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Updated: July 24, 2011 13:54 IST

Parliamentary Select Committee will work on political solution: Rajapaksa

N. Ram
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President Mahinda Rajapaksa: “Parliamentarians, not only from Tamil Nadu but also from other areas, the whole of India, can visit the North and see for themselves.” File Photo: V.V. Krishnan
The Hindu President Mahinda Rajapaksa: “Parliamentarians, not only from Tamil Nadu but also from other areas, the whole of India, can visit the North and see for themselves.” File Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Sri Lankan President expresses happiness over High Commissioner's meeting with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's roadmap for finding a 13th Amendment-plus political solution will take the Tamil question in Sri Lanka to a Parliamentary Select Committee, which will look into it and propose suitable constitutional amendments, and then on to Parliament. Meanwhile, local elections in the Northern Province, which are being held on Saturday, would be followed by a Provincial Council election.

Asked about the absence of an enduring political solution 26 months after the war with the LTTE ended, the Sri Lankan President told me over a breakfast meeting at Temple Trees in Colombo: “I have asked my party and others to propose a Parliamentary Select Committee to look into a political solution, any amendments to the Constitution. Whatever the Parliamentary Committee recommends to me, I will accept – and ultimately it has to go to Parliament.”

Example from India

He reiterated his long-held view that police powers and land “were not subjects for the Provincial Council.” He added that he had seen “what has happened in India, in the recent Mumbai bomb attacks. How slow it [the police and security response] was, you know, with all the restrictions, going to the Centre and coming back with orders from there. So security matters [must be] with the Government [of Sri Lanka].”

Militarisation fears

Asked about complaints that the armed forces were expanding their footprint in Jaffna and other Northern districts and apprehensions of a permanent militarisation of the North, Mr. Rajapaksa responded: “I don't think so. But what was going on in Iraq? How many years have passed; they have not settled any problem there. How many military people are there? A commission was appointed to look into this after five years. I appointed the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) as soon as this [the war] was over. But the army – even in the South we have army camps. We have our camps in Hambanthotta, in Colombo, in every Province, in every district. In that way, we will have camps in the North and East.” [Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President, supplemented this with the comment, “it is not an occupation army, that is important.”]

Channel 4 footage

Asked about the allegations of human rights violations, and especially about Channel 4's Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, which showed gruesome and distressing footage and charged that the Sri Lankan army and government had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the final stage of the war against the LTTE, President Rajapaksa responded: “It's a film.” Referring to the footage showing close-range executions of naked men with their hands tied behind their backs, he asserted that “it has been filmed in Tamil” and that if the footage was true, “it was not the LTTE cadres, it must be the army boys” who were shot. “The man who is shooting,” he explained, “his belt is not the army belt, it is the LTTE belt. If it is true, the LTTE cadre is shooting an army man. If it is not true, it's a film. It's not a true document. We are looking into the matter.”

He said allegations supported by evidence would be enquired into. “The LLRC has already requested the original of this [footage]. We said if anybody had any evidence against any police officer or army officer, at any time, we are ready to look into it. This can be from top to bottom.”

Invitation to Jayalalithaa

Mr. Rajapaksa expressed happiness over Sri Lankan High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam's recent meeting with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in Chennai. “I asked our High Commissioner and he has conveyed my invitation to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa [to visit Sri Lanka]. If she is not ready or is busy, she can send a parliamentary team. She can speak to the central government and I am ready to accept that. Parliamentarians, not only from Tamil Nadu but also from other areas, the whole of India, can visit the North and see for themselves.”

