Leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) Mano Ganesan has called on the UK to support hill-country Tamils to get more involved in the Sri Lankan national polity.
“They are the most underprivileged vulnerable segment of Sri Lanka, he said, adding that “We wanted to become full citizens.”
Ganeshan and secretary of the Ceylon Workers Congress, minister Jeevan Thondaman, have met with visiting deputy director for South Asia Department of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Maya Sivagnanam and British high commissioner Sarah Hulton at Westminster House in Colombo.
The DPA leader said further that both Britain and India have their obligation and responsibility towards hill-country Tamils.
“Britain should use its good offices with Government of Sri Lanka to help us to achieve this Sri Lankan dream,” he urged.
Ganeshan also said,
“All that our community wants is that we wish to come further and further into the Sri Lankan national mainstream polity as full citizens. Our journey is an inward journey. Britain should use its good offices with the Government of Sri Lanka to help us to achieve this Sri Lankan dream.
The element of British responsibility begins from the fact that the British crown government started bringing us into this country from South India 200 years ago. Since then our people had put up unprecedented hard work and developed the most profitable plantation export industry and road and rail network and Colombo Port in then Ceylon and now Sri Lanka.
But in return, our citizenship and franchise rights to vote were taken away in 1948. Our people were forcibly sent to India from 1964 by the Sirima-Shastri Pact.
When such occurred, then Ceylon was a Dominion state under the British Governor General reporting to the British Crown's government. The 29th section of the British presented Soulbury constitution did not help us.
Hence, His Majesty's government of Britain today has a moral responsibility towards the wellbeing of our community.
Please don't leave it to the governments of Sri Lanka and India only. Indians too have their obligation and responsibility towards us. India is using its good offices, alright, but that's not enough. Their own concerns take priority over issues. We suffer being sidelined from the national mainstream. We require British support too. We strive to achieve just sociopolitical lost grounds within an undivided Sri Lanka.
Not less than one third of our community lives in the plantations. They are the most under privileged vulnerable segment of Sri Lanka. The surveys of UN organizations, WB, ICRC and UNHRC special Rapporteur confirm this sad reality. We request the Government of the UK to support our vulnerable segment on Affirmative Action principles.
We wanted to become full citizens. Please use your good offices with the Government of Sri Lanka on our behalf.
Your Sri Lanka policy should recognize the underlying fact that Sri Lanka is incomplete without our community, hill-country Tamils.”