Need for SL to tread with caution
Posted on August 28th, 2016

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya Courtesy The Daily Mirror

The Joint Opposition must surely be faulted for having neglected to challenge the constitutionality of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) Bill in the Supreme Court during the time available to do so. The JO’s theatrics in the well of the House on the day the Bill was passed, amidst chaos, hardly compensate for this lapse. The OMP is the first of the so-called reconciliation mechanisms being implemented by the government in compliance with the 2015 Geneva resolution. Before the Bill was taken up in Parliament, critics had already expressed serious misgivings about aspects of it they said bypassed the law of the land and potentially undermined sovereignty.

The OMP needs to be seen as part of a larger process whereby the architecture of Sri Lanka’s institutions will undergo radical transformation – a transformation not of its own making but carried out at the behest of western powers. It is increasingly clear that introducing new legislation is a key element in the strategy. In the absence of a system of judicial review it becomes a matter of paramount importance for Sri Lankans to scrutinise proposed new Bills relating to the Geneva commitments, and challenge them in court if necessary, before it is too late – as it has become, in the case of the OMP. Once the groundwork is laid in the form of new laws, western meddling will be protected by law and very difficult to reverse, by any means short of a popular uprising.

It’s not without reason that ‘security sector reform’ is a key element in the resolution. It contains clauses aimed at taming the Sri Lankan armed forces by holding an axe over the heads of the war-winning military and political leadership in the form of Special Courts for prosecution of alleged war crimes. The resolution calls for an administrative process to root out those even suspected of human rights violations, but against whom there is no evidence with which to bring them to court. It seeks to discredit the war effort, project it as some great tragedy and destroy the heroic image of the Sri Lankan forces, as a prelude to subordinating them to US diktat.

Ironically, while arm-twisting the Sri Lankan security forces the US simultaneously seeks to induct them into joint military operations. These exercises are marketed as collaboration in ensuring maritime security and protecting the Indian and Pacific oceans from drug trafficking, smuggling, piracy etc. But the long-term objective is to lay the groundwork for a military alliance. US ambassador Atul Keshap in a speech on board a warship docked in Colombo last month openly said the US is working to strengthen ties with the Sri Lankan military.

It is intriguing to observe how seamlessly the US pursues its geopolitical objectives through increasing military ties with Sri Lanka, while at the same time hauling the Sri Lankan military over the coals, under the guise of advancing ‘reconciliation.’

Keshap’s Op Ed hailing the OMP was up on the embassy website the very day after its peculiar passage on the 11th. All stages of the Bill were rushed through Parliament in less than an hour with government MPs shouting Aye” and the Speaker quickly saying Sammathai” (‘Passed’) while the JO engaged in noise-making.

In his article Keshap referred to the horrors of the past, the violence of three decades and the anti-democratic governments,” and then said Compare that situation to today.” Nowhere does he mention the role of the Sri Lankan armed forces who, by ending the scourge of terrorism, made change possible. This glaring oversight becomes perfectly logical however, when it is understood that the post-war heroic status of SL military is incompatible with the US project.

The main focus of Keshap’s piece was the US Air Force’s ‘Operation Pacific Angel,’ a program to renovate schools and provide medical services in Jaffna. Seeing that there is no shortfall in medical or educational services by the state to the North, nor any natural disaster or emergency, the timing of the mission involving US Air Force personnel is interesting. Till now military contacts were mainly through US Navy.

A closer look at some simultaneous developments helps to form a clearer picture of what is happening. On 10th August cabinet approval was announced for the purchase of 8–12 multirole fighter aircraft with weapons for the Sri Lanka Air Force. The cabinet spokesman’s explanation for this seemingly unnecessary peace-time military expenditure, by a cash-strapped government, was that the SLAF had to upgrade its ageing fleet and maintain ‘operational readiness’ for any ‘unexpected aerial threat.’ What is the potential aerial threat that Sri Lanka faces? The LTTE threat is over, the country is not at war with any other state and there is no danger of attack by a foreign force. The only possible explanation is that Sri Lanka is readying itself to undertake operations on behalf of, or in alliance with, some other more powerful state as a junior partner. Are Sri Lanka’s Northern and Eastern Provinces to become beachheads for future US military activity in the region?

The new fighter aircraft are said to have the capability to fly ‘over the horizon’, meaning presumably to engage in operations beyond Sri Lanka’s airspace. In April it was reported that the government had commissioned two ships to be built in India and that the SLN was to be trained in deep sea operations. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, appearing to take on the role of Defence Minister, declared a 10-year plan for the Navy to ‘protect sea routes from the Maldives to Malacca Straits.’

