P-TOMS fate confirms Tamils' grave skepticism- Sampanthan

[TamilNet, Thursday, 11 August 2005, 02:57 GMT]
Mr. R. Sampanthan M.P. Leader Parliamentary Group TNA, speaking during the adjournment debate on the P-TOMS structure Thursday in the Sri Lanka Parliament said that JVP mounted a "high profile challenge levelled against the P-TOMS" because the "agreement was intended to substantially benefit the Tamil speaking people of the Northeast," and that the failure of P-TOMS has confirmed the "grave sense of skepticism amongst the Tamil people."

Excerpts from Mr Sampanthan's statement in Sri Lanka Parliament follow:

"Most persons affected by tsunami in the Northeast were also affected by the long savage war. P-TOMS was a purely administrative arrangement to render humanitarian assistance and to alleviate the extreme suffering of a segment of the country’s inhabitants, very substantially the Tamil-speaking people in the Northeast, in a most effective and expeditious way.

"The President, the head of state, the head of the executive, and of the government and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, was the strongest advocate in favor of the P-TOMS and publicly took the fullest responsibility for the execution of the agreement.

"39 JVP Members of Parliament, who were in alliance with the UPFA government, having left the government on this issue, challenged the P-TOMS agreement in the Supreme Court as being violative of their fundamental rights.

"The rest of the UPFA government supports the P-TOMS agreement. The UNP, the main opposition party is supportive of the P-TOMS agreement. Other than the JVP, the only other party that opposes the P-TOMS is the JHU, with some exceptions. It could in fact be said that the P-TOMS agreement is able to command support from over 2/3 majority of the Members o Parliament.

"Even if a vote is not taken, we would strongly urge that representatives of political parties should state their position on the P-TOMS agreement in Parliament so that the country would be aware of the measure of support the P-TOMS agreement enjoys in Parliament.

"The constitution is so restrictive, so regressive, that the Supreme Court despite upholding the right of the President to enter into such an agreement, and even upholding entering into such an agreement with the LTTE – in the process recognizing the CFA which has been entered into with the LTTE, has nevertheless held that in terms of the constitution, the regional committee should in the interim be restrained from exercising certain powers. Though the main grounds on which the P-TOMS agreement was challenged have been rejected by the Supreme Court, in effect recognizing the necessity for the LTTE to play a role in the affairs of the Northeast, the P-TOMS agreement has been rendered non-operational.

"A bare minority in Parliament has been able by invoking the judicial process to impede the implementation of the decision of the supreme executive and the will of the majority in Parliament.

"The JVP have been successful in denying relief to very needy Tamil speaking people. We are sad that this has happened to people who have suffered very much for very long.

"What has happened raises in the most serious way the question of whether the Sri Lankan state can ever deliver an acceptable resolution of the Tamil question if it is unable to deliver on something as nominal as the P-TOMS.

"The P-TOMS agreement as everyone knows does not even touch the fringe of a solution to the Tamil question. The P-TOMS agreement is certainly no substitute for an Interim Self Governing Authority in the Northeast. The P-TOMS was intended to have nominal administrative authority in regard to post-tsunami related activity.

"The CFA inert-alia deals with the separation of forces. It entitles the GOSL’s armed forces and the LTTE’s fighting formations to hold their ground positions and maintain a zone of separation. Restrictions are imposed in regard to the movement of military equipment by the parties into each other’s territory.

"The CFA has not faced any legal impediment thus far though its provisions clearly impinge on the authority of the Sri Lankan government on vital internal matters.

"Many Tamils who looked forward to early implementation of the P-TOMS agreement take the view that different standards are being applied to the CFA and the P-TOMS agreement. The CFA has not faced any legal impediment because it benefits the whole country, particularly the south. The P-TOMS agreement was intended to substantially benefit the Tamil speaking people of the Northeast. This explains the high profile challenge leveled against the P-TOMS agreement by the JVP and the jubilation when they obtained some interim relief.

"The Tamil Nation does not accept that the Tamil question can wither away without resolution. It would be most unwise for anyone to so think. The Tamil people are increasingly concerned that the peace process has been floundering during the 3 1/2year period of the ceasefire.

"The fate of the P-TOMS only confirms the grave sense of skepticism amongst the Tamil people.

"The Tamil Nation urges the international community to recognize and acknowledge that the peace process at present at present has for the above reasons lost its direction and purpose.

"Much as the Tamil Nation earnestly desires a peaceful resolution of the Tamil question, it is most unfortunately becoming increasingly clear that the Sinhala political establishment is lacking in a serious commitment to an acceptable resolution of the Tamil question. The Sinhala political establishment also has its own agendas, which are an impediment to the furtherance of the peace process.

"This view of the Tamil people was clearly manifested at a convention held on the 27th of July 2005 at Vavuniya and attended by over 2000 delegates representing Tamil speaking people from different walks of life and from different parts of the Northeast. A resolution was adopted at the said convention and I table a copy of the said resolution to be included in the Hansard which reflects the true state of mind of the Tamil speaking people for the benefit of the House and the country at large.

"I think everyone needs to remember that a peace process should be meaningful and have substance that would inspire confidence in the process.

"The peace process that gravely concerns all of us does not as of now inspire such confidence."


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