"If the Government gives the political power to the North, all issues will be settled" - Dr. Rajitha Senaratne
To find a political solution, it has to begin from the Parliamentary Select Committee. Tamil Parliamentarians from the Tamil National Alliance have to be told to attend the Parliamentary Select Committee and also to the Government and from there the country will be able to find a way to solve the political issues of the North and East.
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne – Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development when speaking to Asian Tribune said "Mr. Rajasingham, the whole thing is that, if this Government gives the political power to the North, the matter will be settled and nothing remains otherwise."
Asian Tribune contacted Sri Lanka’s Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development to inquire about the problem of South Indian Fishermen poaching in the Sri Lankan waters?
Minister said that the South Indian fishermen are coming in numbers and poaching in the Sri Lankan waters. He said that they are seen just 4 kilo meters away from the Sri Lankan beaches.
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said actually we could not do anything because of the UN Human Rights Councils session and because of the US sponsored resolution. He said we were expecting India to safeguard our interest.
He expressed his disappointment and said India did not vote in favor of us. "Now we have to think of measures to take strict action. I also kept quiet because of the Indian factor and with the international pressure."
The Fisheries Minister said that India did not vote in favor of us, not just because of the pressure from its Southern Block. He said that it was all dramas.
The Minister when speaking about the reason why India failed to vote in favor of Sri Lanka, he said because Sri Lanka failed to bring about a political solution to the Tamil issue.
Given below excerpts of the InterviewAsian Tribune had with Dr. Rajitha Senaratne – Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development:
Asian Tribune: What is happening with the Indian Fishermen?
Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: With the fishermen there is no change , but the only thing is that as they have promised in the last joint working group - they promised to withdraw all the pending cases against our fishermen. That they have done . Also when they arrest Sri Lankan fishermen they will release them out of court. That also they are doing and only four or five people are now in their custody.
South Indian Fishermen issues
Asian Tribune: What about Indian fishermen crossing the international Maritime Boundary (IBM) and poaching in the Sri Lankan waters?
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: Regarding that, they are crossing the IBM and they are often coming and we are also taking action against them. The situation hasn’t changed.
Asian Tribune: But the Indian medias are full of allegations that the Sri Lanka Navy is harassing them?
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: That is all nonsense. They are seen in our waters poaching and sometimes our fishermen use to attack them, because they don’t like Indian fishermen coming in numbers and poaching in our waters. When our fishermen attack, they can’t say that they were in our waters, so they say that the Sri Lankan Navy attacked them.
Asian Tribune: Indian media reports always say 'when the Indian fishermen were fishing around the Katchativu,' they were attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy.
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: These are all nonsense .. you know? They are coming in a very big numbers and I have seen photographs also. Even there was an Aljazeera TV report and we saw how they were coming up to 4 Km into our coastline.
Asian Tribune: That is 4 km away from Sri Lankan beaches?
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: Yes Sri Lanka's Northern beaches. They come so close and cut our fishermen's nets and all that and do maximum damages. Everything they do.
Asian Tribune: Indian fishermen do all atrocious acts and they put the blame on the Sri Lanka Navy?
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: Every week they make some story and use to tell that they are being assaulted and harassed.
Asian Tribune: How is Sri Lanka intending to stop Indian fishermen poaching in the Sri Lankan waters?
The political power to the North
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: Actually we could not do anything because of the UN Human Rights Conference and because of the US sponsored resolution. We were expecting India to safeguard our interest. But ultimately that also did not happen. Now we have to think of measures to take strict action. I also kept quiet because of the Indian factor and because of the international pressure.
Asian Tribune: I have written a report regarding “What went wrong with Sri Lanka in Geneva?” Have you seen it?
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: No ? Mr. Rajasingham, the whole thing is that, if this Government gives the political power to the North, the matter will be settled and nothing otherwise.
Asian Tribune: You mean to say that Sri Lankan Government should give political solution to the North and East?
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: That means the Government must implement the 13th amendment in full.
