Recalling of Sri Lankan Armed Forces from UN Peace Keeping Missions: Questioning mandate of Sri Lanka HR Commission
Posted on October 21st, 2018

Two important factors need to be highlighted. Firstly, are all nations nominating tri-forces/police for UN peace keeping roles vetted by the respective human rights commissions of their countries & secondly on what valid basis does the UN have to request the recalling of Sri Lankan forces nominated for peace keeping citing war crimes record?

 

Let us take up the first question.

In April 2018 the Daily Mirror reported that the Human Rights Commission of SL had alleged that the SL Army had sent troops for UN Peace Keeping missions to Lebanon without seeking its approval. Since when & who gave HRCSL the right to handle Army/Police clearance protocol for UN Peacekeeping troops – such a set up did not exist before? Sri Lanka’s first peace keeping deployment was in 1960 and there was no HRCSL existing then. Even UK’s first peace keeping mission was in 1956. The HRCSL was only created in 1996. This new vetting procedure by HRCSL of tri-forces & police for overseas deployment started ONLY in SEPTEMBER 2016. So has the HRCSL mandate been officially changed to include this additional feature or is it simply an arbitrary inclusion? So there’s no two guesses for the modus operandi behind this.

 

Moreover, on what grounds does the HRCSL have to insist on being privy to every service record of the military personnel being nominated for deployment? How can such records be open to even third party scrutiny? Every national army is entitled to its level of confidentiality & no new entity created for political purposes can be allowed to breach or expose to public information that should be considered sensitive. Would the Defense establishments of US, UK, NATO countries, China, Pakistan or even India allow the entire service history of their military personnel to be open to public scrutiny? This is giving the HRCSL an undue & improper privilege which must be immediately addressed by the armed forces heads with the Government.

 

If any military personnel or police are to be nominated the UN must have a set procedure that has to be equally followed by all nations nominating their troops for peace keeping operations. Procedure for selection & nomination & who vets them should not be confined to newly created entities that are by their actions showing their bias. Therefore, the procedure followed by US, UK, China, India etc in nominating their troops for UN Peace Keeping deployment must be what Sri Lanka must adopt as well. There is simply no basis for a new entity like the HRCSL to be given undue powers to decide who gets selected to peace keeping missions after the military exposes the entire history of the personnel into public domain.

 

The second question is about the case of Col. Kalana Priyankara Amunupure.

 

According to the statement by Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the commander of the Sri Lankan contingent in UN peace keeping operations in Mali has been ordered back after reviewing his human rights record.

https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/united-nations-sends-sri-lankan-peacekeeper-accused-of-anti-tamil-atrocities-home-1934842

 

Who has reviewed his human rights record?

What are the allegations made against him & by whom?

What is the evidence against him?

What are the ‘extra procedures done with the Sri Lankan contingents’ that Dujarric is referring to?

What is this ‘new information’ received about him & what is the source? Is this too like the OHCHR witnesses sealed for 20 years?

What are these ‘atrocities against Tamils’ and once again UN is repeating the blunder of referring to Sri Lanka’s conflict as ‘civil’ when it has classified it as a non-international armed conflict involving terrorists. Why else is LTTE banned as a terrorist group if the conflict was civil?

 

Not to be surprised the usual culprits & their media machine busy at work again. So the UN is relying on information given to them by the International Truth & Justice Project (ITJP) of which Yasmin Sooka is its Executive Director. And who is Yasmin Sooka, she was one of Ban Ki Moon’s panelists selected to appraise him on the last 3 months of Sri Lanka’s conflict. She is also a regular guest of LTTE fronts who lovingly refer to her as ‘comrade’ (2013 Guest speaker at Global Tamil Forum in UK)

 

The ITJP is administered by the Foundation for Human Rights. FHR was launched in 1996 through an agreement between the EU & South African Government. Sooka its executive director is paid by the EU to address the historical legacy of apartheid in South Africa. Sri Lanka is not South Africa – she is paid to look into the affairs of the People of South Africa so why is she creating a sub-entity within the FHR called the ITJP and running a website Stop Torture that too on Sri Lanka http://www.stop-torture.com? In fact Sooka spends more time on Sri Lanka than South Africa. Can UN please answer this. http://www.fhr.org.za/index.php/projects/

 

Sooka is also an advisory member of the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace & Justice and no surprise who the other members are: J S Tissainayagam, Teesta Setalvad, Natalie Samarasinghe, Bianca Jagger, Bruce Haig, Basil Fernando, Beate Arnestad, Charu Lata Hogg of Chatham House is the chairperson while Callum Macrae of C4 is also a board member. Campaign for Peace & Justice in 2014 presented a petition signed by Sooka, Desmond Tutu, Bishop Rayappu Joseph, R Sambanthan, C V Wigneswaran & 35 others to demand a commission of inquiry to investigate war crimes against Sri Lanka.

 

Tragically, the UN is relying on these unverified, unsubstantiated hyped up allegations to humiliate the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka. Let it be made clear that the majority of these UN peace keeping operations are in illegally invaded & occupied nations where US, UK & NATO troops have committed atrocities that even the UN system cannot deny. However, how many of these Western troops have been recalled back because of their records?

 

While the UN has no standing army it does have Peace Keepers also known as Blue Helmets. There are 100,950 peace keepers from 123 countries deployed in 20 UN missions as of August 2016. Congo has the largest UN peace keeping mission with 18,333 peacekeepers. Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Nepal, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana & Egypt are the top 10 countries nominating peace keepers. The approved budget for UN peace keeping operations for 2016-2017 was $7.87billion. US, China, Japan, Germany & France being the top 5 countries funding the UN peace keeping budget.

Sri Lanka has 682 peace keepers.

 

The UN must not be selective & biased in their treatment of peace keepers & in particular avoid humiliating a national army by accepting hearsay in particular by notorious groups that have direct connections to the terrorists that were instrumental in causing mayhem in Sri Lanka for 3 decades.

 

The Sri Lankan Government stands guilty of arbitrarily putting a new entity to vet the armed forces & police before deployment & not standing up for its national army when a clear concerted effort is on track to humiliate & degrade Sri Lanka’s armed forces. Look at how the US, UK & NATO as well as all other national governments stand up & defends their national army – it’s the exact opposite in Sri Lanka’s case.

 

When this govt has co-sponsored legally questionable UNHRC resolutions how can it even challenge the UN to produce facts or present evidence without demanding the recalling of a commander who served the nation to defeat a terrorist movement?

 

Poor show Government of Sri Lanka. The Nation is very disappointed at a governments’ inability & unwillingness to defend its troops & their good name internationally.

 

 

 

 

 

Shenali D Waduge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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