ERASING THE EELAM VICTORY Part 18D Pt 2A
Posted on May 7th, 2021

KAMALIKA PIERIS

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, (UNHCHR) presented to the 46th session of the UNHRC in February 2021, her report on Sri Lanka. (UN Doc A/HRC/46/20). This is the latest in the stream of reports on Sri Lanka since Sri Lanka won the Eelam war. This report can be read at https://undocs.org/en/A/HRC/46/20.

The Commissioner stated that the Report was prepared in accordance with Human Rights Council Resolution 40/1 of   2019, in which the Council requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to assess the situation in Sri Lanka and to present a comprehensive report at the 46th session of UNHRC. The report was formally presented to the Human Rights Council at the 46 session in February 2021, followed by an interactive dialogue.

The Report is not a normal   report, carrying a well thought out independent assessment of facts. It is a lament written by the Tamil Separatist Movement. Here are some of its complaints.

  1. The report complains that policies are in favor of the Sinhala Buddhist majority.
  2. The archaeological committee for Eastern province is composed totally of Sinhalese including two Buddhist monks. Tamils and Muslims are left out
  3. President has appointed a committee of senior Buddhist monks to advise him. 
  4.  Tamil and Muslim minorities are being increasingly marginalized and excluded in statements about the national vision and Government policy.
  5. Muslims are stigmatized as carriers of Covid.
  6.  Muslims who died of Covid were cremated, not buried as they requested.
  7. The national anthem was not played in Tamil on Independence Day 2020.  
  8. 31 Department are now under the Ministry of DefEnece, including police,   telecommunications, ICTA, Department of immigration and emigration.
  9. There is militarization of government functions.
  10. Military is administering the Covid   quarantine centers and military officers have been appointed chief coordinating officers in all districts to control Covid.
  11. President has appointed around 28 military persons, to key administration posts. Some task forces are composed entirely of military, intelligence and police personnel.
  12. The Government has appointed active and former military personnel, including those charged with war crimes to key positions in the civilian administration.
  1. Some of them, such as Defense secretary, Gen. Kamal Gunaratne, who commanded the 53rd Division at the end of the civil war, and Chief of defense staff, Shavendra Silva, are considered to have committed war crimes in the Eelam war. They were promoted to the rank of General.
  2. The present government has set up a Presidential Commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of political victimization of public officials, and armed forces by the previous government.
  3. The government issued an order to halt the prosecution of former navy commander Wasantha Karannagoda and Commodore DKP Dissanayake over the disappearance of 11 persons.
  4.  The investigations into the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge and Prageet Eknaligoda have been halted.
  5. Shani Abeysekera has been arrested.
  6.  Nishantha Silva left the country.
  7. There have been a series of deaths of criminal gangs in police custody
  8. One such death is that of Makandure Madush. The Report says it was wrong for the police to have killed him. Makandure Madush was a leading figure in the underworld. He headed a large-scale heroin racket. He had carried out countless robberies, and a large number of murders, including those belonging to rival gangs. Makandure Madush was behind many organized criminal cases that took place in Sri Lanka.
  9. On the other hand, the Report objected to the presidential pardon granted to Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake,   found guilty of    killing Tamils at Mirusuvil. The exercise of presidential pardon must comply with international obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, said the Report. No pardon should be given for those responsible for international crèmes and gross violation of human rights.
  10. The Report draws attention to the tens of thousands of survivors of the Eelam war, — spouses, parents, children, and other relatives — from all communities who persist in seeking justice, reparations and the truth about the fate of their loved ones.

The Report goes on to make gloomy predictions.  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that she is deeply concerned by the trends that have emerged over the past year, in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka remains in a state of denial about the past, with truth-seeking efforts aborted and the highest State officials refusing to make any acknowledgement of past crimes, she said.

There is the possibility that Pohottu government will carry out more human rights violations.  Also that Pohottu will return to the earlier policies and practices that led to war. Pohottu   may also take action to stop accountability for past crimes. There is serious risk of future violations. OHCHR calls for strong preventive action.

There is a shrill call for the UNHRC to take further action on Sri Lanka. Human Rights Council should urgently pay attention to these early warning signs of more violations to come and continue its close monitoring of developments in Sri Lanka.  The Human Rights Council is at a critical turning point in its engagement with Sri Lanka, said the Report.

The Report recommended the following to the UNHCR.

  1. Request OHCHR to enhance its monitoring of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, including progress towards accountability and reconciliation, and report regularly to the Human Rights Council;
  2. Support a dedicated capacity to collect and preserve evidence for future accountability processes, to advocate for victims and survivors, and to support relevant judicial proceedings in Member States with competent jurisdiction.
  3. Apply stringent vetting procedures to Sri Lankan police and military personnel identified for military exchanges and training programmes;
  4. Prioritize support to civil society initiatives and efforts for reparation and victims’ assistance and prioritize victims and their families for assistance in  scholarship programmes;
  5. Review asylum measures with respect to Sri Lankan nationals charged with war crimes.

The Report also drags in the Member states of the UN. The Report wants the Member states of the UN to take action against Sri Lanka. Member states are offered three options.

Firstly, they could refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court. Secondly, member states could also bring Sri Lanka before their own national courts on the principle of Universal Jurisdiction. Thirdly, member states could consider targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes and travel bans on Sri Lankans charged with war crimes. The High Commissioner also asks Member States to work with UNHCR and support its investigation into Sri Lanka.

The report concludes with un-solicited advice for the government of Sri Lanka. High Commissioner recommends that the Government of Sri Lanka should actively promote an inclusive, pluralistic vision for Sri Lanka.  It must ensure constitutional and legislative reforms. Order all security agencies to immediately end all forms of surveillance and harassment against human rights activists, social actors, and victims of human rights violations.  Lastly, the government of Sri Lanka must follow the recommendations and Resolutions of the UNHCR. (Continued)

One Response to “ERASING THE EELAM VICTORY Part 18D Pt 2A”

  1. dingiri bandara Says:

    Whatever that happened in Sri Lanka was as a result of terrorist war between the government and the most ruthless terrorist organization of the of the world namely the LTTE, some who were trained by India and supported by number of countries. What is wrong is wrong but first the reasons for whatever happened must be determined. The people of Sri Lanka of every race was terrorised and was living in fear for thirty years. The UNHRC must look in to and investigate the situation of the Kurds.The Eritreans, Ethiopians, Afghans and and the Yemeni people to name a few and in in most countries in the Africans continent and the interference by the West in many countries. I believe Sri Lanka is isolated for harassment by the prejudiced UNHRC because we are a Buddhist majority country and not rich.
    Where was the United Nations and the UNHRC during the thirty years of the terrorist war? There are many countries not happy with Sri Lanka for not allowing Prabhakaran and his cohorts to escape to fight another day. No one complained when Osama Bin Laden or the ISIS leaders, rightly or wrongly eliminated were eliminated, by various means. Of course needless to say that many lives were saved.

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