MR went out of his way to brief India
By Supun Dias
Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday said President Mahinda Rajapaksa went out of the way to keep New Delhi briefed about all new developments taking place in Sri Lanka and continuous discussions between the two sides during the war ensured that whenever any sensitive issue arose it was resolved immediately.
Speaking at the 'Defeating Terrorism: the Sri Lankan Experience,' seminar organized by the Sri Lankan Army to share its war experience, Mr. Rajapaksa said in 1987, the enormously successful Vadamarachchi Operations had pushed the LTTE to the brink of defeat and these operations could not be sustained because the Indian Government intervened. "The primary problem in 1987 was that the relationship between the two countries had not been managed effectively", he noted.
From the time of his election, President Rajapaksa went out of his way to keep New Delhi briefed about all the new developments taking place in Sri Lanka. He understood that while other countries could mount pressure on us through diplomatic channels or economic means, only India could influence the military campaign.
"From early in the military campaign, the relationship between Sri Lanka and India was managed through maintaining a clear communications line at the highest level. A special committee was established to engage in constant dialogue. The Sri Lankan side comprised then Senior Advisor to the President Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and myself", he added.
"The Indian side comprised former National Security Advisor M. K. Narayan, then Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and then Defence Secretary Vijay Singh. This troika had continuous discussions and ensured that whenever any sensitive issues arose, they would be resolved immediately", he said.
Over the years, a range of different approaches including military campaigns, peace talks, and even international mediation had been tried. None had worked. With a large global financial network, highly developed offensive capabilities and no genuine interest in peace, the LTTE was a stubborn, hostile and formidable foe, he said.
By 2005, the LTTE controlled almost a quarter of the country's territory and nearly two thirds of its coastline. Under an internationally brokered Cease Fire Agreement, the LTTE even maintained the illusion of a state apparatus in the areas under its control, he said.
He said, "By the time our military campaign resumed in 2005, the LTTE had killed more than 26,000 armed services personnel. This was no small band of militants, but a large, sophisticated military force comprising approximately 30,000 cadres, a very large arsenal of weapons and equipment, and thousands of civilians organized as auxiliary forces.
The combined strength of the Armed Forces in 2005 was nowhere near the number that was actually required for a serious campaign to eradicate the LTTE. This fact was clearly understood by the President, and the decision was made to expand the strength of the military.
There were many key factors that led to the success of the Humanitarian Operations. Perhaps the most important and critical factor was the President's decision to expand the Armed Forces. One of the first things we realized when we studied the previous military campaigns were that the Sri Lankan military was always superior to the LTTE.
Between the end of 2005 and the end of 2009, the Army's 9 Divisions were increased to 20; its 44 Brigades expanded to 71 and its 149 Battalions increased to 284. This was a large, but essential expansion that increased the number of Army personnel from 120,000 in 2005 to over 200,000 by the end of the Humanitarian Operation.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Wed, Jun 1, 2011, 01:09 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
June 01, Geneva: Sri Lanka today disputed the report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heynes, on a video footage which allegedly documents members of the Sri Lanka army committing extrajudicial executions.
Britain's Channel 4 has provided the video on question to the UN Special Rapporteur (UNSR) for his technical assessment to establish the authenticity of the video footage.
The UNSR commenting on his findings yesterday at the 17th session of the UN Human Rights Council said following his investigation, he believed that a prima facie case of serious international crimes had been made in the video.
He recommended that all the available evidence should be investigated by an international panel with the necessary fact-finding and investigative mandate to establish accountability for these deeds.
In response, Sri Lanka's Attorney General Mohan Peiris said Tuesday the Sri Lankan government has requested the original version of the video but Channel 4 failed to provide it to the government.
"The fact that the contents of the video were not made available to the Sri Lankan government by Channel 4 lends support to the suspicion that the broadcast of the videos was for a collateral purpose," Peiris said in his statement to the Council.
He said the UNSR provided a report with blurred and illegible images which are not of quality that could be examined and the government could not make a proper assessment. The government is ready to share the outcome when a complete analysis is made, he added.
Heyns reached the same conclusion on the extended video as his predecessor Philip Alston, who had investigated the extracts of the footage. However, Heyns has consulted three of the same experts Alston has used and those experts have reached the same conclusions.
The UNSR concluded the picture that emerges was that the events that are reflected in the video in fact occurred as depicted.
"These videos � both the first and the extended version - show real people who are being summarily executed," he noted in his report.
The UNSR's report however said the claim is not being made that any specific individuals are guilty or that State responsibility has been established � the point is rather that there is a well-founded case for the Sri Lankan government to answer.
The Sri Lankan Attorney General questioned the legitimacy of using the same experts and reaching the same conclusions as before.
"An expert must provide objective and unbiased reports in his competence and not play the roles of an advocate," he pointed out.
Peiris drew attention to the fact that Sri Lanka's own investigation mechanism, Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has begun an inquiry on its own into the video with a view to ascertaining its veracity well before the UNSR prepared his report.
"Should not it be prudent for the SR to hold his hand before the findings of the LLRC," he asked commenting on the haste to make conclusions.
"It is easy to comprehend the sensitivity with which the civilian losses are perceived but it's equally important that one does not rush to conclusions," Peiris noted.
The Sri Lankan envoy said it is fundamentally indispensable that any legal enquiries such as the one taken by the UNSR, more particularly with regard to the internal armed conflict, cannot assume conclusions without taking into consideration the facts and circumstances surrounding the operation as a whole.
Peiris said the Sri Lankan government is ready to constructively engage with the SR in the future on the basis of transparency and shared process being adopted and the government will communicate to the SR on the progress achieved through domestic mechanism.
Officials of demining NGOs in Vanni allege that the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers are taking measures to ensure that evidence regarding the skeletal remains of Tamil civilians discovered during the demining operations do not become exposed or become public information, sources in Kilinochchi said. Sri Lanka officials have issued unofficial directives to the demining organizations to bury the skeletons in a demarcated area, according to the NGOs.
Sources from Kilinochchi said an unnamed NGO discovered a skeletal remains of a human being today between Vannearikku'lam and Iyangkan in Kilinochchi district near a SLA security post.
The recovered remains was neither taken to the police nor to the Courts, the NGO official said, requesting anonymity.
Earlier, large numbers of skeletal remains were discovered in Mannaar area. No information was made public regarding these findings.
While Sri Lanka is under pressure from the Western Governments for cooperation for an independent international investigations on alleged war crimes, Colombo is taking all precautions to destroy evidence that could establish complicity leading to culpability to war-crimes, a humanitarian worker told TamilNet.
Sri Lanka's effort to whitewash the charges of war-crimes during the final stages of war received a set back at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) annual session as Navaneetham Pillai, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she supported special UN panel's recommendations in the war-crimes report made public on 14th April. Meanwhile, despite the theatrics orchestrated by Colombo in questioning the authenticity of the incriminating "Channel-4" video of extra-judicial executions, UN human rights expert, Christof Heyns, said that the shocking footage showed "definitive war crimes," and "[w]hat is reflected in the extended video are crimes of the highest order – definitive war crimes," Associated Press said quoting Heyns.
The High Commissioner, Navi Pillai, referred to the report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on accountability in Sri Lanka, which concluded that there were credible allegations of a wide range of serious violations of international law committed by both the Sri Lankan Government forces and Tamil Tigers in the final stages of the conflict.
Addressing the 17th session of the Council, UN Human Rights chief, N Pillai said she supported the UN panel's recommendation "to establish an international mechanism to monitor national investigations and undertake its own as necessary. It would be important for the Human Rights Council to reflect on the new information contained in this important report, in light of its previous consideration of Sri Lanka and efforts to combat impunity worldwide.”
