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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2523

Democratisation, demilitarisation and consensus vital for a Sri Lakan solution - Minister Champika Ranawake,

Colombo, 20 February, (Asiantribune.com): In an interview with the Asian Tribune, Champika Ranawake, Minister Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, said that external solutions to the internal problems of Sri Lanka have not worked. Any solution must have the consensual support of all communities. Democratization, demilitarization and a broad consensus are essential to solve the crisis facing the nation, he said.Minister Champika Ranawake:  "We, indeed, consider Tamils as one of the nationals of Sri Lanka and what needed urgently is for the Tamils to be liberated from the iron clutches of the Tamil terrorists’ organization under Prabakaran."Minister Champika Ranawake: "We, indeed, consider Tamils as one of the nationals of Sri Lanka and what needed urgently is for the Tamils to be liberated from the iron clutches of the Tamil terrorists’ organization under Prabakaran."

"Many countries have tried to thrust solutions on Sri Lanka. India tried to thrust its north-east merger and USA has come up with the federal proposal but all these solutions failed to take into consideration the position of the majority Sinhalese and also the minority Muslim communities. But these solutions have failed because they are narrow approaches to a wide problem," he said.

He added: "We consider that the issues concerning the Tamils are different from that of the terrorists’ organization. We, indeed, consider Tamils as one of the nationals of Sri Lanka and what needed urgently is for the Tamils to be liberated from the iron clutches of the Tamil terrorists’ organization under Prabakaran.

Once they are freed from the terrorists' grip then we have to promote democracy. Democratizing the Tamil community is a primary condition for a durable peace," he said.

When asked why the internal solutions of the Sinhala majority had failed he said that solutions must have consensus.

He emphasized: “Solutions to any national issue must have the consensuses of the majority community as well as that of the other communities including the Tamils and the Muslims.”

Any solutions put forward by All Party Conference should come with a consensuses formula and not something canbe thrusted by one comunityoverthe other.

Answering queries about the comments made by the Free Media Movement on the statements atributed to him by the Ravaya, a Sinhala weekly,
Minister Ranawaka flatly denied that he was a member of the National Movement Against Terrorism (NMAT).

He said that Ravaya newspaper contacted him over the telephone and asked for his comment. He denied the report that appeared in the Ravaya. He said it was a distorted version of his comment.

Champika Ranawaka said that two staff membrs of the Ravaya is now under investigation for their connection with the LTTE and whatever that appeared in the paper is a distorted version. (See statement below)

He challenged Ravaya and Free Media Movement to publish the full text of his comments if they have the recorded version of the telephone conversation they had with him.

Given below is the full text of the statement released by Free Media Movement regarding the alleged statement made by Champika Ranawake.

Disturbing statement by Government Minister prompts urgent call for clarification

19.02.2007

We strongly condemn the statement Champika Ranawaka, Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, advocating the brutal suppression of democratic dissent, even through extra-judicial ways and means.

The Minister, in a statement made to the Ravaya newspaper on the 18th February 2007 stated (translation from Sinhala maintains the invective of the original):

“People will die what we can do about it. Are you asking us the leave those alive? those (sic)bastads are traitors.

We can't do any thing because of wild donkey freedom in this country, if those can't be dealt with existing laws we know how to do it. If we can't suppress those bastards with the law we need to use any other ways and means, Yes”.

The Minister goes on to express his support for a recent poster campaign by the extremist National Movement Against Terrorism (NMAT) - known as a close political ally of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) to which the Minister belongs - calling for the elimination of those the JHU and NMAT perceive to be aiding and abetting the cause of the LTTE, including all pro-peace civil society activists and media activists.

We note that Champika Ranawana has himself as well through his political party named dozens of prominent human rights and media rights activists, journalists and civil society leaders as terrorists on many occasions in the past.

The JHU supports all out war as the the most effective way to defeat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and oppose any negotiated political settlement or peace process based on power-sharing.

The statement by Champika Ranawana violates basic and inviolable principles of public office and grossly irresponsible for a member of parliament. Mr Ranawana effectively denounces democracy, condones extra-judicial action by the State and seeks to quell the growth of democratic dissent. To advocate the outright silencing of ideological opponents is to essentially advocate a fascist regime, with no respect for human rights.

We also wish to register our strong disquiet that Champika Rananwana is known to be a close associate and advisor to the President. Accordingly, we wish urgent clarification from the Government on its position regarding the Minister’s statement. If it is found to be incongruent with the Government’s avowed commitment to democracy and human rights, it is incumbent upon the Minister to fully and urgently retract his statement and offer a public apology for what is tantamount to hate speech by a member of parliament.

We request all local and international rights and media organizations, as well as the democratic forces within the Government, to be vigilant in a context of heightened threats towards human rights and media freedom activists. We also urge all democratic political and civil forces to make their voice heard against this dangerous erosion of democracy.

- Asian Tribune -

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