Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera told Parliament that he along with Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP M.A. Sumanthiran he met Global Tamil Forum representatives in London and discussed the reviewing of the list of organisations and individuals proscribed in a gazette notification.
This was in response to a statement made by Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva and said the meeting was attended by Eric Solheim the former Norwegian peace envoy to Sri Lanka, a representative of the South African government and representative of the Swiss government and GTF Strategic Initiative Director Suren Surendiran.
He said the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), had recommended the constructive engagement with the Sri Lanka diaspora with a view to reconciliation among the communities. The minister underscored the fact that the LLRC was appointed during the tenure of the previous government but unfortunately such important recommendations were disregarded at that time.The minister said the proscription list had been compiled hurriedly and that some of those included in the list had died prior to the listing. He said he discussed the release of prisoners held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act if could not be framed against them.He also emphasised that the Sri Lankan diaspora consisted of some 1.5 millions people belonging to all the main communities and as such it was wrong for anyone to mark it with a single ethnic identity.The minister said this diaspora, representing Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher Communities, consisted of professionals and experts in a wide range of fields and their services should be obtained for the benefit of the country.
Earlier the Opposition leader Nimal Siripala de Silva on Wednesday questioned Minister Mangala Samaraweera over the meeting with the Global Tamil Forum and the TNA in London last week.
Mr de Silva said in a statement to parliament, GTF had been acting against the national interests of Sri Lanka, by promoting a “separatist agenda and destroying Sri Lanka’s image at international forums”.
“There were further reports that the meeting had been facilitated by some non-governmental organisations based in South Africa, several Norwegian organisations and was attended by representatives of a political party in Sri Lanka and an MP of the TNA MP MA Sumanthiran,” he said.
The opposition leader said the meeting was reported to have been aimed at lifting the ban on Tamil diaspora groups, including the GTF, as terrorist entities.
De Silva raised the following questions from the Foreign Minister:
“What was the subject matter taken for the discussion between the Minister and GTF members in London?
“Who were the individuals and organisations represented in this meeting?
“Had the Foreign Minister obtained prior approval of the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet of Ministers to attend the said meeting?
“Was the withdrawal of the gazette which banned the LTTE and its supportive organisations discussed?
“Was the issue of war crimes taken up at this meeting? and
“Did an exchange of opinions took place with regard to instituting an indigenous mechanism to investigate alleged war-crimes charges?”