A meeting was held today between the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence Pablo De Greiff and the Leader of the Opposition and the Tamil National Alliance R. Sampanthan in Colombo.
Sampanthan highlighted the important issues faced by the Tamil people with regard to the release of Lands belonging to civilians, Missing persons and the political prisoners.
Apprising on the land issues to special rapporteur Sampanthan pointed out “that our people have strong attachment to the lands not merely a sentimental but much beyond that and people are protesting demanding the release of their lands in some areas for more than three hundred days, they are in the sun in the rain and they are exposed to all kinds of elements but they are determined that they want their land to be returned”. Sampanthan highlighted that the government must understand that this is a matter that they are dealing with feelings of people and the rights of people and it must be resolved without any further delays. He further added if we are seeking for a genuine reconciliation these realities must be recognized.
Speaking of the Missing persons Sampanthan said “if a mother handed over her son to armed forces or a police officer she wants to know what happened to him it is a legitimate demand, these demands cannot be ignored”. Highlighting the delay in operationalizing the Office of the Missing Persons, Sampanthan pointed out the importance of having this office established in the Northern and the Eastern provinces as well.
On the issue of political prisoners, Sampanthan pointed out that “they are in custody not because they robbed or stole for personal gain. Every one of their cases has a political dimension, therefore their cases need to be looked at in that context and resolved. Further, he said, the Sri Lankan Government has failed to understand this fact. He further said, “the government has already accepted the fact that the PTA is a detrimental law and a law that should be removed from the statutory books”. He raised the question how come any government could keep someone in custody under such law. All these prisoners should be released Sampanthan added.
Sampanthan brought to the notice of the special rapporteur that these matters must be resolved, and cannot drift if it drifts it will create a serious impediment to the reconciliation process. There are people waiting to disturb the reconciliation and the political solution process and we must not play into the hands of those people he said.
Sampanthan urged the Special rapporteur to ensure that the voluntary commitments made by the Sri Lankan government to the people of Sri Lanka and to the international Community are implemented fully. He highlighted that these commitments were made by the government for the betterment and the advancement of the country and for its people, therefore, the government must honor its commitment and deliver so that the commitments do not end with just blueprints.
The Special Rapporteur appreciated Sampanthan and assured his commitment and the UN’s involvement in achieving a lasting solution to the national question.