WHAT BENEFIT IS THERE IN DAYAN’S DEAL IN GENEVA?- The following is H. L. D. Mahindapala’s reply to Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s response to the criticism of his controversial role in Geneva. Scroll down to read Dr. Jayatilleka’s defence of his role
Posted on June 20th, 2013

H.L.D. Mahindapala

 I welcome my friend Dayan’s response to my lengthy review of his book, Long War, Cold Peace  published in yesterday’s Daily NewsMay I also add that it was long overdue. I also note his metaphor in which he compares his response as “the intellectual equivalent of entering a Taliban held area of remote Afghanistan.” I hope he realises the meaning of what he says: the so-called superior Americans (i.e, the likes of Dayan) have failed to combat the challenges of Talibans (i.e. the likes of me and myself)  in remote Afghanistan and are retreating with their tails between their legs! 

 Leaving aside the bullet that had ricocheted on him, let me deal with the main thrust of his response which is  mainly to defend his role in Geneva. I must confess that I, like most others, was impressed initially by his role in turning the tables on the West in Geneva. He also lambasted the West  which riled our compatriot Radhika Coomaraswamy at the UN who dismissed it as an “obnoxious tirade” mainly because her political objective of scoring a victory for her side was defeated for the umpteenth time at the UN. She and her friends like Hilary Clinton were doing their damndest at the UN to bring the Sri Lankan issue before the Security Council. Our quiet and seasoned diplomats like H.M.G.S. Palihakkara outfoxed the West every step of the way and kept the Sri Lankan issue confined to the basement of the UN — an ineffective area which had no force in the wider international arena. Realising that they can’t win inside the glass box in New York, the defeated West shifted their battle ground to the easier arena at UNHRC in Geneva.

 In New York all  players bat against a tough leather ball. In Geneval they play with a soft tennis ball. It was in Geneva that Dayan scored his pyrrhic victory. In fact, the bulk of  his reply confirms what I said earlier: his “victory” was not due to any diplomatic skills as such but due to a surrender to Indian demands. He says he cut a deal to offer devolution (read 13th Amendment) in place of accountability. To quote him he won because of “a trade-off in Geneva in 2009: devolution for accountability.” In other words, he caved in to India’s demand for 13th Amendment in exchange for their support. Surrendering to demands of big  powers doesn’t require much diplomatic skill, does it? 

 His victory would have had all the glory if Sri Lanka won on our own terms. As he concedes, it was “a just war” and our task was to win on “the moral legitimacy of our victory” without surrendering to rapacious demands of imperialist India. We didn’t have to apologise for anything, especially for “accountability” in the last stages of the war when we had “the moral legitimacy of our victory” on our side. But what did we do? Having won all the way from Mavil Aru  (2006) to Nandikdal  (2009)  — the impossible victory — we go to Geneva (first class with diplomatic privileges) and agree to surrender all that was won in the battlefield. That is what the trade-off means in real terms. So what’s the big deal about that! 

 Extracting the maximum from  the negotiating table is the ultimate success in diplomacy. Victors — especially if they have “the moral legitimacy of … a just war” on their side — don’t concede everything won in the battle field to the defeated at the negotating table. Conceding in toto the 13th Amendment — the fundamental issue on which we fought the just war — is no great sign of a Metternich. Great diplomats are known for winning not for losing. Besides, as he states, it helped us only to buy time to stave off (temporarily) the bogus issues of discrimination, dignity  and equality of Tamils etc., cranked up endlessly by the Tamil diaspora.  The Jaffna Tamils never had it better  — neither under centuries of the dominant Vellahla oppressors nor  under the 33-years of Pol Potist Tiger regime  — than when they worked jointly with the Sinhalese.

