Northern Provincial Council Accuses Colombo Governments With 'Genocide'

February 11, 2015

Northern Provincial Council (NPC) yesterday passed a strongly worded resolution accusing successive governments in the island nation of committing ‘genocide’ against Tamils.

The resolution moved by Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran sought to give “an overview of the evidence demonstrating successive Sri Lankan governments’ genocide against Tamils” and appealed to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to probe the claim and recommend appropriate prosecution.

The resolution comes at a time when the UNHRC sessions are approaching and the US was said to be contemplating a postponement of taking-up the resolution against Sri Lanka there.

Terming the resolution an “extremist position,” Health Minister and Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said President Maithripala Sirisena had promised to initiate an internationally approved, domestic inquiry process, The Hindu reported. “This is a period of reconciliation, and both sides should engage constructively, rejecting extremism,” he further told The Hindu.

The 11-page document details 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 U.N. estimates, claimed 40,000 civilian lives.

While the NPC may be justified in raising concern over alleged war crimes, “they cannot call it genocide,” Senaratne told The Hindu. “Choosing confrontational ways will hamper forward movement on the issue.”

In January 2014, when the NPC passed a resolution calling for an international probe into Sri Lanka’s rights record, it was Wigneswaran who insisted that the word “genocide” be dropped, observing it had a very specific meaning legally and hence had to be used with caution.

Northern Province Council member M.K. Shivajilingam of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), who had earlier proposed the resolution, told The Hindu that the Chief Minister had decided to move it after carefully studying various incidents over the years.

The TNA, while pledging its support to Sirisena’s candidacy in the elections, said former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had not kept his promises on reconciliation. The northern Tamils voted in large numbers, a majority of them for Sirisena.

The TNA welcomed some of the early initiatives the new government. However, a month later, the NPC grew skeptical, particularly after the “reluctance on the part of the new leaders,” including Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to de-militarise the north, Shivajilingam told The Hindu.

The development also points to apparent differences within the main political party representing the island’s northern Tamils. Some members of the TNA took serious objection to their Leader R. Sampanthan and parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran attending the country’s Independence Day ceremony in Colombo on February 4 and called for disciplinary action. At that time, Chief Minister Wigneswaran said he would attend Independence Day celebrations only after the country’s Tamils got freedom.
(with inputs from The Hindu)

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