23 September, 2020

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Active Peace Building Remains Necessary To Garner Western Support

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The election of President Maithripala Sirisena in January this year and the formation of a new government led to an immediate improvement of Sri Lanka’s relations with the western world. This relationship had become increasingly strained during the period of the last government and was getting progressively worsened. However this improvement in relations cannot be taken for granted if it is to yield concrete benefits to the country. One example has been the attempt to get back the the European Union’s GSP Plus tariff benefits that enables Sri Lankan exports to enter the European markets at lower rates of tax which gives them a cost advantage over other countries. Mere goodwill is not enough to meet the standardized EU criteria. There are several targets that the country has to meet if it is to obtain the tariff benefits that it lost five years ago. The criteria that the previous government failed in achieving related to human rights and post war reconciliation.

The government has recently announced that it will set up a Secretariat for Reconciliation that will coordinate the different government agencies that have been earmarked for this purpose. When there are multiple agencies that are dedicated to the same broad objectives, there is likely to be overlap between their activities and even rivalries on the ground, unless they are coordinated. Therefore it has been proposed that the new secretariat will develop a plan on proposed new institutions such as the Office on Missing Persons and the Truth, Reconciliation and Prevention of Conflicts Commission. These were identified by the government in the days prior to the last session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September. The Secretariat will be responsible for the coordination of other requirements related to strengthening the rule of law, human rights and administrative and judicial reforms as well.

Since the election of the new government in January there has been no doubt about the government’s conviction that it has to steer a new path that is different from that of the previous government. In this context the new secretariat is expected to follow up the progress of implementation of recommendations made by various government bodies, including the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and also the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, apart from coordinating with the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission. One of the chief government bodies working in the area of reconciliation is the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), which is concerned about assisting civil society organizations, and is headed by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Another is the Ministry of National Dialogue which Minister Mano Ganesan has proposed should be renamed the Ministry of National Coexistence, Dialogue and State Languages.

Soft Power

It is noteworthy that the government’s declaration that it will be setting up the Reconciliation Secretariat coincided with the visit to Sri Lanka of senior representatives of important Western countries. Both the United States and United Kingdom sent members of their governments who have responsibilities in the areas of democracy and security to meet with their counterparts as well as travel to the former conflict zones of the north and east of the country. At the height of the war, when international human rights organizations were being extremely critical of the Sri Lankan government and insisting on strict actions being taken against it, a visiting US Senate delegation noted that Sri Lanka was too important a country for the United States to lose in terms of its geopolitical location. There are many in Sri Lanka who seen the international interest in Sri Lanka being primarily due to its strategic location in the Indian Ocean.

The former government’s increased dependence on countries such as China and Russia, which do not use human rights issues to pressurize other countries, led to ties with them becoming stronger. The Chinese decision to build an artificial island just outside Colombo port, and to pay for it in full, was another indication of Sri Lanka’s strategic location. The absence of transparency in the negotiations between the Sri Lankan government and Chinese government and the terms on which this island was to be built has been a source of grave concern to the countries in Sri Lanka’s neighbourhood, including India and stretching as far as Japan. These developments have given rise to the belief that the international interest in Sri Lanka is primarily a matter of geopolitics and security interests.

On the other hand, geopolitics cannot be only limited to the hard power of military might and the location of military bases. Sri Lanka’s location in the Indian Ocean and on the main shipping routes gives it a special significance. Geopolitics is also played out through soft power. Hard power is about compelling others to comply through the threat or use of force. Soft power is about attracting others to share goals through dialogue and exchange. The soft power that the Western countries have a virtual monopoly over in the international discourse is democracy and human rights. These are the highest forms of governance and the Western countries are at the best examples of them especially in their internal dealings with their own citizens. Sri Lanka’s international value at the present time is that of a third world country that has transited from war and authoritarian rule to peace and democracy.

Western Interests 

During their visits to Sri Lanka the messagethat the Western government representatives kept stressing was the importance of continuing with the post war normalization process while addressing the issues of accountability to ensure that what happened in the past would not happen again. These are also the main features of the UN Human Rights Council resolution that Sri Lanka co-sponsored in October. Although the opposition has sought to portray this as being a betrayal of the war heroes and a demonstration of intent to hand them over to an international tribunal for war crimes, this is not an accurate depiction of what the UNHRC resolution is about. The cornerstone of the UNHRC resolution is one of ensuring transitional justice in Sri Lanka. This resolution has many recommendations, but the attention of the Sri Lankan public has been focused negatively on the issue accountability for war crimes and the hybrid nature of the judicial mechanism which will have an international component.

