and the North-East interim council
At the press conference held recently in Kilinochchi, the LTTE leaders
have said that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's government is
not politically stable or authoritative or powerful enough to provide
a permanent solution to the core demands of the Tamils. It is because
of that the LTTE had suggested the formation of an interim administrative
setup so that the LTTE can run the administration in the North-East.
Also they have said that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe will have enough
space to build up South Sri Lanka economically, so it would be advantageous
for the Tamils as well as the Sinhalese to work out an interim setup
for the time being.
In the ceasefire
agreement, the government and the LTTE have referred the Muslims
as a group of people not directly a party to the North-East conflict
and now an interim administrative set up is contemplated to enable
the LTTE to run the North-East for the advantage of the Tamils.
Under these circumstances, the Muslims are very much concerned about
their future in the North-East. Since most of the North-East Muslims
have supported the SLMC, it is the responsibility of the Leader
Rauff Hakeem to quickly negotiate with the government and the LTTE
for constitutional safeguards and effective power sharing arrangements
for the Muslims in the administrative setup in the North-East.
Accord of 1987 proclaimed the temporary merger for an interim period
of one year. The referendum at the end of one year in the Eastern
Province never took place up to now although 15 years have passed.
The Tamils have taken up the position that although the referendum
was provided for in the Accord, it was never intended to be held
or implemented, and the unlawful interim administration continues
for the advantage of the Tamils.
It was the former
UNP President J.R. Jayewardene who circumvented the laws passed
by his own government in the Provincial Council Act, effected the
temporary merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces under the
emergency and made the North-East Muslims a community of political
and social slaves under the Tamils. The temporary merger only helped
the Tamils to conduct ethnic cleansing of the Muslims and Sinhalese
from the North-East and to declare unilaterally the separate state
"Tamil Eelam" and made a mockery of the concept of the
Unitary State and devolution of power.
conscious of the serious problems that are likely to arise when
an interim administration is set up in the North-East without constitutional
safeguards for the Muslims and Sinhalese and the surrendering of
the unlawful arms and ammunition possessed by the militants. After
the temporary merger, the Tamil National Army of the EPRLF, ENDLF
and TELO attacked several police stations in the predominant Muslim
areas in the North-East and murdered hundreds of innocent Muslims
in cold blood.
The LTTE shot
the Muslims in the back while praying, burned their mosques, schools,
paddy fields and committed robbery of their cattle and fishing boats.
They gave just two days notice for the Muslims who have been living
for centuries to vacate our homes and leave the Northern Province.
Continuous outrages by the Tamil militants against the Muslim civilian
population have made thousands leave their homes in the North-East.
interim administrative set up in the North-East region should be
accompanied by adequate safeguards and effective power sharing arrangements
for the Muslims. There are five important concerns:
(1) The separate
and distinct identity of the Muslims and the areas of historical
habitation of the Muslims should be preserved and protected.
(2) The Law
and Order in the areas of the historical habitation of the Muslims
should be in the hands of the Muslims.
arrangements should be made to ensure that in the representation
to the Interim Council, Muslims should enjoy and exercise effective
political power and influence.
arrangements should be made to ensure that with regard to employment
and economic investments, the predominant Muslim areas should have
an equitable share.
arrangements should be worked out to link the Muslim majority Divisional
Secretariats and the Pradeshiya Sabhas in the North-East region
in such a manner as to constitute separate administrative and political
units within the region.
Although patronising remarks and promises have been made by the
Tamils in the actual practice every effort is being made to cripple
and destroy the legitimate rights of the Muslims. It has therefore
become an absolute necessity for the Muslims in the North-East to
take independent constitutional safeguards to protect their lives
and the areas of historical habitation.
have never asked for anything more than what is legitimately due
to us them citizens of Sri Lanka. We have not asked for separation
of the country nor have we resorted to terrorism to settle our grievances.
While solving the Tamil problem, the government should not create
once again the Muslims a community of political and social slaves
under the Tamils in the North-East. It is hoped that the government
would not desire the betrayal of the Muslims at a crucial time and
force the Muslim youths to become militants to fight another war
in the future for our rights.