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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 109

Peace is knocking on the door -- Anandasangaree tells seminar in the House of Commons

London 21 March, (Asiantribune.com): A packed audience comprising Members of the British and European Parliaments and a large gathering of Sri Lankans of all communities as well as British academics and media representatives attended the Parliamentary seminar on the theme “A way forward to peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka” organized by the London based Campaign for Peace & Unity in Sri Lanka (CPUSL). The seminar was held on Monday 19 March at the House of Commons.

While the parliamentary seminar was going on in one of the Committee rooms of the main block of the British Parliament, a group of LTTE supporters, nearly two dozens of them, led by Harrow Labour councillor Thaya Idaikadar, demonstrated outside the parliament holding banners that said: “We want peace with honour in Sri Lanka.”

Among the key speakers in the Parliamentary seminar were TULF Leader V Anandasangaree, M H Sulaiman of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council, Douglas Wickremaratne of the Sinhala Association in the UK and British Parliamentarians Barry Gardiner, Andrew Love, Andrew Pelling, Colin Breed, John Austin, Brian Binley as well as Mr Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament. The Rt Hon Lord Naseby of Sandy, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sri Lanka presided.

The speakers urged the British Government to take tougher action to crack down on the activities of LTTE front organisations and LTTE activists in local councils in the UK that were continuing to fund the LTTE’s war chest and engage in propaganda activities in spite of the LTTE being a listed terrorist organisation in the UK & EU.

They unanimously acknowledged that any political solution aimed at addressing the grievances of all communities in Sri Lanka should recognise the need for pluralism and that the LTTE was not the sole representative of the Tamil community. The representatives of the Muslim Council called for the recognition of Muslim community representation in future talks aimed at resolving the conflict in the north & east of Sri Lanka. They also highlighted the need to fully implement the Official Languages Act as a step towards strengthening national unity.

TULF Leader V Anandasangaree in his address emphasised, “I have been advocating a settlement which will bring in sustainable peace, if major political parties, UNP, SLFP, JVP including the hierarchy of the Buddhist clergies accept my proposal. Even though you may ask that there are better federal models available in Canada and Switzerland, I felt that it is necessary to accept the Indian model, as India is already involved in the settlement process and they are fully against a separate nation."

He said, “Peace is knocking on the door. An Indian model will be the ideal option to resolve the ethnic crisis." He also mentioned about the accelerated child conscription of the LTTE and invited international community to support the peace process.

Anandasangaree highlighted the fact that there are 67 millions Tamils across the Palk Straits and most of them are supporters of a single nation in Sri Lanka. He added that yet there are some leaders who support the LTTE's claim for a separate nation.

He added: "We have to quieten such leaders who support the LTTE and support their demand for a separate state. I have time and again posed the question: When you live in a federal state happily and peacefully, why you are advocating a separate state in Sri Lanka?'

Andrew Pelling M.P for Croydon Central (Conservative) made no specific comments but showed his interest in the contribution.

Geoffrey Van Orden. MEP, explained about the resolutions passed by the EU against the LTTE and he came out with the details of the fund collection by the LTTE in the UK Canada and other places. He also said that India appreciated the resolution of the EU against the LTTE. He elaborated the EU’s policy on terrorism especially, on the LTTE.

At the same time he was concerned about the Tamil problem and devolution package. He hoped that there will soon be a package by the APC to resolve the conflict. He also noted the GOSL’s control of the new areas in the East. He insisted that the financial support to the LTTE should be stopped. He expressed his concern about the reconstruction of infrastructure in the East and de-mining etc. He concluded that Sri Lanka is for everybody.

Mrs. Selvaratnam. (From the audience) emotionally raised her concern about the 1956 Official language Act and its current practice in Sri Lanka. She lamented that the Government continues to thrust Sinhala language down the throats of the Tamils. Even after Tamil Language has been the official language Tamil language is not used by the government when responding to the Tamils. She also questioned as to why the government bombs the people whilst talking about package which is not forthcoming.

Lord Neasby agreed that the fundamental question is language.

N.M. Ameen intercepted and explained about the language difficulties as noted by the people in Ampara.

