Ashraff slammed for opposing truce

[TamilNet, Friday, 10 May 2002, 19:27 GMT]
(News Feature) Reflecting increasing irritation amongst Sri Lanka’s Muslim community over ongoing opposition by some Muslim politicians to the permanent ceasefire between the government and the Liberation Tigers, another Muslim organisation this week hailed the truce and condemned those supporting Sinhala nationalist forces opposed to peace.

In a statement issued this week, the Eravur Muslim Youth Community Development Organisation accused Muslim politicians such as Mrs Feriel Ash raff , leader of the Natiional Unity Alliance (NUA) of joining hands with the Sinhala parties, such as the main opposition People’s Alliance (PA) and the Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP), opposing the Norwegian peace process.

“The reason given by Feriel [Ashraff] for opposing the ceasefire agreemnt is that devolution of power to Muslims in the north and east has not been guaranteed,” the organisation said.

“But this ceasefire accord was implemented to usher in the right climate for the protagonists of the two-decade old war to take time out and work towards a permanent peace. It was not designed as the final means to bring an end to the troubles of the people in the north and east.”

“Therefore, opposing the truce on the grounds that it does not ensure the rights of the Muslim people is both politically unwise and self-serving.”

“Some Muslim MPs in the PA sowed seeds of doubt and fear amongst the Muslim people in Batticaloa and Ampara when the ceasefire accord was signed,” the Muslim youth organisation pointed out.

“But the agreement reached by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) with the Liberation Tigers has ended these [fears]. Feriel Ashraff has questioned the [SLMC-LTTE] in her uniquely devious manner.”

“She has said that nothing has been said of the powers to be granted to the Muslim people recognising their unique identity when power is dissolved and in the interim administration that is to be set up.”

“[But] The agreement reached by the SLMC and the Tamil Tigers is one intended to address practical difficulties and tension existing between the two sides. Solutions have been reached on issues such as farming and taxation through this agreement. The Tamil Tigers have also recognised the SLMC as the sole representatives of the Muslim people. As such they have agreed to include a representative of the SLMC during peace negotiations. Agreement has also been reached to approach the fundamental political grievances of the Muslims living in the north and east from a theoretical basis and to hold further discussions on their unique political and cultural rights.”

“Some Muslim politicians are trying to lead the Muslim people astray by alleging any favourable outcome for Tamils will automatically be detrimental to the Muslim community. The Muslim community’s foremost need today is not to cling to the assumption that no good should come to the Tamils because it will affect them adversely. The foremost need is, however, to indulge in useful discussions with parties concerned to welcome the favourable solution for the Tamil people while still ensuring the rights and security for Muslims.”

“Therefore, …it is every Muslim politician’s and citizen’s duty to support the SLMC in its discussions during the bilateral talks to win the just rights for the Muslim people,” the Eravur Muslim youth organisation’s statement concluded.

Two weeks ago, the Eravur sections of the SLMC also criticised Mrs Ashraff for siding with Sinhala chauvinists and - in her capacity as leader of the Muslim party, the National United Alliance - addressing an anti-peace rally in Colombo organised by the JVP to condemn the indefinite ceasefire .

“That a selfish minority of MPs such as Mrs Ferial Ashraff support the chauvinists’ attempts to scuttle the peace process has shocked and dismayed the Muslim and Tamil people.. … Joining hands with our common enemies is unacceptable. Those who guide Mrs Ashraff on the political front should seriously consider this,” the congress of SLMC’s branches in Eravur said.


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