another nail in the coffin at UNHRC

| by Pearl Thevanayagam

( March 02, 2014 , Bradford, UK, Sri Lanka Guardian) Beneath the façade of a resplendent and serendib isle rejuvenated following the victory over LTTE terrorism there arises the murky world of mass graves springing from its four corners like mushrooms.

The vanquishing of the Tigers almost five years ago was a boon and a bane. The political pundits are imparting their opinions in a mighty hurry on how the Ides of March would bode for the government.

The naysayers who like S.L. Gunasekera, G.L.Peiris, Udaya Gammanpila not to mention Dayan Jayatilleka and Ravinath Aryasinghe are sending out feelers and siding with the government that UNHRC has a hope in hell indicting it for war crimes. Then there are those who want Sri Lanka’s war crimes swept under the carpet and move on with reconciliation, re- development and economic recovery.

Almost five years have elapsed since the government stamped out Tiger terrorism. But it also stands accused of war crimes mostly against Tamils who played no part in terrorism as is evidenced by emerging war-time accounts from victims, surviving LTTE cadres, government soldiers and humanitarian agencies.

Ms Navi Pillay, the UNHRC high commissioner is reviled by the government for her stubborn stance on bringing the government to accountability for war crimes. Just days to go and Sri Lanka will stand in the UNHRC docks to face war crimes tribunal. By now Ms Pillay would have tomes of evidence not just from Sri Lanka but from Tamil refugees abroad, immigration solicitors, human rights agencies such as AI (Amnesty International), CAT (campaign against torture), psychologists engaged by foreign governments to assess asylum seekers both male and female of rape and torture. The list of tangible evidence out there is endless.

The bleating from former VC of the University of Colombo and bed-hopping foreign minister G.L.Peiris that UNHRC is hounding Sri Lankan government reflects his deviousness and masks his own conscience to the extent he sincerely and truly believes war crimes were never committed by the government. He is suffering from selective amnesia not unlike Dayan Jayatilleka and Ravinath Ariyasinghe.

GLP would tell that UNHRC has no clout per se and the government would conduct its own investigation and if there is evidence of war time atrocities it will deal with them in its own way. More than 37 media personnel killed and not a single suspect apprehended the government is a bit of a joke and complacent to the point of lunacy.

The so-called terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratne stands accused of giving false testimony in Canadian courts regarding Tamil refugees they were LTTE terrorists and penalised. This comes as no surprise since from Day One when he started writing books on LTTE at the behest of President Premadasa who paid him handsomely, he has become a laughing stock for his blatant lies.

The above-mentioned are fine masters of spinning yarns. Their tapestries consist of a tissue of lies and imagination and they enhance them with few obscure third-hand evidence. None had been anywhere in the war zone but they would pontificate and swear by all deities war crimes were only committed by the LTTE and the government carried out humanitarian rescue!!.
But to their credit they are good public orators not unlike “Dr” Mervyn Silva, the President’s genuflector and Wimal Weerawansa.

If Sri Lanka was Syria or Bosnia the government would have been toppled within months but alas, Sri Lanka has no strategic interest to the West in that it has no oil or minerals and its populace are not fair-skinned, blue eyed and blond.

The government tells us to move on and forget the past. Political pundits who have never sighted the war zone are offering sagely advice on reconciliation and redevelopment. There is nothing more Tamil victims of war want than a life of normalcy. They have suffered enough in the hands of successive governments which used some opportunistic Tamils to serve their purposes such as Lakshman Kadirgamar who even some blind journalists in the diaspora hail as a statesman.

LK was a pawn in the government of CBK as much as Appeal Court Judge Palakidnar in siding with CBK in the overturning of votes in her favour in the WPC elections in 1994. Palakidnar was richly rewarded with a plum property in Dehiwela worth millions.

But UNHRC is a serious international organisation and it shows no knee-jerk response. Its mandate stretches far beyond government propaganda and its experts gather evidence, conduct their own research and investigation devoid of rumours and hearsay.

Whether war victims will get justice and reach closure or remains with the West and South Asian neighbours who supported the war against minority Tamils directly by supplying arms and ammunition and intelligence to the Sri Lankan government.

White-washing war crimes with economic recovery or redeveloping the nation will not cut much ice if Tamils are not compensated in full. That is, redeeming their lands and property, demilitarising their zones, stopping Sinhala colonisation and allocating aid given by international donors to the North and East ethnic minorities instead of shifting Sinhala businesses there to profit and compensating their losses. This is the least the government can do if it wants to save its face.

(The writer has been a journalist for 25 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005 the membership of which is 200 from 40 countries. She can be reached at pearltheva@hotmail.com)


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