“WAR CRIMES” IN EELAM WAR IV Part III
Posted on May 29th, 2018

KAMALIKA PIERIS

The War Crimes” charge made against the government of Sri Lanka needed proof. It was necessary to show that war crimes had actually happened. The UN therefore sponsored two panels of inquiry, which, in turn, produced two reports, the Darusman Report, and the OISL report. These were used to support the resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council.

A  Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in June 2010. The panel consisted of Marzuki Darusman, (Chairman) former Attorney General of Indonesia, Yasmin Sooka, High court judge, South Africa and Steven R. Ratner, Bruno Simma Collegiate Professor of Law, University of Michigan.

The panel was asked to advise the   UN  Secretary General on’ the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience  relevant to the  fulfillment of the joint commitment to an accountability process having regard to the nature and scope of the alleged violations’. The Panel focused on the last stage of Eelam War IV, period between September 2008 and May 2009.

The Panel started investigation in September 2010 and the report was published in   September 2011. The report was promptly forwarded by Moon to the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) . This Report, formally titled Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka is referred to as the ‘Darusman report’ or ‘PoE report’.

The Panel admitted that they had difficulty in finding reliable material. Due to the scarcity of objective reporting it was difficult to determine precisely what happened in the final military assault.  The Panel then devised a solution. Panel would determine an allegation to be credible if there was reasonable basis to believe that the act or event occurred. Allegations would also be considered credible when based on primary reports which the panel deemed relevant and trustworthy. (sic)

the Panel also found it difficult to obtain complaints. They put a prominent notice on the UN website, seeking evidence against the Sri Lankan political leadership and the armed forces. They didn’t receive the expected response and the deadline had to be extended. However, Darusman panel was supported by interested parties. The Center for War Victims and Human Rights (CWVHR) a Canada based organization, made a public appeal for submissions. The Center provided 25 sample letters, available online, for the writers to choose from, in case they could not write on their own.

Unfortunately, however, these letters and the rest of the data used by the Panel will not be available for checking. On the advice of the UN Office of Legal Affairs, the Panel has made use of the Secretary General’s Bulletin titled ‘Information sensitivity, classification and handling” (ST/SGB/2007/6). This makes provision for classifying documents as ‘strictly confidential’ and placing them in closed access for 20 years. Even after the mandatory 20 years, further retention or release would be subjected to a declassification review. The Darusman Panel stated, to the scorn of its readers, that nearly all of the Panel records will be labeled ‘strictly confidential’ and locked up for the next 20 years.

The Panel  reported that it had found credible allegations that comprise five core categories of potential serious violations committed by the Government of Sri Lanka: (i) killing of civilians through widespread shelling; (ii) shelling of hospitals and humanitarian objects; (iii) denial of humanitarian assistance; (iv) human rights violations suffered by victims and survivors of the conflict, including both IDPs and suspected LTTE cadre; and (v) human rights violations outside the conflict zone, including against the media and other critics of the Government.

The Panel said its findings reveal a very different version of the final stages of the war than that maintained by the Government of Sri Lanka. The Government says it pursued a “humanitarian rescue operation” with a policy of “zero civilian casualties”. In stark contrast, the Panel found credible allegations, which if proven, indicate that a wide range of serious violations of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law were committed both by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Indeed, the conduct of the war represented a grave assault on the entire regime of international law designed to protect individual dignity during both war and peace.

The Report stated that the Government shelled on a large scale in three consecutive No Fire Zones, where it had encouraged the civilian population to concentrate, even after indicating that it would cease the use of heavy weapons. It shelled the United Nations hub. Its shells fell near food distribution lines and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) ships that were coming to pick up the wounded and their relatives from the beaches. It shelled in spite of its knowledge of the impact, provided by its own intelligence systems and through notification by the United Nations, the ICRC and others. Most civilian casualties in the final phases of the war were caused by Government shelling.

