‘UNCHR concern about safety of Muslims’– a response

The statements by Mr. Ron Redmeond stating " While nobody has come forward saying that this is not voluntary" and that "its is being actively promoted by political leaders" are ill-informed and serious in that they imply that the UNCHR or the official concerned is indirectly lending active support to the LTTE over the Muthur issue. His statement implies that the Muthur Muslims should not return to their traditional and legal homes. The government of Sri Lanka, through the security forces, has guaranteed the security of the returnees and they have placed their trust in the government. In this context, we wish to ask the UNCHR on who’s agenda does it think that it is not fit for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)to return to Muthur? Why is a respected international agency trying to shake the trust the people have in a democratically elected government and opposition?

With regards to political leaders encouraging Muslims to return to Muthur, we do not see why the UNCHR should bother itself about it. As representatives of the people, they are duty bound to ensure territorial rights of all its citizens. Unlike the biased agenda of the UNHCR, which by it statement seems to be saying that the Muslims should remain internally displaced until some other force other than the government deems it fit for them to return. By questioning the validly of the return of Muslims to Muthur, the UNCHR is consciously or unconsciously playing into the hands of the LTTE. This is so, because by deterring Muslims from returning to Muthur, the LTTE is causing a imbalance in the status quo of the ethnic composition of the Trincomalee district. This will have serious political repercussions which the UNHCR has chosen to conveniently over- look.

The official concerned is probably unaware of the situation of the IDPs in Puttalam, who were similarly displaced from Mannar and Jaffna almost 20 years ago. The consequence of this tragedy is still upon us. During that crisis, the major complaint was that political leaders did not take adequate steps to ensure the quick return of the Internally Displaced. Now when the political leaders from all parties are ensuring the safe return of the Internally Displaced, it is confusing as to why the UNHCR is worried about it. If the UNHCR wants a change in the ethnic composition of the Trinco district, its stance by worrying about the returning Muslim refugees is justified. But then whose objective is the UNHCR trying to achieve? Is it not that of the LTTE? The confusion the UNCHR has caused will enable the LTTE to get a demographic advantage in the Trincomalee district. This should and must not be allowed by all peace loving Sri Lankans.

Mr. Redmond should urgently undo the confusion he has caused, both locally and internationally, by his ill-conceived statement. Furthermore, the Muslims displaced from Muthur are technically classified as "Internally Displace Persons (IDPs)" and are not classified as "Refugees". Hence what business does the United Nations High Commission for Refugees have to comment on IDPs? This is entirely matter for the government and people of Sri Lanka to handle in a manner which looks in the best interests of the IDPs from Muthur and the Sri Lankan state.

Coalition of  Sri Lanka Muslims


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