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Ending military occupation of North can begin 'right away' says Solheim

The former Norwegian special envoy to Sri Lanka, Erik Solheim, urged Sri Lanka's new president Maithripala Sirisena to resolve the Tamil national question, stating that some issues such as restoring Tamil language rights and removal of military from areas it occupies in the North could begin "right away".

"A lot can be done right away — language rights of the Tamils can be restored and the army can be removed from some of the lands it occupies in the north," said Solheim, writing in The Hindu newspaper on Thursday.

Stressing "the international community will and should continue to pressure for accountability for the unspeakable atrocities during the war: brutal murders, rapes and killing of innocent civilians", he warned that the "the global human rights community and the Tamil diaspora will keep these issues alive."

However, he said there was a need for the Sri Lankan government to be able to bring Sinhala opinion along with in on accountability issues.

"Based on experiences from places like Chile or Serbia, accountability unfortunately takes time. But in the end it comes," he said.

Highlighting the economic prosperity of the Tamil diaspora, Solheim called on the new government to reach out to Tamils in the diaspora, to ensure they could be part of developing the Tamil areas.

"The government should reach out to the Tamil diaspora, probably the most economically successful diaspora on the planet. They are doctors, entrepreneurs and stock brokers and can provide investments and expertise," he added.

See full article here.

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