Monthly Archives: February 2014

URGENT! PLEASE VOTE!

Click on this link to vote — we are checking the number of votes as it builds up. Please help to meet the 100,000 target.

PETITION TO SUPPORT ALL SRI LANKANS

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/safeguard-sovereignty-sri-lanka-and-not-pass-resolution-against-sri-lanka-alleged-war-crimes/VvwB6LgR

 

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Petition to White House

PLEASE, SEND THIS TO ALL IN EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WHERE SRI LANKANS LIVE.
Signatures needed by March 19, 2014 to reach goal of 100,000

You can help ensure that this petition will be reviewed by the White House and receive an official response by asking your friends and family to sign the petition as well.
Send an email to your friends and family or use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to help promote this petition.
Email this link to your friends and family: http://wh.gov/lUt3J

Or use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to help promote this petition.

Attn: First of all u have to log on to web site using above given link than u have to create a white house account. Its so easy just one step.

Pls help to protect our nation

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Re: Article titled ‘Diplomats fear Australia will wreck UN probe into Sri Lankan war crimes

 84 Tambrook Drive
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M1W 3L9

February 25, 2014
The Editor
Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney, Australia

Dear Editor,

I refer to the above news report filed by Bianca Hall and David Wroe published in your newspaper on the
24th of February, 2014, and write to point out several misleading statements and errors of fact contained
therein. Both Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison who are leading members of the present Australian
government visited Sri Lanka on a fact finding mission where they toured the conflict affected areas and
spoke to members of the Tamil National Alliance, resident Tamil civilians, and a wide circle of representatives
of civil and religious groups in the region. They were satisfied with the work done by the Sri Lankan
authorities to resettle the 295,873 IDPs, rehabilitate nearly 11,800 Tamil Tiger cadres and child soldiers and
release them to society , and also see the development work done in the north of the island which helped
to attract new investment to the area. It is their considered view that others should not disrupt the ongoing
healing and reconciliation taking place, and if at all like Australia they should assist the country with the
demining and livelihood projects. It is in Australia’s interest to have provided two patrol boats to the Sri
Lankan authorities to beef up their naval operations in preventing potential illicit migrants from Sri Lanka
who were being misled by human smugglers to take risky sea voyages to enter Australia and seek asylum,
and it is in no way tied to upcoming discussions at the UNHRC. The international community should engage
with Sri Lanka which is an independent sovereign country and an equal member of the UN, and not try to
impose their agendas in respect of Sri Lanka’s internal matters.

The estimates of 40,000 and 70,000 civilian deaths in the period from January 1 to May 18, 2009 is nothing
but a wild guesstimate that has no bearing to facts on the ground. Gordon Weiss who was attached to the
UN Resident Representative’s office in Colombo was aware that the UN had counted a total 7,721 civilian
deaths in the last five months based on information gathered from their local Tamil staff of 240 who
remained in the conflict zone as they were prevented by the Tigers from leaving the area. Strangely, Gordon
Weiss published a book called the ‘Cage’ aimed at marketing it to the one million strong Tamil diaspora and with an
eye to personal profit, where he went on to state that the final number would run into tens of thousands of civilian
deaths, padding it up to the figure to at least 40,000 killed. We have to rely on numbers compiled by the UN
Resident Representative’s office in Colombo which is not being talked of by the media and the UNSG’s
Panel of Experts who preferred to conceal this number of 7,721 and instead invent numbers out of thin air
in the tens of thousands ranging up to 40,000. The Petrie report estimated as much as 70,000 civilian deaths
merely by reviewing the UNSG’s POE report. The UK Sunday Times reporter who overflew the final battle ground
estimated 20,000 civilian deaths and carried this number in his column. The post war census carried out by the
Government of Sri Lanka in 2012 using school teachers and public officials from the Tamil community
as enumerators arrived at a number of 7,432 deaths. The total number of deaths reported by the Tamilnet
which was a propaganda unit of the Tamil Tigers for the period January 1 to May 18, 2009 was 7,398, which is
slightly lower than both the UN’s local office and the Sri Lankan Government’s census figure. None of these
three reports distinguished between combatant and civilian deaths, which leaves one to conclude that these
casualty figures included Tiger combatants as well as civilians who were pressed into combat roles to replace
fallen cadres and genuine civilians caught in the crossfire.

None of the INGO/NGO or community groups, church bishops, or relatives if any of such hugely inflated
numbers of civilian dead have been able to produce names and verifiable evidence to support such bogus
claims. The census carried out in the region by Tamil enumerators revealed only a total of 7432 deaths in
the period from January 1 to May 18, 2009, which includes fallen LTTE cadres (that should at least equal the
army’s KIA of 3,600 in the same period) and others conscripted by the Tamil Tigers for battle in civilian attire,
yet others killed by the LTTE in their attempt to flee to government controlled areas, which leaves at most
about 2,500 genuine civilians who may have died in the crossfire.

