By Suhasini Haidar, CNN-IBN –
Former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga on Tuesday said that she was rather bewildered by India’s decision to vote against the country at a US-sponsored UN resolution seeking action against Lanka on the purported war crimes committed during its almost three-decade-long war against the LTTE.
Speaking exclusively to CNN-IBN’s Senior Editor Suhasini Haidar, Kumaratunga said something “serious must have happened” that India took a decision of not supporting Sri Lanka.
Here is a full transcript of the interview:
Suhasini Haidar: Your views on India’s vote against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council…
Chandrika Kumaratunga: It’s not good for Sri Lanka, and I personally am very sad that this came to this state of affairs, but I’m rather bewildered why we should have allowed it to come to this, because India, for example, two years ago I believe it was two years or one year,
Suhasini Haidar: That’s right 2009.
Chandrika Kumaratunga: Was it 2009 when the last resolution came up?
Suhasini Haidar: That’s right straight after…
Chandrika Kumaratunga: And I noted, India supported us fully and even canvassed on our behalf so that we won… the resolution was defeated… so something must have happened in between for India to have voted against us, and I don’t think India would have taken a decision lightly.
Suhasini Haidar: In fact, do you think the government has done enough when it comes to not just convincing the world on human rights abuses, but actually working on the ground there?
Chandrika Kumaratunga: Much more can be done, for reconciliation, for physical reconstruction, its three years since the war ended…
Suhasini Haidar: One of the ministers today has in fact said that India’s vote dealt a killer blow to relations between India and Sri Lanka. Do you think that’s the case?
Chandrika Kumaratunga: Well you see, what you see in Sri Lankan press, we have a totally controlled press, if I may say so, may not be what the majority of the Sri Lankan people think. And India has not in the recent past tried in any way to obstruct Sri Lanka’s policies and programmes and government. And I know personally that, well this is a publically known thing that India has been asking for political settlement of the Tamil people’s problem. And I have always held this view that ending the war does not bring peace by itself. That’s obviously the necessary first step, especially to do away with terrorism, and you know all that kind of thing, but then thereafter there is a lot of rebuilding.
Suhasini Haidar: There are hundreds and thousands of Tamilians today who have suffered from the excesses of the Sri Lankan army, and certainly of the war against the LTTE. Many have talked about torture. Do you think it’s going to be possible for the people in the north and east of Sri Lanka to move on in this process of reconciliation?
Chandrika Kumaratunga: Of course it is, if the government takes the lead. See what happened in South Africa.
Suhasini Haidar: And India’s role should be?
Chandrika Kumaratunga: India’s role should be to help us, to encourage our government, to move forward in this way, and India is doing that very effectively, but well one has to listen.