Andy Love expressed his concern about a solution based on the Irish experience.

Another participant Sivakumar said that the Europeans brought two important political events to Sri Lanka, whether good or bad. One of them was they unified the country known as Ceylon (Sri Lanka) into a single unit out of three kingdoms and brought the system of democracy for the people to govern themselves. He added that both are now being abused at the moment by communalism and majority rule and a lack of national leaders to hold the country united. He also said that people in the last elections, majority of them voted for federalism in the country and so far it has not been implemented. He appealed to all politicians to maintain a democracy in a single nation without any violence and terrorism in Sri Lanka.

The speakers responded to questions from the audience on a number of issues relating to the current conflict, in particular issues relating to devolution of power as a means towards resolving the current conflict and bringing peace to Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, Two members of the LTTE women's front, its leader Ankayartkanny and Miss Seevaratnam Ambihai were detained by the British Police at Parliament yesterday for taking pictures of participants in a Parliamentary seminar.

However the noted LTTE thug "Rowdy Ranjan" was the first to try and force his way in to the meeting when he was asked to leave. A short while later the two LTTE women leaders brazenly tried to enter by force without invitation when they were asked to leave by the organisers. They were later found waiting in the Parliament foyer complaining to the police that they were not allowed to enter the meeting.

When participants in the seminar were leaving through the foyer they spotted these two LTTers taking photos in violation of Parliamentary regulations. At this stage a member of the CPUSL informed the police that these two women were activists of a banned terrorist organisation and were not allowed to participate as they had not followed procedures and were not invited to participate.

Participants complained to the police that they feared for their safety as these two women had been taking photos in violation of Parliamentary regulations with the intention of intimidating them by publishing these photos on LTTE websites.

At this point the Police confiscated the Ankayatkany's camera and removed the film roll. She was then detained to record her statement while her accomplice was being questioned regarding breach of Parliamentary regulations on photography taken inside Parliament. The two women are expected to be charged in Court shortly

In the meantime, Asian Tribune contacted Harrow North Councillor Thaya Idaikadar and asked him why he led an agitation against the seminar on “A way forward to peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka” organized by the CPUSL?

He said he wanted to make the British Members of Parliament know what kind of people were participating in the seminar.

He said people like Anandasangaree managed only to poll nearly 100 votes in the last parliamentary elections and lost their deposits. “They too are claiming themselves to be the leaders of the Tamils and participating in the meeting. That is why we oppose this seminar,” he said.

Asian Tribune then pointed out that when the parliamentary elections were held on a free and fair basis in 2001, Anandasangaree polled more than 36,000 votes and won the elections, but the 2004 parliamentary elections was rigged and vote boxes were stuffed by the LTTE as alleged in the report of the Election Monitors of the European Union.

Asian Tribune also pointed out despite threat and intimidation unleashed by the LTTE during the 2004 April Parliamentary general elections Anandasangaree polled more than 5000 votes.

Thaya Idaikadar said that he came to know of the Parliamentary seminar only on Monday and they contacted the Tiger-owned and controlled TNT TV and appealed to the people to participate in the protest rally. According to his head count nearly 40 people managed to participate in the LTTE agitation despite a very bad weather.

When Asian Tribune asked Thaya Idaikadar what his political affiliation were, he said that he was a member of the British Labor Party.

When asked as to why he, as a British passport holder and a Councilor, was interfering unnecessarily in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka?

He replied that he speaks his mind about Sri Lanka and about the Tamil people.

When asked Thaya Idaikadar whether he was a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Thaya Idaikadat, he said “No I am not a member of the LTTE and they don’t tell me what I should do.
He added that the LTTE leaders don’t tell anything for him to do. He quipped “I don’t also tell them anything.”

He reiterated that he was agitating to have ‘Peace with Honor in Sri Lanka’ and said that they carried placards demanding the same …’peace with honor in Sri Lanka.’

When asked to define what he meant by "Peace with Honor" he said that he has no time to go into those details and requested Asian Tribune contact him later for his clarification on the subject.

- Asian Tribune -

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