In response to the ongoing political and economic crisis in Sri Lanka, Tamil civil society groups issued a group statement urging all actors to seize this historic opportunity for “real change for an island plagued by decades of conflict ethnic”.
“There have been many times in Sri Lanka’s history when governments have had the opportunity to change course and address the root causes of the island’s conflict, but each time they have failed. not completed. We […] made this statement in good faith, in the hope that this time might be different”.
Instead of simply demanding a change of figureheads, the statement stresses the need to respond to the demands of the Tamil nation summarized in five key demands:
1. Draft a new constitution that genuinely restructures the state in a way that respects the secular and plurinational nature of the island and the right to self-determination, and significantly devolves political, economic, land and security powers;
2. Ratify the Rome Statute with retroactive effect and support international prosecutions of atrocities committed during and after the war;
3. Demilitarize the Northeast to support the restructuring of the economy by reducing the bloated defense budget and reallocating spending to economic development;
4. Address the demands of longstanding protests by families of the disappeared and political prisoners across the North East, including as a starting point by repealing the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA);
5. Immediately cease land acquisitions by national authorities and security forces in the Northeast.
Commenting on the political crisis in Sri Lanka, the statement noted that for Tamils, “The Rajapaksas are more than economically incapable and corrupt – Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the war criminal who oversaw the atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan military, including genocide, at the end of the war.”
The statement goes on to detail how “Rajapaksa’s pursuit of policies oppressing Tamil and Muslim communities [were] ignored or tolerated by the majority electorate, and he was valued as the protector of the Sinhalese-Buddhist nation”.
Another concern raised is that “the whitewashing of crimes by security forces has also been an alarming feature of protests and political dialogue from the South in recent months and has included a failure to acknowledge the continued persecution of Tamil and Muslim communities by the security forces”. .
“Even as the presidential secretariat was taken over by protesters, the island’s persistence of Sinhalese Buddhist chauvinism and militarization was laid bare by protesters who laid bare other war criminals known to the forces security forces, including Sarath Fonseka, the notorious army commander in 2009,” the statement added. .
“This historic moment must be used to confront Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism and finally address legitimate Tamil grievances.”
The declaration was signed by:
– Adayaalam Center for Policy Research;
– Tamil Civil Society Forum;
– People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL);
– Tamil Heritage Forum;
– Puzhuthi (Organization for social rights);
– Center for Justice and Change;
– Priests and Religious for Justice and Peace, North East
Read the full statement in English here and in Tamil here.