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Is there any legal basis for intl. pressure on Sri Lanka?

Pressure is mounted on Sri Lanka by many International Organisations and world leaders on the trapped civilians in the small strip of 4 km boxed and surrounded by Sri Lankan forces. Do the international community have a right to pressure us and are we bound to listen or follow their advice?

Those who are in the forefront on the “Group” of the school of thoughts in favour are the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Japan, United States, United Nations Organisation and some International NGOs. They are concerned about the trapped civilians in the “Boxed Area” which according to George Master - the defected LTTE leader is around 10,000 whereas those who fled for freedom from the LTTE and currently looked after by the Sri Lankan Government is around 192,000 which is unprecedented and unusual by any standard.

In addition, they urge a longstanding political solution and an immediate ceasefire or a `Pause’.(Please refer to my article in the `Daily News’ on May 2 on Abusing International Conventions and the other article on Human Rights and Human Shields on May 5 Sunday Observer) for the conflict of three decades with the loss of thousands of lives and destruction of national economy. For some unseen or strange reason some of those who are interested and concerned about us do not appreciate the positive aspects and the success story of the completion of the 30-year war in three years with minimum casualties with utmost professionalism. These are the forgotten factors of the series of events. It is the last lap of the Humanitarian Military Operation and the trapped LTTE needs a lifeline to rearm and regroup as has been done in many previous occasions.

Limit

There is a limit to which Sri Lankan President can withstand the international pressure as it is not possible for us to live in isolation in the world family where we too are interlinked and interwoven in international economy and politics. President Rajapaksa is a respected and responsible leader, who is bound by international law.

Strangely there is sympathy and support for the organisation proscribed by many countries as illegal inside and outside the country. This support is mainly due to the activism of the LTTE front organisations, large in number, strength of the diaspora and their financial and organisational resources. The West is clear and firm that the humanitarian exercise should be given a pause for the safety of the trapped civilians and terrorism and LTTE should be clamped down politically rather than militarily. In fact civilians trapped by the LTTE forcibly as a human shield should be their main concern.

They are least concerned about the long drawn war on terror by the GOSL and LTTE atrocities the military and political successes. USSR, China, South Asian and African countries are backing Sri Lanka. India is renewing the request for Prabhakaran seeking extradition every year for the murder of their beloved leader.

The Sri Lankan President is firm and unshaken in his stand on the war on terror and liberation of the trapped brethren with the help of the majority of the member nations of the world family. `Pause’, cessation of hostilities or ceasefire will give a new lifeline to reorganise and reactivate the LTTE as has been done before and they have shown an amassing ability to regroup and reorganise with the remaining resources. His address to the diplomatic community is welltimed and appropriate. He is not shaken by the pressure and endless telephone calls and meetings of misguided foreign dignitaries.

In 1997, LTTE was proscribed by the United States as a terror group followed by EU and many other countries. At the same time LTTE was flying high with the powerful arms deals, business and naval network, underworld network of drug trade and human smuggling backed by the Tamil diaspora. LTTE is categorised as the most ruthless and feared terrorist organisation in the world by the USA in addition to listing it as a terror organisation by many members of the world family.

Today LTTE has got the worst blow in its history of three decades. Cadre is reduced to a few hundred and the area in control is around four square kilometres. A part of the misguided Tamil diaspora is still influencing some countries to take the issue of the trapped civilians as a human right issue and agitate for a ceasefire or a `pause’, stigmatising Tamil diaspora as a support group of world terrorism to which the west claims to be vehemently against.

Attack of the LTTE on Sri Lankan, Indian and Chinese diplomatic missions (please vide my article in Nation on April 19 on Protection to diplomatic missions and international law) indicates the desperation of the LTTE which is on the run.

A group of parliamentarians in the United Kingdom including Des Brown - self appointed Sri Lankan envoy of UK for Sri Lanka visited Sri Lanka urging Amnesty for the Terrorists, a political dialogue, and an everlasting solution to the North East issue. Carl Bildst the Foreign Minister of Sweden who claims to be an expert on Sri Lanka says that he was refused visa when the Sri Lankan government has vehemently denied such refusal. USA, UK and EU, though they speak of Human Rights of other countries have a questionable record in the respective countries and counties under their control. Strangely the killing and disappearances of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan under their control are large in number and indiscriminate killings of civilians in the Gaza Strip have not been questioned by the world body or many other countries in the west. There are loads of decisions from the UN on the atrocities and killing of civilians in the Gaza strip, which are only confined to papers. There are no motions or discussion of civilian deaths by error of judgment and

crossfire in Iraq and Afghanistan and no moves to make representation or visits to Iraq or Afghanistan though the circumstances are more serious. Yet the west claims that world has a legitimate right to intervene in gross violations of Human Rights in the world on the basis it is a threat to world peace and based on the legitimate right of a member of the world family signatory to the UN UNHCER and other Humanitarian and Human Right Instruments.

Afghanistan bombing

The bombing of over 250 civilians in Afghanistan by the American forces is confirmed by the Red Cross. Americans are uninvited guests to Afghanistan as an occupying force self installed in the guise of eliminating Al Queda Movement and looking for Bin Laden the leader. Thousands of Army personnel and civilians have been killed and there is no sign of victory or finding the leader who is still active. 828 civilians were killed in 2008 and 90 in Azizgbad village. Americans have no legal basis to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq.

It was proved the basis on which the USA obtained the UN authority for self defence and preserve world peace was incorrect as no materials of mass destruction were found in Iraq by the UN inspectors.

Tolerant society

The Sri Lankan issue has been mismanaged and mishandled by successive Sri Lankan governments since the inception until it was internalised and established worldwide. The formation of a Tamil diaspora in the west is a part of the problem. Sri Lankans found their way to the west in the guise of asylum seekers seeking protection of the Refugee Convention to which most western countries are signatory to. Refugees and their second generation in the west are in hundreds of thousands. Their vote in the UK is important as the deciding factor. Election is nearing and the UK is a tolerant society and tends to believe the version of the Diaspora in the absence of powerful government propaganda by the inert and ineffective Diplomatic Missions. Election is nearing and the reports we receive are that the Tories (Conservatives) are heading for victory and Labour is now worried and agitated. The group of Members of Parliament including Des Brown, Edward Mc Grady, John Bercou, Malcoin Brouce and Mohamed Sarwar is unusual and unprecedented. They are asking for International Diplomatic due process. Des Brown’s inclusion to the hurriedly arranged delegation to Sri Lanka utterly undiplomatic as Sri Lanka promptly and vehemently opposed the self appointment of an envoy for the North and the East issue which is strictly an internal affair of a sovereign country of the world family.

Both lndia and United Kingdom are playing a safe and a shrewd game as every nation in the world family is selfish and self-centred. Every country and organisation has a different agenda and we must act accordingly on our agenda. To the credit of the Sri Lankan President he has been successfully managing international affairs in our favour considering the complicated international turmoil due to credit crunch and unstable political and economic conditions which have shaken the world. We are pleased the Sri Lankan President is acting according to our own agenda and needs despite enormous international and local pressure.

The writer is an LL.M London (International Law and Relations) Solicitor in England and Wales - Chair SAARC Centre in the United Kingdom

sarath8@hotmail.com

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