The article also states that the US and British officials preparing a third resolution to be presented at the
upcoming UNHRC sessions in March 2014 criticising Sri Lanka and possibly calling for an international probe
into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the dying days of the conflict in 2009 are concerned
that they may not receive Australia’s backing. In such an event, they have said that Australia would be aligning
herself with international pariah states and working against her traditional western allies. If such were the case,
Australia can be reassured that her studied position will be respected for acting as a sovereign independent
country and fellow member of both the UN and the Commonwealth, instead of being dragged into supporting a
malicious resolution being authored by the worst human rights offender that has laid waste many a country
including the illegal invasion of Iraq.

Yours sincerely,

Mahinda Gunasekera

 

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Tamil Canadians in Prison for Arming LTTE Terrorists Renounce Violence

Five years after they were caught buying arms for Sri Lanka’s LTTE terrorists, three Canadians have signed an open letter from prison acknowledging they were wrong and renouncing political violence.

Sarachandran Shunmugan talks about his

jailed son holding a photograph of him.

“We incorrectly believed that violence could achieve the goals that we sought,” they wrote. “We now realise that what we did was not helpful in leading to a positive resolution of the issues that existed in Sri Lanka.”

The rejection of armed militancy is a complete reversal for the Toronto men, who were part of the international weapons procurement network that supplied the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE, during Sri Lanka’s long battle against terrorism.

But since being caught in New York shopping for US $ 1 million worth of surface-to-air missiles and AK-47 assault rifles – a crime that earned them sentences of at least 25 years – the men have apparently had a change of heart.

Violence

“Each of us has come to the conclusion that the criminal activity for which we have been sentenced has caused much harm to all citizens of Sri Lanka,” wrote Sathajhan Sarachandran, Thiruthanikan Thanigasalam and Sahilal Sabaratnam.

“We incorrectly believed that supporting LTTE ideology on armed violence would bring peace to Tamil people. We refrain from those beliefs now,” reads the joint letter signed by each of them at their prison in Brooklyn, New York, on August 21.

The repudiation of political violence is the first of its kind to emerge from Canadians actively involved in supporting the Tamil Tigers, a federally banned armed separatist group that has long been active in Toronto.

It comes as their families in Ontario are seeking mercy for the inmates, such as prisoner transfers to Canada or Sri Lanka. And it raises a difficult question for the government. Do those involved in terrorism deserve leniency if they repent?

Some experts argue that when high-profile former militants publicly disavow their past actions, it can help undercut armed groups by attacking the narrative used to justify violence and attract new recruits.

Repudiation

“A public repentance, a public disassociation from the group, can actually undermine the legitimacy and attractiveness of being involved in the group for others, particularly when those doing the defecting tend to have blood on their hands,” said Director of the International Centre for the Study of Terrorism at Pennsylvania State University, John Horgan.

They raised millions in Canada for their cause and were cheered on by flag-waving supporters in Toronto and Ottawa, the repudiations are significant because of the positions the men once held.

Sarachandran, 31, is the former president of the Tamil Youth Organisation’s Toronto chapter, while Sabaratnam, 32, was communications director of the Canadian Tamil Congress, the leading Tamil organisation in the country. Thanigasalam, 43, is his brother-in-law.

“Here you have three people who are willing to take a public position, who can affect not only people in Sri Lanka but the larger Tamil community outside of Sri Lanka, since they are Canadian nationals,” their New York lawyer, Lee Ginsberg, said in an interview.

Grave Mistake

In addition to their joint statement, they have each written longer, more personal letters that urge ethnic Tamils in Canada to abandon the armed separatist campaign and to instead work to rebuild Sri Lanka.

“Let us not even for a second talk about arms again,” Thanigasalam wrote. “Let us learn something from all this. War is not the answer to anything. We have made a grave mistake for our people by supporting an armed resistance.” In his letter, Sabaratnam wrote that, “Blood is not the answer to anything. I ask that none of you choose a path where violence is encouraged.”

Facing another 16 years’ imprisonment (federal convicts must serve at least 85% of their sentences), the men are, with Ginsberg’s help, seeking to be transferred out of the United States. Canada has a prisoner-transfer treaty with the United States, but Ottawa would have to agree to take them back.

Alternatively, they have been looking into transfers to Sri Lanka, where they were born. Since the Sri Lanka’s battle against terrorism ended in 2009, almost all the roughly 11,000 Tigers terrorists captured during the battle have been rehabilitated and released. The three Canadians are hoping Sri Lanka will take them back and give them the same treatment.

“They are Canadian citizens, but it’s not all that clear what Canada’s position would be, what political interests they have in accepting them,” Ginsberg said. “We’re sort of hoping and taking the position that the Sri Lankan government should have the same interests in my clients as they do in Sri Lankan nationals who had been involved in violent activities on behalf of the LTTE, and the same desire to see them rehabilitated – and possibly even more so, because their cases may have gotten more notoriety.”

Arrests

Sitting at a dining-room table in the Toronto suburb of Markham, Sarachandran’s father, Sarachandran Shunmugan, said he was unaware his son was involved with the terror outfit until he heard about the arrests over the radio.