On April 11, 2016, this column commented on another speech in Trinco where PM Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka would have to ‘buy more ships, planes and weapons’ for the Navy to fulfil this new ‘duty.’ It asked if the PM, not only expects the country to surrender its sovereignty to support the ambitions of the world’s sole superpower, but that he is ready to subsidise that project as well?” ( Sri Lanka’s recent military purchases seem to establish that this ‘subsidising’ has indeed come to pass.

Recent US military contacts with Sri Lanka seem to point to some plan to use Sri Lankan personnel in amphibious operations. From 7 -17 April, SL Navy divers underwent training at the US naval base in Guam, coordinated by Commander, Task Force 75 of the US Navy in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. Both the US war ships that recently visited Colombo – the USS Blue Ridge and USS New Orleans – are high tech amphibious assault ships, with Blue Ridge being described in Wikipedia as having the ‘most advanced joint amphibious command and control centre ever constructed.’ And last month Sri Lanka’s Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijeguneratne was invited to attend the ‘Pacific Command Amphibious Leaders Symposium’ in California.

The Yahapalana leadership seems to grossly underestimate the consequences of entering into military ties with the world’s sole superpower. Only the politicians of the Old Left like Tissa Vitarana and Vasudeva Nanayakkara have warned of the neo-imperialist designs of Sri Lanka’s new best friend. The US exercise is part of its bigger plan to curb the maritime expansion of China. Deeper engagement with the US military will unnecessarily drag Sri Lanka – a supposedly Non-Aligned nation of the global South – into uncharted territory of big power rivalry, with all the attendant dangers posed by such an alignment.

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5 Responses to “Need for SL to tread with caution”

  1. crobe Says:

    With the latest corruption charge on Sirisena(I am not surprised and do not for a moment believe that he is as clean as he claims to be), if the West(aka US/UK/EU/NATO) can get rid of him, guess who becomes president? Ranil, yes, that Ranil.

    This will clear all hurdles for the West to get all what they want. Ranil did it once(luckily he pissed off the queen and she pulled the plug on him) and he will do it again. The US wants a base to replace Diego Garcia and what better place(and much closer and strategically placed) than Sri Lanka? And, what better man(I use that term lightly) than Ranil?

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    Ms Kurukulasuriya has written up a very interesting article for which we thank her.


    Perhaps this article confirms that Yahap is merely continuing what the CBK/RW duo were allowing earlier with Norway as Peacekeeper ?
    Readers will recall that Norway the ‘Peacekeeper’ had a mini-sub industry going in the North with the P’karan led LTTE suicide cadre ruling the North.
    That same or similar Plan may be put on Stage II now.

    Tamil Leaders with their V’koddai Resolution of 1976 calling for Eelam through Violence, have let down not only their Tamil flock, but also the whole of Lanka.

    Crobe is right – Lanka’s home grown ‘Caligula’ may be coming back as ‘Raniguila’ the Puppet Prez, much to the delight of the puppet masters INDIA & some in the west.
    Sri Lanka is the bone that INDIA is throwing to the foreign wolves at the door.

    Baton down the hatches, maties, and hold your breath.
    Time to get ready for the ride of your lives on board the SS Lanka Deathstar ?

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    Please do correct me if my assumptions are wrong here.

    After all, it may be that there is a sub recovery & repair outfit being prepared ??

  4. Cerberus Says:

    Thank you Ms. Kurukulasuriya for drawing our attention to these facts. At a time when the Govt has been lambasting the previous Govt for having spent money on the Mattala airport and the Hambantota Harbor, how can they justify spending probably Billions of $ on 8-12 fighter jets and also 2 ships? We were under the impression that Sri Lanka has no money to spend even for day to day expenses and are constantly borrowing money by issuing Bonds. Is the Yahap Govt going to spend all this money to pay for this weaponry and if so is it to fight the battles for the foreign countries? Against who will the Sri Lanka forces be used? We will become the target of attacks by the countries which are attacked by us. If that happens then our fate is sealed. Where is the JO and JVP on these issues? Why the deafening silence from them?

  5. plumblossom Says:

    This Is How The Office Of The Missing Persons (Which Will Become A Bogus ‘Evidence’ Manufacturing Machine) Manufacture Bogus ‘Evidence’ Of 40,000 Missing Persons To Try Our Brave Armed Forces For So Called War Crimes They Never, Ever Committed

    In the Missing Persons Act, a relative or a friend can make an official inquiry (but a totally bogus inquiry) from the Office of the Missing Persons (OMP) by email inquiring as to the whereabouts of their relative or friend.

