Crucial talks for political solution to Tamil ethnic row

The govt will hold a crucial round of talks with Tamil National Alliance in a bid to find a political solution to the grievances of the minority ethnic group.

Updated: Jan 09, 2011, 20:11 PM IST

Colombo: The government will hold a
crucial round of talks with Tamil National Alliance, a major
Sri Lankan party representing the Tamil community in the
country, in a bid to find a political solution to the
grievances of the minority ethnic group.

The first meeting between the special committees of
the government and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to
explore ways and means to find a solution to the grievances of
the people living in the North and the East will be held
tomorrow, TNA spokesperson Suresh Premachandran said.

He said tomorrow’s meeting between the high-level
committees of the government and the TNA would be significant
as it will be the first meeting for the year.

"The special committees comprising representatives
from the Government and the Tamil National Alliance were set
up following a discussion between President Mahinda Rajapaksa
and the TNA in June last year," Premachandran was quoted as
saying by the Sunday Observer today.

"We are looking forward to lay a strong foundation for
future talks and to work out the modalities to arrive at a
solution for the Tamil question," Premachandran said.

He said the TNA held one-on-one talks between
President Rajapaksa and TNA leader R. Sampanthan on two
occasions and there were a few meetings with the Government
and the TNA last year.

He said the issues with regard to the political
settlement and the resettlement and reconstruction process in
the North and the East were taken up during the talks last

The pro-Tamil party held a key meeting yesterday in
Vavuniya to discuss its strategies for the talks. It also
decided to contest all local elections in March, the report

The Government committee will included Minister of
External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of Good
Governance and Infrastructure Ratnasiri Wickramanayake,
Minister of Irrigation and Water Management Nimal Siripala de

From the TNA, pary leader R. Sampanthan Mavai
Senathiraja MP, Suresh Premachandran MP, M. Sumanthiran MP,
Selvam Adaikalanathan MP and Kanaga Easwaran PC, will engage
the government in the talks, the report said.

The LTTE waged a bloody three-decade civil war for a
separate state for the Tamils of Sri Lanka, alleging
discrimination against the minority community at the hands of
the majority Sinhalas.

The Lankan military crushed the rebels in May 2009 and
ended the ethnic conflict that killed between 80,000 and
100,000 people.

India has asked the Lankan leadership to engage the
Tamil community to find a political solution to the
grievances of the minority ethnic group.

India has also pressed Sri Lanka to step up measures
to rehabilitate the nearly three lakh Tamil civilians
displaced from the conflict-ridden areas during the civil war.

The issue of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
has been a key issue of discussion between the top leadership
of the two nations.

Indian government had made a commitment to construct
50,000 houses in Sri Lanka for rehabilitation of the IDPs in
Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka. Amid a massive effort to resettle the displaced Tamil
civilians after the end of the ethnic conflict, over 80,000
people are yet to be resettled by the government in the
Northern Province, The Sunday Leader newspaper said.

According to the Resettlement Ministry, while there
are 18,000 persons remaining in the Menik Farm welfare centre,
there are 72,000 persons who are currently residing with
relatives in the North.

Deputy Resettlement Minister Vinayagamoorthy
Muralitharan said was quoted as saying by the Lankan paper
that the 72,000 people who are to be resettled are those whose
houses are located in the high security zones (HSZs) in

"The 18,000 persons still living in Menik Farm are
from areas where the final stages of the battle took place in
the Mullaitivu district. The area is heavily mined. These
people can return to their homes once the de-mining operation
is completed," he said.

After several rounds of discussions with the Defence
Ministry, Muralitharan said a decision has been taken to
release three villages that are currently within HSZs in

"Several thousands of people will be able to return to
their homes in the Jaffna District once the villages are
released," he said.