No harm in Sinhalese settling  in N & E - Muralitharan

Karuna before LLRC

by Harischandra Gunaratna

Deputy Minister of Resettlement Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan on Monday (Dec 13) said that there was no harm in Sinhalese settling down in the North in the post-war era. Testifying before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), the former LTTE Commander recalled how those Sinhala families were forced leave their homes during the early stage of hostilities.

The National List MP said that many Sinhala families had been engaged in various businesses in the North.

"If they own land there they can always return. If Tamils can buy property in Colombo, Galle or Matara then, why can’t the Sinhalese do the same in the North and the East," he asked.

Responding to a question by the LLRC, the Deputy Minister denied that the government was in the process of changing the ethnic balance in the North and the East. He dismissed unsubstantiated reports of State-sponsored settlements in the two provinces.

The Deputy Minister said Muslims, who had been forced to flee the Northern Province in 1990, could return to their villages. Similarly the Sinhalese, who had lost their homes and businesses in the North, could return there.

Asked whether he had been the Batticaloa leader of the LTTE, at the time the Tigers massacred 600 unarmed policemen in June 1990, the MP said that he was in Jaffna. He alleged the massacre was carried out by LTTE cadres at the behest of LTTE Intelligence Wing leader Pottu Amman.

The Deputy Minister alleged that the UNP never wanted to destroy the LTTE and used the precarious situation for its political advantage.

"The UNP allowed the LTTE to establish camps numbering over 400 after the government and the LTTE signed a CFA in February 2002. We were allowed to carry weapons and that gave us a big advantage," Muralitharan said.

Responding to another question, the Deputy Minister said that the situation was under control, though there had been reports of extortion and abductions taking place in the East even after the war. But there could be isolated incidents, he said.

The Deputy Minister said that families of Muslims massacred in two mosques in Kattankudy over two decades ago should be compensated along with victims of LTTE atrocities.

"There are about 80,000 war widows in the North and the East and a large number of children who have lost either one parent or both due to the war," he said.

Muralidaran alleged that Tamil political parties weren’t doing anything to alleviate the suffering of the war displaced. He went on to blame the TNA and the TMVP for failing to take meaningful measures in support of the affected people.

"They must work together to address the issues of the Tamils," he added.

He told the Commission that visiting other countries to attend peace talks opened his eyes and provided him an opportunity to see people of different ethnicities lived in harmony in those countries and this brought about a change in him.

"The LTTE used innocent civilians as human shields during the last stages of the "Humanitarian Operation" and at least 3000 people lost their lives as a result, he said.

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