eelamview

March 29, 2012

How US 7th Fleet carry out operations to destroy the Tamils?

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 9:31 pm

The US had established a task force to prevent all LTTE activities in America following a request made by Sri Lankan former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera from then US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in 2006, Colombo media reports.

The under cover agents had arrested LTTE members who had entered the US through the Canadian border to purchase anti aircraft missiles. They were arrested in January 2007 and their assets were taken over by the state, thereby crippling the LTTE’s arms procurement network.

The US government had taken these measures due to the good relation built with the country by the former Foreign Minister Samaraweera.

Also, on a request made by the Sri Lankan government, the US government the 7th Fleet USS Blue Ridge under the purview of the US-Hawai Pacific Fleet that was stationed in the Indian Ocean had continuously provided satellite images of the activities of the ships belonging to the LTTE, especially in the transportation of arms. The satellite images were provided to the Sri Lankan military through the US embassy in Colombo.

Since the Sri Lanka Army did not have a qualified officer to read these satellite images, the US embassy in Colombo made arrangements to grant a scholarship to Major Kelum Maddumage to follow an intense course at the Colorado Military Academy.

Afterwards, then Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda was taken to the famous Pearl Harbor in Honolulu to give him a special training on preventing activities of the LTTE that take place in 700 nautical miles off the shore in the deep seas and to pursue and attack.

Following the special training, the 7th Fleet USS Blue Ridge has provided technical assistance and supervision for the Sri Lanka Navy to carry out operations to destroy the LTTE’s activities in the deep seas based on the satellite images received by the military.

The Sri Lanka Navy managed to destroy all LTTE vessels that were transporting hi-tech military weapons and equipment in the deep seas due to the assistance received by the US military. The senior member from Main Stream said that had the 7-8 ships that contained weapons for the LTTE managed to reach the North, the final outcome of the war would have been different.

He added that more details would be revealed in future on how Israel and Britain helped to contain the LTTE. He said that Fonseka is always grateful to the assistance provided by these countries during the war since it played a key role in the final outcome.

Sri Lanka: A Regime Floundering like a Headless Chicken

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 9:29 pm

It is quite usual to employ the name of a country when referring to its government; for example, “China criticised India at such and such a forum.” However sometimes, as in this piece, it is important to avoid this usage to forestall confusion. Hence I will use ‘government’ or more precisely ‘regime’ (meaning the Rajapakse sibling cabal which is the quintessential locus of state power) in my analysis today. The resolution adopted at the UNHCR in Geneva on 22 March does not condemn the nation or people of Sri Lanka; no, it is clearly targeted at the Sri Lankan regime; the wording, the last paragraph which implies distrust, and the hammering that the government got in the conference hall and in the lobbies make that plain.

The regime finds itself in a very tight corner after the Geneva resolution was carried by an absolute majority. It lost India, the US, Western Europe and the majority of African and Latin American votes; the Middle Eastern Muslim votes are fair-weather friends. The Lankan regime is suddenly very isolated, adrift from the international community. The situation inside the country has also become desperate, and I am choosing my words carefully. Whichever way it turns, and there are three to choose from, it encounters a yawning abyss; there is a fourth ‘make the best of it’ option that it is unlikely to favour and I will come to that at the end.

Option 1 or option 2?

The two more obvious ways to go are either, comply with the resolution and work to mend fences with the international community, or defy it and march in step with the Sinhala extremists in and outside government. Of course even under option 1 the government can and will say ‘No we are not bowing down to the dirty imperialist dogs’, but it can execute a large number of LLRC’s recommendations, hold provincial elections in the Northern Province, have a go at implementing the 13-th Amendment, and get serious about accountability and start prosecutions. To go before the UNHRC in six months, having defied the Human Rights Commissioner and with an F on its report card, will be to court dire consequences. The UNHRC is likely to report the intransigence to other UN bodies with more teeth. Thus option 1 seeks to avoid this outcome.

But this entails defying the military and chauvinist ministers (Weerawansa and Champika), the likelihood of the JHU quitting government, and enraging the extremists. Sinhala chauvinism was nurtured by this regime which pandered to it for long; it has become strong. Mahinda Rajapakse, if he has the guts can still force the chauvinists out of government and lean on others to form a national government, but he does not have the backbone (Manmohan Singh is not the only invertebrate leader in South Asia!). Having been a mild racist all his life and a fellow traveller of chauvinists in his ruling alliance, President Rajapakse will see option 1 as enormously risky. If I was a betting man I would offer two to one odds that he won’t take it now, though what he may be forced to do when on the brink of the other abyss one can’t tell.

The second option is what the government seems to be doing now, though how far down this perilous road it can travel is moot. Foreign Minister GL Peries has been instructed to declare that the government of Sri Lanka rejects the UNHRC resolution and defies its injunctions. To supplement this, the regime is allowing extremists to scream and rant on the streets of Colombo, surround embassies and heighten xenophobic tensions. Indian readers know from the experiences of Gujarat, Babri Masjid and many others how dangerous it is to let the sorcerer’s apprentices run lose. Havoc can turn into communal pogroms and the regime will be unable to reign in the pandemonium. I grant this is a worst case scenario, but even short of that, President Rajapakse and his regime will thereafter become prisoners of the chauvinist camp. If this is the chosen path, it is not possible to foresee just what the precise state of affairs will be in a few months, but one can say with some certainty that this abyss is deeper, darker and more frightening than the previous one.

Sri Lanka versus India

If it were cricket, I would say we can whip the Indians any day! But this is a more deadly game. Pakistan’s Nation newspaper carried a report on 27 March  to the effect (could be wishful thinking) that the Lankan government had decided to confront India and expose its crimes and human rights violations in Kashmir. Well, I am not averse to exposing Sri Lankan or Indian human rights violations, but that’s not the matter at issue. The pitch is that Colombo should set off on confrontation course against Delhi. Frankly I am inclined to say ‘serves the South Block and Prime Minister Singh right for mollycoddling and swallowing lies and insults for so long’, but that too is another matter. The point is what will happen to Sri Lanka if its regime sets off on an out-and-out confrontation course with India?

This will be attractive to the anti-Indian forces in the Sinhalese community including the JVP, and make no mistake about it, once let lose this rabble can rouse much rancour. It is one way to divert attention into another channel and the regime is surely considering it. The consequences for the country will be dire, economically, and India could start meddling and destabilising Lanka’s politics once again. I doubt if Delhi will again try the old failed route of the last three years and send plane loads of diplomatic supplicants bearing gifts of gold and myrrh and frankincense!

CWC leader Thondaman’s resignation from Cabinet at this moment is intriguing; maybe it’s pique in a low level tiff with the president over the appointment of an official, or it may be political. If Thondaman reverses his decision soon it would point to the former, or if the latter it would signal that the president has promised to tone down anti-Indian rhetoric. Anti-Indian rhetoric, if it runs out of control, can turn to violence against plantation worker Tamils and Tamils of upcountry origin in cities.