The Report said the army had advanced into the Vanni with widespread shelling causing a large number of civilian deaths. Most of the causalities were caused by government shelling. The army had used cluster munitions. It had systematically shelled hospitals on the frontlines. All hospitals in the Vanni were hit by mortars and artillery. Some of them were hit repeatedly, despite the fact that their locations were well-known to the Government. There was aerial bombardment, long range artillery, and close range fire. There was a sharp contrast between the hospital area and the surrounding area. The surrounding area showed no indication of any firing. Landmines were recovered by the Sri Lanka army outside the public eye in a process that may have resulted in the destruction of evidence. Tens of thousands lost their lives from January to May 2009, many of whom died anonymously in the carnage of the final few days. The Sri Lankan army had intentionally targeted Tamil civilians.

The Government also systematically deprived people in the conflict zone of humanitarian aid, in the form of food and medical supplies, particularly surgical supplies, adding to their suffering. To this end, it purposely underestimated the number of civilians who remained in the conflict zone. The UN food convoys were shelled on the way, The Ministry of Defense had even opposed a high nutrition biscuit which UNICEF wanted to send saying it would be used by the LTTE. The Defense Ministry has also imposed restrictions   on tarpaulins saying it could be used for war.

The Report  said the government ‘imposed extensive restrictions on convoy participants’ and on ‘food and medical supplies’, and that ‘the Government downplayed the number of civilians present in the LTTE-controlled area, using the low estimates to restrict the amount of humanitarian assistance that could be provided, especially food and medicine. It states that the ‘different calculations of need’ were ‘deliberately kept low’ and that as a result ‘the food delivered by WFP to the Vanni was a fraction of what was actually needed, resulting in widespread malnutrition, including cases of starvation. ‘The Report also concludes that ‘the medical supplies allowed into the Vanni were grossly inadequate to treat the number of injuries incurred by the shelling” and that the absence of the needed medical supplies imposed enormous suffering and unnecessarily cost many lives.’

The Government subjected victims and survivors of the conflict to further deprivation and suffering after they left the conflict zone. Screening for suspected LTTE took place without any transparency or external scrutiny. Some of those who were separated were summarily executed, and some of the women may have been raped. Others disappeared, as recounted by their wives and relatives during the LLRC hearings. All IDPs were detained in closed camps, with inhuman conditions. Massive overcrowding led to terrible conditions, breaching the basic social and economic rights of the detainees, and many lives were lost unnecessarily. Some persons in the camps were interrogated and subjected to torture. Suspected LTTE cadres were removed to other facilities, with no contact with the outside world, under conditions that made them vulnerable of further abuses.

Darusman Committee recommended:

  1. In light of the allegations found credible by the Panel, the Government of Sri Lanka, in compliance with its international obligations and with a view to initiating an effective domestic accountability process, should immediately commence genuine investigations into these and other alleged violations of the international humanitarian and human rights law committed by both sides involved in the armed conflict.
  2. The Secretary-General should immediately proceed to establish an independent international mechanism, whose mandate should include the following concurrent functions:

(i) Monitor and assess the extent to which the Government of Sri Lanka is carrying out an effective domestic accountability process, including genuine investigations of the alleged violations, and periodically advice the Secretary-General on its findings;

(ii) Conduct investigations independently into the alleged violations, having regard to genuine and effective domestic investigations; iii) Collect and safeguard for appropriate future use information provided to it, which is relevant to accountability for the final stages of the war, including the information gathered by the Panel and other bodies in the United Nations system.

Panel further recommended that the Government of Sri Lanka should issue a public, formal acknowledgement of its role in and responsibility for extensive civilian casualties in the final stages of the war. Sri Lanka should initiate a process, with strong civil society participation, to examine in a critical manner, the root causes of the conflict, including ethno-nationalist extremism on both sides, the conduct of the war and patterns of violations, and the corresponding institutional responsibilities.

