UN Human Rights Chief confirms global participation in Sri Lanka war crime probe
Posted on February 11th, 2016

By Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune Political Note

Washington, D.C. 10 February (Asiantribune.com):

Putting a firm lid to the confusion and dissenting views – mostly within the Sri Lanka administration – that the Geneva UN resolution of October 01 never envisaged global participation of legal luminaries to probe Sri Lanka’s culpability of war crimes, and that Sri Lanka will never allow outside legal participation in such a probe, UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told the Colombo media that the “resolution suggest international participation in the accountability mechanisms set up to deal with international crimes and gross human rights violations committed by individuals on both sides.United Nations Human Rights Chief addressing media in Colombo 9 February 2016

He justified the inclusion of alien participation to the flawed judicial system in Sri Lanka: “Sri Lanka has many excellent judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officials. But over the years the system they depended on, and which depends on them, became highly politicized, unbalanced, unreliable. The country’s history over the past few decades is littered with judicial failures.

“Virtually every week provides a new story of a failed investigation, a mob storming a court-room, or another example of a crime going unpunished. Sexual violence and harassment against women and girls is particularly poorly handled by the relevant State institutions — especially when the alleged perpetrators are members of the military or security services — and, as a result it remains all too widespread.

“It is for these reasons that the report and the Human Rights Council resolution suggest international participation in the accountability mechanisms set up to deal with international crimes and gross human rights violations committed by individuals on both sides.”

In recent weeks, Sri Lanka’s president Sirisena has gone on record saying that he will not allow outside legal participation, while Prime Minister Wickremasinghe has made contradictory statements on the issue. Many government leading cabinet members have dismissed the global participation.

The UN Human Rights Chief, making his departure media address, put a lid to all those speculations and dismissals.

In fact, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein linked the ‘hybrid’ war crime probe to the Sri Lanka military which battled the ruthless terrorist movement the FBI declared as worse than Al Qaeda in this manner: “the international community wants Sri Lanka’s armed forces to face up to the stain on their reputation, so that they can once again play a constructive role in international peace-keeping operations, and command the full respect that so many of their members deserve”.

The Washington officials of the U.S. State Department have told the Government of Sri Lanka that those who are selected to join UN Peacekeeping Operations should be thoroughly scrutinized to clear them of any human rights violation or war crime allegations.

The human rights chief, in presenting the official view of Geneva connecting to the global participation and the importance of the military “face up to the stain on their reputation” said “Sri Lanka needs a serious debate about these very serious issues, on which its future depends. This needs to start with a thorough, frank and honest discussion of the detailed findings of the September 2015 UN report, as it is important that all Sri Lankans rally behind the process and better understand the point of view of all the victims on all sides”.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, previously occupied by Navi Pillai and currently by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, viewed the Sri Lanka military, which had to combat a well armed secessionist movement which was terrorizing the entire Island of Sri Lanka, engaged in a battle against the minority Tamils. The military “stained its reputation” in engaging to safeguard the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation marginalizing its endeavor to defeat the most ruthless terrorist organization in the globe.

It is this same sentiment that the foreign service officers (FSOs) at the American diplomatic post in Colombo at that time believed – reflected in WikiLeaks-released classified cables, the United Nations Office of Political Affairs, the second most important unit next to the Office of the Secretary-General which is controlled by former state department officials, the US diplomatic office in UN and some members of the Obama National Security Council.

The operatives within the Tamil Diaspora who were once material supporters of the lethal LTTE are largely responsible for the consolidation of the mindset with this and many other sentiments connected to race relations in Sri Lanka.

The previous Rajapaksa administration was largely responsible for the internationalization of a domestic issues that led the operatives within the Tamil Diaspora to be the ‘sole voice of the Sri Lanka Tamils’. The island-wide triumphalism that took place immediately after the defeat of the LTTE alienated the north-east Tamils who were under the despotic rule of Prabhakaran for almost thirty years creating a conducive atmosphere for the former LTTE operatives and professionals to be their voice and convince the West that they were their sole voice. The international media and diplomatic network created by Prabhakaran in the late 1980s were more penetrating than the Rajapaksa foreign ministry and its overseas diplomatic cadre.

The UN human rights chief gave a long laundry list of abuse and misuse of power of the previous Rajapaksa administration which paved the way for the operatives and professional activists within the Tamil Diaspora to commence their campaign to delegitimize the Sri Lankan state which has led to the current plight of ‘internationalization’.

Quotes from his media address:

– The ‘white van’ abductions that operated outside all norms of law and order, and — as intended — instilled fear in the hearts of journalists, human rights defenders and others who dared criticize the Government or State security institutions, are now very seldom reported.

– One of the most important long-term achievements over the past year has been the restoration of the legitimacy and independence of Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission. The appointment of new leadership of great integrity, through the proper constitutional process, offers a new start to revitalize this all-important national institution.

– I also met the mothers and wives of people who were apprehended, or surrendered to the security forces, and then disappeared. I have met relatives of people who have been in detention for years, without being charged with any crime, or who were charged solely on the basis of allegedly forced confessions.

– Likewise if any of the four key elements of post conflict resolution — truth-telling, accountability, reparations and institutional reform — are neglected or mishandled, unresolved resentments will fester, new strains will emerge, and a tremendous opportunity to establish long-term stability, which in turn should result in greater prosperity, will be lost.

– In the case of Sri Lanka, large parts of the country have been physically, politically, socially and economically separated from each other to a greater or lesser degree for much of the past three decades, and the effort to rebuild trust in the State, and between communities, will take years of political courage, determination and skilled coordination and planning

The previous administration in subverting the social system provided enough fodder to the operatives/professional activists within the Tamil Diaspora who have become a global diplomatic movement aided and abetted by the American officials in Washington and New York. In closing the lid by the UN human rights chief on conflicting opinion about ‘international participation’ for the ‘transparency and accountability process’, the influence of the Tamil Diaspora is greatly felt.

The most significant misrepresentation in UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s declaration before the media in Colombo on February 9 is:“It was the country’s commitment to both itself and to the world to confront the past honestly and, by doing that, take out comprehensive insurance against any future devastating outbreak of inter communal tensions and conflict.”

The human rights chief has not been briefed either by the officials of the Sri Lanka administration or his Geneva staff that the last occasion Sri Lanka witnessed a ‘race riot’ or ‘communal disturbance’ or ‘two races killing each other’ was in Black July of 1983. Since then, there were no race riots or Sinhalese killing Tamils or Tamils killing Sinhalese.

The most recent statistics reveal that there are 54% ethnic Tamils – excluding the 5% plantation Tamils – living outside the north-east region among the Sinhalese in other districts, mostly in the Western Province.

What this Island Nation witnessed was the lethal Tiger terrorist movement in an island wide rampage terrorizing all communities, not only killing and assassinating the Sinhalese leaders and innocent villages but also Tamil leaders and Tamils who opposed the Tiger movement. The LTTE was on a ethnic cleansing forcibly ejecting the Muslims from their traditional lands in the North, forcibly removing Sinhalese who were living for generations in the north.

Since the end of the Eelam War IV, the previous Rajapaksa administration failed to understand this scenario to embrace the battered Tamils depriving of the former LTTE operatives in the Tamil Diaspora to be their voice and consolidate the human rights of the rest of the population in the rest of the country.

There are many lessons one could learn from the media address given by the UN human rights chief in Colombo.

– Asian Tribune –


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