Tamil and Muslim Parties that met in Zurich, Switzerland last week want the Government to go beyond the 13th Amendment to meet the aspirations of the Tamil-speaking people in the country.
The 13 political parties that met during the three-day conference titled, ‘The role of the elected representatives of Sri Lanka’s Tamil and Muslim population in a process of national reconciliation, reconstruction and reform’, discussed ways and means of resolving the problems faced by the minorities and eventually issued a joint statement and decided to meet for a further round of discussion.
The event organized by the London Tamil Information Centre (TIC) for the first time, drew almost all minority parties to a common forum where issues of resettlement, political proposals on how to resolve the conflict and national reconciliation were discussed.
However, there were differences on particular issues. Minister Douglas Devananda proposed that a solution to the ethnic issue should be provided under a unitary setup, but other participants pointed out power could not be devolved under that system.
On his return Mr. Devananda told the Sunday Times, “my proposal was not accepted by a majority of the participants. However I believe any solution should be within the framework of a unitary state.”
At the discussion the issue of right to self-determination of minorities was taken up, but Mr. Devananda opposed the move.
Other than issuing a joint statement, the forum was not able to reach a consensus.
The statement reads:
“We, the representatives of the political parties of the Tamil-speaking peoples unanimously:
“Affirm the historic meeting enabling an exchange of views, and express full commitment to a common forum among representatives of all Tamil-speaking peoples;
“Recognize 'Tamil-speaking people' who comprise three distinct peoples: Tamils, Muslims, and Tamils of Indian origin;
“Respect the distinct and separate identities, interests and positions of the parties;
“Recognize and affirm the need for unity and consensus among the Tamil-speaking people, while acknowledging differences with regard to some issues and the paths to pursue them;
“Commit to the engagement by all segments of society towards a just and durable political solution through a dignified, respectful and peaceful process;
“Agree and commit to continuing our dialogue”.
The signatories for the statement were Veerasingham Anandasangaree, Tamil United Liberation Front, Periyasamy Chandrasekaran, Up-Country Peoples Front, Douglas Devananda, Eelam People's Democratic Party, Abdul Rauff Hakeem, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, Mohamed Hizbullah, All Ceylon Muslim Congress, Mano Ganeshan, Democratic Peoples’ Front, Kulasekaram Mahenthiran, Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation, Sivasubramaniam Nanthakumar, Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, All Ceylon Tamil Congress, Suresh Premachandran, Eelam People's Revolutionary Front, R. Sampathan, Tamil National Alliance, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal, Mavai S. Senathirajah, Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi, Dharmalingam Sitharthan, People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam, Thirunavukarasu Sritharan, Pathmanabha Eelam Peoples' Revolutionary Liberation Front and Arumugan Thondaman, Ceylon Workers’ Congress.