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Sunday, 14 June 2015

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Answers to the specific questions raised by the Leader of Opposition

Q: Can the Minister state the objective of the discussions that he held in London with the Global Tamil Forum for which the media gave immense publicity? What was the objective of these discussions? What were the decisions reached? What were the issues discussed?

* As the Press Statement issued by the Member of Parliament from the TNA (M. M.A. Sumanthiran) and the Director of Strategic Initiatives of the GTF (Suren Surendiran) indicated, very clearly, what was discussed were:

*the needs of the displaced people, providing for their housing, providing basic facilities so that they could resettle in the lands that have been returned to them,

*the release of prisoners held under the PTA and the process that is currently underway,

*the annual review of the persons listed under gazetted regulations 1758/19 dated 15th May 2012 and 1760 of 31st May 2012 (by the previous Government) to give effect to UN Resolutions 1373 and 1267.

This annual review is mandatory as per the regulations that have been gazetted by the previous Government.

Q: The persons and organisations that took part in the discussion

(2)The persons who were present at the discussions:

*Member of Parliament from the TNA

*Representative of the GTF MSuren Surendiran

*A representative of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation - M.S. Jayasinghe

The following representatives were present on the basis of the large Diaspora communities living in those countries and to share the experiences they have of dealing with the different Sri Lankan Diaspora communities and members present in those respective countries:

*A representative from the South African Government -who initiated a dialogue with the diaspora and senior members of the Rajapaksa regime in 2013.

*A representative from the Swiss Government-Former Norwegian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Tore Hattrem.

* Eric Solheim participated briefly on the 1st day to share his experiences in engaging the diaspora.

Q: In order to have such a discussion, did the Minister obtain the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers and the President or the Prime Minister?

(3)All details of discussions at all times are reported back to the President and the Prime Minister

Q: During the discussions, was the lifting of the ban on the LTTE or withdrawal of the gazette notification which banned the organisations that aided and assisted the banned LTTE and/or organisations which supported the LTTE, discussed?

(4) There was no discussion of lifting the proscription of the LTTE.

*The annual review of the persons listed under gazetted regulations 1758/19 dated May15, 2012 and 1760 of May 31, 2012 (by the previous Government) to give effect to UN Resolutions 1373 and 1267 was discussed.

*This annual review is mandatory as per the regulations that have been gazetted by the previous Government.

*When this review is being conducted, the Competent Authority will take into account the distinction between those advocating separatism and those who have been voicing concerns regarding the rights of the Tamil people.

Q: Was the subject of war crimes discussed at the discussions?

(5) No.

Q: Were views exchanged with the Global Tamil Forum or with the other local or foreign representatives who participated in the discussions regarding the process of preparing a domestic mechanism to examine war crimes?

(6) No.

Q: Will the Minister of Foreign Affairs make a full statement regarding this discussion to this House? If not, why?

(7) I have explained to the House the background, reasons and details and will also share a copy of the Press Statement issued by the GTF's Director of Strategic Initiatives and the Member of Parliament of the TNA. We discussed about a public declaration renouncing violence as a means of achieving political objectives and a public commitment to a united and undivided Sri Lanka. The recent statement by Rev. Fr. S.J. Emmanuel, President of the GTF and Suren Surendiran reflect this welcome shift in attitude.

 

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