 To get back to the issue at hand, where has buying time in Geneva taken us? It has only postponed the demands for  the perennial pound of flesh in the peninsular poilitical agenda. Where is the victory in this surrender? Even The Economist  concedes that it “warded off the threats of war crimes”– but only for another day. It did not eliminate the threat. The real victory would have been in eliminating threats not in postponing it. In any case, The Economist is wrong because his deal has not “warded off the threats of war crimes,” as admitted by Dayan. He says  candidly: “The main threat was and still is one of an independent international inquiry on accountability for actions allegedly committed during the last stages of the war.” So if “the main threat still is” there what has Sri Lanka gained by the victory of my friend Dayan?

 Dayan seems to be utterly confused in his self-contradictory response to my review. He begins by saying that his victory is in the trade-off: exchanging devolution for accountability. Then he concludes by saying: “The Tamil Eelamist Diaspora networks do not care about devolution; they scorn the 13th amendment. They are focused on accountability. So are Susan Rice, the incoming National Security Advisor to President Obama, and Samantha Power, the Ambassador/Permanent Representative designate of the USA to the UN Security Council.”  This plainly means that on his own admission his trade-off was not worth the paper on which it was written. It wouldn’t have worked because the Tamil diaspora and the West are out to get the GOSL if both can’t get their pound of flesh. As I said earlier, his “trade-off” didn’t last long. It seems to be a mere private deal between him and the Indian wheeler-dealers who have let him down after squeezing the best they could get out of him like a lemon.   

 Besides, the deal he cut opens up serious issues. If he did cut a deal then he owes it to the Sri Lankans to let them know with whom he cut the deal? Is it India? America? or EU? If so what are the contents of his deal? Was the deal done on his own initiative or with the consent of the Foreign Ministry? If he didn’t have the approval of the Foreign Ministry what authority did he have to bind the nation to his private deal? Would it have been binding on both sides when he admits now that neither the Tamil diaspora nor the West is interested in devolution but only in accountability? What then is the point in cutting a deal on devolution when the Tamil diaspora and the West were not giving up on accountability? Wasn’t his deal doomed to fail with no lasting benefit  to Sri Lanka? Judging from his statement  and the unfolding events it  is clear that he has cut  a deal with India — i.e, conceding 13th Amendment to acountability as seen in black and white in 2009 Resolution — without any reciprocal benefits.

 His other blunder is in assuming that accountability can come only from the so-called independent judges imported from abroad. When Sri Lanka won the war it was meant to be liberation not only from the tyranny of Tamil Tiger Pol Potism but also from meddlesome external forces.  This also means that Sri Lanka still has the option of showing a willingness and capability of dealing with accountability on the alleged charges in the last stages of the war. It does not need  inquiries from abroad. Sri Lanka also has the option of going beyond the politically motivated accusations confined to the last five months of a 33-year-old war. Where is the justice in an independent inquiry confined only to the last five months excluding the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Tamil Tigers and their agents abroad (violating UN Security Council Resolutions on terrorism) and, more importantly, that of Indian IPKF forces which raped, tortured, incarcerated, killed and ran amok in Jaffna and the north? 

 For instance, will Britain allow Adele Balasingham and India allow its generals and other involved forces to be extradited to face trial in a court established in Sri Lanka? Accountability is raised only as a one-way issue  confined only to GOSL. But it goes beyond the borders of Sri Lanka involving the Western and Indian havens provided to raise funds and promote terrorism in Sri Lanka. India stands accused of violating  international law in breeding and exporting terrorism to a friendly neighbour. India should be made to pay reparations for the destruction, destabilisation and the displacement of civilians due to its deliberate foreign policy launched against all civilized  and international norms. India posing as a holy sadhu in Geneva is not going to cut any ice in any independent court of justice. If push comes to shove Sri Lanka should set up its own independent inquiry, inviting judges drawn from the international community, to judge the entire period of the 33-year-old war, starting from the Vadukoddai Resolution  in 1976. India and other agents of Tamil Tiger Pol Potism, including Fr. S. J. Emmanuel, Adele Balasingham, Catholic priests who handed over children to the Tiger terrorists, TNA collaborators with the Tiger criminals, NGO supporters who legitimized the violence of the Tamil Tigers in the name of promoting  peace, should be hauled up before any court of accountability.