I told to all our people that whatever you say in Geneva nothing will happen, we will be put to the wall, and India can rescue us and nobody else.
My analysis was that India voted against us not because of the pressure of its South block. They have manipulated South’s pressure throughout, and as our Government also had not given any solution to the Tamil issues, India was forced to vote in favor of the US resolution. I have told this to our press in Sri Lanka.
Asian Tribune: You told this to the Sri Lankan President also?
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: He would have read it. The Sulamina published my analysis. Recently President himself told me that ‘Rajika this was nothing to do with the Southern pressure, but it was their plan.’ I told him to go through my analysis in the Sulamina newspaper. I only analyzed these things politically and not having any evidence on them. I said that there is also reasons for Indian to take this stance, because we have promised political solution to the North and East, but we have never done it.
Asian Tribune: Even I have wrote that in my article, “What went wrong in with Sri Lanka in Geneva,” in conclusion I have said that the Tamil Diaspora group – kindly understand that I am referring only of the pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora groups in the West and they are now planning to come up with a severe preposition against Sri Lanka regarding the Regime Change. I have written with certainty that “As far as the Tamils living in Sri Lanka are with the Government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, nothing would happen.
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: Yes nothing can happen. The TNA made a statement and it was I think by Suresh Premachandran that if the Government bring about a political solution, then we will support the Government. The statement went on to say that they are ready even to join the Government. This will put an end to war crimes and other allegations.
Asian Tribune: Even recently I had an interview with the TNA Leader Mr. R.Sampanthan and he said that we are not opposing the Parliamentary Select Committee, provided there are some consensus on those subject about we had bilateral discussions and agreed and those things are taken to the Parliamentary Select Committee as already consensus has been reached between the Tamil National Alliance and the Government.
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne:Yes, I also told Mr. Sampanthan to come to the Parliamentary Select Committee and said that I will also go to the select committee and I will support. Also I told Mr. Sampanthan that I will also try to convince my SLFP Parliamentarians to support for a political solution. Actually what went wrong in Geneva?
Asian Tribune: unfortunately it was a high profile ego clash. Anyway, you have told me and I have to recap that the North and Eastern Tamils solution should be solved.
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: I have said it and this is the Indian stance right throughout. You might have observed that right from the beginning they maintained silence about their stance in Geneva. They were non-committal right from the beginning
I also said that everything was a drama. Hilary Clinton coming to meet Jayalalthaa when the Americans were involved with the Southern Block and agitations against Government and all of them were dramas.
Finally I said that they also have reason from their side that to tell that “this is why we have to do that.”
The President and the Government continuously said and promised, but nothing happened. It must be understood that they also has their duty to answer to their Southern Block. What is given to the Northern Tamils? So far nothing.
Asian Tribune: Yes in 2009 May 19th the Government defeated Prabhakaran and the LTTE ?
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: And now it is almost three years you know?
Asian Tribune: Yes. Nothing has happened up to now?
Dr.Rajitha Senaratne: Even nothing has happened, at least the Government must tell … you know? .... of the proposed political solution to the Tamils. There is so far, not even a commitment saying that we will do something like that.
Asian Tribune: The danger is this, I can foresee, because I almost talked with all the dissident groups in Geneva. They said we are now being supported by the only Super Power in the World – USA and said that they are planning something severe against Sri Lanka and its administration.
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: You mean to say something severe? I thing that this is the beginning of the problem.
Asian Tribune: As long as we have the Tamils living in Sri Lanka supporting the Government, nothing can happen. No power in the world can shake the Rajapaksa administration.
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: I agree nothing can happen. If we agree for a solution - the matter will be settled then and there. Even this was the same thing, Norway and all the other ambassadors use to tell me.
Asian Tribune: How are we going to do this?
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne: We have to tell the Government and Tamil parliamentarians to come to the Parliamentary Select Committee and from there we will be able to find a way out for this issue. That is the best way.
- Asian Tribune -