The victims of the final stages of the war   are entitled to realize their rights to truth, justice, and reparations. The Government of Sri Lanka should institute a reparations programme, in accordance with international standards, for all victims of serious violations committed during the final stages of the war, with special attention to women, children, and particularly vulnerable groups. The Human Rights Council should be invited to reconsider its May 2009 Special Session Resolution (A/HRC/8-11/L. 1/Rev. 2) regarding Sri Lanka, in light of this report.

The Report was greeted with delight and love by just one group only, the Tamil National Alliance. Tamil National Alliance issued a statement saying it welcomes the findings and recommendations by the advisory panel on Sri Lanka appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the Darusman Report. TNA says it observes that the Report confirms the truth of what happened to the unarmed Tamil civilians in the conduct of the recently concluded war and is an irrefutable confirmation of the accounts of the events as reported by us to Parliament as and when they occurred’.

Elsewhere there was heavy criticism of the contents of the Report. The Darusman report is flawed in terms of method and content said G.L.Pieris. There is a clear bias. The Panel has openly stated that they have given priority to the rights and needs of the victims.    there is no mention of LTTE killings. The Report deals only with the army and the civilians.

Durand Appuhamy noted that the report is full of general allegations against the security forces, none of which are proved.  The number of civilians killed is quoted in round numbers. This alone is evidence that nobody counted them. The mass escape of Tamils to the government territory is evidence that the government did not operate a policy of shooting down civilians. Army took risks to save them, concluded Durand Appuhamy.

Some of the findings are unacceptably vague. E.g. that some women ‘may have been’ raped. Some observations are made without any proof. e.g. The Government sought to intimidate and silence the media and other critics of the war through a variety of threats and actions, including the use of white vans to abduct and to make people disappear.”

The data used by the Panel can be questioned by any sensible person. For instance, the Report is full of photographs of dead persons. They all carry the same caption, ‘Submission by photographer’. There is no authentication, no independent verification of place and time. The photograph   of ‘civilian deaths in second NFZ in May 2009” on p 35   can be from anywhere.

The Panel has used the two highly controversial Channel 4 films   about the war, uttering nonsensical observations  such as  in a photo taken before execution the prisoner is clearly terrified’, also young boy tied to a tree and covered in blood’  and ‘prisoners  naked and blindfolded , made to cower in the mud before shot in the head’ .  The Panel has taken public domain satellite imagery from UNOSAT,  looked at the positions of the government artillery  and  concluded that the army had fired at the hospitals.

Darusman Report was considered ineligible for UN action since it was not prepared by UN staff. Therefore a second investigation was commissioned by the   Office of the UN Commissioner of Human rights (OCHCR),to be   known as the ’OISL Report’ .

this investigation arose from In Resolution 25/1, adopted in March 2014,  where the Human Rights Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by  both  parties  in  Sri  Lanka  during  the  period  covered  by  the  Lessons  Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and to establish the facts and circumstances of   such alleged violations and of the crimes perpetrated with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedures mandate holders”.

The team consisted of  Martti Ahtisaari, a trained primary school teacher and President of Finland (1994–2000), Silvia  Cartwright  ,  District Court Judge and  Governor-General of New Zealand,  (2001 – 2006), Asma  Jahangir   human rights lawyer,  social activist and  chairman, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. The team started work in July 2014 and the report was ready in September 2015.

OISL panel said that its mandate was to carry out a human rights investigation, not a criminal investigation. Therefore OISL has based its findings on the standard of reasonable grounds to believe”. Where the information gathered was sufficiently credible and corroborated there are reasonable grounds to believe” those violations, some of which may amount to crimes, did occur, concluded the Report. Critics observed that ‘reasonable grounds to believe” is considered the lowest form of proof.

