Lanka can tackle its internal problems
It seems to be the practice of
LTTE sympathisers and a section of the Tamil diaspora to step up their
various campaigns against Sri Lanka before every session of the UN
Security Council or UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).
The LTTE sympathisers and a section of the Tamil diaspora have been
levelling various allegations time and again on human rights violations
and media freedom to exert pressure on the Government or on the other
hand to slow down anti-terror campaigns.
Although the Security Forces eliminated terrorism and vanquished the
LTTE leadership, its 'international wings' are making every effort to
resurrect the now defunct terrorist organisation which was once
considered the most ruthless terror outfit in the world.
We wonder whether there is any nexus between the recent controversial
report of the International Crisis Group (ICG) and the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights Navanetham Pillay's call for an
international probe against Sri Lanka on alleged war crimes.
Firstly, the ICG issued a controversial report on Sri Lanka with a
plethora of concocted stories. The ICG chief, Louise Arbour, the former
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a questionable manner, has
given an undue advantage to the LTTE.
Her successor at the UNHRC, Pillay too has joined the bandwagon,
demanding that the UN should take Sri Lanka to task, perhaps for reasons
best known to her. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights maintained
that Sri Lanka needs an international probe despite the Government
having set up a post-war reconciliation commission to look into alleged
human rights violations.
"Based on previous experience and new information, I remain convinced
that such objectives would be better served by establishing an
independent international accountability mechanism that would enjoy
public confidence, both in Sri Lanka and elsewhere," Pillay was quoted
Simultaneously, the UN said it is in the process of selecting the
members to be part of a panel to advise UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
on the implementation of the commitments the Government of Sri Lanka
made in the area of human rights accountability.
Nevertheless, following a key meeting last week between External
Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris and the US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, the United States supported Sri Lanka's move in its opposition
to appoint a UN panel to probe human rights issues. The US said it feels
the Commission of Reconciliation appointed by President Mahinda
Rajapaksa "holds promise". Despite the controversial action by the UN,
the US Secretary of State feels that the local commission holds promise
and expects that it will fulfil the expectations.
It is indeed heartening to see the US extending its strong support to
political and ethnic reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Clinton noted that Sri
Lanka will remain a strong, united country by drawing on the strength of
all its citizens, valuing the diversity of its people, and ensuring
equal rights for all.
Arbour and Pillay should bear in mind that Sri Lanka, as a sovereign
nation, has the right to protect its sovereignty and territorial
integrity. The country is run by a democratically elected President and
a Government and it has the inalienable right to act in a manner in the
broader interests of the country and its nation.
More importantly, the people of Sri Lanka have given a clear mandate
with an overwhelming majority to the President and the Government to
continue its good work. Many countries have commended the bold and
far-sighted policies of President Rajapaksa and his Government to
eradicate terrorism and liberate over half a million people, who had
been forcibly held by the LTTE.
Attorney General Mohan Pieris has quite rightly pointed out that
Pillay regretfully seeks to prejudge the outcome of the Lessons Learnt
and Reconciliation Commission even before the mechanism has begun its
work. Sovereign States having emerged from protracted armed conflicts
resort to domestic mechanisms, as encouraged by the UN Secretary General
himself, due to the complicated nature of the issues at hand and their
domestic relevance and better understanding.
Sri Lanka has consistently upheld and established a domestic
mechanism for transitional justice, rather than one with an
international complexion, which would impinge on the very sovereignty
that was under threat for nearly three decades due to LTTE's terror
acts. It is inappropriate to be wholly guided by precedent, that too not
having paid heed to connected issues to keep advocating for a so-called
"independent international accountability mechanism".
The Government, as the Attorney General has pointed out, has
delivered on related undertakings in the past. In this instance too, we
will deliver on our commitment as the domestic mechanism's warrant
clearly provides for the identification of direct or indirect
responsibility, which would hold perpetrators, if any, accountable for
past violations, and will not be deterred by any pressure or force in
achieving a lasting peace for the people of Sri Lanka.
Those who are our protagonists should let this process commence as
envisaged, observe its progress constructively and provide the necessary
space without unwarranted and misplaced rhetoric. It was disconcerting
for the Government to be needlessly confronted, at this time of a
paradigm shift in the hearts and minds of the people, by the
observations in the High Commissioner's statement, after having taken
concrete steps in keeping with domestic compulsions, to address
post-conflict reconciliation issues.
The Attorney General said that it would be extremely unfortunate if
inter-governmental decisions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council were
to be ignored or set aside, and the High Commissioner and/or her office
were to misinterpret them or wilfully neglect them or supersede them.
Though the valiant Security Forces stamped out LTTE terror a year
ago, Tiger sympathisers, operating abroad, are making every endeavour to
regroup. We should remember that despite the annihilation of the LTTE's
conventional military capacity, we should keep a sharp eye at all times
to face the Tigers' international operations.
Sri Lanka has the ability and strength to tackle its internal
problems. The International Community should now make an active
contribution to the ongoing development work in the North and the East,
if they are sincerely interested in the well-being of the Tamil