Predictably, Sri Lanka's External Affairs Ministry, resorted to its routine reponse in accusing the High Commissioner for "ignoring relevant rules of procedure of the UNHRC by attempting to legitimize" the UN war-crimes report and of continuing to demonstrate "lack of objectivity and impropriety."
A statement released by the Ministry Sunday evening, quoted Kshenuka Seneviratne, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva, as telling the UN Human Rights Council today that Sri Lanka is perplexed to note that the High Commissioner has thought fit to refer to the panel report in her report to the 17th Session of the UNHCR.
“The High Commissioner continues with a seeming preoccupation of calling for the establishment of an international monitoring mechanism, which also has been recommended in the report based on unverified information, and if adhered to will call into question, the professionalism and independence of the Council,” the External Affairs Ministry quoted Seneviratne as saying.
Pakistan, China, Russia and some Islamic members of the Human Rights Council moved to stop the debate on Sri Lanka's conduct at the end of the war, saying "[t]he international community must support national efforts to win the peace in Sri Lanka."
European Union reiterated its view that "an independent process to address extremely serious allegations should contribute to strengthening the process of reconciliation and ensuring lasing peace and security in Sri Lanka. The European Union was committed to upholding the human rights of migrants. It was taking the migratory consequences of recent developments in their southern neighbourhood seriously."
France supported the report of the Secretary-General on Sri Lanka, emphasized its legitimacy and called for justice in relation to violations of human rights there. France noted the human rights violations in Syria and called for perpetrators to be brought to justice. Switzerland added that "[i]t was crucial that appropriate follow-up be given to the recommendations of the report of the panel of experts on Sri Lanka."
While U.S. Asst. Secretary of State, Robert Blake, whose knowledge of "war crimes" in the Northeast was highlighted by US cables released by wikileaks, was advising Tamil expatriates to work "with Colombo on development," U.S. representative, Eileen Chamberlain, said at the UN session that "United States was deeply concerned by the findings of the panel of experts on the violations of international law and international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka and insisted that reconciliation in this country [Sri Lanka] must be built on accountability. It was a responsibility of the Government of Sri Lanka to respond to the findings of the panel and to ensure the future for the people of Sri Lanka."
Belgium noted that fighting against impunity was at the core of the report on Sri Lanka. Belgium noted that the recommendation to establish an independent commission of inquiry on Sri Lanka should be taken seriously.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has said that Australia, that has ratified and committed to end impunity, has a responsibility to speak up and call for accountability to end impunity for serious crimes in the region. Ms. Pillay was responding to the question by Dr. Sam Pari of Australian Tamil Congress at at panel discussion held at Human Rights 2011 event on 23 May in Sydney. Citing the response by Ms. Navi Pillai, a Greens MP, in her official blog said Australian Government's silence during and since the 2009 war adds to the pain the Tamil community is enduring.
"With war crimes and human rights violations forcing thousands of Tamils to jump on boats and come to Australia seeking asylum, should Australia be more vocal on the issue of war crimes?,” was the question raised by Dr. Sam Pari at the Human Rights 2011 event.
"In this region Australia has a crucial responsibility to urge respect for rule of law and urge a end to impunity for serious crimes. Australia has ratified the Rome Statute which set up the ICC and in the preamble to the Rome Statute is that there has to be a determination to end impunity for serious crimes. So on one level you have countries like Australia ratifying and committing to ending impunity. There is a responsibility then for it to speak up and call for accountability in this region,” Ms. Navi Pillay said.
Ms. Navi Pillai, on her six-day mission to Australia showed special interest in meeting the representatives of indigenous people and migrants.
“In my discussions with Aboriginal people, I could sense the deep hurt and pain that they have suffered because of government policies that are imposed on them,” Navi Pillai said in her address.
Some excerpts from her opening remark follow:
“During my visit to immigration detention centres in Darwin, I saw the grim despondency of asylum seekers, waiting for months, or in some cases well over a year, to be released. These people, who arrive with such relief and hope after experiencing trauma in their home countries, should not be treated in this way.”
“I heard from Ministers Bowen and Rudd about the proposed bilateral agreement between Australia and Malaysia for the processing of asylum seekers and resettlement of refugees. I recognise the need to combat people smuggling in the region, but stressed that bilateral arrangements for asylum seekers must have adequate safeguards to ensure compliance with international human rights standards.”
“These include ensuring that there is no real risk of breach of the principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Convention against Torture – which Australia has ratified, but Malaysia has not. In my experience, assurances of compliance with these standards are not sufficient, and should be legally entrenched.”
“The consequence of the constant political refrain that Australia is being “flooded” by people who are ‘queue jumpers’ has resulted in a stigmatization of an entire group of people, irrespective of where they have come from or what dangers they may have fled. I urge the leaders of all Australia’s political parties to take a principled and courageous stand to break this ingrained political habit of demonizing asylum-seekers. ”
“During my meetings with migrant representatives and foreign students, I also heard first-hand how different groups face discrimination and racism in the community, particularly associated with Islamophobia and fears of terrorism.”
“Australia has such strong foundations, with functioning institutions that have checks and balances and a proud tradition of egalitarianism. It is therefore disappointing to find that the system is failing to protect certain groups. The issues of indigenous disadvantage and the treatment of asylum seekers need to be tackled through a human rights based approach, not driven by short term electoral advantage and political goals.
Channel-4's announcement of screening of an hour-long film on Sri Lanka's killing fields at UN on 3rd June, and the presentation of video footage to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN special investigator into extrajudicial killings, Christof Heyns, spread a gloomy war-crimes cloud over Sri Lanka making the terror-summit in Colombo, a holiday-extravaganza for the military brass of several rogue nations. The terror-summit is widely perceived as an ill-conceived attempt to whitewash the criminal enterprise the Rajapakse brothers took in slaughtering more than 40,000 civilians and incarcerating more than 300,000 Tamils in internment camps in the war to defeat the Tigers.
Spokesperson for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a US-based activist organization, said, "its a strange quirk of destiny that three South Africans, concurrently holding key human rights positions, are dragging Sri Lanka's war-crimes to world's center stage. One can surmise that the chequered history of apartheid and the moral authority arising from the witnessed inhumanity to a people by another people are driving Navi Pillay, Christof Heyns, and Yasmin Sooka to stand up for justice. Tamil people are eternally grateful to these South Africans for taking the moral highground."
While UN sessions are taking place in Geneva, many rogue nations and alleged abettor nations of the war-crimes, Pakistan, India, Russia and China are attending the terror-summit being held in Colombo.
U.S., Britain, Japan, Australia and France declined invitation to attend the summit.
Meanwhile, , the announced film scheduled to be screened in Geneva and to air in Channel-4 on June 14th, presented by Channel 4 News journalist Jon Snow, features footage captured on mobile phones, both by Tamil civilians under attack and government soldiers as war trophies. It shows: the extra-judicial executions of prisoners; the aftermath of targeted shelling of civilian camps and dead female Tamil Tiger fighters who appear to have been raped or sexually assaulted, abused and murdered. Also examined in the film are some of the terrible crimes carried out by the Tamil Tigers, including the cynical use of Tamil civilians as human shields, Channel-4 said.
"The film, directed by Callum Macrae, provides powerful evidence - including photographic stills, official Sri Lankan army video footage and satellite imagery - which contradicts the Sri Lankan government's claims of a policy of ‘Zero Civilian Casualties'. The film raises serious questions about the failures of the international community to intervene and prevent the deaths of up to forty thousand people and lends new urgency to the UN-appointed panel of expert's call for an international inquiry to be mounted," Channel-4 said in its news report.
The BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva says that with more evidence of alleged atrocities due to be shown in the city later this week, the pressure is growing on the UN Human Rights Council to debate the role of the army in the closing months of the Sri Lankan civil war, BBC reported.