The general public is still not aware that the UNHRC resolution has many other things in it as well, such as implementing better the 13th Amendment and devolution, returning land and restoring livelihoods and economic normalcy to the lives of the war affected. It has a broader canvass than that of accountability in the last phase of the war which could be extended to include the violence of earlier periods as well, such as the massacre of Buddhist pilgrims in Anuradhapura and the expulsion of Muslims from the Northern Province. It also includes compensation and institutional reform that would ensure non-recurrence of war and violence in the form it took. The recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission appointed by the former government continue to be relevant in this regard.

The United States Under Secretary of State (Designate) for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon who was one of the high ranking visitors to Sri Lanka said Sri Lanka is an example of the “power of citizens to reinvigorate their democracy, to retake control – through the ballot box – of their country’s trajectory, and to set a course to a brighter future.” He said “We now look to Sri Lanka to also provide inspiration to others around the world, to show them how justice and compassion can overcome a difficult past and help create a stable and prosperous future, and strengthen a nation’s security, prosperity, and prestige.” It is important for us to note that the Western countries are prepared to support Sri Lanka’s transition and reconciliation process to be a model for other countries of the values that the Western countries strive to uphold as theirs, and not only for geopolitical and military interests. This is also why accountability, being responsible for what we do to our fellow citizens, human rights and reconciliation are important.

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Latest comments

  • 8
    5

    Oh, Dr Perera, You have forgotten the most important bit – Western money!

    What does garnering western “support” mean without getting shiploads of US$ (especially at current exchange rate!) and euros fro our very vibrant NGO sector?

    Let the country go to the dogs. We know which side our bread is buttered, Don’t we Dr Perera?

    • 1
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      Jehan Perera

      RE: Active Peace Building Remains Necessary To Garner Western Support

      To Garner Western Support to bomb?

      Will the West bomb Sri Lanka just the same way they did to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria?

    • 3
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      We export 23~24% of our products to USA (or US buy these from us) and we import less than 1% from US(this should be 0.00000001% of total US exports). Numbers with EU are the same. Whereas, we export less than 1% of our products to China and import 22%… So we need US/EU assistance to move forward… Pl remember, wealth only can be generated by producing goods and services…

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        AVB

        So, Sri Lanka is a conduit for sucking money out of USA and EU and giving to China.

        No wonder why China wants to give loans to sri Lanka, and keep sucking money.

    • 3
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      Hey Dude Jehan do not be naive.
      The UK and London has the biggest wealth of corrupt money from the third world that has helped London become the financial capital of the world. SO much wealth from corrupt politicians in Asia and Africa and from Russia too are boosting the real estate markets and economy of London and New York.

      Watch the Kaiser Report on Russian TV and educate youself on global political economy dude!

      Help to GOSL to fight financial corruption from London which benefits from third world financial corruption is a joke! Why do you think the corruption scams from India and Greece are stalled and no one has been caught for tax evasion and money laundering? Because London is giving aid to fight corruption in India and Greece!

      The Aid from the west is no better than aid from China. Ever heard of Phantom AID dude? Western Phantom AID givers are into it for themselves – 90 pecent of so called aid is consumed by aid givers in the form of tied aid and phantom aid for so called expert consultants… China was just more obvious about its ambitions to control the Indian Ocean by boosting military dicators in Pakistan and lanka
      Please do not be so naive – grow up. dude!

      • 0
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        Two billion dollars of LTTE money too.

        • 1
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          Jim softy

          “Two billion dollars of LTTE money too.”

          Alright, alright, this information was published by Economist many years ago.

          Now could you shed some light on clan’s total investment outside this island.

    • 1
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      What is it Western support or stopping Western bullying ?

      Their money is now Zero percent just 25 cents for hundred dollars.

      Sri lanka is selling treasury bills like ysed papaers and how much they are paying for that. that is a lucrative business for the west for their useless money.

