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Sri Lanka peace process needs to be inclusive: Paul Murphy

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Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger political wing leader S. P. Thamilchelvan (right) receives British special peace envoy Paul Murphy in Kilinochchi on Thursday
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger political wing leader S. P. Thamilchelvan (right) receives British special peace envoy Paul Murphy in Kilinochchi on Thursday

B. Muralidhar Reddy

Also, it is important to keep all lines of communication open: former British Minister

  • Striking similarities between Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka
  • War in Sri Lanka absolutely cannot be won by either side

    COLOMBO: The former British Minister, Paul Murphy, here to share his experiences of peace building in Northern Ireland, said here on Thursday that it was important to keep all lines of communication open. This was the case even during the worst times of conflict in Northern Ireland.

    Speaking to the media after meeting Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) representatives in Kilinochchi, he said the Sri Lankan peace process "needs to be inclusive," and cover human rights and humanitarian assistance, as also language issues and constitutional affairs.

    Loss of life

    "There are striking similarities between Northern Ireland and the Sri Lanka conflict. Firstly and primarily is the loss of life 3,500 people died in Northern Ireland. In Sri Lanka, 65,000 people have died. Discrimination and human right issues were prevalent during the Northern Ireland conflict, and remain so in the conflict in Sri Lanka. The war absolutely cannot be won by either side," a statement issued by the British High Commission quoted him as saying.

    Mr. Murphy is in Sri Lanka to discuss the peace process with a cross section of society. He will report to Prime Minister Tony Blair on the discussions he had in Kilinochchi and Colombo.

    Mr. Murphy was the British Cabinet Minister responsible for Northern Irish affairs between 2002 and 2005, and was involved in the peace process too.

    His visit follows a meeting in August, where Mr. Blair and President Mahinda Rajapaksa discussed ways in which the U.K. could support the Norway-facilitated peace process.

    Separately, Defence spokesman and Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said at a media briefing it had been proved that the LTTE harassed Indian fishermen and used their trawlers to transport war material to strengthen its bases.

    Commenting on U.N. special envoy Allan Rock's statement regarding the alleged involvement of the security forces in recruiting children for the Karuna faction, he said the Government wanted "credible evidence" from Mr. Rock.

    Motivated killing: Gunasekera

    In a related development, the Communist Party of Sri Lanka said the assassination of pro-LTTE parliamentarian Nadarjah Raviraj was "calculated and motivated," and urged the Government to spare no effort to bring the culprits to book.

    "This is one of the cruellest political murders perpetrated in the recent past in Colombo in broad daylight. It is curious that the assassin could easily escape undetected amidst the high security in the city," party general secretary D.E.W. Gunasekera said.

    Escalation of tension

    The assassination helped the escalation of tension in the country, blocked the ongoing national effort for peace-building, further strained the ethnic relations, and helped the war-mongering elements on both sides of the divide.

    "Raviraj was entitled to his right to express his views and feelings on behalf of the people whom he represented, and this brutal murder was clearly an attempt to silence the dissent through terror," Mr. Gunasekera said. In another development, the Free Media Movement (FMM)-Sri Lanka said Deputy Inspector General of police in charge of Colombo Pujitha Jayasundara had informed the MTV/MBC network about threats to the life of J. Sri Ranga, head of Shakthi TV.

    Shakthi TV is the Tamil channel of the MTV/MBC network. Mr. Sri Ranga presents the popular weekly talk show, Minnal, which covers many sensitive political issues.

    Parliamentarian and leader of the Western People's Front and parliamentarian, Mano Ganesan said police had informed him that there was a threat to his life.

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