There is nothing in this Report to indicate that this team looked anew at the   issues. They do not seem to have elicited new evidence or new testimonies. They have clung to the existing reports and the evidence contained in them.  In view of the extensive documentation already available on the period covered by the OISL investigation, the team initially carried out a desk review of existing material. The OISL team latched   on to the Darusman Report, like a limpet. OISL team met the three members of the Darusman Panel and had discussions with them. They had access to the documentation gathered by the Darusman Panel that is presently locked up until 2031.

The OISL’s witness statements and other confidential material, like the Darusman material, are also locked up as strictly confidential. Details which could reveal the identity of victims or witnesses such as names, dates, and places have been omitted in many cases described in the report in order to ensure that the victims, witnesses and their families cannot be identified.

The Report said, inter alia, that the army attacked the NFZs, though there was absolutely no reason to do so. They used powerful weapons like Multi-Barrelled Rocket Launchers which are area weapons, not designed for hitting a point target, instead of more suitable weapons. There was repeated shelling of hospitals in Vanni. Also that the government denied food; drink and medicine to those in LTTE controlled areas.

OISL report says it is a ‘human rights investigation’ not a criminal one, but its findings are directed towards a war crimes investigation against the Sri Lanka army. The report openly advocates hybrid special courts and foreign judges for the investigation as well.

The OISL Report came up for discussion at the UNHRC meeting of September 2015. The High commissioner admitted that the OISL report is ‘rather unique’ and it is the first of its kind by his office in respect of any country.

High Commissioner, HRC said that there are reasonable ground to believe that the Sri Lanka security forces and armed paramilitary forces were implicated in widespread and willful killing of civilians and other protected persons. There was also widespread torture by the armed forces, also rape. civilians were detained on a mass scale. There was repeated shelling of hospitals, denial of medical supplies and food, IDPs were deprived of their liberty in camps, far beyond what is acceptable in international law, and discriminated against because of their Tamil ethnicity. That may amount to crime against humanity. He recommended a hybrid court of international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators mandate to try war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Unlike the Rajapaksa administration which responded to the Darusman report, the Yahapalana government said nothing against the OISL report. G.L.Pieris however, made a statement. The report makes drastic recommendations relating to demilitarization of the north and east, downsizing the military, removing the indispensable security mechanism embedded in the Public Security Ordinance and impinging on the command structures of the military observed G.L.Pieris

The other recommendations are breathtaking in the degree of intrusive impact, continued Pieris. They include fundamental land reforms, distributing political, and administration powers within the country, and the est. of special courts outside the country’s legal system. countries are exhorted to prosecute Sri Lanka ‘under universal jurisdiction.’ Sri Lanka is castigated for delays in resettling persons without mentioning the presence of land mines.  All member states of the UN are asked to re-consider applications by Sri Lanka military and police for participation in peace keeping and training programmes across the world.

The Federation of National Organizations, in association with the Global Sri Lanka Forum, observed that there has been no proper evaluation of the facts given in OISL report. Instead, Yahapalana government and also the UN HRC had accepted and endorsed without reservation the conclusions and recommendations of the report”. They commissioned a report from Darshan Weerasekera. Darshan challenged the observations and recommendations of the OISL Report.

These two UN reports and the HRC resolutions were intended for decision makers. But it was necessary to also whip up public opinion against Sri Lanka. the best medium for this was television. It was hoped that if staggering untruths about the war were repeated, over and over again, on television, people will start to believe.

The British televisions channel Channel Four” produced four documentaries on the last phase of the Eelam war IV. The first was broadcast on   25. August 2009, it showed Sri Lanka army brutally executing naked persons during the final stages of the war. The Channel News admitted that It is impossible to independently authenticate the pictures in the video.   There is no indication of the ethnicity of the dead men either. But the group which obtained the pictures claim the victims are Tamils,   the killers are speaking Sinhala. they are wearing what appear to be Sri Lankan Army uniforms, said Channel Four.

Government of Sri Lanka took this video very seriously, since it affected the reputation and image of the country, its government, and the armed Forces. The government responded as soon as this telecast appeared. The government of Sri Lanka got the video examined by four experts. All four experts said the video was a fake. They said that the video had been filmed by a digital camcorder, not a mobile phone camera. The sound had been dubbed separately. ‘the video was a fabrication designed to discredit security forces, said the government.