 Finally, Dayan should have in the first place avoided the special session in which the March 2009 Resolution was launched by the West. Being in charge as the Ambassador to UNHRC he shoud have seen it coming instead of waiting till the last moment to fight back.The move to hold  the special session was passed by only a majority of one. If he had been up and awake he could have forestalled it avoding all the consequences  that flowed in its wake. That is how seasoned  Sri Lankan diplomats at the UN and UNHRC won on previous ooccasions.

 Having said all this I must concede that Dayan had to carry a lot of baggage left over from the failure of the Foreign Ministry —  perhaps the best  home for senile retirees in  the public service. Leaving aside a handful of committed and knowledgeable diplomats, who had rescued Sri Lanka on numerous occasions, the whole place is overloaded with 9 – 5 bureaucrats who neither has the heart nor the capability of meeting the international challenges. But then Dayan accepted his responsibilites knowing the crises within the Foreign Ministry. He walked in with his eyes open. Like in Cabinet responsibility, if you are in it you cannot escape by shedding responsbility. Besides, if Dayan can claim credit for victory then he must be equally responsible for his failures as well.


 DR DAYAN JAYATILLEKA ‘S REPLY TO H.L.D. MAHINDAPALA’S ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE DAILY NEWS 

 SRI LANKA IN GENEVA:  THE DEVOLUTION/ ACCOUNTABILITY TRADE-OFF

 My friend HLD Mahindapala is writing a book length diatribe on my latest book, Long War, Cold Peace (Vijitha Yapa, 2013). I have chosen not to respond as entering his discourse as contained and represented in his extended review, would be the intellectual equivalent of entering a Taliban held area of remote Afghanistan. However, in the public interest as well as in fairness to myself I have to set the record straight on his latest effusion which is a grotesque distortion of Sri Lanka at the UN HRC in Geneva in 2009, and my own role there. 

 What HLD Mahindapala fails to grasp is that Sri Lanka made a trade-off in Geneva in 2009: devolution for accountability. In so doing we bought ourselves three years of time and space. How the Sri Lankan authorities used that time and space is another question. The main threat was and still is one of an independent international inquiry on accountability for actions allegedly committed during the last stages of the war. The target was and is not only our country’s present leadership but its armed forces. We in Geneva at the time, set out to protect our armed forces and the moral legitimacy of our victory. I am proud of having played my part.

 As for the strategy, tactics and dynamics of May 2009 and my own role in Geneva, it is best not to be detained either by my protestations or Mr Mahindapala’s strange indictment and look instead to more authoritative and independent sources. The Economist (London) described by Karl Marx as “the most intelligent defender of capitalism” referred to in its August 6-8 , 2009 issue to “…Dayan Jayatilleka, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Geneva, who warded off the threatened UN war-crimes probe in May [2009]…”  

 Thanks to Wikileaks what is now known is that US Secretary of State instructed its Mission in Geneva to throw its weight behind the move on Sri Lanka at the UN HRC Special Sessions in 2009.

 “Mission Geneva is requested to convey to the Czech Republic and other like-minded members of the HRC that the USG supports a special session on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and related aspects of the humanitarian situation. Mission is further requested to provide assistance, as needed, to the Czech Republic in obtaining others, signatures to support holding this session”¦Mission is also instructed to engage with HRC members to negotiate a resolution as an outcome of this special session, if held. Department believes a special session that does not result in a resolution would be hailed as a victory by the Government of Sri Lanka. Instructions for line edits to the resolution will be provided by Department upon review of a draft.” [Cable dated 4th May 2009 from Secretary of State (United States)]

 Wikileaks shows that as early as September 2007, just two months after I had taken over as Ambassador/PRUN, the Western Group, led by the UK, was revising and reactivating a resolution that had been hanging over Sri Lanka in the previous year, 2006 “”…” a danger and challenge which I had inherited.

