28 October, 2020

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

By Emil van der Poorten

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 (UNHRC) 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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Latest comments

  • 6
    7

    So did anyone listen to the concerns that was raised earlier?

    There were concerns majority of Sri Lankans will not think it will do justice given one sided this process has taken.

    The investigation takes into account conflict started in 2002. That leaves out a large chunk of Indian atrocities. Specifically it leaves out the bits for example Indian cross border terrorism that inflamed the 83 riots etc.

    The submissions for the report came from Tamil diaspora. Due to previous govt intransigence/negligence there were no submissions made from the other side. Therefore its not balanced.

    Who raised these concerns? It was the tax payers whom pay the medical and educational bills of everyone including the Tamils.

    This is probably the 3rd Indian/International intervention in favour of the Tamil minority in SL. None of the previous ones worked and Tamil suffering only worsened.

    So LISTEN please because this will have implications on Tamils mostly. These are people who matter airing their concerns. In fact, had their concerns were listened to there would not be a conflict in the first place.

  • 4
    3

    Emil van der Poorten

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

    Why are Hybrid Courts Needed in The Land of Native Veddah Aethho?

    The Paras have shown that the non-Hybrid courts comprising only Paras are dysfunctional and corrupt.

    It is very goods that the UN finally recognized that.

  • 2
    2

    Emil and the rest, I urge you to watch “Wag the Dog”…, and have you ever wondered why this particular tape has never aired on CNN a channel which jumps at any opportunity to sensationalize..because they are very reluctant to air unsubstantiated (potentially manufactured truth)

    • 2
      0

      InconvenientTruth:
      I saw “Wag the dog” when it was first released with, if I remember right a great performance from Dustin Hoffman.
      However, I couldn’t quite understand what you meant with your reference to CNN.

  • 5
    1

    Emil – The quote is from Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr.

    Hopefully your suggestion that “.. the existing law, not some Prevention of Terrorism Act, is applied against those inciting communalist violence. Nothing less will suffice, …”, will come to pass.

    Unfortunately, although the existing laws can put Weerawansa and many others behind bars, the delays in imposing these laws leaves one wondering if ANYTHING will be done to put these criminals away, so let’s not hold our breath as long as guys like the AG and other allies of the previous administration occupy these positions of power.

    • 3
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      Jango

      Apropos what EvdP has written “”…the existing law, not some Prevention of Terrorism Act, is applied against those inciting communalist violence.””

      I was witness, from the mid fifties onwards, to several instances of violence, and harassments that were perpetrated on members of the Tamil community. There were witnesses, there was corroborative evidence. There were the laws to ensure that miscreants were punished. Did any of the evil perpetrators suffer justice? Not that I know off. The very Sri Lankan practising of ‘shaping’ things ensured that everything was hushed up and the bastards who visited mayhem of defenceless people – just because they were Tamil – got off scot-free, and lived to reprise again and again, in 1958, 1977, and 1983. Most Sri Lankans, and particularly the Sri Lankan thugs were swaying to the tune piped by cunning, opportunist politicians of the time who had their eyes on the main prize, and were willing to exploit communal feelings to achieve it. WE the people were the mugs who fell for their devious ways. I recall thinking, as I know did many others, along the lines ‘how long can these people go on suffering these indignities?’ and sadly I lived to see the answer. I know of, and have heard of too many instances where the police would have taken action but for the intervention of a politician or some VIP with connections.

      Now, because we couldn’t handle our own matters properly in our own time, we have to suffer foreign intervention, hybrid courts, call it what you will, in order to get this monkey off our backs and move on to more productive, and dare I say happier times.

      However, I for one am not holding my breath on this. I know that the GoSL is as slithery as an eel when it comes to owning up to ‘indiscretions: 1958, 1971, 1977, 1983, 1987-89 and a host of others, including the infamous Bindunuwewa debacle, until May 2009…and even after. Expect to see no convictions. No doubt they have the indiscretions of the ‘other side’ well documented and they will twist every which way to make them stick.

    • 1
      1

      Jango:
      You are right: one will die of asphyxiation if you hold your breath in anticipation of any quick and decisive action by the new “MR” (Maithri/Ranil) bunch!
      I think most are beyond believing that the current Attorney General and his cohorts are the SOLE cause of the inordinate delays, though!

      • 0
        0

        Emil, I did include “…other allies of the previous administration (who) occupy these positions of power”.

        It would be interesting to find out just who they are, wouldn’t it??? And WHY would be even more interesting!!!

  • 5
    0

    Mr.Van der Poorten,

    Thank you for the precise diagnosis of our deep seated malaise. Your excellent perch in the Kandyan heartland gives you an insight which is my envy! What else can you expect from A Prime Minister whose latest mob motivating mantra is the ‘Lichchevi’ virtues of governance – Meeting in Amity, Discuss in Amity and Disperse in amity arriving in confusion in amity. The sum total of it is that things remain the same. Have you heard or read about the Lichchevi rule? I have not. “Idiots as political savants” How about idiots claiming intellectual monopoly under self styled label of Jathika Vidvath Kathikavatha”?