He does not dispute that what his son did was wrong but he believes there are grounds for leniency as the battle was over; LTTE terrorists were defeated; and giving his son a second chance would be seen by Tamils as a goodwill gesture that would help post-terrorism reconciliation efforts.

In May, Shunmugan co-founded a non-profit group called Mercy for Tamil Prisoners. Its mission is to advocate for those detained as a result of the terrorism in Sri Lanka, but all three directors are relatives of Sarachandran, Thanigasalam and Sabaratnam.

Angry Calls

The families have been supporting humanitarian work in Sri Lanka, but they also have met with senior Sri Lankan officials in recent months to make their case for leniency. They said the country’s defence officials had assured them Sri Lanka was open to their proposals.

To lay the groundwork for their campaign, the families have begun releasing the men’s letters of repentance. It is not a message some want to hear. Since his son’s letter was posted on the Mercy for Tamil Prisoners website, Shunmugan said he has received angry calls from as far away as France berating him for hurting the Tamil cause.

The families say their sons’ renunciation of the armed revolt needs to be heard because Tamil separatist sentiment lingers in Canada. A declassified 2010 Canadian intelligence report obtained by the National Post comes to the same conclusion: “In spite of the LTTE’s military defeat, Tamils around the world, generally, remain committed, providing financial and ideological support to this end.”

Shunmugan was a physics teacher in northern Sri Lanka when LTTE terrorism became unbearable. The family home in Jaffna was close to an artillery base and shells soared overhead.

He left in 1989. The rest of the family joined him in Canada three years later, when his son was 12. In 1998, the father was working as a Toronto parking lot attendant when he was hit by a car. He was in a coma for six days and suffered a crippling stroke.

Tiger network

Sarachandran earned a computer science degree from the University of Windsor in 2002 before returning to Toronto to work at the Tamil Youth Organisation, a non-profit group he now acknowledges was “part of” the Tigers’ network.

“During these times, I was misled by so many community well-wishers,” Sarachandran wrote in his letter. He said advocates of the armed struggle fuelled his anger. “Meetings after meetings, campaign after campaign, all injecting hate into me and other fellow students.”

He made several trips to Sri Lanka, taking advantage of a short-lived ceasefire. He toured the island and helped at an orphanage, but he also became closely involved with the Tigers. Photos the RCMP found on his computer show him posing with a heavy machine gun and firing a rifle at an LTTE camp.

Upon his return to Canada, he flew to New York to meet a contact he thought was a black market arms dealer. Sarachandran told him he wanted to buy missiles and that he was working for the LTTE intelligence and operations chief, Pottu Amman.

He returned to New York by car on Aug. 18, 2006, this time with Thanigasalam, who prosecutors said was a weapons expert, and Sabaratnam, the financial expert. Unaware it was a sting operation, they negotiated to purchase 500 AK-47s, 20 SA-18 missiles and 10 missile launchers, and the services of a trainer.

They were arrested and pleaded guilty to terrorism and conspiracy. Three others were arrested in Canada on related charges. (One has since been extradited to the United States to stand trial. The other two have challenged their extradition orders to the Supreme Court of Canada.)

The 160-word joint letter they signed in prison is titled, “A New Beginning.” But that may be wishful thinking. Transfer to a Canadian prison could be a non-starter. The families said they hope to meet Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, who would have to approve their sons’ transfers.

But a Queen’s University law professor, Sharryn Aiken is doubtful. “It’s going to be tough because we’ve got a government that’s proven to be somewhat unresponsive to prisoner-transfer requests in circumstances of offences that are arguably much more than minor offences.”

“It’s possible,” Ginsberg said, “but at the end of the day, besides the fact that the clients feel the way they do and wanted to make these statements, you have to sometimes take it on faith that it’s being done for the right reasons when you’re facing a 25-year jail sentence.”

Even if the odds are against them, the families feel they have to try. Shunmugan walks with a cane, the nagging effect of the stroke. He said Sarachandran is the eldest son and is needed to care for the family. “I am 63 years old. I am a very sick guy,” he said.

“My son, I want him here in Canada”.

Courtesy: National Post, Canada

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Strategic communication at best: Sri Lanka’s Amza does it again

Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune Foreign News Desk

Washington, D.C. 21 February (Asiantribune.com):

Sri Lanka’s Head of Mission to the European Union, Ambassador Amza has a remarkable gift of cogently presenting facts, while separating fiction, listing in a methodical manner Sri Lanka’s case largely misunderstood by the international community (meaning the West) because of this South Asian nation’s utter inability to use the basics of public affairs, public diplomacy and strategic communication.
Sri Lanka’s Head of Mission to the European Union Ambassador Amza Using his gifted skills in both English and Tamil languages, Ambassador Amza, as reported by the Asian Tribune last May, scrutinized the Channel 4 documentary highlighting the discrepancies to the European diplomatic audience.

