With emotions running high in Tamil Nadu on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday asked India to take ‘historic’ and ‘courageous’ steps to move amendments to the US-backed resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council to ‘assuage the deeply hurt sentiments’ of people.
"To assuage the legitimate sense of outrage and deeply hurt sentiments, it is absolutely important that India takes a strong stand in support of the US-sponsored resolution in the 22nd Session of the UNHRC and more importantly moves necessary independent amendments to further strengthen the resolution," she said.
In her letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the chief minister recalled she had earlier twice taken up with him, including in person, the need for New Delhi to take up the issue of war crimes and slapping economic sanctions on Sri Lanka till Tamils were fully resttled.
Quoting a report of the Office of UN high commissioner for human rights on Tamils, she said there was ‘a continued and sorry saga of human rights violations against’ them.
She charged that the Rajapakse government was ‘not keen’ on genuine reconciliation or even to allow the Sri Lankan Tamils to be rehabilitated, "let alone start life as equal citizens in that country, which is reflected in the lack of adequate action even on a relatively mild UNHRC Resolution."
"At this juncture, the ongoing 22nd session of the human rights council is the most appropriate forum and occasion to mount further pressure on Sri Lanka to ensure accountability is established under an international framework for the war crimes and genocide committed in the closing stages of the civil war and the ongoing gross human rights abuses," she said.
India must take a ‘strong, historic and courageous stance’ in this matter and not just support the US-sponsored Draft Resolution on 'Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka,' but strengthen it further through suitable amendments that would make the resolution unambiguous in intent and effective in implementation, she said.
Jayalalithaa made a series of suggestions including strengthening the language in the draft resolution. "In PP9 (paragraph) strengthen the language from expression of 'concern' to 'serious concern and dismay' at the reports of the continuing violations of human rights. In PP10 strengthen the language to 'condemnation' of the failure of Sri Lankan Government to fulfill its public commitments including on devolution of political authority," she said.
Further, there should be an unequivocal call for a credible, independent, international mechanism to prosecute ‘genocide, war crimes and war criminals and the accused should stand trial before an International Court’.
"This process should be completed within a period of six months and the outcome reported for a special discussion in the 25th session of UNHRC in 2014. In operative para 2 there should be an insistence that the OHCHR report be implemented in its totality," she demanded.
Further, she pressed for a ‘strong call’ to Colombo to accept an impartial, international institution to initiate credible and independent action to ensure justice, equity and accountability.
This should include investigation of violation of international law and reconciliation of all Sri Lankans, including Tamils, and Colombo should provide a pragmatic political package to Lankan Tamils and restore their equal rights of citizenship on par with the Sinhalese Community.
On her insistance, India supported the UNHRC resolution last year, one that called upon Lankan government to implement constructive recommendations of Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission whose report she said was 'relatively mild.'
Jayalalithaa said she was 'dismayed' over statements made by Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid as they appear ‘equivocal and prevaricating’ and do not give a clear indication of India’s stance, particularly with reference to 'genocide' which has taken place in Sri Lanka.
"It was disappointing that India had maintained a deafening silence when the US-sponsored draft was taken up for discussion in the ongoing UNHRC session," she said, while expressing hope that India at this 'historic moment' will champion the cause of democracy and take a ‘bold stand’ to express solidarity with the minority Tamils.
Meanwhile, the South Indian Artistes' Association backed Jayalalithaa's demand and said Indian government should take all steps to bring in amendments as sought by her.
SIAA President R Sarathkumar, member of Legislative Assembly, and General Secretary Radharavi said in a statement the association would soon hold a protest after consultations with its members.