Minority Rights Conference focusses on Upcountry Tamil issues

[TamilNet, Friday, 03 December 2004, 00:43 GMT]
"Upcountry Tamils are a severely disadvantaged minority group in Sri Lanka. Tamils have suffered discrimination from pre-independence time through 20 years of war. The Asian regional minority groups and other minority groups worldwide must join hands to win the rights of all affected people in Sri Lanka," said Mr P Sivapragasam, president of the Human Development Organization, addressing an International Conference on "Asian Minorities and their Development" organized by the Committee on Minorities of the UN held at the Hilltop Hotel in Kandy between 21st and 29th November, sources said.

The asian and world groups must unite to protect, encourage and win rights of the minorities, by mobilizing the collective struggle of the racial, religious, linguistic and cultural minority groups, added Mr SIvapragasam.

The international conference was chaired by its president Dr. Piyano. At the session led by Soli Surapjee, a representative of the UNO Committee and the former Attorney of General in India, Sivapragasam spoke on the topic "The Minority Rights in Sri Lanka and the Rights for Development"

He urged that prominence be given to the rights of minorities in the constitutions of the countries, in the international declarations and in the treaties, and that the UN charter on minorities be further strengthened. Sivapragasam also stressed that the minority rights can be won by making all States to accept these international treaties. Mere absorption of international standards into the national laws is not enough, and that the treaties be strengthened with mechanisms and structures to monitor them continuously, he said.

"All through the last 170 years Upcountry Tamils in Sri Lanka have been subject to discrimination. The right to self-determination of the NorthEast Tamils is still not accepted by the South. The discrimination against Tamils started before Independence and continues to worsen. The political, civil, social, economical and cultural rights of Upcountry Tamils have been severely affected," Mr Sivagrasam told the attendees.

Rights for education, rights for sanitation, rights for human protection, political and decision-making rights, rights for maintaining the cultural values, rights for land ownership and rights for the job opportunities are being violated. Rights for development envisons developing capabilities at the grass root level for all people, particularly women and children, Sivapragasam said.

 

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