The UN is making lasting peace in Sri Lanka less likely
Posted on April 5th, 2012

By Ian Paisley Jnr -Courtesy The Commentator

on 3 April 2012 at 5pm

The people of Sri Lanka have suffered infamous violence throughout the country’s civil war – but a patient approach is required in the pursuit of justice and peace, says Ian Paisley MP
Can a peace process ever be rushed?

The Sri Lankan parliament has begun debating the resolution from the UN Human Rights Council urging Sri Lanka to conduct an investigation into alleged war crimes committed during its battle against Tamil Tiger separatists in 2009.

On hearing of the UN passing the resolution the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, immediately hailed the council’s action, saying it “encourages the government of Sri Lanka to continue on the path toward reconciliation following 27 years of civil war.”

As someone who has grown up in a war torn country I have some experience of what it is like to be a citizen in a place where the territory is disputed and where such a dispute brings conflict and eventually conflict resolution. Sri Lanka has emerged from a long and difficult conflict; now what is important is how it advances as a society today. Undoubtedly part of this will be measured by how willing Sri Lanka is to accept its past and progress to the future. However, I fear while many will welcome the decision by the UNHRC as a step in the right direction, determination to achieve their objective may well make achieving a lasting peace for the citizens of Sri Lanka less not more likely. The debate in Sri Lanka’s parliament will be fascinating to follow.

There is a fundamental question for someone such as myself who has seen their community follow a path of reconciliation: have international governments learnt nothing from building a lasting peace in Northern Ireland?

The resolution passed in Geneva is provocative and effectively commences the internationalisation of the internal politics of Sri Lanka. As we have seen in Africa with similar intervention by another body, the International Criminal Court, this can be destabilising and counterproductive. Such a move, no doubt well intentioned, has the potential to set back the difficult progress that has already been made.

Let me be clear, human rights violations, and allegations of atrocities anywhere, must be openly and transparently addressed by the local government in a manner that builds the confidence by all in that administration. However, there is more than one way to address this and the international community, by now, ought to appreciate the methods which work, achieving lasting settlements, and which escalate tensions thus creating further hurdles to reconciliation.

The strategy being pursued by the US is in stark contrast to the way administrations under Presidents Clinton and Bush assisted in the process of building a lasting peace process in Northern Ireland. Simply put, bullying did not work. Encouraging, cajoling and charming internal actors to step up to the mark and lead was what proved successful.

Steps that internationalise internal and historic problems “”…” allowing external siren voices to dominate “”…” will not lead to realistic progress in Sri Lanka. Some may point out how US senator George Mitchell was imposed as chairman of the talk’s process in Northern Ireland. But, the subtle fact is the role he played was sought by the sovereign government of the disputed territory. By contrast the US administration is attempting to force Sri Lanka to accept America’s regulations and “advice and technical assistance on implementing” the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee (LLRC) report, when the internal government has already commenced this process.

International governments must know when to push and when to hold back. Nothing sets back progress more than when communities feel they are being pressed by a foreign government to take action that they will take in their own time. I am the first to understand the impatience many feel with progress being made, but impatience should not be a substitute for diplomacy.

In Sri Lanka, a country emerging from 30 years of conflict, a more subtle and tested approach ought to be followed. The UK and USA have good cause to pursue such an approach when they consider what worked for Northern Ireland. The internal LLRC report made positive recommendations about building a credible reconciliation process that has the potential to build political confidence and judicial independence, thus enabling human rights. It is a step-by-step process that will lead to the necessary confidence to address allegations of military violations of human rights at the end of the conflict. The international community appears to be putting outcomes before process and, as we in Northern Ireland know, the long hard road to peace and reconciliation is process – not a single event.

It amazes me that, after the success of such a process here, the lessons are not always transferred abroad. Unduly rushing the process flirts with a breakdown that will benefit no one.

Patience is required with process politics. Ultimately justice will follow only by a process of evidence gathering, charges, trial, prosecution and punishment. Even in this process victims feel the slowness of progress but ultimately accept that the wheels of justice turn slow but they turn fine.

I would urge the UK government to use its not inconsiderable international influence to advocate a patient approach. To refuse to rush in with international declarations and resolutions that will not work, but to promote the model for an international approach based on an experience that did work. Ultimately the path to reconciliation can only be laid by the citizens of that country. The UK should look to plant the seeds of progress by allowing Sri Lanka to take the lead in addressing its own past.

Ian Paisley Jnr is DUP Member of Parliament for North Antrim

25 Responses to “The UN is making lasting peace in Sri Lanka less likely”

  1. aravinda Says:

    The resolution against Sri Lanka is aimed at reigniting the war. The Western nations never expected Sri Lankan army to finish off the most vicious terrorist organisation (LTTE/TNA) known to mankind. If an enclave like East Timor was carved out of Sri Lanka, Americans could gleefully devastate South Asia for an another generation. Now these plans to be redrawn. Every Muslim and Buddhist nation( other than few which is run by American lapdogs) were attacked by Americans or proxy in last fifty years. This will go on. Unity amongst Asians is the only way forward.

