Nationalists unhappy about joint statement after Delhi talks


By Shamindra Ferdinando

After stoutly opposing UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s much criticized ‘Darusman Report’ on accountability issues relating to war against LTTE terrorism, the government of Sri Lanka has acknowledged the so-called unsubstantiated UN allegations, political sources say.

 Referring to a joint statement issued in New Delhi last Tuesday (May 17) following a three-day visit by External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, sources allege the government had acted irrationally, thereby strengthening the hands of those hell-bent on punishing Sri Lanka for not heeding international calls to stop the offensive.

 Prof. Peiris visited New Delhi from May 15 to 17. The former Chief Government negotiator at talks with the LTTE arranged by the Norwegians, Prof. Peiris was accompanied by MP Sajin Vas Gunawardene, a key member of the government delegation having discussions with the TNA and the EPDP. The next rounds of talks are scheduled for June 23.

 Sources said that bottom line was that now India had thrown its weight behind US, UK, EU and South Africa call for early withdrawal of emergency regulations, investigations into allegations of human rights violations (read as war crime allegations), restoration of normalcy in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and redress of humanitarian concerns of affected families.

 Interestingly, the TNA and the UNP on the day before the Indian statement agreed that the UNP would back the ongoing talks between the government and the TNA to reach agreement on devolution.

Sources said that pro-devolution lobby was working overtime to build a common front to pressure the government to go beyond the 13 A, whereas the government was giving confusing signals.

Senior lawyer Gomin Dayasri, who relentlessly supported the government’s war against terror campaign, said another area of concern is the agreement on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. He lashed out at the assertion that a devolution package, building on the 13th Amendment, would contribute towards creating the necessary conditions for reconciliation.

"This is ridiculous," he said, warning what the Sri Lankan military had achieved in two years and 10 months at a heavy price in terms of men and material could be erased.

 Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, on behalf of several nationalists’ organizations ,questioned the sense in Sri Lanka consenting to Indian move, which he said was not all in the interests of Sri Lanka. He strongly criticized the joint communiqué issued at the end of the Pieris visit to New Delhi and went on to warn it would undermine the country.

 The JVP, in a hard hitting statement issued on Friday accused India of manipulating Sri Lanka for its political, security and economic interests, at the expense of our sovereignty and territorial integrity.

It emphasized the Rajapaksa government hadn’t achieved anything in spite of giving in to Indian strategy, which envisaged economic domination of the country, while tactically supporting UN and Western action on the human rights front.

 The JVP too alleged that India had backed the "Darusman Report’ though the joint statement didn’t refer to the 196-page report which demanded genuine investigations on the part of Sri Lanka, while calling for international monitoring mechanism.

 Expert sources told The Sunday Island that Sri Lanka had pathetically bungled recently concluded talks in New Delhi, thereby causing irreparable damage to ongoing efforts to deny foreign interference in domestic inquiries into alleged war crimes.

They said that India, while putting pressure on Sri Lanka over war crimes and accountability issues, had conveniently forgotten the Indian army deployment in the Northern and Eastern Provinces from July 1987 to Mar 1990.

India never investigated hundreds of complaints made against its troops by Tamil political parties, civilians and the LTTE, they said. The international community, which turned a blind eye to India’s earlier role supporting the LTTE leading to the enforced 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord, never bothered to inquire into these allegations, they said.

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