Insane logic of INGOs accusing only Sri Lanka
Posted on February 12th, 2014

Part IV – H. L. D. Mahindapala

Col. R. Hariharan is, perhaps, the most authoritative Indian source speaking publicly about  the role played by the IPKF in the north and east of Sri Lanka.  He played a key role in all IPKF operations as the head of the Intelligence Corps in Jaffna between 1987 ” 1990. For  him to analyse, map and brief the escalating war with the LTTE to the military high command of the IPKF in  Jaffna he had to  have a detailed knowledge of every aspect of  the IPKF operations. His knowledge of Tamil and also his family connections were an added advantage for him to monitor happenings in Jaffna  minutely. He  knew who was spared and  who was killed. Among other things he has admitted in a recent  interview that he was aware of the “retributive killings” of  innocent civilians by the IPKF. 

The following comments made by him presents a concise summary of the type of Indian atrocities committed by the IPKF. His comments also  sum up the manner  in which the Indian Government and the military high command in Jaffna dealt with human  rights violations during the IPKF operations  in  the north and the east. . He said: “There are a few issues involved in analysing the allegations of atrocities by Indian troops after 25 years. In COIN (Counter Insurgent Operations) operations there are always innocent civilians killed, usually described as collateral damage in the fire-fight between two sides. This happened in Sri Lanka also. But there were specific instances where serious allegations were levelled. I remember two of them: massacre of patients and doctors by troops in Jaffna teaching hospital and retributive killings in an ambush in Valvettithurai. I think both the Army leadership and Government (of India) failed to institute transparent investigations to get at the truth and disprove them or punish the culprits. But in 1987-88 human rights was not a big issue worldwide as it is now. India was no exception to this. Bigger killings were taking place in Afghanistan where the US was fighting a proxy war against Soviets. India itself did not pay much attention to human rights accusations against it. But all this is hindsight wisdom.” (International Law Journal of London,  Interviewer Parasaran Rangarajan, Editor — ” Feb. 6, 2014).

The date of the interview is  important ” February 6, 2014. This means that even after 25 years there are living witnesses to the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the IPKF. So can India wash its hand off its crimes committed on Sri Lankan soil? Since there is no statute of limitation for war crimes and crimes against humanity should not UNHRC also insist on an independent international investigation into India violations of international humanitarian and human rights law? Col. Hariharan’s response to Indian atrocities is equally intriguing. He says bluntly: “There is no reason for India to want an investigation now. It is a functioning democracy which has progressively tried to improve its human rights record. Moreover, it does not serve India’s objectives in Sri Lanka which are two-fold:

1] Ensure integrity of Sri Lanka as a single entity and discourage all efforts to create an armed insurgency to violate it because it will have security repercussions in India’s national security architecture.

2] To see that Sri Lanka Tamils’ grievances are removed and their confidence is restored in participating in mainstream political democracy in Sri Lanka on equal terms.

So fundamentally any action other than those that serve India’s objectives will not be encouraged or initiated in India. Such a demand would be ignored in India as it is going through a delicate pre-election campaign and it would suicidal for any political party let alone Tamil Nadu ones to accept it.” (ibid).

India was the first to commit gross violations of human rights  on a mass scale in the 33-year-old war. Indian violations occurred throughout the three-year  period if IPKF operations ” i.e., between 1987 ” 1990. And Col. Hariharan admits that “the Army leadership and Government (of India) failed to institute transparent investigations to get at the truth and disprove them or punish the culprits.” This hasn’t stirred the conscience  of moral India to institute any action  to this day. Instead it is now in the forefront of a triune anti-Sri Lankan resolution (USA, UK and India) insisting on an  independent international investigation on alleged charges of violating international humanitarian  and human rights law in the last five months of the Vadukoddai War.

Is there a moral rationale for India to go before UNHRC and ask for punitive action against Sri Lanka when  it has not lifted finger to deal with its own war crimes against  the people of Sri Lanka? India’s former Defence Minister. George Fernandez, has described IPKF operations as “India’s Vietnam”. He even went further and branded the massacres of Sri Lankan civilians as “India’s My Lai.” So is there any sanity or logic in India’s posture of political piety? Besides, Col Hariharan admits that the massacre of Tamils amounts to “retributive killings”. (Details were in Part II and  Part III published earlier.)

