Diaspora project had the backing of MR, MS – Mangala
‘Even Gotabhaya was involved in South African initiative’
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday declared that the on-going efforts to reach out to the influential Tamil Diaspora had the backing of the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government.
Addressing the media at the Information Department, Samaraweera strongly denied accusations that he had been pursuing a reconciliation project of his own though it being inimical to national interests.
“In fact, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had initiated the project meant to win over those who were hostile to Sri Lanka,” FM Samaraweera said, pointing out that the then Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa too was involved in the post-war South African initiative. Senior South African representatives dealt with both the previous government and the UK headquartered Diaspora grouping Global Tamil Forum (GTF), FM Samaraweera recalled accusing what he called the Abharamaya gang of politicising and undermining the reconciliation process.
Responding to a query, MP Samaraweera alleged that extremists on both sides had been working overtime to sabotage the reconciliation efforts. An irate minister lambasted JHU spokesperson Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe and ‘Prime Minister’ of Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) US national Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran for causing hostility among communities.
The Matara District MP condemned the TGTE for targeting the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and alleged that extremists on both sides had been jolted by the government-diaspora efforts to reach post-war national reconciliation.
Asked whether he expected the JHU to move court against the proposed event in Colombo later this year with the participation of the Diaspora, Samaraweera said that he wouldn’t depend on lawyers. “Instead, I’ll speak for myself in court.”
The Foreign Minister said that the government was pursuing the reconciliation project regardless of obstacles.
Reiterating the government’s commitment to explore ways and means of securing the Diaspora support, Samaraweera said that those who hadn’t been willing to give up their separatist sentiments need not join the Colombo event. The minister expressed the belief that those who had been still committed to eelam would change their stance at least now.
He said the government couldn’t persuade the Diaspora to renounce violence unless a bilateral dialogue took place. The minister insisted that no one could dispute the Diaspora taking up their rights. Raising such issues couldn’t be considered as supporting terrorism, the minister said, accusing the previous government of driving ordinary Tamils to the LTTE.
Minister Samaraweera referred to President of the GTF Rev. Father S.J. Emmanuel as well as its UK based spokesperson Suren Surendiran as Diaspora representatives engaged in the reconciliation efforts.
The outspoken UNP heavyweight said that the country couldn’t further delay reaching a consensus with the Diaspora.