Colombo Telegraph

A Hybrid Court Of Inquiry Into War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity?

By Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

I forget who, but someone said “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

Anybody in their right mind who thinks Sri Lanka is an exception to that rule has only to take a look at the farce that is unfolding before our very eyes consequent on the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHCR) unanimously-adopted resolution in Geneva recently.

We have village idiots parading as political savants mouthing the same stupid platitude: “We will let no harm come to our war heroes from any inquiry.” This is a slogan being mouthed by demagogues from the Rajapaksa camp as well as those supporting the Maithri/Ranil coalition. That phrase regarding “protection of our war heroes from harm” simply means that the intention is that not one single member of our armed forces, numerically identical to the Russian army, should be investigated and certainly not prosecuted according to the provisions of existing Sri Lankan law, after a thirty-year conflict.

No matter how shrilly the British Channel 4’s documentaries have been abused, every person knowledgeable in the matter of “doctoring” material of this kind has stated that there is no evidence of alteration of the material. Even if opinion might suggest that they have sensationalised events, there hasn’t been an atom of evidence that the content is manufactured. I am well aware that what I have just said is going to provoke (the usual) accusations my being “in the pay of the Tigers” or acting as some kind of agent of yet another “Western conspiracy. Let’s just say that “dogs bark and caravans move on!”

To suggest that an armed force equivalent to modern Russia’s army was not guilty of any kind of “misbehaviour” during approximately thirty years of war is beyond incredible. But then those who mouth those sentiments at every news conference and on every TV talk show will be speaking to a public that gobbled up the description of the final carnage of a war among Sri Lankans as “A war of liberation,” accepting without a murmur of protest the fiction that “there were no civilian casualties.” That, my friends, was how the Rajapaksa Horde, one of whom was in fact the Commander in Chief of the armed forces in the final days of the war and now leads this country, described what occurred at Nanthikadal in 2009.

Bad enough? What’s worse is that the so-called “educated public” of this country accepted this grotesque fiction without a murmur of dissent, leave alone protest!

Fortunately, not even the most die-hard separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fan has made a similar claim on behalf of the other antagonist in this conflict and, even if one had, no notice whatsoever has been taken of such a falsehood.

The so-called “Hybrid” commission of inquiry, while it provides the only realistic “out” for those trying to maintain the fiction that the government and its forces were in no way guilty of unacceptable behaviour in “the war,” is going to be resisted ad infinitum and ad nauseam, by both ends of the current political spectrum if not also by those occupying most of the space in between.

All evidence currently points to the Ranil/Maithri coalition finding ways, with Sri Lanka’s new allies in the west, of obstructing and delaying any investigatory process until it has ceased to be of importance. Thanks to ISIS, the US, the Russians, Al Queda and who knows who else, there will be bigger and better calamities to exercise the minds of the international community as the days go by!

I can appreciate the embarrassment of those who found need of more than consultants of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn brand, better-known for his exploits among women than in international financial circles, to provide some kind of a veneer of respectability to all of this nonsense, but at least, it seems that the Maithri/Ranil coalition has resisted that temptation so far.

The mumbling, if not bumbling, apologists will, of course, continue doing what they do best: use the electronic media they control; continue writing inanities bereft of anything resembling morality or principle to the “bought-and-paid-for” print media of this country, while their buddies will write profanities and abuse against those of us who write, in the web press, in defence of what decency there might still be left in this country.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be because that’s what the political culture in Sri Lanka has descended to from its once-proud role as the Bastion of Democracy in Asia.

While all of the above seems inevitable, the rump of the LTTE overseas as well as those in the Tamil Diaspora who weren’t followers of Prabhakaran and his murderous Fascists, will ensure that life for the decision makers in Sri Lanka is not going to be a bed of roses, continuing to unleash their own barrage of fact, propaganda and invective in the media of the west. As the recently-deceased Yogi Berra is alleged to have said, “It ain’t over till it’s over!

While the world unfolds in duly ordained fashion, what is essential is that we not be stampeded by demagogues in the Weerawansa mould into adopting what seems to the rest of the world like an anthem to racist superiority that Adolf Hitler would have been envious of. Make no mistake, I am suggesting that existing law, not some Prevention of Terrorism Act, is applied against those inciting communalist violence. Nothing less will suffice, unless this government plans to accommodate the Weerawansas and Rajapaksas and simply change the “commission channel” as we return to our recent role as the outcasts of a world that believes that human rights is central to democratic governance.

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