The government issued a statement. ” The High Commission of Sri Lanka categorically deny that the Sri Lankan armed forces engaged in atrocities against Sri Lankan Tamil community. They were only engaged in a military offensive against the LTTE. The High Commission has noted that in many instances in the past, various media institutions used doctored videos, photographs, and documents to defame the Sri Lankan government and the armed forces. Therefore, we request you to verify the authenticity of the video footage before the telecast.

These criticisms were brushed aside by the western powers meddling in the Eelam issue. They had plans for this video. They wished to use the video to hit Sri Lanka at the UN. Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary or Arbitrary executions took on the task. He agreed with the video and dismissed the Sri Lanka analysis on the flimsy grounds that two of the Sri Lanka experts were from the army. Alston instead appointed his own team to investigate the footage. That team said the video is authentic

Alston declared, Given these conclusions, and in light of the persistent flow of other allegations of extrajudicial executions by both sides during the closing phases of the war I call for the establishment of an independent inquiry to carry out an impartial investigation into war crimes and other grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law allegedly committed in Sri Lanka”.

Channel 4 issued its second video, titled Sri Lanka’s Killing fields” on 14 June 2011.  The documentary was made by ITN Productions and presented by Jon Snow, of Channel 4 News using a dossier compiled by Channel Four. The footage consisted of three segments. The first segment showed the   summary execution of bound, blindfolded, and naked Tamils by Sri Lankan soldiers. Second segment showed images of dead females who may have been sexual assaulted and the third showed suffering civilians in the conflict zone. The images contained in the footage are truly gruesome and shocking, irrespective of whether the incidents are ‘real’ or ‘staged’ ones,   agreed viewers.

The documentary was watched by an estimated 700,000 to 1 million viewers and drew a lot of publicity. Channel 4 waived its international copyright, and viewers outside UK could view the documentary on its on-demand service and via YouTube. This was an unusual move. The documentary was subsequently broadcast in Australia, India, and Norway in July 2011 and drew comments. It was discussed in the UK and Australian parliaments. .  Former Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga also recognized the film.   The audiences reacted suitably, saying they were appalled by what they were shown.

This film was shown at the 17th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, June 2011 in Geneva. with much advance publicity, Thereafter, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,  and  International Crisis Group screened   the film at the Congressional Auditorium, Washington, D.C. on 15 July 2011 to an audience of senators, congressmen, officials and diplomats. The film was then shown at the European Parliament, Brussels on 12 October 2011.

Government of Sri Lanka again protested. The documentary was rejected by computer experts. This is the old video clip with added drama but this video is worse than the previous one, said one expert. The whole video is fake, he said. The   video has been done by ‘hired guns with an agenda’.  The technical foot print is identical on both videos indicating it is edited by the same software and by the same idiot.

Serena Davies reviewing for Telegraph asked what was the purpose of viewers being exposed to such horror and why focus on   the British public Surely these are matters for the experts, for the international arbiters of justice and human rights. TV with its sensationalizing soundtrack and its graphic intimacy was not the correct medium for such highly political information, concluded Davies. Columnist A. A.  Gill, reviewing the documentary in  Sunday Times (London) said the footage was unattributed and uncorroborated”. Not a second of this has been shot by Channel 4. None of the eyewitness accounts comes from journalists”. He criticized Jon Snow’s narration as “intemperate and partisan”, and stated that “it was all held together by assumptions”.

Shyam Tekwani, who has extensively covered the Sri Lankan conflict, compared the “tone and tenor” of the documentary to that of productions by the LTTE’s propaganda wing. “Clearly an effort to sensationalize and shock with carefully selected and edited footage, the documentary weakens its case and invites an investigation into its own credibility and accountability to journalistic norms. The volume of testimony it uses as evidence is not enormous and most of it is derived from leading questions. The slant is pronounced,” said Tekwani    .

