B. Muralidhar Reddy

Canberra looking into the legalities of the issue

Bogollagama: Tamil community is “part and parcel” of Sri Lankan society

COLOMBO: Australia is considering proscription of LTTE under its domestic laws, according to the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, at a joint news conference with his Sri Lankan counterpart Rohitha Bogollagama, who is on an official visit to Canberra, said the Attorney-General was looking into the legalities of the issue.

Australia’s Foreign Ministry said Mr. Bogollagama briefed Australia of the negotiations since the 1985 Thimpu peace talks and those that followed, all of which were used by the LTTE to rearm, regroup and recommence hostilities.

“He stressed the need to counter terrorism so as to free the people from the clutches of the LTTE and in this effort emphasised the importance of the LTTE being proscribed as a terrorist organisation in Australia. Foreign Minister Smith responded by stating that the proscription of the LTTE under Australian domestic laws was currently under consideration by his government. Later on Minister Smith responding to a question at the joint press conference reiterated that the government is considering the ban,” it said.

The statement quoted Mr. Bogollagama as saying the Tamil community is “part and parcel” of Sri Lankan society and that every Tamil was not a terrorist. He emphasised that 54 per cent of Tamils lived outside the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Separately, at a gathering on the theme of “post-conflict development’, Mr. Bogollagama said the government was pursuing a concerted action to empower the people, especially in areas affected by terrorism. “In this context, one can refer to the government’s policy to eliminate terrorism in all its forms, as had been done in the East, with a view to empowering those people from that region, mainly through agricultural pursuits,” he said.

Sri Lanka is also pursuing a similar policy in the Northern Province, he said, adding: “The government’s sincere objective is to enable the people of the north to enjoy the benefits of the democratic process and to ensure that political freedom and the fruits of economic and social development that the people of the Eastern Province are now beginning to benefit from, can be experienced and enjoyed by the people in the North of Sri Lanka as well.”

Meanwhile, the military said at least at least 15 LTTE cadre, including “a senior Sea Tiger identified as Kadalmaran” and a soldier were killed in battles east of Kilinochchi.