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Solhiem tells government to address Tamil issues

Former Norwegian Minister and special peace envoy to Sri Lanka, Erik Solheim, has urged the government to address Tamil issues. Speaking at the launch of the book ‘Still Counting the Dead’ written by former BBC correspondent Frances Harrison, Solheim said that the Government of Sri Lanka must take immediate steps to reach out to the Tamil community.He said that if the Government is serious about reaching out to the Tamil community there are four things they can do immediately and that is to release all Tamil political prisoners, stop all disappearances and the so-called “white van incidents”, substantially reduce the military presence in the north and make a formal promise that there will be no state sponsored Sinhalaisation of the north and east.Former chair of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission Yasmin Sooka, who is a member of the UN Panel of Experts investigating the end phase of the Sri Lankan conflict and the International Crisis Group’s Alan Keenan were also present at the launch.Meanwhile former UN photographer, Benjamin Dix, spoke at the book launch about his forthcoming innovative interactive graphic novel “the Vanni” while filmmaker Callum MacRae outlined plans for a further feature length documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war.Christine Bacon of Ice & Fire theatre group also outlined her forthcoming play – “the Island Nation” – based upon the book.Erik Solheim said that if the LTTE had agreed to an organized surrender the international powers would have prevented the massacre that had followed. Mr. Solheim highlight that a major portion of the blame for Mu’l’livaaykkaal lay on the LTTE leadership. This was sharply contested in the Q and A session by Pro LTTE audience. He further said that the diaspora should be working with the TNA, taking the TNA as the leadership, and that Tamil aspirations for ‘self-government’ in Sri Lanka would get support in the IC. Alan Keenan also expressed similar opinions on the diaspora engaging with TNA.

Author: TELO Admin