Keeping Promises – Fooling The UN Is A Lot Tougher Than Fooling Sri Lankans

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole –

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Commitment to the People

After the war and the massacres of civilians by the army, promises were made to the world, including to the Tamil people at the UNHRC. While some seem to think that Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP sealed the deal by themselves, diplomatic circles are very clear that President Maithripala Sirisena was fully briefed and agreed to cosponsoring Resolution 30/1 at UNHRC.

However, President Sirisena is, according reports, going to Geneva seeking to renegotiate Resolution 30/1. The expectation, says Jehan Perera, is that he will fail. The world will not brook heads of state playing games with them, promising one thing one day and asking to be excused the next.

Review of the Commitments

Three years after 30/1, it is good to recall what we promised and where things are. Succinctly

Para 1: Encourages implementing measures for truth-seeking, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence. (In contrast, the President keeps calling murdering soldiers national heroes and promises that they will never be charged. It is a promise of impunity to those who murder Tamils, inviting recurrence).

Para 2: Encourages exploring appropriate forms of international support for and participation in Sri Lankan processes seeking truth and justice. (What truth and justice when our leaders are in denial?)

Para 3: Strengthen processes of truth-seeking, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence by engaging in broad national consultations drawing on international expertise, assistance and best practices. (There are no national consultations. There is paranoia about international expertise).

 Para 4: Establish a commission for truth, justice, reconciliation and non-recurrence, an office of missing persons and an office for reparations. (The OMP has happened at long last, but the President made his mala fides clear by not appointing persons for long even after the law was passed, and not appointing some good nominees proposed by the CC).

Para 5: Recognize the need for a process of accountability and reconciliation for the violations and abuses committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. (Contrary to how we treat Sinhalese murderers, Tiger suspects against whom there is no evidence languish in prison).

Para 6: Establish a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, and affirm that a credible justice process should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions, and the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators. (No action but a lot of hysteria).

Para 7: Implement the LLRC Report, as well as the recommendations of the report of the Office of the High Commissioner, including by allowing for the trial and punishment of those most responsible for the full range of crimes during the period covered by the LLRC. (The President promises to protect them).

Para 8: Also encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to introduce effective security sector reforms and ensure that no scope exists for retention in or recruitment into the security forces of anyone credibly implicated in serious crimes involving human rights violations  or violations of international humanitarian law. (Instead murderers are rewarded and are made our Ambassadors).

Para 9: Passage of an updated witness and victim protection law and  commitment to review the law, and strengthen specific accommodations to protect witnesses and victims, investigators, prosecutors and judges. (Some progress that is undone by obstructing and threatening those going to Geneva to give evidence).

Para 10: To accelerate the return of land to its rightful civilian owners, and to end  military involvement in civilian activities, the resumption of livelihoods and the restoration of normality to civilian life. (Settlements are increasing as shown below).

The army has asked for powers to tackle gang violence in Jaffna for which there is evidence that the Police are behind the sword wielding Aava gangs whose activities in the first 20 days of September are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Gang Violence in Jaffna: 1 Sept. to 20 Sept. 2018

Date Where Description
6 Sept. 2018 Kaikulanj Chanthai 3 houses attacked. 3 injured by sword cut
8 Sept. 2018 Manipay 3 houses attacked. 2 motor bikes and ice cream van damaged. The van was burnt.
12 Sept. 2018 Puthukudiyiruppu Two injured by sword. One attacker killed by householder
19 Sept. 2018 Kaithady 5 injured by knife cuts

Para 11: To investigate all alleged attacks by individuals and groups on journalists, human rights defenders, members of religious minority groups and other members of civil society, as well as places of worship, and to hold perpetrators of such attacks to account. (Government reluctance to punish Gnanasara Thero, giving him the comforts of hospital after he is convicted  and calls for his pardon show sympathy for his activities and that there are powerful forces supporting him).

Para 12: Welcomes the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to review the Public Security Ordinance Act and to review and repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and to replace it with anti-terrorism legislation in accordance with contemporary international best practices.  (This has not happened and the PTA is the very instrument that  puts us Tamils in constant danger from the police and army).

Challenge of Genocide – Compounded by a Gullible People

The non keeping of the above solemn promises to the world indicates the intention of the government to erase Tamil presence in Sri Lanka – the ultimate in genocide.

President Sirisena may be excused for promising a red carpet welcome to returning exiles and doing nothing about it. However, the government is responsible for far bigger untruths on every one of the 12 paragraphs of 30/1. The tendency for our leaders to lie – whether over red carpet welcomes for returnees or to the UNHRC shows how easily we may be manipulated – Tamils in 2015 through the promise of reconciliation and the Sinhalese by catering to their sense of racial megalomania and by covering up mass scale murders to buy votes.

Mahaweli Colonization – More Lies

Sinhalasisation is now coming to the North in full force. We have been softened so much with blows that Tamil officials under decentralization can be trusted to play government stooge. 

On 25 Aug. there was a development meeting of Northern MPs and administrative officials at the Presidential Secretariat. TNA MPs alleged ongoing Sinhalese settlements in the North. The President in front of those present called up Mahaweli officials who denied any settlement in recent times.  The President announced that the accusations were false. Tamil officials like the GAs who know that settlements are being expanded, kept quiet as to be expected of those who are insecure and fear transfers.

However, as the top part of the land alienation deed pictured here shows, somebody is lying. It is dated “2018.08.06,” almost 3 weeks before the President’s denial. There are at least 7 other deeds like this of recent days, in addition to 25 acres to the sister of Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva which was gifted earlier.

Colonisation is ongoing apace. East of A9 at Muruhandy where the LTTE settled its people, Sinhalese now live in comfort and no Tamil is allowed nearby. 

That is our government!  How do we trust it? The President’s broken promise of a red carpet welcome to returnees pales into insignificance when the promise of good governance especially with respect to reconciliation is breached so shamelessly through lie after lie against the Tamil people. The only way out for a Tamil seems to be to agree to Sinhalasization and satisfy the government’s appetite for genocide without a single Tamil left on the island. Sadly, that may be the only Tamil response that is safe for us.

Gullible Fools?

Consider the ethnic cleansing in 2009 which by UN figures saw 40,000 individuals massacred.

  • President Rajapakse is on record saying there was no casualty during the war as soldiers advanced with the human rights charter in their hand.
  • Then, the government agreed to war crime trials with foreign judges but many insisted that there were no war crimes.
  • Now President Sirisena wants to renegotiate its agreements under Resolution 30/1 at the UNHRC. 
  • Then, army commander Mahesh Senanayke said there were some crimes for which the soldiers need to be prosecuted.
  • The faithful continued to insist there were no massacres.
  • This week Minister Champika Ranawake brilliantly suggested amnesty for both sides – that is, amnesty for those soldiers who murdered thousands of Tamils (and against whom there is a mountain of evidence in Geneva) and a few Tamils in prison without any credible case against them and are locked up out of hatred for them. 

After all these flip flops, do the Sinhalese really believe there was no mass-scale murder of Tamils? We may be a nation of gullible nationalist fools, but the President and our southern brethren must understand that the people in Geneva are no fools. The President will return empty handed, but win over some gullible nationalists to his side at great cost to Sri Lanka as a nation.