What about the China card? There is not the slightest doubt that irrespective of all else the regime will do its best to woo additional Chinese support and thumb its nose at India. The Chinese will provide more economic assistance, but they are too astute to get involved strategically beyond what is in their own interests. Knowing Sri Lanka falls in a sensitive zone of Indian strategic concern I doubt if China will let itself be drawn into a situation where it will have to back-off in humiliation. The world has learnt the lessons of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis well. What I am not so sure of is whether Delhi has spelt out the strategic bottom line clearly to Colombo. Knowing the woolly headedness of the current Indian Administration, probably not.

My fear is that if a mad regime in Colombo sets off on a ‘Confront India’ path it could drive public opinion in greater India into a Tamil Nadu syndrome. If irritation with this country becomes widespread in India it will not be at all good for this small island. No rational and intelligent regime in Colombo should provoke that, but is the current regime rational or intelligent? I ask in all seriousness; was it not foreseeable from January what the consequences of a knock-out blow in Geneva would be? Was it not obvious from early March that the regime was heading for a big setback? Why on earth not deal with the Americans (and the Indians) and work on a compromise resolution that Colombo could live with and sell to the extremists at home? A leadership that gets itself into such a clearly foreseeable snarl can’t be very smart; the much touted cunning of the sibling cabal seems to have deserted it.

I have kept watch on the Indian media, this website included, and am astonished by the naiveté of commentators over there,  oblivious to the seriousness of the crisis on this side of the Palk Straits. It is quaint that Indian writers are drooling over rationalisations that the resolution is really not so bad, it is warm and friendly, it does not intend to target the government of Sri Lanka, and so on. Honestly, when were these analysts and professors born-yesterday? Why bother to move a controversial and stern resolution at an important international forum if it is all milk and honey?

The least worst option

It is no part of my brief to provide advice to the regime in Colombo, and if it is in hot water my inclination is to say: “You asked for it”. That however is not the way to finish an article. One has to conclude with an, if I were in their shoes what’s the best thing to do, statement. Here goes: In order to keep a lid on Sinhala extremists the regime has to broadcast the ‘We will defy the UNHRC” message while actually implementing as many of the LLRC proposals as possible. It has to hold provincial elections in the north and let the TNA from a provincial government, and it has to implement a goody part of the Thirteenth Amendment. This way it can get a C-grade on its report card.

What the regime cannot do is honour the accountability demands included in the Geneva resolution. Now this is where, if I was President Rajapakse (heaven forbid!), I would cut a deal. Look the Americans are adults; they know the Rajapakses can’t prosecute themselves and their top military brass for war crimes. So the deal is this: “Hush, hush on the accountability part, we’ll do a goodly bit of the housekeeping part”. I think this deal will sell. Still both sides will have a price to pay. The regime will still have a fight on its hands against recalcitrant Sinhala extremists, and the Americans will have their hands full pacifying human rights crusaders and vengeance seeking Tamils in the diaspora. Still, for the Rajapakse regime, this deal is now the best of all possible worlds.
Guest Column by Dr. Kumar David

[ SAAG ]www.southasiaanalysis.org

WikiLeaks: “We All Want An End To LTTE Terror In Any Way even Kills Thousands Of Civilians”- Blake

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam, WikiLeaks — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 9:27 pm

Robert Blake

“Ambassador subsequently spoke to the President’s brother and senior advisor, Basil Rajapaksa and sought to convince him of the need for time to persuade the LTTE to surrender peacefully. Rajapaksa responded that so far the UN had not broached the idea of a Special Envoy. Further, he asked how we could know that the LTTE wouldn’t take the envoy hostage? Or that Prabhakaran would agree to meet? He said the GSL would need firm commitments on these issues before agreeing to a Special Envoy. Ambassador responded that those conditions were all manageable, but that the main thing was that the GSL agree to give time for diplomacy to work. He emphasized that we all want an end to LTTE terror, but not in a way that kills thousands of civilians and gives the LTTE a new cause on which to re-mobilize opinion behind it. Rajapaksa agreed and said he would talk to the President.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

“Ambassador pointed out that it was common knowledge the Tamil Tigers won’t let the civilians go. A better alternative, he said, would be for the GSL to allow a UN envoy to go in to the safe zone during the pause to talk directly to LTTE supremo Prabhakaran about terms for letting the civilians go and surrender of those LTTE cadres still in the safe zone.” the US Embassy further wrote.

The details  found the leaked “UNCLASIFIED” US diplomatic cable from WikiLeak database. The Cable is written by the Ambassador Robert O. Blake on April 13, 2009,

Ambassador Blake wrote “The government of Sri Lanka announced a 48-hour period of restraint, during which the armed forces would confine themselves to defensive operations. International observers noted that shelling of the “safe zone” had diminished on April 11 and 12, and that no firing was now being reported from the area. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon welcomed the government’s move, noting it was less than the pause of several days he had called for. He reiterated his appeal to the LTTE to allow civilians freedom of movement and to the government to adhere to its commitments not to use heavy weapons. Previously, Ambassador had undertaken numerous contacts with the Foreign Minister, Foreign Secretary and Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa to urge them to declare a longer humanitarian pause and consider the idea of a UN Special Envoy to negotiate the release of the civilians trapped in the “safe zone.” The ICRC plans to evacuate approximately 600 wounded civilians from the safe zone on April 13 and 14. Basil Rajapaksa said that the hold-fire period could be extended, particularly if the LTTE begins to release civilians. According to the UN and GSL sources, the earliest a ship can depart for the safe zone with badly needed food and medical supplies is April 16.”

Under the subheading “FOREIGN SECRETARY CONTINUES TO QUESTION SHELLING” Blake wrote “Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona reported to Ambassador on April 13 that during his recent visit to Washington he was shown three satellite photos of the no fire zone, indicating houses with roofs blown off and water-filled circular craters. Kohona questioned whether the houses could have been damaged during the 1996 military campaign when the Mullaitivu camp was attacked by the LTTE. He said he had received assurances that no artillery had been directed to the no-fire zone. Ambassador noted that credible medical sources reported large numbers of wounded with shrapnel injuries sustained around April 8-9. Ambassador told Kohona that had these been caused by the LTTE, there would likely have been an insurrection in the no-fire zone, given our knowledge of existing tensions stemming form from the LTTE shootings of IDPs trying to escape.”

