TNA divided over Wigneswaran’s call for genocide probe

Chief Minister of the Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran

The Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) led Tamil National Alliance (TNA) run Northern Provincial Council (NPC) has reiterated its call for a UN investigation into what it calls genocide committed by successive Sri Lankan governments since 1948, in spite of Mavai S. Senathirajah, General Secretary of both organisations, ruling out a wider UN role here.

National List MP Senathirajah last August dismissed a call by a group of 33 members of the Northern and Eastern Provincial Councils for the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to expand its inquiry to investigate alleged atrocities committed by successive governments against Tamil speaking people since 1974.

MP Senathirajah said that the party hadn’t authorised its members to call for a wider investigation. MP Senathirajah promised that an inquiry would be conducted into what he then called an unauthorized act.

In a letter dated August 17, 2014, addressed to UNHRC Chief, 33 TNA members as well as the then UPFA controlled Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) asked the UN agency to ascertain whether Sri Lanka had committed genocide. They have requested the UNHRC to set up an investigative body in Tamil Nadu due to Sri Lanka’s refusal to cooperate with the UN investigation.

Government sources told The Island that Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran’s resolution passed by the NPC on Feb.10, 2015 had called for further expansion of the UN probe vis-a-vis an appeal made by 33 members last August. Alleging that genocide had been committed since 1948, the NPC has requested the UN to refer its findings to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for further action.

The entire TNA group comprising 30 voted for the resolution, while sole SLMC representative abstained.

However, seven elected on the UPFA ticket were divided over the resolution with some voting for and some skipping the vote.

In accordance with a US sponsored resolution adopted last March, the UN conducted war crimes probe into accountability issues here under the supervision of British national Sandra Beidas, formerly with the London headquartered Amnesty International. The investigation focused on the period from Feb. 2002 to May 2009.

The Hindu quoted government spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne as having termed the resolution an “extremist position. This is a period of reconciliation and both sides should engage constructively, rejecting extremism.”

The 11-page document detailed different episodes of violence and oppression in Sri Lankan history from the time of the country’s controversial Sinhala Only Act of 1956, terming them ‘genocidal’ acts targeting Tamils over the years, culminating in the brutal final phase of the war that, according to UN estimates, claimed 40,000 civilian lives.

National Freedom Front (NFF) spokesman Mohamed Muzammil told The Island that the resolution had conveniently left out Indian intervention in the 1980s leading to the deployment of the Indian Army here (July 1987-March 1990). Muzammil pointed out that the TNA included three groups namely the TELO, the PLOTE and the EPRLF previously armed and financed by India, hence the government should investigate the conduct of former terrorist groups as well as those who had recognised the LTTE as thesole representative of the Tamil speaking people.

(The Island)