    • 1
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      Sarath de Alwis and Spring Koha:
      Thank you for those contributions. Unfortunately, they only serve to confirm my cynicism about what is happening around us.

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 7
    2

    Excellent analysis Emil – keep up the good work.

    Ranil and Sirisena are in some ways a bigger disaster for Sri Lanka than Mahinda Jarapassa, because they spin more sophisticated lies and perpetuate corruption in the name of “good governance”.

    The reason that Sri Lanka’s politicians and political culture STINKS to high heaven is that Ranil and Rajapaksa and Sirisena all keep the Sinhala Moda voters STUPID, IGNORANT and UNEDUCATED in order to perpetuate the political culture of immunity and impunity and privileges for corrupt and criminal politicians.

    Only the JVP is honest and tries to educate the Sinhala moda masses by speaking of the corruption within the political establishment, police and judiciary which has thrown out the case against SIrisen’s filth National List of corrupt SLFP politicians.

    The police are so incompetent and make scapegoats out of vulnerable youth and mentally disabled people like Kondaya in the Seya murder investigation. The institutional rot in the law and order machinary and political culture is mind boggling in the Miracle of Modayas!

  • 5
    1

    You said it so well Mr.Poorten. Thank you Sir. The mentality of these brain washed people will not change even after another 30 years…
    Rajapakses, Maithri/Ranil.. all the same after all. Lanka has no ‘leader’ with honesty or vision. Every one is playing political games – Lankan style.

  • 3
    5

    Mr Poorten..

    That Strauss Khan.. What a dirty old man .Tight as anything.. Isn’t he?..

    He could have banged the best in New York, instead of forcing it in poor black chamber maids.

    I am surprised you mentioned about those hard core fans of the Tamil Liberation Terrorists.

    They can’t be in Srilanka ..Can they?.

    Because I thought it was only the Sinhala Buddhists who did genocide on Vellalas , sorry Tamils and raped their widows, shot the white flag bearers and bombed their hospitals and carried out various other other nasty acts of War Crimes, bar burning them in Gas Chambers.

    Wonder who that Commander in Chief is whom you are talking about being in charge when Mr Pirahaparan was laid to rest in Nanthikadal?.

  • 3
    1

    Emil.

    Your line….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…..

    Srilanka and Srilankans are notorious for Slogans.
    —Haal Nathuwe Buth kamu–
    —Shelter for all by the year[?]–
    MaRa has gone on record as saying that the War was fought with every Soldier carrying the Human Rights Charter in one hand…
    Zero civilian casualty….declared the Commander of the Armed forces at the End!
    If there was one person in recorded History who had his Tongue in both cheeks it was none other than HIM.

  • 5
    1

    Thank you Van for your candid views. Sirisena-Ranil combo has, with the support of TNA mercenaries, subverted the course of justice. International to hybrid to domestic. From the zenith to the nadir. From the sublime to the ridicule. Travesty and treachery reign supreme!

  • 7
    5

    Emil van der Poorten,

    Sri Lankan ruling elite believe only in home grown solutions to internal problems, whether it be the Tiger menace, or Mosques demolishing by the BBS: Only home baked solutions are acceptable to the masses too. Never mind the rule of law.

    You surely confirm that you are “in the pay of the Tigers” to bring human rights, which is a Western conspiracy to humiliate our Sinhala Buddhist civilization, the war heroes of Sri Lanka, their liberation of the country from terrorism and their patriotic leaders.

    Wait a while, I forgot about ISIS, which might find the island waters attractive to fish.

    Sinhala Buddhists don’t want to accommodate Tamils, Muslims or Christians with their legitimate democratic rights, but they don’t mind the foreigner stepping in saying – hey here we can fish well in this muddy pond.

    This is happening, in front of our eyes: Indians, Chinese, Americans and others are all grabbing a piece of the cake of Sri Lanka, that cannot share the cake with the local inhabitants because they speak a different language or have different faiths.

    The story repeats: Colonialist were able to conquer the island because the people were disunited and weak; are we any better now?

    • 3
      2

      Colonialists will always have their way, look at how CoCo Cola in the form of a multinational colonial has hoodwinked and conquer the country on the Kelani Ganga water pollution issue.
      Who cares if the hoi polloi do not have water when commissions can be obtained by theYahapalana rulers by selling water to the dumb.

  • 4
    1

    Good piece Mr. Emil Van der Poorten.

    One has to ask, what is Sirisena/Ranil’s objective? Are they trying to find the truth or are they trying to protect the soldiers? Do they realize that they are mutually exclusive?

