Vindictive Navi Pillay too biased to conduct impartial inquiry
Posted on March 31st, 2014

H. L. D. Mahindapala

 The final count in the UNHRC which did not give US-UK-EU-OHCHRC resolution a clear cut majority in a body of 47 members has become controversial with one side claiming that it is half full and the other side saying that it is half empty. Whatever the political arguments may be, it is useful to scrutinize how the numbers finally came down to assess the overall meaning and consequences of the vote. Even as a speculative exercise the numbers are important because it was a game played with US throwing all its might behind the anti-Sri Lankan Resolution. So it is fair to assess how the bare minimum was used to extract the maximum gain by the Big Powers to push their political agenda.

 One question that can be raised is as follows : if in the United Nations Human Rights Council of 47 members a resolution is passed with the votes of 23 members does it constitute a victory or a defeat? In pure mathematics the majority consists of 24 plus. But US sponsors of the anti-Sri Lankan resolution failed to get the decisive figure of 24 which defines unequivocally the majority in the Council. Technically, the US and its sponsors can claim to have won not because in the final count those who voted for the US resolution added up to more than those who did not vote for it. That, however, is a technical issue that can be argued till the American Ambassadress, Michele Sisson and Ms. Navi Pillay go home. And Sri Lanka either has to live with its consequences or resist any intrusions into the internal affairs of a sovereign nation which is the legal position, as argued both by Prof. G. L. Peiris and Ravinath Aryasinha, the Permanent Representative in Geneva.

 The irony, however, is in the so-called victory. It was a foregone conclusion given that the entire weight of the mighty West was thrown in to beat little Sri Lanka. But it is America’s failure to score a more convincing total by crossing the defining line of 24 that makes it a hollow victory. It is the 12 abstentions that split the votes three ways which gave the US and its Western camp their show of victory. There is, of course, no one way of interpreting the 12 abstentions. But if India’s declared stance in refusing to vote for its “strategic partner” is any guide then it is a definite slap in the face of America.

 There is also no doubt that in terms of conferring power – however questionable it may be — the UNHRC has been given the green light to “undertake” an investigation though how far UNHRC can go down that road is very much in doubt, now that President Mahinda Rajapakse is on record saying that he will not allow Ms. Navy Pillay to step in. It is in this respect that India’s refusal to go along with the US-led resolution is significant. It strengthens the hand of Mahinda Rajapakse to stand firm against any intrusive interference in the domestic affairs of Sri Lanka. India’s objection was precisely on this aspect of UNHRC resolution, led by US-UK-EU, making an unwarranted and even illegal move to intervene in Sri Lankan affairs.

 The voting pattern at the UNHRC is also noteworthy. The Council was virtually divided into two halves of the West vs. Rest, or to be more specific the West vs. the East, leaving aside S. Korea. Practically every nation this side of the Urals (apart from Sierra Leone and Mauritius) voted with Sri Lanka, or abstained, reducing the final count to one short of a clear majority. If this pattern of voting becomes the standard practice then it will portend a new trend in global politics. Though this can be a likely scenario changing self-interests of nations can easily create new camp politics.

 India’s vote is most significant. India went along with US and UNHRC as long as the resolution remained within its legal limits – i.e., non-interference in the internal affairs of the sovereign nation. But in the fourth resolution (1. 2009, 2. 2012, 3.. 2013 and 4.. 2014) India returned to its original position in 2009 where it backed Sri Lanka. And India has gone against the US-led move because it exceeds the tolerable limits of pressuring a nation to intrusively invading its domestic affairs. The voting. taken as whole, is a rejection of principle of the interference in the domestic affairs of a nation – a principle that will be defended even by those who voted for it if the resolution was aimed at targeting any one of them.

 The American victory is flawed not so much in falling short of the figure of 24+ but in the inability of the biggest power on earth, when pitted against one of the small nations, to get the requisite numbers to make it a convincing victory without exposing its failure to carry the Council with credible clarity. India’s statement which said “…. that my delegation cannot go along with the resolution and will abstain on the resolution under consideration.” clarifies the meaning of abstention. It is aimed directly at America’s resolution which means a definite “NO”. It is a clear expression of doubt on America’s stand against Sri Lanka, if not a rejection of neo-colonialism of imperial America backed by its Western allies.

 In the heyday of naked colonialism the West used gun boat diplomacy to impose its will in Afro-Asian nations. Now they sail under the winds of human rights, engaging in gun boat diplomacy sparingly when UN institutions and economic sanctions fail. But their victims are not taking it lying down. Even their allies can see through the hypocrisy of their bogus morality on human rights. The rejection by the abstainers undermines the acceptability of the loaded report of Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner, who is playing the sinister part of Madam Defarge beheading small nations that refuse to toe the politics of her Western patrons who masquerade as the exalted high priests of morality in the world. .

 The Council, in short, is divided on the credibility and the bona fides of US and Navi Pillay – the latter in particular who is stepping out of the international legal framework to take punitive action against Sri Lanka, her bªte noir. (More of her vindictive politics later). One would expect the biggest super power on earth to garner at least the minimum required to cross the line into a decisive majority. If it failed to achieve the minimum required and divided the world into two halves of the East and West is it not a sign of America’ failure to convince the rest – which is in a majority in the Council — to pursue its manipulative politics of mouthing high principles for low politics. The final count which fell one short of a majority is tantamount to a vote of no confidence in the case put forward by Navi Pillay, who has politicized her office to extent of her becoming the Cleaning Lady who hands out soft tissues to wipe the left-overs of previous night’s dinners devoured by Western diplomats before they leave the UNHRC toilets. .