Mark you, the act of massacreing patients and doctors was not collateral damage. Nor was it was an aberration of some misguided IPKF  soldiers. It was cold blooded murder carried  out, with the knowledge of Indian  high command,  as a ” retributive killing” committed in retaliation for the LTTE killing its forces. This bloody-minded massacre of hospital patients and doctors is an insane act which cannot be forgotten  or forgiven under any circumstances in any war. Patients doctors and hospitals are protected by the Geneva conventions. But Col Hariharan, who admits that these massacres took place, is arguing that there is  no need for any action against India. Assuming that this Indian logic is moral and correct  why is it that only Sri Lanka is selected for investigations and not India?

There  is, however, the allegation  of Sri Lankan forces firing at hospitals in the finishing stages of the war  ” an allegation that is hotly disputed. It is documented that the LTE was deliberately firing from hospital premises to provoke retaliatory fire from the Sri Lankan Forces to exploit  the inevitable damage for  international consumption. Anyway, subsequent  investigations have failed to establish that the hospitals were damaged to the extent claimed  by the Tiger propaganda machine. As opposed to the massive propaganda campaign whipped up against  the GOSL forces for firing into Tiger targets located near hospitals leading Tamil activists haunting  the corridors of UNHRC like Fr. S. J. Emmanuel, who has equated Velupillai Prabhakaran with Jesus Christ,  rabid representatives of the Tamil diaspora, “Paki” Saravanamuttu, Jehan Perera, et al have been silent as Church mice about the IPKF’s My Lai in Sri Lanka.

Why? Is there any provision in international humanitarian law or in ecumenical law to say that India should not be held accountable for its barbaric crimes? Killing the  helpless patients lying bed, unable to fight back, is  the ultimate subhuman act of deranged minds. The Indians had no compunction in doing it. And they have the gumption to insist on an independent international investigation  into  violations of  international  humanitarian law which occurred  in the last five months of the Sri Lankan operations and  not their crimes  which they committed for three  years between 1987 ” 1990.

This is what makes the anti-Sri Lankan resolutions backed by India and its fellow-travellers  irrational, illogical and  invalid. And guess who else ” apart from US, UK, India et al ” is asking for an independent inquiry into alleged crimes committed by Sri Lankan forces in the last five months (January 2009 ” May 2009)? Believe it  or not, it is Amnesty International of India. Besides, all the  other  INGOs too have joined this bandwagon to demonize Sri Lanka to pursue its lop-sided  politics not  for justice but to let India let off the hook.

On January 29, 2014, Indian Asian News Service (IANS) reported that the Indian branch of Amnesty International is urging  India to press Colombo to allow an independent international probe into the alleged war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan civil war.

Citing the resolution passed by the Northern Provincial Council calling for an international investigation into alleged war crimes G. Ananthapadmanabhan, chief executive, Amnesty International India. said: “An elected body of representatives calling for an international probe shows how little faith some people in Sri Lanka have in any domestic mechanism.” 

“India must take note of this resolution and press Sri Lanka at every opportunity to conduct an independent international investigation into all allegations of crimes under international law committed by Sri Lankan government forces as well as the LTTE,” he said.

The rights body said there was substantial evidence that in the last months of the 2009 war, Sri Lankan government forces and the LTTE have committed war crimes.

“India must keep the pressure on Sri Lanka to do the right thing, accept an international investigation and cooperate with it,” Ananthapadmanabhan added.

It  is against this background that I decided to take on AI and other prominent INGOs who are leading a campaign to denigrate ONLY Sri Lanka.

The correspondence below explains what happened next.

First I  e-mailed Ananthapadmanabhan of the Indian AI asking him why he is  focusing  only on Sri Lanka and  not India. The silence was deafening. Then I e-mailed following letter to Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, through its  Media Unit. 

Media Officer

AI

 Dear Sir / Madam,

                                                                                                Attention Mr. S. Shetty

I refer to a statement made by Mr. G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive, AI India, on the need for an “independent international investigation into all allegations of crimes under international law committed by Sri Lankan government forces as well as the LTTE.”

The following is the relevant part of the IANS report dated January 29, 2014: “India must take note of this resolution and press Sri Lanka at every opportunity to conduct an independent international investigation into all allegations of crimes under international law committed by Sri Lankan government forces as well as the LTTE,” he said.