    If they find the truth they can’t protect the soldiers. If they protect the soldiers they can’t find the truth.

  • 5
    1

    Good piece Mr. Emil Van der Poorten.

    One has to ask, what is Sirisena/Ranil’s objective? Are they trying to find the truth or are they trying to protect the soldiers? Do they realize that they are mutually exclusive?

    If they find the truth they won’t be in a position to protect the soldiers. If they want to protect the soldiers they can’t afford to find the truth.

  • 6
    6

    mr. Poorten,
    You seem to write well thought articles and see you have replied to some commentators above in confidence.
    I am curious to know what your reactions were and whether you have written any of your thoughts when the LTTE was suicide bombing innocent citizen of my country.
    Do you think what the SL gov. did by eliminating the LTTE was beneficial to all SL citizens?
    Do you think a terror war, where the terrorist can’t be identified to fight, can be fought and won without any civilian casualties?
    What would be your estimate of total casualties by now if the SL gov. did not eliminate the LTTE in 2009? Up to 2009 over 100,000 have been killed.
    Do you think SL should give in for external foreign forces who are pressing for investigation?
    Why do you think that there is no such UNHRC pressure for the US, UK and Isrel for their wars on terror which led and even today leading to demise of thousands of innocent civilians?
    I hope you will answer my questions.

    • 5
      4

      Eusense:
      Your questions are, very obviously, rhetorical ones and come from a perspective that seeks to rationalise and justify those actions that are UNIVERSALLY accepted as war crimes and crimes against humanity.

      I have NEVER sought to justify the behaviour of the Prabhakaran forces and if I began only recently to contribute to the Sri Lankan media about current affairs it is because for 30+ years I lived in another part of the world (where I was actively involved in social struggles and political action)

      In the matter of the totally unacceptable behaviour of any of the more powerful nations, I have and will continue to condemn them.
      Suffice it to say that, if one party to a conflict commits crimes against humanity and war crimes, it does NOT justify the other protagonist(s) retaliating in similar vein. For instance, the fact that the Jews were gassed in Auschwitz and Belsen does not justify the behaviour of the Israeli government towards the Palestinians. Your thinly-veiled argument appears to be that “a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye” (the eyes and teeth being defined by such as you) is the way that humanity should conduct its affairs. Suffice it to say that I do not accept that and would be so bold to say that there are many in this world who do not subscribe to such a primitive philosophy.

      • 4
        2

        poorten,
        I am disappointed that you did not answer a single question I posed trying to get your personal view. I am flabbergasted that you try to evade these questions as rhetorical (lacking in sincerity or meaningful content). Why didn’t you be honest and give your honest answers?

        What do you mean by saying I am trying to “justify those actions that are UNIVERSALLY accepted as war crimes and crimes against humanity”? What actions are you talking about? Eliminating an axis of evil? Are you implying that the GOSL should have surrendered to the terror group and handed over the country to those terrorists? Use common sense Poorten. No civilized country will ever do that.

        Who said you justified Parabakaran behavior? Did you condemn what he was doing? Did you write suggesting he should lay down arms and negotiate with the GOSL for the sake of innocent Sri Lankan citizens? Now, according to you, you were not aware of what was going on for the past 30+ years! If you did not know the fear and terror what 20 million innocent Sri Lankans went through during those 30+ years, you should not be writing this kind of incomprehensive articles.

        I don’t know your level of education, but your reading and comprehensive disability is well depicted when you say “if one party to a conflict commits crimes against humanity and war crimes, it does NOT justify the other protagonist(s) retaliating in similar vein.” and also to say “a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye”. Mr. Poorten, do you know how many occasions the GOSL made efforts to negotiate with the terror group to end this armed conflict? Apparently you have no clue of such efforts and it appears that you have no interest in learning and educating your self. How naive are you to say “tooth for a tooth” for what the SLDF did to rescue this country from terrorism? How do you fight terrorists who can’t be identified from civilians? How do you fight terrorist who use civilians as human shields? Are you saying that the DFSL should drop their ammunition and hand over the country to a bunch of terrorists? You need to come back to reality.
        How many more innocent Sri Lankans you think would have been killed if the GOSL did not eliminate this brutal terrorists? Why don’t you comprehend that aspect? Who are you going to accuse for those genocides if we let these terrorists continue?

        Poorten, It is easy for you to take the high road of morals and humanity and talk the talk on how humanity should conduct its affairs specially, being outside SL during the country’s dark 30+ years. But our citizens and it’s elected leaders has to take care of our country. And that is what was done. Any such future terrorism against our citizens is needed to be taken cared the same exact way.

