"cease-fire agreement has not conferred normalcy on Tamils in northeast" -TNA
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 19 June 2002, 19:24 GMT]
"The cease-fire agreement signed by the government with the Liberation Tigers 120 days ago, has not yet conferred on all the Tamil people of the Northeast all the freedoms to carry on a normal life, freedoms that have been conferred on all other people in all parts of the country, including the Northeast," the Tamil National Alliance delegation Wednesday told the Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe at a conference held at the parliament complex.
The Prime Minister summoned the conference to review the progress of the implementation of the cease-fire agreement on complaints by the TNA at an earlier discussion.
The TNA delegation, led by its parliamentary group leader Mr.R.Sampanthan and comprising Messrs V.Anandasangaree, Joseph Pararajasingham, A.Vinayagamoorthy, N.Raviraj, G.G.Gajendrakumar, Mavai Senathirajah, K.Thangavadivel, G.Krishnapillai, A.Chandra Nehru, and Sivasakthi Anandan, met the government team led by the Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe.
The government delegation comprised Defense Minister Tilak Marapane, Interior Security Minister John Amaratunge, Constitutional Affairs Minister Professor G.L.Peiris, and Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Minister Dr.Jayalath Jayawardene. The heads of the three armed forces and the head of the Special Task Force also participated in the discussion, which centred on the full implementation of the cease-fire agreement.
The discussion began around 11.30 in the morning and concluded at about 1.45 p.m. At the commencement, the TNA delegation tabled its reports district wise in the northeast province where the State armed forces have not vacated places of worship, schools and public buildings as stipulated in the cease-fire agreement. The security officials countered the TNA reports by submitting theirs with video films supporting their stand.
Mr.R.Sampanthan told the government delegation at one stage "we are here not to accept concessions. We are here to demand our rights to live in our traditional lands."
The TNA delegation demanded the withdrawal of army from the precincts of the historic Thiruketheeswarm temple in Mannar.
"The presence of the army has spoilt the sanctity of the temple," Mr.Sampanthan said and quoted the historian Paul Peiris who had stated in his book about Ceylon that, before the arrival of Vijaya, there were five Hindu Eswarams (Sivan temples) in the island and one of them is Thiruketheeswarm.
The Prime Minister assured the TNA delegation that his government is firmly committed to strengthening the present peace process by fully implementing the cease-fire agreement and is ready to start the peace talks. He added that the government's intention is to stabilize the present peace efforts further by setting up the interim administration in the northeast province, according to TNA sources.
The Prime Minister suggested to the TNA leaders that another discussion of this type be held in two weeks to review the progress made in implementing the cease-fire agreement fully. He requested the TNA leaders to come forward and work out a programme to oversee the implementation of the cease-fire agreement jointly with the representatives of the government, sources said.