 “”¦.a UK Mission contact told us that work is only at an early stage on the text of a possible resolution, which would update one that the EU put forward in last year’s Council session.” [Cable dated 10th September 2007]

 A US Mission cable described the effect of our strategy as follows:

 “”¦ There was general agreement that Sri Lanka, and in particular its outspoken ambassador here, were effectively playing off the West against less developed countries.”[Cable date 10 March 2008]

 A considerably important cable conveys the assessment made to Susan Rice, until a few days ago the Cabinet-ranked US Ambassador/Permanent Representative in the Security Council, by Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay, on the results of the Special Session on Sri Lanka. The assessment was that “Sri Lanka and its allies, meanwhile, had a draft resolution ready to go and simply outmanoeuvred the EU.” [Cable date 25 June 2009]

 This is not a one-off assessment. The Wikileaks cables report a conversation in Paris, significantly between the US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues, Clint Williamson, and senior officials of the French Foreign Ministry (widely respected as the fount of modern European diplomatic tradition and practice). A cable from the US Embassy in Paris to Washington DC quotes France’s Official Representative for International Penal Tribunals, Christian Bernier, as saying that Sri Lanka was “very effective in its diplomatic approach in Geneva”:

 “Bernier opined that the Sri Lankan government is “very effective” in its diplomatic approach in Geneva and said France is in an information-collection phase to obtain a more effective result in the HRC”. [Cable dated 16 July 2009]

 Outside of purely partisan ethnic propaganda, the most serious negative account of Sri Lanka’s war and the conduct of the Sri Lankan state is the solidly researched, well written, intelligent and readable book, The Cage by Gordon Weiss. It contains an entire chapter, 30 pages long, on the international and diplomatic dimension of the conflict’s closing stages (Ch 9: The Watching World).

 The UN Geneva is brought to life in Weiss’ volume: “On 27 May  at the Palais des nations in Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanetham Pillay, addressed the Human Rights Council and called for an international inquiry into the conduct of both parties to the war. While the EU and a brace of other countries formulated and then moved a resolution in support of Pillay’s call, a majority of countries on the council rejected it out of hand. Instead they adopted an alternative motion framed by Sri Lanka’s representatives praising the Sri Lankan government for its victory over the Tigers…” (p229)

 In his concluding chapter Weiss describes my role: “Dayan Jayatilleka, one of the most capable diplomats appointed by the Rajapaksa regime, had outmanoeuvred Western diplomats to help Sri Lanka escape censure from the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. He had also been one of the most trenchant advocates within the government for meaningful constitutional reform, including the devolution of power to the provinces (p256-7)”. In his Notes he makes this evaluation: “Jayatilleka was the most lucid of the vocal Government of Sri Lanka representatives…” (p 330)

 Research scholar David Lewis presented a paper at the University of Edinburgh, entitled “ƒ”¹…”The failure of a liberal peace: Sri Lanka’s counterinsurgency in global perspective’, and published in Conflict, Security & Development, 2010, Vol 10:5, pp 647-671. Lewis is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for International Co-operation and Security in the Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, and headed the International Crisis Group’s Sri Lanka programme in 2006-7. In the study, he writes:

 “Many of the battles over conflict-related norms between Sri Lanka and Europe took place in UN institutions, primarily the Human Rights Council (HRC)”¦it was Sri Lanka which generally had the best of these diplomatic battles…”

 “Although this process of contestation reflects shifting power relations, and the increasing influence of China, Russia and other “ƒ”¹…”Rising Powers’, it does not mean that small states are simply the passive recipients of norms created and contested by others. In fact, Sri Lankan diplomats have been active norm entrepreneurs in their own right, making significant efforts to develop alternative norms of conflict management, linking for example Chechnya and Sri Lanka in a discourse of state-centric peace enforcement. They have played a leading role in UN forums such as the UN HRC, where Sri Lankan delegates have helped ensure that the HRC has become an arena, not so much for the promotion of the liberal norms around which it was designed, but as a space in which such norms are contested, rejected or adapted in unexpected ways…”