The rights body said there was substantial evidence that in the last months of the 2009 war, Sri Lankan government forces and the LTTE have committed war crimes.

“India must keep the pressure on Sri Lanka to do the right thing, accept an international investigation and cooperate with it,” Ananthapadmanabhan added. (IANS ”Jan 29, 2014).

Following this report I requested Mr. Ananthapadmanabhan to comment on whether the international inquiry should also include the well-documented atrocities committed by the IPKF forces during its operations against the LTTE.

I regret to say that I have not even received an acknowledgment from  him.

I am surprised that an independent rights body that is committed to transparency is silent  on this query.

Since Mr. Ananthapadmanabhan’s silence indicates a refusal to answer my query can Mr. S.  Shetty answer the following queries:

Reports of the University Teachers for Human  Rights (Jaffna) have documented the atrocities committed by the IPKF forces. There are also eye-witness accounts of wholesale massacres of innocent Tamil civilians.

  1. Why hasn’t AI focused on this aspect of Indian crimes committed under international humanitarian and human right law?
  2. Why is it demanding an independent inquiry only into allegations of crimes committed by Sri Lankan government as well as LTTE?
  3. Does this mean that AI is covering up the crimes committed by IPKF?
  4. Is this because Mr. Shetty and Mr. Ananthapadmanabhan, are Indians?
  5. If it is an oversight can Mr. Shetty and Mr. Ananthapadmanabhan rectify it by replying my queries and also issue an appropriate statement insisting, like the way Mr. Ananthapadmanabhan has done in relation to Sri Lanka, that an independent international investigation should also inquire into Indian atrocities in Sri Lanka?

Your cooperation will be much appreciated                       

Thanking you

Yours sincerely

H. L. D. Mahindapala

Editor, The Observer, (1990 -1994)

President, Sri Lanka Working Journalists’  Association (1991 ” 1993)

Secretary-General South Asia Media Association (1993 ” 1994)

Phone: 03 ” 98876176 (Australia)

Address: 53, Galahad Crescent, Glen Waverley, Vic. 3150,  Australia.

 

No  response again. Then I sent another reminder:

 Media Officer

AI

 Dear Sir/Madam,

                                                Attention: Mr. S. Shetty

I refer to the message I sent to AI on February 3, 2014 and regret to note that I have so far not  received any reply. This is most surprising coming from an  organization that claims impeccable conduct from all others. At least an acknowledgement would have assured me that AI is considering a reply. The silence indicates that it  intends to ignore my request as the  previous one sent to Chief Executive of AI in India,  Mr. G. Ananthapadmanabhan,..

 I cannot understand the silence because AI is very quick to provide answers for all the issues of other nations, institutions and  individuals. The silence of AI on a critical issue like India’s role in Sri Lanka should be given top priority by any standards. More so, because AI India is insisting that India should intervene again in Sri Lankan affairs.  

 Mr. Shetty can’t be that busy to answer a simple query like mine which should be familiar to him like the back of his hand.

 Anyway, I hope that better sense will prevail and I will receive a reply within a day or two. This  will not be a difficult to an INGO like AI which has a research staff of considerable repute.

 Thanking you

 Yours sincerely

 H. L. D. Mahindapala

 I wrote to ICG and Human Rights Watch too ” two of the biggest champions of human rights. Not a peep has come out of these  vociferous and aggressive guardians of human rights.

 So will these INGOs front  up in Geneva in March to raise the issues of human rights violations  in Sri Lanka?

 We will be only too happy to meet all these human rights busybodies ” including Jehan Perera and “Paki” SaravanaMUTTu —  in Geneva to ask some relevant questions about their record so far on violations of human rights in Sri Lanka.

 Concluded

 

6 Responses to “Insane logic of INGOs accusing only Sri Lanka”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Well said HLDM.

    Endia and Endians have ALWAYS been enemies of SL.

    Now Endia is using AI against SL.

  2. Marco Says:

    As HLDM considers Col. R. Hariharan is, perhaps, the most authoritative Indian source..

    Would Mahinda uncle please refer and comment on the following..

