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GTF non-committal on possible South African mediation role

2013 Jul 04

By Shamindra Ferdinando

 The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) yesterday said that there was no point in talking about post-war foreign facilitation to resolve the national problem, as the Sri Lankan government hadn’t done anything to promote national reconciliation.  

GTF spokesperson Suren Surendiran was responding to The Island query whether the GTF would welcome the Republic of South Africa (RSA) mediating between the government and the TNA/GTF as well as Diaspora organizations.

UK based Surendiran said: "Although fighting ended over four years ago, the government had failed to address any of the contentious issues. There haven’t been any sincere efforts to address the Tamil National Question in Sri Lanka for anyone to comment on whether RSA is acceptable as a facilitator".

The GTF official accused the government of reversing efforts made previously by other governments to resolve the national issue.

A high level RSA delegation was in Colombo last week. In spite of it being a low key visit, meetings with External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa fueled speculation of possible RSA role.

Responding to another query, Surendiran said that the ANC had always maintained close links with the LTTE. "If I remember correctly, LTTE members had been involved in the ANC’s first general election campaign in 1994. The RSA also had the LTTE as part of the international election monitoring mission," Surendiran said.

Commenting on the developing relations in the post-war era, Surendiran said that the ANC formally invited the TNA from Sri Lanka and the GTF from the Diaspora for their centennial celebrations in January 2012.

Surendiran said: "On behalf of the GTF, I was given the opportunity to address the gathering at the State funeral of the late Minister of Communication comrade Radhakrishna (Roy) Padayachie in May 2012. I was among the seven speakers, including President Zuma, some of his cabinet colleagues, overseas ministerial friends and family."

"In Feb 2013, for GTF’s 3rd anniversary event at the UK Parliament, the ANC was represented by senior delegates from the Luthuli House in Johannesburg, which is their HQ and Tamils of South Africa was represented by members of Solidarity Group for Peace and Justice in Sri Lanka (SGPJ)", he said.

In March 2013, a joint delegation from the TNA and GTF met various Tamil groups, the ANC and RSA government representatives in Pretoria and Johannesburg on a visit to several Southern African countries.

Surendiran emphasized that their relationship with RSA was a long term relationship built over the years on mutual understanding, respect and in solidarity with oppressed people.

He said that they were aware of Deputy International Relations and Co-operations Minister Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim’s visit to Colombo. Ebrahim had been to Colombo on many occasions during the Norwegian-led peace talks, war and post-conflict period, the GTF official said. Minister Ebrahim was aware of what was going on here, Surendiran said, alleging that President Rajapaksa, his brothers and ministers had made a spate of promises to RSA, India, US, the UN and the rest of the world.

 

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