The Sunday Leader

Can An American Resolution Help Reconciliation?



While the debate is on in the UNHRC assembly in Geneva, on the streets of Sri Lanka and even on the streets of some cities in Europe, the objectives of the American sponsored Resolution on alleged human rights violations by Sri Lankan armed forces, appear to be lost on most of those concerned, even the sponsors.

The objective should be not only to bring justice and relief to victims of the long drawn conflict but also reconciliation of the two estranged communities. But the intensity of the debate seems to be working against this objective of reconciliation.

American diplomats have been saying that their Resolution would be calling for the implementation of the recommendations made by the LLRC while noting that it did not call for ‘accountability’ for alleged ‘war crimes’ now  euphemistically called violation of international law.

With the Resolution now made public, it does appear that it is calling for much more than constructive implementation of the LLRC recommendations. It calls upon the Sri Lanka government to: additionally take immediate steps to fulfil its relevant obligations and state its commitment to address serious allegations of violation of international law by initiating credible and independent investigation of those responsible for such violations.

The LLRC did in fact in broad terms call for such investigations such as on disappearances of those reported to have surrendered to the army,  those civilians killed during exchange of fire in civilian areas, investigation of reports of deliberate attacks on civilians and necessary action be taken and where necessary to institute prosecutions.

The second part of the Resolution calls for the government to present a comprehensive action plan before the 20th Session of the UNHRC (the next session) detailing steps taken by the government to implement LLRC recommendations and also address alleged violations of international law.

The third and last part of the Resolution appears to be the most
insidious and would undoubtedly draw much fire from the Sri Lankan

It ‘encourages’ the ‘Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant special mandate holders  to provide advice and technical assistance on implementing those steps’ and for the ‘government of Sri Lanka to accept such advice and technical assistance’.

This part of the Resolution is vague because it does not specify what ‘those steps’ are and even more it implies that the government of Sri Lanka has to accept such  advice and technical assistance.

Besides who are ‘the relevant special mandate holders’? No sovereign government will take compulsory ‘advice’ from  UN officials and  will the Sri Lanka government take advice (Orders?) from the present Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillai who has been rebuked by Sri Lankan government leaders for the hostility which she has exhibited in dealing with Sri Lankan issues.

The Americans must be living in cuckooland if they expect the Rajapaksa government to comply with this part of the Resolution. This is clearly an attempt by the United States to make Sri Lanka bow to its bidding through the orders of the UNHRC.

This is an attempt by the superpower to teach and make Sri Lanka obey their version of the laws on human rights. These pedagogical exercises on international law by world powers should be resisted to the hilt by smaller countries.

On Thursday it was reported  that the Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gennady M. Gatilov had informed the UNHRC that Russia would not endorse attempts to transform the UNHRC into a tool of political pressure to divide governments into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ governments or into ‘students and teachers’ or to dilute the inter governmental character of the primary human rights organisation. This is precisely what the United States and its Western allies are attempting to do with Sri Lanka.

The liberal American President Barack Obama appears to have neen taken for a ride by the over zealous officials of the State Department. It is difficult to imagine Barack Obama the liberal Democrat who swept to power with the assistance of  the youth vote 3 years ago adopting the stance of a Cold War warrior.

This may be an aberation resulting from his fight for the  presidency within an economy that nearly collapsed. The tendency among Sri Lankans right now is to abuse America but still it is a democracy where freedom of thought prevails.
We refer to an editorial of the prestigious Boston Globe (February 3) on Sri Lanka.

It says that the UNHRC should push Sri Lanka to investigate war crimes but accountability of past crimes must not come at the expense of Sri Lanka’s future. It says that Tamils who are full of bitterness over their defeat must not miss the chance to offer a vision of peaceful co-existence.

The Boston Globe notes: ‘The questions that have perpetuated this
terrible conflict remain unresolved: How much autonomy will the Tamils have? What must be done for Tamils to feel as equal citizens? Until recently many Tamils refused to accept anything short of a separate country. Even today hard core Tamil leaders in US and Canada cling to that dream.

Their denial is a disservice to their people. Many refuse to accept war crimes were committed by their own fighters; the LTTE pioneered suicide bombings and kept civilian as human shields. Both sides committed unspeakable crimes. The Sri Lankan government is also in denial about its crimes which include systematic shelling of hospitals, arbitrary arrests and disappearances. Allegations of rape and executions are abound”.

The Boston Globe says that the Sri Lanka government must implement the modest recommendations of its own inquiry commission including investigations into disappearances, end attacks on journalists and halt policies aimed at settling Sinhalese in Tamil areas.

If Sri Lankan leaders prove unwilling the UN should set up an independent probe but no UN investigation can replace an honest effort by Sri Lanka to come to terms with what they had done to each other says the Boston Globe.
The newspaper despite its reliance on a UN probe carried an overall message: Sri Lankans must not miss the chance of having a peaceful co-existence. Since 1956 various formulae in constitutional law have been tried out and failed.