 It should also be noted that even with all the clout America has in twisting the arm of the smaller nations in the Council it could not carry the day convincingly to prove to the majority in the Council that it has the moral and the legal case that could justify an international inquiry to probe the last stage of the longest war in Asia. As in most of its misguided forays into foreign adventures America has bungled once again in taking the extreme position against Sri Lanka. It has miscalculated in thinking that what Sri Lanka needs now is an international investigation when by the admission of practically all the nations who spoke on the resolution Sri Lanka has made considerable strides on the road to reconciliation. The general consensus was not that Sri Lanka has been unwilling or unable to make peace and reconciliation – the only valid ground for international intervention. Practically every speaker in the American camp who voted against Sri Lanka emphasized and commended Sri Lanka’s willingness to invite Navi Pillay, implement some of the major recommendations of LLRC, advance towards reconstruction and rehabilitation in the war-ravaged zones, including holding elections in the north. The complaint was that Sri Lanka was not moving speedily enough to satisfy the conditions stipulated by the self-appointed policemen of international morality.

 There is, no doubt, that much is yet to be achieved. But which nation can claim that their Romes were built in one day. On any fair assessment there is absolutely no need to rush in to demand that Sri Lanka fulfill all its tasks in the LLRC within the time specified by the movers of the anti-Sri Lankan resolution. Any such demand ignores the willingness and ability of Sri Lanka to meet the challenges of peace as it did in facing the challenges of war which were written off as impossible. For instance, take the democratization of the North and East. I consider the liberation of the North and East from the fascist Tamil Tiger terrorists who ruled the Tamil people with jackboots and an iron fist for over three decades as one of the greatest achievements of the Rajapakse regime. By any bench mark of either Western theorists like Francis Fukuyama who evaluates progress by the number of countries that had turned away from dictators and embraced democracy, or by the American foreign policy standards laid down by the State Department in fighting terrorists to restore democracy in the many mini-wars it has waged from Vietnam to Iraq, restoration of democracy in the North and East, giving the opportunity to the Tamil people the first ever opportunity in their history to elect their own governing bodies in the areas they claim to be their homeland, should have been rated as the highest political achievement in the post-war period. On this factor alone the international community, which is obsessed with principles of democracy, should have gone out of its way to engage Sri Lanka in advancing peace, reconciliation and democracy. Instead, it moves successive resolutions, believe it not, saying that they appreciate the struggle of Sri Lanka to fight terrorism but regret that it was not done according to their political specifications. Can William Hague, the buddy of Ranil Wickrremesinghe, point to one example of where the West had fought terrorism according to their own political standards?

 Navy Pillay is even worried about the “authoritarian” trends of the Rajapakse regime. In going down this path she is not displaying ignorance. She has seen President Bush’s Patriot Act and Tony Blair’s introduction of draconian laws after the 7/7 terrorist attack on London buses. She also lectures on “demilitarizing” the North when she is fully aware of the 800 odd American bases right round the globe just to save American security, nearly 70 years after World War II. She even knows how UK ethnically cleansed Diego Garcia to create a military base for American, their partners in global crimes, uprooting the Chagossians and leaving them homeless and penniless. She knows all this and more. So in targeting Sri Lanka for having military camps within its own territory – not in some foreign lands like her patrons in USA and UK – she is merely exhibiting her cussed vindictiveness of a woman spurned. She is an unscrupulous woman deliberately misusing the highest morality of international humanitarian and human rights law to pursue her warped anti-Sri Lankan political agenda.

 Even the UNHRC demoted her from “leading” the investigation on Sri Lanka to “undertake” an international investigation. Obviously, her bias against Sri Lanka does not qualify her to step into Sri Lanka. If she has any respect for herself and her dignity she should refuse to “undertake” any investigation under her stewardship, more so because her term comes to an end in August. For her to initiate action against Sri Lanka now and leave her counter-productive legacy for her successor is unethical and unacceptable to the war-weary people of Sri Lanka.

 Her leaving the office of High Commissioner is the best thing that has happened for the future of human rights and Sri Lanka cannot expect a better gift than that in the immediate future. Her bias against Sri Lanka is pretty obvious. Take the case of her first attack on Sri Lanka in May 26, 2009. The war ended on May 18, 2009. Only her witchcraft could have prompted her to make a speech in the UNHRC demanding vindictive action within eight days of ending a 33-year-old war without the any substantial reports either from UN sources or any other authoritative or independent sources to back her case. Of course, she had plenty of Tamil sources, like Radhika Coomaraswamy and the Tamil Diaspora to prompt her with the anti-Sri Lanka propaganda. But could she have produced a report within eight days of ending a 33-year-old war to indict and demand punitive action against Sri Lanka at a time when the UN was on record saying that there was no way of counting the dead, or even making a reasonable assessment of the overall situation? At that time the only record that she had was that of Gordon Weiss, UN representative in Colombo, who had estimated that the dead in the last stages was around 7,000. So from where did she get her facts and figures to rush into places where angels fear to tread?