We below give the relevant part of the cable;

O 131045Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9785
INFO AMEMBASSY ATHENS
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
AMEMBASSY DHAKA
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
AMEMBASSY OSLO
AMEMBASSY TOKYO
AMCONSUL CHENNAI
AMCONSUL MUMBAI
AMCONSUL TORONTO
USEU BRUSSELS
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
USMISSION GENEVA
HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
DIA WASHINGTON DC
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
SECDEF WASHDC
CDRUSARPAC FT SHAFTER HI//APCW/APOP//
CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI//J3/J332/J52//
UNCLAS COLOMBO 000413

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR SCA (BOUCHER), SCA/INS AND PRM
STATE ALSO PASS USAID
AID/W FOR ANE/SCA, DCHA/FFP (DWORKEN, KSHEIN)
AID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA (MORRISP, ACONVERY, RTHAYER, RKERR)
ATHENS FOR PCARTER
BANGKOK FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA (WBERGER)
KATHMANDU FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA AND POL (SBERRY)
GENEVA FOR RMA (NKYLOH, NHILGERT, MPITOTTI)
USUN NEW YORK FOR ECOSOC (D MERCADO)
SECDEF FOR OSD – POLICY
PACOM ALSO FOR J-5

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF MOPS PHUM PGOV PREL ASEC CE
SUBJECT: Northern Sri Lanka SitRep 51

Ref: A) Colombo 412 B) Colombo 410 C) Colombo 402 D) Colombo 401
E) Colombo 400 F) Colombo 396 G) Colombo 393 H) Colombo 384 I)
Colombo 374 J) Colombo 368 K) Colombo 361 L) Colombo 360 M)
Colombo 321

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The government of Sri Lanka announced a 48-hour
period of restraint, during which the armed forces would confine
themselves to defensive operations. International observers noted
that shelling of the “safe zone” had diminished on April 11 and 12,
and that no firing was now being reported from the area. UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon welcomed the government’s move, noting
it was less than the pause of several days he had called for. He
reiterated his appeal to the LTTE to allow civilians freedom of
movement and to the government to adhere to its commitments not to
use heavy weapons. Previously, Ambassador had undertaken numerous
contacts with the Foreign Minister, Foreign Secretary and Senior
Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa to urge them to declare a
longer humanitarian pause and consider the idea of a UN Special
Envoy to negotiate the release of the civilians trapped in the “safe
zone.” The ICRC plans to evacuate approximately 600 wounded
civilians from the safe zone on April 13 and 14. Basil Rajapaksa
said that the hold-fire period could be extended, particularly if
the LTTE begins to release civilians. According to the UN and GSL
sources, the earliest a ship can depart for the safe zone with badly
needed food and medical supplies is April 16. End summary.

GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES 48 HOUR PERIOD OF RESTRAINT
——————————————— —

2. (U) On April 12, President Rajapaksa announced a 48-hour period
of restraint in which the Sri Lankan armed forces would confine
themselves to defensive operations: “The President is deeply
conscious of the need to give the civilian population entrapped as
hostages by the ruthless actions of the LTTE the opportunity… to
have uninhibited freedom of movement from the No Fire Zone to the
cleared areas. With this objective in view, His Excellency has
directed the Armed Forces of the State to restrict their operations
during the New Year to those of a defensive nature… It is timely
for the LTTE to acknowledge its military defeat and lay down its
weapons and surrender. The LTTE must also renounce terrorism and
violence permanently.”
3. (U) In a statement issued on April 12 in New York, United
Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon welcomed the Sri Lanka
government’s decision, noting, “This is less than the full
humanitarian pause of several days I had pressed for but is
nevertheless a useful first step and an opportunity to move towards
the peaceful and orderly end to the fighting now so badly needed…
The United Nations will, therefore, do whatever it can to support
this humanitarian pause and help end the grave predicament of
civilians in the conflict zone, including through the provision of
more aid to those still trapped in the zone.” The Secretary General
said that during the period of the pause civilians wishing to leave
the conflict zone should be allowed to do so and should then be
treated fully in accordance with international standards and
principles: “In particular, the LTTE must allow civilians to choose
whether they stay or leave. This is a terrible conflict that must be
ended as soon as possible. In the meantime, with tens of thousands
of lives at risk on the beaches of northern Sri Lanka, I call on the
government forces to adhere scrupulously to the commitments of the

government about non-use of heavy weapons. I also count on key
members of the international community to support this pause and to
continue to do all they can to avert further death and suffering in
Sri Lanka.”
4. (SBU) Head of the ICRC Colombo office Paul Castella told
Ambassador on April 13 that ICRC staff in the safe zone reported
that no firing of any kind had taken place since the
government-announced pause began at midnight. Previously, on April
12, firing had diminished in intensity, without artillery, but
mortars and automatic weapons were used. ICRC sources reported 62
wounded, of whom 16 were children. Three of the wounded later died
in the hospital. Not including those wounded on April 12, 533
wounded were waiting to be evacuated. The ICRC plans to get half of
these out on April 13 and the other half on April 14. The improved
weather situation should help. The ICRC told us that the Ministry
of Health had approved an ICRC medical shipment to go with the
vessel for the wounded but that the military had yet to clear the
delivery.

FOOD SHIP ON APRIL 16?
———————

5. (SBU) UN Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne told Ambassador on
April 13 that according to Basil Rajapaksa, the earliest a ship
could sail with WFP food supplies would be April 16. This would be
after the government-declared pause expires. Significantly, Buhne
reported that Rajapaksa said it could be extended “if the LTTE
behaves.” Basil also confirmed that badly needed medicine would be
on board. Buhne also said that UN staff in the safe zone report it
had become much quieter in the safe zone. A few RPG rounds may have
caused a few casualties, but nothing on the scale of the previous
several days. Finally, he noted that it appeared the LTTE was
trying to move civilians into the southern part of the safe zone in
anticipation of GSL military operations in the northern part.
25-30,000 civilians are reluctant to move from their current
locations, he said. If the LTTE permits them to stay, it is possible
they might be able to escape to government-controlled territory.

FOREIGN SECRETARY CONTINUES TO QUESTION SHELLING
——————————————— —

6. (SBU) Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona reported to Ambassador on
April 13 that during his recent visit to Washington he was shown
three satellite photos of the no fire zone, indicating houses with
roofs blown off and water-filled circular craters. Kohona
questioned whether the houses could have been damaged during the
1996 military campaign when the Mullaitivu camp was attacked by the
LTTE. He said he had received assurances that no artillery had been
directed to the no-fire zone. Ambassador noted that credible
medical sources reported large numbers of wounded with shrapnel
injuries sustained around April 8-9. Ambassador told Kohona that
had these been caused by the LTTE, there would likely have been an
insurrection in the no-fire zone, given our knowledge of existing
tensions stemming form from the LTTE shootings of IDPs trying to
escape.

****************

How the US crushed Tamils?

Disappearances Continue In Sri Lanka, Despite End Of War

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 9:24 pm

By ABC Radio –

Interview given to ABC – Radio Australia by Brito Fernando, co-convenor, Platform for Freedom, Sri Lanka

Brito Fernando

The pro-democracy group, Platform for Freedom believes there have been about 35 disappearances over the past three months. The UN Human Rights Council last week passed a resolution calling for a thorough investigation of alleged war crimes committed by both sides during the final phases of the civil war. Platform for Freedom says the Sri Lankan government’s track record for follow-up is not a good one.

To listen the interview click here

Presenter: Sen Lam

Speaker: Brito Fernando, co-convenor, Platform for Freedom, Sri Lanka

FERNANDO: We have a history of not implementing commission reports. Sometimes even, they do not publish the reports, so no one knows. Recently, when a free trade zone worker was shot dead in a struggle, the President appointed a Commission, the Commission report was handed over, but no one knows what is there. So, this LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) being a commission appointed by the government and their recommendations, and if the government is not going to implement, the foreign intervention is much needed.