  2. Voice123 Says:

    Aravinda, regardless of what some politicians say at election time, Sri Lanka is not a”Buddhist” nation unless you consider non Buddhists as second class citizens. Sri Lanka is, and has been from time immemorial, a multireligious country albeit with a longstanding Buddhist history and majority. Sri Lankas non Buddhists (except LTTE lapdogs) respect Sri Lankas Buddhist civilization. Interesting you mention Islam and Asia in one sentence. Islam is a religion in the “western tradition just like Judaism and Christianity and around half the worlds Muslims live outside Asia, the Middle East and Africa in particular. Also, a lot of gunuine devoted Christians are from non-Western countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Alot of bogus so called “christians” are white westerners whose real religion is promoting their skin colour and right to personal pleasure above all else. Please dont confuse this with genuine Christianity. We are not going to achieve any semblance of Asian unity by discounting Hinduism, Sikkhism, Confucianis, Shintoism and Taoism etc, great religions in the Eastern tradition. Creating religious division or animosity will not further Asian unity, it will only destroy it.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    Voice123,

    SL IS and always WAS a Buddhist nation.

    Look at the Constitution. Only ONE religion in FOREMOST PLACE. Please read.

    CHAPTER II – BUDDHISM

    Buddhism.

    9. The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).

    And that is how it SHOULD be ALWAYS.

    THAT means people of ALL religions have rights unlike in UK, USA, Australia, Saudi, etc.

    Ramazan, Diwali, Thaipongal, Xmas, good Friday (today) are holidays in SL BECAUSE SL is a Buddhist FOREMOST country.

    Ramazan, Diwali, Thaipongal, Wesak are NOT recognised in ALL western countries BECAUSE they are not Buddhist countries.

    Hope you understand that the ROOT of religious tolerance in SL Buddhism and the root of religious INTOLERANCE in Saudi, Syria, Iran, USA, Australia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan is other religions taking THE foremost place.

    Historically kings FIRST protected Buddhism THEN the nation and the people.

    The king who OWNED and respected the Dalada Maligawa was the recognized ruler.

    Just like ANCIENT Mecca – the Saudi king is the guardian and owner of the two mosques. And that gave him the right to rule.

    Unfortunately today the REAL rulers, guardians and occupiers of these two cities are US troops!

  4. AnuD Says:

    This is how I understand it. UN is run as the way how US wants it to run. So, why should we expect anything from UN ?

    Even when LTTE was alive Church, India and the west wanted free access to Sri Lanka by what ever means.

    Instead of confronting the Darusman report, govt wanted a LLRC to neglect the Darusman report. Some how, the govt made the mistake introducing pro-LTTE committee members to write the Darusman report. Apparently, the pro-govt chair person of the LLRC committee did not have the strength or did not want to override the “conclusions” of pro-LTTE people. Introduction of pro-LTTE members also may be to score politically. IT does not have any long term vision on Sri Lanka except to make pro-LTTE groups happy.

    Some how, LLRC reports says implement the 13th amendment. My understanding is that the govt wanted it that way and for some reason, they have included the investigation of “war crimes” too.

    Finally, President praised the LLRC and he said he accepts LLRC report.

    Now, the IC and LTTE – Tamils want it implemented.

    So, it looks the Sri Lankan govt got together with the pro-LTTE groups and blindsided the Sri Lankans who don’t want any of these 13th amendment in Sri Lanka.

    We thought strengthening the govt with 2/3rd power was to do some post war changes to the constitution. Instead, president consolidated his powers.

  5. Raj Says:

    Please thank Hon. MP Mr Paisley. His email is: [email protected]

  6. douglas Says:

    Raj – Thank you for providing the contact to Hon.MP Mr. Ian Paisley. I will be writing to him directly rather than joining the comments column. We Sri Lankans need this type of input to create awareness in the International field and hopefully many would come forward in the future to help us. What we need is a United Sri Lanka of ONE NATION OF SRI LANKANS.

  7. Voice123 Says:

    I agree with Raj and Douglas. We tend to expect the GOSL to “fix” everything. The government making one or two films isnt going to fix the problem because there is a issue with objectivity. Sri Lankan PRIVATE groups must have a counter propoganda strategy in the global media and influential people like the writer of this article. It is costly but we are going to have to find the resources and patrons and sponsors.
    @AnuD you claim “Church, India and the west wanted free access to Sri Lanka by what ever means”. (I dont fully agree with this). But even if this is true, it doesnt have to be like this. We can do much to change this by educating them of the true position and not giving them any reason to think Sri Lanka is discriminating against any section of its population. For the last 40 odd years (while we were sleeping) LTTE diaspora is throwing hundreds of millions of dollars to brainwash and propogandize these groups. Thats why some of them are so belligerent. Its not going to be an easy process, but it is another war that must be fought and won.

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    “What we need is a United Sri Lanka of ONE NATION OF SRI LANKANS.”

    Complete BS!

    This is NOT what we need.

    We need a UNITARY SL not a bloody united SL.

    We have to be very careful of foxes in sheep’s clothing. They tell us LTTE is not bad after all; India is our relative; 13 amendment is good, LLRC should be implemented.