  • 4
    8

    Nusense,

    US, UK and Isrel do not bomb their own citizens. There are more than 1.5 million Arabs living in Israeli territory and Israel does not brand them as all terrorists and inflicts a collective punishment.
    Similarly there are millions of Arabs living in US/UK they are not arbitrarily arrested on the assumption they are guilty by association.
    But that is not the case in SL.
    Why don’t you include hundreds of Tamils killed in 1983.
    Do you classify that as state terror or Sinhalese terror. What about the Sinhalese rebel youth killed by the state, many of them innocents.
    Do you consider those dead as bad citizens of SL or unavoidable civilian causalities.
    There is no denying of the atrocities committed by the LTTE.
    The 100,000 figure that you quote is much overblown since deniers like you wouldn’t admit that there were well over 40,000 innocents killed during the final phase of the war. These are not just civilian casualties but deliberate killings. You like to call them causalities of war so will US, UK, Israel.
    They will have a much more valid argument that they acted in defense which we feel it is much more out of vengeance or some agenda.
    But there is a profound difference.
    Do you get it now ? I repeat US, UK, Israel did not bomb their own citizens in thousands due to perceived threat or racism which ultimately should answer your question.

    • 4
      3

      gage,
      Sorry. I am not going to waste my time on you.

  • 2
    2

    Eusense:
    If you think you are going to “trap” me into engaging in debate on YOUR terms, you’ve got another think coming, particularly when your questions are of the “Do you STILL beat your wife” brand!

    Your closing statement:
    “Poorten, It is easy for you to take the high road of morals and humanity and talk the talk on how humanity should conduct its affairs specially, being outside SL during the country’s dark 30+ years. But our citizens and it’s elected leaders has to take care of our country. And that is what was done. Any such future terrorism against our citizens is needed to be taken cared the same exact way” sums up how you are seeking to cover up what happened over the past 30 years. It simply amounts to justification of your central premise of “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” and I am being charitable with that interpretation!
    P.S.
    I suppose anyone who wasn’t directly in the line of Hitler’s destruction of whole communities has the right to criticize what he did?!

    • 2
      1

      poorten,
      What is your obsession and paranoia to say that I am trying to “trap” you on my terms and me trying to “cover up what happened over the past 30 years”?? Please be known that I am ready to debate under anybody’s terms on a serious basis.
      You still HAVEN’T answered a single question of mine and you haven’t even said anything about the points we are discussing! Your responses show no thoughtful or intellectual values instead contains speculatory personal accusations. Read again what you wrote! What is “Do you STILL beat your wife” brand? Are these the answers I have to expect from you? Be serious, shell out what ever your intellect can bare.
      How vacuous are you to say “you are seeking to cover up what happened over the past 30 years” when I have clearly stated “Any such future terrorism against our citizens is needed to be taken cared the same exact way”???
      At least you should have the intellectual capacity to try respond with an alternate method the GOSL should have taken care of this terror carnage. Your irrelevant responses suggest you do not have even a clue on that.
      With each of your response it is becoming more and more apparent that you are not a person for a honest, rational, productive intellectual exchange of ideas.

  • 1
    2

    The GoSL will always adopt a policy of it’s own in making all political decisions. They will pinch the baby and rock the cradle, pretending as if it’s trying to solve the problem. It has been the usual practice of every regime for a very long time and our experience. No government is genuine in solving anything. All the governments adopts this policy, got so used to it and will never ever change the way it drags and will not give up this habitual tricks.

    Affected people and the world over expected the UNHCR to bring about a meaningful international investigative mechanism to inquire and give due punishment to the wrong doers and stop these crimes happening again in the country. All the countries who were helping Lanka and watching these atrocities while being committed and scores of people got killed never came to help the victims, but at last recommended and voted for only an internal inquiry mechanism by the accused culprit Lankan government, instead of an international one.

    But the funny and unbelievable thing is that the very government’s President, Prime Minister, the foreign minister and a host of all government officials returned to Lanka and boasted that they have saved the country, the country’s former President, the Defense secretary and the armed forces, who are accused of human rights abuses, crimes against humanity and war crimes of many nature.

    The question today is, whom are they going to have the so called internal inquiry against ? The government has agreed to take the responsibility of investigating and finding out as to who killed and massacred the Tamils in the government’s war against the Tamils, while paying for the defense of the accused criminals at the same time!
    Gradually even this hybrid court of inquiry will be dismantled ‘successfully’ by RW/My3 combo. ..and the real victims will continue to suffer with no hope in sight.

  • 1
    0

    Written in his characteristic candid style Emil would have ruffled the feathers of the extremist elements in the Sinhala polity. “Even if opinion might suggest that they have sensationalised events, there hasn’t been an atom of evidence that the content is manufactured” Nothing can be further from the truth. Bensen

  • 1
    0

    Eusense:

    “With each of your response it is becoming more and more apparent that you are not a person for a honest, rational, productive intellectual exchange of ideas.”

    It will be a bloody cold day in hell when the opinions of camp-followers like you will matter one whit to anyone of decency and conscience!

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