NDTV published two paraphrased tweets quoting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Those tweets said essentially what Rajapaksa loyalists had been fear-mongering about – that the new government would give ‘full autonomy’ to Tamil areas and that it would engage with the UN on war crimes probes. If you read the transcript, however, Ranil said nothing like the tweets imply. It’s really irresponsible of NDTV and they should retract. You can watch the full video here.
These are the tweets put next to the relevant part of the transcript:
We will engage with UN on war crime probes, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe tells NDTV
— NDTV (@ndtv) January 17, 2015
NDTV: What about the question of prosecution of war crimes?
Ranil Wickramasinghe: Our position has always been that whatever we do has to be within our domestic jurisdiction.
NDTV: So you’re saying no international probe is going to be allowed?
Ranil Wickramasinghe: No, we’re saying the jurisdiction to try any person who’s committed a crime lies with Sri Lanka.
NDTV: So your stand remains the same as the previous government? A UN probe is not welcome; you will do your own internal probe?
Ranil Wickramasinghe: No, UN can give its probe. We’ll engage the UN on these issues. That’s the difference. We’re going to engage the UN Human Rights Council on these issues. All we’re saying is any criminal jurisdiction must be exercised in Sri Lanka. Any civil jurisdiction has to be exercised in Sri Lanka. Only the Sri Lankan courts can determine this issue. The same as India or USA. We are no different from anyone else but we will restore the independence of the judiciary.
NDTV: Okay, but you concede that these war crimes did take place?
Ranil Wickramasinghe: Whatever the violations of human rights, we are looking into it. Anyway, the UN is going to send its own reports so there after we will decide what we’re going to do. But we will have engagement and the UN report is not about going to the international criminal court. It’s about whether violations took place or not.
So Ranil is essentially say there will be no foreign war crimes probes, but we’ll talk to the UN. If I were to paraphrase, I’d say Ranil rejects international war crimes jurisdiction but will engage with the UN.
In principle, we have agreed to full autonomy to Tamil areas, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe tells NDTV
— NDTV (@ndtv) January 17, 2015
And what he actually says:
NDTV: Now let’s look at three big issues which India is concerned about. Number one is whether you will grant full autonomy to the Tamils or will that just remain a promise on paper?
Ranil Wickramasinghe: Well the agreement is that the 13th Amendment be implemented, and that’s the discussion we are having with the TNA. In principle all have agreed that the 13th Amendment should be implemented.
NDTV: You’re okay with that?
Ranil Wickramasinghe: We are with that. We’re only having discussions about the police powers and how it should function, that’s all.
NDTV: But that’s the key thing.
Ranil Wickramasinghe: No, police powers is a provincial subject but there are certain concerns Once we bring the independent commission in, how do we do that? To ensure that..there is big fear in the country, not only the North, that the nine ministers.. chief ministers may turn the police into their own private army. We’re all concerned, even the TNA is aware of it, so we’ve got to have safeguards against it
NDTV: But you’re not in principle against it? You’re not in principle averse to granting full powers?
Ranil Wickramasinghe: The 13th Amendment will be implemented in full and then there’s a question not only of an independent police commission; there’s going to be independent public service commissions. So how that relates to the provinces also has to be discussed.
Given the full context, I don’t see how NDTVs tweets are accurate at all. Ranil is talking about the 13th amendment but they seem to be goading him to say full autonomy, which he isn’t. Full autonomy is very different from talking about provincial police powers. Saying that Sri Lanka will engage with the UN is also very different from saying they’ll engage on war crimes probes.
What NDTV has falsely said puts a stamp on everything Rajapaksa loyalists have been asserting. Their tweets simply aren’t true based on the transcript and viewing of the video and they’re not government policy. The video story is actually quite good, but they should retract and apologize for the misleading tweets.