    There are over 8 lakhs to 10 lakhs Tamil diaspora asylum seekers (actually economic migrants), a vast majority of who support the separatist terrorist LTTE and its aim of a separate state. If even 40,000 of these Tamil diaspora who support the separatist terrorist LTTE write bogus emails to the OMP inquiring the whereabouts of their friend or relative (but this friend or relative is actually living alongside them in these countries i.e. the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India etc.) these inquiries will officially be accepted by the OMP as 40,000 missing persons.

    According to the provisions of the OMP Act, even if the OMP inquires after these let us say 40,000 and finds out that these are all bogus inquiries and that all these 40,000 persons are actually living alongside the inquirer i.e. their relative or friend and these complaints about these persons being missing are all bogus, the missing persons, now found by the OMP, can request that their whereabouts not be revealed to their relative or friend or be made public. So officially these 40,000 persons will still be missing!!!

    Then the OMP will use these bogus 40,000 missing persons (who are actually living comfortably in the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India etc.) as manufactured ‘evidence’ that war crimes happened in Sri Lanka (and all these bogus inquirers will state that these persons went missing during the 2006-2009 period) and our Sri Lankan Armed Forces will be persecuted for committing war crimes that they never, ever committed by a judicial process using these bogus email inquiries.

    The Missing Persons Act states specifically that if the missing person who is now found requests that the fact that they are now found not be revealed to the public that person will remain as missing as far as the OMP is concerned. That is how the OMP will manufacture bogus ‘evidence’ of 40,000 missing persons so that the Sri Lankan Armed Forces can be persecuted for committing bogus war crimes.

    The OMP emails cannot be checked by any outside body as stated in the Act since all evidence (almost all bogus) gathered by the OMP remains confidential. The OMP cannot be taken to the Supreme Court on this issue. However the OMP should absolutely and immediately be taken to the Supreme Court regarding what has been written above which is what would happen when this OMP is set up.

    The OMP will become a bogus ‘evidence’ manufacturing machine which will gather such bogus inquiries via email from those members of the Tamil diaspora who are supportive of the LTTE terrorists and who will send bogus email inquiries by their thousands. All these bogus inquiries (of people who are actually living in the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India etc.) will then be misused as missing person inquiries.

    I did not realize that the Sinhalese were this stupid as to allow such a process within the Missing Persons Act which can be blatantly misused in order to manufacture bogus ‘evidence’ like this. The OMP process is not transparent, it will happen in total secrecy, no one in Sri Lanka will be able to question it, not our police, not our courts, not our Sri Lankan citizens, nobody. All the OMP will do is gather bogus email ‘evidence’ such as described above which will then be misused as missing person inquiries to try the Sri Lankan Armed Forces for bogus war crimes that they never, ever committed.

    The OMP process as described above must be stopped immediately. If a relative or a friend really and genuinely wants to find out about their genuinely missing relative or friend (i.e. perished LTTE terrorist), they can make a complaint to the OMP in person in public. This is the only way that Sri Lanka and the world will know that their inquiry is genuine. This was the methodology followed by the earlier Paranagama Commission which then received 23,000 complaints from relatives or friends of the missing person (i.e. perished LTTE terrorist or our perished Sri Lankan Forces soldiers) but they made their complaint in public in person to the commission. This is the only way to ensure authenticity and make the process transparent since this happens in the public arena. However, even with such safeguards, even some of those complaints may have been bogus.

    The OMP should be stopped immediately since it is not a transparent process at all as described above but a totally secretive process where no one and nobody can request to be provided an opportunity to even peruse, investigate or look at the email inquiries received by the OMP. If the UNHRC, the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India, the TNA and the separatist terrorists genuinely want to find out about perished LTTE terrorists, this Yahapalanaya Government could expand and extend the scope of the already set up Paranagama Commission in order to make such inquiries. This process should be totally following Sri Lankan Law, within Sri Lankan jurisdiction, paid for totally by the Sri Lankan Government only and with only Sri Lankan citizens appointed as commission members and investigators. In fact the entire staff should be composed of Sri Lankan citizens only. The process should be a totally domestic process with no interference or input whatsoever from foreign countries. Most importantly, all complaints should be made in person by relatives and friends in public if their complaint is genuine.

    The Missing Persons Act is totally dangerous as pointed out above and should be dismissed totally as it is highly dangerous and a totally secretive process as described above designed and set up to manufacture bogus ‘evidence’ against the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

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