UN must excavate truth buried in LLRC

The fact remains that almost every Tamil from the North and East who has taken refuge in foreign countries had a family member or relative either killed, wounded, widowed or witnessed the war in its final stages. Yet the government insists no civilians were killed by the government security forces.
by Pearl Thevanayagam

(April 30, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The title of LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) based on South Africa’s TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) speaks for itself in that it is not the function of the LLRC to find out the truth. Truth is brazenly omitted in the title.

Right from the very beginning of the sittings this disregard to find out the truth of the war was clearly manifest in the kind of witnesses summoned to give evidence before the LLRC. Rohan Gunaratne, who claims to be a terrorism expert although international think-tanks have proved him to be a fraudster and not at all an expert on terrorism, some retired civil servants who never were in the theatre of war, media pundits who never left their editorial chairs except for briefings anddiplomatic pow-wows and octogenarian experts who could not tell a terrorist from a government soldier if he wore a cyanide capsule openly round his neck and carried an AK 47 are some main witnesses the commission relied upon.

Evidence was also heard from hundreds of war witnesses in the Wanni and relgious dignitaries. I would indeed be a miracle if the LLRC report contained any of the evidence from the last category mentioned.

Having followed and written daily media reports of three Presidential Commissions of Inquiry in the early nineties and none published for public scrutiny I have no faith in the LLRC commission and as widely known it remains a hoodwinking tactic of the government to brush aside criticism of war crimes particularly from the international community.

The fact remains that almost every Tamil from the North and East who has taken refuge in foreign countries had a family member or relative either killed, wounded, widowed or witnessed the war in its final stages. Yet the government insists no civilians were killed by the government security forces.

Frantic efforts by Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris into briefing the diplomatic corps only seem to reinforce the desperation of the government that in the near future it needs to face trial by the UN for war crimes, GLP’s repeated mantra that the report is not a UN report but only a report of the advisory panel set by the UNSG (United Nations Secretary General) not withstanding. GLP is not exactly known for his honesty. Remember his Nepal blunder when he was left with egg all over his face as the Nepalese government flatly denied it sought MR’s advice on how to quell its rebellion.

I remember another occasion during a cabinet press briefing when GLP proudly declared that henceforth all press releases would be in English, Tamil and Sinhala. The briefing panel announced this in English and Sinhala and we never saw Tamil press releases afterwards. When I questioned this, that irrepressible Alavi Moulana quipped, “Surely all journalists understand English”, to much laughter and immediate serving of snacks to stave off further volleys.

While GLP who on the one hand announces very frequently ( faster than Bloomberg update) that the advisory panel’s report to the UNSG is seriously flawed etc. etc he also sanctimoniously declares that the government will not be demonstrating or staging protest against the UN. Then he goes one step further and states the UN advisory panel could read the LLRC report (if it ever gets out in its fullest and honest form).

All the while President Rajapakse is calling the nation to join in a countrywide protest on May Day against the report!!! Utter madness and rot has set into the satellites surrounding the President and if this trend carries on he would be escorted in a strait jacket before the international court of justice. Perhaps then he could plead insanity and escape severe penalty.

By the way May Day marks the 18th anniversary of the assassination by an LTTE suicide bomber of the island’s most loved President, Ranasinghe Premadasa by the poorest of the poor and who not only promised one million houses for the homeless but delivered among his other well-known gestures such as free nutritious school meals and daily milk rations and of course Janasaviya program to help the poor become self-employed.

It would be too much to ask of the President to honour this statesman on May Day.

No leader of this country ever courted terrorists as overtly as President Rajapakse. Now there are reports Pathmanathan alias KP, the procurer of arms for the LTTE is willing to appear before the UN to give evidence supporting the government stance on eliminating the LTTE. Two ex-LTTE leaders Karuna and Pillayan are enjoying the President’s patronage and are now ministers in the government.

Another maverick and early compatriot of Tamil rebels, Douglas Devananda, has channelled his militant combat training in Lebanon and Israel to the now infamous `white van abductions and killings for ransom’ which is a side cottage industry with the direct blessings of the government. He also generates much influence among foreign politicians except in the UK where he is denied visa. He is in charge of the North and East administration and he flaunts his authority so much so that even North East university appointments have to pass muster with this VIP former Tamil militant.

It is now apt to quote a local saying that the woodpecker pecked all the hardwood trees with success but finally caught its beak in a pliant and soft papaw tree. Matthew Russell Lee reporting for Inner City Press yesterday stated that the UNSG has the power to ask the Human Rights Council (an arm of the General Assembly) or the Credentials Committee to follow up on the advisory panel’s report as was done on Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).

Apologist media for the government in Colombo claim that it is only the Tamils living abroad who are making the loudest noise about the UNSG’s report and that the Tamils living in Sri Lanka are greatly  relieved President Mahinda Rajapakse brought terrorism to an end. Nothing could be furthest from the truth. Imagine  their plight if they even uttered a word against the government. If the government cannot tolerate criticism from Sinhalese media what chances have the Tamils got?

So it behoves us Tamils in foreign climes to keep the momentum and seek the truth followed by justice. Then perhaps opportunities may arise for reconciliation. But for now the wounds are still fresh.

Pearl Thevanayagam can be reached at pearltheva@hotmail.com. Constructive comments are welcome and regrettably abusive emails would be ignored.

Tell a Friend