Channel  Four   undaunted, then produced a third version titled  Sri Lanka’s killing fields: War Crimes Unpunished” .This film was a sequel to  the  previous film, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields., with new evidence concerning the final days of the conflict. This was a commissioned follow-up film. This documentary was broadcast on 14 March 2012 at 10.55pm to coincide with the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The Independent‘s Tom Sutcliffe described the documentary as “essentially a work of frustration, a reiteration of the original charges and a repeat of a call for action that went nowhere last time” though it did have some new facts.

One year later, came a fourth film No Fire Zone, the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka. No Fire Zone was directed by the Nobel Peace Prize nominee Callum Macrae, The documentary was broadcast on 14 March 2012 at 10.55pm in UK to coincide with the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. It was also shown at the 10th International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights No fire Zone” was released online for free in India and Malaysia as well as Sri Lanka and Nepal.  In November 2014 the producers released an updated version of the film. Since then, as far as I aware, there have been no further versions and no new documentaries either.

The government of Sri Lanka responded with its own documentary, Lies Agreed Upon”, and a publication, Factual Analysis of a Humanitarian Operation 2006-2009”.

Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence produced a counter documentary titled ‘Lies Agreed Upon’ in August 2011, as a response to the allegations made in Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields”. It disproves the claims made by Channel 4.  This   film took up each issue discussed in Killing fields” documentary and showed each issue to be false. It features interviews from eyewitnesses of the final stages of the war, former LTTE cadres, the Tamil doctors who had worked in the hospitals mentioned, and women and girls in refugee camps. The documentary implied that the LTTE may have executed the soldiers it was holding prisoner.

My observations on this video is that is very weak, starting with the choice of presenter, the charming Minoli Ratnayake, who is the very opposite of Jon Snow of Channel Four. This was not about Power Women, this was about power politics. Further, the presentation is too academic, with emphasis on facts. It is not at all cinematic and is quite boring.  Sri Lanka has many skilled documentary producers and dynamic presenters who could have made an effective documentary on the subject. However, the points made in the film are very important.

Fortunately, there was a better reply. On 1 July 2011 Swarnavahini, a privately owned Sri Lankan TV station, broadcast on their Live at 8 programmes what they claimed to be the original version used on the Channel 4 documentary showing uniformed men summarily executing eight bound and blindfolded men. In the version broadcast by Swarnavahini the men in uniform were speaking in Tamil. This Tamil version was not new .it had appeared on YouTube on 25 August 2009. An investigation by a UN commissioned panel of independent experts found that the Sinhala version was authentic, said Wikipedia.

There is an assortment of persons in the west who strongly support Tamil separatism. Yasmin Sooka is an example. she is the   Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa, and the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP).  She was on the Darusman panel of 2011. She has now emerged as a high profile supporter of Tamil separatism. In 2015 Sooka took part in the Sri Lanka Campaign for peace and Justice, demonstration in London against the inclusion of Desmond de Silva QC in the Paranagama Commission investigations.

In 2017, Sooka declared that Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya and Maj. Gen Shavendra Silva, who had commanded the celebrated 58 Division in the Eelam War, were notorious war criminals. She also wrote to Coca Cola Company criticizing it for sponsoring Gajaba Supercoss 2017 held at Saliyapura, Anuradhapura, organized by the Gajaba Regiment of the 58 Division.  She said the commander of the Gajaba Regiment, Maj Gen. Silva has been accused of war crimes.

Sooka’s organization, International Truth and Justice Project issued the report ‘Forgotten Sri Lanka’s exiled victims’ to coincide with 32nd sessions of the UNHRC in 2017. Five years after the release of the Darusman report, Sooka, proudly claimed to possess unhindered access to those who had fled Sri Lanka during the Eelam War, and post-war period, as well as the largest collection of witness testimony and other evidence, outside Sri Lanka, pertaining to the final phase of the conflict and post-war torture and sexual violence.

