Yahapalana brain-fade in Geneva
Posted on March 12th, 2017

by Malinda Seneviratne


Way back when Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government was getting slammed left, right and centre by the ‘international (sic) community’, especially at the UNHRC, his detractors were thrilled.  Little did they care that the accusers were tainted in ways that made Sri Lanka look pretty innocent in terms of (alleged) ‘war crimes’.  Rajapaksa was accused of being moronic in his foreign policy.  Dark stories were spread about impending sanctions.  The removal of the GSP Plus facility was thrown in as evidence and a sign of worse things to come.

The previous regime resisted all moves to interfere in the affairs of the country including direct involvement in judicial processes.  It was a foregone conclusion that Sri Lanka would time and again be bested in votes taken in the UNHRC, apart from the first vote with respect to the conflict when Dayan Jayatilleka was the Permanent Representative in Geneva.  A good battle was fought and lost, as expected.

Rajapaksa didn’t do himself any favours back home.  Corruption, wastage, nepotism, serious compromising of the Rule of Law and other such negatives slowly but surely brought just enough forces together to throw him out of office.

Today, the very same international community is going easy on the current regime.  Why?  Because they have perceived this government has shown greater commitment to getting things right by way of reconciliation, transitional justice, transparency and what not?

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Well!

What do have now?  We have a regime that is same-same as the Rajapaksas with a key difference.  They’ve adopted Rajapaksa Ways in record speed.  Whereas it took the previous regime more than five years to lose the plot, it has taken this government less than two to lose it, if they had a plot in the first place that is.  And this is best evidenced by the short-sighted, irresponsible and sophomoric thinking with respect to dealing with the international community (via the UNHRC) on human rights, transitional justice and so on.

Prince Zeid has not exactly patted this government on the back, but he’s not swishing any whips either, as was the forte of his predecessor.  He is still calling for hybrid courts.

What do the President and the Prime Minister have to say?

The President has clearly said that there will be no foreign judges in judicial procedures to probe war crimes allegations.  That’s a blatant snub on the Consultative Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms.  Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene has said that the President and the Government have full confidence in the judiciary and legal processes.  “We have extremely eminent and experienced judges and our judges have served in various countries and global organizations that have given much credit to the country,” he said.  The issue of establishing a hybrid court does not arise, as far as that component of this coalition government is concerned.

As for the other half, the Prime Minister has said that a hybrid court was not politically feasible and as such a feasible alternative should be found.

His words: “Setting up a hybrid court is not politically feasible because such a move would need a referendum. Against this back drop, how can we fulfill the expectations of the international community? Let’s get together and think of a feasible alternative for such a court.”

And what do the strongest backers (and now approvers) of the forces that ousted Rajapaksa have to say?  Jehan Perera, writing about the Governments performance in Geneva puts it well.

“During their stay in Geneva, the Sri Lankan delegation was able to meet with most important parties at the side events to the official conference. This included meetings with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and with UN Human Rights Commissioner Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein and with the ambassadors to the UN of various powerful countries. Some of those who are currently playing a decision-making role in UN processes have had previous engagements with Sri Lanka and are in a position to make a comparative analysis of the situation in Sri Lanka as against other countries. They tend to be impressed at the overall developments in Sri Lanka which they can compare with the deterioration to be found in many parts of the world.”

So now it’s about relative merits.  Sri Lanka is better than Myanmar.  One can’t help observing that Sri Lanka was always better than a lot of countries (including the USA, UK, Canada and the EU) in terms of dealing with terrorism AND, more importantly, in sorting out post-conflict issues such as reconstruction, settlement of the displaced, restoration of democracy and rehabilitating hardcore terrorists, people with a combat history and adjuncts in the cause of terrorism, from whose grasp, let us not forget, some 300,000 civilians held hostage were rescued.  Try beating that!

But that’s not what this government did.  The UNHRC officially recognized all this and then duly forgot, but then again, the likes of Perera never even acknowledged all this for reasons that are obvious.

The problem with the Government’s current position is what G.L. Peiris has pointed out. Prof Peiris asks, correctly, “who approved the UNHRC Resolution that Sri Lanka co-sponsored with the USA?”      That Resolution clearly shows that Sri Lanka is amenable to the involvement of foreign judges.  Didn’t the President and the Prime Minister know back then that a) Sri Lanka has competent judges and a credible judicial process (as the President now claims) and b) that such mechanisms are untenable (as the Prime Minister now claims)?  Were they, like all politicians, merely playing the age old game of seeking the postponement of the inevitable in the absence of a coherent, pragmatic alternative approach?

It is clear that an international community that is sorely lacking in integrity should not be shown any respect.   This Government was let down by the champions of righteousness (corrupt though they are in this respect).  Today the Government is looking to a less-friendly China for help.  Well, the previous regime appears to have got everything right in this respect.  They knew what the international community was about.  They knew who had the bucks and who had the swagger.  They blew it domestically.

This government is close to blowing it domestically.  And they’ve read the ‘international’ all wrong.  In Geneva, they suffered a brain-fade.  That’s putting it mildly.  They’ve remained brain-faded since then and demonstrated the fact this year as well.

In the very least, the Foreign Minister has shown gross negligence, total absence of intelligence, and utter political immaturity.  That’s only if he acted on his own steam, which again is hard to believe.  That particular brain-fade buck floats upwards.   And whether or not it is acknowledged, it sticks.

Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer.  Blog: malindawords.blogspot.com.  Email: malindasenevi@gmail.com. Twitter: malindasene

5 Responses to “Yahapalana brain-fade in Geneva”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    Gota’s war heroes off to Geneva

    By Ceylon Today

    2017-03-12

    By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

    Rtd. Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara will leave for Geneva tomorrow leading a three-man delegation to meet UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein to mount an offensive against the case, now argued before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), that Sri Lankan forces committed war crimes, especially during the closing stages of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

    This allegation is the centrepiece of the UNHRC resolution that is widely accepted by the international community including the Tamil Diaspora.
    He takes a 100-page dossier of facts to buttress his arguments against the allegations.

    Weerasekara, Chief Coordinator of The Federation of National Association sponsored by the Global Sri Lankan Forum, told Ceylon Today that UN Human Rights Chief Zeid has violated his own mandate by getting involved in a sovereign country’s internal affairs.

    “I will seek a meeting with Zeid and be at the debating table when the Council takes up for discussion the Resolution on Sri Lanka, co-sponsored by the Government, on 20 March,” he added. The Rear Admiral said that despite the fact the LTTE had committed serious war crimes including the recruitment of child soldiers, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had been ‘treacherous’ and a ‘traitor’ to the country by acknowledging and expressing appreciation of the UNHRC Report, having also gone to the extent of co-sponsoring the resolution.

    “Things like the Truth Commission and the Office of Missing Persons … these are ‘hurting’ us,” he added.
    He said he was going to Geneva in a bid to ‘put a stop’ to war crime allegations against the Army. The dossier has been prepared after a serious study by intellectuals and experts in international human rights and humanitarian laws. It also contains statistics proving how the war was won and how humanitarian aid was distributed in the war zone contrary to this being disputed by the Human Rights Council.

    “The UN congratulated us for defeating terrorism at the first UN Resolution tabled on 27 May 2009. Germany and 17 other UN member countries stood against it but the Non Aligned Movement rejected and contested the case in our favour. That was approved at the presentation of the first Resolution but now it has turned out to be totally against us. “Subsequently, the LTTE sympathizers and the Tamil Diaspora went against that resolution with negative inputs and gradually got it reversed,” he noted. He said, “The Darusman Committee Report based on the Tamil Diaspora call, tabled the 2012 UNHRC Resolution on that same thematic position and it was tabled with the 2013 and 2014 Resolutions.”

    He said the Council adopted the 2014 Resolution by a vote of 23 in favour, 12 against and 12 abstentions, and the Resolution requested the Office of the High Commissioner to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties (GoSL and the LTTE) and that a Commissioner- General initiates an investigation into our national affairs.

    He recalled that India and Pakistan at that time said the resolution was an infringement into a sovereign country’s rights and considered it was a case of double standards being adopted by the UNHRC.
    “Leading international jurists and experts in laws relating to international rights such as Sir Desmond de Silva QC, Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, Rodney Dixon QC. (UK/ South Africa), Major General John Holmes and many others literally dismissed the one-sided charges levelled against Sri Lanka.”

    He noted that a special committee comprising reputed lawyers and specialists in international affairs was appointed two weeks ago to counter the ongoing ‘traitorous move’ in Geneva.
    He said they have included statistics on how humanitarian aid was distributed in thousands of tons to the North during the final phase of the war.

    “The dossier has been vetted by former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and will be handed over to former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa at a ceremony beginning at 3 p.m. tomorrow at Sambhuddhathwa Jayanthi Mandiraya with the support of Ven. Kirama Wimalajyoti Thera. Rear Admiral Weerasekara will leave for Geneva after the event. A copy of the dossier will also be handed over to President Maithripala Sirisena who would be urged to send it to UNJRC Chief Zeid.
    He said the team working on this agenda includes Generals and Admirals of the Forces who fought the war.

    “I will give the dossier to Zeid and tell him it was not an international armed conflict and that what’s applicable is ‘international humanitarian laws’ and not ‘international human rights laws’. He added that no organizations can interfere in any country’s internal affairs. As for responsibility for civilian safety in a war, he stressed that the protection of civilians depends upon whose controlled area they were at that specific time. “If the people were in an LTTE controlled area, then the LTTE should acknowledge responsibility for their safety.

    Likewise, we would have been responsible for the protection of the people when they were in government controlled areas. We cannot take responsibility of what happened in LTTE controlled areas.” He stressed that the LTTE used civilians as human shields and so, the Forces cannot be blamed for that.

  2. charithsls Says:

    UNHRC is the grip , the US and the West use successfully to keep Sri Lanka under their hold.
    It will be just barking as long as this puppet government is in power, just a eye wash to the rest of the world. Come a topple in this government & a JO led government, the UNHRC will swing into top gear to implement all the sanctions & punishment on SL.So long as this government is in power, just ignore it, they are just barking only , no sanctions, of course they will get their work done to please the Tamil diaspora.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    GOOD MOVE by Sarath Weerasekara, Global Sri Lankan Forum and GR.

    We should also thank My3 for REJECTING international war crimes nonsense.

    Mangala has NO RIGHT to commit SL to nonsense. He is just the foreign minister. IF SL had a proper foreign minister we don’t need to send ANOTHER DELEGATION to the UNHRC.

    Dear Sarath Weerasekara, please enlighten the UNHRC about the war crimes of the CURRENT LTTE LEADER – KP. He is wanted by the INTERPOL and he is a super terrorist. Why is he NOT arrested?

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    Please view thia Youtube Video on Wimal Weerawansa’s talk in Parliament:

    අද මේ මොඩරේට් බෙදුම්වාදීන් හදන්නේ “ඒකීය වී ඇටේ ඇතුළේ ‍‍ෆෙඩරල් හාල් ඇටේ හදාගන්නයි”

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    Wimal’s talk:

    https://youtu.be/kQ8_0pHv4Ck

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