After the military debacle of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), the Tamil and Muslim political elements in the main stream have initiated a new dialogue with a view to form a common front to fight for minority rights amidst growing Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism in state and the polity of Sri Lanka.
V.Anandasangaree, the leader, of Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), Mano Ganesan, M.P.
and leader of Colombo based Democratic People's Front (DPF), Rauff Hakeem, M.P. and leader of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), Dr. K. Vigneswaran, the leader of All Island Tamil United Front (AITUF) and R. Sampanthan, M.P and leader of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) that are in the dialogue have been able to issue a joint statement, a progressive move in minority politics in post-LTTE Sri Lanka.
They call for an immediate end to the intolerable conditions faced by the minority communities, in particular Tamils in present Sri Lanka and end to military administration and restrictions placed on civilians urging the restoration of full civilian administration to facilitate return to economic and social normality.
Appealing the IDPs be released immediately to return to their homes and permitted to resume without hindrance their traditional livelihood activities, the statement also urges that immediate arrangements be made to allow the Muslim people who were evicted from the North and have suffered acute hardships for nearly two decades to return to their homes and to resume their economic and social activities without hindrance.
Full statement is as follows:
The Tamil speaking peoples of Sri Lanka have suffered great hardships for many decades since Independence. They have faced discrimination and had to suffer ethnic riots, pogroms and ethnic cleansing; in the pogrom in 1983 sections of the state were involved. In the last thirty four years Sri Lanka was consumed by an ethnic civil war in which the Tamil and Muslim people and others in the North and East and elsewhere were victims. The Tamils in particular bore the brunt of the suffering. During the last stages of the war the people of the Vanni suffered traumatic pain which, despite the conclusive end of the war, has still not abated. While we are deeply concerned about the human rights violations everywhere in our island such as death threats, the killing of civilians, and the disappearance of journalists and others, we feel the need to prioritise in this communiqué such collective and unbearable pain of large numbers of our population as compels immediate intervention.
We the undersigned affirm the following and call for an immediate end to these intolerable conditions, and in particular:
•We state that the forcible detention of hundreds of thousands of Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka in camps for Internally Displaced Persons is illegal, without basis in the Constitution and in gross violation of international human rights norms.
•These people should be released immediately to return to their homes and permitted to resume without hindrance their traditional livelihood activities such as farming and fishing, or to take up residence with friends and relatives, or to exercise their lawful right to abode elsewhere at their discretion. Those likely to face criminal charges should be produced in a court of law without further delay.
•We strongly urge that the camps, for so long as they exist, should be open to relatives, religious functionaries, parliamentarians, provincial councilors, civil society, UN agencies, journalists, and national and international aid and humanitarian organisations.
•We urge that immediate arrangements be made to allow the Muslim people who were evicted from the North and have suffered acute hardships for nearly two decades to return to their homes and to resume their economic and social activities without hindrance.
•Similar arrangements must be made to re-settle in their original homes all those in the East, who remain displaced and continue to suffer greatly.
•The restrictions on movement in and out of the Northern Province and some locations in the East should be lifted and the need for permits to enter or leave should be rescinded forthwith. In particular, any form of quarantine of the Northern Province is a violation of basic rights and should be lifted.
•The curfew and other restrictions on normality in many parts of the Northern Province and elsewhere are unjustified and we demand that normality be returned without delay. People in certain parts of the country live in fear, avoid even essential travel, and are inhibited in employment related and social activities.
•We call for an end to military administration and restrictions placed on civilians, and we urge the restoration of full civilian administration to facilitate return to economic and social normality.