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I am a tamil, residing in France. According to my opinion, the Present Government taking more iniative to solve the Minority issue. This will take some time, after the Parliment select commitee, all the problems will be solved. The Goverment had done lot of Developement work in Northern and Eastern Province, and still continuing. Once the Cement Factory, K.K.S. Harbour etc starts functioning, most of the youths will be employed. If the minority can live in Colombo, Galle, Uva province without problems, why can't the Tamils from the Northern Province co-operate with the goverment and solve all the problems.

from:  Moothathamby
Posted on: Jul 26, 2011 at 18:35 IST

People here are making comments unaware of the history.Unlike India, in Sri Lanka all citizens are not treated equally. If law is equal for all the citizens in Sri Lanka then why these struggle and why the terrorist organisations like LTTE came into existense?

from:  Saravanan
Posted on: Jul 25, 2011 at 20:47 IST

Only President Rajapaksa can provide acceptable solution to Tamils since he holds hardliners and soft-liner’s on his side and he is the only Sinhalese leader who holds those type of Sinhalese on his side.

from:  Theepan
Posted on: Jul 25, 2011 at 20:00 IST

The stand of The Hindu on the issue of Sri Lanka is appalling.

from:  Mubaraq Ali
Posted on: Jul 25, 2011 at 15:51 IST

Tamils' experience since Independece is that they will not trust any Sri lanka President; The solution which is acceptable to Tamils on the basis of equality must come from the internatioall community. India must despite its geo-political concern allow the UN to mediate on this matter. India sadly proved to be biased against Tamils at one time and against Sinhalese at another.

from:  Vijay Kumar
Posted on: Jul 24, 2011 at 21:21 IST

UN has already made clear statements condemning the acts of Sinhala military, why India still has problems in accepting this?. If India is not willing to help, rather it should give way to international forces (like Iraq/Afghan) to step in to Sri Lanka. That will give a true picture.

from:  Peggy Sprague
Posted on: Jul 24, 2011 at 08:19 IST

Please visit other parts of Sri Lanka including Colombo, Kandy, Galle as well as the northern part of the country when you come for a visit and see how Tamil people live alongside Sinhalese & Muslims as Sri Lankans. In Colombo, more than 70% of the population is either Tamil or Muslim. If there is discrimination against Tamils in Sri Lanka, how is this possible? The best thing is to visit the country and see the reality for your selves before forming an opinion.

from:  IW
Posted on: Jul 24, 2011 at 02:48 IST

Without accountability, there no meaningful reconciliation can take place. Sinhala State forces and the regime continues to deny press access to the media, journalists, diplomats , NGOs and Human rights groups to Tamil areas.

from:  Shiva
Posted on: Jul 23, 2011 at 17:01 IST

Parliamentary Select committee is another subterfuge. What happened to the previous All Party Parliamentary Committee (APC) which had several sittings and came up with a comprehensive proposal and was totally diregarded by Rajapakse. They are all playing games with the fate of Tamils. Select committee with an entrenched majority of the Sinhalese are not going to give even the very minimum to the Tamils. 13th ammendment plus you are touting about is meaningless without police and land powers. The whole idea is to continue the subjugation of the Tamil people. India must keep her dignity and should not be a party to this.

from:  Jay
Posted on: Jul 23, 2011 at 14:43 IST

This parliamentary committee is another 'hoodwinking' tactic; this will also boomerang. Without a proper independent enquiry of what happened over the years ( by both sides ), there won't be any reconciliation or peace in the island. The army in the north and east is an occupying army as long as it is a mono ethnic army and civil administration is by the military.

from:  Samuthra
Posted on: Jul 23, 2011 at 11:56 IST

Jayalalitha must accept this offer if this is genuine. First she must be able to talk to common people directly. She must not be constrained in any way. Also she must be able to visit the camps that are still in place. We must know if the lands originally occupied by the Tamils are given back to them or allotted to the Simhalese. Rajapaksha must clearly state that the Tamils are part and parcel of the Sri Lankan landscape with majority in the North and East of the country and that they have inherent rights despite being a minority in the total land. The tamil people must be able to use their language in their areas and Tamil must be a national language on par with the Simhalese. Just like in Singapore the government must seek to promote cooperation and understanding of both Simhalese and Tamil among all people and their free use in the parliament both local and central. The Army should admit the Tamils and promote them on merit. The Cabinet must have Tamils and Simhalese.

from:  S.Balakrishnan
Posted on: Jul 23, 2011 at 02:22 IST
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