Tamils need to be assured of their rights – Rambukwelle

The Tamils have to be assured that they are also Sri Lankans with equal rights, otherwise they might rally round Velupillai Prabhakaran once again, Foreign Employment Minister and Defence Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwelle said.

He told The Island that the security forces have laboured hard to defeat the LTTE, but all that would be negated if the Tamils were made to feel that they were second class citizens.

"The Tamils have to be brought into the decision making process and assured that they are very much part of a united Sri Lanka. Failure to do so may result in them gravitating towards Prabhakaran once again."

The LTTE,is left with about 2,000 cadres and Prabhakaran is on the run, but that does not mean there is no necessity to politically address the Tamil people’s grievances, Rambukwelle said.

Military operations, were launched to destroy the LTTE and not the Tamil people, he said. "Once the war is completely over, we have to set about rehabilitating the northern people, so that they can return to living a life of normalcy."

Rambukwelle said that the government gave the LTTE several opportunities to lay down arms and negotiate a political solution to the national question, but it spurned all offers and opted for a continuation of the war, to its detriment.

Science and Technology Minister and Chairman of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) Tissa Vitharana said that the government was committed to implementing a political solution to the ethnic issue and the APRC was working towards that end.

"The participation of the UNP and JVP is very crucial for the APRC’s success and I have urged both parties to rejoin the APRC, in the national interest."

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