Samantha Power evades questions in Jaffna on Tamil genocide

[TamilNet, Sunday, 22 November 2015, 22:22 GMT]
Placing high hopes on Colombo regime that it will act positively to accountability demands of the US, and that there would be a vibrant civil society, lasting democracy and increased prosperity in the island, the visiting US Ambassador to United Nations, Ms Samantha Power, in Jaffna, dodged questions on the need for investigations on Tamil genocide, when journalists in Jaffna met her at the Jaffna Public Library on Sunday. During the tightly scheduled visit to Jaffna, Ms Power met with SL Governor to North, NPC Chief Minister and his ministers, toured the offices of the Uthayan newspaper and ceremonially opened a new science building at Jaffna Osmania College, constructed with 450,000 USD aid from the US Pacific Command. The Tamil-speaking Muslims in Jaffna had experienced “ethnic cleansing” even before the term was coined, Power said in her Osmania address.

Samantha Power at Osmania College
Samantha Power addressing the opening ceremony of Science facility at Jaffna Osmania College
When a Tamil journalist proposed that the assassination of Mylvaganam Nimalarajan should be the first case to be investigated if Colombo was sincere in proving its commitment to accountability, Ms Power responded by questioning why the Tamil journalists were particular about beginning the investigations on the killings of journalists.

The assassination of Nimalarajan, who was the BBC and TamilNet correspondent in Jaffna took place 15 years ago.

Ms Power continued that it may be hard to get the evidence and witnesses of a crime that had happened 15 years ago, but she added that to begin investigations the Sri Lankan government has a long list of cases to choose from.

Samantha Power meets NPC CM
Samantha Power meets NPC CM Justice C.V. Wigneswaran and his ministers
Citing Power's earlier writings on the genocides committed in Rwanda and Bosnia, a Tamil journalist asked whether she would be prepared to exert pressure on the Sri Lankan government to allow investigations on the genocide against Tamils. Dodging to answer the question directly, Power quipped, “I heard that,” when her interpreter started to translate. Refusing to be drawn-in to address the crime of genocide, Power posed a counter-question to the journalists asking them whether they had trust in the current Sri Lankan regime.

A journalist talking to TamilNet after the meeting said 6 years had already passed since the genocidal onslaught in Mu'l'livaaykkaal. The SL government was allowed to cover up the traces of the crime in the aftermath of the war. Even now, the occupying SL military is in complete control of the area, which is not accessible to credible international investigators to conduct forensic investigations. Giving enough time and space to the Colombo regime, another US official visiting Jaffna would again tell us the same story as that Ms Power did in Jaffna on 22 November, 2015, that it was hard to get evidence as the Mu'l'livaaykkaal massacre had taken place 6 years ago. “This is why Tamils demand independent international investigations,” the journalist said.

The US Embassy officials had earlier promised that journalists would be allowed to ask questions. But, at the last minute the journalists were told that there was no time for questions.

In fact, one of the key questions the journalist had prepared in writing was whether the USA would be willing to provide forensic assistance to obtain evidence of what happened during the final phases of war.

Samantha Power also visited the Jaffna Public Library and announced a new grant from the US to protect some of the palm leave manuscripts that were preserved in the Jaffna Library.

The Sinhala police of genocidal Sri Lanka torched the original Jaffna library in 1981. At the time the library held the best collection of Tamil literature in Asia, including many irreplaceable manuscripts.

The visiting US Embassy officials and the Education Minister of Northern Provincial Council, Mr T. Kurukularajah were seen referring to the Tamil-speaking people in the province as ‘Northerns’.

The NPC Chief Minister Justice C.V. Wigneswaran described his meeting with Samantha Power as a constructive one.

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