| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(May 22, 2014, Bradford UK , Sri Lanka Guardian) The President has every reason to be jittery after his victory parade and Vesak celebrations. Neither China nor Modi’s India would side with the President when it comes to the crunch no matter how much overtures he makes by harping on Modi’s connection with Lord Buddha and China’s interest in Sri Lanka for its commercial ventures. Neither have Sri Lanka’s interest at heart.
Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic is now before Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between 1992 and 1995 as a result of UNHRC’s tireless pursuit to bring those engaged in the heinous crimes which targeted Muslim minorities in the predominantly Orthodox Christian enclave.
Deposed Yugoslavian former president Slobodan Milosevic died in Hague prison while awaiting trial by the ICC. Nine other world leaders are currently serving porridge although in VIP set-up with TV, internet facilities and special needs of their respective dietary requirements. Hague is far kinder to its war criminals whose own treatment of their freedom fighters be they government soldiers or LTTE rebels leaves much to be desired. The latter two fought a war for the ideals they believed in not envisaging successive governments were playing a cat and mouse game pitting one against the other.
Five years is a bloody long time to implement local investigative mechanism put in place before the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) and calling for grace period is testing the patience of the UNHRC.
Does the Yugoslav war criminal’s probe send any signals to our President who is living in a fool’s paradise that it could somehow divert UNHRC scrutiny through proclaiming that it won victory over the LTTE outfit which terrorised the nation for nigh on 30 years? Tell it to the man on the moon.
Sri Lankan government is under scrutiny by the same UNHRC which is scouring with a fine tooth comb evidence gathered so far to investigate its direct complicity in the massacre of 70,000 or more Tamil civilians in cold blood. By May 19, 2009 the government declared victory over the LTTE and thumped itself on its back it liberated the country of terrorism.
What the government chose to ignore is that the conduct of the war against Tamil civilians is firmly recorded by its own soldiers through mobile phones depicting the crass manner in which Isaipriya , the young TV journalist propagating on behalf of the LTTE was photographed being denuded, humiliated and raped in the military bunker; Balachandran, the son of LTTE leader shot through his chest several times; surrendering LTTE cadres shot point blank and civilians carpet bombed in an enclave they were forced to surrender where they had Hobson’s choice as to stay with the LTTE and act as human shields or save their skin surrendering to the army who pretended to come to their rescue.
The government would argue it carried out humanitarian rescue while the evidence is out there in black and white that it conducted a wilful genocide in the name of wiping out terrorism. Too many worms are coming out of the woodworks and the government had better show credible proof that its conduct during the final stages of the war in Wanni was inevitable in eradicating terrorism.
Then there is the question of the security forces’ actions which transcended any norms of rationale in killing surrendering civilians who carried white flags. The war criminals include some emissaries who were at the forefront of massacring Tamil civilians and their war crimes with the direct complicity of the brother of the President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and army commander Sarath Fonseka who is now being fielded as a possible presidential candidate should not be ignore .
Palitha Kohona, Thisara Samarasinghe, Shavindra De Silva and Sarath Fonseka are already blacklisted by the UNHRC and their days are numbered.
The government’s stern denial that it would conduct its own inquiry into alleged war crimes and not let international probe smacks of the frog - in - the well mentality which could have serious repercussions.
The UNHRC is armed with tomes of evidence of war crimes amounting to genocide and the Pakistani lawyer engaged to counter these accusations not to mention hiring the expensive Bell Pottinger advertising firm, the government has a hope in hell to save its skin.
Since Sri Lanka is up for UNHRC probe as to whether it implemented the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) recommendations so as to thwart international intervention. The accusations of war crimes are not going away as is seen in the Victory Parade celebrations where many ambassadors abstained from participating.
The government had a golden opportunity to build on the victory over terrorism. But it chose to alienate the Tamils and make North and East a military zone thereby scuttling any efforts of reconciliation. To pour oil over festering wounds it has been conducting victory parades to mark the genocide all the while converging its army in the North and East to block commemorating the kith and kin of the martyred in Mullivaikkal.
Fresh evidence of Isaipriya , the voice of the LTTE in military bunkers surrounded by soldiers, Channel 4 video, the government’s soldiers recording of video footages on mobile phones of rape and torture are on public domain.
To say the least the government is bent on obfuscating any evidence of its direct engagement in war crimes through blatant denials and citing it had the good intention of saving civilians.
From buying out the judiciary, police powers and militarising the country when the war was declared over five years ago, to selling out crown lands to private interests supporting the government the cancerous rot is eating into the very democracy and the inalienable rights of the average citizen. Blatant lies, cheating, nepotism and rampant corruption in the government has become the norm and not the exception and India would have to a take back seat where these matters are concerned in future.
Justice may be slow but it is sure. Not beating about the bush there is general consensus this government has got to go. The Rajapaksa Government is rotten to the core and this is putting it mildly.
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org)