathivu. The voice of the people in those areas is to restore their lost political rights, the President told the BBC. He said he was determined to grant back the lost political rights of the people.

He said he would give those people a political solution and the LTTE, basically a terrorist group cannot, under any circumstance could accept a democratic solution, he said. The president said when he gave the Tamil people a democratic political solution the LTTE will have to accept it.

Saying that he was always ready to negotiate with them the President was quoted having said, "I’m trying to negotiate with terrorists for the first time and I’m feeding them. Even now I am feeding them. I am giving them medicine, I am giving them food, I am giving them all that. Education, teachers are sent by me, doctors are sent by me and paid by our government. I’m making their roads – so I’m doing that all."

He reminded the BBC correspondent that right at the moment the majority of the minorities, namely the Tamils and Muslims were united under his government and has become part of it.

He said only the TNA which is compelled to operate under the intimidation of the LTTE is not part of the government. On the Independence Day, the President said, he publicly invited them to enter into a dialogue with the government.

He said at the last Presidential election he received a mandate from the people to share power with the minorities. He said the people wanted such devolution under one country. He was not hesitant for such a devolution, the President said.

President Rajapaksa said by March he would see the proposals for such a devolution. By then his own political party the SLFP would have such proposals he said. By considering all those resolutions, they could come to a conclusion the President said.

When the cooperation of Karuna with the government troops was raised the President said it was ridiculous for certain sections to say that the government needed the child soldiers of Karuna to fight. He said Karuna is essentially a breakaway group of the LTTE. Using any child as a soldier was against the culture of the country, the President insisted. He said one could visit the government exhibition now at the BMICH and see how many thousands of young adults try to join the government troops so enthusiastically.  In that kind of a situation the government did not have a dearth of adults to serve in its armed forces the president said and there was no necessity to go for Karuna’s child soldiers.

The President said when this was told to him he demanded some evidence to go into a full investigation of the matter. He said the army also conducted its own internal investigation and said they could not find any thing to support the charge. But up to this day the President said the people who raised the accusations have failed to provide any evidence at all.

He said basically he would not allow any child of any ethnic group to be made a child soldier. Period. President Rajapaksa said he was prepared to devolve power to the provinces as part of a settlement, as long as Sri Lanka remains one unitary country.

"The Tigers must take up our solution and must lay down their arms and negotiate with us," he said.

"If they don’t attack us, if they don’t kill anybody – then we may have peace, but if they do that we have to react for self-defense."

He said India is the closest neighbor of Sri Lanka. They are the closest culturally too, the President said. They are the people who could understand Sri Lanka’s problems in the most sensitive manner, more than any other nation in the world. So, a bigger participation of India in the national problem of Sri Lanka is always welcome, the President said.

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Posted on February 10, 2007, in Sri Lanka and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on President ready to revert back democratic rights of Tamils taken away by flawed pact.

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