    Colombo’s Political Drama On Devolution And Basil’s Visit To Delhi
    By R Hariharan –

    Col. (retd) R.Hariharan

    President Mahinda Rajapaksa appears to have taken a pragmatic decision to go ahead with the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) election without tinkering with the 13th Amendment (13A). The presidential proclamation made on the election last Friday, has been welcomed by India as it has removed a rider that could have hobbled India-Sri Lanka relations. The NPC will go to polls along with the Central and North Western Provincial councils which have been dissolved. According to media reports the PC elections are likely to be held on September 27.

    Fortuitously or otherwise, Basil Rajapaksa, Minister for Economic Development, and the President’s brother, was in New Delhi to convey the good news on holding the NPC election to Indian counterpart he was meeting. According to the Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry’s statement, Rajapaksa’s visit to New Delhi was to deal with other areas of discussion, and was also “aimed at apprising the Indian leaders on Sri Lanka’s changes to the 13th amendment — the move to strip police and land powers to provinces.”

    As it invariably happens when Indian and Sri Lankan counterparts meet, there are two versions on what the Sri Lanka minister discussed with Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid, National Security Advisor Shivshankara Menon and the Secretary MEA Rajan Mathai in New Delhi.

    News despatches from New Delhi said India had emphasised to Rajapaksa the need “to fully implement the constitutional provision dealing with devolution of powers to provinces without dilution and go beyond it to ensure meaningful development.”The Indian External Affairs Minister who welcomed the decision to hold the election asked Basil Rajapaksa “not to dilute the provisions of a promised political settlement known as the 13th Amendment plus.”

    13A plus was a term President Rajapaksa had coined during the Eelam War to keep India on his side. But he “forgot” about it when political priorities overtook after the war. By bringing 13A plus back in the discussion, India probably wanted to remind the President that India still remembered his unfulfilled promise. Of course, New Delhi’s reminder also had the advantage of convincing the increasingly restive Tamil constituency in India that New Delhi was sincere in pursuing the Tamil aspirations.

    In a BBC interview the Indian Minister of State Prime Minister’s office V Narayanaswamy on the same day, reminded Sri Lanka that if it wished to change anything related to the India-Sri Lanka Agreement (ISLA), which resulted in the 13A and in the setting up of Provincial Councils, it must renegotiate with India.“When it [international agreement]is signed between two sovereign governments, both governments are bound to implement the agreement,” he said. If one government wanted to change it, it should renegotiate with the other government. “One government cannot unilaterally cancel the agreement,” he added.

    Though this was the first time a representative of the Indian government had publicly spoken about renegotiating the ISLA, at present Sri Lanka may not opt for it. Sri Lanka will have to come with a viable political option on the core issue of devolution of powers to the Tamil minority if it wants to negotiate a productive, win-win agreement.

    Sri Lanka may be wary of undertaking this time consuming exercise for few other reasons reasons. politically Sri Lanka may not be able to get its home work right before broaching the subject with India

    Given Sri Lanka’s critical economic situation, it would like to broaden India’s multifaceted economic involvement and trade and commerce with Sri Lanka rather than jeopardise it by reopening a touchy 25-year old issue. Moreover, Sri Lanka needs India’s support when it confronts the issue of accountability for its actions during the Eelam War at the UNHCR once again.

    Lastly, the Indian coalition government is already under siege due to fluctuating political realignments, particularly in Tamil Nadu. And as the deadline for the Indian parliamentary election nears, New Delhi is likely to be hypersensitive to any escalation of tensions between India and Sri Lanka due to tinkering with the Indian dispensation of 1987 vintage on the Tamil issue.

    In this context, Namini Wijedasa write up in the Sunday Times on the reaction of Basil Rajapaksa on his return from New Delhi is interesting. Replying a pointed question whether the Government had abandoned the bill on the removal of police and land powers from the provinces he replied: “When we bring a bill like that, we don’t let go of it so easily without informing the public. There are times when we have brought that type of thing and retracted but we won’t give it up.”

    According to the news item he further said, “We hold the common position that it must be broadly discussed by the public,” he said. “The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) is a good forum for this.” This would indicate that Basil Rajapaksa had appraised India of the proposed changes it would like to carry out in 13A based on the PSC recommendations.

    On the Indian Government reaction to the establishment of the PSC, the minister is reported to have said,“They accepted it…Democracy is the best way and India is of the opinion that all parties that respect democracy must participate in it [PSC], including the Tamil National Alliance. They told us that they notified the TNA several times of this and that they will do so even in future.”