 As an international civil servant she has failed to maintain the degree of impartiality and fairness which could enhance her credibility and dignity. An objective judgment that concerns the lives of millions can be delivered only on the basis of impartiality and fairness. She lacks both because she is blinded with prejudice and visceral hatred of Sri Lanka. Any investigation undertaken by her will be tainted. By all standards of justice and fair play she should be kept far away from Sri Lanka as possible. If the UN is unwilling and unable to restrain Navi Pillay’s witchcraft Sri Lanka should act without any further delay to lock the gates of entry to her.

 Perhaps, this may be the time for Mervyn Silva to send her broom to fly from Geneva to S. Africa as a farewell gift. That would be one good way of getting rid of bad rubbish.


11 Responses to “Vindictive Navi Pillay too biased to conduct impartial inquiry”

  1. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Regarding the United Kingdom this article appeared in the Times of India:

    Beaten, abused and paid £25 a week: the plight of UK domestic workers employed by wealthy foreigners and diplomats

    Paul Peachey,The Independent | Mar 31, 2014, 06.09 PM IST

    Domestic workers of foreigners and diplomats in have revealed a system that is failing to hold abusers to account or help women to escape violent employers.
    LONDON: Domestic workers employed by wealthy foreigners and diplomats in the UK are being beaten, abused and paid as little as £100 a month, according to a major new report.

    Interviews with 33 overseas cleaners, nannies and cooks have revealed a system that is failing to hold abusers to account or help women to escape violent employers — many from oil-rich Gulf states — who brought them legally to Britain, according to Human Rights Watch.

    Those who manage to flee generally find they have little legal right to remain in Britain, because of new visa rules introduced in 2012 that ban overseas domestic workers from switching employers.

    The domestic workers, all but one of them women, told of working long hours, having their passports confiscated and working for far less than the minimum wage.

    Some told of being given only leftovers to eat and of being locked inside and stopped from speaking to their families.

    One of the women, a 38-year-old from the Philippines, told researchers that she was paid just £135 after a month in Britain, where she had travelled with her employers to look after their baby boy while he was in hospital.

    She said she was denied toiletries and had to use the baby’s soap to clean herself. She made sanitary towels from the child’s nappies.

    Another woman, who came to Britain from Qatar, said she had not been given sufficient food. “I sat with them in restaurants [in London] looking at them eating,” she said.

    Some 15,000 domestic workers, many from Asia and Africa, travel to the UK every year with their employers. But the report points out that Britain is one of nine countries that refused to sign up to an international agreement last year giving domestic workers the same labour protections as other workers.

    Under the changes introduced in 2012, overseas domestic workers are allowed a maximum six-month visa and are not allowed to change employers.

    Charities have warned that this means they are dependent on the employer, and either have to remain in post while being exploited, or leave and be in breach of their immigration status.

    A UK home office spokesman said: “Abuse of overseas domestic workers is unacceptable and we believe the best way to prevent it is by testing the validity of the working relationship before a visa is issued. Overseas domestic workers must have been employed for 12 months before a visa will be granted and must have a signed statement of terms and conditions of employment in line with the national minimum wage legislation.”

    Case study: Maid’s 105-hour week

    One Filipino woman who worked for a diplomat’s family said that she had been forced to work 105 hours a week without a day off.

    She told Human Rights Watch (HRW) that she had been promised £1,000 a month — but was paid only one fifth of that during her year’s employment.

    “The day I escaped from them and went to the outside world, I told myself, I’m free,” she said. Her status in the UK remains unclear after she contacted the authorities to say she was a victim of trafficking. No action has been taken against her employers because of diplomatic immunity, according to HRW.

    The woman said that she was still fearful of reprisals.


  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    India’s abstention in the UNHRC-3 vote is now represented as in its own National Interest of India and against the violation by the UNHRC of its mandate under its constitution, but the KEY reason India abstained is that the DMK allied to the governing Congress Party has deserted the Congress Party in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and the political compulsions exerted by Tamil Nadu politics ARE NO LONGER AT PLAY … in the short term. (See Article Below).

    However, Sri Lanka must understand that India is at the ROOT of all of its troubles beginning with the INITIATION of Tamil Terrorism in Sri Lanka, its support and funding, and intervention by India in sovereign Sri Lanka’s internal politics and governance, and the orchestrattion of THREE Human Rigths resolutions against Sri Lanka, in cahoots with Western Powers plying their own globak agendas and local vote bank politics.

    As such, Sri Lanka must ANTICIPATE this new found “principled stand” by India bearing an abstention as its only fruit instead of a VOTE AGAINST THE Resolution, as a TEMPORARY ABERRATION mildly helping Sri Lanka. In the future, when the internal political pendulum in Tamil Nadu swings in favor of WHATEVER POLITICAL POARTY assumes power in New Delhi, Sri Lanka could well find itself again at the BUTT END of India’s BLOWS.

    Instead of REVIVING strained relations with India at this juncture, Sri Lanka must seek MORE ENDURING and PERMANENT SOLUTIONS to India’s UNACCEPTABLE INTERFERENCE in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka.

    That should begin by DISCOURAGING Indian INVESTMENT and BUSINESS OPERATIONS within Sri Lanka, REJECTING direct involvement by India in RECONSTRUCTION of the war affected areas, REDUCING the number of INdian embassies and diplomatic personnel in Sri Lanka, and REDUCING military cooperation with India.

