By Easwaran Rutnam
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran
Tamils want immediate solutions. The Government has failed to provide these solutions. A resolution at the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) was the best way to have the voice of the Tamils heard; that seems to have been the sentiments expressed by the NPC, when it passed not one, but three resolutions last week. Key among the three was the one calling for an international investigation into the alleged deaths of over 100,000 Tamils during the final stages of the war in the North.
Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran pushed for the resolution to be diluted, a move that did not go down well with some NPC members.
Wigneswaran told The Sunday Leader these resolutions could have been avoided had the Government and the President in particular given ear to what the NPC members were asking for.
“The Resolutions are the outcome of heightened feelings among our members, for which the President alone is the sole cause. Under the Law he should have appointed a Chief Secretary, with the concurrence of the Chief Minister. He is refusing to get rid of the present incumbent, who was there as an appendage of the Governor and Rishard Badurdeen, even before we came in. Our members feel I have been taken for a ride. They think I was naive for trusting such a person.
If the President had given permission to change the Chief Secretary, I could have prevented the Members bringing up Resolutions, by saying ‘we have got to wait patiently’, etc. Now we have nothing. So their emotions are finding openings,” Wigneswaran said.
Termed a moderate, Wigneswaran was seen as attempting to bridge the gap between the TNA and the Government in the best interest of the NPC and the Tamils in the North.
However, there are those in the TNA and the NPC who want to maintain a hard stand on the Government – among them Anandi Sasitharan, the wife of former LTTE Trincomalee District political head S. Elilan.
Sasitharan had called on the NPC to be represented at the upcoming UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in Geneva, where the US is to sponsor a resolution on Sri Lanka. The NPC had agreed to her request, and, to her surprise, proposed she represent the NPC in Geneva. Sasitharan says she has not yet decided if she will travel to Geneva for the UN Human Rights Council sessions in March.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Sasitharan said she had not expected to be nominated, and will need time to decide. She said she had wanted an NPC delegation in Geneva, to speak on behalf of the Tamils and raise concerns over people still reported missing. She also said she continues to face intimidation, with unidentified men following her and roaming about near her house. She said that with her life under threat, she will need to give the thought careful consideration before deciding whether to attend the Geneva sessions.
Various views have been expressed on the NPC resolution, with most in the opposition and the Government raising concerns over its impact, ahead of the crucial UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.
The Unites States is expected to submit a resolution on Sri Lanka at the March sessions, and US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal was in the island to gather data for the resolution.
From Sri Lanka, Biswal was to travel to London for meetings on the Sri Lanka resolution, with officials from the UK Government.
Britain is to co-sponsor the resolution on Sri Lanka, at the UN Human Rights Council in March. Britain has made it clear it will support the resolution, and the British Government will be under pressure from the opposition Labour party to ensure the resolution is strong.
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, had at a meeting with the Tamil Diaspora in London last week, and said that at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Session in March, he would fully support a resolution to initiate an international commission, under UN auspices.
He said his party would continue to bring pressure, to bear upon the UK Government to use their position as a current voting member of the UNHRC, to support such action. He also urged the Prime Minister David Cameron, to push for the process to begin now, given the Government of Sri Lanka’s failure to establish a credible accountability mechanism.
At a meeting with Diaspora groups, the Labour leader had discussed a wide-range of concerns relating to Sri Lanka and the plight of the Tamil people, including the alleged militarisation and Sinhalisation of Tamil lands in the North and East, as well as human rights abuses committed by State forces against Tamils and others, the organisation Tamils for Labour said.
Sen Kandiah, Chair of Tamils for Labour, said that for reconciliation and lasting peace to take root in Sri Lanka there had to be truth, accountability and justice for what happened during the conflict.
An independent, international investigation is the only means by which this would come about, he said, adding that the resolution should include a clause stating that any non-compliance by the Government of Sri Lanka on this matter should result in sanctions.
“I am incredibly grateful to Ed Miliband for finding the time to meet with us all.
The Labour Party has shown genuine leadership on matters relating to Sri Lanka, and has led the way for all major UK political parties, by calling for an independent, international inquiry in 2011. As a result of the interest and concern they have shown on relevant issues, and the means by which they have consistently sought to challenge the culture of impunity and on-going human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, the Labour Party has a special place in the hearts of the Tamil people.
The pressure that Labour can exert on the UK Government is crucial at this time, and I am most appreciative that the Party will continue to closely engage with the Tamil Diaspora community, in order to ensure that their aspirations of truth, justice, accountability and peace are secured,” Sen Kandiah said.
Sri Lanka Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena, meanwhile said that that Sri Lanka is facing a critical period ahead of the Geneva sessions, as an international conspiracy is now at work. He says the Diaspora groups and some Governments are clearly attempting to bring war crimes charges against President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the first step to which is the proposed resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in March. He said that the campaign is also targeting the Army led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa after he did what he said he would do in order to ensure the people could live without fear.
Meanwhile Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the human rights violations committed by the LTTE have been ignored in the international campaign launched against the Government, ahead of Geneva.
He recalled the attacks on places of worship and the assassination of several Buddhist monks, and said these were not seen as human rights violations by some. However, he said, as the Government prepares to face new pressures, the biggest strength it has is the ordinary man in the village.
He said that even President Mahinda Rajapaksa often tells the Government, that he always has the backing and support of the man in the village.
TNA leader R. Sampanthan said that the resolution sponsored by the United States to be submitted in Geneva is expected to be very crucial.
He had told TNA members the United States has been urged to ensure the resolution brings a solution to the Tamil issue.
He also said that the TNA will have meetings with UNHRC member countries, and seek their support for the resolution. Sampanthan noted that the Government is having talks with some countries, particularly Muslim countries, in order to seek support against the resolution. However, he expressed confidence in the resolution being passed by a majority, when it is taken up for a vote in Geneva.
Originally Published at http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2014/02/02/a-re-solution-and-geneva/