Post-war reconciliation: SA initiative gathers momentum


Suren Surendiran signed the official book of condolence during Mandela’s funeral (pic courtesy GTF)

By Shamindra Ferdinando

 The UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) is representing Tamil Diaspora community of Sri Lankan origin in ongoing tripartite talks, involving the governments of South Africa and Sri Lanka to pave the way for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to address accountability issues.

It is widely believed to be the most influential Diaspora grouping with close connections to British political parties as well as the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is also involved in the negotiating process. The GTF was inaugurated on Feb 24, 2010 at the British parliament with the participation of the then Foreign Secretary, David Miliband MP and shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague MP.

Well informed sources told The Island that some of those involved in the South African led initiative were of the opinion a decision on a TRC was necessary before the next session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva in March, 2014.

GTF Director as well as spokesperson, Suren Surendiran who is now in South Africa to pay his last respects to departed former SA leader Nelson Mandela on Thursday (12) had received what an authoritative source called additional insights to discussions, the South African delegation had with the Sri Lankan government and the TNA in Colombo on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) last month.

The Colombo meetings came up for discussion when Surendiran met Chairman of ANC’s International Relations Division Obed Bopela who is also the deputy minister in the presidency handling performance, monitoring and evaluation at the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg.

Bopela was part of the South African delegation during meetings in Colombo with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the TNA. The SA delegation was led by President Jacob Zuma who offered to assist in the post-war reconciliation process

Surendiran on behalf of the GTF will represent the Sri Lankan Tamil community at the ANC’s official funeral event at the Waterkloof Air Force base in Pretoria today. This event will be attended by President Zuma, former President Thabo Mbeki and the full cabinet.

Sources said that President Rajapaksa’s visit to South Africa, to pay his last respects to Mandela, too would have further strengthened the SA initiative.

Sources pointed out that New Delhi based SA High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Geoff Doidge on Thursday declared his country’s readiness to play a spearheading role here at a commemorative event held at Sri Jayewardenepura parliament complex in memory of Mandela. The event drew senior representatives from all political parties, including the TNA.

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