    In short, Sri Lanka should EXIT India’s deadly EMBRACE NOW, for India’s Internal Politics and National Compulsions will CONTINUE to be INIMICAL to Sri Lanka’s own National Interests.

    Simultaneously, Sri Lanka should INCREASE and DEVELOP its alliances and relationships with other countries that DO NOT HAVE an ETHNIC/COMMUNAL MINORITY within Sri Lanka that they can exploit to undermine, destabilize and dismember Sri Lanka.


    India and Sri Lanka: Playing the Long Game?

    By Ankit Panda
    March 31, 2014

    In a controversial move, India abstained from a U.S.-sponsored resolution on human rights in Sri Lanka at the United Nations last week.

    India had supported similar resolutions in 2012 and 2013, but abstained after the new resolution appeared much tougher on Sri Lanka than prior versions, calling for an independent international investigation of alleged war crimes committed by Sri Lankan forces in their war against the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE). In explaining its reasoning for the abstention, the Ministry of External Affairs said, “It has been India’s firm belief that adopting an intrusive approach that undermines national sovereignty and institutions is counterproductive � any external investigative mechanism with an open-ended mandate to monitor national processes for protection of human rights in a country, is not reflective of the constructive approach of dialogue and cooperation envisaged by UN General Assembly resolution 60/251 that created the HRC in 2006 as well as the UNGA resolution 65/281 that reviewed the HRC in 2011.” Despite India’s abstention, the resolution passed with 23 in favor, 12 against and 12 abstaining.

    India’s relationship with Sri Lanka has been troubled in recent years, mostly due to internal frictions between Tamil interests and the interests of the central government in New Delhi. The decision to abstain on the vote is an assertive move by New Delhi and has drawn criticism from Tamil leaders who continue to push for a strong Indian stance on Sri Lanka’s human rights abuses. That New Delhi abstained despite unanimous support of the resolution by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly further highlights New Delhi’s independence in foreign policy-making.

    In 2013, after much lobbying by Tamil politicians, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chose not to travel to the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which was being held in Colombo. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa requested that there be no “titular, ministerial or official” Indian participation in CHOGM. While External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid did end up attending the meeting in Singh’s stead, the incident highlighted the salience of narrow domestic political interests in India’s relations with important neighboring states.

    In response to the abstention, the opposition BJP’s Subramanian Swamy praised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for “ordering the Indian delegation in UNHCR not to support the dangerous U.S. resolution seeking [an] international probe into the so-called human rights violations during 2009 anti-LTTE war by Sri Lanka.” Given the proximity of India’s general elections, a decision to vote for the resolution would have won the Congress a portion of the Tamil vote. However, as G Pramod Kumar notes for Firstpost, “now that the Congress has nothing to gain in Tamil Nadu for the Lok Sabha polls with the DMK deserting it, the party couldn’t care less. The party is not even a contender in the polls in the state with most of its frontline leaders refusing to contest the elections. With this vote it also doesn’t lose anything.”

    The abstention also drew criticism from the United States. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said, “It is disappointing to us that India abstained from voting on this resolution when they voted yes for the last two years. We have made our disappointment known to Indian officials.”

    The resolution called for an independent international investigation into alleged war crimes and human rights violations in Sri Lanka. India’s opposition to the resolution sends a strong message to Colombo at a time when it was sorely needed. Relations across the Palk Strait have been strained during Mahinde Rajapaksa’s tenure so far but bilateral talks are producing results. Provincial elections in Sri Lanka, particularly in the Tamil-dense northern areas of the island, were largely pushed for by Indian diplomats and are seen a positive development in the island nation’s post-conflict transition. The CHOGM 2013 fiasco was an undesirable setback for New Delhi amidst this progress.

    New Delhi needs to play the long game with Sri Lanka and doing so will involve carefully moderating between meeting the needs of domestic interest groups but also steadily winning geopolitical overtures with Rajapaksa’s government in Sri Lanka. Between Singh’s absence from CHOGM 2013 and this year’s abstention on the human rights resolution, New Delhi has oscillated between those two objectives. Against the backdrop of expanding Chinese influence in Sri Lanka, New Delhi’s interest will be best served by slowly but surely pursuing diplomacy on its own terms with Rajapaksa’s government (which is likely here to stay for a good while).

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    Sri Lanka’s Growing Links with China

    Trade, investment and a strategic Indian Ocean location bring the two countries closer together.

    By Jack Goodman
    March 06, 2014

    “We love this country,” declared a Chinese Foreign Minister on a state visit to Sri Lanka in 1971, China “was ready to give its fullest co-operation to speed up the socialist march of Ceylon.”

    Sri Lanka’s socialist “march” didn’t ever quite catch up with China’s, but since the first Rubber-Rice pact was signed in 1952 China-Sri Lankan relations have been a source of unity and continue on an upward trajectory today.

    As China’s economic power has grown, investing overseas has been a tactic used across the world by China to help bolster the national interest. Its financial foreign policy rests on two strategies: “accumulating foreign currency reserves and sending money abroad in the form of FDI, aid, assistance and loans,” wrote U.S. economic advisor Ken Miller in Foreign Affairs. Sri Lanka is a model for the latter part of this strategy.

