The secretary of the Vavuniya Families of the Disappeared association, Gopalakrishnan Rajkumar, called on the European Union to "repeal the GSP+" trading preference and work with the US to achieve a just "political solution".
“The EU should use the GSP tax concession not only to eliminate terrorism law, but also for a political solution.”
The statement on Friday comes ahead of Monday's protest to mark 1,600 days of continued demonstrations in Vavuniya by the families of the disappeared. During the statement, Rajkumar highlighted that since the implementation of Sri Lanka’s draconian 1978 Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), thousands of Tamils have been imprisoned as political prisoners.
Sri Lanka’s Media Spokesperson of the Ministry of Prisons Management and Prisoners Rehabilitation Affairs and the Department of Prisons, Chandana Ekanayake, has reported that there are currently "262 men and 10 women detained under PTA" who are classed as non-combatants. There are a further 67 "former LTTE cadres" in custody and another 37 "combatants" convicted under the PTA.
In advance of the EU review of the GSP+ arrangement, Rajkumar noted that only 16 Tamils and 76 Sinhalese have been released from prison. He also noted that despite Sri Lanka’s promises to the international community that it would find a political solution to Tamil demand for self-governance, they have failed to do so.
“For the last 74 years, Tamils have learned that they can live safely only within a safe and secure homeland.”
Rajkumar further added that with the support of the EU and US, a solution “can be achieved by holding a 'referendum' among Tamils” and through “a safe and secure Tamil homeland”. "Tamils have been silenced by the repression of the Sri Lankan Sinhala [state]," he added.
Commenting on the deterioration of human rights in Sri Lanka, he maintained:
“Tamils have been silenced by the oppression of the Sinhalese and the Tamil parliamentarians have been silenced by the concessions of Colombo”.