Posted on November 28th, 2013

Dr.Tilak Fernando

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013 ended on November 17 in Colombo. During its post-mortem, many ideas, suggestions, criticism and especially emotional outbursts have spearheaded in the Sri Lankan press, websites as well as in some of the Western press lambasting the British Prime Minister David Cameron’s boorish behaviour for acting as a public school principal in the presence of Prince Charles, who was representing the Head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II.

It is natural for us to get caught up in emotional turbulences easily when our adrenalin levels play up, being patriotic, but we need to be sensible and ‘load our guns’ carefully in preparation for any impending battle.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prince Charles, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma and other leaders watch a dance item at the inauguration of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo on Nov. 15. Picture by Sudath Silva, Official Photographer CHOGM 2103

Conditioning of mind

No one can deny the fact that a serious notion has been conditioned internationally accusing Sri Lanka for “violating human rights” towards the latter part of the 30 year old terrorist war. It is not an OPINION but a kind of unproved allegation! Whatever we may express in newspapers, radio, TV or our politicians play for the Sinhala audiences at various local meetings, Navi Pillai or David Cameron and the Tamil diaspora in the West are not going to let to this issue go that easily.

We need to remember that from the time of Nuremberg Trials, countries like Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Siberia, Libya etc have been taken to international courts on human rights violations because there were clear cut cases of atrocities. Sri Lanka, therefore, needs to come out of any ‘complacency’ or confining only to verbal rhetoric thinking that we have many friendly countries to back us up at a crisis level. ‘Prevention is always better than cure’!

In confronting this issue, Sri Lanka needs to get to the bottom of it by establishing and exposing openly areas such as the Indian involvement at the very inception where LTTE terrorists were harboured and allowed them to recruit combatants in their own land which ultimately got their Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, blasted by the very terrorist outfit out of a suicide bomber. Equally, UK, America and Norway’s subtle roles in supporting the LTTE to kill and mutilate innocent Sri Lankan civilians and politicians (Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim) and committing gross human rights violations too need to be dug out. We should be able to prick the conscience of the very pundits who accuse us now by exposing their duplicity, before they start pointing a finger at Sri Lanka for violating human rights repeatedly and before they prepare again in March next year at UN sessions.

Sacred facts

Sri Lanka also needs to get the message across internationally loud and clear that the LTTE was not a conventional army but a bunch of guerrilla fighters and terrorists and when the Sri Lankan forces surrounded them at final stages of the war they were unable to flee from the jungle, instead they had to shed their camouflaged battle fatigues and come out into civilian areas appearing as ‘civilians’ and taking the innocent Tamil residents in those areas as human shields.

Any war, for that matter, is not just a stage drama. In the battlefield some civilian casualties are bound to be affected which no sensible person can deny. In such a backdrop, how would any security force distinguish a terrorist from a normal inhabitant in civilian outfit caught up in a war zone? Terrorists did this fa§ade purposely to hoodwink the security forces and to get away by intermingling with the civilians when the army went into great trouble in rescuing thousands of marooned civilians from terrorists’ attacks at the final stages. Such statistics have to be documented and shown on video.

So, this allegation of human rights violation cannot be taken simply as a political game although there are political undercurrents working behind all the time especially in those few countries where the so called ‘Tamil diaspora’ are settled down comfortably.

Tamil refugee count in the UK is about 5-10 per cent. They are well established and enjoying all the comforts and benefits. Out of them, a tiny group, who had been working as LTTE agents abroad and extorting funds from innocent Tamil folk, nurtured partly out of such extracted money, has managed to live in luxury and drive Mercedes and BMW cars. This they cannot let go now and if they allow Sri Lanka to be recognised as ‘paradise regained’ then their refugee status would dissolve and will be deported back to their roots in Sri Lanka.

They do not even bother to visit Sri Lanka and their memories are confined to the dark ages where their own inhabited areas were turned into ghost towns by the actions of the LTTE which have now been elevated to new towns within a period of four years after the elimination of terrorism from the country completely.

