COLOMBO: Two hardline members of Sri Lanka's main Tamil party today started a five-day protest walk to demand an international war crimes probe into alleged atrocities in the final stages of the military conflict.
"We started from Kilinochchi today at 9 am and finish at Elephant Pass tonight," said MK Shivajilingam, a member of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA)-controlled northern provincial council.
He was joined by Ananthi Saseetharan, a fellow NPC member.
Saseetharan's husband Elilan, a former LTTE political commissar, had gone missing after he gave himself up to the military at the end of the war, she claimed.
"This is a five day walk which we will end in Jaffna's Nallur," Shivajilingam said, adding that idea was to urge the UN Human Rights Council to conduct an international probe and not a local mechanism to investigate war crimes allegations as attempted by the Sri Lankan government.
The walk comes after the US government announced last month that it would back a local mechanism envisaged by the Sri Lankan government.
The US contemplates a pro-Sri Lanka resolution at the UNHRC later this month. The Tamil groups have always encouraged an international investigation claiming that Sri Lanka's internal mechanisms as evident in previous experiences were mere cover up operations.
The UNHRC in March 2014 resolved to order an international investigation which the then Mahinda Rajapaksa government resisted and extended no cooperation.
However, the advent of the Maithripala Sirisena as President in January this year followed by some of the confidence building measures taken by the new government
towards the Tamil minority changed the international perception on Sri Lanka.
The UNHRC on US appeal delayed the presentation of its own investigation report till September as a measure of goodwill on Sri Lanka's new government.
The UNHRC resolution had blamed both the government troops and the LTTE for alleged war crimes during the final stages of the three-dacade-old conflict which ended in May 2009.