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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.

Punishment

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.

Separate State

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 away.

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 resign.

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 repercussions?

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 policies.

Major perpetrators

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 blocs.

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 global peace.

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 terrorists.

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.

LTTE role

Q: What is the role of the LTTE in the UNHRC anti-Sri Lanka lobby?

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 hard-earned peace.

Q: You have criticised the LLRC recommendations. In the light of the HRC challenges, what is the Jathika Hela Urumaya stance on the LLRC report?

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 bill.

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.

 

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