LAM: Has the government made sincere attempts at national reconciliation, especially in Sri Lanka’s north and east?

FERNANDO: I don’t think the government tried its best or worked sincerely because, Yes, they have built some temples, changed Tamil names into Sinhala and the army presence is much stronger than before, so if someone says this is reconciliation, then Yes. But the thing is, the Tamil people are unhappy because they don’t have the freedom for expression. They can’t mourn together for their disappeared, or for the people who were killed, whether they are LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) or not. Their children, they have the right those things. So, I think the government is not doing this real reconciliation. But without admitting their role in wrong things and repent, I don’t think that there can be reconciliation. Everyone has to admit what they have done and then only the reconciliation can begin.

LAM: You’re the chairman of Right to Life, which over ten years ago set up this ‘Wall of Tears’ memorial, where over 600 photographs of people who’ve been ‘disappeared’ are posted, and the list is still being updated annually. So are these forced disappearances still occuring, now that the war is over?

FERNANDO: Yes, that is the main worry we have, because in our country, in 1989, when we had these disappearances, we all campaigned against it, the leadership was given by the present president, Mahinda Rajapakse. We marched from Colombo to Kataragama, that is down south, about 19 days, and he was our representative to the UN and he was campaigning in Geneva, to stop the disappearances, so after he became the president, it’s very unfortunate, it’s still happening. So last three months, the numbers say it’s about 35 disappearances have taken place.

LAM: So you’re saying the government is not taking this issue seriously?

FERNANDO: No, because they’re using it as a political thing against their opponent very recently, some military people were caught red-handed, when they were trying to abduct the chairman of a municipality, that chairman was from their own party. But the government just released them, saying that they just went to find some ex-soldiers from the military. So the government is not paying interest, in stopping this, the most cruel violence against a human being.

LAM: In a recent paper, you spoke about the militarisation of society – is this part of what you were talking about, this lack of freedom of expression?

FERNANDO: Definitely, yes. Now, they always try to call the military on the street, legally. Now all the districts under the People’s Protection Act, the military can be called to anything. So very recently, when the fishermen came on to the streets – I know they sometimes behave roughly, because they don’t have that sort of training or ways of how to challenge and other things. Then the military was called and shot dead a fisherman. And even the armoured cars came on to the streets. So this is happening again and again. So we have to stop it because now they’re calling against every struggle being conducted by the workers, the farmers or anything like that. So the military personnel, they’re not only in the north, but even in the south now. For anything, they will call the military.

LAM: How do you think a space might be opened up or built, to promote a free and safe forum for discussion of issues that are important to the people? How do you think this might be done in Sri Lanka?

FERNANDO: The civilian movement is not that strong in Sri Lanka, but still, we’re trying to engage all the political parties and the civil movements, especially on a few issues like the freedom of expression, trying to create an environment where the people can have the right of dissent. But the freedom of expression should be maintained, so we’re trying our best as Platform for Freedom. Now, even the main opposition political party is working with us, so we’re getting all the other political parties and the civil movements together, to fight for those things, so that is how we think that space can be made. And even by organising the local mass campaigns and joining hands with the international pressure, we have to create it. Otherwise, no one can do anything, no one can express themselves freely, without the fear of getting disappeared. Now even passing a resolution in Geneva, it always helps, but it is our duty to build up a movement in Sri Lanka, in a democratic way, to challenge those things. And we are not afraid to say that we worked with the President and he was with us against the disappearances. Now he has forgotten those things, and we are still continuing.

To listen the interview click here

Killing Balachandran And Saving Uvindu

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 9:22 pm

Wijeweera family vs. Prabakaran’s family

“There are theories and there are facts. Theories vary… The facts however cannot be denied. Thousands of Tamils, old and young, and even little children, were assaulted, robbed, killed, bereaved, and made refugees. They saw their homes, possessions, vehicles, shops and factories plundered, burnt or destroyed. These people were humiliated, made to live in fear and rendered helpless…” A Cry From the Heart… What happened at the end of July 1983? (From Bishop Lakshman Wickremasinghe’s Final Pastoral Letter).
Channel 4’s “Killing Fields” director Callum Macrae wrote last week; A 12-year-old boy lies on the ground. He is stripped to the waist and has five neat bullet holes in his chest. His name is Balachandran Prabakaran and he is the son of the LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

He has been shot dead. Beside him lie the bodies of five men, believed to be his bodyguards. There are strips of cloth on the ground perhaps indicating that they were tied and blindfolded before they were shot – further evidence suggesting that the Sri Lankan government forces had a systematic policy of executing many surrendering or captured LTTE fighters and leading figures, even if they were children. The problem for the Sri Lankan government is that this murder is not isolated. If it was, they could perhaps dismiss it as the act of rogue soldiers.
One cannot help but think that had Balachandran not been Prabhakaran’s son, there is a possibility of him being still alive. One anonymous commentator wrote last Wednesday in the Daily Mirror, “True enough; a death of a child in an armed combat is synonymous with tragedy. However, the unnecessary emphasis the video lays on Balachandran would give one the wrong impression that he was the only child casualty in the thirty-year-old war, when in reality, there was an endless line of children who ceased to be identified with their names and instead became numbers in war reports and casualty lists”.

The Wijeweera family

Killing Prabhakaran’s son is that a simple issue? Of course there were lots of children who were victimised as the result of the bloody war, but I must say killing Balachandran is not that simple. Apart from a war crime allegation, it is an extraordinary example of the structural violence in Sri Lankan society. As conflict resolution experts say, for more than 50 years diplomats, negotiators and social scientists have studied conflict and developed a sophisticated understanding of it. Let me begin by explaining the theoretical background of a conflict.
Not all conflict is violent. Conflict is normal when there is change. Some people want change, but others disagree. If their disagreement or their conflict is managed peacefully, it can be a positive process. But when conflict is not managed properly, it becomes violent. In violent conflict, people fear for their safety and survival. When we say conflict, we are usually referring to violent conflict (Ross Howard).

Violent physical conflict is easily identified and can be commented on by most. Individuals or groups in conflict try to hurt or kill each other and there will be victims. But there can be other kinds of violence which do greater harm to a society and these are more difficult for people to analyse and explain. There can be hidden violence. This includes; cultural violence and structural violence.

The prabhakaran family

Cultural violence can be the way a group considers another group over a period of years. It can include talk, images or beliefs which glorify physical violence. These include; hate speech, xenophobia, myths and legends of war heroes, religious justification for war and gender discrimination.

Structural violence is harm which is built into the laws and traditional behaviour of a group or society. Harm is permitted or ignored. It can include; institutionalized racism or sexism – laws and practices which allow unequal treatment based on race or sex, colonialism, extreme exploitation, poverty, corruption and nepotism and structural segregation. These kinds of violence are extremely important and need to be identified. Often they are the real cause of direct physical violence. Ending physical violence will not be enough. It will occur again if  cultural and structural violence are ignored. After winning the war Rajapaksas preach  that there is peace. Is there?

