by Saman Indrajith
The Opposition yesterday demanded to know from the government whether Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had obtained prior permission from the President, the Prime Minister or the Cabinet of Ministers to have talks with the members of Global Tamil Forum, a banned pro-LTTE terrorist group in London.
Leader of the Opposition Nimal Siripala de Silva, making a special statement, said there were reports that Foreign Minister Samaraweera had held talks with the GTF, which had been acting against the national interests of Sri Lanka promoting separatist agenda and destroying Sri Lanka’s image at international forums. “There were further reports that the meeting had been facilitated by some non-governmental organisations based in South Africa, several Norwegian organisations and was attended by representatives of a political party in Sri Lanka and an MP of that party.
“According to the reports the objective of the said meeting was to get the ban on Tamil Diaspora organisations that had been proscribed through a special gazette notification dated March 21, 2014 lifted and to urge the Sri Lankan government to take action against the alleged war crimes.
“It was also reported that Eric Solheim, who acted as the Norwegian Government’s Special Peace Envoy, too, attended this meeting. Foreign Ministry sources have mentioned that it was exchanging of opinions with various parties to institute an independent mechanism to investigate the alleged war crimes. Hence, the public are curious to know whether Foreign Minister Samaraweera has discussed such issues with the GTF members. We have to point out that such clandestine talks without informing the people and Parliament would have a deleterious impact on efforts being made to bring about national reconciliation.
“Therefore, I would raise the following questions and expect answers from the Foreign Minister:
- What was the subject matter taken for the discussion between the Minister and GTF members in London?
- Who were the individuals and organisations represented in this meeting?
- Had the Foreign Minister obtained prior approval of the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet of Ministers to attend the said meeting?
- Was the withdrawal of the gazette which banned the LTTE and its supportive organisations discussed?
- Was the issue of war crimes taken up at this meeting?
- Did an exchange of opinions took place with regard to instituting an indigenous mechanism to investigate alleged war-crimes charges?”
The government asked for time to respond to the Opposition Leader’s queries, and the latter protested against it. “I have raised several questions during the last couple of days, but the government did not answer them. I raised some questions about Samurdhi payments recently, but no answers have been given.”
Leader of the House and Plantations Minister Lakshman Kiriella: We cannot respond to Samurdhi issue because the same issue is now before courts. Foreign Minister Samaraweera would respond to your queries at a future date.
Opposition Leader de Silva: It seems that Foreign Minister is absconding. He has not even come to Parliament. He should come and face these questions or he himself should have asked for time.