Onlanka News – By Walter Jayawardhana
Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister and and General Secretary of the AIADMK Jayalalitha Jeyaram said her party would boycott the 15 member parliamentary delegation scheduled to visit Sri Lanka on a fact finding mission scheduled April 16 arguing it may prove an eyewash.
So, the the parliamentary delegation arriving in Sri Lanka to inspect developmental activities taken up in the island with Indian assistance for resettling and rehabilitating the Tamils displaced by the prolonged war with the LTTE will arrive minus a representative of Tamil Nadu’s ruling party.
The Hindu quoting a statement by Ms. Jayalalitha said that she had decided to depute Rajya Sabha MP William Rabi Bernard at the request of the Centre, which is sending the delegation to inspect developmental activities taken up in Sri Lanka.
She had agreed to depute a party representative hoping that the visit would help the delegation understand the real situation in Sri Lanka and provide some solace for the Tamils if it were to interact with them.
She was under the impression that the team would be able to identify the flaws in the resettlement and rehabilitation efforts of the Sri Lankan government. However, the itinerary prepared by the External Affairs Ministry provided no opportunity for the team members to interact with the Tamils, she charged.
“On the contrary, priority has been accorded only for meetings and banquets with top Sri Lankan leaders, including President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The itinerary looks as if the tour itself is a formality and that the agenda has been chalked out by the Sri Lankan government to create a favourable impression for it in India. This view is strengthened by the absence of journalists, human rights activists and independent observers in the delegation,” she said.
“I think the visit of this delegation will prove an eyewash, as was the case with the 2009 visit of a parliamentary delegation, in which Kanimozhi, daughter of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi, was also a member, and which enjoyed a banquet with Mr. Rajapaksa and received gifts,” she was quoted as saying.
Ms. Jayalalithaa reportedly alleged that Mr. Rajapaksa had not accepted even the “soft resolution” passed by the UNHRC, had failed to stop attacks on Tamil fishermen by his navy and had plans to represent before the International Atomic Energy Agency against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project.
As his government continued to indulge in anti-Tamil activities, evinced no change in attitude towards Tamils, and the delegation had not been given an opportunity to discuss the “realities” with Mr. Rajapaksa, the AIADMK had decided to withdraw its representative from the delegation, she announced.
Recalling that the Assembly had passed a resolution urging the Centre to press the U.N. to declare those involved in genocide in Sri Lanka as war criminals, Ms. Jayalalithaa said that the House had also called sought economic embargo on Sri Lanka until all those displaced returned to their native place to lead a life of dignity. The Centre did not act on this resolution.
It was because of her tough stand that it shed its ambivalence and voted in favour of the US-sponsored resolution condemning Sri Lanka for human rights violations at the UN Human Rights Council, but that too was done only after diluting its tenor. “I thanked the Centre then because it will be the first step towards Tamils gaining their rights,” she was quoted having said.