 “As a member of the UN HRC Sri Lanka has played an important role in asserting new, adapted norms opposing both secession and autonomy as possible elements in peace-building””‚trends that are convergent with views expressed by China, Russia and India”¦”

(Lewis: 2010, pp. 658-661)

 So there we have it; that’s the story as seen by critical observer-analysts. It is entirely at variance with HLD Mahindapala’s grotesque version. We were defeated in Geneva in 2012 and 2013 and are on the defensive internationally because we did not fulfil our part of the devolution for accountability strategic trade-off. The more we retreat or delay on devolution, the more our critics advance on the all-important and dangerous front of accountability.  The Tamil Eelamist Diaspora networks do not care about devolution; they scorn the 13th amendment. They are focused on accountability. So are Susan Rice, the incoming National Security Advisor to President Obama, and Samantha Power, the Ambassador/Permanent Representative designate of the USA to the UN Security Council. India however, still focuses more on the 13th amendment. Can we fight on both fronts? Should we try? Which is the lesser danger and what is the more prudent compromise?

10 Responses to “WHAT BENEFIT IS THERE IN DAYAN’S DEAL IN GENEVA?- The following is H. L. D. Mahindapala’s reply to Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s response to the criticism of his controversial role in Geneva. Scroll down to read Dr. Jayatilleka’s defence of his role”

  1. Senevirath Says:

    “”CAN WE FIGHT?…. ASK DAYAN

    IT IS DIFICULT TO FIGHT WHEN DAYAN HAS TRADED- OFF OUR SOVEREIGNITY

    WHAT HAS HE WON? WHAT EVER WE GIVE TO TAMILS THE WESTERNERS AND INDIA WILL NOT BE HAPPY UNTIL SINHALA BUDDHIST EXTINCT

    DAYAN NAMATHI ””””’KAPATI AARAKSHAKAYA””” HANDUNAGANIMU

  2. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    HLD !! Great reply. Dayan has from day one, undermined the sovereignity of Sr Lanka. Iam inclined to think that he is on the payroll of the Tamil Tiger Treasury, as do all Sinhalese traitors of Sri Lanka.

  3. Ratanapala Says:

    What did anyone expect from sending this one time traitor, a lieutenant of Varadharaja Perumal who declared unilateral independence for the North and East. They also had a thing called the Tamil National Army formed with IPKF assistance. Thanks to Prabhakaran they were decimated by LTTE and Varadharaja Perumal hightailed it to India where he is still in hiding. Dayan bided his time till he surfaced after Nanthikadal to yet again deal a death blow to Sri Lanka’s aspirations to be a sovereign nation.

    People who use this type of traitor should get their heads examined. He is a Christian masquerading as a leftist and at other times as a marxist. The intent of the Christian Church is dismemberment of Sri Lanka. With the formation of Eelam they wanted North Western Province declared – Kristu Rajya! This is the agenda of Dayan, the Christian Church as well as that of the Tamil Racists.

  4. kiranifra Says:

    DR DAYAN JAYATILLEKA & H.L.D. MAHINDAPALA’S You both have points !!!

    excelled respose from two intelectuals !!!

    thats all I can say !!!

    any way do we get half a bread & one dala (in sinhala …pan bakayai & parruppu a lka – in tamil araraththa paan & paruppu inru) !

    Do we both community learned any thing in last 2,500 years ? NO

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    Lots of people fighting the Tamil Nadu Tamil Caste Wars on Sri Lanka soil, not in Tamil Nadu !

    India must be glad that the so called Sri Lanka HR issue was confined to the basement of the UN.