Monday, May 30, 2011
The road to funding Sri Lanka’s ambitious plans to double its GDP over five years is heavily dependant on its ability to attract foreign direct investment. The scale of the industry may however cap the investment inflow and with it the contribution to GDP.
The way forward may be building large industries supported by their supply chains alongside.
But the issue of Sri Lanka’s lack of basic infrastructure, including mass transport for people and goods, accommodation for workers close to the industries and cheap electricity may hamper large investments in promising industries.
LBR spoke to Arjuna Mahendran, the former head of Sri Lanka’s Board of Investment who now heads HSBC Private Bank in Asia on his views on Sri Lanka, its investment potential and the immediate requirements to attract foreign direct investment.
LBR: Infrastructure was a key issue you highlighted during your tenure at the BOI. Is this still an issue?
A: When you look at the Free Trade Zones, we pioneered the concept of export processing zones way back in 1979 and the early 1980s, and then we got stuck at that level. We have n’t really developed our infrastructure since.
We don’t have a proper highway in Sri Lanka, a proper toll highway. Our coal power plant is being built only now, though fortunately this is a large scale power generation plant that is cost effective.
Hence we would find that when it comes to infrastructure we are still at the starting point. That is for a very simple reason. Nobody was willing to put up the money to build these sorts of plants when the war was going on.
There is a tremendous opportunity here for us to leapfrog into more efficient technologies.
Earlier , building these plants were much more expensive and energy intensive. Now one can avail of environmentally friendly solutions for power generation.
I think we should use such options and put up state of the art infrastructure. It will probably take another 10 to 20 years to accomplish this. However the time is now right to start such projects.
And believe me the sky is the limit because right now as industries grow and investor confidence increases, the bankers will be ready with their cash. Thus there is no limit as to how much we can borrow and how much we can do.
The only constraint will be how fast our exports grow. Remember all this has to be borrowed and it has to go hand in hand with the growth in exports. Because at the end of the day the foreign exchange constraint is really our major constraint going forward. This has to be managed prudently.
LBR: You mentioned new technologies, but in terms of our industries we find that some of them are far behind when compared to India and some other nations. Have we fallen back in terms of technology and as a result are less competitive with high production costs?
A: Not necessarily. This is why FDI is so important, because all the concerns where we had foreign direct partners, such as in the solid tyre industry Trelleborg AB or in garments, the partnerships between MAS and Noyon Dentelles the French lace maker, Dogi - the knit fabric maker from Spain, we are right at the cutting edge of the latest technology, you cannot get any better fabric than those produced by these companies.
In fact Noyon has closed down in France. They were operating for 150 years in the French Village of Noyon, but of late closed that factory so that Sri Lanka is now their main production vein.
So I would not say that we have fallen behind. It is just that we have not gone up the scale.
Our industries couldn’t expand to the size that is required to really be a formidable force in the international market. That is where we have to do a lot of work.
With technology we have no problem at all. Our people are the cleverest people in the world. We can absorb technology very fast.
LBR: How attractive is Sri Lanka for a foreign investor post-war?
Extremely attractive. Geographically you will find no better place. We are just off the tip of India. The Indian market is probably going to be the fastest growing market for the next fifty years.
China is facing constraints because their population growth is going to slow down further. From 2015, the absolute number of Chinese will reduce because of their one child policy. Whereas India’s population will keep on growing.
Further China has reached a level of maturity in terms of growth - USD 5000 per head GDP per capita, beyond which investments start to slow down.
So we are sitting next to the fastest growing country in the world for the next 50 years and we are a gateway to India. We have to position ourselves as the gateway to India and make Sri Lanka that much more efficient and competitive so that foreigners wanting to venture into India will view us as a launch pad.
LBR: The Indian market has been identified as one of high potential for a long time, but why have we not been able to fully tap it ?
That has mainly been because of the war. We have not been able to keep up with the Indians both in terms of scale as well as the types of the industries they have expanded in.
But now that the war is over, things should change. If you look at countries like Taiwan and Hong Kong developing alongside China you will know what I mean. Haven’t they benefited immensely from China’s development ?
We have to catch up and we will catch up. Of that I am confident. We need India, and India needs us because we offer all sorts of things they cannot. Our ports are much more efficient that any Indian port while our airport too is quite efficient. So that gives us an edge.
So what we have to do now is make sure that our industries start delivering and see to it that they can match their Indian competitors. Partnerships are where I think the trick lies.
Piramel Glass and CEAT Tires are good examples. These two companies are doing extremely well in Sri Lanka and so would have those companies that were reluctant to come here because of the war.
LBR: Post war investments are still slow. The magical one billion dollars in FDI number is still elusive while countries like Indonesia are seeing an average of USD one billion FDI a month. How would you explain this ?
That was very clear. In 2009 all major markets including India saw a dip in FDI. That was the aftermath of the Lehman crisis. Remember Lehman collapsed in September 2008. So basically 2009 was a right-off. Money around the world froze up. And that impeded FDI.
Now that will resume. 2010 we will see reasonable growth. 2011, I think will be a bumper year. So we have nothing to worry at all.
LBR: In the short term what do you think we have to do to attract more investments?
I think we have to now identify our priorities. The government has already made known its intention to thrust tourism and agriculture related projects as the main drivers of the economy.
So what we have to do now is identify land. You cannot simply tell an investor Here is ten acres of land. Go and build a hotel ! There has to be infrastructure. So we have to dovetail our infrastructure development with these projects and offer them as a proper integrated proposal to the investor.
If you want to get investors to develop a hotel, say, in Puttalam or in Kalpitiya or Pasikuda, you have to ensure that you provide power, water, all the ancillary infrastructure, good roads, helicopter landing pads -that sort of thing. Only then will it come.
We must also get big investors who will invest big not just in hotels but also in other leisure activities. That is, I think the next thing we have to do. We have to come out with those proposals.
LBR: The current model used by tourism authorities in promoting investment in Kalpitiya and the East coast does not seem to have any of these elements?
I think they are now changing the way they are doing things. That message has gone through and we now see the Shangrila Hotel getting the army grounds. So I think the government also realizes that it is a learning by doing process and that they have to come out with a more comprehensive offer in terms of facilities and infrastructure. I think that will eventually happen. I have no doubt about it.
It’s the early flush just after the war. People were not prepared enough. Now that the confidence is emerging, it will come.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Several international organisations at the behest of the LTTE rump want the US to rap Sri Lanka at the 17th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, in Geneva, beginning today (May 30). The sessions continue till June 17.
A senior security official told The Island that among the NGOs gunning for Sri Lanka at the Geneva meet are the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and International Crisis Group. They turned down an invitation from the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation commission (LLRC) to make representations on behalf of those affected by the war.
The 11-member collective of outfits has written to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requesting the US to take a strong position against Sri Lanka at the Geneva meet.
In a letter dated May 27, the group, while appreciating the continued US support for their cause, particularly a statement attributed to US Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Susan Rice pushing for independent investigation with regard to accountability issues in Sri Lanka.
Sources said that the group had gone to the extent of advising the US regarding the position it should take on Sri Lanka at the Geneva meet. Their recommendations were (a) welcome the Darusman Report (b) express the US Government’s concern about the credible allegations detailed in the report, including the seriousness and scale of the crimes described, (c) express concern at the report’s findings of the failure of the Sri Lankan government to investigate and prosecute those involved in these crimes (d) note the Panel’s findings that the LLRC is "not tailored to investigating allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law," and has "not sought to investigate systematically and impartially the allegations of serious violations on both sides of the war;" and (e) call for the full implementation of the Panel’s recommendations, in particular the establishment of an independent international mechanism with a mandate to conduct investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including war crimes.