    The statistics alone indicate the inexorable rise of China’s financial stake in Sri Lanka.

    Impending confirmation of a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries is symbolic of the tight-knit relations between Beijing and Colombo in 2014. Bilateral trade exceeded $3 billion for 2013 and China is Sri Lanka’s second largest source of imports behind India.

    Despite the symbolism, China will profit more from the generous new tariffs of the FTA. Sri Lanka has a growing trade deficit with China that stood at approximately $2.4 billion in 2012. China is the destination for less than 2 percent of total Sri Lankan exports.

    However, concerns over trade deficits for South Asian nations like Sri Lanka are “outweighed by overall economic benefits and political support,” wrote India’s former Special Envoy to Southeast Asian countries on UN Security Council Reforms, Professor S D. Muni.

    China is Sri Lanka’s biggest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) as well as providing development loans for projects such as the $500 million new Colombo Port Terminal, Hambantota Port, Sri Lanka’s first four-lane expressway, and a new National Theatre, among others. These lucrative benefits for Sri Lanka have played a pivotal role in building the current relationship.

    The recent commitment from Sri Lanka to join the Maritime Silk Road (MSR) indicates the proximity of the two states’ strategic aspirations and is a reflection of the assimilation of national interests. The Indian Ocean ports of Gwadar in Pakistan, Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Chittagong in Bangladesh have all benefited from Chinese investment and account for 30 percent of global trade, according to Indian Ocean Rim Association.

    The MSR is a vital strategic project for China in the Indian Ocean, and will increase China’s presence in South Asian shipping routes. Sri Lanka can be seen as a gateway port up the western coast of India and further west to Iran, a vital exporter of oil to China. The brand new port of Hambantota, 85 percent of it paid for with a Chinese loan, is located on the south of the island, historically not a traditional shipping route. However, it is the perfect location to meet the strategic objectives of the MSR.

    Supplementing the impact of economic relations, the political consequences of this month’s United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decision over the U.S.-led resolution that calls for an independent investigation into the end of the Sri Lankan civil war could be significant. The Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Kurshid delivered a warning to Sri Lanka, calling on it to find “possible ways to avoid an hostile attitude towards people and countries that matter.”

    In face of these Western-led accusations, Sri Lanka have found a political ally in China through a shared policy of non-interference in internal affairs. This translates as China’s view that issues in relation to human rights are the prerogative of the sovereign state to deal with internally. China’s soft power in Sri Lanka will grow, almost unintentionally, if Colombo’s disenfranchisement with the West continues over the matter of an independent investigation. Despite a recent “curveball” in the form of a comment from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, China has always pledged support for Sri Lanka:

    “China opposes some countries’ interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka under the pretext of human rights issues,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Sri Lankan counterpart G. L. Peiris in Beijing recently.

    Chinese influence in Sri Lanka is clearly growing, but the possibility that Colombo is driving this relationship can’t be overlooked. Noises from Sri Lankan government and other figures suggest that they are fully in control of what is officially known as a “Strategic Cooperative Partnership.” In this context China is playing a pivotal role in Sri Lanka’s regional development in South Asia.

    At the heart of this is Sri Lanka’s objective to fulfill its commercial potential as the country at the geographic center of the Indian Ocean. Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to China Nihal Rodrigo, speaking at a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) event last year, didn’t express concern over China’s naval expansion and development of South Asian ports, but rather claimed that it “provides it (China) easier connectivity across the Indian Ocean which benefits South Asia.” Both governments therefore have something to gain from Hamantota Port, described as one aspect of Sri Lanka’s “five-hub” growth strategy, which aims to position and build the island as a global naval, aviation, commercial, energy and knowledge center.

    Hamantota Port was “commercial in nature” and not to be “misconstrued as fitting the string of pearls paradigm,” said Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the 2012 Galle Dialogue. This countered accusations from some American scholars that China had intentions to encircle India beyond innocently increasing trade links.

    The Maritime Silk Road is therefore perceived as critical for Sri Lanka to become a leading player in the development of Indian Ocean trading ports, which China has more or less augmented itself. Sri Lanka also has an opportunity to build favorable ties with both the region’s superpowers, India and China, as well as the emerging Southeast Asian nations.

    There is evidence to suggest that Colombo and Beijing now share policies on a whole range of issues, political and economic. This is in part a reflection of Chinese influence, but it is also attributable to Sri Lanka’s ability to manipulate the relationship in its favor.

    China’s role in Sri Lanka should be viewed within a regional South Asian context and not just unilaterally. For now at least, Indian and American fears appear to have little credence.

    Jack Goodman is a visiting researcher at the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    Lest We Forget in 2014, the COST in BLOOD and TREASURE of the heroic struggle that rescued our Motherland and Our People only five years ago.

    Let us not BETRAY today those who offered the last full measure of their devotion to their country.
    Reflections on the Tigers

    By Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe
    May 21, 2010

    A year after the LTTE’s defeat, evidence shows criticism of Sri Lanka’s army is misplaced, says Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe.

    A year ago this week, the Sri Lankan government officially declared victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in one of the most extraordinary counter-insurgency campaigns in recent times.
    The endgame of the conflict, particularly from January to May 2009, saw the bloodiest fighting, often with the presence of tens of thousands of civilians that the LTTE desperately used to fend off its inevitable defeat. Since then, new evidence has become public that offers further insights into the final months of Sri Lanka’s secessionist civil war.