His intervention at the end of a panel discussion that followed the screening of the film “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”, held at the premises of the European Parliament on 14 May last year, which was jointly organized by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and International Crisis Group at this May gathering Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union P.M. Amza displayed a very rare quality most of his nation’s foreign diplomatic corps members and the officials who handle ‘external affairs’ have failed to display awarding, since the Eelam War ended in May 2009, great advantage to pro-separatists within the Tamil Diaspora to define the character of this South Asian nation before the International Community.

He very eloquently described using his Tamil language skills the serious mistakes the producers of the documentary made by misinterpreting what the witnesses have said in Tamil, to suit the Channel 4 agenda.
Ambassador Amza did it again on 19 February addressing the meeting of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the Countries in the South Asia.

Addressing the distinguish gathering Ambassador Amza reminded the international community (Mainly the West) “Although it was stated that these Resolutions (meaning the ones before the UNHRC) on Sri Lanka are to help and encourage Sri Lanka to achieve reconciliation and durable peace, it serves the exact opposite. The conflict affected every aspect of Sri Lankan life. Unfortunately, we in Sri Lanka, during the conflict, did not see relentless efforts by certain countries to “Bring the global spotlight on Sri Lanka” , through resolutions, or INGO publishing reports, or TV Channels with the sinister motives, airing documentaries episode after episode, coinciding with important events related to Sri Lanka, to help the country and encourage her. All those who are on a crusade against us were in a deep slumber then. Today, part of the international community seems to be in a rush to pronounce judgments on Sri Lanka which are preposterous. Their patience is said to be wearing out and are of the view that only intrusive measures and ultimatums would yield results”.

Ambassador criticized a section of the International Community for being prejudice stating “They have already prejudged that our own efforts are insufficient and substandard to resolve the unprecedented issues and challenges that we had to face at the end of the conflict. We have proven them wrong by resettling almost all 297,000 IDPs, clearing over 98% of areas identified for demining, rehabilitating 11,758 ex-combatants including all 594 child soldiers, providing livelihood support to the returnees and rehabilitees/beneficiaries, rebuilding the North with over US$ 3 billion worth investments, phasing out security presence and withdrawal of HSZs, holding elections even in the former theatres of conflict, establishing civilian administration and institutions, maintaining a healthy economic growth, and also, embarking on a domestic process of reconciliation just an year after ending the conflict”.

He further said “All our proponents seem to have one element in common. They are all heavily relying on “unsubstantiated” and “unproven” allegations coming from so called “reliable and independent sources”, whose integrity are often severely compromised. Based on these misinformation, they have arrived at the sweeping conclusion that “Sri Lanka is not doing enough”. Some, despite being invited, decided not to help the domestic process, as they were prejudicial of the eminence of our Commissioners, the adequacy and independence of the mechanisms and procedures adopted within Sri Lanka”.

While commenting on the selective approach targeting Sri Lanka, the Ambassador said “we have not seen these entities and self-professed experts criticizing other similar Commissions of inquiries elsewhere, and casting doubt why those Commissions still struggle, even to come out with a report, leave aside ‘road maps’ or ‘plan of actions’. Why not tell them also “It is Time for Action”. “The stoic silence of our critiques on such matters will speak in volumes of their hypocrisy and unprofessional approaches to bully selected countries while allowing free reign to others”, the Ambassador told EU Parliament”.
Here are the highlights of Ambassador Amza’s presentation:

GSL Initiative

We categorically reject unfounded assertions. The Government on its own initiative appointed the LLRC in May 2010, one year after ending the conflict. After 13 months of deliberation, the Commission submitted its report in November 2011, and the Government made it public in December 2011 by presenting it to the Parliament. The Chapter 9 of this Report carries 285 paragraphs comprising both observations and recommendations. The Cabinet appointed a Task Force headed by the Secretary to the President, in May 2012 to monitor the implementation of LLRC recommendations. Having meticulously studied the Report, a National Action Plan (NPoA) for implementing the LLRC recommendations were presented to the Cabinet of Ministers in July 2012.

Budgetary allocations for the implementation were approved by the Parliament, for the 26 implementing agencies, in the national budget adopted in December 2012. In July 2013, an additional 53 recommendations were added to the initial 91 recommendations in the NPoA, hence taking in a total of 144 recommendations which are being actively pursued since 2013. The implementation of the recommendation is an evolving process. It is true that not all the recommendations move at the same speed due to the complexity of some of the issues. It is necessary to look at them very carefully in order to ensure that whatever solutions that are being provided are sustainable and acceptable to all communities in the country, and the right balance is arrived at.

Civilian Killings

There are allegations on the numbers that may have been killed, disappeared or missing. These numbers range from 7000 to over 100,000 depending on who is projecting it. It is in such circumstances that the Ministry of Public Administration and the Department of Census concluded an Island-wide enumeration on the damages and loss to property and lives that have occurred from 1982 to date, as a direct or indirect result of the internal conflicts in the country. The results, once known, will help to rest the concomitant opinions by different quarters.

