TNPF rejects ‘domestic investigations’ upheld by USA
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 05 May 2015, 21:49 GMT] The fact that the United States and the US Secretary of State John Kerry would consider the post January 08th 2015 situation in Sri Lanka, with the new government favourable, is understandable. But, for him to suggest that there is a favourable condition for the Tamils, is stretching too far, said Tamil National Peoples Front (TNPF) Leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, responding to a question from TamilNet on the subject on Tuesday. Pointing out that the new regime is not only maintaining the status quo of the occupying military, which is primarily being accused in the crimes, but both the major parties in the South have claimed complete allegiance to the military and have in fact vouched that the military would be protected, the former parliamentarian said.
“As far as the TNPF is concerned, an internal investigation is out of the question,” he said.
“Internal inquiry with international experts advising is also out of the question because it is the local administrative structure, which is going to be carrying out the investigation. This is the real problem,” Mr Ponnambalam told TamilNet.
Further excerpts from the interview follow:
The new regime is also having the same policy as that of Mahinda Rajapaksa, he said citing the positions expressed by the three leaders Maithiripala Sirisena, Ranil Wickramasinghe and Chandrika Kumarautanga, before and after the elections.
The trio have gone on record, publicly stating that a political solution has to be within the unitary State, which is a complete rejection of federalism.
On the question of accountability, they are refusing to have an international investigation. They are in fact boasting the Sri Lankan military by coming openly and saying that the fact that Mr Maithiripala Sirisena was someone who was the acting defence minister in the last stages of the war and that it was he – along with Sarath Fonseka – who is a co-party member, as those who actually won the war. And, the former SL President Chandrika Kumaratunga was also coming out openly and claiming that it was she who had won 75% of the war.
There is not a word in the 100-day programme about the Tamil issues.
These are the sorts of positions that were put before the Sinhalese people. This was done in a deliberate fashion to make sure that the Sinhalese people understood that there was not going to be any difference between the way the Rajapaksa handled the Tamil national question and the way President Maithiripala Sirisena and the UNP coalition government would handle the Tamil national question.
Therefore, to expect that this government would create a favourable conducive condition for the Tamil national question to be addressed in a meaningful way, is stretching it a little too far.
The very fact that they will not do a thing before the [forthcoming] elections, I think is a very clear indicator that this government is going to try to re-establish its credentials vis-a-vis the Sinhala nationalist vote-bank that it is not only the former president Rajapaksa who is trying to claim more ownership of winning the war — that it is not only ‘him’, but it is also ‘them’ — [to project] that this government is the rightful Sinhala nationalist leadership.
Generally, the notion of internal inquiry could be considered where there has been a real change of regime, especially if the regime, which is primarily accused of the sort of crimes that are to be investigated, is no longer in power and if the new regime is distancing itself completely from the previous regime's actions — and, if the new regime has stood for accountability by calling very clearly for proper punishments against those who have been suspected of committing heinous crimes.
But, the reality you have in Sri Lanka is that although it is true that a new regime has come to power, if you look deeper, apart from Rajapaksa and his family members and a few others, it is the very same people who were in power with him in his own government holding very high positions, who have crossed over and now formed the government.
President Maithiripala Sirisena, during his campaign, actually boasted the fact that he was the deputy or acting defence minister particularly during the last stages of the war. He has also been boasting that the war was actually won not by Rajapaksas, but by Fonseka and him.
To expect that this government would carry out an internal investigation is as good as asking President Rajapaksa to investigate himself in the first place.
Secondly, An internal inquiry, even if you want international standards applied, is not possible in Sri Lanka for the simple reason because we are talking about the military, which is primarily being accused here. Both the major parties in the South have claimed complete allegiance to the military and have in fact vouched that the military would be protected.
The other issue is, even if there is to be an internal inquiry with international standards or observers or experts being involved, as long as it is the local mechanisms that are going to be used for evidence gathering — which is essentially the military, the police or the local administrative arms of governance that are to be used for evidence gathering — then it is the very same administrative structures that are being accused of the sort of crimes that have been committed. The safety of the victims and the witnesses is going to be called into question.
No amount of guarantee in the form of witness protection is going to work for the simple reason of the local administration being completely one-sided.