Colombo, April 5 (IANS) A former Tamil militant group that has renamed itself the Social Democratic Party of Tamils (SDPT) wants all Sri Lankans to learn each other’s language — Tamil and Sinhalese.
“Mutual understanding between ethnic communities is essential to rebuild the broken relationship between different nationalities,” the new party said in a statement issued in Jaffna.
“This process will be accelerated by learning each other’s language.”
It urged Colombo to make Tamil and Sinhalese besides English, the link language, “essential languages in the school curriculum”.
It also called upon the government to make fluency in Tamil and Sinhalese a pre-condition for employment. “English is also a link language and a gateway to the world of knowledge.”
The demand is aimed at rebuilding ethnic ties in the island nation where the linguistic divide first led to militancy by Tamils, eventually leading to three decades of armed conflict that claimed thousands of lives.
The new party was formerly known as the Pathmanabha-Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), which lost its leaders and many supporters to the dominant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The party urged Sri Lanka, India and the international community to ensure justice to the thousands of people killed by the LTTE.
“The plight of those families whose members were killed by the LTTE has been ignored. In addition, several hundreds were abducted and disappeared by the LTTE in 1987-90 when an attempt was made to establish a provincial government (in the country’s northeast).
“Members of other Tamil organisations who were killed by the LTTE have not been recognised as war affected people and families of these victims were not given compensation or housing aid.”
The SDPT also pointed out that there were thousands of parents of the disappeared LTTE members “who are agonising about the fate of their loved ones.
“This Congress calls upon elected Tamil representatives and the government to act honestly and transparently to end their agony.”
The party also urged India and Sri Lanka to find a speedy solution to the recurring conflict between the fishermen of the two countries.
It called for an impartial investigation into human rights violations during the final days of the war which led to the military defeat of the LTTE in May 2009.
“The legitimate security forces cannot act the same way the terrorists act,” it said.
“It is important that the government takes effective measures to find the truth to ascertain what happened during the final days of the war” when thousands of innocents are also known to have died along with fighters on both sides.
The new party demanded “a permanent and durable political solution” to the ethnic conflict in the form of a federal formation.
It urged Colombo to engage with the almost one million Sri Lankans who migrated to other countries as a result of the civil war to harness their expertise to enrich Sri Lanka.