The Army Court of Inquiry report on alleged incidents of shelling civilians and civilian places is being studied by the Ministry of Defense. The Second Inquiry is ongoing on the incidents highlighted by the C4 video, irrespective of its authenticity, as recommended by the LLRC through a comprehensive procedure involving interviewing all relevant Field Commanders and potential witnesses. Once the inquiry board is able to identify the persons, the evidence will be evaluated. Depending on the gravity of the crime committed, some of those found responsible will be subjected to court material. The other cases will be handed over the law enforcement authorities for further action.

Involuntary Disappearances

We have made considered efforts to improve the human rights situation, having guaranteed in the first place, the “right to life”, for all Sri Lankans by putting an end to the fear of death casted by terrorism. We have consistently worked with the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID). An Inter-Ministerial Task Force since January 2012, has transmitted responses on 842 cases to the Working Group.

Further, a three-member Presidential Commission of Inquiry is undertaking public sittings to inquire into disappearances in the North and the East. The Commission however has received to date 13,700 complaints from all parts of the country and from all ethnic groups. Of these, approximately 9,300 are from civilians and 4,300 are from security personnel. Every complaint is acknowledged by letter and the data on complaints are computerized with a reference number provided to the complainant if he/she wishes to inquire into the status of the complaint subsequently.

An initial report to the Commission reveals that some of those who are reported to be missing are in fact living elsewhere in the world. If EU wishes to be helpful, and constructive, please let us address this issue together, as a shared responsibility. We invite EU to take the advantage of the EU-Sri Lanka Joint Readmission Agreement Framework to share information and let us know whether the individuals claimed to be “missing” are in fact living or not, in their respective territories. We know that hundreds of thousands of Tamils and others left Sri Lanka without proper documentation and are living in this part of the world now.

Changing the Demography

There have also been unfounded accusations on changing the demography of the Northern areas by resettling people other than Tamils. Before the ethnic cleansing by LTTE, the North of Sri Lanka in the early 1980 had Muslims (over 50,000) and Sinhalese (over 35,000) living peacefully. When the conflict intensified almost all these civilians either left or were forcefully evicted. The Tamils also began to move to South and live among the rest of the communities. Hence, any effort to demarcate part of the country exclusively to be mono ethnic is not practical or sustainable. Today, 51% of population in the Colombo city being non-Sinhalese is a testimony.

Sexual Abuse

There is enough evidence to prove that GOSL has not hesitated to take action on perpetrators when evidence is provided beyond reasonable doubt and that there is no culture of impunity as speculated. However, having said that, I wish to categorically emphasize that the Government vehemently rejects the alleged co-relation being portrayed with regard to the presence of the military and the vulnerability of women in the North, as well as the accusations on systematic use of sexual abuse. Sri Lanka has a zero tolerance policy on sexual abuse, and whenever prima facie evidence is made available it has followed due procedure to bring justice. A comprehensive study carried out in the North on the issue revealed that the majority of the incidents reported were committed by civilians. However, out of 107 reported cases during the period 2007 to 18 May 2009, 7 were committed by security personnel, and another 307 cases reported during the period 2009 May to 2012, 10 were committed by military personnel. More importantly, in order to address and prevent such crimes, and other gender based violence, several initiatives were put in place, such as; establishing Women and child development units in all 25 districts in the country, providing temporary shelters and safe accommodation for victims, awareness campaigns, health, security, legal counselling for victims etc. The civil society organizations, media are bringing these incidents to the attention of the public. Also, there is a very well established programme for counselling for women and children. There are single parent families development programmes, particularly focused in the North and the East, where the widows have been provided with educational opportunities, vocational training for self-employment of women. UNICEF, IOM, and many partners are involved in supporting the government initiatives, and further assistance to empower women-headed households in the country, in line with the Government priorities would be welcomed.

We have proven the critics wrong, said Ambassador Amza:

* by resettling almost all 297,000 IDPs,

* clearing over 98% of areas identified for demining,

* rehabilitating 11,758 ex-combatants including all 594 child soldiers

* providing livelihood support to the returnees and rehabilitees/beneficiaries ,

* rebuilding the North with over US$ 3 billion worth investments,

* Phasing out security presence and withdrawal of HSZs.

* holding elections even in the former theatres of conflict,

* establishing civilian administration and institutions

* maintaining a healthy economic growth, and also

Embarking on a domestic process of reconciliation just an year after ending the conflict, and the painstaking efforts taken since July 2012, to implement the recommendations.

Regrettably, there is greater reluctance to acknowledge what the country has achieved with its limited resources, but with the unlimited desire and will, to do what is right for the country, Ambassador Amza presenting the facts separating fiction in a very cogent manner told the European Union parliamentarians.

– Asian Tribune –

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Resolutions against Sri Lanka based on personally commissioned Panel Report by UN Secretary General is illegitimate

By Shenali D Waduge (Courtesy of Lankaweb)

There are some facts that the world needs to take cognizance of.

