West attempting to impede reconciliation - Minister Ranawaka
Power and Energy Minister and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) General
Secretary Patali Champika Ranawaka says the US is trying to ‘settle a
score’ with Sri Lanka by passing a resolution at the UN Human Rights
Council sessions, an action that would appease only the LTTE
under-currents which are trying to re-group and achieve their separatist
goals through the UN.
He said other countries must realise that a negative resolution on
Sri Lanka will not help the ongoing domestic process for complete
reconciliation among its peoples, but instead scuttle the process,
empowering the forces working against the country.
He says there is more than one reason why Sri Lanka is being targeted
by certain sections of the international community, one being its
strategic positioning in the Indian Ocean, which would be the ‘Hub’ of
all economic activities in the 21st century. American journalist and
alleged CIA strategist, Robert Kaplan has discussed Sri Lanka’s
strategic location in his latest book Monsoon.
“They must penalise the terrorists in their countries for killing and
harming civilians, not a government which succeeded in defeating
terrorists,” Minister Ranawaka said.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: A US-drafted resolution against Sri Lanka is anticipated at
the 19th sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in
Geneva in the coming days. Why do you think Sri Lanka has been singled
out on accountability charges by certain countries at the HRC?
A: I think there are many reasons behind this move. Some
members have tried every possible avenue to reprimand Sri Lanka. In June
2009, a section of the international community tabled a similar
resolution on accountability allegations against Sri Lanka, but we
defeated it with the help of friendly nations.
Thereafter, they tried to have an ad-hoc expert panel, the Darusman
Panel investigating the final phase of the conflict. It was appointed
outside the UN Charter. These forces attempted to pass a resolution in
the UN Security Council as well. When all this failed, they are
discussing a resolution at the HRC once again. The US may try to soften
it, because they have to get votes from other Member States in the HRC.
Whether it is a diluted or aggressive version of the resolution, it
is very clear that they are going to take some harsh, unjustifiable
action against Sri Lanka.
I see various reasons for this action. One is a personal reason for
Blake. When he was here, he developed personal grudges with certain
individuals and institutions. He is taking the issues here personally.
This campaign is waged by Blake and his team, especially Samantha Powell
and the Democratic Party’s NGO lobby.
The second reason is that the LTTE was their cat’s paw; they used the
LTTE to destabilise the region.
During the final phase of the conflict, they realised that the LTTE
is going to be eliminated. They wanted to intervene. The Government
refused to comply and they got humiliated in this exercise.
Another reason is that Sri Lanka did not toe the line according to US
whims and fancies. They wanted to punish us as an example to others.
It’s a way of teaching lessons. Extreme Tamil forces who have migrated
overseas funded politicians in the USA, UK and Canada and lobbied them
in their electoral constituencies. In the UK, some Labour Party MPs
employed LTTE supporters in their staff.
Apart from these reasons, there is a bigger threat for them. In the
19th century, 90 percent of goods and services were transported via sea
lanes. The economic hubs at the time were North America and Europe; the
most important ocean was the Atlantic Ocean. In the 20th Century we saw,
apart from Europe and USA, the Soviet Union, Japan, China, Korea and
other Asian tigers coming into this picture. The Pacific Ocean between
North America and East Asia emerged as the new economic hub.
In the 21st Century, this strategic point would be the Indian Ocean,
from Iran to Indonesia. If you consider the container traffic, 50
percent of the containers transported go through the Indian Ocean. Sixty
percent of fossil fuels and other minerals such as copper, Aluminium,
ferrous and non-ferrous material are being transported via the Indian
Ocean. Emerging economies such as India, China, Indonesia, Iran and
Central Asia countries will dominate the world in time to come.
The US has clearly perceived the connection between the countries in
the Indian Ocean and the new movers and shakers of the global economy.
Geographically, economically and politico-militarily, they are the force
which is going to pose a serious challenge to USA’a global hegemony.
They have clearly understood this threat.