The anti-Sri Lankan grouping comprises Adotei Akwei (Managing Director, Government Relations, Amnesty International), Karin Ryan (Director, Human Rights Program, Carter Center),Don Kraus(Chief Executive Officer, Citizens for Global Solutions), Dokhi Fassihian (Executive Director, Democracy Coalition Project),John Bradshaw (Executive Director, Enough Project),Paula Schriefer (Director of Advocacy, Freedom House), Tom Malinowski, Washington Director (Human Rights Watch), Mark Schneider (Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group), Jerry Fowler (Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society Foundations),Hans Hogrefe (Chief Policy Officer/Washington Director, Physicians for Human Rights) and Aung Din, (Executive Director, U.S. Campaign for Burma).
Sources told The Island that Global Tamil Front, along with British Tamil Front had been involved in this latest project, though they had not written to the US Secretary of State Clinton.
Sources said that the UK-based Diaspora groups would hold a meeting in a EU country in June to drum up support for the controversial Darusman report.
They have expressed the opinion a US attack on Sri Lanka at the Geneva meet would boost the morale of Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, the Sri Lankan government and the other UN member states supportive of the Darusman report.
By Colin Freeman,
Belgrade and Jovo Martinovic
After years on the run with a $10 million tag on his forehead, the last thing anybody expected Ratko Mladic to do was to give himself away cheaply.
Not only were his bodyguards willing to fight to the death, he was even said to carry a grenade around with him at all times, ready to blow himself up rather than be taken alive.
Yet at dawn last Wednesday morning, as a group of black-clad Serbian special forces arrested Mladic in the village of Lazarevo, Europe’s most feared war criminal responded not with gunfire or bombs, but polite compliments.
"Good work," he remarked quietly, meekly handing over a pair of pistols that could have been used for an Alamo-style last stand. "You found the one you were looking for."
So ended a 16-year-long manhunt, bringing not just the so-called "Butcher of Srebrenica" to court for war crimes charges, but also ushering Serbia closer to European Union membership and away from its long-held pariah status.
Yet as one mystery comes to a close, another remains unsolved. Why did the man who professed to prefer the instant justice of a bullet to the humiliation of the Hague come so quietly? Why was he protected only by his elderly cousin, Branko, rather than a team of do-or-die bodyguards? And was it really the result of dogged detective work, as Serb officials claim, or did they know where he was all the time?
The remarkable answer, according to Western intelligence sources who have spoken to The Sunday Telegraph, is that far from being a bin Laden-style lightning raid, Mladic’s arrest was an entirely staged event - the result not of police work but of negotiations by diplomats, who spent a whole year hammering out a deal to get him to surrender.
The deal, which suggests Serb intelligence at least had lines of contact to Mladic’s protectors, was sealed by appealing to the Serb hardman’s one known soft spot - his family. Told that they would be looked after properly if he give himself up, the prospect of ensuring the safe future for his wife, Bosiljka, and son, Darko, proved key in changing his mind.
"The negotiations about his surrender lasted slightly more than a year, with mainly French, British and German officials involved," said one Western diplomat, who asked not to be named. "The Serbs took responsibility to work things out with him, and guaranteed that his family would be taken care of, and that he would get a pension and eventually a decent burial.
"After all, it’s better for him to go as a martyr to the Hague than die in some shabby military barracks or some wolf-lair in Serbia. He acknowledged that eventually and was talked out of suicidal martyrdom. As a result, Serbia gets her chance for EU membership, and he was just picked up by prior agreement in Lazarevo. There was no hunt operation at all."
The picture painted by the diplomat, who is well-briefed on intelligence matters, is rather different to the version given by Serbia’s government, which on Saturday vowed to continue hunting anybody who had helped give refuge to Mladic.
"By hiding Mladic they have caused serious damage to this country," said Serbian war crimes prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic. "Hiding fugitives from the Hague tribunal is a serious crime."
That was hardly the impression, though, given by the Serb police’s treament of Mladic’s cousin Branko.
Rather than being hauled in for questioning, he remained at his farmhouse in Lazarevo on Friday, where the nearest he got to an unwanted interrogation was dodging questions from reporters outside.
He had, by all accounts, been rather more accommodating to the special forces men, serving them ham, cheese and home-made plum brandy as they arrested his guest, according to Serbia's Blic newspaper on Saturday.
"Branko, give these people something to drink and eat," Mladic is reported to have ordered his cousin. "Have a drink, refresh yourself, then let's go."
The welcoming manner in which Mladic greeted his captors is hard to square with accounts of his early life on the run, when he actively taunted his pursuers, knowing he had the backing not just of the Serbian intelligence service but also political allies in Belgrade.
His flight from international law began in 1995, when he was indicted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre, in which 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered.
But as time went on, he became not only Europe’s most-wanted war crimes suspect, but also its most-seen.
In Belgrade, the Serb capital, he almost revelled in his status of fugitive-about-town, reportedly dining at posh restaurants and cafes, enjoying a VIP box at football matches, and even turning up for his son’s wedding.
These were no Elvis-style "rumoured" sightings either - a video of him released in 2009 showed him jigging with friends at a folk dance, hanging out with fellow officers in a barracks, and enjoying a ski holiday at an unidentified resort.
However, after President Milosevic was toppled from power in 2001 and sent to the Hague himself by a new, more pro-Western government, Mladic largely vanished from public view, spending much of his time as a guest of the army in barracks and bomb-proof bunkers.
With up to 50 bodyguards at his disposal, even the likes of the SAS would not contemplate a snatch mission lightly, given the risk of it turning into an intense firefight.
But as the West began dangling the prospect of EU membership as an incentive for Serbia to hand over its remaining war criminals, his circle of supporters shrank to a handful of backers within Serb intelligence and a more clandestine, informal network of minders and couriers.
According to details that emerged at a 2006 trial of some of the men accused of hiding him, the anti-surveillance techniques they used were similar to those deployed by bin Laden’s protectors.
Those in the inner circle would only meet in four nominated public places in Belgrade, discarding their mobile phones three miles away to prevent them being tracked. Even then, communication was mostly by hand-written messages, which were burned afterwards.
Pressure on the group intensified further from 2008, as Serbia elected the pro-European coalition of President Boris Tadic, who made it clear he wanted the country’s remaining war criminals handed over.
By then, life on the run was no longer very glamourous either: Mladic’s last known hideout, according to the 2006 trial, was a flat in a drab, graffiti-ridden housing estate in New Belgrade, also used as the backdrop to an obscure Dutch horror film.
Little is known about where he hid after that, although one thing seems likely: his cousin’s house, where he was found last week, seems to have been a place where he was sent to be picked up rather than to hide out.
The village, nestling among fields of plum trees, pepper plants and strawberry patches, is staunchly pro-Mladic: posters advertise forthcoming gigs by Fish Soup, a Serb nationalist folk band, and last week locals vowed to rename it "Mladicevo" in his memory.
But every one of the 3,000 residents knows each other well, and the presence of a stranger like Mladic would very quickly have sparked loose - if well-intentioned - talk.
"Branko Mladic is one of my best friends, and I see him every day," said Dragan Arsic, 51, nursing a beer in the village bar, having spent a night in custody after police broke up a street demonstration protesting Mladic’s arrest. "There is no way he could hide anybody here without me finding out."
"We all know each other," added Zarco Lucic, 54, who has lived next to Branko Mladic’s farmhouse all his life. "If somebody comes here, we find out within a few days."
Hence the widespread suspicion in the village that Mladic was dropped off there at most a day or two before his arrest, ready to be picked up by prior arrangement. Locals also pointed out that Branko Mladic’s house had been searched before by police hunting for his cousin, and was therefore hardly a sensible hiding place.
Deal or no deal, though, the terms of Mladic’s arrest may be his last chance to strike bargains for a while.
