US – India Alliance Puts Pressure On Sri Lanka

Mahinda Rajapaksa, Hillary Clinton, Ranjan Mathai, Robert O. Blake and Maria Otero

Mahinda Rajapaksa, Hillary Clinton, Ranjan Mathai, Robert O. Blake and Maria Otero

  • India’s Mathai meets Otero in the US
  • UNP looking at Joint Mechanism with the TNA

Pressure on the government is mounting ahead of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions on the 27th with India showing a likelihood of supporting US moves to present a resolution on Sri Lanka to the Council.
Several key US government officials are visiting the country ahead of the HRC sessions when the US is to move a resolution on Sri Lanka.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, Hillary Clinton, Ranjan Mathai, Robert O. Blake and Maria Otero

The motion is to call on Sri Lanka to take more concrete actions towards reconciliation and especially, addressing the accountability issue and implementing the recommendations put forward by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
In an interesting turn of events, a senior Indian government official was last week in the US discussing several issues ranging from sanctions on Iran and other issues related to South Asia including US engagement in the UN.
Indian External Affairs Secretary Ranjan Mathai was on an official tour in the US last week where he met with several key officials from the US State Department on Wednesday (8) and Thursday (9).
US State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland referring to Mathai’s meeting with US State Department officials said, “The conversations included virtually every topic on the bilateral and multilateral agendas with India, including our joint co-operation to combat terrorism and violent extremism, defense co-operation, planning for the upcoming Strategic Dialogue, important civil nuclear cooperation, shared energy security interests, regional and economic integration along the New Silk Road, joint interests in Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East and our engagement at the UN and in multilateral fora.”
The government however believes that Mathai’s meeting with Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Maria Otero, who is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka today (12), would have focused greatly on Sri Lanka.
Following her visit to Sri Lanka, Otero is to travel to New Delhi, India on the 14th and although details of the discussion between Mathai and Otero in the US were immediately not known, her trip to New Delhi after meetings in Sri Lanka is a clear indication of the focus of both countries.
Otero is to visit Sri Lanka on a two-day tour with US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake.

MR To Meet Blake?

Under Secretary Otero and Assistant Secretary Blake will meet with government officials and attend a luncheon hosted by External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris and also meet with civil society representatives, youth groups and political leaders.
Blake is scheduled to meet representatives from the TNA on the 12th afternoon.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is to return to the country on the 12th from an official visit to Pakistan is expected to meet with the US officials.
External Affairs Ministry sources however observed that the meeting between the President and Blake was yet to be finalised.
It was earlier believed that the President might not meet with Blake or any US official visiting the country, leaving the matter for Minister Peiris to attend to.
However, it had later been deliberated that it would be “good” if the President met Blake.
Rajapaksa is also scheduled to travel to Singapore soon after his return to the country.
Minister Peiris who is currently on a visit to the Middle East is to return to the country on the 12th.
The government is yet to decide on Peiris’ visit to the US following an “invitation” by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clinton in a hard-hitting letter sent to Minister Peiris had stated “…while our decision about the March session has been made to help guide our thought on future action, I would like to invite you to Washington DC in March to discuss your plans to move ahead on reconciliation, accountability and provincial elections in the Northern Province. The visit would provide a valuable opportunity for you to meet with think tanks of our Congress and brief the government’s intention and action plan.”
“The government wants to see what the US government officials have to say before deciding on Minister Peiris’ visit to the US,” a senior External Affairs Ministry source said.
The government is now waiting to see the mood of the US government before making a visit to the country.
During her visit, Ambassador Otero is to focus on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka as well as the action taken by the government with regard to concerns  raised by the international community.
Assistant Secretary Blake is to discuss the recommendations made in the LLRC report.
Blake has already given a hint of the US government’s approach to the LLRC report and its recommendations.
Blake stated that the LLRC has laid the groundwork for continued reconciliation following Sri Lanka’s 26-year-long conflict with the terrorist group LTTE.
“The LLRC offers a very promising way forward to help Sri Lanka become again the island of peace and prosperity,” Blake said.
“The US will support reaching those goals,” he said.
Blake made these comments during the celebrations of Sri Lanka’s 64th Independence Day held at the University of the District of Columbia on February 4, 2012.
“The President, Parliament and the Government of Sri Lanka have begun a range of programs to help heal the wounds of the conflict, return those who fought in it to civil society, and reconcile the differences the conflict has left,” Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US Jaliya Wickramasuriya had said.

