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GTF extends cooperation to newcomers, reiterates commitment to partnership with TNA

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

 

The UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) is ready to extend cooperation to Ahila Illankai Tamil Congress (AITC) and Tamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK) led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and C.V. Wigneswaran, respectively.

AITC won two seats, including one National List whereas the TMTK secured one.

GTF spokesperson Suren Surendiran told The Island that the grouping would continue to work with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) as in the past but would very much like to extend cooperation to the new parties as well.

Both AITC and TMTK hadn’t been represented in parliament before though Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and Selvarasa Gajenthiran elected and appointed on the AITC National List, respectively, represented the TNA in parliament twice in 2001 and 2004.

Retired Supreme Court justice Wigneswaran, who served as the first Chief Minister of the Northern Province in the TNA run administration, hadn’t been a parliamentarian before.

The GTF officially formed after the end of the war in May 2009, has been working closely with the TNA. Surendiran said that among the issues they worked closely on was the accountability issue leading to the previous Sri Lanka government co-sponsoring a controversial resolution in Oct 2015 at the UNHRC.

Surendiran appreciated Wigneswaran and Gajendrakumar taking a strong stand in respect of 13th Amendment as well as the accountability issue in parliament during debate on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policy statement.

Asked whether there was any likelihood of GTF reaching consensus with the AITC and the TMTK, in addition to the existing GTF-TNA cooperation?

Surendiran said: “GTF is a diaspora based organization consisting of member organizations and members who live overseas. One of our mission statements is to collaborate and work with elected representatives of our people in Sri Lanka, to progress the Tamil cause, be it seeking justice for the wrongs of the past, economic development or finding a political solution for the Tamils’ grievances and aspirations. As GTF, we have met Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and others from his party many times in the past and we will be ready to work with both him and Wigneswaran in the future, just as we will continue to work with TNA.

Pointing out Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam challenged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s mandates (received at the 2019 presidential and 2020 parliamentary polls) in respect of the North-East and a number of other issues, including war crimes, The Island sought the GTF’s stand on AITC tough position vis-a-vis the President’s policy statement.

Surendiran said: “As you have described, indeed, it really was a powerful speech! I think he made a few factual statements, very eloquently. The point about, the people of North and East unanimously voting on points of principle, be it for different parties and candidates, the fact that sovereignty cannot be a defence to avoid investigating and delivering justice to victims of heinous crimes and that it was the State in fact which should have protected these people who were alleged to have committed these breaches of international laws against them, were made very effectively.”

In addition to newcomers, AITC and TMTK, the SLFP won a seat in the Jaffna peninsula. Angajan Ramanathan yesterday told The Island that he was the first Tamil to successfully contest Jaffna on the SLFP ticket ever. Responding to a query, Ramanathan said that he gained entry into Northern Provincial Council in 2013 on the SLFP ticket. Ramanathan was accommodated on the UPFA National List in the previous parliament. The UNP failed to retain its Jaffna seat at the Aug 5 poll.

Ramanathan said that Vijayakala Maheswaran represented the UNP in Jaffna following the assassination of her husband.

Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) won two. In the previous parliament, Douglas Devananda’s EPDP had only secured one seat at present.

Batticaloa-based Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) won one seat (Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pilleyan) whereas the TNA secured ten seats, the highest number obtained by any Tamil political party though in the previous parliament the coalition was represented by 16. The TNA’s ten included one National List slot. In the previous parliament, the TNA had two National List slots.

At the height of its political power, the TNA parliamentary group comprised 22 lawmakers.

Surendiran said that the Tamil community expected their representatives at all levels to take up issues whatever the party they represented in parliament. Surendiran noted that the AITC leader emphasized the pivotal importance of those elected working together regardless of being elected or appointed from different political parties.



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Embassy officer arrested at BIA remanded

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The Embassy official who was attached to the Sri Lanka Embassy in Oman who is accused of being involved in a human trafficking racket was arrested by officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and remanded till the 13th of December when he was produced before the Colombo Chief Magistrate

The official was arrested on his arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) this morning (29 November).

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Easter Sunday terror attack suspect hacked to death

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By Norman Palihawadane

A 38-year-old Easter Sunday terror attack suspect was hacked to death yesterday morning (28) in Mattakkuliya.

The victim, Mohamed Badurdeen Mohamed Harnas, was a resident of Safiya Avenue, Mattakkuliya, police said.

A suspect in the Easter Sunday terror attacks, he had been released on bail.

The suspect was rushed to the National Hospital, Colombo, after three individuals, who arrived in a car around 10. 00 am, attacked him.

Two persons attacked the man while the other was keeping the car engine running, according to eyewitnesses. The attackers thereafter fled in the same car.

Harnas was pronounced dead on admission to hospital.

Further investigations in this regard are currently underway.

The victims family members said that Harnas had been taken into custody, following the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, but later released as there was no evidence of his involvement in terrorist activities.

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Rail service between Mahawa and Jaffna to be suspended for five months

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Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardena told Parliament yesterday that the railway services between Mahawa and Jaffna will be suspended for a period of five months in 2023.

The Minister said that operations will be suspended from January 15, 2023.

The Minister said it was to repair work on the railway line.

He said so in response to a question raised by Vanni District MP Selvam Adaikalanathan.

“We are focusing our attention on the request made by you. We have to halt railway operations between Mahawa and Jaffna for five months from January 2023. Train services have been continuously operating to Jaffna, but now we have faced a situation as we have not been able to carry out any repair work thus far,” the Minister said.

Assuring that this issue can be rectified in five months, Minister Gunawardane said that, thereafter, a good railway service can be provided for this route.

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