So, this group who calls themselves ‘Tamil diaspora’ will go out to any length to stay put and enjoy their modern living in luxury appearing to be sophisticated and rich in western environments showing no sympathy for the innocent Tamil civilians who suffered for decades under the LTTE barbarism who are being gradually resettled (including rehabilitating of some hardcore terrorists) in new houses built by the Sri Lanka regime. These facts need to be internationalised officially with an effective mechanism which we have so far not achieved one hundred percent which is the main cause Sri Lanka is allowed to haggle by a few in this manner today.

London scene

Sri Lankan administration has to take into serious account that there are already nine Tamil Mayors in London Borough Councils who have been elected by the Tamil vote. The British parliamentarians whose constituencies come within these borrows will be compelled to listen to their cries purely to depend on their votes while most of the English are fed up with politics in those areas and do not even go to cast their vote at general elections.

Unlike the Tamil diaspora that is working for a hidden agenda the Sinhala diaspora abroad has been left with limited recourses and/or backing to counter dubious allegations. In the past few individuals have confronted the LTTE propaganda by appearing on TV discussions and travel to other western cities out of their personal funds. The vital role the Sri Lanka High Commission in London had to play in difficult times had to be much desired.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (Right) in conversation with Sir Desmond

For the first time, however, the world has seen a vociferous Sri Lankan High Commissioner emerging and facing the challenges of resolute international TV journalists as well as a BBC anchor man on an equal par and dishing out facts during the recent CHOGM meeting held in Colombo.

Dr. Chris Nonis, on this account, needs to be congratulated for doing his diplomatic contractual obligation to the country by facing the arrogant British TV interviewer boldly and giving him back in no uncertain terms discreetly stating: “I also have lived in the UK for 23 years”………, subtly hinting: ‘Please don’t try to tell me about human rights violations your country has done’!

Magic formula

So what is the magic formula Sri Lanka needs to get rid of this parasitic allegation against human rights violation at the end of war? The living experience, outlook and the intelligence of the expatriate community can be absorbed to solve this problem if those responsible for defending Sri Lanka’s good name are able to let go their egos and begin to think for a while without uttering: ‘Oh no! We know what should be done, and we don’t need any third party advice”! Such an attitude will be foolhardy.

Some eminent Sri Lankan lawyers and Barristers’ view point, as expressed above, would be to seek professional advice from experts in the area before it is going to be too late. In this regard they suggest Sri Lank seeking advice from Rt. Hon Sir Desmond de Silva PC QC (Ceylon born), a member of her Majesty’s Most Honorable Privy Council and a leading Counsel who is regarded as a “superb tactician and a powerful and penetrating examiner who gets to the heart of the matter”.

‘On the international stage, Sir Desmond has advised and represented Heads of State, Heads of Government, high political figures and military commanders’. It’s on record how Sir Desmond defended Prime Minister of Kenya when faced with the death penalty for Treason.

Secretary General of the United Nations once appointed Sir Desmond as the Chief Prosecutor of a UN sponsored War Crimes Tribunal. He has a unique knowledge of how the Office of The Prosecutor works, and is well able to deploy this knowledge in defending those charged with international law offences either before international tribunals or domestic courts. He, therefore, is able to deploy his knowledge in defending those ‘charged with international law offences’.

In 2011 David Cameron himself appointed Sir Desmond to investigate collusion between the Security Services and those guilty of crimes in Northern Ireland. In a hard hitting report, ‘Sir Desmond spelt out clear evidence of grave impropriety by members of the Security Services and of the Police’. The report was described by the Prime Minister Cameron in Parliament as uncomfortable reading. ‘Sir Desmond does not shy away from tackling difficulties head on and brings a tenacious approach to fighting for his clients’.

Rt. Hon Sir Desmond de Silva PC QC ( British citizen) is the Head of Argent’s International Law teams in London. There are many Tamils working under him. One of the attorneys-at-law in London known to the writer referred to an article which had appeared in the Colombo Telegraph some time back, under the by- line Kumar de Silva, quoting Sir Desmond as the ideal consul needed to seek advice on the present calamity that faces the country as “Sri Lanka being an independent country has the right to defend and justify the means”.

A significant section of Sri Lankan expatriate intellectuals as well as the eminent legal tribe ask ‘why go further? Seek advice from Sir Desmond who will be able to advice clearly how to get rid of the impending unnecessary vexation for the country.

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