To substantiate my claim, you could refer to Robert Kaplan’s new book
Monsoon. He is a strategist for the CIA. He wrote a book speaking about
the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean.
He has written (quote)“The rise of these countries (including India,
Pakistan, China, Indonesia, Burma, Oman, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and
Tanzania) represents a shift in the global balance that cannot be
ignored. The Indian Ocean area will be the true nexus of world power and
conflict in the coming years. It is here that the fight for democracy,
energy independence, and religious freedom will be lost or won, and it
is here that American foreign policy must concentrate if America is to
remain dominant in an ever-changing world.”
Kaplan has clearly identified Sri Lanka as a hub on the Indian Ocean
which is going against US interests. They are here, trying to replicate
Syria and Iran in Sri Lanka.
They destroyed Afghanistan, they are destabilising Pakistan and
Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan up to Russia.
They are in Myanmar. They divided Indonesia.
They are tying to form a separate country in Aceh. They overthrew
Mahathir Mohammad in Malaysia and chased away Thaksin Shinawatra in
Thailand. All the powerful leaders who defied the US has been chased
Look at the Maldives as an example: President Nasheed came into power
as a green light boy of the Western Powers, but after a couple of years,
he realised that not a cent has been invested in his country by these
Western powers. Then he changed his foreign policy and created close
political ties with India, China and Sri Lanka. Nasheed was made to
Similar things may happen here. This is not because of the LTTE
problem, this is an effort to hegemonise this region by US imperialist
forces. US economic might is receding, but they are using military and
political force to restore their lost hegemony.
Q: If the resolution goes ahead as planned, what would be the
A: They passed a resolution against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
This simply said the UN should allow these countries to supply
humanitarian aid to the Benghazi people who were by then encircled by
Gaddafi’s forces. However, instead of humanitarian aid, they supplied
arms to Benghazi insurgents and carried out air strikes targeting Libyan
forces. They declared unilateral no fire zones. Fighting cadre from
Marine forces, SAS and Delta Force were dropped to lead insurgents.
That was their interpretation of humanitarian aid. The ‘humanitarian
aid’ was actually a disguised military intervention. Likewise, they can
pass a very softened version of a resolution at the UNHRC, or they may
not be able to pass any resolution. With Iran they tried and failed to
pass various resolutions. Then the US took action against Iran using its
own power. They imposed sanctions against Iran.
Against Sri Lanka, their first aim is to pass a softened version of a
resolution, containing an innocent demand such as implementing the LLRC
recommendations. Then they will use this as a tool to intervene in the
internal affairs of the country.
If they fail to do so at the HRC, the US may impose trade sanctions.
We have to be prepared for any eventuality. But we will not allow anyone
to compromise our sovereignty and hard-earned peace and also the dignity
of our soldiers.
Q: Will this resolution pave the way for a war crimes probe
against Sri Lankan leaders?
A: For the time being, I don’t see anything of that sort, but
they may try that. Their sole aim is to change the regime and its tough
Q: When it comes to war crimes, the US and UK had been major
perpetrators. Why can’t the HRC initiate similar action against these
countries? After all, the allegations against them are older than those
against Sri Lanka.
A: According to their own war logs that have now been leaked
to The Guardian newspaper in the UK, 109,000 innocent civilians were
killed in Iraq by US forces. In Afghanistan this number is about 300,000
and in Pakistan 48,000.
They are the real criminals who are going against the Geneva
Convention and who violate principles of proportionality – when the
Taliban used hand grenades and AK-47s, the US forces used missiles,
rockets and air strikes to cause thousands of civilian deaths.
They blatantly violated the Geneva Convention, but still maintain
their hegemonic policies in the UN system. This is the reason why we
call for a change in the UN system. When the UN was formed in 1945 and
the Charter was promulgated, the US and the Europe dominated the world.
Seventy percent of the global economy was represented by these two power
The situation has drastically changed now. Their economic share is
about 40 percent.
