Call for expanded UN probe divides TNA ahead of party convention

Top leadership assures inquiry into N&E PC members’ move


By Shamindra Ferdinando

General Secretary of the five-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) as well as its dominant partner, Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi, Mavai S. Senathirajah, MP, yesterday said that the party hadn’t authorised any of its members to seek a wider UN investigation against Sri Lanka.

National List MP Senathirajah said that the party was inquiring into circumstances under which a group of 33 members of the Northern and Eastern Provincial Councils had called for the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to expand its ongoing inquiry to investigate alleged atrocities committed by successive governments against Tamil speaking people since 1974.

The MP was responding to a query by The Island as regards the latest move made by the TNA in the run-up to the UNHRC session next month. Senathirajah said that the leadership wasn’t aware of the provincial councillors’ move.

The Island on Tuesday revealed the TNA Councillor’s request to outgoing UNHRC Chief Navi Pillay.

The UN recently launched the inquiry under the supervision of British national Sandra Beidas, formerly with the London headquartered Amnesty International. The investigation focuses on the period from Feb 2002 to May 2009.

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

Among the signatories are Northern PC Deputy Chairman M. Anthony Jeyanathan and Ministers, Thambirajah Gurukularajah, Balasubramanium Deniwaran and Dr. Pathmanathan Sathiyalingham.

The five-party TNA alliance consists of the ITAK (Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchchi), TULF, TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF. Three of them are former Indian trained terrorist groups.

Well informed sources told The Island that Northern Province Chief Minister, C. V. Vigneswaran had been angered by the unexpected move. Sources said that the retired supreme court justice had expressed his displeasure to those responsible for the plea to Geneva. CM Vigneswaran wasn’t available for comment.

Responding to another query, sources said that Indian authorities, too, had been disturbed by the TNA move. India strongly opposed the setting up an external investigation when the UNHRC adopted US-led resolution at the last Geneva sessions in March.

Sri Lankan authorities brought the latest development to the notice of top Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) official, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, who is in Colombo to attend the fourth edition of Defence Seminar. Dr. Swamy lashed out at the TNA during subsequent meetings with the local media.

The Geneva issue could cause unnecessary friction in the run-up forthcoming ITAK convention in Vavuniya, where veteran politician Senathirajah was now expected to be elected its leader. The four-day event is scheduled to begin on September 6.

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