    For decades, the jungle-laden Mullaitivu District, located in Sri Lanka’s northeast, served as the LTTE’s main stronghold. However, under significant military pressure from the Sri Lankan Army during the final stages of the conflict, the LTTE conducted a fighting retreat towards its last bastion astride the Mullaitivu coastline.

    As it did so, the LTTE used all means at its disposal to inflict casualties to delay, halt or even push back the Army’s advance. For example, the LTTE constructed a series of embankments between two and three metres high, also known as earth bunds, which proved to be formidable defensive obstacles. Assault troops also encountered camouflaged LTTE armour plated bunkers.

    According to one frontline Army officer from the time: ‘You don’t know where they are, and you can’t even see them until your right on them…The first you know is when you are wounded in the leg. All we can do is to fire towards the sound, throw grenades and send off RPGs [Rocket Propelled Grenades] in the general direction.’

    In addition, frontline infantry often confronted elaborately laid LTTE minefields that required field engineers equipped with Bangalore torpedoes to clear pathways. Similarly, the LTTE cleverly utilised booby traps made of discarded rubbish and metal that were tied to hidden explosive caches dispersed over a wide area that when triggered caused multiple and devastating explosions.

    Each passing month saw increasingly fierce combat. Reports suggested that the Army absorbed anywhere between 10 and 20 fatalities per day—sometimes more—while the Army claims that the LTTE suffered average losses ranging from 25 to 40 combatants per day. Due to high levels of attrition and the need to augment its depleted conventional formations, the LTTE had little choice than to continue to rely heavily on forced recruitment of civilians, a practice that it revived full-scale in late 2007.

    To ensure a ready supply of civilians, the LTTE adopted a series of coercive measures such as that reported in one Sri Lankan newspaper which quoted a 14-year-old female child soldier saying the LTTE had warned her that her family would be punished if she didn’t join. Indeed, the Army confirmed that an increasing number of conscripts were seen at the frontline, notably child soldiers. ‘It’s like looking at your own child. Quite large numbers [of the LTTE fighters killed or captured] are under 16,’ one Army Brigadier told the Telegraph. ‘They grab them from their parents and [when] they try to pull them back they [the parents] get shot. These children have dog tags and cyanide capsules.’ Indeed, it was later revealed, according to the independent Sri Lankan daily, The Island, that in the final months of the war the LTTE planned to carry out a massive offensive against the Army with 300 suicide bombers, but was forced to cancel it as many suicide bombers were either killed in action or deserted to government-controlled territory.

    The incidence of civilian casualties was low prior to the commencement of the Mullaitivu campaign, as combat was essentially between two conventional armies in the field, and civilian concentrations were situated far from the fighting.

    However, as the territory controlled by the LTTE rapidly contracted, the density of trapped civilians increased rapidly, meaning civilians were often being caught in the crossfire. In an effort to provide safe passage from the combat zone, the Sri Lankan government declared two limited ceasefires, which saw civilian safe zones created at Vishwamadu and Oddusudan. However, such measures were doomed to failure when the LTTE rejected them and chose not to offer any alternative locations.

    According to Tamil journalist DBS Jeyaraj: ‘The Sri Lankan government had…declared two limited ceasefires. But the LTTE imposed further restrictions and the number of civilians coming out dropped during ceasefire days…the LTTE exploited the ceasefire in February to mount a very effective counter strike…The April ceasefire was used to construct several new “trench-cum-bund” defences.’

    Meanwhile, the LTTE positioned its artillery and mortar assets near or amidst civilian concentrations, tactics confirmed by a range of media outlets including Reuters India in February 2009, which quoted a 74-year old Catholic nun as claiming: ‘The LTTE fired from close to civilians. We had objected, but that didn’t work.’
    Out of desperation, thousands of civilians defied the LTTE edict, forbidding any civilians from leaving LTTE-controlled territory, and attempted to escape under cover of darkness and brave crossfire from running battles, LTTE-laid minefields and LTTE fire targeting escaping civilians.

    At a press conference in Colombo last July, Dr. Shanmugaraja, a former LTTE physician who surrendered in the final weeks of the war, said: ‘Many civilians were killed and wounded as the LTTE opened fire at them when they tried to flee from the Tiger’s grip…Their strategy was to keep the civilians around them and survive. That was why they came along with civilians once safe zones were demarcated for the civilians by the Security Forces.’

    In addition, there’s ample evidence to suggest that civilians in LTTE-controlled territory were integrated into the LTTE military-logistical system and war effort. For example, Sri Lankan-Australian scholar Michael Roberts, an expert on Sri Lankan politics and anthropology, wrote in his article, Dilemma’s at War’s End: ‘All young people seem to have been inducted as auxiliaries. As they lost territory, the LTTE also used heavy machinery and marshalled labour to build ditches and embankments…a task that clearly involved massive logistical operations.’

    He added: ‘In effect, over the last year or so, many able-bodied people in the LTTE command state have been rendered into an integral part of their logistical support for war, being more or less part of the frontline. In such circumstances, of course, the category “civilian” is an ambiguous category.’