They don’t enjoy the former economic and demographic might. They
don’t even have the military might. Therefore, this structure in the
power balance within the UN system should be changed, from the Security
Council to other affiliated councils. The new emerging powers such as
China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and Pakistan should come
over and exercise their power. The unilateral actions of the US damage
Q: Sri Lanka is criticised over the deaths of civilians which
occurred in early 2009, is it?
A: In 2011, the Department of Census and Statistics conducted
a survey in the Northern Province. In 2009, from January to May, the
total number of deaths that had occurred were 11,172. Out of this, 2,500
people died due to natural causes and 7,934 due to suicides, homicides,
accidents and other causes. Those who migrated and simply vanished
account for 2,635.
There are witness’ accounts that the LTTE deliberately killed a large
number of civilians. What are the charges against the LTTE?
Rudrakumaran, Fr. Emmanuel, Vinayagam and Nediyavan based in foreign
states are LTTEers.
They are still LTTEers and they still believe in separatism. No
action has been taken against these people. Rudrakumaran is residing in
the US. It is their duty to prosecute these people. Innocent Tamils were
killed because the LTTE took them as a human shield. It was a rescue
operation and a hostage situation. No matter how advanced the Army is,
in a terrorist hostage situation like that, people cannot be rescued
without getting someone harmed. During the Taj hotel scene in Mumbai,
how many people were killed? In Chechnya during the school hostage
incident, how many innocent children were killed? That is the reality.
They must penalise the terrorists in their countries for killing and
harming civilians, not the government which succeeded in defeating
Q: The Sri Lankan Government is calling for greater
transparency within the HRC. Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commissioner
has called for a mechanism to obtain the cooperation of unyielding
members; is that right?
A: Navi Pillai is definitely partial, she is now trying to
intervene with the internal mechanisms of autonomous countries. That is
very clear. In the HRC system, the funding agencies determine the
functions and the ‘way of doing things’. This is why we feel that the
entire UN system needs to be restructured. The UK is nowhere in the
global power bloc, politically, economically or socially, but it is
exercising enormous power within the UN.
Q: What is the role of the LTTE in the UNHRC anti-Sri Lanka
A: Definitely, the LTTE rump is re-grouping. The different
factions of the group are unifying to destabilise the country. If they
succeed in their mission, the LTTE will raise its ugly head again.
Q: The main Opposition, the UNP and the JVP, claim that the
protests last week are intended to give breathing space to the
Government over oil prices and other contentious issues?
A: The JVP is least qualified to say that, they were, at one time,
very vociferous against foreign intervention. This threat is real and
they must acknowledge that before it’s too late. Economic problems are
there. We will not deny that fact. They are free to protest against
those things, but it has to be through non-violent means. A few elements
are trying to use these Opposition protests to scuttle the democratic
process and the prevailing peace. Their intentions are clear. They are
trying to pave the way for foreign intervention.
Q: What was the necessity to call for people’s protests
against the US move at the HRC?
A: It was not a protest, but a show of people’s unity and
strength. Inspite of our political, ethnic and religious differences,
Sri Lankans are united to face the challenge. We are not going to
compromise our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our
Q: You have criticised the LLRC recommendations. In the light
of the HRC challenges, what is the Jathika Hela Urumaya stance on the
A: We were the first to criticise the LLRC report, because the
commissioners simply overstepped their mandate. Their mandate was to
analyse the reasons and the circumstances as to why the peace process of
former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe failed. The time was February
22, 2002 to May 19, 2009.
Instead, they talk about ethnic problem, devolution of power, good
governance and the right to information act. These matters are for the
Parliament to take action on. The Parliament is responsible for any
legislative action. We were right to condemn the LLRC report because now
the US has picked it up from the LLRC.
They no more talk about accountability issues. They want devolution,
good governance, and the implementation of the right to information
They use the LLRC as a base to substantiate their claims. Everyone
here blindly praised the LLRC report. We were the only people who
realised the dangers of some of their recommendations.
There are many constructive recommendations but some of the key
proposals go beyond their mandate.