Tamil refugees from war: India's government sends expert to Sri Lanka
New Delhi (AsiaNews) - India will send an expert from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Sri Lanka's north and east to ascertain the progress of the return home and resettlement of Tamil refugees from the long civil war. The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced as much in a letter to Karunanidhi, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, dated July 22. Jesuit Fr. Santhanam, tells AsiaNews of the close relations between the two countries and between their ethnic Tamil peoples and expresses scepticism about the Indian proposal.
In the letter Singh writes that the mission is ''As a measure of our continuing interest and the importance that we attach to this issue”. The long civil war has caused the flight of entire villages, hundreds of thousands of people have lived for years in refugee camps, but now their return home is long and difficult, because they have lost everything and the Government allocates limited funds to help them. The Indian official will also meet the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka and local authorities.
Earlier on July 17 Karunanidhi sent a letter to Singh asking for India’s direct intervention to help resettlement.
Jesuit Father Santhanam, who lives in Madurai (Tamil Nadu), tells AsiaNews that "Sri Lanka and India are trying to tell the world that everything is now normal in Sri Lanka, but it is not. If so, there is no reason for Sri Lanka to oppose the visit of a UN Commission. Sri Lankan politicians, even ministers, have demonstrated outside the office of the UN High Commission in Colombo, but India has remained silent. This visit by an Indian official will not result in any improvements, he will be a guest of the Sri Lankan government. "
'The Indian government, if it is sincere and truly wants to know the current situation in the country, should send a group of human rights activists. "
"My concern is that this official’s visit will not help us find solutions, but rather help the Sri Lankan government to end the crisis with the United Nations He will not really to deal with international issues. " "The propaganda proclaims that the Tamil war refugees have left the camps and returned home. But the reality is that Tamils have not been resettled in their areas of origin, but in other refugee camps. Those who were in the Vavunia and Jaffna camps have been taken to another camp close to their home. The land of the Tamils have been divided to create a high security zone. In districts like Mullai Thhevu, Vavunia, Mannar and Kilinochi the government has seized about 10 thousand acres of land and made settlements and permanent military homes for military families. In the Tamil areas, the administration is militarized. Moreover, many Sinhala refugees have been resettled in traditionally Tamil areas. In this way the government is reducing the Tamils to a minority group which will not be even able to elect their own representatives to parliament to have their voice heard”.
"If the Indian government really wants to address the situation [of Tamil refugees] it does not need to send a civil servant, we already have direct relations between the two countries."