A defiant President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday once again rejected demands for an international inquiry into alleged war crimes during the military campaign against the LTTE, saying countries should not “dictate” to Sri Lanka.
A day after British Prime Minister David Cameron gave an ultimatum for free and independent probe into human rights violations in the country and called for a life of dignity and respect for the Tamils, Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka needed time for reconciliation and there cannot be a time limit for it.
“We have a legal system and constitution. We have a process, it has started. It will take time. We have to change the mindset of the people not only in the north but also in the south,” he told a media conference here at the conclusion of the three-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting ( CHOGM).
“The conflict was there for 30 years. Not just Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims also suffered. It is my responsibility to look after them. But you cannot say you have to do this in one week or three or four months. It is unfair,” Rajapaksa said.
Asked about the March deadline set by Cameron, he said, Sri Lanka cannot do it. “Be fair to us and help us. Nobody should dictate.”
“You have to respect our views, be fair to us. You must not try to divide communities,” Rajapaksa said in an apparent reference to Cameron’s remarks.
Rajapaksa, who has faced international criticism, said he had a responsibility to his people.
“We have set up a parliamentary committee that has representatives from all parties. Give us time,” he said.
“We respect Commonwealth values, human rights and freedom of media that is why we held elections in the north. We have a parliament. We have appointed a select committee. We have asked people to suggest a solution. One person cannot do it. I cannot do it,” the Sri Lankan president said.
Cameron had yesterday given Sri Lanka an ultimatum to conduct a credible probe into the war crimes by March, failing which he would seek an international investigation.
Rajapaksa had promptly rejected Cameron’s demand and the Sri Lankan government said it would not conduct any inquiry under “pressure” or allow an independent international probe.
After a historic visit to war-ravaged Jaffna, the first by a foreign head of government since the island’s independence from Britain in 1948, Cameron met Rajapaksa on Friday night. (The Times of India)