By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Rtd. Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara will leave for Geneva tomorrow leading a three-man delegation to meet UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein to mount an offensive against the case, now argued before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), that Sri Lankan forces committed war crimes, especially during the closing stages of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
This allegation is the centrepiece of the UNHRC resolution that is widely accepted by the international community including the Tamil Diaspora.
He takes a 100-page dossier of facts to buttress his arguments against the allegations.
Weerasekara, Chief Coordinator of The Federation of National Association sponsored by the Global Sri Lankan Forum, told Ceylon Today that UN Human Rights Chief Zeid has violated his own mandate by getting involved in a sovereign country’s internal affairs.
“I will seek a meeting with Zeid and be at the debating table when the Council takes up for discussion the Resolution on Sri Lanka, co-sponsored by the Government, on 20 March,” he added. The Rear Admiral said that despite the fact the LTTE had committed serious war crimes including the recruitment of child soldiers, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had been ‘treacherous’ and a ‘traitor’ to the country by acknowledging and expressing appreciation of the UNHRC Report, having also gone to the extent of co-sponsoring the resolution.
“Things like the Truth Commission and the Office of Missing Persons … these are ‘hurting’ us,” he added.
He said he was going to Geneva in a bid to ‘put a stop’ to war crime allegations against the Army. The dossier has been prepared after a serious study by intellectuals and experts in international human rights and humanitarian laws. It also contains statistics proving how the war was won and how humanitarian aid was distributed in the war zone contrary to this being disputed by the Human Rights Council.
“The UN congratulated us for defeating terrorism at the first UN Resolution tabled on 27 May 2009. Germany and 17 other UN member countries stood against it but the Non Aligned Movement rejected and contested the case in our favour. That was approved at the presentation of the first Resolution but now it has turned out to be totally against us. “Subsequently, the LTTE sympathizers and the Tamil Diaspora went against that resolution with negative inputs and gradually got it reversed,” he noted. He said, “The Darusman Committee Report based on the Tamil Diaspora call, tabled the 2012 UNHRC Resolution on that same thematic position and it was tabled with the 2013 and 2014 Resolutions.”
He said the Council adopted the 2014 Resolution by a vote of 23 in favour, 12 against and 12 abstentions, and the Resolution requested the Office of the High Commissioner to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties (GoSL and the LTTE) and that a Commissioner- General initiates an investigation into our national affairs.
He recalled that India and Pakistan at that time said the resolution was an infringement into a sovereign country’s rights and considered it was a case of double standards being adopted by the UNHRC.
“Leading international jurists and experts in laws relating to international rights such as Sir Desmond de Silva QC, Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, Rodney Dixon QC. (UK/ South Africa), Major General John Holmes and many others literally dismissed the one-sided charges levelled against Sri Lanka.”
He noted that a special committee comprising reputed lawyers and specialists in international affairs was appointed two weeks ago to counter the ongoing ‘traitorous move’ in Geneva.
He said they have included statistics on how humanitarian aid was distributed in thousands of tons to the North during the final phase of the war.
“The dossier has been vetted by former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and will be handed over to former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa at a ceremony beginning at 3 p.m. tomorrow at Sambhuddhathwa Jayanthi Mandiraya with the support of Ven. Kirama Wimalajyoti Thera. Rear Admiral Weerasekara will leave for Geneva after the event. A copy of the dossier will also be handed over to President Maithripala Sirisena who would be urged to send it to UNJRC Chief Zeid.
He said the team working on this agenda includes Generals and Admirals of the Forces who fought the war.
“I will give the dossier to Zeid and tell him it was not an international armed conflict and that what’s applicable is ‘international humanitarian laws’ and not ‘international human rights laws’.
He added that no organizations can interfere in any country’s internal affairs.
As for responsibility for civilian safety in a war, he stressed that the protection of civilians depends upon whose controlled area they were at that specific time. “If the people were in an LTTE controlled area, then the LTTE should acknowledge responsibility for their safety.
Likewise, we would have been responsible for the protection of the people when they were in government controlled areas. We cannot take responsibility of what happened in LTTE controlled areas.” He stressed that the LTTE used civilians as human shields and so, the Forces cannot be blamed for that.