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Dr.Gooneratne tells LLRC


Indian involvement won’t help post-war  reconciliation

Veteran diplomat Dr. John Gooneratne wants New Delhi kept out of Sri Lanka’s affairs. Gooneratne, who had been with the Peace Secretariat from its inception in January 2002 till May 2006, feels Indian intrusion, can hinder post-war reconciliation.

In his thought provoking presentation to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) on Wednesday (Sept 15), Dr. Gooneratne urged the ruling coalition and other political parties not to repeat past mistakes.

In an obvious reference to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the soft spoken Gooneratne said that those who wanted to rush to Chennai should be encouraged to visit Colombo. He was responding to a query raised by Mano Ramanathan, a member of the Commission headed by former Attorney General C. R. de Siva inquiring into the collapse of the Norwegian brokered CFA leading to the Eelam War IV and related issues.

Dr. Gooneratne said that like any other country India, too, would act on its national interests. Referring to a series of main news items in the Chenni-based The Hindu, Dr. Gooneratne asserted that various statements attributed to Indian politicians whether it was Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi or Indian Premier Manmohan Singh couldn’t be to Sri Lanka’s advantage.

Dr. Gooneratne warned failure on the part of the Sri Lankan political parties pave the way for foreign intervention. In his brief written submissions, Dr. Gooneratne said: "There are other areas of reconciliation that we sometimes miss. Lack of domestic harmony and reconciliation among the different groups within the country had caused this country foreign policy and security problems in the not too distant past. And they still continue to do so…"

Referring to a chapter titled ‘Sri Lankan Tamil identity’ in Prof. Karthigesu Sivathamy’s ‘Being a Tamil and Sri Lankan’, Dr. Gooneratne faulted the government for failing to resist Indian interference. While emphasizing the need to keep monitoring missions from New Delhi or Chennai away, Dr. Gooneratne pointed out that Sri Lanka did not object or government spokespersons did not call it ‘interference’ when India expressed interest and concern over the pace of the solving of problems facing the Sri Lankan Tamils.

Dr. Gooneratne is the first former public official, who pointedly criticized President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s post-war relations with New Delhi. Recalling the circumstances in which the then JRJ had to give in to New Delhi when India used Tamil grievances as a pressure point to influence foreign policy concessions through the Indo-Lanka Agreement of July 1987, Dr. Gooneratne asserted that India was now acting as if Sri Lanka was trying to cozy up too close to China. In the 80s, India felt Sri Lanka was trying to cozy up too close to the United States.

~ ~ By Shamindra Ferdinando


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