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.