Colombo Telegraph

Mind Your Words: Sri Lankan MP

By Express News Service –

CHENNAI: While sentiments in Tamil Nadu in the run up to the UNHRC resolution were of “immense help” to Sri Lankan Tamils, politicians must be careful about the message they send to the world. Misplaced objectives could have a detrimental effect on support from the international community, Member of Sri Lanka Parliament, M A Sumanthiran, said here on Sunday.

In an interview to Express, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) member, in response to a question on a recent statement by DMK chief M Karunanidhi that a separate Eelam was his ultimate dream, said that Tamils would lose the support of the international community “if our objectives sound unreasonable.” “Politicians must temper good intentions with reality,” the MP cautioned.

Sumanthiran said the UNHRC resolution was an opportunity given to Sri Lanka to move forward constructively.

“to cooperate and remains obstinate, further actions from the international community will become imperative,” he warned.

Responding to accusations from civil liberty groups that the LLRC was itself toothless, he said, “On accountability it has failed, but on many other matters it has very constructive recommendations.

The (UNHRC) resolution, on the other hand, talks about accountability separately. So what the LLRC fails in, the resolution addresses separately,” he said.

On the amendments brought in by India to the resolution, he said they were “redundant and superfluous” as the rules of engagement anyway required the country to accept technical assistance.

“Also, if Sri Lanka had accepted the resolution in the first place, it would have been a different issue. Now that they haven’t, the amendments make very little difference,” he observed. About the letter written by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to President Mahinda Rajapakse about the amendments, he said that the TNA recognised India’s worry about maintaining good relations with its neighbour.

However, he said the most serious issue of focus now was the militarisation of the North and East provinces in the island nation. Violence against women was of particular worry. There had been widespread incidents of land grabbing.

The militarisation had also helped people from other parts of the country to settle down in the Tamil provinces with the protection of the security forces. Civil administration has been destabilised as the military itself was now taking care of the administration in the Tamildominated areas, he said.

“Militarisation has had a debilitating effect on the lives of the people due its all pervasiveness,” Sumanthiran observed.

The white van abductions were a supplementary to the militarisation that had taken place.

“In the first few months of the year, there were 32 recorded incidents of abductions.

Ten bodies have been found. This trend is very very unhealthy. In one case, the persons who indulged in the crime were arrested. But they displayed their army identity cards and they were allowed to go. However, the police officer who arrested them was transferred immediately,” said the TNA member.

Asked if the TNA’s absence in Geneva was the result of intimidation from the Rajapakse government, he said such reports had no substance and the decision was taken to avoid putting the countries moving the resolution in a tight spot.

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