  6. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    To all you attackers of Dr, Dayan Jayatilleka, where did you get all your dirty ammunition from to attack this proud son of Lanka whose only crimes seem to be his Christian Faith and the intellectual capacity to evaluate a theorem that is moderate in the eyes of the West as well as appease the CEO of Sri Lanka who recogises beyond blinkered bias that most of you post here, against the value of the man.Despite all your virulent criticism of him at times using wicked speculation about his background and motivation which defies logic oftentimes such as when insinuating that he is on a Tamil Tiger Payroll. (Utter unclarifiable rubbbish!) Have any of you ever paused to think of the better side of the man. and what he has accomplished for his country? Maybe you should consult Mr President himself directly for his appraisal!Is it envy that neither of you could match his intellect and insight into Sri Lanka’s well being or is it absolute apathy? Do you realise that you are even going against the evaluation of his class and status which is held in high esteem of the President of the nation who if for a moment thought him unfit for his allocations in a diplomatic capacity would have surely had him removed?In all probabilities he is awaiting another posting in a similar capacity to that of someone like Dr Nonis ~ UK who is a shining beacon of Sri Lankan diplomacy inasmuch as Dr Jayatilleks is surely!Give it up people and focus on the greater picture of what Dr.Jayatilleka is trying to portray so that Sri Lanka’s image will not be tarnished in the eyes of the West on whom the nation is so dependent!Please ponder upon the adage “Breathes there a man who never to himself has said,this is my land my own native land” if it might help. Thank you!

  7. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    Totally incongrious and a load of codswallop!~ “this one time traitor, a lieutenant of Varadharaja Perumal who declared unilateral independence for the North and East. They also had a thing called the Tamil National Army formed with IPKF assistance. Thanks to Prabhakaran they were decimated by LTTE and Varadharaja Perumal hightailed it to India where he is still in hiding. Dayan bided his time till he surfaced after Nanthikadal to yet again deal a death blow to Sri Lanka’s aspirations to be a sovereign nation.” this could be interpreted as slander laced in speculative innuendo!
    More of the same~ People who use this type of traitor should get their heads examined. He is a Christian masquerading as a leftist and at other times as a marxist. The intent of the Christian Church is dismemberment of Sri Lanka. With the formation of Eelam they wanted North Western Province declared – Kristu Rajya! This is the agenda of Dayan, the Christian Church as well as that of the Tamil Racists.” Dragging in the Christian Church in its entirety using hypotheses like these are pathetic offers as thry are conclusively meaningless assumptions?

    What all of Dr. Dayan’s critics seem to have overlooked is the importance of last para of his analysis~” So there we have it; that’s the story as seen by critical observer-analysts. It is entirely at variance with HLD Mahindapala’s grotesque version. We were defeated in Geneva in 2012 and 2013 and are on the defensive internationally because we did not fulfil our part of the devolution for accountability strategic trade-off. The more we retreat or delay on devolution, the more our critics advance on the all-important and dangerous front of accountability. The Tamil Eelamist Diaspora networks do not care about devolution; they scorn the 13th amendment. They are focused on accountability. So are Susan Rice, the incoming National Security Advisor to President Obama, and Samantha Power, the Ambassador/Permanent Representative designate of the USA to the UN Security Council. India however, still focuses more on the 13th amendment. Can we fight on both fronts? Should we try? Which is the lesser danger and what is the more prudent compromise? ”

    I am not a promoter of 13 A, rather totally against it but I do see where Dr. Dayan is coming from as he has merely used its relevance from a west oriented perspective and its origins date back to 1987 and the JRJ Administration. so take your cudgels at him even posthumposly!

  8. Samanthi Says:

    It looks like Dayan him-self has wriiten the above 2 comments under the guise of Sunil Mahattaya!

  9. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    RUNNING WITH THE HARES AND HUNTING WITH THE HOUNDS.~~~~DOUBLE SPEAK.

  10. Marco Says:

    DJ has answered his critics like HLDM & SW and published a response in the Daily News Monday edition.

    A very factual version of the sequence of events. Well worth a read.

    In the interest of “fair” balance i wish the Lankaweb moderator would publish the article written by DJ

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