Delink War Crimes accountability from political process, NorthEast civil leaders urge Clinton

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 26 October 2011, 01:43 GMT]
In a memorandum sent to U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and copied to the Tamil National Alliance, a group of NorthEast Civil society leaders said that "the question of accountability [for war-crimes] should not be bartered for the sake of arriving at political solution [yet to be defined]," and added that the civil leaders believe that "justice cannot and should not be bartered for anything else," informed sources who obtained a leaked version of the confidential letter said Tuesday. The civil society group is comprised of politically active and highly respected professional members of the NorthEast Tamils.

The Civil group expressed concern on the prevailing thinking in some sections of the TNA that completion of talks between the TNA and the GOSL would lead to a cessation of efforts on the part of the International Community to bring to book through an international mechanism those responsible for the crimes committed against the Tamil people, not just during the last phase of the war but many such wars before that.

The memorandum said "irrespective of what happens to the political process, we are of the firm opinion that the question of accountability should not be bartered for the sake of arriving at a political solution. We believe that justice cannot and should not be bartered for anything else."

The members said that they sincerely hope that the US Government will take into consideration the civil leaders views. "We the signatories to this letter have lived in the North and East of Sri Lanka throughout the conflict and continue to live there. Our views are firmly rooted on the ground and are being expressed without any ulterior political motive and solely with the welfare of the people in mind," the civil leaders said in the memorandum.

The civil society group said that they respectfully disagree with Ambassador Blake architected U.S. Government's position that 13th amendment can be a starting point for a political solution.

"The constitutional framework within which the 13th amendment was enacted, the deliberately confusing language of its text and the judicial interpretation of the working of the 13th amendment make it unsuitable even as a starting point to a political solution. The Tamil people, their political representatives and in fact all successive Sri Lankan Governments since 1987 except for the incumbent, have recognized the inadequacy of the 13th amendment as a solution to the political aspirations of the Tamil people. All negotiations between the GOSL and the Tamil people’s representatives since 1987 have never considered the 13th amendment as a ‘starting point’ to a political solution," the memorandum said.

"Incremental devolution within the 13th amendment framework simply will not work because the borders of the legal and political space that it provides are highly restrictive. In our view it makes no sense to talk about the different subjects over which the centre and the provinces have control over, when the framework itself is fundamentally flawed. We request the US Government that it does not refer to the 13th amendment as a possible starting point to arriving at a political solution.

"Any solution that does not recognize the distinctiveness of the Tamil people as a group entitled to the right to self-government will be not durable. The 13th amendment just does not provide for this understanding," the civil society group said in the leaked memorandum.


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