* Sri Lanka’s conflict has lasted 3 decades
* The initial training to arm Tamil youth took place in India clandestinely before 1983 – this nullifies any claim to use 1983 riots as an excuse for Tamils to take up arms against the State. (the Jain Commission report of India reveals venues of training and numbers trained and the Sansoni Commission report of Sri Lanka in 1977 clearly establishes this proof)
* Sri Lanka has gone through ceasefires, negotiations, peace talks all brokered by foreign nations, UN throughout the 3 decades. None of these efforts remotely helped to reduce or eliminate LTTE terror. Thousands of innocent civilian lives were targeted, public property destroyed, leaders assassinated, entire peaceloving Tamil leaders were killed. Apart from the customary statements of sympathy following these civilian deaths the UN, foreign nations, UNHRC head and certainly none of the players now calling for ‘Accountability’ from the LTTE for the crimes. No foreign documentaries were made about these killings, no authors chose to write books on these heinous crimes, no foreign parliamentarians demanded an end from the LTTE for these killings, no panel discussions and even the local media chose not to carry out a campaign on behalf of the nation against the LTTE. Even the UN Special Rappateur on Children, herself a Tamil walked away with UN awards compiling reports on Child Soldiers but did little to stop child soldier recruitment or punishment during the 30 years.
* It was in the backdrop of the lack of foreign assistance to mitigate a solution and end terrorism and realizing that the world and UN failed to see the difference in dealing with terrorists that Sri Lanka was forced to take the next and last option – a military solution. LTTE were not representative of the Tamil people for LTTE killed scores of Tamils including its own cadres who did not follow orders.
* The LTTE was given 2 opportunities to lay down arms and surrender in the beginning of 2009 which LTTE rejected claiming it would fight till the last man. From the UN Secretary General to foreign national leaders appeals were made to the LTTE to release civilians which LTTE refused. These appeals and statements are available and are on record to show that the UN was well aware that civilians were kept by force, was taken by force, were used as combatants and these raise the biggest question of how many of the ‘civilians’ in the war zone were actually ‘civilians’ and could be defined as civilians to be afforded any cover under international laws. In an armed conflict no civilian can take part in combat (whatever nature) and he forfeits his rights as a civilian if he does so. These laws are enshrined in the Geneva Conventions. Before anyone claims status of ‘civilians’ it is pertinent to now ask how many ‘civilians’ did not take part in combat operations (whatever kind) for ONLY these people can come under the definition of ‘civilian’ under international law.
* In May 19, 2009 LTTE leader and his key ground force was eliminated. Alongside the military operation a humanitarian rescue operation was also taking place. This was an unprecedented feature in the theatre of any war. No military has ever carried out a military exercise alongside a humanitarian operation. The Sri Lankan Armed Forces did just that. While eliminating the world’s most brutal terrorist outfit including its leader, the army at the cost of 2600 lives saved close to 300,000 Tamil people (again we do not know how many of this number comprised members of the LTTE for LTTE comprised units that were fighters and those in administrative roles as LTTE had its own court, own postoffice, own schools and these functioned with Tamils – Ananthi Sasistharan now in Geneva was a Government Employee but carrying out LTTE duties)
* The GOSL and the Armed Forces had designed an indigenous rehabilitation, resettlement, reconstruction, reintegration and reconciliation program as well to which 11,000 former LTTE cadres including 594 child soldiers were put through. The child soldiers were all given a Presidential Pardon. Alongside this process the task of demining areas also took place.
* In March 2010 the Sri Lankan Government announced the appointment of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
* In June 2010 the UN Secretary General announced the appointment of the Panel of Experts to look into the final stages of the war. How can a Government conclude what happened in 2 months for the UN Secretary General to appoint a Panel of Experts claiming Sri Lanka was not addressing accountability?
* The UN Secretary General can certainly call for reports but these reports are for his own observance. The Appointment of the Panel of Experts was neither commissioned by the UN General Assembly or the UN Security Council. It was a personally commissioned report for which the GOSL officially objected. http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=20100623_08
* Some serious questions next arises from the appointment of the Panel of Experts and revolves around the sources used by the 3 member panel, the witnesses whose names are shielded by a new concept of ‘witness protection’ which puts a lid on their identities for decades. This translated gives the opportunity for any party to be written off as guilty and the truth will emerge 20 or so years later by which time the damage would have been done.
* Leaving aside serious limitations, fallacies and shortcomings of the Panel of Expert report, the fact remains that this Report personally commissioned by the UNSecretary General was never officially filed probably because the office of the UN Secretary General were aware that they could not officially file a personally commissioned document. Which next raises the biggest question ‘why did the UN Secretary General’s office make public a report that was a personally commissioned report to the entire world’ thus subjecting Sri Lanka a UN member nation to international condemnation and humiliation?
* If the UN Secretary General believes that his Panel of Expert reports is legal why has his office and the UNHRC Head not filed it officially and give Sri Lanka the right to respond to the allegations being made. How fair is it to use a personally commissioned report and not allow the country being accused not to respond?
* It was on the basis of the UN Secretary General’s Panel Report that the UNHRC Head has jumped into the picture with her own damning reports all of which have a historical bias (which can be proved by her disparaging statements against Sri Lankan only) Leaving aside the conflict of interest issues guiding her role in Sri Lanka, the UNHRC head is using the Panel Report as the basis for the disparaging reports against Sri Lanka.
* The Panel of Expert Report is the primary and principle source for the Resolutions brought against Sri Lanka – 2 already passed and a third one going for vote in March 2014.
* If the Panel of Expert Report was a personally commissioned one by the UN Secretary General for his own reference (given that it was not commissioned by the UN General Assembly or the UN Security Council) how can this personally commissioned report be the basis for Resolutions against Sri Lanka especially since the UN Secretary General has breached official protocol by disclosing and making a document public which was meant for his personal perusal only? Is this not a direct insult to a fellow UN member nation?
* Dharshan Weerasekara (his arguments quoted below) suggests that Sri Lanka seeks an Advisory Opinion from the International Court to ascertain the legality of the UN Secretary General’s approach to Sri Lanka.
