Douglas condemns TNA for provoking northern youth


By Saman Indrajith

EPDP Leader Douglas Devananda yesterday condemned the TNA for trying to gain political mileage by provoking the youth in the North.

Making a special statement in Parliament, the EPDP leader accused the TNA of playing politics with the Tamil prisoners’ issue: "They earlier said they were having discussions with the government to get the prisoners released and obtain lands acquired by the military and the government. We do not know what has happened to those discussions. Now, they are criticising the government and setting up youth against the state. This provocation is not for the love of those youth but for their political advantage."

Raising a Point of Order, TNA MP M. A. Sumanthiran said that MP Devananda was abusing the Standing Order 23-2 which provided for party leaders in the Opposition to pose questions to the government. Provisions were there for the opposition party leaders to question the government but not to criticize another political party in the opposition. Therefore, the Chair should prevent Devananda abusing the provisions, Sumanthiran said.

Leader of the House University Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella said the government would not be able to answer a question with regard to the TNA and the Opposition parties should solve their problems among themselves.

Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala, however, permitted MP Devananda to continue with his statement.

MP Devananda said: "The incident of a student Rajeshwaran Senthuran, a resident of Kopai committing suicide was indeed a sensitive issue and I convey my heartfelt sympathies to his family and even for the education officials and his school. Whatever led for this suicide, some Tamil parties are now trying to provoke people in the area once again to gain political advantage. We have lost enough in the past and have endured enough suffering. A day will come when the youth will react to those forces who are trying to provoke them."

MP Devananda asked the government to grant a general amnesty to all Tamil prisoners held under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Previous governments, too, had done so and the incumbent government could take such instances as precedents, he said.  

The EPDA leader said there were instances in the past where governments granted a general amnesty for those involved in 1971 and 1988-89 insurrections.

"Even Tamil prisoners were released under an amnesty in 1989 while Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was occupying North and East. What we are requesting is for the government to release those Tamils in prisons including those held in Anuradhapura and Boossa," he said.

Foreign Minister Mangala Smaraweera said he would respond to EPDP Leader on Thursday.


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