Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi on Sunday stressed the need for a long-term and medium-term political solution to the ethnic issue in Sri Lanka.
At a preliminary meeting ahead of a conference on the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils organised by the Tamil Eelam Supporters’ Organisation (TESO), an outfit he has revived after a quarter century, Mr. Karunanidhi avoided the use of the word ‘Eelam’ — a term which the Union government had initially objected to for use in the conference title, but later allowed. The Centre’s advisory on avoiding the word ‘Eelam’ in the title had created an air of uncertainty, but a day later, the Ministry of External Affairs withdrew its objection, but advised the organisers and participants against saying anything that would affect the sovereignty of friendly nations.
The forenoon meeting, held at a city hotel with 36 participants, was convened to discuss and finalise the resolutions to be passed in the main conference.
In his address, Mr. Karunanidhi said: “The long-term solution to ensuring the rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka is a political one, which has been discussed and debated for long.”
On the medium term solution, Mr. Karunanidhi said it involved reconstruction of infrastructural and civic facilities in Tamil-majority areas in north and east Sri Lanka to ensure a reasonably decent living for the people, including the right to property, education, employment and other democratic rights. Immediate solution had to be found for the resettlement, relief and rehabilitation for the war affected and displaced Tamils.
He charged that “systematic Sinhalisation” was taking place in areas traditionally inhabited by Tamils. “There is a total disorder and disturbance in the day-to-day life of the Tamils,” he said. “The road to return to normal life is full of thorny bushes, mud and mire. The Sri Lankan military making life akin to a state of emergency in Tamil areas is painful and the threat to their carrying on their routine life is distressing, especially after the Geneva resolution,” he said. He was referring to the UN Human Rights Commission resolution passed earlier this week in Geneva on the need for a probe into alleged war crimes.
Despite condemnation and strictures passed by various countries on the tyrannical attitude of the Sri Lankan State, the problems of Eelam Tamils are continuing. “In fact, they are increasing in number and size,” he said.
Misguided during fast
Mr. Karunanidhi also referred to his half-day fast on April 27, 2009, seeking an end to military operations. He had given up the fast, he contended, only because the Sri Lankan government “misguided” the Central government and the rest of the world by issuing a statement that the war was over.
“Based on the Sri Lankan statement, the External Affairs Minister of India issued a statement, a copy of which was sent to me at the fasting site. Since I believed that the war was over, I gave up fasting,” he said.
Lok Janshakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan, Samajwadi Party general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav, National Conference Party general secretary S.D. Shariq, Sri Lanka-based Nava Sama Samaja Party president Wikramabahu Karunaratne and dignitaries from various countries participated in the meeting.