* What we as a sovereign nation is concerned is that if there has been a travesty of justice, it now needs to be corrected in the light of the following arguments.
* Since May 2009 to date Sri Lanka has had no incident of bombing, assassination, suicide attack, forcible child recruitment, bomb scares – this feature that Sri Lanka suffered through 30 years is something no persons living abroad can understand. It was a fear suffered by ALL Sri Lankans as most of the bombings took place outside the LTTE de-facto rule areas and among non-Tamil living areas.
* Tamils in the North who live under LTTE domain are picking up their lives – Tamils who had to pay taxes to the LTTE are now making a livelihood without extortion, the North and East which could not be developed because of the LTTE has seen development of the scale they never imagined. For us traveling from South to North and East these areas have seen tremendous changes and every year there is something new happening. People are smiling, people are enjoying life, people are going about their own affairs – none of these things are ever highlighted internationally. The sensationalism has always surrounded on the gloom or attempting to showcase a picture of chaos. Ground realities and ground situation is not so and it is time that the international public stop listening to the same sources of people who covered the news during the LTTE who did nothing to stop LTTE terror. Listening to the same sources people are likely to get the same news and this is what is damaging for any reconciliation.
* Reconciliation is nothing that can be subject to timelines and deadlines or to pieces of paper that come from overseas entities.
* It is good to remember that the present Tamil parliamentarians by virtue of Mr. Cushanan’s own admission in 2004 following his post-election report are people chosen by the LTTE to enter parliament. Firstly, the LTTE intended that no other rival Tamil party (or Tamil candidate from the mainstream political alliances) to the TNA would be able to claim to represent Tamil interests. A chilling message to this effect was sent early in the campaign when a UNP candidate and an EPDP activist were murdered. Incidents such as this seriously restricted the right of the parties other than the TNA to campaign freely in the Northern and Eastern Districts. During the 2004 elections, the major incidents of violence was perpetrated by the LTTE, whereas at the earlier elections; the primary source of the violence (although not all), were the two largest political parties. – See more at: http://www.dailynews.lk/features/sri-lanka-accountability-investigate-ltte-tna-nexus#sthash.AYlGRu3T.dpuf
* However, even these TNA members feared to travel to the North during the LTTE hayday. Now they have no fear to travel to the North. The present Chief Minister hardly travelled to the North because of the LTTE – so many Tamils feared the LTTE and feared to say so too. Today, the Tamils who went as refugees claiming they could not live in Sri Lanka because of discrimination are arriving in numbers on holiday as expats! This, itself is an achievement.
* The next and biggest question is what is the basis of an international investigation? The people in Sri Lanka are getting on with their lives, elections are taking place at regular intervals, the North elections were held and the people made their choice, the former LTTE cadres who have been rehabilitated are also getting on with their lives, the child soldiers now pardoned are either studying or making a livelihood – does the world want to reverse all that the country has achieved in a short span of 4 years. Post-World War 2 took 12 years to hand back Germany to Germans with Allied Forces occupying Germany and more deaths post-war than during war. Nuremberg trials were a victors trial making only the Germans guilty. Thereafter we are facing continued military interventions – all illegal invasions on false flag events created to facilitate these interventions and occupations. It is interesting that given the nature of these military interventions the UN Secretary General has not commissioned a report on these repeated occurrences which are leaving the UN having to deal with millions of displaced, millions of refugees, millions of people who are homeless and have been homeless for decades since invasion and occupation – there are a lot more questions that need to be asked from these interventionists by the UN Secretary General than calling for investigations in Sri Lanka.
* The crux of the question is where were all these present lot of people calling for accountability when the country was under LTTE terror attack, when children were scared to go to school, when parents feared sending children in buses, when wives did not know if their husbands would return home, when businesses couldn’t function, when hospitals were filled with people without body parts or bleeding as a result of LTTE placing bombs in buses, roadsides, public buildings – count the number of crimes LTTE committed and ask why none of these crimes even contemplated the arrest of any LTTErs even when travelling overseas or those LTTE members now operating under different LTTE fronts who the international police and foreign governments are well aware of their links to a terrorist outfit. If Africa’s leaders can be arrested and taken for questioning why are these LTTE front heads escaping investigation and instead are dining and wining with world leaders making a hypocrisy of justice.
* What is more important now is to build bridges. Who do we listen to? The Tamils living overseas calling for another armed conflict urging Tamils in Sri Lanka to again fight another war or Tamil academics like the Vice Chancellors of the Jaffna and Eastern Universities who say the people should now move forward not backward. http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2014/02/16/new40.asp
* “I have been living in Jaffna, working in the Jaffna University from 1984 till today. I have witnessed all the ups and downs and I have been carrying my bed-ridden mother during 1995 from Jaffna to Wanni. Then I brought her back in 1997. So I am somebody who has witnessed everything, who has written my PhD thesis in the kerosene lamp where we had to pay Rs. 300 for kerosene and not use the normal kerosene lamp and have used the kerosene lamp using cotton wool which has been very famous those days. So, I have been one who has been there, who have been living in Jaffna,” Jaffna University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Arasaratna
*  “I lived in Canada for eight years with more than 100 communities, they say “We are Canadian”. Their culture is not more than 400 years old but we are more than 3,000 years old culture. Still we have three to four communities and still we call as we are Tamil, we are Sinhalese, but we never say we are Sri Lankan,” Eastern University Vice Chancellor Dr. Kobindarajah
*  SRI LANKANS TOGETHER MUST SAY – WE WANT TO MOVE ON… ALLOW US TO MOVE ON… LEAVE US ALONE TO MOVE ON… WE CAN SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS ON OUR OWN….As citizens we must stand and be counted to protect our country and defend our country.
*  This must be the message that ALL Sri Lankan citizens must now give to the world, the UN and especially to the Tamil LTTE Diaspora whose guilt in arming, financially supporting and fundraising continues under the guise of bogus entities it is registered as. It is time these were all investigated first.