    I say, NO WAY.

  9. Lorenzo Says:

    Douglas,

    You must clarify whether you stand for a UNITARY SL or a UNITED SL.

    Take a living human body. That is UNITARY.

    Now cut it into pieces and then stitch them together tightly. Now that is united.

  10. Dham Says:

    Even husband and wife are not UNITARY. They are united only.
    You are living in the hypotheical land.

  11. douglas Says:

    Lorenzo – Though I do not and never respond to your comments containing some of the most uncivilized unwritable terms in English language, which ultimately depict who you are, with reluctance I would use a pharase you posted in one of your comments, to explain my self, i.e. “DOGS BARK BUT CARAVAN MOVES”

    Thank you.

  12. A. Sooriarachi Says:

    I agree with Ian Paisely Jnr. The International community must allow the internal processes to operate without undue pushing and prodding. Tahnk you Mr Paisely for your sober and impartial analysis and advice.
    One must understand that SriLanka is a majority buddhist nation where all human beings are given equal rights to follow their way of life without any hindrance.
    Sri Lanka is probably the only nation in the world where all important religious days of all religions (Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims etc) are public holidays and all religious leaders given equal status. Therefore, reconciliation within sriLanka is not at all a difficult task, unless derailed through the imposition of ignorant foreign solutions, by powerful nations or by groups like the Tiger terrorists diaspora who do not want reconciliation, as they fear of being deported from the countries they now live in under false pretences.

  13. Lorenzo Says:

    Doglas,

    No personal attacks please. Just answer my question.

    Do you stand for a UNITARY SL or a UNITED SL.

    Just answer the question without shooting the messenger.

    “DOGS BARK BUT CARAVAN MOVES”

    They sure do. They bark federal/united now but the country is still unitary is it not!!

  14. Lorenzo Says:

    Dham,

    “Even husband and wife are not UNITARY.”

    SL is NOT husband and wife!!

    Israel and Palestine may be husband and wife.

    SL is the MOTHERLAND or MOTHER LANKA.

    ONE undivided UNITARY personality.

  15. Dham Says:

    Land without people is called desert. If you take out people, yes LAND exists – but no MOTHERLAND.
    When you have two people of even the same race, even siblings there is always conflict and you have to UNITE them.

  16. Dham Says:

    Greed hatred and delusion devide people. Metta , Karuna Muditha , Upekkha unite people.

  17. Lorenzo Says:

    Dham,

    Rubbish!

    SL HAS people. There are Sri Lankans. Their ID cards, passports say Sri Lankan. They say they are Sri Lankan.

    And SL is a UNITARY nation.

    One undivided personality. Mother Lanka.

    You go ahead and unite the people but the country is ALREADY UNITARY!!

  18. Dham Says:

    Without saying rubbish answer my question !

  19. Lorenzo Says:

    For your information unitary means UNITY.

    That is what we HAVE and that is what we need.

    Not UNITED STATES that murderous, barbaric, school shooting every month, warmongering, UNITED country!!

    If in doubt read and UNDERSTAND (?) the SL constitution.

  20. Dham Says:

    “That is what we HAVE and that is what we need.”
    If we already have, why we need ?
    Prefect unity cannot be achieved but the procesess ot unification should be continually pursued by the governement.

  21. Lorenzo Says:

    SL HAS people. There are Sri Lankans. Their ID cards, passports say Sri Lankan. They say they are Sri Lankan.

    And SL is a UNITARY nation.

    One undivided personality. Mother Lanka.

    You go ahead and unite the people but the country is ALREADY UNITARY!!

    And that is how it must remain.

    Chapter I, section 2.

    “The Republic of Sri Lanka is a unitary state.”

    If you want a UNITED country, go to UNITED STATES (where there is disunity everywhere).

    Or UNITED NATIONS!! (the place where there is MOST disunity). :))

  22. Lorenzo Says:

    “That is what we HAVE and that is what we need.”

    You already have a head, do you still need it?

    We are already a UNITARY country. And that is how it should be.

    SOME people are not united. Unite the people in disunity but the country must and can remain UNITARY.

    UNITARY = UNITY

  23. Dham Says:

    Humans need 1 head only.
    Land in unitary. People not united and fight to want to devide the land.
    At least both of us agree that the process of keeping people united in the unitary land should continue.
    To continue this we cannot act out of hatred only.

  24. Lorenzo Says:

    <SL is a UNITARY country and that's how it MUST remain. FULLSTOP

    If you want a united country go to India, United states or United Nations – ALL IN DISUNITY.

    I TOTALLY disagree SL should NOT be a UNITARY nation.

    War is better than a non-unitary nation. At least we can WIN the war but NEVER a non-unitary nation.

    Those who don’t support a UNITARY nation are separatists and as Christie says Indian colonial parasites. The UNITARY nation is better without them.

    People are MOST united in UNITARY nations.

    At UNITED NATIONS and UNITED STATES, each country try to kill each other!!!

    We MUST avoid becoming like that dirt.

  25. Lorenzo Says:

    SL is a UNITARY country and that’s how it MUST remain. FULLSTOP.

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