Defence Secretary's advice “clear case of devil quoting scripture”

Sri Lanka is resisting calls for an international inquiry into large-scale civilian deaths in the last days of its civil war that ended in May 2009 only to cover up “war crimes” committed by its security forces, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa told the Assembly on Thursday.

Replying to a special calling attention motion, Ms. Jayalalithaa said that Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa's contention — “In Sri Lanka, regardless of being Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim, we are Sri Lankans and we are more worried about our citizens than anyone else” — was untrue.

Citing the findings of the United Nations fact-finding committee that the Sri Lankan army did not spare ‘no-fire' zones, shelled hospitals and denied medical assistance to victims, she said the force completely violated the norms of war. “Mr. Rajapaksa is trying to sweep everything under the carpet.”

Ms. Jayalalithaa said though Sri Lanka gave an assurance that heavy weapons will not be used, innocent Tamils were targeted and killed in the war. “The UN report says the army prevented humanitarian assistance from reaching the Tamils. Video footage by media houses clearly show that Tamils were mercilessly massacred.”

Reacting to other remarks of Mr. Rajapaksa that the Tamil Nadu government should advise Indian fishermen not to come into Sri Lankan waters, Ms. Jayalalithaa said, “It is a clear case of the devil quoting the scripture.”

Ms. Jayalalithaa also rejected Mr. Rajapaksa's argument that “what is important for the people in the north is for them to resettle in their houses.”

“Even two years after the war ended, no steps have been taken to find a solution to the problem of Tamils and resettle them,” she said, adding that Mr. Rajapaksa's interview was an indirect admission of war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan army.

“Instead of allowing an international inquiry into the war crimes, the Sri Lankan government is engaging in media interviews. This has raised suspicion among the countries of the world that Sri Lanka is trying to hide the facts.”

Earlier, moving the resolution, Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam deputy leader Panruti S. Ramachandran said that Mr. Rajapaksa's criticism of the resolution could not be viewed as the opinion of an individual since it concerned the sovereignty of the Assembly.

“The Centre's policy on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue has emboldened Mr. Rajapaksa. Former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi also betrayed the Tamils.”

CPI (M) floor leader A. Soundararajan said that instead of finding a solution to the problem by devolving powers to the Tamil areas, the Sri Lankan government had hardened its position after the war.

CPI deputy leader S. Gunasekaran said the State government should prevail upon the Centre to cancel the agreement of handing over Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka.

Puthiya Tamizhagam leader K. Krishnasamy said that the Centre should take steps to close the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission office in Chennai.

Republican Party of India leader C.K. Tamilarasan said that Tamil Nadu should send a team of members of the Assembly to New Delhi to pressure the Centre to find a political solution to the Sri Lankan Tamils' problems.

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