    The minister explained, “It was an exchange of information between the two countries. They told us their opinions, we told them our opinions. This was a discussion between two friendly countries.” In other terms, both sides reiterated their positions on the issues of 13A and PSC.

    India probably would like to accommodate Sri Lankan use of the PSC to give a veneer of acceptance to the proposed changes in 13A from all shades of political opinion. But the PSC has become a joke after the main opposition parties – the UNP, the JVP and the all important TNA have refused to participate in it. Even some of the partners of the UPFA coalition like the LSSP and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) are averse to the exercise. Now it is largely a UPFA body of ‘yes men’ to approve the changes in 13A. While technically the PSC might carry the day, politically it would be a non starter.

    India would like the TNA to participate in the PSC deliberations in a bid to find a workable solution to the impasse. But its argument may not carry conviction unless the other opposition parties and the SLMC change their mind on participating in the PSC. If we go by news reports, India had probably drawn Rajapaksa’s attention that the PSC set up must have “all shades of opinion on board.” As this is largely an internal political exercise of Sri Lanka, there is little India can do.

    So the PSC recommendations are unlikely to improve the environment hostile to bring a meaningful resolution to the overall devolution issue.

    While President’s decision closes one chapter of the Colombo’s political drama on the devolution contretemps and the future of 13th Amendment, it opens up another speculative chapter on the winners and losers of the NPC election with its footnote on the fair conduct of election. Jaffna has already seen some unpleasant acts of thuggery and mischief making targeted attack on the detractors of the regime, notably the TNA which is likely to win a majority in the NPC. Will acts of violence mar the much delayed exercise of NPC election? Will the TNA be allowed to rule the NPC in case they get most of the seats in a fair election? Only President Rajapaksa can probably can answer these questions confidently.

    *Col R Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, served with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka as Head of Intelligence. He is associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies and the South Asia Analysis Group. E-Mail: [email protected] Blog: http://www.colhariharan.org

  3. jayasiri Says:

    Thank you Mr. Mahindapala…….What a story..WHY IS IT THAT our political leaders HIDING & never give an answer to peoples’ questions. WHY ARE THE PLOITICAL leaders in Sri Lanka, STILL carry favours to India. IT IS TIME declare INDIA is a PARAIH state & ask for sanctions against her.

    These facts and history are ample evidence to take India to courts . As Mr. Charles Perera said many months ago, NDIA owes Sri Lanka US$200BILLION for destablizing a sovereign democratic state, which is Sri Lanka.

    Still our leaders including the opposition RUN to India for a slightest problem. Are they being paid by INDIA? this is a question we should ask our leaders NOW. EXPLAIN or leave the PATY & GOVT. so that people can elect HONEST TRUSTWORTHY, PATRIOTS to govern our country. THERE should be a law for People like, Jehan Perera, Paki Sarvanamutu et al to haul before courts for publishing ANTI- SRI LANKA articles & that punishment MUST COME SOON. So that others will learn to be faithful to country they were born.

    Thank you all……..All these protest must be against PEOPLE I just mentioned above, then at least they would NOT ACT LIKE TRAITORS………….J

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Thank you for your great efforts, HLD !

    ——-

    There never is any logic in partitioning of countries. The ‘divide & rule’ principle of the British ex-colonists is operating again.
    In this matter, INDIA is in the same boat as Sri Lanka. Both countries must act together in this matter of self defense.
    In Sri Lanka, also activate the 6-A.

    The modus operandi of mischievous elements is to make India bash Lanka and vice versa – you know, the ‘divide & rule’ principle in operation ! QED !

    ——–

    jayasiri,

    This time around, both Sri Lanka & India have to avoid being re-colonized. Local Lies, Cheat & Deceit (LCD) as well as LCD from abroad have to be exposed.

  5. Sooriarachi Says:

    INGOs do not care for the human rights of the Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, Sinhalese, Muslims etc as there is no pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow.

  6. Sooriarachi Says:

    The very fact that INGOs accuse only Sri Lanka of war crimes, and some of them even travel the world with their benefactors spreading false propaganda against Sri Lanka, confirms the that they are not worried about the violation of human rights of civilians terrorised, tortured and massacred by forces the INGOs receive favours from.

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