When he reaches the Hague later this week, the man who infamously urged his soldiers to "burn the brains" of Sarajevo residents will face what most believe to be a near-open-and-shut case of genocide: few imagine he will ever see his homeland again.
It is also unclear whether his deal to give himself up will include the granting of his last request - revealed by Serb prosecutors on Friday night - to pay a final visit to the grave of his daughter Ana.
It is said that she killed herself in 1994 after learning that her father might be indicted as a war criminal, although as with so many Balkans stories, the tragedy did not end there. The grief Mladic suffered over her death is widely blamed for turning from just another Serb military hard man into an all-out monster, driving him, some say, to commit the Srebrenica massacre a year later.
On Saturday, the small, wrought-iron bench by his daughter’s resting place remained empty, while the headstone itself had only two vases of plastic flowers, unlike the fresh bouquets that adorn many nearby graves. However, his request to lay a fresh one - made along with a demand for strawberries, Leo Tolstoy novels and a television in his cell - seems unlikely to be granted.
"He is a high-risk prisoner, and to supervise a visit would be difficult," said one.
The Western officials who brokered his surrender are also likely to express reservations: even in the murky world of Balkans dealmaking, it seems, a man accused of putting so many in the grave himself can expect only limited rights to private grief.
©The Telegraph Group
COLOMBO: The much-delayed Colombo-Tuticorin passenger ferry service, which was to start on Friday, has been postponed at the request of the Sri Lankan authorities.An official of the Ceylon Shipping Corporation (CSC), which is responsible for running the service on the Sri Lankan side, told Express here on Thursday, that there were two reasons for seeking a postponement: “First, the area around Colombo harbour is now being used for the Victory Day celebrations and many roads are blocked. Second, President Mahinda Rajapaksa is keen on having a grand ceremony to inaugurate the service and wants to invite people from India for the historic occasion,” the official said.According to him the inaugural ceremony will be held in a week’s time. However, other reports claim that the service would begin only in the first week of June. For the time being, an Indian ship would ply on the route. Eventually, a Sri Lankan ship would be joining it, the official said.Indian and Lankan traders and Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims are expected to make use of the service. About 1,00,000 people might use the facility in a year. Executive director of the CSC A T Chandradasa has been quoted as saying that initially, there would be two sailings per week, which would be increased if there was demand.The fare is yet to be fixed, but the media here has quoted Deputy Minister for Shipping and Aviation Rohitha Abeygunawardene as saying that the fare for the 10 to 12-hour journey over 280 nautical miles would be 30 per cent less than the air fare between Colombo and Chennai. A passenger would also be allowed to carry 80 to 100 kg as baggage, he added.Passenger terminals with customs and security facilities had to be created afresh at both Colombo and Tuticorin, as passenger services were being revived after a long gap.The Tuticorin-Colombo ferry service was too postponed before due to technical reasons and there was diversion as well of the earmarked Indian vessel to evacuate Indians stranded in war-torn Libya.A second ferry service between Rameswaram and Talaimannar is expected to start by year-end.
CHENNAI: A statement purportedly originating from the defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has rubbished jailed ex-LTTE leader K Padmanathan's recent claim that the Tamil Tigers had once planned to assassinate Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa."KP's claim in a television interview that LTTE had once planned to assassinate Jayalalithaa was far from the truth and we perceive the act as a ploy to create fissures among Tamils," the statement said on Friday.According to the fourpage statement signed by A Anbarasan, said to be from the LTTE's media wing, and published in their official online mouthpiece www.viduthalaipulikal.net, Sri Lankan Sinhalese government, which has been under tremendous international pressure after the release of the UN panel report on war crimes, has used KP to plant wild allegations on the movement to create fissures among Tamils.The Rajapaksaled Lankan government, which had already been feeling the heat internationally, saw the changed political scenario in neighbouring Tamil Nadu as detrimental to his country, the statement said.Condemning KP for projecting himself as a senior LTTE leader, the statement said, "Persons like KP, who is in the custody of the Lankan forces, cannot lead the movement and the Tamil community knows that his actions in the recent past were very detrimental to the separate Tamil State."Shanmugam Kumaran Tharmalingam alias Kumaran Pathmanathan alias Selvarasan Pathmanathan, better known as KP, was arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities from a foreign country in July 2009, barely a couple of months after the Lankan war ended with the killing of LTTE chief V Prabhakaran. KP surfaced during the recent interview to CNN IBNFirstpost a couple of days ago, his first to a TV channel outside Sri Lanka, to tell the world that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam had once planned to assassinate Jayalalithaa.In the statement, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelamhas also appealed to the Tamil Diaspora to remain vigilant and not fall prey to the sinister designs of the Sinhalese government.
|UNSG’s report won’t be taken up at sessions beginning tomorrow|
|By Our Diplomatic Editor|
The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Panel of Experts report on Sri Lanka will not come up for discussion when the UN's Human Rights Council meets in Geneva tomorrow (May 30), diplomatic sources told the Sunday Times.
Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe who was vested with the added subject of Human Rights earlier this year is leading the Sri Lanka delegation to the UNHRC's sessions. He and the rest of the Sri Lankan contingent which includes Irrigation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva and Attorney General Mohan Peiris have been in Geneva for a week lobbying representatives from other countries, especially those from the 47 member-states in the UNHRC to ward off any moves to raise the UNSG's adverse report on Sri Lanka during the sessions.
The report calls for an international mechanism to investigate allegations of violations of human rights and humanitarian law during the last stages of the government's military offensive against the LTTE. The UNHRC is one of the inter-government agencies that could trigger such an investigation if its 47 member-states vote in favour of a resolution calling for such an investigation.
These sources said that moves to bring forth such a resolution was being worked out by some western countries, but indications were that while there could be references to the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, past and present, a formal resolution that would be put to vote was expected to be postponed for the next session of the UNHRC sometime probably in September this year.
Discussions between Sri Lanka's UN envoy Palitha Kohonna and UNSG Ban Ki-moon seeking more time for the domestic investigations to be concluded by way of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) were attributed as one of the reasons to give Sri Lanka more time. The other is that the human rights situation in West Asia and North Africa was attracting greater attention among the western countries represented in the UNHRC.
On Thursday, Cabinet spokesman Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene went on record saying that the Sri Lanka government would now not formally respond to the panel of experts report submitted to the UNSG. The report has been dismissed by the government as "illegal, biased and baseless". Earlier, spokesmen for the government said that a detailed response would be made justifying the use of force to end terrorism in Sri Lanka by crushing the LTTE in May, 2009.
Sections of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora are lobbying hard to get the UNSG's report on the agenda for the UNHRC sessions beginning tomorrow, but their efforts are unlikely to bear fruit, these sources say. Individual member-states may, however, make references to the situation in Sri Lanka, without any direct reference to the UNSG's report, they add.
Diesel and Motor Engineering (Dimo), the local agent for Tata, said they began accepting bookings for the Nano with a price tag of 925,000 Sri Lankan rupees (USD 8,486) for a basic stripped down version.
"We are getting good enquiries. Those who pay Rs 100,000 today can have the car in two weeks after making the full payment," a company spokesman said.
He said the car was available in red, yellow, blue, white and silver and the higher-end model with air conditioning will cost 1.1 million rupees, just 40,000 rupees (Rs 18,000 Indian rupees) less than the 800-cc Maruti's price in Sri Lanka.
Maruti is the market leader in small cars in Sri Lanka. The price of a Nano in Sri Lanka is far higher than what it is in India, where the basic model costs just under USD 3,000, because of high import duties and local sales tax, a company official said.
However, he said he was hopeful of selling the first consignment of 500 Nano cars that have already arrived in the island.
Sri Lanka slashed car duties in June last year, but raised them again in April this year after a heavy drain of foreign exchange to import cars.
