TNA Hopes The Government Would Be Genuine – C.V.K. Sivagnanam
The Northern Provincial Council, which in the recent past has been pushing for an international investigation on the war in Sri Lanka, says it is also ready to accept a hybrid mechanism.
The NPC has opposed a domestic process and had even adopted a resolution recently to that effect stating that past domestic processes have failed to meet expectations. Speaking toThe Sunday LeaderChairman of the Northern Provincial Council C.V.K. Sivagnanam said he hopes the government would be genuine in their efforts to address concerns over the war. He also said that the end result should ensure that all communities who were affected by the war see justice served.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Interview By Camelia Nathaniel
Q: Do you think Sri Lanka needs an international investigation or local investigation?
A: Well we are not totally in favour of a domestic investigation. Our theory is that if an international investigation cannot be held, then at least we suggest that a hybrid investigation is the next best option.
Q: There are theories that a hybrid court is similar to what the Rajapaksa regime had such as the Paranagama commission. What is your stance on that?
A: Well the Rajapaksa regime has never done anything tangible. If you look at the UN high commissioners report you would see that although these so called investigations were held, nothing has come of it. No one has been convicted in any of these investigations. This is not only my view but even the Human Rights High Commissioner has mentioned this in the report.
Q: There are many theories that the Sri Lanka Constitution does not support the theory of a hybrid court. What do you think?
A: Well Maybe and perhaps there is no provision for that. However it is now up to the government to find a way to have such a mechanism and find a way to hold a credible investigation. They have taken an undertaking and now it is up to them to somehow find a way to make it happen, if they want to win the trust of the Tamil people.
Q: There are still quite a number of Tamils who feel that a local mechanism will not do them justice, what is your view?
A: Taking the past experiences especially in the judiciary we have our reservations regarding the judiciary. However having said that I must admit that there are many changes taking place at the moment after the change of government. However over the years we have seen that the Tamil people have had no chance, no justice. Hence considering what has happened in the past we don’t have much confidence in the system but we hope this new government is genuine in their promises. We will just have to wait and see and it’s too early for us to rejoice and feel confident yet.
Q: Although there are suggestions that a domestic inquiry could be held, given the incidents of the past with the lack of proper victim and witness protection, many potential witnesses will fear for their lives if asked to give evidence in ‘Sri Lanka’ against members of the SL State Armed Forces. How does this government intend to assure the safety of these witnesses?
A: I am not sure of that. Perhaps the prime minister or the foreign minister may think that everything is fine, but I do not still feel that those responsible will carry out the investigations and care about the safety of the Tamils who come forward to testify. That is a very big problem and I am sure even the government is worried if their suggestions and proposals will be carried out as suggested by those responsible. However all I can say is that I am still not convinced.
Q: There are concerns that a hybrid mechanism was suggested by the UNHRC, because of the compulsion to keep the Sri Lankan State on their side. Justice for the Tamils is of lesser concern. How would you respond?
A: Well I think that they may have thought that the next best option to having an international investigation would be to have this hybrid court. But as far as the Tamils are concerned even our own people have already rejected the theory of a hybrid court and want an international investigation. We also have characters who hold extreme views. But at the same time there are others who want to have a compromise and are trying to for a system that is fair to both parties. However considering the extremist views of our people too, this is a tricky question that I too am not quite sure if complete justice will be done.
Q: Some Tamil parties feel that for any mechanism to work there should be a domestic political will, which is absent even in the current Sri Lankan government. How would you respond to this allegation?
A: Whatever government is in power the fact is they don’t want an investigation at all.
Q: There are many even within the government who feel that too much emphasis is being placed on the Tamil aspect and they are of the view that in order for reconciliation to take place the past should be left behind. Do you agree?
A: I am sure atrocities have been committed against the Sinhalese and Muslims. But the atrocities committed against the Tamils are far greater than the rest. But we are not saying that the Sinhala and Muslim citizens of this country don’t need justice. They need it too. However I am not sure if justice will be done for them also. When we talk of the people who have been affected by the way, we are not just talking about the Tamil people only, but we are talking of the Sinhalese and Muslims too.
Q: The Tamil National Alliances has welcomed the draft text of a resolution on Sri Lanka tabled by the co-sponsors of the resolution at the UN Human Rights Council. Is this the collective view of the TNA?
A: In fact I have not even seen this statement issued by the TNA, therefore I am unable to respond as I don’t know the contents of the statement.