11/04/2009

The silent demise of All Party Representative Committee (APRC) of Sri Lanka


(November 04, Colombo - Lanka Polity) “All Party Representative Committee (APRC) Chairman Minister Tissa Vitharana has handed over a document to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. I asked for a copy of this document but Prof. Vitharana declined to give it to me. In fact, he told me not to ask for it fearing he will get into trouble. What is there to hide?” says the leader of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Rauf Hakeem.

He says APRC was a mere charade and little or nothing had come out of its meetings, but his party had also made representations to it.

On August 19, the Chairman of the APRC Tissa Vitharana said to Daily Miror that he handed over to President Mahinda Rajapaksa on August 16 at Temple Trees a document which was a summarised report of the recommendations of more than three years of deliberations of the APRC.“We expect a feed back from President Rajapaksa before our next move. He will go through the summary before he gives instructions to the APRC on the next step,” Prof. Vitharana told.


Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse summoned a All Party Conference immediately after he came to power in 2005. The aim of the conference was to make a consensus among the political parties in the political south of Sri Lanka to table before the Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) for negotiations for a permanent solution for the country's decades long ethnic crisis.

APRC was formed to compile a set of proposals. Initially, there was a committee of academics assigned to this task but the government abolished it turning down a set of proposals st forth by them suggesting wide devolution of power based on geographical units. Later the APRC took the task to its own hands and the following parties participated in the 150 so APRC meetings.

1. Sri Lanka Freedom Party
2. A rebel group of United National Party 
3. Jathika Hela Urumaya
4. Ceylon Workers Congress
5. Sri Lanka Muslim Congress
6. All Ceylon Muslim Congress
7. Mahajana Eksath Peramuna
8. National Unity Alliance
9. Up-country People's Front
10. Communist Party of Sri Lanka
11. Eelam People's Democratic Party
12. National Congress
13. Western People's Front
14. Lanka Sama Samaja Party

Major opposition United National Party and the People's Liberation Front boycotted the APRC since its inception. The Chairman of the APRC, Minister of Science and Technology Thissa Vitharana represented leftist Lanka Sama Samaja Party. However, he acted the role of the President appointed well understood governor of this affair that was a mere eyewash to divert the international pressure for a negotiated settlement instead of a devastating military solution that both the government and the LTTE were following. After the defeat of the LTTE, the minority communities of the country are dejected and isolated by the entire world that is blind to the chauvinist majority Sinhala dominance in the state and politics in Sri Lanka in which the minorities are practically subjugated to the state of second class citizens.

None of the international community elements that sipped the sweet concoction of the APRC seems have memory of what it was meant as the President Mahinda Rajapakse said in the past.

For many years, the Rajapakse regime manipulated the APRC to tell the international community that it is working for a political solution for the ethnic conflict. However, after May 18, 2009 with the military annihilation of the LTTE and the detaining of their major support base in concentration camps, it dumped the APRC and nobody knows what happened to the report that was submitted to the President by the Chairman of the APRC, Minister Thissa Vitharana.

Now, the government is no more talking about a political solution for the ethnic problem and it acts like there was no ethnic crisis in the country.

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