The Sunday Leader

Alleged War Crimes: Only Option Available

Are Sri Lanka and Western powers to continue their tussle of locking horns over alleged war crimes  and  violations of human rights by Sri Lanka? The 18th Session of the UNHRC held in Geneva adopted an American sponsored Resolution against Sri Lanka on the issue and although it is a non-binding Resolution, Sri Lanka while denying the accusations gave indications that it would investigate alleged violations of human rights as recommended in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Rehabilitation (LLRC) Commission by its own government.
However, American and other powers that backed the Resolution pointed out that accountability for alleged violations of human rights and war crimes were not recommended in the LLRC report and they need to be investigated.
The annual report of Britain’s human rights report for 2011 issued last week notes that: ‘no concrete progress was made during the year in holding accountable those alleged to be responsible for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the war’. The next day after the release of the UK report Sri Lanka’s Deputy Minister of External Affairs, Neomal Perera  fired a salvo during an interview with the Chinese news agency Xinhua. ‘Britain had no right to accuse Sri Lanka of not doing enough to address accountability issues during the war just three years after the conflict ended’ he had said, according to reports appearing in the Colombo press.
The Deputy Minister had continued: ‘How can it say we have not done enough? On what basis is it saying that? The LLRC handed over its final report only in December last year. So how can the British say we did not do enough to address the issue mentioned? We have started addressing them now and some of the recommendations of the LLRC are being implemented’, Perera had asserted.
An obvious question that arises from the Deputy Minister’s statement is whether three years is not enough even to commence investigations into the serious allegations that were made? Given an allowance of one year, isn’t two years sufficient even to start investigations?
Instead, till the last UNHRC sessions there had been a stubborn refusal to commence investigations into allegations made, on the basis that this is an internal affair of Sri Lanka and outside pressure is a violation of the sovereignty of the country. Deputy Minister Perera says that some of the LLRC recommendations are being implemented. Could he be specific about the subjects being investigated? Or is it that the Rajapaksa government is shilly-shallying and has no intention of investigating the alleged violations?
This is not an issue that will blow over because the most powerful nations – rightly or wrongly – have made this a priority issue. Three years have shown that prevarication will not make the issue disappear. Sri Lanka need not bend its spine and touch its toes as ordered by Western nations but in situations like this, small nations resort to diplomacy to avoid confrontation and work around problems. Deputy Minister Perera’s outburst is unwarranted because his Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris is scheduled to leave soon to Washington for discussions on this issue with the US government. Given the tight leash on which ministers and deputy ministers are held, it is unlikely that this declaration was off Perera’s bat but was inspired from above by the powers that be.
While the issue of investigations into alleged violations of human rights has been the burning issue in our politics for months, the public is unaware of the progress made on the investigations. Even before the commencement of the UNHRC sessions the announcement was made that the Army would be investigating alleged violations on their part. But the public is totally in the dark about it.  While the progress of the investigations cannot be expected to be released to the public while the process is going on, not even those on the panel of inquiry are known. In military investigations of this kind in countries such as America, the investigating officers arenamed. Investigations by armed forces into the conduct of their own personnel are taken with a pinch of salt, the world over. Thus if credibility is to be established as much transparency as possible is required.
Diplomacy is the only available tool for Sri Lanka to attempt meeting this challenge. And for that all available resources sans personal preferences and prejudices should be deployed. Prof. Peiris, it has been reported, is to be accompanied by two political neophytes in his trip to the Washington. Why? Are they to advise the learned professor, act as watch-dogs or is it that this visit has been also used as an opportunity where little darlings could cut their teeth in international diplomacy?
The State Department is the mightiest foreign policy establishment ever put together with the best of diplomats backed by innumerable intelligence officials, finance and defence advisors. Prof. Peiris should be backed by our best and most experienced diplomats in his Washington endeavours where the reception may not turn out to be too friendly.
Finally, no amount of diplomacy will completely cure the sore that has formed in our body politic. Honest investigations and public declarations irrespective of personalities involved and the possible consequences will be required. For a government that had imprisoned an Army Commander who was once described by government leaders as the best military commander in the world and the country’s foremost hero, it would not be an impossible task although a formidable one.

9 Comments for “Alleged War Crimes: Only Option Available”

  1. hat Trick Perera

    ” The State Department is the mightiest foreign policy establishment ever put together with the best of diplomats backed by innumerable intelligence officials, finance and defence advisors.”

    Bravo. Shows a lot about the editors understanding of what the US State Dept is and what iit does around the world!

    Ignorance is bliss.

    Hat Trick

  2. raj

    while LTTE is made of Tamils, Sri Lankan army is made of Sinhalse majority. People inside and outside Sri Lanka should know if any of the warring parties committed crimes against humanity. If they did, then people need to know if anyone involved in crimes against humanity has been punished regardless of their race.

  3. raj

    There is no relationship between war crimes issues and soverignity. Liking them is a way of escaping from facing prosecution for crimes against humanity.

  4. Patriot

    This meeting with Secretary Clinton is going to be be one of the most important dialogs that Minister G.L peiris will have to deal with. It is really important that the best brains and diplomats with experience and proven diplomatic skills are represented on this delegation.. As you rightly point out Mr. Editor, why are two political neophytes Namal Rajapaksa and Sajin Vaas on this delegtaion?. What kind of expertise do these people have , And what kind of advice can they give the Professor, They could even be an embarrasment if they are involved in the discussions with some of the best brains in the state Department.and theU.S Foreign service..We dont need another Geneva fiasco at these Washington Meetings.

  5. Betrayer from the West

    A war crimes investigation is the only way to put an end to this corrupt third world thug regime. All the murders must be thrown into jail.

  6. Sri

    It might be useful for the A Team to meet with Charles Taylor at the Hague to get some useful tips.

  7. Shiva

    It is the failure of the Western nations to allow an alleged war criminal regime to continue its human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. Tamils are terrorized and brutalized in Tamil Lands.

    An international war crimes and human rights abuses must be conducted in order to prevent further loss of life and human rights abuses.

    The only solution is ether to annex Tamil Lands with Tamil Nadu or separate Eelam from Sinhala land.

    • There is no Tamil land in Sri Lanka. Tamils are welcome to go and join Tamil Nadu. In that case, India should allow a Sri Lankan army base in Tamil nadu, for security of both countries.

  8. Bulto

    Seems like all the Tamil Nadu Politicians are FOR creating Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka.

    I think the Politicians in Sri Lanka should do the same, Should support Naxal movment and also South India Liberation Army to demand an independent Tamil Nadu from India.

    Then Independent Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka can merge together and create one Independent country between India and Sri Lanka.

    Problem Solved ! Let India make the first move !

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