The Colombo port was seeing 500 cars unloaded each day in recent months before the duty was raised again in April.
May 29, Colombo: The name of former LTTE international wing head and chief arms procurer Tharmalingam Shanmugam Kumaran also known as Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP) has reportedly been re-included in the Interpol list of wanted persons.
KP was arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities in 2009 while he was in Malaysia and brought to Sri Lanka.
He is currently in the custody of the government. Questions posed by opposition political parties asking for details about KP's arrest and detention by the authorities have not received a proper response from the government.
Last week, KP made several revelations during an interview with an Indian media where he claimed that the LTTE was responsible for the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
There is also an arrest warrant issued on KP by a Chennai court in connection with the assassination of Gandhi.
KP's name has reportedly been re-included in the Interpol list following his media interview. He is wanted for crimes involving the use of weapons/explosives, criminal conspiracy and terrorism.
Meanwhile, a local print media has reported today that when contacted, DIG Jayantha Kulatillake who is in charge of Interpol's local unit had declined to comment on the notice.
Inner City Press (ICP), a widely known advocate in seeking clarifications to the United Nation's questionable actions towards Sri Lanka's alleged war-crimes accountability, reported Friday that United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, when "urged by the UN Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka to establish an investigative mechanism, Ban claimed he couldn't do so without a vote by the General Assembly, Security Council or Human Rights Council." But when ICP questioned the President of the General Assembly Joseph Deiss about the Sri Lanka Report, Deiss has reportedly said “[i]t's for the Secretary General to handle this case,” exposing UNSG's perceived duplicity in not being assertive in seeking accountability for crimes widely reported as war crimes and crimes against humanity bordering on genocide.
Further, ICP said that the U.S. Mission to the United Nations has not provided a response to ICP's questions on the recent letter by worlds premier human rights organizations to the key U.S's prominent foreign policy shapers on genocide and war-crimes, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Robert Blake, Esther Brimmer, Eileen Donahoe, Harold Koh, Michael Posner, Stephen Rapp and others.
A planned move to create dissension between the two communities -Tamils and Muslims- now living with understanidng and in harmony in the Batticaloa district is being orchestrated by the ruling party local politicians with the backing of Colombo authority, sources in the east said. Mr.Ali Zahir Mowlana, Chairman of the Era’voor PS is taking steps to shift the office of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) now located in a building in Ward 5 along Nallathamby Road in Era’voor Chengkaladi DS division to a Muslim suburb in the PS area. Tamil civic groups have urged the Regional Commissioners of Local Government Administrations in Batticaloa and Trincomalee to stop relocating government offices from Tamil areas to Muslim suburbs.
About ten thousand Muslims reside in Era’voor PS but the CEB office located in Era’voor Chengkaladi DS division currently has been serving more than one hundred thousand Tamil people.
Zahir Mowlana is also the district organizer of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the main constituent of the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) led by Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse.
It is reported that soon after the assumption of the office Mowlana had suspended minor employees working in the PS office citing reason that they failed to extend support to him at the local election held recently.
Rain that drenched Tamil youth activists conducting a major leafleting effort in support of the ‘Boycott Sri Lankan Cricket’ campaign on Saturday, the third day of Sri Lanka’s first test match against England, proved a blessing in disguise when it stopped play till lunch, allowing them to canvass crowds of spectators milling outside the Swalec Stadium in Wales. Two dozen activists received warm support and encouragement from spectators, including several members of England’s colourful ‘Barmy Army’, as they handed out leaflets and conversed with them over several hours, organizers said.
Local police gave activists permission to leaflet at the venue and allocated a position immediately outside the stadium’s main entrance to set up their large banner and Tamil Eelam, Wales and England flags.
The vantage point, where paths to the entrance from all three car parks converged, ensured every spectator passed the banner and flags, and could be offered a leaflet organizers said.
TYO activists wearing yellow dayglo jackets, set up at 10am in the persistent rain as the first spectators began arriving for the 11am match start.
Having studied the layout of the site, activists changed their tactics from the day-long noisy demonstration which accompanied Sri Lanka’s first match (against Middlesex County) on May 14, TYO spokesperson Thusiyan Nandakumar told TamilNet.
“We came prepared with loudhailors, but as we found we had direct access to every spectator as they walked into the stadium, we decided to handout leaflets and engage them in conversation instead,” Nandakumar said.
“We were encouraged to see that people who accepted our leaflets were reading them closely,” he said.
“Unfortunately we only brought two thousand leaflets and soon ran out.”
With rain having prevented play starting, many spectators soon exited the stadium to wait outside, a large number converging on the Y Mochyn Du pub located just directly opposite the activists’ flags and banner which read: “Killing Tamils is not cricket. Stop genocide. Boycott Sri Lanka”.
Sri Lanka and the abuses there became a topic of conversation in the pub, with customers returning to the stadium – some a little unsteady – stopping to encourage activists, sometimes with a hug, or take photographs with the flags.
“Although we have been generally well received at [our] other events, we were really surprised by the warmth and words of encouragement we received today,” Nandakumar said.
“Most people we approached, bar a couple, were supportive and sympathetic. Many were aware to some extent of the atrocities in Sri Lanka and understood why we were campaigning for a cricket boycott, as in the case of Zimbabwe and Apartheid South Africa. Coverage in the press of our earlier protest [on May 14] has also helped.”
“Some [spectators] sheepishly said they’d already paid for tickets [here], but would be boycotting future matches. It was good natured all day,” he added.
The police had dispensed with the barriers usually set up for protests, allowing activists to move freely around the entrance’s forecourt.
A couple of the police officers on general duty for the match occasionally passed during the day, and the Inspector in charge came by later to praise the activists for their orderly campaign, they said.
The vast majority of spectators on the day were England supporters, Nandakumar said. A large contingent of England’s ‘Barmy Army’ – including two dressed as a pantomime horse – stopped to take leaflets and chat to activists.
“It was particularly surreal,” Nandakumar admitted, “to have a conversation about Sri Lanka’s war crimes with both ends of a horse.”
Genocide recognition is a long and politicised process. While the international media has a pivotal role, historically it has failed to publicise genocides as they occur and has delayed in recognition afterwards. Governments on the other hand have been reluctant to recognise genocide as this would impose obligations on them under international law to act to 'prevent and to punish' and these obligations would consume resources and damage diplomatic relations with countries that may be their allies in military and security endeavours.
The Rwandan genocide is a case in point and historians such as Linda Melvern (author of “Conspiracy to Murder”) have documented the media failures. In the Rwandan case, Melvern cites that several British reporters were unable to get their story printed even after Oxfam had made a determination that genocide was occurring.
Alternatively, in Rwanda, the media failed to distinguish between civil war and massacres or portrayed the story as one of general lawlessness rather than a systematic attack on civilians of a particular ethnicity. There was little or no analysis of the race-based pattern and motivation until after the genocide. Thus the New York Times contemporaneously described the Rwandan genocide as a ‘spasm of lawlessness and terror’, failing to identify the systematic, organised, ethnically motivated nature – i.e. genocide – of the violence.
A number of academics, notably Michael Barnet, have extensively document UN decision-making paralysis in the case of Rwanda. Again a significant failure was to identify the context as being one of genocide rather than the ordinary course of civil war.
In the case of Sri Lanka’s attack on the Vanni in 2009 there is little excuse for the media or for politicians, because the Tamil Diaspora identified the ethnic nature of the violence very early on. But in an extended form of racism, no one listened precisely because those who spoke up were also Tamil.
For example former U.S Ambassador Lunstead admitted in the US Congress Foreign Relations Sub Committee Hearings in February 2009(@ 23.07min) that he was enundated with emails many of which warned him that the Sri Lankan government was committing genocide. But he dismissed this as a simplistic interpretation and the Foreign Relations Committee subsequently failed to investigate the warning.
