Welcoming the reiterated stand of the International Community (IC) that there is no military solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka, a Norwegian Tamil organisation urged Tuesday global mediators to adopt a principled approach to the conflict in Sri Lanka. The organisation called on the IC to recognise the historical realities that there is a legacy of oppression by the Sri Lankan state against the Tamils and that the constitution of Sri Lanka has been a major hurdle in implementing agreed arrangements under the ethnic-majoritarian rule. The appeal further urged the IC to affirm that the Tamil people have a justifiable concern to safeguard the territorial integrity of their homeland.
Thomas A. Aloysius, on behalf of the Bergen Tamil Catholic Organisation and the global Tamil Diaspora, urged the IC to respect the democratic rights of the Diaspora to voice, mobilise and work for the cause of their struggling brethren in Sri Lanka.
In the appeal sent to the peace mediators he further said that the IC which has been influencing the Sri Lankan state, had a moral responsibility in addressing the concerns of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and the global Tamil community.
Around 100 participants, including Mohammad Khatami, former President of Iran, Jonathan Powell, former Chief of Staff to Tony Blair, Gareth Evans, President of the International Crisis Group, Lord Malloch Brown, British Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, and Pampha Bhusal, Maoist and Government Minister in Nepal take part in the Oslo Forum held at Losby Manor outside Oslo from 24 to 26 June, according to a news release issued by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway Jonas Gahr St re, Minister of the Environment and International Development of Norway Erik Solheim, Norwegian Special Envoy to Sri Lanka, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, former State Secretary of Norway and Secretary-General, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Vidar Helgesen, State Secretary of Norway Raymond Johansen, Japanese Envoy to Sri Lanka and Chairman of the Japan Centre for Conflict Prevention, Yasushi Akashi, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Nepal and Head of the UN Mission in Nepal Ian Martin and Ms Radhika Coomaraswamy, Under Secretary-General, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, were listed in the preliminary list of participants among more than 80 delegates.
The full text of the appeal made by the Bergen Tamil Catholics Organisation, follows:
24 June, 2008
An appeal to the delegates of Oslo Forum, 2008
Tamil Question in Sri Lanka
Norwegian Tamils urge global peace mediators to adopt principled approach
Norwegian Tamils welcome the reiterated stand of the International Community (IC) that there is no military solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka.
However, we are sad to note that the IC has not been successful in influencing the Sri Lankan state to honour the International standards of Human Rights. The violence and aggression let loose on the Tamil people have transcended the level of ethnic cleansing and reached the proportions of genocide.
At this juncture, our organisation representing Norwegian Tamils in the city of Bergen, would like to convey the Tamil concerns to the peace mediators. The International Community, by seeking to influence the parties of the conflict in an unbalanced manner and by aiding the Sri Lankan state, carries a clear responsibility for what is taking place in our homeland. Through influence comes responsibility, and the IC has a moral responsibility in addressing the concerns of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and the global Tamil community in this context.
We seek the IC, on behalf of the Diaspora Tamils, to affirm that it realises the aspirations of the Tamils, who constitute a distinct people in the island of Sri Lanka with a traditional and contiguous habitat, and that the Tamils have a rightful demand for collective rights as a people, with legitimate claim to their traditional homeland. We also seek the IC to recognise that the Tamil people have a justifiable concern to safeguard the territorial integrity of their homeland.
We also wish to bring it to the delegates notice that together with the ethnic-majoritarian rule, the Sri Lankan unitary constitution itself has been a major hurdle in implementing agreed arrangements.
The constitution has not only failed to safeguard the rights of the Tamil people against an oppressive ethnic-majoritarian rule, but it has also been used to justify the implementation of ethnic oppressive policies and practices. We have recently witnessed this trend even after the massive natural catastrophe of December 2004 Tsunami on nullifying the Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS) and in the de-merger of the North East Province.
All successive Sri Lankan Sinhala ethnic majoritarian governments have systematically rejected the aspirations of the Tamil people. There is a legacy of oppression based on the ethnic-majoritarian rule in the island of Sri Lanka. And there is also a legacy of Tamil sacrifice.
The IC should recognise these historical truths and adopt a principled approach to the conflict in the island of Sri Lanka.
Armed struggle has always been a last resort of the Tamil people. Even now, the war has been thrusted upon the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan state, which has not only systematically violated the very basic spirit of the Cease Fire Agreement of February 2002, but also unilaterally withdrawn from the CFA.
The foreign policies of certain powers in the IC, seem to dictate the peace mission, especially, a foreign policy that centres around the `global-war-on-terror`. The Tamils, as a peace loving people, but forced to lead an armed struggle for liberation, do not deserve to be viewed through the prism of this `global-war-on-terror`.
We seek the IC to adopt a principled approach in the peace process towards the national question of the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka. We also seek the IC respecting the democratic rights of the Tamil Diaspora to voice, mobilise and work for the cause of their struggling brethren in Sri Lanka.
Thomas A. Aloysius
Bergen Tamil Catholics Organisation