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Time is clicking fast for the big ‘ding dong’

| by Rajasingham Jayadevan

(October 26, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lanka is enjoying greater respite on the accountability issues in the international forums since the end of its war against the LTTE in May 2009. This is due to its own creative and the much discredited internal process to deal with the issues and the outcome of it is date-lined for the 15 November 2011.

What are the chances that it will equate with the UNSG’s panel report. Oh! Well, if so, why should there be so much foul cry from the Sri Lanka quarters criticising the UNSG’s panel report?
This is the big ‘Ding Dong’ day for Sri Lanka. It is also expected ‘Ding Dong’ will take place even before the 15th to give a kneejerk to the anxiously waiting.

When the pressure mounted on Sri Lanka soon after the war, the government went on to appoint the Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) with persons accused of conflict of interest and the focus of war crimes being diluted to extend the period covered by the inquiry with the objective of making political mileage against the opposition United National Party and to muscle the international demands on war crimes.

The international human rights organisations have criticised the LLRC mandate and its panel composition and after over year of sittings the Commission has failed to focus on dealing with the war crimes issues objectively, though its mandate does not specifically state to devote much of its time on the issue.

Many of those who had given evidence so far are extremists who prop up the government and those who espouse the Sinhala national agenda. Though the Commission met few of the war victims, it was all a melodrama to project an image to the world that LLRC had reached the pained.

The million dollar question is what will be stated in the LLRC report.

Will it be more than the United Nations Secretary General’s (UNSG) panel report or equate it or will it be less than the much publicised report that has become the base document for the international outcry. Will the LLRC report take into account the Chanel 4’s ‘Killing Fields’ documentary and the several other reports of the international human rights organisations?

It is foregone conclusion that LLRC report will not and cannot be more than the UNSG’s panel report and to be so will be suicidal for the family/ military rule of the Rajapakse & Co.

What are the chances that it will equate with the UNSG’s panel report. Oh! Well, if so, why should there be so much foul cry from the Sri Lanka quarters criticising the UNSG’s panel report?

Then the only expected outcome is less than the UNSG’s panel report. Adducing from the political comments made by the LLRC spokesperson and the government, it is expected that the report will be carefully crafted as a damage limitation exercise. It may be that UNSG advisory report, C4 documentary and the reports of the international human rights NGO’s will be ridiculed, sidelined or ignored.

The LLRC report will surely praise the government’s effort to resettle the Tamils from the resettlement camps. It will drumbeat on the development work undertaken in the north. The opposition UNP, TNA and the LTTE will come under severe criticisms.

Of course, there will be mitigation with regard to dealing with the war victims. Will it be limited to awarding reparation only?

The report may go on to justify the heavy military presence in the north. It is also expected that few cases of military abuse will be reflected in the report but it will largely exonerate the forces and expected to go heavy on the LTTE.

With regard to the white flag issue and the widespread rapes, the LLRC will be crossed to argue the claims and will find ways to exonerate the government.

Finally, the political solution - it is expected some recommendation will be made in line with the governments thinking to appease the internal and international outcry.

These are gist of my thinking, and knowing the mandate of the LLRC, the present political culture and the conflict of interest of the panel of the LLRC, we cannot expect miracle like the South Africans down to earth Peace and Reconciliation Commission or to the minimum of UNSG panel report.

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