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The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has received an invitation from the leader of the Thamizh Makkal Thesya Kootanii (TMTK), parliamentarian C.V. Wigeneswaran, to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to seek justice on human rights violations, including war crimes.


This was in response to a letter drafted by TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran that was to be sent jointly by the Tamil parties to the High Commissioner of Human Rights and Members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

“Your Resolution only calls the International Community to extend the favours that have already been granted to a genocidal government. Worse, it does so in the name of the Tamil victims. How could we accept your document and its recommendations? We reject it in toto.,” the former Chief Minister of the Northern Province said in a reply letter to Sumanthiran yesterday (21).

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa led Sri Lanka government formally announced its withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution 30/1 in February.

Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, in his address in Geneva this year, noted that Sri Lanka’s decision to withdraw from co-sponsorship of Resolution 40/1 on ‘promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’, which also incorporates and builds on preceding Resolutions 30/1 of October 2015 and 34/1 of March 2017, was made according to following a non-aligned and neutral foreign policy.


Wigneswaran pointed out that the only concrete action recommended by (Sumanthiran) is to adopt another Resolution, exactly like the ones that have clearly failed for several years and questioned whether an extension by another Resolution would change the present position. 

However, he noted that MP Sumanthiran in his letter, has correctly identified certain actions of the Sri Lankan government and said that they must also call on the UNHRC to appoint a UN Special Rapporteur to investigate and monitor human rights abuses and land grabs in Sri Lanka as well as to establish an Independent Investigative Mechanism to facilitate the accountability and war crimes process. 
 
“They have meanwhile continued to deploy the military in civilian positions, seize lands belonging to the Tamil people, seize lands belonging to the Tamil people, appoint Buddhist religious personnel to oversee land allotment in the East of Sri Lanka in the guise of archaeological management, increase surveillance and intimidation of victim families, human rights’ activists and journalists, and curtail burial rites of the Muslim community," Sumanthiran observed in his draft letter to Wigneswaran.


"If you say these things are happening, why on earth are you wanting to give further time?",  Wigneswaran inquired, adding that "this government would make use of any further time given to entirely pulverize the Tamil and Muslim communities."

Wigneswaran further said that the Northern Provincial Council and some TNA-controlled city councils in the past have unanimously passed resolutions calling for Sri Lanka to be referred to the ICC.

"Also, my party along with TELO, EPRLF, TULF, PLOTE and, Eelam Tamil Sua-Adchi Kazhagam had jointly requested the UNHRC Commissioner in March last year to refer Sri Lanka to ICC," he said.

"In today’s context, it is pertinent to ask the UNHRC to request the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court, or to a specially created international criminal tribunal set up by the UN. In parallel, my request is that we should also try to take Sri Lanka to the ICJ, which is a feasible option outside the UNHRC mechanism. Beyond whether these are possible or not, it is our duty as representatives of the Tamil people to strive for these," Wigneswarana added.
 
 
Parliamentarian C.V. Wigneswaran’s full letter is as follows:

My Dear Sumanthiran,

Thanks for the document you gave for my perusal. It is a draft letter to the High Commissioner and Members of the UN Human Rights Council.

Most of what you say in the first five pages is well known to the UNHRC. Of course, you have drafted your preamble to refer to human rights’ violations by both sides. I am not sure we should become the objective observers rather than subjective complainers.

Be that as it may, the only concrete action recommended by you is to adopt another Resolution, exactly like the ones that have clearly failed for several years. What is more, the Government of Sri Lanka has withdrawn its sponsorship of the consensus Resolutions.

What makes you think that an extension by another Resolution would change the present position? This Government would make use of any further time given to entirely pulverize the Tamil and Muslim communities. It is happening now. You have very correctly said as follows in your document:

“They have meanwhile continued to deploy the military in civilian positions, seize lands belonging to the Tamil people, appoint Buddhist religious personnel to oversee land allotment in the East of Sri Lanka in the guise of archaeological management, increase surveillance and intimidation of victim families, human rights’ activists and journalists, and curtail burial rites of the Muslim community. Additionally, China, which has emerged a very influential member with key positions in the UNHRC, has publicly assured Sri Lanka on October 9, 2020 that it will support and protect Sri Lanka in the international fora including the UNHRC.”

If you say these things are happening why on earth are you wanting to give further time? You are yourself referring to the futility of giving time by your following recommendation:

“Recognize the victim community’s legitimate concern that the longer the delay, the further the grip of the Sinhala-Buddhist dominance and subjugation of all minorities in Sri Lanka.”

Knowing this, to want to give further time to the Sri Lankan Government perplexes me! Your Resolution only calls the International Community to extend the favours that have already been granted to a genocidal government. Worse, it does so in the name of the Tamil victims. How could we accept your document and its recommendations? We reject it in toto.

You may say that there is no other way than this to keep the government within the UNHRC mechanism. But the sad reality is that if we give the Government time, it will only lead to the implementation of the Government’s insidious agenda, including the repeal of the 13th Amendment.

I understand your concern as to whether it is right for us to stay away from the UNHRC resolution and show hostility. The Tamil side has not taken any significant steps to take Sri Lanka to any court, whether the ICC or the ICJ. I am not saying that we should oppose the UNHRC resolution or should not engage with the UNHRC. Instead, we must take action to further strengthen and make sense of the UNHRC resolution.

The Northern Provincial Council and some TNA-controlled city councils in the past have unanimously passed resolutions calling for Sri Lanka to be referred to the ICC. Also, my party along with TELO, EPRLF, TULF, PLOTE and, Eelam Tamil Sua-Adchi Kazhagam had jointly requested the UNHRC Commissioner in March last year to refer Sri Lanka to ICC.

In today’s context, it is pertinent to ask the UNHRC to request the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court, or to a specially created international criminal tribunal set up by the UN.

In parallel, my request is that we should also try to take Sri Lanka to the ICJ, which is a feasible option outside the UNHRC mechanism. Beyond whether these are possible or not, it is our duty as representatives of the Tamil people to strive for these.

While we call on UNHRC to refer Sri Lanka to the ICC, we must also call on UNHRC to appoint a UN Special Rapporteur to investigate and monitor human rights abuses and land grabs in Sri Lanka as well as to establish an Independent Investigative Mechanism to facilitate the accountability and war crimes process.

I urge you on this occasion to act wholeheartedly in carrying out these steps. On this basis it is best to draw up a letter and submit it jointly by all the Tamil parties. I hope you and TNA will cooperate for this.

Let us act wholeheartedly in carrying out these steps. I am sure my Party would give you our full support for this. Thanks. Regards.

Sincerely

Justice C.V.Wigneswaran, M.P.