Now can you understand  Balachandran’s killing in the context of structural violence?  I hope you do?  As a civilised nation, for the sake of future generations, the need for national reconciliation and the prevention of communal violence again, it is important not to view Tamil politics in isolation, but rather understand how it developed due to its engagement with the obduracy and blindness of the Southern polity.

Wijeweera

Using terrorism, be it state sponsored or by non-state actors is a grave violation committed against the people. There should be no quarrel about it. As Head of State and Commander in Chief, all past leaders in Sri Lanka have issued orders to kill. As non-state actors Rohana Wijeweera and Vellupillai Prabhakaran have issued similar orders .

Terrorism by non-state Tamil actors was born as a result of terrorism by the State. This is the repercussion. In 1958 a peaceful Tamil demonstration staged at Galle Face was attacked and a blood bath resulted following orders issued by former Prime Minister S.W.R.D Banadarnaike.  It is well known that in June 1958 IGP S. W. O de Silva had told his DIGs at a secret meeting at the Police headquarters how the orders were issued to him by the then Prime Minister.

Terrorism by non-state Tamil actors came into fruition twenty year later. That was with the formation of the LTTE led by Vellupillai Prabhakaran.
However terrorism by non-state Sinhala actors came to the fore not as a counter to terrorism, but to capture political power. This was so when the JVP was formed by Rohana Wijeweera. In 1971 State sponsored terrorism was launched as a response to terrorism by non-state actors.

Prabhakaran

In other words, terrorism by non-state Tamils actors began after State sponsored terrorism was launched while terrorism by non-state Sinhala groups came into being before State terrorism was launched. Today the leaders of both such “terrorist” groups are not alive. They were victims of State terrorism. They could not achieve their ultimate goals and ultimately fell victim to a counter form of violence. When Rohana Wijeweera was arrested, he was carrying out his fight against the government whilst  terrorizing the whole country. When he was arrested with his family by the army he was living in Nawalapitiya as an estate owner using the alias Attanayake whilst his supporters were still involved in a bitter feud with the government.Unlike Wijeweera, Prabhakaran fought against the government till the last from the battle ground. How Wijeweera was murdered and how Prabakaran too was murdered is still a State secret. It is a mystery yet for the public.

Therein lies the question; What were the futures of these two families? How did the State treat Wijeweera’s wife Chithrangani, son Uvindu and daughters Supun Chaga, Dasun Esha and the other three children? And how did they treat Prabhakaran’s wife Mathiwathini, sons Charles Anthony, Blachandran and daughter Duvaraka? (Charles Anthony was a combatant, so we should leave him out in this argument).

Wijeyweera’s family was not killed. They were well looked after by the government. They are still alive. Chithrangani Wijeweera said that the UNP too has done much for her family.
Talking to The Sunday Leader on June 20, 2004, Wijeweera’s wife said; “The late President Ranasinghe Premadasa did a lot for us. He took us into his care at a time when we needed to be looked after. He promised to come and see us in the Trincomalee navy camp on his way to the opening of a university in Batticaloa in June but he died in May that year,”
However we still do not know what exactly happened to Prabhakaran’s  wife and children except Charles Anthony. British forensic expert Professor Pounder believes he has identified the first of the shots to be fired at the boy: “There is a speckling from propellant tattooing, indicating that the distance of the muzzle of the weapon to this boy’s chest was two to three feet or less. He could have reached out with his hand and touched the gun that killed him.”

It is clear that Wijeyweera’s family and Prabakaran’s family have been treated differently. Why? It is because of structural violence. Prabhakaran was a Tamil.

uvindu@jouranalist.com

British forensic expert Professor Pounder believes he has identified the first of the shots to be fired at the boy: “There is a speckling from propellant tattooing, indicating that the distance of the muzzle of the weapon to this boy’s chest was two to three feet or less. He could have reached out with his hand and touched the gun that killed him.”

By Uvindu Kurukulasuriya

Uvindu Kurukulasuriya

Betraying Tamils

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 9:18 pm

Dr Henry Kissinger had just become America’s secretary of state when Egypt’s president Anwar Sadat surprised the world and stunned his Arab world by launching a successful war against Israel on October 6, 1973, the day of Yom Kippur. Within 24 hours Egyptian troops had crossed the Red Sea and raced across the Sinai desert to recover territory lost in 1967.

At the end of that fateful day, Kissinger sent a simple but powerful private message to Sadat through a non-official channel: ‘You have begun the war with Soviet weapons, but you will need the power of American diplomacy to establish a peace.’

Sadat understood. Israel’s counteroffensive was inevitable, shifting the course of war. America and Soviet Union went on high alert. It was America which helped establish not only the ceasefire lines that have held to this day, but also, over the next five years, negotiate the tripartite settlement between Sadat, Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter that still constitutes the framework of peace in the region.

It was the kind of role that Delhi could have, and indeed should have, played in the Sri Lanka civil war that ended in such a bloody climax in January 2009. The DMK was in power in both Tamil Nadu and Delhi then, but it accepted the policy of restraint crafted by Manmohan Singh and his foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee. That was wise. But wisdom petered out when the Congress-DMK alliance simply forgot that wars do not necessarily end with defeat; and in the specific case of Lanka Tamils, they had an obligation to ensure a comprehensive rehabilitation of Tamils that accommodated post-defeat realities.

The message that Delhi should have sent to Colombo is obvious: ‘You have won the war with others’ weapon, but you will need Delhi to find peace.’ However, the UPA government walked away from this responsibility, even though Tamil Nadu voted for the DMK-Congress alliance in the summer of 2009, which in turn played a decisive part in the re-election of UPA.

Perhaps the momentum was lost when Pranab Mukherjee left external affairs to go to finance, but a shift in portfolios cannot absolve a government whose first duty is protection of the national interest.

Delhi refused to use the power of Indian diplomacy to eliminate the reasons that had led to the Lanka civil war. Kissinger, conversely, ensured the withdrawal of Israeli troops on Egyptian soil but recognised the necessity of letting Egyptians keep their military gains since they had repossessed their own territory from Israel. He understood that Egypt could not negotiate even an interim settlement with Israel as long as its land was under Israeli control.

Uncooperative past

But in the three years that have passed since the death of Tamil Tigers leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran, Delhi has behaved as if the Tamil problem in Lanka was over, and the past is a bad memory which should be allowed to lapse in silence. But the past is never so cooperative, particularly if there are demons hidden in its fog.

Guilt is something that governments rarely, and foreign policy establishments never, admit. One wonders if there is a story of Delhi’s collusion with Colombo during the last phase of the war, when some 40,000 civilians were allegedly butchered, that this UPA government would prefer to lock in the secrecy of archives? Is UPA worried that public debate will release ghosts that it wants safely buried?

The American resolution in the United States will not succeed in punishing anyone in Sri Lanka who committed war crimes. If anything it could increase the domestic popularity of president Rajapakase, who showed the necessary resolve to win a war that had lasted most of a generation. The Tamil Tigers did not fight by any rules; they spread havoc through terrorism when they could. They took the life of a Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. But it has succeeded in reviving a debate which went quiet, but never disappeared.

