London, Oct 10 (IANS) Tamil expatriates here have urged the Sri Lankan government and the country’s main Tamil party to discuss ways of bringing about constitutional reforms without resorting to secret deals. “It was the overwhelming understanding that there is a need to urge both the government and the TNA to open their doors for engagement without relying on secret deals,” said a statement issued by the expatriates. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is the largest Tamil party in the newly elected 225-member Sri Lankan parliament. Participants at the meeting here also urged the Sri Lankan government and the TNA to reach out to the wider expatriate Tamil community.
The appeal to Colombo and the TNA followed a meeting facilitated by the Non Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka (NRTSL) to discuss the intended constitutional reforms. It was held at the Barnhill Community Centre in Hayes in Middlesex on October 9 and attended by a cross section of Tamil opinion makers in Britain. London is home to tens of thousands of Tamils of Sri Lankan origin. Most expatriates who met have traditionally kept their distance from the Tamil Tigers, who were vanquished by the Sri Lankan military in 2009.
The expatriates acknowledged the conducive political climate now in Sri Lanka to bring about the much needed broader devolution of powers and good governance practices in the island nation. “There was consensus on the role played by the TNA to forge a friendly relationship with the government that is not so far burdened by the acrimonious hate campaigns by the extremist fringe,” the statement said. The session discussed possible methodologies to adopt a new constitution and issues of political will to bring about constitutional changes.
Most participants agreed that one of the many proposals that have gone through wider consultation process in Sri Lanka in the past should be implemented without going through unpleasant and prolonged debates.
“Fears were expressed that there will be always a danger of extremists from both sides attempting to thwart the passage of such broader reform,” the statement said.
Sri Lanka’s long-drawn Tamil separatist campaign was one of the bloodiest and left tens of thousands dead since 1983. The victims were primarily Tamils but also included large numbers of Muslims and Sinhalese.
Moderate Tamils seek greater political powers and constitutional rights within a united Sri Lanka.