Similarly, in the popular media, British Tamil rapper M.I.A was censored by CNN’s Tavis Smiley when she warned in January 2009 that a ‘systematic genocide’ was taking place (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgLpT2s64cI&feature=related).
M.I.As argument was not very different from that made by the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo against President Al Bashir of Sudan when he said (of Al Bashir) ‘his alibi was counter-terrorism, his intent was genocide.’ But M.I.A , in contrast to Ocampo, has been attacked relentlessly for ‘not knowing what she was talking about’.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Palitha Kohona condescendingly remarked that M.I.A should ‘stick with music’. He came on the Tavis Smiley show to repeat Sri Lanka’s story that it was acting to ‘rescue’ the civilians. Kohona defended the Sri Lanka government’s ban on media from the so called ‘safe zones’ ‘because, he said, it is not safe’ for journalists. He said he did not think ‘Anybody who is familiar with the concept of genocide believes that genocide is going on.’
But things have changed. Kohona, an Australian citizen, is now himself accused of complicity in war crimes by the Australian press.
Wiki-leaked memos show that former British Foreign Secretary David Milliband told his colleagues that the Sri Lankan government were ‘liars’. They also show that the U.S government had in its posessions satellite imagery of the use of heavy weaponry against civilians in the so-called safe zone well before the end of the conflict. The U.S, while not publishing the satellite images, brought them up in private conversations with Sri Lankan officials.
Following the publication in April 2011 report of the UN Panel of Experts on the final months of the Sri Lanka, and the preceding International Crisis Group Report on War Crimes in Sri Lanka, media and political understanding of genocide is both growing and becoming increasingly transparent. The suppression of evidence is increasingly difficult.
Comparisons to other genocides – notably Srebrenica – have appeared in Britain’s Channel 4 news (quoting Gordon Weiss the former UN Spokesperson in Sri Lanka), The Australian and others.
Elected and aspiring British Members of Parliament have made clear statements recognising genocide. Jewish British Members of Parliament have publicly remarked on parallels with events that took place during the Holocaust.
This new understanding of genocide is also seen in May 2011 in the press. The headline by the Boston based GlobalPost ‘What if you discovered evidence of genocide and nobody cared?’or by the examiner.com 'Liberal, New Democrat Officials Commemorate May Genocide Remembrance.'
India could do much better by acknowledging the right to independence of Eezham Tamils, by working for international consensus towards it, by structuring an IC-facilitated transition arrangement for it, and by creating an environment for the diaspora to freely interact through Palaali and Trincomalee, for India’s own reconciliation with Tamils and for relieving the island from endangering the entire region, rather than covertly waging ‘counterinsurgency’ and psy-op wars with people of Tamil Nadu and the diaspora through intelligence operatives to save establishments indicted, writes TamilNet commentator in Colombo. The Frankenstein Monster in Colombo is now difficult for its creators and the UN to handle, but Sinhalese alone may able to bring it down and strike true reconciliation if there is an IC decision that Tamil Eelam is inevitable. That is the only way out now, he further said.
The mainstream Indian media may not like to see the real reason behind the extraordinary mass verdict in Tamil Nadu and may indulge in painting a picture citing reasons such as corruption and family rule that are not new to India. The DMK that has gone to the extreme in wronging its very ideological fundamentals may pretend as though it doesn’t know why people routed it out.
But those who steer affairs in the establishments have indeed seen the point. Shivshankar Menon who calculated that a ‘developing’ Tamil Nadu would give a free hand for his manoeuvrings had to cancel his visit to Colombo.
However, the signals that come from tea party invitations on one hand and psy-op campaigns of ‘media’ operatives in collaboration with Colombo on the other, only show that New Delhi is not yet prepared to transparent changes in its course, even after it is well known to the world that its pursued course of action on the affairs of Eezham Tamils has already led to its indictment in human civilization.
Mr. Karunanidhi, who could have authentically contributed to international justice at least at this stage by telling what he knows, is not relenting. Indian analysts like Prof. Suryanarayan repeatedly say that all injustice that took place happened with the full knowledge of Mr. Karunanidhi.
The hopes of the masses therefore focus on Ms. Jayalalitha.
India has its own agenda is what everybody says. But, if the agenda or the strategies and tactics of achieving it set by some individuals in New Delhi are wrong, then a great country like India should boldly come forward to the edification of those who are responsible for them.
A wrong done to a nation and to its people like in the case of the Eezham Tamils cannot be excused merely by psy-op citations of crimes and counter crimes of establishments and individuals.
‘Past is past’ can’t be for hiding the wrongs and ‘future is future’ can’t be for continuing the wrongs.
Some political analysts in India have now come forward to at least voice that New Delhi should not protect the Colombo regime from international indictment. But even they try to project that crimes against humanity is a general problem faced by all in the island for several decades now, and once the present regime is indicted and the state is ‘reformed’, everything should be alright.
By this projection, in a subtle way they aim to blunt the need to address the liberation question of Eezham Tamils as a question of its own merit.
Even when the chronic and unique national question in the island has reached the stage of naked genocide and extermination of a nation in the island, the compromising academic analyses coming from India show that they are not different from the ‘selective appetite’ of some in the IC against secession.
In their academic exercises of looking at the island through the colonially created frame of Sri Lanka, and envisaging models essentially to save it, they confuse generically different national question of Eezham Tamils and the JVP question of the Sinhalese that need separate solutions.
Confusing them as manifestations of a single state and envisaging a common solution are no different from how the Colombo-centric state manipulated the two issues for its survival.
The Indian academics also don’t want to see that it was the adamant position taken especially by India and the US in refusing to appropriately address the national question as a national question that led to the escalation of extreme militarisation among the generally peaceful peoples of the island.
The concern of some Indian analysts is now confined to the militarization of state in the island. It is true that it will affect everybody in the island as well as in the region. But the core excuse for the militarization carried out by the Sri Lankan state and blind acceptance of it by majority of the nation of Sinhalese in the island basically stem from refusal to recognize the parallel status of the nation of Eezham Tamils in the island.
State militarization in the island cannot be stopped now unless Sri Lanka is firmly told by the IC that the country of Eezham Tamils has to be conceded now. Then only the Sinhala nation will revolt and put an end to the militarization and will seek true reconciliation.
But whether the militarization of state in the island is being secretly and competitively favoured by some powers of vested interests is the question of political observers.
The war crimes investigation is increasingly becoming a farce.
The injustice in equating the alleged crimes of the LTTE with the genocide of a state abetted by all the powers, and the bias of the UN panel report towards the Eezham Tamil dispora, just because it is the only section that has the freedom to voice the aspirations of its nation, have been pointed out by many.
The unbelieving should see that even after ‘equating’ the crimes, there are countries among the pro-report bloc that receive war-crimes indicted SL military top brass as diplomats, but arrest, prosecute and investigate suspected former LTTE functionaries.
The best show comes from the UN itself that keeps the war crimes indicted as SL Ambassadors and signs a treaty to induct the war crimes indicted SL Army into its Peace Keeping Forces.
Such demonstrations only show that civil leadership and diplomats of the world’s establishments are just superficial, but another dangerous nexus of forces is what that is actually running the world affairs. Unless peoples of the world join to break the backbone of this nexus there is no salvation to the world. Peoples in countries like that of India having one fifth of humanity have a bigger responsibility in this regard, and Sri Lanka is a crucial test case in their neighbourhood. There is a particular responsibility on the shoulders of Tamil Nadu.