    In fact, the presence of more than 280,000 civilians in LTTE-controlled territory served a clear and diverse purpose, which was highlighted in their use as military labour to build fortifications; porters shuttling food, ammunition and supplies to frontline LTTE units; of manpower to augment the LTTE’s military strength; human shields that gave the LTTE significant bargaining power with the international community to call for a permanent ceasefire; and the maintenance of its supply lines.

    In effect, the LTTE depended indirectly almost entirely on regular Sri Lankan government convoys to areas under enemy control for food, medicine and essential items—an extraordinary situation. Another former LTTE physician, Dr. Vardharaja, elaborated on this exploiting of civilians by the LTTE to ensure supplies kept coming in, when he said: ‘The problem was that the LTTE took medicine from us to treat their injured. They asked us to tell the media that we don’t have medicine. There was as a shortage of medicine because LTTE took the whole stock.’

    By mid-April 2009, the Army had successfully repulsed all LTTE counterattacks and finally cornered the group on a sliver of territory along the coast, 13 kilometres long and just 3 kilometres wide. The LTTE decided to stage its last stand in its coastal stronghold with an estimated 240,000 civilians still present, leaving the Army facing an unprecedented difficulty of capturing the last patch of land while ensuring civilians’ safety.

    It is this reality that underscores how misplaced the international criticism of the military’s conduct in the final stages of the civil war was. On February 9, for example, a suicide bomber reportedly infiltrated an internally displaced persons registration camp and detonated her suicide jacket, killing 8 civilians and 24 soldiers. On April 20, 3 LTTE suicide bombers infiltrated and detonated their suicide jackets, killing 17 civilians and injuring 200. The LTTE shrewdly used tents, make-shift shelters and bunkers to conceal snipers, machine gun nests and artillery/mortar emplacements, which were often merged with civilian dwellings. Given this, assault troops had no choice but to systematically clear tens of thousands of tents, makeshift shelters, bunkers and trenches, which left them exposed to LTTE ambushes laid inside tents, makeshift shelters or subterranean bunkers. As such, in an attempt to mitigate the incidence of civilian casualties, the Army relied heavily on dozens of trained snipers to great effect in neutralizing LTTE combatants.

    In the final weeks of the war, the LTTE continued to aggressively conscript civilians who were given crash training and assigned to scratch units at the frontline. For instance, in a now public April 2009 report, Rajan Hoole, who heads the dissident Tamil University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) and who is known for his criticism of both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, pointed to conversations with civilians who fled LTTE controlled territory.

    ‘The LTTE has recently started the practice of sending out teams of 6 cadres with instructions for each team to return with 30 conscripts,’ Hoole wrote. ‘If they fail they are reportedly subject to heavy and often lethal punishment.’

    However, the LTTE’s efforts were in vain. After bitter fighting on May 16 and 17, the last civilians were extracted from the combat zone, leaving 400 hardcore LTTE leaders and fighters exposed. By the morning of May 19, the LTTE lay defeated and its leaders eliminated, bringing a decisive end to the nearly three decade long Sri Lankan civil war. The Army’s final operation involved 4 weeks of heavy fighting and the loss of over 500 soldiers.

    The evidence revealed by the LTTE’s own former sympathisers indicates the lengths the group was willing to go to and the difficulties facing conventional militaries confronting a fanatical adversary that conducts itself with impunity. Under such circumstances it’s unrealistic to believe civilian casualties can be avoided. Indeed, the very success of the Army in extracting more than 280,000 civilians from the combat zone from January to May 2009, despite this effort contributing to it suffering heavy casualties in process, is an indication of the complexity of conducting military operations in an environment where an enemy is willing use civilians as a key element of its military strategy.

    Civilian casualties are, of course, tragic. But the endgame of Sri Lanka’s civil war requires a much more in-depth and nuanced understanding of the dilemmas that faced the Army before any conclusions can be drawn.

  5. Sooriarachi Says:

    All those who have made strong statements for or against Sri Lanka, will certainly be biased one way or other and should be automatically disqualified from sitting on any panel appointed to investigate any stage of the conflict with the LTTE terrorists. Nor should such people be allowed to nominate or appoint anyone to such a panel, as obviously they’ll find like minded people. Only acceptable panel could be from amongst credible, neutral and respectable eminent persons, acceptable to all parties, especially the Sri Lankan regime. People like Navi Pillai, Louis Arbour, Yasmin Sooka, Dharusman are biased and totally unsuitable.
    However, the Government has no option but to reject such an investigation, which is a blatant violation of the UNHRC charter. One wonders how US/UK/EU could even sponsor such a resolutions, which is outside the mandate of the UNHRC.

  6. aloy Says:

    Looking at the huge contract sums we have had to pay to get a project done to most East Asian countries that provide funds, I feel they too are engaged in some form of colonialism. Our former colonials used our labour to produce commodities for exports and extracted wealth. Now our people do virtual slavory in ME and send money home. These countries together with our politicians steal that money by entering into various agreements with even more than double the prices to exploits the situation we are in.

  7. S de Silva Says:

    Thank you HLD for your words on the utterly biased Navi Pillai. – Enough is indeed enough! The only urgent action hat remain is a “No confidence” move against Pillai for the utter bias she has shown against Sri Lanka. Hope GoSL will immediately proceed on this. S de Silva – London

  8. Indrajith Says:

    Hello friends,

    Does anyone know if the Daily Mirror lead story about a LTTE Ban is a real thing or an April pool’s joke?