Government’s Failure

During his previous visit to Sri Lanka last year, Blake said, “If it (a national inquiry) is not a credible process, there will be pressure for some sort of alternate mechanism”. When he met President Rajapaksa and ministers in 2011, he had noted that Washington would wait for the release of the final report of the LLRC before passing judgment.
The LLRC report was released last December and the Rajapaksa administration has failed to implement the recommendations of the report despite calls by opposition political parties for its implementation.
The TNA has continuously called on the government to implement the recommendations and the main opposition UNP has also said it would support the government to implement the recommendations.
The TNA continues to call for accountability and meaningful devolution of power to solve the ethnic issue.
TNA Leader R. Sampanthan and MP M. A. Sumanthiran expressed these views during a luncheon meeting on Tuesday (7) with US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Stephen J. Rapp.
The TNA members explained the lack of accountability and the need to address these issues  through an independent inquiry.
They have noted that the independent inquiry should not be carried out locally.
Rapp had used the opportunity as a means of gathering information before he visited Jaffna and Mullaitivu before ending his four-day visit.
The US Ambassador also met with Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Minister Peiris where the discussion had once again been focused on accountability and steps taken by the government to address the issue.
Envoys of the Obama administration are focused on putting pressure on Sri Lanka to expedite the reconciliation process while addressing issues of accountability and implementing the LLRC recommendations.
It is in this backdrop that President Rajapaksa in his address to the nation on Independence Day stated that the government has implemented recommendations of the LLRC.
This statement received much criticism from many opposition parties including the TNA that claimed the government has failed to implement even one recommendation.
The government is now trying to use the LLRC report to get political party representatives to participate in its proposed parliamentary select committee (PSC).
Senior government spokespersons when asked about the delay in implementing the LLRC recommendations said that it could be implemented through a dialogue with all political parties in the proposed PSC.

Focus on the LLRC Report

Along with the push for the reconciliation process, local politicians as well as the international community are focused on the LLRC report.
The Rajapaksa administration after maintaining that the LLRC was its internal mechanism to address concerns raised by the international community pledged to implement its recommendations to solve issues of concern.
It was the static response given by the administration when the report by the panel of experts appointed by the UN Secretary General was made public.
Last week saw countries like South Africa, Britain and Australia making statements on the LLRC, its shortcomings and the need by the government to implement its recommendations.
The South African government while stating that the LLRC should have addressed in detail accountability issues, has called for the immediate implementation of the recommendations made.
The British government has also noted that the LLRC had failed to address some issues.
British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka John Rankin has said that while the real test for the government was in implementing the LLRC recommendations, the British government still felt that an independent and impartial investigation is required in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, the Australian Foreign Minister was last week criticised by the Australian Greens for his failure to respond to the LLRC report.
The pressure continues to build up on the government to implement the LLRC recommendations.

A Joint Mechanism

The UNP and the TNA last week held a discussion on the recommendations of the LLRC report and the possibility of forming a joint mechanism to implement the recommendations.
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and parliamentarians Lakshman Kiriella and Mangala Samaraweera represented the UNP while the TNA side was headed by leader R. Sampanthan and included MPs Suresh Premachandran and Selvam Adaikalanathan.
The meeting took place in the parliament premises.
The discussion was mainly focussed on Wickremesinghe explaining to the TNA, the UNP’s stance on the LLRC report, which he tried to announce in a special statement in parliament on Friday (10). After Wickremesinghe was not permited to table the document in parliament, it was released to the media.
The TNA members have expressed disappointment in the delay in the whole reconciliation process and the lack of confidence in the government’s commitment towards finding a political solution.
The UNP had then proposed that a joint mechanism be set up between the two parties and include other opposition political parties in order to get the LLRC recommendations implemented.
The TNA, which had earlier planned on traveling to India this month to express its woes with regard to the dialogue with the government, has now decided against making the trip, at least for the time being.
Nevertheless, the party has managed to raise its concerns with the international community, especially with the visiting US envoys.