It was public pressure from Indian Tamils that finally forced DMK and Congress to take a position; they had enough time to take the initiative themselves, but did not do so. Indian diplomats surely do not need the United Nations as a player in what, ideally, should have been part of the bilateral process between India and its neighbour.

The sin of omission was compounded by the sin of commission. The manner in which UPA took this decision betrayed its vacillation and weakness. When foreign policy becomes hostage to coalition compulsions, it is evident that the political class is not doing any thinking. Over the last three years, there has been a sequence of blunders in the neighbourhood, from mentioning Balochistan in a communique with Pakistan to dropping the Teesta ball with Bangladesh and now a faux pas with Sri Lanka.

Political uncertainty has made Indian diplomacy weaker than India’s weight would warrant. The consequences will last longer than this government.

M J Akbar

www.deccanherald.com

March 28, 2012

Norway plays with words on investigation, sees failed 13 Amendment as solution

Filed under: eelamview, genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: , — எல்லாளன் @ 5:34 pm

During a parliamentary interpolation seeking to know Norway’s stand on independent international investigations of Sri Lanka’s war crimes and crimes against humanity, when Conservative MP Peter Skovholt Gitmark asked the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr-Støre on Monday, whether Norway would back such an investigation, the minister answering a clear “yes,” later stopped at only “independent investigations,” dropping the international part. On political solutions, the foreign minister was harping on the 13 Amendment failed for 25 years, backtracking even from the constitutional experiments envisaged by the so-called Oslo Declaration. After playing with the lives of thousands, Norway now plays with words escaping from spelling out international investigations and leaves Eezham Tamils subjugated by unitary and genocidal Sri Lanka, commented diaspora activists.

Norway was a co-sponsor of the US-tabled resolution at the UNHRC that bailed out Sri Lanka from international investigations and bound Eezham Tamils to Sri Lanka’s LLRC recommendations that envisage annihilation of the nation of Eezham Tamils and confine solutions to existing Provincial Councils of the unitary constitution.

The section of Tamil politicians and diaspora activists that hailed the US-resolution as a ‘first step’ and a great ‘diplomatic’ victory should have foreseen for what it was the first step, new generation Eezham Tamil political circles in the island and in the diaspora commented responding to Norwegian foreign minister’s stand.

* * *

Jonas Gahr Støre, the Norwegian Foreign Minister

Jonas Gahr Støre, the Norwegian Foreign Minister

Talking on international investigations, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr-Støre explained the challenges on deciding who is to conduct the investigations on Sri Lanka since Sri Lanka was not a signatory to the International Criminal Court in Hague. The UN Security Council, the only body that could bind Sri Lanka to such an investigations, is not conducive of that move. Even an independent investigation commission would require the backing of UN Security Council, he said and landed on Sri Lanka’s own LLRC.

He was particular in saying that in addition to implementing the LLRC the Sri Lankan government should go the additional step of initiating an independent investigation.

For all practical purposes, the minister’s vision of depending on the accused for investigations negates all possibilities of any justice coming to Tamils in near future.

* * *On political solution, the minister who didn’t recognize Eezham Tamils as a nation, but addressed them as “minorities,” said that the fundamentals for a political solution were well established in the 13th Amendment of a united Sri Lanka.

Political observers view the minister’s stand of defending what is already there in the constitution as an escape from responsibilities of bringing in any constitutional changes in the unitary structure of state in the island.

Conceding to the military ‘victory’ of genocidal Sri Lanka, Norway is washing its hands of even its earlier stand seen in facilitating Oslo Declaration, after taking Eezham Tamils for a ride, the observers further said.

The Provincial Councils (PC) created under the 13th Amendment of the unitary constitution, have proved a miserable failure in the last 25 years.

Even in the provinces outside of the Tamil homeland in the North and East, where the PCs were regularly elected, the Tamils were not treated with equality or with self-respect.

The Norwegian Foreign Minister was telling on Monday that the “minority” issue still exists and is not resolved because [in the past] the parties chose weapons and not politics.

Does he imply it was the LTTE and its armed struggle that were all these years blocking the success of the 13th Amendment, Eezham Tamil political circles ask.

If so, whether it was for the sake of implementing the 13th Amendment the genocide was committed, they further asked, commenting on the futility of talking on the 13th Amendment to a genocide-affected nation, that too, after seeing the day-to-day attitude of the Sinhala nation clearly demonstrated in every respect.

The Norway FM in the parliament was explaining the ‘positive’ aspects of the LLRC recommendations. The vast majority of the IDPs are out of the camps, he said, adding that a wide-scale reconstruction is taking place in the country.

* * *Other than international investigation and political solution appropriate to the national question – the two issues of real importance to Eezham Tamils – the Norway FM came out hard on Colombo government on issues such as media freedom.

The approach perhaps harps only on a regime change and not on fundamental solutions to the structural crisis of nations in the island, political observers in the diaspora said.

The minister was referring to Sri Lanka’s need to report to the UNHRC in next March.

He was not elucidating on what the next step would be, but he was harping on Norway’s continued prospects of bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka.

Last year, the former International Development Minister Erik Solheim has claimed that it was inside the Norwegian Foreign Ministry one could locate comprehensive knowledge and expertise about Sri Lanka.

If that is the case, the Norwegian Foreign Minister should be knowing the real situation on the ground – plight of the so-called resettled, plight of the released LTTE cadres, militarisation, land appropriation, colonisation, Sinhalicisation, day-to-day rights violations of Tamils, on-going structural genocide and attitudinal impossibility of political solution without secession – but none of it is reflected in his speech, Eezham Tamil activists in Norway said.

* * *Conservative parliamentarian Gitmark, who initiated the parliamentary interpolation and questioned the FM, said the Rajapaksa regime was solely responsible for the misconduct. He cited the UNSG report.

The SL government delegation in Geneva in its attacks didn’t spare even the human rights activists and journalists, the MP said.

Both the LLRC report and Sri Lanka’s National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (2011-2016) are documents only showcasing to the international community in order to deal with issues at a domestic level, Gitmark said.

Citing on torture in Sri Lanka, and evidences available with UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), the MP said Sri Lanka’s National Action Plan is a bluff. He underlined the need for Colombo to come out with the names of the detainees.

He also wanted the UNSG report to be concretely followed.

The Conservative MP was specific on international investigations:

“I have no trust, not at all, that Rajapaksa and his government would do anything to really investigate themselves or those close to them and to punish them for grave violations in connection with the war-crimes or human rights. Therefore, I am of the opinion that Norway and the international community should seek broader support to appoint a international criminal tribunal on Sri Lanka,” the Conservative MP said.

He also added that the most important demand on the Sri Lanka should be a negotiated political settlement to the conflict. “Without political negotiations, compromises and agreements, the conflict would last. It is the responsibility of the SL President and his government. International pressure needs to be exerted on this front,” he said.

Mr. Gitmark also implied that the international community should woo the support of China to make it possible.