  9. Lorenzo Says:


    Tamil racists look at other cultures as bad. Too bad everyone drills Tamil losers.

    “What was the ‘New Delhi imperialism’ or ‘Hindi/ Hindutva imperialism’ part, conspicuous in the show of India in Jaffna, was its press release explaining the festival, which was totally ignorant of the pluralism of its own cultural heritage.

    New Delhi’s Consulate General in Jaffna seems to be having no idea at all on the pluralistic ways in which the day is celebrated.

    The press release said that as “the liveliest of all Hindu festivals” it is observed all over North India, and added, “celebrations in Mathura and the small towns of Braj Bhoomi, the land of Sri Krishna, are spectacular.”

    Smearing colour on all those who were present and all those who were passing by, the Consulate General said, “Sri Lankan students who had joined the “India Corner” at the Consulate also participated in this event and witnessed this colourful festival.”

    Boxes of Heineken cans were seen at the celebration venue.”

    – tamilnet

  10. Ananda-USA Says:

    Bravo … Government of Sri Lanka! Now BAN the TERRORIST Organizations in Sri Lanka that are POSING as LEGITIMATE POLITICAL PARTIES undermining our Motherland at EVERY TURN!

    BAN ALL POlitical Parties with COMMUNAL AGENDAS, with Communal Party Names, Communal Constitutions and Communal Election Manifestos!

    INVESTIGATE, INDICT, ARREST, PROSECUTE, CONVICT and SEVERELY PUNISH all those TRAITORS who violated the TREASON and TERRORISM Laws of SRi Lanka during the Last 35 years. Hold Accountable all those who plotted and planned with FOREIGN POWERS to undermine, destabilize, invade and dismember our Motherland.



    PROSECUTION the TRAITORS and TERRORISTS from PILLAR to POST! THIS is the Form of RECONCILIATION Needed: RECONCILE the Criminals with their CRIMES!

    Sri Lanka signs UN resolution on combating terrorism, bans 16 LTTE organizations

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Apr 01, Colombo: Sri Lanka today in a decisive measure signed the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373, which sets out strategies to combat terrorism and to control terrorist financing.

    With the signing of the Resolution 1373, the Sri Lankan government has banned the Tamil Tiger terrorist organization, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and 15 other Tamil diaspora groups that are alleged of having terror links and involved in reviving the terrorist movement in the country.

    Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs signed the order and it will be published in the Government Gazette shortly, the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

    According to the Ministry statement, the order is based on the recommendation by the Secretary, Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, as the Competent Authority regarding the identification of persons, groups and entities, believed on reasonable grounds to be committing, attempting to commit, facilitating or participating, in the commission of acts of terrorism.

    Under the Regulation all funds, assets and economic resources belonging to or owned by the designated persons or entities will remain frozen until the organizations are removed from the designated list.
    In terms of the Regulation moving, transferring or dealing with frozen assets without the permission of the Competent Authority are prohibited and any person who fails to comply with an order to freeze assets is liable to heavy penalties.

    Any contact with the proscribed organizations is a violation of the regulation.

    The government’s move comes in the wake of UN Human Rights Council adopting an intrusive resolution to investigate alleged human rights violations only during the last seven years of the government’s war against the Tamil Tiger terrorists. The resolution effectively eliminates the investigations into the major crimes committed by the LTTE prior to 2002 in the 30-year long war. The Sri Lankan government recently revealed foreign attempts to revive the defeated terrorist organization in the North with the support from the diaspora funds.
    According to Sri Lankan defense authorities K.P. Selvanayagam a.k.a. ‘Gobi’, an LTTE cadre escaped after the end of the war and fled overseas, has returned to the island to lead the revival of the terrorist organization.

    Among the organizations proscribed are the LTTE’s Trans National Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) headed by New York lawyer Visuvanathan Ruthirakumaran, Global Tamil Forum (GTF), which is headed by Fr.SJ Emmanuel and active in Europe, and the UK-based British Tamil Forum (BTF).

    The 15 organizations proscribed are controlled by four individuals, Defense Ministry spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said. The organizations are functioning in several countries including USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Norway, Italy, Switzerland, and France.

    The other organizations banned are Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), Tamil Coordinating Committee (TCC), World Tamil Movement (WTM), Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC), Australian Tamil Congress (ATC), National Council Of Canadian Tamils, Tamil National Council (TNC), Tamil Youth Organization (TYO), World Tamil Coordinating Committee (WTCC), Tamil Eelam Peoples Assembly, World Tamil Relief Fund and Headquarters Group.

  11. aloy Says:

    Geneva is not our real obstacle for development. US/UK/EU and the Tamil woman will only huff and puff. They have no courage to come and fight. So, they declare that they only want to help us, though we know they detest us. They are trying to find a strategy to run away from Afghanistan, with their tails between their legs. In Ukrain they are scared to death.
    Our real enemy is within, those who do not love the country. They preach one thing and do the opposite. We have seen our leader going to Kamachchodai (Negombo fish market) and embracing a criminal. They are the people who have the love for the country. Please read the following news in the Island:

    Both the rulers and the opposition are the same. When will the Sinhalas learn.

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