B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, due to retire on Sunday, told a news conference here on Friday it was time to build a nation with one people, irrespective of religion, colour and race.

The Daily Mirror, an English newspaper, quoted him as saying if there were no proper judicial and social mechanisms to grant Tamils their due protection by law, there was the possibility of another uprising, though not an armed struggle.

In an address to mark the opening of a court complex at Marawila in Negombo district on Tuesday, aired with Tamil translation on Wednesday night on a local TV channel, Justice Silva said internally displaced persons sheltered in transit centres in Cheddiku’lam cannot expect justice under Sri Lanka’s law.

“Law of the country does not show any interest in these IDPs. I openly say this. The authorities can penalise me for telling this. I visited relief villages where Wanni IDP families are sheltered. I cannot explain their suffering and grief in words. It is an utter lie if we continue to say that there is only one race and no majority or minority in the country.”

Separately, the Presidential Secretariat said a group of 800 leaders and representatives of the Tamil business community on Friday “hailed” the leadership given by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in achieving peace and unifying a divided nation.

“Hindu religious leaders and prominent and influential leaders and representatives of the large Tamil business community were highly appreciative of President’s recent announcement that there will not be any minority community in Sri Lanka, and that all Sri Lankans will be citizens in a single country with equal rights and status,” it said.

Malnourished

According to a survey by the Colombo-based Medical Research Institute in March, in six out of the then 13 camps, 25.5 per cent of children suffered from global acute malnutrition, of which 5.2 per cent were severely malnourished and needed immediate rehabilitation with therapeutic food and treatment.

“However, since that survey was conducted, the number of camps and IDPs has ballooned, leaving many believing the numbers are significantly higher now,” it said.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan authorities in charge of transitional camps for the 2.8 lakh war-displaced have so far found 14 foreign citizens amid them.

M.R. Hassen, Deputy Director (Public Communications Division), Ministry of Foreign Affairs told The Hindu: “The foreign citizens in the relief villages include four from Canada, three each from Australia, two from United Kingdom and one each from New Zealand and possibly Norway”.

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