Govt. Refutes Findings of US Think Tank
The government has made “significant changes” in its approach towards the Northern Province [where Tamils live predominantly], according to Ruwan Wijewardene, State Minister of Defence.
When apprised of the main findings of a study of the Oakland Institute on issues concerning Tamils, the State Minister said that as soon as the government took charge in January, it replaced Governors in the Northern and Eastern provinces having military background with those having civilian background. [In the Eastern Province, Tamils account for about 40 per cent of the population]. There had been relaxation of security check points across the Jaffna peninsula.
Mr. Wijewardene’s colleague and Cabinet spokesperson, Rajitha Senaratne, dismissed the findings and asked:
On land related issues, Mr Wijewardene, also a functionary of the ruling United National Party in the Gampaha District, referred to the release of 1,013 acres from the high security zones in the Northern Province initially and 818 acres in Sampur of the Eastern Province in the next phase.On the issue of missing persons, the 39-year-old Minister said the Prime Minister has suggested that a list of persons arrested for “terrorist activities” be made public as people will come to know whether their kith and kin are in jails. (The Hindu)