Appeal against Ruling

An appeal is to be filed in a higher court against the ruling by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, which last week dismissed the lawsuit against a former General of the Sri Lanka Army.
The relatives of two Sri Lankan Tamils alleging war crimes filed the case.
The case against Sri Lanka’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Major General Shavendra Silva was dismissed on the grounds of diplomatic immunity granted to Silva.
The plaintiffs, the widow of a senior LTTE terrorist leader Colonel Ramesh, Vathsala Devi and Seetharam Sivam have alleged that their relatives were tortured and wrongfully killed by the Sri Lankan military. The rights group known as SPEAK has accused the Sri Lankan government of refusing to acknowledge its responsibility for any violations of international law, even in the face of the United Nations’ conclusion that its wartime conduct “represented a grave assault on the entire regime of international law.”
However, the group has stated that it hoped the Court reconsiders, rectifies its position and enforces ‘jus cogens’ principles. The group is now considering filing an appeal in a higher court against the ruling on Silva’s case.

11 Comments for “US – India Alliance Puts Pressure On Sri Lanka”

  1. brad

    why USA does not investigate India’s HR report when Indian Army (IPK) came to SL and fight with LTTE and killed large amount of normal civil people.

    • Dans

      in that case its the responsibility of the SL government as they are the ones who invited the Indians.
      Further its an old tale.

  2. Kevin Fernandes

    @Brad…this is not a ping-pong slug match between Lanka, India and America. Reconciliation between Tamils, Sinhalese and Lankan Muslims is a neccesity and better it is homegrown. This needs to be acknowledged by Srilanka otherwise it is only logical that other outside players will try to play a role in Srilankan internal affairs.

  3. Dumnida Jayatileke

    It is time and the end is near for SL. This country is going down fast. The government has under estomated the power and network of the LTTE. It is worse than the war. The LTTE is now more powerful than it ever was. This foolsih third world corrupt un educated stupid government is falling on its own sword.

  4. Those LTTE terrorists who escaped to Canada, US, UK, EU and Australia, who call themselves the “diaspora” must be investigated for genocide and crimes against humanity. Examples of these terrorists are Ramanan Mylvaganam, Suresh Sriskandarajah among thousands of other terrorists. Why are these Sri Lankan Tamil terrorists being used by the politicians in the west to fulfill their electoral victories? Aren’t these terrorists using their blood money to bribe western politicians and the media like the BBC, to bring disharmony in Sri Lanka? In such scenarios how can any reconciliation take place in Sri Lanka?

    • Saro

      Yes, investigations of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by LTTE and government forces as suggested in the report of the UN Expert Panel is paramount to establish the claims and counter claims of those two parties to the conflict.

  5. Tamils will be wiped out in Sri Lanka unless a foreign intervention comes to force sooner rather than later. Mahinda Rajapakse and his brother Gothabaya have one theory and that theory is Sri Lanka belongs to Sinhalese. By erecting Lord Buddha statue all over North and East will not bring peace. MR is trying to get support from Southerners for his political survival. Today petrol prices has gone up sharply. The effect of ths increase will surface soon. The government is .bankrupt now. Most of the institutions are making heavy losses due to mis-managment. Wrong people are in wrong jobs. Today all the ex Army, Navy and relatives are in the foreign diplomatic jobs. Ministers are running all over the world to seek support to defeat HRC in Geneva in March. Srilankan airline is making huge losses. Both CPC and CEB are making losses. Government is borrowing heavily at high interest rate. You hear confliting statements from Governor of Central Bank. When your country is ruled by a family you cannot expect miracle. If you go on support this regime tommorow you have to beg in the street for your food.

  6. P.L.J.B.Palipana

    The TNA is going to and pro with the help of NGOs to presure the GOSL. This is really a sad situation as no body is ready to show the real picture of SriLanka.

  7. Kusuma

    The only hope for the sufferers of militarisation and human rights violations in Sri Lanka depends on the strong commitment of the present US president Barack Obama on principle of justice and fairness to all. It looks as if the rulers in Sri Lanka have come to the end of reception and fooling of international community with promises and committees of investigations.

  8. sostamils

    A very good article, Prime minister David Cameron , UN expert Panel , Madame Hillary Clinton USA, EU and many other world leaders are calling for Independent Investigation.

    This is what our PM got to say

    India striving for a UN permanent member seat in the security council , should start to think about respecting human rights and international norm instead of narrow internal or regional politics

  9. …. “reconcile the differences the conflict has left”. These words are being misused again in order to a “great escape”. The present Government is facing the fear of facing the charges at the forth-coming UN Human Rights Council charges in the UN in March. India is all out to help Sri Lanka, as India too has its hand aiding Sri Lanka, no matter what Sri Lanka did, in the HR violations. India is dragging US into this ill willed plan to save the SL Government which has not done any good to the Tamils displaced, instead harassing them with their Military natured Government.

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