Sri Lankan external affairs minister GL Peiris is expected to reach New Delhi on Sunday evening to lobby top Indian government ministers and officials about the damning report compiled by the UN Secretary General’s panel of experts on accountability in Sri Lanka. The report submitted to UN chief Ban Ki-moon in April has accused the Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels of killing targeting and killing thousands of civilians during the last phase of the civil war that ended in May, 2009. The report has called for an international and independent investigation into the allegations.
During his three-day visit, Peiris is slated to meet his Indian counterpart, SM Krishna, finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee and home minister, P Chidambaram. Peiris is expected to discuss the report threadbare with the Indian ministers and point out lapses and parts which, according to the government, were added to the report without verification. The report, based partly on 4000 depositions, claimed among other things that the government had deliberately targeted civilians inside the ‘no fire zone.’ The meeting with Mukherjee is being seen as particularly significant as the influential Indian minister had visited Sri Lanka during the last phase of the war as then foreign minister.
Peiris has already met Indian diplomats in Colombo to convey the Lankan government’s contempt for the UN panel’s report, which the government has repeatedly dismissed as flawed, biased and without any credibility. New Delhi had earlier aided Colombo in deflecting moves to institute international probes into the last phase of the war.
But India’s response on the report till now has been measured. A ministry of external affairs statement had said that India was willing to engage with Sri Lanka on the report.
Interestingly, in one of her first statements after winning the Tamil Nadu assembly election, AIADMK chief, J Jayalalithaa, on Friday, had said President Mahinda Rajapaksa should be hauled before an international court of law. “I will exert pressure on the central government, after I take over as the CM, to take action against the Sri Lankan President before international court for genocide and war crimes. India should take the initiative for this,” she told a television channel. After returning from India, Peiris is next headed to Beijing to explain his government’s stand on the report to close ally, China.