*  FINALLY, THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL AND THE UNHRC HEAD MUST NOW ADMIT AND ACCEPT THEY HAVE WRONGLY USED THE POE REPORT TO RIDICULE SRI LANKA AND MUST APOLOGIZE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNATION BROUGHT UPON SRI LANKA.
THE UN MEMBERS IN REALIZING THIS TRUTH MUST TAKE THE SIDE OF SRI LANKA FOR THE GRAVE INJUSTICE DONE TO A FELLOW UN MEMBER NATION.
References:
http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2014/02/04/the-uns-sri-lanka-strategy-and-its-implications-for-international-law/

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Wigneswaran wants dual Nationality for Diaspora

Northern province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran stressed the need to give ‘dual nationality’ to members of the diaspora so that they could return to Sri Lanka and participate in post-war rebuilding work.

He made this request on Thursday while addressing the National Conference on Post-war Socio-Economic Development of the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
While being cautious about possible implications of such a move, Mr. Wigneswaran highlighted the importance of a transparent screening process to address any security concerns in such an eventuality.

“The diaspora is a competitive resource we need to capitalise on. They have the technical knowhow and the resources to contribute towards postwar rebuilding. They have the socio-cultural links with their motherland and also genuine interest, which are important ingredients to foster the transfer of knowledge and technical know-how. The government does not have the financial resources and professional technical input or knowledge capital to contribute towards an effective post-war recovery process. We need to adopt strategies that would facilitate the participation of the diaspora and lead to a ‘brain gain’ situation. However, for diaspora professionals to come over and participate in the post-war recovery processes we need to have pragmatic, meaningful structures and modalities in place to ensure their security, safety, motivation and participation. How can we encourage the return of diaspora members when we take steps to prohibit dual nationality (except in the case of a privileged few),” he asked.

However, Mr. Wigneswaran hailed President Mahinda Rajapaksa for having accommodated his request to facilitate the early disbursement of donor money from those living abroad.

“On a positive note, during my recent discussions with the President, in the presence of his Secretary, the Treasury Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary, we discussed the mutual benefits that could be reaped by the Central Government and the Northern Provincial Council by allowing a smooth flow of funds from our brethren abroad, through State organs. One of the difficulties faced by us is the delay in donor monies reaching us. Since valuable foreign currency can flow into the coffers of the State, I said it must ensure the speedy delivery of equivalent local currency to the periphery. The President and his advisors were seemingly very accommodative saying that so long as the donations are approved in advance by the State the passage of the finances to their ultimate destination will be unhindered. This is a positive move and I remain hopeful that we could progress on this front,” he said.Mr. Wigneswaran said a comprehensive needs-assessment of all the sectors was required when dealing with post-war challenges. (Kelum Bandara)

SATURDAY, 15 FEBRUARY 2014 -Courtesy Daily Mirror

 

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