It wants those behind civilian deaths declared as "war criminals"

The Assembly on Wednesday passed a special resolution demanding that the Centre take action to get all those responsible for large-scale civilian deaths, during the Sri Lankan civil war, declared as ‘war criminals' by the United Nations.

The resolution, passed unanimously, also demanded economic sanctions against the island nation to pressure the country into giving equal status and dignity to Tamils.

It demanded that the Indian government impress on the United Nations that the perpetrators of all such crimes be designated as ‘war criminals' and that the Union government should take steps, along with other countries, to impose economic sanctions on Sri Lanka until all Tamils now staying in camps in Sri Lanka are rehabilitated in their own land and given an opportunity to lead a life of dignity with rights equal to those of the Sinhalese.

The resolution said that after Sri Lanka attained independence, Tamils were treated as second class citizens and the Sri Lankan government, instead of conceding their demands for dignity, equal rights and self-respect, sought to destroy the community. It noted that the report of a committee appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General had concluded that the island government was responsible for the killing of innocent civilians through widespread shelling and bombing; bombing of inhabited areas and hospitals; denial of humanitarian aid, violating the human rights of the internally displaced, suspected LTTE members and other victims of the war and perpetrating human rights violations against even those outside the war-hit areas, including the government's critics and the media.

Replying to the discussion on the resolution, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said it was because of the “selfish attitude and ineptitude” of the DMK regime that thousands of Tamils fell victim to the relentless bombing by the Sri Lankan forces.

“The Sri Lankan military rained shells on ‘no fire' zones and bombed hospitals; the government blocked humanitarian aid from reaching the people there and a large number of Tamils died due to shortage of food and water. Human rights violations took place,” she said.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said the committee appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had found that war crimes had been committed and recommended an investigation into these incidents by the Sri Lankan government itself. “The committee has not called (Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa or anybody else as war criminals. That is why we have demanded in this resolution that the Union government should convince the United Nations to declare as ‘war criminals' all those who perpetrated such crimes,” she said.

Members cutting across party lines supported the resolution, but those from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) walked out of the House just before it was put to vote, taking exception to Opposition Leader Vijayakant blaming the DMK regime for the civilian deaths in the last days of the war in 2009 and being denied a chance to rebut his views.

Earlier, Deputy Leader of the DMK in the Assembly Durai Murugan expressed his support to the resolution.