There is also Gordon Weiss, who has been speaking out on the War and has written a book on it, titled ‘The Cage’ .Weiss was the UN spokesperson in Sri Lanka at the end of the Eelam war IV. He was a journalist who had worked for international organizations in numerous conflict and natural disaster zones. He left the UN after the war, to write ‘the Cage’ and started speaking publicly about the war.

Weiss has been doing the media circuit to air his views on the last stages of Sri Lanka’s war against the LTTE, observed Lasanda Kurukulasuriya. The string of articles and interviews he has arranged appears to be aimed at garnering advance publicity for a book he is to publish. Having left the UN as well as Sri Lanka towards the end of 2009, Weiss seems to be exercising a new found freedom to speak out on his version of what happened during the last months in the battle zone.”

He appeared several times on Australian news, on the ABC Channel. He made strong forceful comments about the war.  He said forcefully, that Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabhaya   Rajapaksa, Palitha Kohona and the rest of the Rajapaksas    were the main persons guilty of war crimes. The UN quickly distanced itself from Weiss comments. The UN does not endorse any statements made by former UN spokesman Gordon Weiss. His comments are his personal views.”

His book The cage’, was snapped up by foreign embassies in Colombo. they bought 20- 30 copies in block purchases. however, The Cage” was heavily criticized.

Padraig Colman said the writing was imprecise. That in my view is a very damaging criticism for a journalist. Weiss had written about a ‘Potemkin-like pretence’ and reviewers wanted to know what on earth he meant.’ Sanjana Hattotuwa, in Groundviews, said the text was irresponsibly written”. Rajiva Wijesinghe found all sorts of distortions and omissions, for instance in the section on Convoy 11. There is also the question of authenticity. There is a photograph of the carnage, said to be of January 2009’. Hattotuwa points out that the photo was taken on 22nd August 2008 at 5.08pm, and not in late January 2009. Colman concluded that Weiss cannot support the Darusman Panel findings either, because he was not there and they were not there.

Weiss criticized D S Senanayake for settling Sinhalese in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, which according to Weiss were part of Tamil majority ‘dry zone’ as opposed to the Sinhalese majority ‘wet zone’”. Sinhalese view those areas as the cradle of their ancient civilization rather than part of a Tamil homeland pointed out Hattotuwa.

Jason Burke who gave a positive review of The Cage praised President Rajapakse in the process. ’Rajapaksa’s various political victories are not the result of electoral fraud. The end of the war in Sri Lanka has sparked an economic boom that is forecast to double the wealth of Sri Lankans – if not of northern or plantation Tamils – within a few years and possibly triple it within a decade as foreign investment and tourists flow in. If that is so, his continued rule seems assured,” said Burke.

There are two world powers which are active in the cause of Tamil Seperatism, the United States of America and the United Nations. Let us look first at the USA.

Here are some instances of US activity in Sri Lanka. The USA regularly meddled in the war. The US recommended in 2012, that the 53rd Division, be removed from Jaffna. The 53rd Division consisting of army commandos, Special Forces and the air mobile brigade was deployed as a reserve Division in the Jaffna peninsula. It was one of the finest fighting formations ever deployed against the LTTE and was responsible for liberating Jaffna in 1995. USA said to scale down the Division, allocate its arms and artillery to other Divisions, and use its staff for other duties, such as training and military school. The army however, took a firm stand, they said it was foolish to pull out 53rd Division from Jaffna and ignored the recommendations. The Division remained in the Jaffna peninsula.

The Wikileaks cables between the United States Department of State and its diplomatic missions around the world included some from Sri Lanka. In a cable dated 15 January 2010 on the subject of war crimes accountability, the US ambassador in Colombo Patricia A. Butenis had cabled that the person most responsible for war crimes was President Mahinda Rajapaksa. .

