Lies, damn lies and diplomats: LLRC placebo is not for consumption

by Pearl Thevanayagam

(April 12, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Diplomacy is lying with panache for the State and diplomats propagate their lies coated in convincing lingo that you are left with wondering, ‘My God, they could be telling the truth.’

The LLRC commissioner and former diplomat H.M.G.S. Palikkara argued expertly and convincingly how Sri Lanka could forge ahead with development, post-conflict resolution, reconciliation et al under the able leadership of President Mahinda Rajapakse. His presentation to Global Perspective published by Sri Lanka Guardian yesterday would convince most Western audience which do not have the time or necessity to delve into a war which rendered many homeless and stateless and which annihilated a sizeable proportion of the ethnic Tamils.

The term diaspora was latched on to this status rather than calling them simply refugees since the latter term would forever prick the conscience of the perpetrators of this war, namely the State, the LTTE (remnants of those who operate from abroad) and of course those nations which supported the war on both sides.

Palikkara states, ‘Sri Lanka has signed international treaties and other agreements, each of which require us to share with other countries and multilateral institutions reports and rationale for some of our sovereign decisions. This certainly is not a subjugation of our sovereignty to anyone else. This is an act of exercising our sovereignty, and expressing the strength of our system to be transparent, accountable and reasonable, first to ourselves and then to others.’

Transparency, accountability and rationale are lacking in the approach of the government post-war and the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) which recently concluded public sittings in the districts of Jaffna, Batticaloa, Mannar, Trincomalee, Vavuniya, Puttalam, Matara, Ampara, Moneragala, Galle and Anuradhapura at an initial expense of Rs 10 million, is not given the mandate to present its report to public scrutiny. Rather the report will be presented to the President.

In plain language, the LLRC’s main aim is to learn lessons on what happened between 2002 and 2009 so as not allow to allow events to recur and recommend measures to rectify the situation.

Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the President’s older brother, went on record late last year that more funds would be allocated to the LLRC which extended its deadline by another six months. All in all, no less than Rs 20 million would have been spent on the eight commissioners and administration of compiling this report which is bound to be put in cold storage despite the international community demanding to see it not unlike the other commission reports which preceded the LLRC report.

But, the LLRC findings are being awaited by international donors while the earlier commissions were examining internal malpractices and violations of human rights such as disappearances, mass graves and NGO malpractices.

Sri Lanka has already lost out on its GSP+ concession last year which was suspended pending improvements on the human rights front.

Meanwhile External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris is wringing his hands saying there are no funds to rehabilitate the displaced civilians.

Let us take point by point what the government had achieved or failed to achieve since May 19, 2009.

1. Displaced civilians have been repatriated to their villages and towns but assistance to re-build their lives and homes given by foreign donors are not reaching the victims. Rather they are channelled through politicians who favour their own supporters over the deserving.

2. Building contracts are commissioned to those from the South to the detriment of indigenous North and Easterners. Investment opportunities are meted out to banks and corporations from the South.

3. Were it not for the funds sent to relatives by refugees abroad, the repatriated civilians would not have survived in the areas devastated by the war.

4. Money sent by refugees from abroad is mainly sustaining the country’s economy as a whole since the government has failed to prosper post war economically due to lavish spending and losses in the public sector and huge defense expenditure which depleted 4.3 percent of the GDP as of 2009 compared to 1.4 percent in 1983.

5. Large scale settling of Sinhalese who were not originally from the North and East is perceived as forced Sinhala colonisation.

6. While the LTTE cadres are being rehabilitated many are still languishing in jails without recourse to legal representation.

7. Media continues to be intimidated and media houses are target of government supported politicians and thugs.

8. Corruption island-wide has not abated (this is nothing new) and job placements in the public sector are still at the mercy of the ruling politicians.

Just so that I do not bore the readership with lengthy discourse I shall continue my views in my next instalment.

Meanwhile the likes of Palikkara should not for one moment believe that pre LLRC propaganda for the State would be swallowed hook, line and sinker by the discerning public and more to the point by the international community. This placebo is not for consumption.

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