2nd Lead (adds corrections)

Sri Lanka President urged to establish ISGA immediately

[TamilNet, Thursday, 10 June 2004, 20:33 GMT]
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Thursday told Sri Lanka President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge that Tamils couldn't depend any more on the Sinhala political leadership to enjoy their rights. ''The Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) should be established in the northeast without delay so that Tamils could enjoy self rule in their homeland,'' Mr.R.Sampanthan, leader of the TNA parliamentary group, told the President during a discussion held Thursday night in the Presidential House at the latter's invitation, TNA sources said.

TNA delegation appealed to the President to take a courageous step to establish the ISGA in the northeast province.

Talks between the Sri Lanka President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge and the parliamentary group of Tamil National Alliance began Thursday night around 8.30 p.m. in the Presidential House and concluded after midnight, TNA sources said.

Ms Kumaratunge on Wednesday extended an invitation to the TNA for a discussion on the prospects of resuming peace talks between the Sri Lanka government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The TNA, which met later in the afternoon, accepted the invitation, sources said.

Twenty TNA parliamentarians led by Mr.R.Sampanthan participated in the talks. Two TNA parliamentarians Messrs M.K.Sivajilingam and S.Jeyananadamoorthy did not participate. Mr.Sivajilingam was out of the country and Mr.Jeyananthamoorthy was not well, TNA sources said.

Ministers Messrs Susil Premajayanth, Mangala Samaraweera and Nimal Sripala de Silva participated in the discussions with the President.

The notable absentee on the government side was Foreign Minister Mr.Lakshman Kadirgamar, sources said.

Tamils were fighting for self-rule under a federal constitution for the last fifty-five years but the Sinhala political leadership rejected it as separation and this led to the armed freedom struggle by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Even now after twenty years of war, attempts made to achieve self-rule under the ISGA is being rejected by Sinhala political leadership as a blueprint for separation, Mr.Sampanthan said.

Mr.Sampanthan told the President that Tamils couldn't be deceived any more by the Sinhala political leadership. ISGA should be established in the northeast as a prelude to find a lasting solution based on self-rule concept, TNA delegation stressed.

Mr.Sampanthan pointed out to the President that the ISGA is urgently needed to resettle and rehabilitate hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Tamil families now languishing in refugee camps and welfare centres for several years and even after the ceasefire agreement came into operation.

He added that the maintenance of high security zones by the government security forces in the northeast has deprived the fundamental rights of people of the areas.

The United National Party will not oppose the establishment of the ISGA. ''Hence we need the President to act with courage although some allies in the government would oppose it," said the TNA delegation.

President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge is reported to have told the TNA parliamentary delegation that she was prepared to resume peace talks with the LTTE on the basis of ISGA although she could not endorse some aspects of the ISGA. She said the LTTE should be prepared to conduct talks on the core issues after the conclusion of talks on the ISGA.

She said endorsement of people is needed for any decision taken during the talks with the LTTE and the LTTE should also contribute to this end, sources said.

The TNA delegation during the discussion told the President that several Tamil prisoners are still being detained in prisons in the south under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) without trial for many years and that hey should be released forthwith.

The TNA delegation brought to the notice of the President the cases of Tamils reported to be disappeared after the arrest by the Sri Lanka security forces in Jaffna and others parts of the northeast.

The TNA delegation raised the subject of the killings in the east. The President is reported to have assured the delegation that she would take appropriate action regards to these matters, sources said.


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