Greiff gives govt. grief
Posted on October 24th, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

Recalling the yahapalana leaders’ much-touted, pre-election claim that they had the backing of some rich, powerful members of the international community, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake has asked where those friends are today. He has said the government is now left without anyone to turn to for aid. He is deriving some perverse pleasure from the government’s plight though he himself is a beneficiary of yahaalanaya.

It is said that nothing is so freely given as advice. The yahapalana leaders have had to settle for a great deal of unsolicited advice from its powerful friends instead of financial assistance they are badly in need of. They expected foreign aid to pour in after the 2015 regime change. Else, they wouldn’t have promised a massive pay hike for the public sector. If only the yahapalana grandees had realised their big friends would not part with funds so easily.

The UNP-led UNF government (2001-2004) also found itself in a similar predicament. The Tokyo Co-Chairs (the US, Norway, Japan and the EU) of the then peace process made an aid pledge to the tune of USD 4.5 billion and tied its implementation to the progress to be made in peace talks with the LTTE. Funds never came and the UNF administration committed political suicide by compromising national security to appease the LTTE and causing unbearable economic difficulties to the public.

It is not only on the economic front that the yahapalana leaders have been let down by their powerful friends in the West. They have been left high and dry in Geneva as well. They may have thought their international friends would help them avoid the implementation of the UNHRC resolution which calls for the establishment of a hybrid war crimes tribunal. President Maithripala Sirisena went so far as to brag that he had saved his predecessor cum bête noire, Mahinda Rajapaksa, from the electric chair. But, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government is still under heavy UN pressure to commence a war crimes probe in line with its Geneva commitments.

UN Special Rapporteur on transitional justice, Pablo de Greiff, on Monday, told the government in no uncertain terms that it had to commence a war crimes probe. He also warned that the case filed in Brazil against former Sri Lankan Ambassador to that country General (retd.) Jagath Jayasuriya was only the tip of the iceberg. The government’s failure to launch a war crimes probe would lead to more such efforts being made internationally, he said. Greiff went to the extent of taking exception to President Maithripala Sirisena’s much-publicised assurance that he will not allow ‘war heroes’ to be prosecuted for alleged war crimes. It will be interesting to know the government’s reaction to Greiff’s criticism.

Greiff may be right in claiming that there is the possibility of more law suits against Sri Lanka’s former generals being filed overseas. However, that won’t be a problem for Sri Lankan military personnel alone. Generals of other countries, engaged in fighting terrorism, too, won’t be safe outside their countries at this rate. Anyone can file legal action against them on foreign soil.

The countries behind the Geneva resolution calling for a war crimes probe among other things have no friends in this country; they have only geo-political interests. They helped oust President Mahinda Rajapaksa because of his pro-China policy. They backed the present bunch of rulers not out of any love for the enemies of the Rajapaksas; they did so to further their interests. They may have thought that after the ouster of the Rajapaksas Sri Lanka would be free from Chinese influence, but it was a big miscalculation. The present regime has become more dependent on China than the Rajapaksa administration because it is desperate for funds! Much to its international allies’ chagrin, it has even leased out a strategically important port to China and allowed the Chinese-funded Port City project to continue. This is something the US and India never bargained for. Human rights being a weapon the Global North uses to control the developing world, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government is likely face a turn of the screw in Geneva as evident from Greiff’s call.

Initiating a war crimes probe is the last thing the yahapalana leaders want to undertake as they fear a disastrous political blowback. They are apparently labouring under the impression that they won’t have to fulfil that commitment if they can win over the Tamil political parties which are pushing for a war crimes investigation by devolving more powers through a new Constitution. But, their constitution-making project aimed at changing the unitary character of the state has run into stiff resistance. They are now caught between a rock and a hard place.

2 Responses to “Greiff gives govt. grief”

  1. Nimal Says:

    All monies stolen by politicians of the present government and the past governments should be returned to the country. We the hard working taxpayers have to finance our dear and near when the government should it in the first place.

  2. L Perera Says:

    Looks like the Yahaplana Government is in dire straits. What goes around, comes around – wouldn’t like to be In the MS /RW camp.

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