South African delegation Visits Jaffna

[TamilNet, Saturday, 12 December 1998, 20:57 GMT]
The Bishop of Jaffna, Rev. Philip Thomas Saundranayagam, told the visiting South African parliamentary delegation in Jaffna that the Sri Lankan Government should address to the fundamental problems of the ethnic conflict to achieve lasting peace in the island.

thomas_suntharanayagam-p.gifThe bishop told the delegation about the severe conditions in the Vanni. He went on to say that even though the situation in Jaffna is not as bad, the Sri Lankan Army has imposed some unnecessary restrictions in the peninsula.

He further said that there is actually not a civil administration in Jaffna that is surrounded by the Sri Lankan Army.

The bishop also emphasised the importance of a cease fire and negotiations with the Liberation Tigers to find a lasting solution.

Tamil people do not see the Tigers as "terrorist". It was a wrong move by them to evacuate the Muslims from Jaffna. They have now announced that they could settle in Jaffna, if they wish, he told the delegation.

The delegation met the Government Agent (GA) of Jaffna Mr. K.Shanmuganathan, District Secretaries (DS) and other officials at the Jaffna Katchcheri.

The GA said that about 75 percent (493,000) of the Jaffna population has returned to the peninsula. He elaborated problems caused by the disruption of transport to and from Jaffna.

A member of the Business Chambers who attended the meeting told the delegation that the defence ministry's permission is required to transport 90 percent of commodities to Jaffna. It could take up to 2 months to get this permission.

balasundrampillai_p-p.jpgHe said some businessmen have lost upto 50 million rupees due to these problems.

He pointed out the price of packet of cement that is being sold at 250 Rs. in Colombo, is being sold for 550 Rs. in Jaffna.

The delegation also met the Vice Chancellor (VC) of the Jaffna University, Prof. Balasundarampillai, Deans of the Jaffna University, senior lectures around 11.30 a.m.

During this discussion the VC said that the Sri Lankan Government should react positively to the LTTE's suggestion of third party mediation. He said that South Africa could play a role in this issue.

Mr. Rameswaran MP, an independent MP (earlier an EPDP MP) for the Jaffna district handed over a memorandum to the delegation. He said in the memorandum that for achieving permanent peace it was important that both parties involved in the conflict restart negotiations.

Some positive signals have emerged recently due to rumours of negotiations. However, the parties involved do not trust each other and the visit of South Africans could pave a way for this trust, he said in the memorandum.

The delegation also met the Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Jaffna.


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