Tamil meeting in British Parliament a turning point

Federal solution with India demanded.

| by Our London correspondent

(November 21, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The UK based Alliance for Peace and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka (APRSL) facilitated a meeting in the British parliament on the theme of ‘Tamil friends of India and the way forward’. The meeting was held at the Portcullis House within the parliamentary complex on 14 (Monday), November 2011.

The meeting attended by representatives of leading Tamil organisations and important speakers touched on issues affecting the Sri Lankan Tamils and the need for the Tamils to forge a better and firmer relationship with India for their security, safety and freedom.

Co-Chair R Jayadevan and Chair Mr Barry Gardiner MP
The meeting was chaired by Barry Gardiner MP for Brent North. In his introductory speech, he eloquently touched on several issues facing Sri Lanka. He said the international community is anxiously waiting for Sri Lanka government’s Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report and the Norwegian report on its peace effort in Sri Lanka. As a delegation member of the British Government attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia, he touched on issues involving Sri Lanka and the pressures Sri Lanka was facing at the meeting. He said, he is looking forward for an independent and transparent inquiry on the war crimes allegations and that he expected the international community to show maturity in dealing with the issues without sidelining them of no economic value in their engagement.

APRSL chairman welcoming those present detailed the work undertaken by the group and the difficulties they experienced in their work. He revisited the previous parliamentary meeting where Sri Lanka government Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharane who chaired the All Party Representative Committee and produced a report on the revision of the Sri Lankan constitution, and his comments have still to materialised.

One of the key speakers of the meeting was solicitor N Krishnarajah who passionately narrated the relationship between India and the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Explaining his personal experience of identifying with India, he went to the extent of explaining how his wife earned the name of Madurai Meenakshi. He went into greater length to explain why India is motherland for Sri Lankan Tamils and passionately appealed for the relationship to progress in the best interest of India and the Tamils.

Deva Samaroo , an international Hindu community activist and a well known political figure in the Labour Party circle spoke about the relationship between India and Sri Lanka. Quoting the historical Valmiki Ramayana, he said the Hindu Rama and Ravana’s story goes back to beyond eight thousand years ago. Hindus are the natural inhabitants of Sri Lanka and Buddhism came to Sri Lanka only 600 years ago. Therefore to consider Tamil Hindu’s of second class citizens is a breach of Sri Lankan history and human rights. It is better to live in unity and respect for each other than to experience the division of mother India experienced. He said: ‘It is observed that Sri Lankan constitution incorporate equal rights and opportunities but in practice it is not afforded to the Tamils’.

The second keynote speaker was a practising solicitor R Manoharan. He was very assertive and eloquently spoke and served a writ on Sri Lanka stating that Sri Lankan Tamils survival depends on the traditional Tamil habitant north and east of the island becoming a part of India. He went into great detail to explain why this should happen and in summation he said there is no other way for the Tamils and India. He said, the concept of Tamil north and east merging with India as a federal state will take momentum and considered campaign work will start to influence India to accept the fate accompli to incorporate the north and east as a federal state of India.

The former President of Overseas friends of Bharatha Janata Party and an active member of BJP Dr Madhukar Ambekar said: ‘Usual conflicts have some reasons. Tamils were discriminated in Sri Lanka. Hence, there was uprising. Not only in Sri Lanka but wherever there is discrimination against minorities. Similarly in Indonesia and in other countries. International community should take this into account and redress the inequalities in all the aspects of the nation. India has been supportive of injustices done to Tamilians’.

The former Member of European Parliament who was the Chairman of the Delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia in the EU spoke at length about needing a political resolution to the conflict and justice to the Tamils and the war victims. Being a cricket fan, he inter-related cricket with politics in Sri Lanka and went on to say world famous bowler Muthiah Muralithan has become the latest addition to campaign for Sri Lanka to uplift the country’s image.

The Greater London Assembly member Cllr Navin Shah spoke of the positive contribution Tamils are making in the UK. He welcomed the Tamils entering the mainstream politics and condemned the attitude of some of officials to denigrade the Tamil campaign in the streets of London as anti-social. He demanded justice for Tamils and India’s assertive engagement to provide justice to the Tamils.

Andy Love MP passionately spoke about the need for a political resolution and his role so far to bring a just solution to the conflict.

Cllr Paul Sathianesan said: ‘Sri Lanka and India have historical friendship and relationship and they are members of various international forums including SAARC, Non Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth. What we need now is India that should have special caring relationship with the Tamils and other minorities to sort out their problems. We welcome and strongly believe India should play a key role to end the conflict as a friendly nation and as a regional power’.

V Kuhendran speaking on behalf of Global Tamil Forum passionately spoke about his long standing engagement with India. He said India has to enhance its engagement with true sense to end the sufferings of the Tamils.

Gunalan who is an active member of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam, welcomed the efforts to hold a meeting in the parliament in support of positive engagement of India to find a just solution for the Tamils.

The Chairman Barry Gardiner opened the forum and interactive discussion took place. The Co-Chairman R Jayadevan asked the Secretary to the Sri Lanka High Commission Selvarasa Pathmanathan present whether he will report the matters discussed at the meeting in a positive manner with the Government of Sri Lanka. He said he is only present as an observer and is unable to make any comments or a speech.