Rajiva Wijesinha   writing in 2011 speaks of a meeting held at the house of the American ambassador, reportedly at the request of Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu, of the CPA, to discuss how the Darusman report could be used to precipitate an external war crimes investigation. . This meeting was also attended by UN officials and NGOs. on another occasion, Wijesinha had met Sambandan ‘in close conclave with the US Ambassador and the European Union representative’, at the residence of the Political Affairs Officer of US embassy.

UK, Australia, and Canada supported the USA in its pro-Tamil stance. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa observed in 2013 that successive UK government had collaborated with the Tamil terrorist groups  starting from the 1980s.  British polecat establishment is presently in contact with GTE, BTF and ‘Tamils against genocide’. EU passed a resolution in Parliament In 2013,     stating the Sri Lanka government must fully implement the recommendations re demilitarization and establishment of land dispute resolutions mechanisms, amongst others.

I now turn to the most important of these two agencies, the United Nations. The United Nations was used by the USA to help the war.  We know this from the resolutions passed at the UNHCR. The United States remains the single biggest donor to UN coffers and the UN Secretary General was ready to keep USA happy, reported the media in 2017. Today, the UN Secretary General is treated with great respect all over the world.  But In the 1970s, the Secretary General of UN was not regarded as equal to a head of government, observed Leelananda de Silva.

There is evidence of UN meddling in the Eelam war. The Darusman Report stated that the UN had networks of observers in LTTE controlled areas. The propriety of UN setting this up needs to be questioned, said Rajiva Wijesinha. This matter has not received the attention it requires.

UN mission  had secretly  communicated with the LTTE in a bid to secure the release of Tamil employees, of the UN, accused of helping civilians to flee the war zone.  Convoy 11 of the UN mission, entered the Vanni without authorization and stayed there for over a week, holding back army operations. Rajiva Wijesinghe thought they were there to confirm that large numbers of civilians were being killed. LLRC therefore wanted the government to consider the accountability of UN and international organization in the war. Government should scrutinize  UN activity in the war.

The Sri Lanka United National Association of Canada wrote to the UN Secretary General, in 2011 objecting to the appointment of Chris du Toit as the UN Security Chief in Sri Lanka, Du Toit had trained and advised terrorists in Angola. Further,  he has established a network of observers In Sri Lanka  described as ‘a ring of paid informers and questionable snoopers”. The Association wanted him removed. The Secretary General took no notice. Du Toit continued in Sri Lanka  till the end of the war.

Clearly the UN has to be brought to heel. Darshan Weerasekera  asked  What the true scope of the UNHRC is and what are its limits? Weerasekera points out that the UNHRC functions under two controlling documents, one is the UN Charter and the other is Resolution /60/251 of 2006 which created the UNHRC,

The UN Charter  says the UN must always respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and domestic jurisdiction of member state of the UN. Resolution 60/251  says there must be impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity, constructive international dialogue and cooperation  in whatever work the UNHRC  engages in.

Weerasekera points out that when UNHRC accepted the OISL report,   and then used it to support Sri Lanka resolution A/HRC/30/L.29, without debate or discussion, it violated both the UN Charter and Resolution 60/251. This is a serious matter said Weerasekera and the UN must be asked to intervene. If there is  clear evidence that the UNHRC and the OHCHR, two subsidiary organs of the UN, are behaving in an unfair, unjust and inequitable way  towards a member state of the UN, then  it is a  very serious violation of the UN Charter and the UN  General Assembly must take action, said Weerasekera.

The Federation of National Organizations and its affiliates must now  take immediate action to inform the UN General Assembly of what has been taking place at the UNHRC and compel  UNGA to assign a Special Rapporteur to investigate the entire matter. Also, to impose a moratorium on the UNHRC from pursuing any further measures  relating to the resolution A/HRC/30/L.29, on Sri Lanka , until such investigation is complete, concluded Weerasekera.

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