Now an attempt is being made to resolve the problem through UN adjudication on the degree to which justice has been denied to the Tamil minority by the armed forces. Only government representatives are present in Geneva. There are no representatives of Tamils at all. The government by no means represents all sections of the Sinhalese.

As pointed out earlier in our comments, the American Resolution attempt to coerce the government to be dictated to by UNHRC officials will not lead to reconciliation but further estrangement of the Tamils and Sinhalese. After 56 years we are still groping in the dark in search of a black cat hoping it is there.

12 Comments for “Can An American Resolution Help Reconciliation?”

  1. American resolution will not at all help reconciliation. President Rajapakse has the full support of China, India and Russia. They advice our President what to do and what not. All the Politicans who are with our Presidnet use the Tamils issue for their political survival. Hard liners in the South will never agree any concession to the Tamils. So the Tamils issuje will never be resolved. It is now more than 64 years since independence from colonial rule. No Sinhala political leader during this period never willing to resolve this issue. Tamils will be gradually chased from Srilanka. All the foreign countries will do nothing. Sri lanka becomes another China. Mahinda Rajapakse will rule the country until he dies.

    • naman

      This is the hope/plan of our President.
      Namal.R will take over the crown after the death of the Dear Leader.

    • gamarala

      Dear Sri Minnal,
      Tamils do not need any “concessions”. They are only asking for their birthrights as free citizens of sri lanka – to be ‘equal’ in every sense of the word, to all other citizens. They do not wish to be “second class” citizens.
      They cannot be chased away – no other country will accept them.

    • love2beTRAITOR

      there is no reconciliation taking place. no time to worry about gov reconciliation. lets concentrate on resolution n to get reconcilation from international community

    • dudley

      @ Sri Minnal: You seem to be living in cuckooland like the Americans. I am a frequent visitor to Sri Lanka over the past 20 years and have seen with my own eyes how the situation has changed for better for the ‘genuine’ Tamil people living in Sri Lanka. You need to remember that the scars of a 30 year bloody civil war will take longer than a mere 3 years to heal. So give Sri Lanka time and meanwhile you continue to live in cuckooland.

      • who is living in dreamland….today not only ordinary Tamils but also their elected Representative can do anything without the permission of Sinhala army? Murders.kidnaping,looting.rape all goes on while there are Sinhala army standing every 50 M…..WHO IS DOING THIS ? This was never happend before 2009 why? Just few days ago in Nedunthivu in Jaffna .Buddhist Monk ..attacked a Tamils youth infront of Sinhala navy….no action against him?Buddhist viharaies are being built in Tamil areas.where there is not a Sinhala Buddhist live .Names of the Villages..Roads are being changed to Sinhala …Come out from your cocoon and write…dont stay at 5 star hotels and comment….Sure the international community are not fools..Finally how do you feel if someone destroy the buriel place of your father or mother or sisters and play foot ball on this ? Exactly at this moment Sinhala forces are doing this in N_E Sri Lanka understand?

  2. Yasith

    Sri Minal, you must be dreaming and living in the past. Times have changed and now this corrupt third world lying human rights abusing government is going down fast. The world has woken up to something worse than Rawanda.

  3. naman

    The current GoSL has so far failed the oppressed Tamils in providing relief.
    They had suffered from LTTE, Sinhala govts, and the tsunami.
    The civilian rule should be in place in north and east.
    Armed forces should be limited to the bases and Police force should be able to speak Tamil. The forces should encourage peaceful coexistence every where in the country.
    Fear for the White van,armed paramilitary,or government politicians still exists.
    An external commission is needed to bring about true reconciliation between Tamils and Sinhalese.

  4. Bobby

    NGOS,US ,India and China are playing games. We should have our foregin policy clean(non-aligment). Lead the country like singapore.Improve the standard living of the people all the problems will go.
    MR government has blood in his hands and they should go home for the sake of the country. Lot of Singala and tamil intellectuals and business man are waiitng for development in Srilanka and they should get a chance not people like Mervin.SF also not good another Army from same pool.
    No hardliners in Srilanka, SL government use for their political advantage , look at JR did in 1987. No hard liners came to rule the counrty so all just sloganx. We fight hard with international community and why cannt we fight with so called modias hard liners.

  5. Hadeniya

    Reconciliation must come from within Sri Lanka. Sadly, there are no statesman to take on this task. Politicians of all parties have failed the citizens. There are no encouraging signs of an early resolution, and that is very sad indeed.

  6. Bruz

    No resolution will help reconciliation in SL. USA,UK.EU or even UN can’t make Mahinda do what they want. He has his own brute way of doing things, no matter what.
    MR will go on ‘ruling & ruining the country at the same time, until his time was up.
    Sri Lanka will be in tatters,Tamils, who ever who can , will flee the country, just like the Palestinians and live in various countries without a nation to call it theirs. Unfortunate
    but that may be the irony. Things might change with an Indian political change over.
    Reconciliation is only a mirage, sadly !

  7. May a 1000 flowers bloom, and may a 1000 Rajapaksas’ rule Sri Lanka during the 1000 year Rajapaksa Reich! Heil Hitler and Rajapaksa! :D

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