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Monday, July 16, 2018

‘Their friendship with LTTE may have led them to campaign against Sri Lanka’

Prasad Kariyawasam,Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India,has kicked up a storm in Delhi with his comments to The Indian Express linking Tamil Nadu politicians to the LTTE,and for which he has since apologised. Excerpts from the interview,given to Shubhajit Roy

Written by Shubhajit Roy | Published: March 16, 2012 2:38:05 am

A new documentary has emerged highlighting human rights violations in Sri Lanka. How do you respond to that?

It is very unfortunate that Parliament was disturbed by our friends from Tamil Nadu on account of alleged violations of human rights in Sri Lanka. The timing of this video is very strange,because,if you recall,Channel 4,which has done this video,did a similar video before the last human rights council meeting in 2011. So it is very clear that it is motivated and this footage… has not been authenticated by any serious authority,nor have we been given a copy to ascertain the facts. For us,it is uncorroborated,unsubstantiated; it’s a concoction and we reject the content because we don’t see any merit in that.

Has the Sri Lankan government done a technical analysis of the footage?

We cannot do it without being given a copy… It’s been only seen in the international media in Britain,so our assumption is that it is a concoction.

So you feel that this photograph of the 12-year-old boy is morphed.

Of course,that is our perception… it could be either way,but we don’t give credence to this. If they were serious,they should have forwarded this to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and they could have initiated a process on how to investigate it.

Has your mission in London or in Geneva asked for a copy?

Of course,we would.

Who is behind this?

In our view,LTTE-sympathetic Tamil groups who are living in western countries are primarily responsible for generating such propaganda against Sri Lanka and our people,primarily for the reason they are upset and aggrieved with LTTE’s decimation.

This could include Indian MPs,MLAs and political leaders from Tamil Nadu.

If they are sympathetic to the LTTE,they would be.

Do you think they would be going to the extent of morphing such footage?

If they are sympathetic to the LTTE,they would.

Have you shared this apprehension with the Indian government?

We don’t name any MPs or MLAs,we don’t name any Indian leaders.

What should the Indian government do?

If they are sympathetic to the LTTE cause,Indian authorities should investigate it.

Did India support your government in the last phase of the war?

…Our military operations were our own responsibility. It was our decision to eliminate LTTE. India had nothing to do with that. I want to ask our friends from Tamil Nadu what is your interest in raking this issue now… There are ways of doing it. Work with the Indian government,provide them facilities,make them come up again,rehabilitate them,give them livelihood,rather than going back and trying to seek how a terrorist group was eliminated,whether the family of the biggest terrorist of that time was taken care of. Why do they do that?

There is a perception that the pace of implementation of the LLRC report has been slow.

Only two months ago,the report was out… We need time to study and come up with a roadmap on how to implement them. How come the international community is so impatient? Why should one go to Geneva to force our hand? I don’t understand why people do that. This is motivated by certain groups who are and were sympathetic to the LTTE.

Which includes Indian leaders?

If they are,they should be investigated. We don’t know who they are,they must identify themselves.

Vaiko is one of them.

If he says that,then he must be.

Even some DMK or AIADMK MPs would say that.

Yes,their friendship with the LTTE may have led them to feel aggrieved and to carry on a campaign against Sri Lanka,and not allow us to get on with our work on rehabilitation,reconstruction of Tamil-affected areas. For instance,our Tamil fishermen are now demanding that the international maritime boundary should be respected so that they can fish in their own backyard. What is happening is Tamil Nadu fishermen are encroaching into their area. Now,if they are really serious about Sri Lankan Tamils,they should stop that,rather than demand that they should be allowed to fish. So the question is,are some Tamil Nadu leaders really concerned about the Sri Lankan Tamils’ welfare? If so,they should work with us,they should come and talk to us.

So you mean to say they are hampering the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka.

Naturally,feelings are frayed in Sri Lanka. The time and energy that we should be spending on rehabilitation,reconciliation and coming up with a political solution [are now spent on defending ourselves against this type of malicious campaign… We are not seeking retributive justice. That is not an Asian value,we are very distressed that some of our Asian friends are seeking retributive justice.

Are they being misled?

Our view is that they are being misled by interested groups,mainly living in the western part of the world,some Tamil groups whose idealism with regard to the separatist campaign by the LTTE has not diminished.

Are they too part of the plan?

If they are sympathetic to those unrealistic ideas of separatism,they may be. If they are still supporting separatism,they maybe. So,instead of allowing nationalism and separatism of all kinds,we are required to allow the process of reconciliation so that we can have peace.

What has the Indian government told you about the resolution at the UNHRC?

India is a very responsible country. They will take a responsible decision. But when there are pulls and pressures in Indian politics,against Sri Lanka,it worries us.

What is your take on the resolution?

Why should they have one within two months? I have been a Sri Lankan diplomat at the UN. This has been the first time a resolution has come within two months of the report,forcing the country’s hand… We must be given time and space. Prescriptive internal push is counter-productive. It vitiates the atmosphere… India is our friend,and they will support us always,in our effort to create a peaceful country.

Has India expressed support for you at the UNHRC?

I am not saying that. India supports us in all spheres. The decision will be taken by India as per their national interest. They are a global power. They will take the right decision at the right time. We don’t consider India is hedging or waiting.

Are you willing to meet the Tamil Nadu CM and its MPs?

I had met the Tamil Nadu CM,have invited her to visit Sri Lanka and try and help the Tamils. We want to be her friend. I will be happy to meet the MPs; nothing is scheduled yet. We have no problem,[are always ready to give them the real situation,not imaginary concoctions.

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