Positive contribution by International players, key to Peace in Sri Lanka - Senewiratne

[TamilNet, Thursday, 09 March 2006, 02:45 GMT]
"Marginalising and excluding the Liberation Tigers, a key player to the peace process in the island, will mean the end of the failed state Sri Lanka," a Sinhala expatriate physician supportive of Tamils right to self-determination told a gathering of EU officials at a symposium organised in the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday. "The EU has essentially opted out of making a meaningful contribution to rescue Sri Lanka," he noted. Tamil, Sinhala and European panelists presented their views in the symposium titled "The EU Contribution to the Peace Process in Sri Lanka."

The Symposium was chaired by a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Robert Evans of the Labour Party from the U.K. Paris based Tamil Centre for Human Rights (TCHR) organised the symposium.

Dr Brian Seneviratne from Australia, Mr Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, lawyer and Tamil National Alliance Member of Parliament of Sri Lanka for Jaffna and Ms. Deirdre McConnell, the International Programme Director of the TCHR spoke.

Panel also included Mr. Douglas Wickramasinghe, who represented a hardline Sinhala view countering the pro-Tamil panelists.

"EU's decision to hold this meeting, enabling some of us who are genuinely concerned with the future of Sri Lanka to present our views, is a step in the right direction," said Dr Seneviratne, who is also a cousin of the former Sri Lankan President Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Dr Senewiratne said that one-sided comments by several US Ambassadors attacking only the Liberation Tigers have had a "disastrous effect," and have strengthened Sinhala extremists in Colombo.

Following recent comments by Nicholas Burns, the US Undersecretary for Political Affairs, that the US would take a hard line against the LTTE, Sinhala extremists renewed their call to militarily defeat the LTTE, he pointed out. "This has forced Sri Lankan Government to adopt a hardline position in talks with the LTTE," Dr Senewiratne said.

"It is this Sinhala hardline stance that has prevented the GoSL from coming up with a meaningful arrangement for power sharing with the Tamils," Senewiratne observed.

Many Western countries, with the exception of some of the Nordic countries and Switzerland, have failed to provide a "positive contribution" to Peace in Sri Lanka, said Dr Seneviratne. He said it was unfortunate that while Sri Lanka has deproscribed the LTTE, a few countries not affected by the LTTE, have continued to ban them."

Senewiratne said that the Sinhala extremists and political opportunists have confused patriotism with "ethno-religious chauvinism", and have sabotaged the building of Sri Lankan nation, and were riding the "Sri Lankan" state to its end.


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