COLOMBO: A senior leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has said that the Tamils will keep pressing for an international probe into charges of war crimes against the Lankan government even though the US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Nisha Biswal, has made it clear that the US will only seek an independent and credible Lankan domestic probe.
“Just as the Sri Lankan government has an agenda which it will press, we Tamils also have an agenda, which we will press,” said C V K Sivagnanam, Chairman of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC).
Biswal had said that the US proposes to present to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in September, a resolution which will have been drafted in “collaboration” with the Lankan government and other stakeholders “within and outside” Lanka.
Asked about the possible outcome of all this, Sivagnanam said: “Nothing categorical can be said. The situation is fluid.”
The view of the NPC, where the TNA has an overwhelming majority, is that there should be an international probe. A resolution to that effect was passed in September 2014. Sivagnanam ruled out a second resolution on this subject.
The Tamil press has expressed dismay over the US climb down from an international probe to a domestic probe in just one year. ‘Thinakkural’ said that small nations and minorities are clearly playthings in the hands of the big powers with various interests in the region. ‘Virakesari’ said that the US should see that the Tamils’ interests are not sacrificed at the alter of a domestic probe.
Express learns that President Maithripala Sirisena had told Biswal that he would himself lead the reconciliation process. It is also learnt that the yet to be released report of the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) on war crimes does not implicate individuals but only institutions. The even-handed report details the crimes committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE )also. State-owned ‘Daily News’ said that a separate Ministry for reconciliation is on the cards and that a document stating the contours of the domestic inquiry mechanism was given to Biswal.
Meanwhile, Patriotic National Movement leader Dr Gunadasa Amarasekera warned that the domestic probe mechanism will do the bidding of the US.