* * *Marit Nybakk and Nina Mjøberg of Labour (A), Karin S. Woldseth of the Progress Party (FrP), Snorre Serigstad Valen of the Socialist Left Party (SV), Dagfinn Høybråten of the Norwegian Christian Democratic Party (KrF) also spoke at the Parliament.

The FrP MP, Karin S. Woldseth referred to a meeting she had with the Norwegian Tamil representatives together with the Global Tamil Forum and said the picture she got about the happenings in the island was not positive. She was particular on the plight of the children without parents and the traumatized and wounded victims.

Dagfinn Høybråten of the KrF said that the leadership of the Tamil Tigers made a “fatal mistake when they overturned the Tamil political struggle for justice into a military struggle for a separate state. The result was a crushing defeat, to which the Tamils had to pay the highest price for.”

Mr. Dagfinn further said: “We do not need more of triumphant chauvinism of those who won the war militarily. We do not need reshaping of conflict by the bitter Tamil activists who choose to dream about resuming a military struggle for separate Tamil state.”

The Christian Democratic Party parliamentarian should think of Norway getting separated from Sweden and Denmark, even when there was no genocide, Eezham Tamil diaspora activists commented.

* * *

Nearly all the parliamentarians, including the Norwegian FM, commended the integration of Tamils in Norway as an impressive model. The FM cited the presence of the community in justifying Norway’s quest for bilateral relations with Sri Lanka.

This praise was only a placating stance to balance the injustice, said Tamil political activists in Norway.

Norway was the first country in the diaspora to re-mandate the Vaddukkoaddai Resolution. Norway was also the first country to democratically elect a country council of Eezham Tamils.

It is high time the Eezham Tamils who have got the citizenship in Norway should demand the Norwegian politicians to refer to them publicly as Eezham Tamils and not as Sri Lankans. As the word Eezham in Tamil stands for the entire island, no Tamil from the island will be left out or excluded in claiming the identity. It will only reject the identity of the genocidal state that has the identity Sri Lanka since 1972.

Such a move by the Eezham Tamils in Norway would at least prevent Norwegian politicians seeking state-to-state relations of their interest while ignoring Eezham Tamil aspirations, from citing a ‘large community of Sri Lankans’ in Norway in support of their dealings.

TamilNet

External Links:

Stortinget.no: Møte mandag den 26. mars 2012

Black Prados of Pakistan vs the white vans of Sri Lanka

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 5:25 pm

When it comes to harassment of journalists, two South Asian friends, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, appear to exchange matching experiences and at both places the intelligence agencies are accused of these dirty tricks.

If the black Prado is a sign of fear for Pakistani journalists for its frequent use in state-sponsored abduction, the word ‘white van’ is nightmarish for Sri Lankan journalists as they are used by intelligence agencies for abducting journalists and human right activists.

Iqbal Athas, a Sri Lankan editor with 30-year professional experience, narrated in a conference here how the journalists in his country that he termed ‘endangered species’, are hounded, harassed and sometimes eliminated in a culture of impunity. Held at University of California (San Diego), the conference titled ‘Different Worlds, Similar Threats’ was jointly organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), Article 19 and Institute of Americas bringing journalists together from different parts of the world.

Although journalists from Russia, Latin America, Balkan and other regions also gave out presentations of the facts, Iqbal’s case has had a close resemblance of what happens in today’s Pakistan. His being a defence writer also adds his personal ordeals that he went through over the time ranging from attacks inside his house to the forced exile.

Like Pakistan, the critics of human rights abuses are branded traitors there, messaging services are scrutinised, journalists are abducted and killed and the entire exercise is carried out with full impunity.

As for white vans syndrome, Iqbal said ‘unknown but unarmed men’ who come in white vans kidnapped more than five journalists since 2006 and a number of other human rights activists. “So much so, the ‘white van syndrome’, because of the strong of white coaches the abductors used, became a fearful word. It forced some journalists to leave Sri Lanka.” Sri Lanka’s Military Intelligence is accused of these abductions, he said, and this practice has been going on since 2009.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka have excellent defence relations. Other than Pakistan that gets the major component, China trains Sri Lankan army in addition to providing ammunition and other defence needs of the force recently concluded a fight against the separatist Tamils.

Sri Lanka, declared the most dangerous country for journalists in recent years, has seen over 17 journalists killed and 27 injured since 2005. Iqbal has also suffered a lot and it started from 1998 when armed men stormed into his house, broke into the bedroom placing pitol on his right and left temples as he was watching TV with his seven-year old daughter. As he was marched out of the bedroom, his daughter started crying alerting the people in surrounding thus forcing the attackers to flee.

It turned out later that the assailants belonged to the air force chief as Iqbal had reported the malpractices and corruption in procurements. Iqbal returned to normalcy after some time but had to see a psychologist for next five-years for treating his daughter who could not recover that shocking sight. This was not the end of his trouble as he was forced into exile in 2009 other than the raiding incident at his residence and state-run media campaign dubbing him as a traitor.

His editor colleague Lasantha Wickrematunga was killed in January 2009 and another editor JS Tissainaygam was jailed and convicted on terrorism charges only to be released under international pressure.

Iqbal said recently a United Nations Human Rights Council’s resolution demanded investigation into the Sri Lanka’s alleged abuses of international humanitarian law during the war with Tamil tigers. Those journalists who supported this were dubbed traitors. Government sponsored demonstrators carried out protests near the residences of the ‘traitor’ journalists, shouting abusive slogans, carrying placards calling ‘terrorist acolyte’. Later these ‘protestors’ admitted they work for a local council and that they were ‘persuaded’ to carry placards and demonstrate for the reason they didn’t know.

So much so that the government’s minister for public relations Dr Mervyn Silva made a front-headline through a warning that he would break the limbs of journalists for making statements against the country. The latest assault on freedom of expression has come through an order by Ministry of Defence directing the mobile telephone operators to seek clearance for sending out SMS news on matters relating to ‘national security’.

By Umar Cheema © The News

Sri Lankan war crimes have not lost their resonance

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 5:23 pm

The euphoria was short-lived. The hopes generated after India’s vote at Geneva for holding Colombo accountable for war crimes, have now evaporated.

With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh bending over backwards to placate our tiny southern neighbor, there is nothing much to cheer about.

But the Lankan Tamil issue has returned to centre stage with all parties in the state speaking in one voice.

As a recent opinion poll shows, the plight of the Lankan Tamils continues to exercise the masses so much that many even favour the creation of an independent Eelam. No end to ethnic polarisation: The vote on Lankan war crimes at the UN Human Rights council has not only hardened the position of the Rajapaksa government and the Sinhala chauvinists

Even the normally reticent Tamil Nadu Congress Committee hasn’t gone against the tide. Clearly, the issue of Lankan war crimes has not lost its resonance.

The Congress is accused of being a silent collaborator in the war. Worse, DMK was seen as a betrayer of the Tamil cause.

As a recent opinion poll shows, the plight of the Lankan Tamils continues to exercise the masses so much that many even favour the creation of an independent Eelam.

