Sinhala leaders didn't understand power sharing -Rupasinghe

[TamilNet, Sunday, 14 November 2004, 18:49 GMT]
"Sinhala leaders have no understanding of the Tamil question. They did not understand how to share power since 1948 (when the island was granted independence by the British). Power has been Sinhala. Sri Lankan armed forces are 99 percent Sinhala. Tamil is not implemented as an official language. How can we transform a Sinhala hegemonic state into a federal one? This is the challenge before us" said Mr. Kumar Rupasinghe, a leading peace activist in Sri Lanka.

Kumar Rupesinghe
Kumar Rupesinghe speaking at a meeting organised by Colombo Tamil Sangam in Wellawatte
Kumar Rupesinghe was addressing a meeting Sunday on the peace process at the Colombo Thamil Sangam in Wellawatte, a predominantly Tamil suburb of the island's capital.

"On the basis of what I saw during my travels to the north in the early seventies I told the then Prime Minister that the country was going to be divided if the Sri Lankan government did not change its attitude towards the Tamil people. If you look back on the last 56 years, both parties have opposed each others proposals to solve the problem. (Opposition leader) Ranil wants the constitution to be unchanged so that he can become the next President. But President (Kumaratunga) wants to change it to remain in power", he said, addressing the mostly Tamil audience in Sinhala.

"It necessary to build a grass roots mass peace movement in this country to campaign against war", Mr Rupasinghe said.

Prof. Karthigesu Sivathamby, in a speech read out on his behalf at the meeting said: "Sinhala media, particularly the print media, have portrayed constitutional demands of the Tamils as separatism and the struggles of the oppressed youth as terrorism. Why cannot these people who embraced and made a pact with the JVP, which was an insurrectionist group, refuse to accept the qualitative development in the Tamils' struggle for their rights under the LTTE's leadership? The wheel of peace is today stuck in the reluctance to accept this change" .

Prof. Sivathamby was not present due to illness.

The meeting was organised by Research Centre for Inter Racial Peace (RECIPE).


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