The resolution passed by the Northern Provincial Council in Sri Lanka seeking a probe into 60 years of ‘genocide’ against Tamils in the island nation found support among some political parties in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday.
While the ruling AIADMK had no immediate reaction, the DMK and the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) felt that more time should be given to the new administration of President Maithripala Sirisena to foster ethnic reconciliation.
DMK spokesman T.K.S. Elangovan said the resolution reflected the position that his party had consistently taken ever since the conclusion of the civil war in 2009. However, as a new government had just taken over, some time had to be given to assess its commitment towards resolving the Tamil question.
Coming out strongly in favour of the resolution were the MDMK and the VCK, parties that traditionally espouse the Tamil nationalist line.
Speaking to The Hindu , MDMK general secretary Vaiko said the action of the Northern Province was commendable at a time when governments of both India and Sri Lanka were trying to undermine the investigation by the United Nations into atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan forces against the Tamils.
“I urge the Tamil Nadu government to pass a resolution reiterating what has been sought by the Tamil provincial government. This is a monumental resolution which has clearly established that Tamils have been subjected to genocide for more than six decades,” he said.
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi chief Thol. Thirumavalavan said the Union government should support the resolution and ensure that the tabling of a status report on Sri Lanka during the U.N. Human Rights Council session in Geneva next month was not postponed.
However, the Tamil Manila Congress took a cautious stand. While favouring punishment for anyone involved in war crimes, party leader B.S. Gnanadesikan said the Sirisena administration had showed some positive signs in taking forward the process of reconciliation. These included the replacement of a military governor for the Northern Province with a civilian and the appointment of a Tamil as Chief Justice of Sri Lankan Supreme Court.
“Nothing should be done that would strengthen the hands of those working against the interests of the Tamil population. This is very important since the parliamentary election in Sri Lanka is due very soon,” he said.
Refugees divided on resolution
Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in Tamil Nadu are divided on the resolution passed by the Northern Provincial Council.
While one group of refugees says the resolution may have been an outcome of pressure applied by the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora on NPC Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, another group feels that it is a reflection of the sentiments of representatives of the Province.
A long-time refugee, who does not want to be identified, explains that diaspora members living as refugees in Western countries were possibly sensing the possibility of returning to Sri Lanka, an eventuality which they may not like in view of economic considerations. This is in the wake of steps being taken by the new government in Sri Lanka, the refugee says.
However, T. Pathinathan, a Tamil writer and a refugee living in Madurai, feels that the move of the Council deserves to be welcomed. In a democracy, the popular will, as represented by members of the Council, has to be accepted. When the new government is not in favour of any international probe with the continued presence of the army in Tamil-speaking areas, there is every justification for the council to come up with such a resolution.
Kasi Anandan, poet and president of the Centre for Indo-Eelam Tamils Friendship, calls upon the Indian government and other countries to exert pressure on the Sri Lankan government and support the “fair and just demand” of the Sri Lankan Tamils.
S.C. Chandrahasan, founder of the Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfFER), refused to comment on the development.