India welcomes Colombo’s decision to lift emergency, backs probe

August 26th, 2011 - 10:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 26 (IANS) Welcoming Colombo’s decision to withdraw the emergency from the island nation, India Friday said it would want Sri Lanka to investigate human rights violations in a “transparent” manner and pushed for a genuine national reconciliation that ensures the rights of the Tamils in that country.

“We have also noted the president of Sri Lanka’s decision announced yesterday (Thursday) to withdraw the state of emergency when it lapses at the end of this month. This, in our view, is a welcome step,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said while replying to a short duration discussion in the Lok Sabha on the steps taken by the government on relief and resettlement of Sri Lankan Tamils.

“We hope that this will be followed by effective steps leading to genuine national reconciliation in the country.”

A day after the Indian opposition parties accused Sri Lanka of ill-treating Tamils even after crushing the Tamil Tigers and voiced concern at human rights violations during the armed conflict with LTTE, Krishna said New Delhi would like Sri Lanka to make “transparent” investigations into such allegations and that the probe should not be a “make believe” one.

“I wish to emphatically state that during the conflict, particularly in its last phase, government of India repeatedly called upon the government of Sri Lanka to be mindful of the welfare and safety of civilians caught in the crossfire and consistently emphasised that the rights and the welfare of the Tamil community of Sri Lanka should not get enmeshed in the ongoing hostilities.”

“To the extent that concerns have been expressed by various quarters on the UNSG’s Panel Report or the Channel 4 documentary, it is for the Sri Lankan government, in the first instance to investigate and inquire into them and establish their veracity or otherwise through a transparent process,” said Krishna. “We note that it is also doing so through its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC),” he added.

Krishna said that the Indian government will continue to reiterate to its Sri Lankan counterpart the urgent and imperative need for expeditious steps towards genuine national reconciliation, including early return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their respective homes.

He also urged Colombo to investige “allegations of human rights violations and work towards “restoration of normalcy in affected areas, reduction of ‘high security zones’, accountability for the list of missing persons and redress humanitarian concerns of the affected families.”

Krishna, however, added that India would not like to “endanger” its relations with Sri Lanka and work with it for relief and resettlement of the IDPs.

He added that since India has always championed the cause of human rights, it has taken up “in strongest possible terms” to address the issue of human rights.

Krishna reiterated New Delhi’s call to Colombo to pursue a lasting political settlement “within the framework of a united Sri Lanka, acceptable to all the communities in Sri Lanka including the Tamils”.

“The sooner Sri Lanka can come to a political arrangement within which all the communities feel comfortable, and which works for all of them, the better. Government of India will do whatever it can to support this process,” he said.

“In this context, our emphasis has been to persuade the Sri Lankan government to move towards a new system of institutional reforms, including a devolution package, building upon the 13th Amendment,” he added.

Referring to reports of harassment of Indian fishermen allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy, Krishna said Colombo has denied the role of its navy in such incidents and promised to investigate “some of the incidents”.

The minister said the incidents of Indian fishermen either being killed or going missing have come down in the past three years. This year, six Indian fishermen have died.

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