The Sri Lankan government has amended the time period for its Presidential Commission looking into cases of alleged disappearances in its Northern and Eastern Provinces to cover the 26 years 1983-2009.
The Commission’s earlier mandate spanned the period from 1990 to 2009, but the new time frame is of relevance to India, for it includes the period when then Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was active in Sri Lanka [1987-1990].
The government made the announcement just a couple of days before member countries on the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva vote on a U.S.-backed resolution calling for an international probe in Sri Lanka.
Senior Sri Lankan government functionaries have, however, from the beginning of this year, made a few subtle and some obvious references to the role of the IPKF in connection with allegations of war crimes and human rights abuse in Sri Lanka.
In January, Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga — who was then in Washington to lobby support ahead of the Human Rights Council session — said: “If there is an international investigation, the whole period has to be investigated — from the 1980s onward — which includes the two-year IPKF tenure, which will upset India,” he said.
In April 1990, soon after the IPKF offensive against the rebel Tigers, a group of four university teachers in Jaffna wrote the Broken Palmyrah, one of the few works till date that looks at the atrocities committed by allegedly the IPKF and various Tamil militant movements, including the LTTE, from a critical perspective.