By Niranjan Rambukwella –
The Member of Parliament from Kurunegala, Mahinda Rajapaksa, recently released a statement explaining his position on the recently released United Nations investigation into allegations of human rights abuses and crimes that occurred during and after the war in Sri Lanka. His statement contained five major factual inaccuracies.
1. “The investigation on Sri Lanka was not carried out by an independent Commission of Inquiry but for the very first time, by the OHCHR.”
This was not the first time the OHCHR has carried out an investigation. Other investigations include the OHCHR investigations into Darfur in 2004, and the investigations on Afghanistan and Kyrgystan. These were all carried out by the OHCHR.
2. “Similarly, I too had to go against the wishes of certain powerful nations to defeat terrorism and bring peace to this country.”
- The LTTE is banned in the United States, EU and India.
- The US and India both provided vital intelligence, training and military equipment that played a critical role in the defeat of the LTTE.
- EU countries also assisted with training and equipment.
There is no basis for saying that these countries did not want the LTTE defeated.
3. “Some politicians have been telling the people that all these international initiatives are based on my joint communiqué with the UN Secretary General of 23 May 2009. I see that as a deliberate attempt to mislead the people and seek justification for their own cooperation with interventionist foreign forces.”
These are the words of the Mahinda Rajapaksa-Ban Ki-moon Joint Communique, “The Secretary General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
The Government will take measures to address those grievances .” Dayan’s famous congratulatory but self-defeating resolution in 2009, made this promise to the whole world, it “welcomes the visit to Sri Lanka of the Secretary-General of the United Nations at the invitation extended by the President of Sri Lanka, and endorses the joint communiqué issued at the conclusion of the visit as well as the understandings contained therein;”
4. “The most that can be done with a report of this nature is to recommend the setting up of a war crimes tribunal and that has been done.”
The report could have done a great deal more than recommend a tribunal. It could have recommended referral to the Security Council, it could have named individuals and it could have recommended an international tribunal. It could even have recommended economic sanctions.
5. “Some appear to believe that had my government still been in power, this report may have led to economic sanctions being imposed on Sri Lanka. However, neither the UNHRC nor the OHCHR can impose economic sanctions on a country.”
As these are UN reports and taken very seriously by the entire world, if the OHCHR recommended sanctions, it is very likely that the economy would have been in tatters.
The OHCHR report would have led to many governments considering sanctions.
The little investment Sri Lanka received would have dried up, tourist arrivals would decline, the interest rates Sri Lanka pays would rise and access to concessionary finance would be even more difficult. Moreover, it would make it very difficult for the US and EU, which account for over half our exports, to not have targeted sanctions and travel bans.
In a couple of years the Rajapaksas lost GSP+, with a damning report recommending economic sanctions, the Sri Lankan economy would have been in free fall.
The question we need to ask is, why does Mahinda keeping lying to us?