Ready to Hold Talks with Tamil Diaspora – President
While reiterating that internal issues in Sri Lanka should be tackled through a country-wide framework, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa told UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that the Tamil Diaspora would be invited to join in such discussions.
These remarks were made by President Rajapaksa during a meeting withthe UN Chief on 19 September at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The President stressed that many youths who were arrested,on suspicionof terrorist activities, were released after he took office and that legal action would be expedited for the remainder who could not be released.
Also, he would not hesitate to pardon Tamil youths who have been in custody for a long time, taking into account their long-term rehabilitation. According to the President, his goal is to improve democracy in Sri Lanka, and as a result, there have been no baton charges or water cannon on protestors under his administration and that a separate space has been made available for protesters near his office.
President Rajapaksa also discussed his collaboration with civil society organisations to promote development and reconciliation in the country. He emphasised that he is always willing to work closely with the United Nations and that while he cannot guarantee that separatism would not resurface in Sri Lanka, the Government as well as other States must be vigilant to religious extremism.
Despite this, the President expounded on the actions taken to resolve the difficulties that occurred as a result of the 30-year-long fight against terrorism.
The President explained the victims' compensation, the return of lands to their owners and the massive development carried out in the Northern and Eastern Provinces since 2009 under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as well as the opportunity to democratically elect representatives to the Northern Provincial Council.
The President informed the Secretary General that the Government would take prompt action in the case of missing persons and would speed up measures such as death certificate issuance. (SRM & TR)