counter hit xanga
March 28, 2023

Tamil diaspora rules out investing till devolution

Last Updated on September 14, 2022 by Lankae Cast

Tamil diaspora organisations noted that they would only invest in Sri Lanka if a suitable political solution for the Tamil national ethnic question with the maximum devolution of power is achieved, not just for the North and East of the country, but also for all other provinces.

Global Tamil Forum (GTF) Spokesman Suren Surendiran told The Morning that if Sri Lanka achieves an acceptable political solution for the 70-plus-year-old Tamil national ethnic question through meaningful devolution to the provinces, Sri Lanka could only imagine the possibilities of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora business community together with the Tamil Nadu business community starting to invest in business ventures in Sri Lanka, with the prospects thereby becoming unlimited.

“Our intentions to assist the people in Sri Lanka have no bearing on whether or not we are banned,” he said, in response to the Government under President Ranil Wickremesinghe recently de-proscribing a list of organisations and individuals including the GTF from the terrorism and terror-financing proscript list. He added that last year, three months after the ban was implemented, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic that was killing many hundreds of Sri Lankans all around the country, the GTF offered $ 2.6 million worth of respirators, which were in short supply in many rural hospitals in Sri Lanka. 

“The ban didn’t stop us from making that offer; however, the ban played a significant role in Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry’s senior staff rejecting our offer and requesting us in writing to donate these expensive and desperately needed equipment to other needy countries,” he added. Surendiran said that in 2016, during the floods in the South of Sri Lanka, the GTF sent several medical professionals with medicines and equipment to help largely Sinhala villages in Matara and Kalutara. 

“These events show that whether being banned or unbanned isn’t a consideration for us to help the people of Sri Lanka of all ethnicities,” he explained. 

He noted that at the drop of a hat, the Government of Sri Lanka has been known to list and then de-list diaspora organisations and that therefore, these arbitrary and irrational actions of Sri Lanka have minimal or zero effect. 

“Sri Lanka under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa listed a few Tamil diaspora persons and organisations in 2014 claiming that we fund and support terrorism. They stated that this action of listing individuals and organisations was based on the United Nations (UN) Regulation 1373. What they failed to follow was the clearly articulated process and procedures of this particular regulation,” he explained. 

He further added that Sri Lanka did not produce any evidence of any sort to allege that these persons or organisations were involved in or supported terrorism. 

“In addition, this evidence or supporting materials should have been given to the accused and the latter then given a stipulated amount of time in order to defend their positions. None of these procedures were followed before proscribing these organisations or individuals. This action was arbitrary, irrational, and an outright abuse of the said UN Regulation. 

“This is perhaps why the international community, governments, and international institutions including the UN itself, completely ignored this proscription, whilst some issued public statements rejecting this action as arbitrary, while many others at senior Government representative-level continued to engage with us in public,” he added. 

He said that the United National Front-led “yahapalana” (good governance) Government de-proscribed most organisations on that list in 2015. 

“Yet again, the Government under former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa proscribed the same and a few more new ones in 2021. This again was done without following due process or procedure as described in the said UN Regulation. Realising that this action doesn’t augur well with anyone including the media of Sri Lanka, the Gotabaya Rajapaksa Government initiated a process of reversing this action in June 2022, which then physically materialised after Wickremesinghe took over as the President.”

(The Morning)