BY GAGANI WEERAKOON
Leader of the EPDP Douglas Devananda yesterday demanded that the government release Tamil 'political' prisoners under a general amnesty like it has been done in the past by previous governments.
Devananda making a special statement under Standing Order 23-2 in Parliament said that delay in resolving problems of Northern people would only lead to them losing faith on the government.
He said there were instances in the past where governments had granted a general amnesty for those involved in 1971 and 1988-89 insurrections.
"Even Tamil prisoners were released under an amnesty in 1989 when Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was occupying North and East. What we are requesting is that government releases those Tamils in prisons including Anuradhapura and Boossa under a general amnesty," he said.
Devananda also came out hard on the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and accused them of trying to gain political mileages by provoking youth in the North.
"They earlier said they are having discussions with the government to get these prisoners release and obtain lands acquired by the military and the government. We do not know what had happened to those discussions. Now they are criticizing the government and setting up youth against the government. This provocation is not for the love of those youth but for their political advantage," Devananda alleged.
Rising to a Point of Order, TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran said that Standing Order 23-2 is for Opposition Party leaders to ask questions from the government and members cannot manipulate it to criticize another political party in the Opposition. Thus, he demanded the Chair to rule out the member.
Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella also said that the government could not answer a question about TNA. However, Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala who was in Chair granted leave for Devananda to continue his statement.
"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 you in the area once again for their political advantage. We have lost enough in the past and have endured enough suffering. A day will come youth would react against those forces who are trying to provoke them," he said.
Devananda demanded the government to state whether they are investigating this death in depth in order to prevent other forces from gaining political advantages.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said he will respond to EPDP Leader today (3).