Around 3000 Youth of nine districts who journeyed from the North, East and Hill Country to Kilinochchi put forward a resolution containing 25 demands, following which they returned home determined to vote only for those who accept and implement their demands. The group is called “the Youth in search of a zip code for democracy”
The event titled, “The Power of Youth is the Zip Code of Democracy”, organized by Home for Human Rights was held at Kanakapuram Sports Ground, Kilinochchi. Youth from the districts of Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Mannar Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, Batticaloa, Ampara, Trincomalee and Nuwara Eliya, from the North, East and Hill country participated in the event.
Discussions at the event focused on mainly two themes, the role of youth in participatory democracy and strategies to make informed electoral choices.
2750 Youth of nine districts who journeyed from the North, East and Hill Country in search of democracy chanting the slogan, ‘’The Choice is Ours’’ gathered together in Kilinochchi, which holds the wounds of war, sorrow and memories of thousands who lost their lives. Those who came together were able to share their political opinions and discuss strategies to choose the best person to represent them and addresses their needs and concerns.
Most importantly, the young people put forward a resolution containing 25 demands.
The resolution was presented to the Chief Minister of Northern Province on August 12, 2015. This resolution was delivered to the Chief Minister primarily because of his neutral stance on the upcoming parliamentary election. (Some of the authors of this resolution are not from the northern province, but Chief Minister’s unique position on the parliamentary poll means he is well positioned to receive a document of this nature.)
Through this initiative aimed to address the lack of civic mobilization and non-partisan political education, which had not been provided to, or which the people in the war-affected North and East, particularly youth, had not been able to access for three decades.
As the day of the Parliamentary Election draws closer political parties have stepped up their election campaigns. While the candidates propagate their policies as well as that of their parties, this effort by the youth, who will be leaders of tomorrow, with the aim of strengthening their political knowledge and civic responsibility, should be commended.
The resolution reiterating the following demands:
1. Advocate for issues that are of importance to all Tamils irrespective of any regional differences.
2. Advocate for the administrative merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
3. Use international mechanisms strategically to advocate for greater rights for Tamils.
4. Implement a federal solution to resolve the long standing grievances of the Tamils.
5. De-militarize the North, East and Hill Country.
6. All military administered farms across the Northern Province should be placed within the purview of the respective Pradeshiya Sabhas.
7. Ascertain the whereabouts of all political prisoners and expedite their release, and repeal the PTA.
8. Immediately put an end to sinhalization of historically Tamil areas.
9. Protect the religious, traditional and cultural identities of the Tamils and preserve all historical and archeological evidence in those areas.
10. Advocate strategically for an investigation of the violation of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law in historically Tamil areas.
11. Effectively address the socio-economic needs, particularly livelihood needs, of women-headed households and those disabled due to war.
12. Provide reparation to all those affected by the war; such reparation should include compensation, including to the families of the disappeared for the absence of time until their return, and memorialization.
13. Ensure peoples’ participation in all post-war development activities.
14. Ensure all job opportunities are considered on the basis of skills and knowledge, not by political affiliation or bribe. Further, make provision for affirmative action for groups that have been historically marginalized and discriminated against.
15. Estate areas in the Hill Country should be brought under Pradeshiya Sabha administration and their right to adequate standard of living, including land rights and right to decent housing, should be ensured. Work towards eliminating line housing for estate workers.
16. Work towards reasonable wage increase for the estate workers and promote a political culture that doesn’t only apply to the Estate Workers Union.
17. Ensure the participation of relevant experts in development activities and other institutional capacity development initiatives.
18. Prioritize regional development as opposed to individual interest or politics.
19. Ensure the proper use of natural resources to increase youth employment in historically Tamil areas.
20. Give priority to environmental protection and undertake adequate environmental assessments before initiating development projects in historically Tamil areas.
21. Ensure there is no undue, illegal or improper interference in civilian commercial activities, particularly where peoples’ respective livelihood activities in historically Tamil areas are concerned.
22. Ensure the basic needs of people residing in historically Tamil areas are met.
23. Increase women’s participation and representation within the relevant political parties and encourage opportunities for new members.
23. When promoting Tamil Rights, political parties should speak with clear united voice while they continue to advocate for Tamil Rights.
25. The decentralized budget allocated to every Member of Parliament should be spent solely on the development for the communities and constituencies, as opposed to personal pursuits.
The Youth from the North, East and Hill Country gathered here will extend our support only to those who accept our demands in promoting genuine democracy.