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Hillary Clinton’s blessing on the farcical commission


(May 30, Colombo-Washington, Sri Lanka Guardian) Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State of the United States of America, according to published reports, gave her blessings to the farcical commission on lessons learned and reconciliation at her recent meeting with minister G L Peiris. Hillary Clinton’s speech has been given high publicity and it could be of immense value as propaganda to the government whose human rights record has been challenged both locally and internationally.

Hillary Clinton in her speech evaded all the basic issues relating to this commission. She said that similar commissions have produced good results in other countries. In talking about similar commissions, she only was using the word ‘commissions’, rather than the content of the commissions. If she was referring to similar commissions such as the truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa, or some commissions in Latin American countries, these commissions and the Sri Lankan commissions have a world of difference between them. The minister for the media, Mr. Keheliya Rambukwella himself, clearly stated that this commission is going to be nothing like that. He said that this is going to be a very indigenous commission carried out according to local tradition. Local tradition so far, judging by the commissions in the past about which very extensive studies are available, were all farcical commissions.

Hillary Clinton said the commission should have a proper mandate. However, by the time she made the speech, the mandate had already been published. She did not comment on the existing mandate, which simply does not give any power to the commission to look into any of the violations of human rights or war crimes or other gross abuses of human rights, and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The commission’s mandate also states their proceedings can be conducted in private. These were not the attributes of commissions like the South African commission on truth and reconciliation. The South African commission mandate clearly indicated that the all complaints relating to abuses could be brought before the commission and the commission would conduct proceedings in the open. In fact, the proceedings were telecast to the public. The very act of open proceedings and telecasting proceedings were themselves an aspect of reconciliation, where the people saw the perpetrators who committed gross abuses of human rights admitting their actions in public. No such procedure is expected of the commissions appointed by the Sri Lankan government.

Hillary Clinton stated that the mandate of the commission should include inquiries into war crimes, if such complaints exist. However, she was aware that no such mandate is available in the already published mandate of the commission. She did not make any request that the present mandate of the commission should be changed.

By this statement, the state department of the United States through its Secretary, clearly separated itself from any kind of act of reconciliation and genuine inquires into the conduct of the armed forces of Sri Lanka and the LTTE in the past conflict. The exercise of putting things into the past and get on with the future without dealing with any of these questions is the overall approach followed by Hillary Clinton, although this was not expressed openly. The overall impact of this statement would be the cover-up of all human rights abuses going on in the country and the entrenchment of policies which will further divide the communities, as well as enhancing the tradition of ignoring of law and order and in the country. Perhaps Hillary Clinton is more interested in competing with China than on matters of human rights. She preferred to ignore the reports of Human Rights Watch, which called for the rejection of the Sri Lankan commission and called for an international investigation into war crimes.

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