Secession in the island is now inevitable not merely to answer the liberation question of Eezham Tamils, but to liberate the Sinhalese as well from militarization, to save the region of South Asia from dangerous forces making a ‘hub’ in the island and to demonstrate the victory of the civilized world over the brutal nexus for world monopoly that has insinuated into the governments of peoples all over the world.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
With its influence on UN Security Council and as an elected member of the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, the current Indian establishment will secretly put its weight behind Colombo's efforts to block international investigations, K. Aiyanathan, a senior journalist in Tamil Nadu told TamilNet Saturday. Urging the political forces in Tamil Nadu to checkmate New Delhi by calling for war crimes investigations against key Indian personalities if they continue to abet the Rajapaksa regime, the journalist told TamilNet that Diaspora Tamils should convince France, a permanent member in the Security Council and a member state of the Human Rights Council to stay the course of justice as the Council is scheduled to hold its 17th session from 30 May to 17 June at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Diaspora Tamil organisations should conduct awareness campaign in France and in front of the Russian embassies worldwide, Mr. Aiyanathan said.
Setting the trend on International investigations against Tamil genocide is the way forward for the freedom of Eezham Tamils, he told TamilNet.
On India, he said New Delhi had intentionally avoided any remark to the increasing demand for international investigations in its recent joint statement with Sri Lanka.
Recently, Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister G.L.Peiris came to India, in an attempt to sabotage the global trend that demands international investigations. Peiries stayed here for 3 days meeting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Foreign Minister SM Krishna, Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Nirupama Menon Rao the foreign secretary of India.
“The current National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon, was one of the three key figures, who were instrumental in India abetting the Sri Lankan state in the genocidal war against the Eezham Tamils,” Mr. Aiyanathan told TamilNet.
SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself has gone on record saying that he was fighting India's War, Mr. Aiyanathan said, warning Tamils against India's influence on UN Security Council.
At the 11th session the UN Human Rights Council in May 2009, a move by countries like Mexico, Argentina, Chile, the Czech Republic, Mauritius and Switzerland in bringing a strong resolution against the Sri Lankan state was defeated by India, Pakistan, Brazil and Cuba that brought a resolution supporting the genocidal Sri Lankan state.
29 countries voted supporting Sri Lanka. Of these, 15 countries hold seats as the Council is meeting on its 17th session on Monday.
The Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental body empowered to prevent abuses, inequity and discrimination, protect the most vulnerable, and expose perpetrators, which meets in Geneva 10 weeks a year, is composed of 47 elected United Nations Member States who serve for an initial period of 3 years.
Recently, membership for 15 seats came up for election.
“[F]ewer than half of the 47 member council can be characterized as democracies,” said John J. Metzler, a reputed UN correspondent, while reporting the recent election of new Member States into the Council.
“[G]iven the composition of some of the Geneva-based Council membership, with countries like China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia sitting in judgment of global human rights issues is like having Tony Soprano sit on a Senate sub-committee on organized crime,” the US based writer further wrote.
The three-year elected UN Human Rights Council's 47 seats are distributed in regional voting groups, 13 seats in Africa, 13 in Asia, 8 in Latin America, 7 in Western European and Others Group (WEOG), and 6 in Eastern Europe.
In the list of the 15 of 47 Member States elected in May 2011 are 6 new countries that have never served in the UNHRC earlier: Austria (2014), Benin (2014), Botswana (2014), the Republic of Congo (2014), Costa Rica (2014) and Kuwait (2014) are the new countries.
The other 9 elected Member States are: Burkina Faso (2014), Chile (2014), Czech Republic (2014), India (2014), Indonesia (2014), Italy (2014), Peru (2014), Philippines (2014) and Romania (2014).
The other Member States are: Angola (2013); Bangladesh (2012); Belgium (2012); Cameroon (2012); China (2012); Cuba (2012); Djibouti (2012); Ecuador (2013); Guatemala (2013); Hungary (2012); Jordan (2012); Kyrgyzstan (2012); Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (2013)*; Malaysia (2013); Maldives (2013); Mauritania (2013); Mauritius (2012); Mexico (2012); Nigeria (2012); Norway (2012); Poland (2013); Qatar (2013); Republic of Moldova (2013); Russian Federation (2012); Saudi Arabia (2012); Senegal (2012); Spain (2013); Switzerland (2013); Thailand (2013); Uganda (2013); United States (2012); and Uruguay (2012).
[* Libya has lost its seat in the HRC].
On May 26 and 27, 2009, seventeen Member States, Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mauritius, Mexico, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Slovakia, South Korea, Switzerland, Ukraine, Uruguay, and the United Kingdom, promoted a strong resolution against Sri Lanka.
Of these 17 countries, only four hold seats in the Council this time.
Although the move failed in 2009, the efforts of Mexico, Argentina, Chile, the Czech Republic, Mauritius and Switzerland were applauded by human rights watchdogs.
The 29 countries that supported Sri Lanka at that time were: Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Uruguay and Zambia.
The 12 countries that voted against the pro-Sri Lanka resolution in 2009 were: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Argentina, Gabon, Japan, Mauritius, Republic of Korea and Ukraine had abstained in 2009.
Friday, May 27, 2011
The second anniversary of defeating terrorism was celebrated on a grand scale yesterday with a military parade. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, highlighting the benefits that had accrued to the country from the defeat of brutal terror, stressed that it was only Sri Lankans who could solve their own problems. One cannot but agree with him. Others can only play a supportive role.
Most of Sri Lanka's ethno-religious problems remain unsolved and national reconciliation continues to elude us owing to the interference by external forces which have furthered their interests on the pretext of helping resolve the conflict in this country; they took successive governments and the LTTE for a ride. They only wanted the conflict to persist so that they could have a strong presence in this part of the world. Governments that naively banked on their support either to defeat the LTTE or to make peace pathetically failed. And Prabhakaran, who launched his 'final war' pinning as he did his hopes on some foreign powers which, he thought, would come to his rescue, received a rude shock, which was written all over his lifeless face at Nandikadal on May 19, 2009. If he had been wise enough to eschew terrorism and negotiate with the Sri Lankan government without relying on foreign powers and plunging the country back into a bloody war in 2006, he would still have been alive and a bloodbath could have been avoided.
Unfortunately, even after the war, those who promoted separatism through the LTTE from a safe distance have not weaned themselves from their dependence on external forces to achieve their goal. If they employed armed terror earlier for that purpose, today, they are using diplomatic terror of the western governments in a bid to coerce Sri Lanka into submission.
Defeating the LTTE was, no doubt, half the battle in addressing the problems that had led to a protracted conflict, but in the post war period, the battle formations still remain as they were during the war with the only exception of armed terror, which has been effectively neutralised; on the one side we have inveterate separatists and foreign powers supportive of them and on the other there are anti-terror, nationalist forces and the government of Sri Lanka. Although the LTTE factor has been removed from the equation, the separatists remain stuck to their extreme position and try to achieve their goal by deriving some bargaining power from their association with some western governments hostile to Sri Lanka.
The on-going war crimes witch hunt by the overseas Tigers hell bent on avenging Prabhakaran's death has created a situation where those who defeated terrorism are still on the offensive. The TNA has lent its voice to the expat Tigers who are baying for the blood of President Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary and military leaders, while having talks with the government on devolution etc. The TNA has come under pressure from the LTTE rump active abroad to pull out from talks. Former Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake has withdrawn from discussions with the TNA over the latter's support for the Moon Panel report. This kind of hostility does not augur well for negotiations between the government and the Tamil political parties. Those who are at daggers drawn at the negotiating table are not capable of reaching middle ground and solving problems.
If the West and the overseas Tigers think they can use the Moon Panel report to bludgeon the Sri Lankan government into submission, they are mistaken. Their action only strengthens the government politically at home, makes the people abhorring terrorism resist negotiations and thereby ruins the prospects of sorting out the issues that led to the war.
The only way the meddlesome outsiders could help solve Sri Lanka's problems is to refrain from hijacking them to advance their own agendas.