Appeal to reconstitute a fuller APRC for serious political response on Ban's panel report

We do note the government has in the past been apathetic to the issues of the Tamil people and other minorities. This is reason why the international community at times and the Tamil Diaspora most consistently, keep raising humanitarian issues and war crimes.
by Kusal Perera and Mahinda Ratnayake

(April 20, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The handing over on 12 April, 2011, of the report on presumptive war crimes in Sri Lanka during the last phase of the war in the Vanni, by the 03 member advisory panel of the United Nation's Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon, with no official public disclosures, compels us as the Centre for Social Democracy (CSD) to pay attention to all issues that is being mishandled by political interests, for petty, short term advantage here in Sri Lanka.

1. While the UN SG on diplomatic courtesy as said, despatched a copy of the panel report immediately to HE the President Rajapaksa on 12 April itself, there was no clear statement made by the UN Secretariat as to how and when the report would be made public. It is also the understanding that any such undisclosed communication with a member State, is treated as “confidential” by the receiving member State, as well. Therefore, some extracts running to some 3,500 words and published as “leaks” in the Sri Lankan English media, definitely raises issues of doubts at this end, in Colombo. The news paper that leaked, had its Editor on record saying the news paper sees “eye to eye” with this government, on the concluded war, implying the “leak” is justifiable. The leak seems to benefit the government to get on with its hyped anti UN campaign,on the report.

2. This panel is being projected as a “UN Expert Panel” and often times as an “official report” of the UN itself, which it is clearly not. The CSD wish to stress that this is a panel appointed by the UNSG using his discretion to have him advised on allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed during the last phase of the war in Sri Lanka, as raised in international fora. There was no resolution adopted by the UN or by the UN Human Rights Commission (UN HRC) that required such official investigations. Therefore, this report by this advisory panel, in no way binds the UN to proceed any further on the Sri Lankan war crimes issue and it is not binding on the UN SG to have it discussed in any UN body. It is not that this government is unaware of this “limitation” to this panel and its report.

Therefore it is necessary to seriously note, this undue and distorted importance given to the panel and its report by the government in using it for petty political advantage by public campaigning, is not how a responsible government is expected to respond, in such circumstances. Whipping up public anger on this issue for popularity sake, would only have adverse political implications with further polarisation of the already fractured society.

3. Not too surprisingly, the main Opposition parties in the South do not take any positively progressive position, that would challenge the government and its hyped pseudo patriotic campaign. They only wish to say, its not only the government that is patriotic, they too are patriotic. This has, as always, allowed the government to plough through its partisan politics and create a very polarised society on which it dominates with Sinhala sentiments. A situation very apparent with this panel's report too.

4. There is hardly any possibility of the UN SG using his discretion in recommending any of the conclusions of this report to the UN General Assembly or to the UN HRC for any follow up on it.

The UN in its entire history has not intervened seriously and impartially in any conflict. There are over 230 UN Resolutions on Israel in relation to the Palestinian struggle, with none given any serious meaning.

Even the official 04 member UN Fact Finding Team report on Gaza in 2009 September, that has very strong recommendations to the UN Security Council, has not seen any worthwhile UN intervention, except for the confusion created by the team Chairman, over the very report he co-authored.

The UN has not proved to date, it is a world body that has enough muscle to work on its own and is being manipulated by major players in its Security Council, who are all leading arms manufacturing countries. While some countries were pressured to make “statements of concern on civilian casualties”, none ever wanted to stop the war against the LTTE. They think and play the same in this post 9/11 world, where any armed conflict is interpreted as “terrorism” and hence agree on military answers.

5. While conceding that Ban Ki-moon's advisory panel report is not a serious international intervention on the Sri Lankan war crimes issue, the CSD believes the contents of the report now available in the public domain as its “executive summary” are not totally new concerns, but concerns that were being highlighted and discussed in our own society too. It needs to be stressed further, the answers and redress the North and East Tamil people asked for, when they went in front of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) established by Presidential decree, are all what this panel report is about. It is on that condition the CSD feels the contents of the report are worthy of serious consideration for reconciliation and in finding answers to the political conflict that needs to be answered democratically.

We do note the government has in the past been apathetic to the issues of the Tamil people and other minorities. This is reason why the international community at times and the Tamil Diaspora most consistently, keep raising humanitarian issues and war crimes. The CSD therefore wish to stress the need to stop all popular Southern campaigns that alienate the North and East further and request the government to immediately reconstitute the All Party Representative Committee (APRC), including the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the United National Party (UNP) along with all previous representation, to table the full report it received from the UN SG, to use the political opportunity the panel's report has thus created. This we firmly believe would give justice to all who deserve justice, in this post war Sri Lanka and provide for a more democratic future for all.

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