The resolution passed by Sri Lanka’s Northern Provincial Council (NPC) asking for an international probe into the war crimes, allegedly committed by the security forces during the final weeks of the ethnic conflict, exposes the lack of reconciliation between the state and the Tamil minority. Nearly 40,000 Tamils were allegedly killed during the final phase of the conflict. There is photographic evidence of such crimes like the killing of slain LTTE chief Prabhakaran’s teenaged son. While claiming that no such genocide occurred, the Sri Lankan government has been oblivious to the need for a credible investigation, which alone will put a lid on the charges that it is not bothered about the gross human rights violations.
Reconciliation is must to bring the Sinhalese and the Tamils back on a common platform. In South Africa, it was the Truth and Justice Commission, headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, that brought about reconciliation between the black majority and the white minority. Alas, no such attempt has been made in Sri Lanka, perhaps, because a powerful section of the government believes that after the obliteration of the LTTE, there is no threat to national security and, therefore, there is no need to be polite to Tamils. Such an attitude will not work, as a community scorned is a community provoked.
It is time India took a bolder stand on this issue. In March, the UN Human Rights Council is expected to pass a resolution on Sri Lanka. Two earlier resolutions, backed by India, had made it obligatory for the island nation to honour its commitments on reconciliation. The US and the UK want an international probe into the human rights violations before the ethnic crisis ended in 2009. New Delhi has so far been keeping quiet. It should tell Colombo that denials of war crimes alone will not do. It has to take tangible steps to hasten the process of reconciliation. Otherwise, Sri Lanka will have to face international opprobrium for what was allegedly done.