It is hardly surprising that the Congress has been reduced to a fringe player in the state.

The vote and its aftermath have exposed the lack of clarity on the part of New Delhi as well as the political class in the state.

It is sad that the politicians in Tamil Nadu and those in the forefront of the Lankan Tamil cause appear to remain content at raising their decibel levels.

They are far removed from the mainstream discourse of the Sri Lankan Tamil question.

No one has attempted a critique of the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission appointed by the Sri Lankan Government.

Even the panel didn’t give a clean chit to the island nation’s army. Independent sources put the scale and magnitude of the human rights violations at a far higher level.

The Geneva resolution is only a logical extension of the international reaction to the human sufferings in Lanka. While the geopolitical interests of the Western nations are a reality, justice demands that large scale killings should not go unaccounted for.

In the absence of an informed public discourse, the Centre prefered to take an ostrich-like attitude. Some media critics went to the extent of questioning the rationale of the country’s support for the resolution and lamented that foreign policy is becoming a prisoner of regional sentiments.

But, Dr Singh’s letter to Sri Lankan premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, apart from being apologetic in its tone and tenor, doesn’t suggest a change of stance-which is very necessary for a meaningful resolution of the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka.

‘The PM should not have written the letter to placate Rajapaksa,’ opines Lanka expert Prof Suryanarayanan.

In his view, it was unwarranted as New Delhi, though appearing to be hesitant in voting against Colombo, had enough reasons to justify it, despite getting the resolution diluted. In his view, the placatory letter has undermined the vote.

For, India has enough levers to influence Colombo and the Chinese threat vis-à-vis Sri Lanka is vastly exaggerated. New Delhi’s hands-off policy after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi had only helped Sri Lanka to subvert the 13th Amendment, a grand vision of the former Prime Minister.

Though Rajapaksa talks of going ‘beyond the 13th Amendment’ he is yet to spell out what he has in mind. India needs to make its engagement more meaningful and result-oriented.

On the contrary, thus far, there is reluctance on its part to goad Rajapaksa to be accountable and move towards genuine reconciliation. Given this scenario, it is disappointing that Sri Lanka is adopting a hawkish position instead of seeing reason.

While India seems to have beaten a hasty retreat after the UNHRC vote, Colombo apparently seems emboldened. But, the yearning for justice by the Sri Lankan Tamils cannot be held hostage to imagined geopolitical calculations.

Needless to say, justice should not only be done but be seen to be done.

By M.C.Rajan | Mail Online India © Mail Online

Sri Lanka reacts to the UN Nationalists do protest

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 5:19 pm

“HILLARY CLINTON is naked! Obama is naked!” shriek the Sinhala-language graffiti across a wall in Colombo. Following their government’s lead, many Sri Lankans are reacting angrily to the passage of an American-led initiative in the UN Human Rights Council which seeks reconciliation and accountability for war crimes that are alleged to have been committed at the end of their state’s civil war against the Tamil Tigers.

Three decades of war ended in 2009 with a bloody climax that left thousands of civilians dead and the Tigers defeated. Rights groups now want the government to account for the civilians who were killed by the army and to investigate allegations of serious war crimes that have been levelled against its soldiers. Having gained the UN’s support, the activists now face the wrath of a nationalistic public.

A very different group of critics say that the resolution, which was passed by a clear majority on March 22nd, was so watered down that it bordered on the blasé. But Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s president, is bristling. Speaking at a function in a remote village on March 24th, he insisted that Sri Lanka will not tolerate “arbitrary interference” in its affairs.

So no deal, and no compromise. That was the position Sri Lanka took at the Geneva-based council, explained G.L. Peiris, the external affairs minister. Addressing a crowded press conference on March 26th, he blamed India squarely for having swayed the council in favour of the resolution.

Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, had announced two-and-a-half days before the final session that his government was “inclined to vote” for the resolution. His statement was swiftly circulated among the council’s members. Several among them who would have opposed the initiative consequently chose to vote for it or to abstain, Mr Peiris said.

Some analysts in Colombo saw this as an admission of just how influential India has become in shaping international opinion on South Asian issues. Others felt the Sri Lankan government was fumbling around for a scapegoat.

The real trouble was that India had said initially that it would oppose the resolution. Things changed after a senior member of the Sri Lankan delegation indiscreetly announced India’s position to the press. Major political parties in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which claim to share an affinity with the Tamil population in Sri Lanka, then combined forces to demand a policy reversal.

After weeks of relentless haranguing from their coalition partners, India’s central government backtracked. Mr Peiris says this came as a “shock”. Hours before the vote, however, India’s diplomats negotiated with America to dilute the draft’s language. That intervention however, did not earn India any kudos with its neighbour to the south. Instead, Sri Lanka’s media is accusing the Indians of duplicity.

Sri Lanka’s political relations with India will weather this storm. As Basil Rajapaksa, the powerful economic development minister and the president’s brother conceded, “We will never forget our relationship with India”. By contrast, China—which voted against the resolution and denounced it for good measure—is being praised generously.

Sri Lanka’s strained ties with the West will undoubtedly get worse, not least because the resolution is regarded here as a hostile move. Western diplomats prefer to characterise it as a means of pressing the Rajapaksas’ lethargic government into keeping promises it has made in the name of accountability and reconciliation.

America’s initiative was co-sponsored by 40 countries. (Among them was Norway, which once attempted—and failed—to negotiate a permanent peace between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels.) Among other things, its language urges Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of a presidential commission that tried, ineffectually, to unravel the confusion of the war’s final stages.

The conclusions of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) are widely regarded as being inadequate, when it comes to the task of fact-finding. Still its report offered other proposals to solve the country’s longstanding ethnic grievances. For instance, it called for devolution of power and a rapid demilitarisation of the island’s north and east, where large numbers of the Tamil minority live. The government has so far resisted both.

Even before the dispute at the Human Rights Council, Sri Lanka was shifting its foreign policy emphasis to Asia, Africa and Latin America. As a part of this change, several of its diplomatic missions in Europe are to be closed down even as more are opened on other continents.

The government is seething that the West will not let up on demands for accountability. It sees these as being motivated by the pro-Tamil Tiger diaspora. During the weeks that preceded the resolution’s passage, government ministers went so far as to accuse America and its allies of conspiring to topple the regime.

The same sycophants warned that their heroic president was on the verge of being hauled up before an international war-crimes tribunal, though in fact he never was. Crowds protested outside Western diplomatic missions, burning effigies and jeering. One minister called for a boycott of all American products, including Google, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.

It is grimly ironic that there is still no discussion on the contents or aims of the resolution. For its part, the government seems to be growing ever more belligerent. Nimal Siripala de Silva, a senior minister, said on March 27th that the commission had “gone beyond its mandate” and that careful consideration would be given before its proposals were implemented.

For months, the government had flaunted the very fact of the LLRC as a means of fending off international calls for a war-crimes investigation. Now it is questioning the commission’s own report. This is precisely what independent analysts had feared would happen. But at least Sri Lanka is officially under watch—if only overseas.

(Picture credit: AFP)

© The Economist

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