Facing criticism from parties in Tamil Nadu that his government is seeking to bail out Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sought to explain that he favours a way forward on accountability and reconciliation issues without creating mistrust and confrontation.
In a letter to Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M. Karunanidhi, released to the media here by the party on Tuesday, Dr. Singh stated: “With regard to the resolution at the UN Human Rights Council, we are engaged with all parties in an effort to achieve an outcome that is forward-looking and that ensures that, rather than deepening confrontation and mistrust between the concerned parties, a way forward is found on issues related to accountability and confrontation.”
He said the government's objective remained the achievement of a future for the Tamil community in Sri Lanka that was marked by equality, dignity, justice and self-respect.
India had offered technical, economic and financial assistance to the process of restoring normality, he said and went on to claim: “… it is as a result of our engagement with the government of Sri Lanka and our considerable assistance programme that a modicum of normalcy is beginning to return to the Tamil areas in Sri Lanka.”
All parties in Tamil Nadu, including the State units of the Congress and BJP, are united in calling upon India to back a U.S.-sponsored resolution that seeks to hold Sri Lanka to earlier promises of promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka and calls for implementation of recommendations made by its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). In a bid to address the concerns of parties in Tamil Nadu, the Prime Minister said India had welcomed the LLRC's recommendations and believed that their implementation would contribute to reconciliation.
“We have also emphasised the need for an independent and credible mechanism to investigate allegations of human rights violations in a time-bound manner, which has also been recommended by the LLRC. Our focus on these issues with the government of Sri Lanka would continue.”
Dr. Singh said that in its engagement with the Sri Lankan government, India had urged it to put in place a process of resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction, including early return of all internally displaced persons, early withdrawal of emergency regulations, investigation into allegations of human rights violations, restoration of normalcy in affected areas and redress of humanitarian concerns. The Government of India was implementing projects covering housing, education, health, vocational training, agriculture and reconstruction of infrastructure. “We intend to remain engaged with Sri Lanka in order to take this process forward.”