`We consider your present visit is very critical in this moment of national crisis as the country is dangerously moving fast towards war which if not halted, will be a national disaster of unprecedented proportions in our long history, a memorandum submitted to Yashushi Akashi, Japanese special envoy for peace in Sri Lanka by the leader of Up-Country People`s Front and Minister for Community Development and Social Inequity Eradication P. Chandrasekaran MP said.
Following is the text of the memorandum:
`The plantation Tamil community comprises 7.4% of the Sri Lankan population and the UPF represents the aspirations of our people and we work tirelessly towards upliftment and betterment of the community as well as for inter-ethnic harmony, cohesion and national integration and also for the restoration and protection of the legitimate rights of all Sri Lankans.
`You are also aware of the human rights situation in the country and the untold misery and hardships of the minority communities particularly that of the people in the North East due to the war situation. Thousands of people including women, children and elderly people have been internally displaced and their life in refugee camps is unacceptable by any norms of the civilized world. More than 15,000 people have found refuge in Tamil Nadu in recent times and many such people have died in the sea.
`We are thankful for the concern of the international community particularly of Japan to bring a lasting peace in our country.
`We earnestly request you to join hands with the international community particularly with India and continue your good work to bring sustainable and honourable peace to Sri Lanka.
`The plantation Tamils is the most backward community in this country. When the country achieved independence in 1948 from the British colonialists, we lost our freedom. That was a historical injustice and a shame on humanity. The then government disenfranchised us and made us political orphans. We had to wait for another three decades to return our first representative to the Parliament. Hence, the social-economic development of the post-independence era has failed to embrace our community and we are still lagging behind compared to other communities in this country.
`We are also victims of the three decades long ethnic conflict in the North East. Though we are not directly linked to the North -East Tamils in their freedom struggle we have been very badly affected by ethnic violence in 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983. Our properties were burned down and our innocent people were attacked and chased out from their homes.
`Even at present our people are directly affected due to the actions of government in the name of ensuring security against terrorism. Our people are being arrested without any reason and sometimes kidnapped by unidentified elements. They cannot peacefully work in the urban areas particularly in Colombo. They are forced to go back to the plantation areas where they live in abject poverty as they cannot find employment.
`However, with all these negative aspects the situation in the plantations is changing slowly and the community is beginning to respond positively to the national and global demands and challenges. With a little support from the international community we also can catch up fast and try to come up to the levels of other communities of this country.
`Hence, the time is ripe and opportune that Japan comes in and extends her helping hand as she has done to the disadvantaged communities all over the world to redeem our unfortunate community from extreme poverty, ignorance, backwardness and underdevelopment. Being a great contributor towards international development we anticipate Japan should positively consider our position and give humanitarian assistance to our community.`