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Northern Tamils hardship:

Tamil leaders responsible to some extent - Devananda

EPDP leader and Minister Douglas Devananda yesterday apologized for the killings of innocent Sinhala and Tamil civilians by the LTTE during the past 30 years. He said the Tamil politicians should be held responsible to some extent for the suffering and hardships faced by the Tamils in the North.

He said the Sinhala and Muslim people should extend their fullest cooperation to find a lasting solution to the problems faced by the Tamil people and achieve economic prosperity.

The Minister was giving evidence before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission which met at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, Colombo 7 yesterday.

The Minister opined that Tamil leaders including him should be responsible for the sufferings and untold hardships faced by the Tamil people in the North.

He was of the view that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution should be fully implemented as an initial measure to solve ethnic issues in the North and the East.

He added that the solution to the ethnic issue could easily be solved through the Indo-Lanka peace Accord signed between India and Sri Lanka in 1987.

Devananda said the Tamil people should not be responsible for erroneous action taken by the Tamil politicians. He said the people in the Northern province seek more freedom. Devananda added that the Tamil people wanted to breath fresh air.

He added that the Tamil people do not ask impossible things from the Government.

"We do not ask for the Sun or the Moon to solve this problem," he added. Minister Devananda said the devolution of power in the form of the 13th Amendment has been approved by Parliament. "We need not cook meals. The Government has the responsibility to serve what has already been cooked equally," he added. He said the Sinhala and Muslim communities should not take the Tamil problems into account through the LTTE's perspective.

The Minister said that his party and a number of other political parties warned the LTTE from the inception of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord that evading the negotiation table would bring destruction to the interests of the Tamil people.

He said the LTTE did not believe in a political settlement to the Tamil people's problems and they evaded all measures taken by successive governments to arrive at an amicable settlement to the ethnic issues. He pointed out that the Tamil politicians can not put the blame on the LTTE alone. He said the Sri Lankan forces came under virtual arrest of the LTTE during the CFA period.

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