Sri Lankan diaspora to strengthen moderate voices with India


Colombo: The Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora is seeking a dialogue with the Indian government in an effort to strengthen the moderate voices within the Diaspora as well as in Sri Lanka.

In an interview with a newspaper, spokesperson of the London-based Global Tamil Forum, Suren Surendiran has said that India should urgently open a formal dialogue with Lankan Tamil diaspora groups to strengthen moderate voices at this critical juncture in the reconciliation process.

“This, we believe in turn will strengthen the collective moderate stands within and outside Sri Lanka,” Surendiran added.

He has pointed out that India’s Modi government has course corrected from being subdued and reactionary to being proactively taking the regional leadership role and the diplomatic engagement with Sri Lanka is now at a different scale than before.

“Since President Sirisena has taken over with a mandate to resolve the Tamil issue, India has been encouraging Sri Lanka to progress,” he said.

Surendiran noted that the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena has unlisted GTF and other member organizations that were listed as proscribed organizations by the Rajapaksa Regime and Minister of Foreign Affairs has met members of GTF at several meetings last year.

“The new government of Sri Lanka acknowledges the Diaspora as an important stakeholder. GTF has constructively engaged with the various stakeholders in Sri Lanka including the new government,” he said.

He said the Diaspora has also recognized the positive steps the government has taken to address certain immediate concerns of the Tamil people, such as removing of military Governors and appointing civilians as Governors for the Northern and Eastern Provinces, transferring of small sections of land back to the rightful owners, releasing of a few Tamil political detainees and the review of the proscription of Tamil diaspora individuals and entities.

“Though limited in scope, collectively, they are still significant,” Surendiran said adding that however, several issues remain to be resolved. The diaspora leader added that “Government of Sri Lanka must up the game and deliver faster”.(input from agencies)