  • 0
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    [Edited out]

  • 1
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    Never in the History of Sri Lanka had US Official Visits been so numerous? There is something big – Sri Lanka a guinea-pig for 21st
    century Democracy in the East; with N/E as a Federal Unit of SL?

    • 1
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      India has recorded highest growth rate among big economies and there are indicators of continuity of that trend under Modi “Make in India” administration….. India is already 7th biggest economy, and as it goes, it may become third (or fourth) biggest economy in the world soon… So stability of India would become great importance to the whole world.. North of India are Muslim Pakistan and unstable Afghanistan and we are the closest in South…So stability SL would become very important to the stability of India , and to the world economy too.. . Greek Gov loans defaulting caused lot of problems to the whole world. Similarly, a big bomb in Bangalore or Hyderabad may crash Wall Street.. damage increases as India gets bigger…
      This could be the reason why SL gets frequent high calibre officials from US… Very good opportunity for SL to thrive as Kumar David discussed recently (Make in Sri Lanka)….

  • 1
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    Mr.Jegan Perera

    Setting up of a reconciliation secretariat is again an eye wash which the Tamils would not believe even 1%. The new party formed by the Northern Provincial Chief minister is an example to show that the government has failed and the TNA too has failed towards the war affected Tamils of the Northern and Eastern provinces. First of all satisfy the Tamils by fulfilling the legitimate demands of the Tamil people. keeping 125,000 armed personnel in vali north occupying all the private lands belonging to the people who are still in camps with continued sufferings( which the president saw for himself during his recent visit to the North) and the army building luxury hotels and cultivation and other businesses in the private properties. Does it justifies for reconciliation. How about those 250 Tamil political prisoners languishing for so many years Does it justify for reconciliation. What are the priorities of the present government.

  • 1
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    Jehan Perera

    As a first step for reconciliation please go and see Tamil political prisoners detained in Vavunia Jaffna Anuradhapura Colombo Batticaloa and Galle prisons and write an article or a report with the first hand information obtained from them. Publish this in all three languages.

    The ordinary Sinhala people should be made aware of the difficulties of the Tamils in prisons and camps. Evidence given before Paranagama Commission by the family members of the disappeared too should be made available to them in Sinhala language. If ordinary Sinhalese comes to know the sufferings of Tamils and vice versa, and realised the truth, then the corrupt communal politicians who hinders reconciliation will vanish from the scene on their own.

    This is the first step for reconciliation. Will you do it ?

    Writing in English language won’t take you far.

    Waiting to hear your response.

  • 1
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    PhD Perera, Thanks for being explicit and honest, instead of usual double talk.

    Your only ambition is to manage the west and get the GSP+ back. You put it in the heading of what you like to talk. “Active Peace Building Remains Necessary To Garner Western Support”. Justice for Tamils and restoring the livelihood of Tamils is not there. Sinhala race “Rape, loot, Enjoy, Eat and Kill” has to remain as per your wish.

    We have been trying to warn western diplomats that pleasing Secretary Kerry and take his York away is the only object of Lankawe. This is the purpose of the wording of “foreign judges” in the UNHRC resolution of September, 2015. So, this is not acceptable to Tamils. Peace building was rejected by them long ago as only a white washing effort. Accountability is their first question.

    Beyond all cover-ups of Jehan PhD, right after winning the election,the President, went only to China on Friendly visit. As he was a leading member in the past, corrupted Old Royals and a person who maintained a file on Old King (and vice versa by him too), for the purpose of destroying each other if one put his hand on other, and further his current consultant is the Old Royal Prime Minister who signs the clearing orders for narcotics containers, to maintain his Old Royal Legacy, he has not visited any western country for a friendly visit. Jehan PhD, the famous fraud in writing, is twisting his legacy and as a known angel, while the known devil described him as only an unknown angel, meaning he is known devil for him, but others have no knowledge of it. He went to UK only to discharge the obligations under commonwealth. He went to America only to attend UN meeting. Other than these, he went to India, but has not signed any friendly nations’ deals or pacts. The highest official visited to America is FM. That is reciprocated by America by many folds, irrespective of its leading status in International Arena. Secretary Kerry personally visited to Lankawe. There is no senior member of State Department remains not visited to Lankawe. Visits by assistant secretary Nisha Biswal and some others like her is something cannot count with one hand.

    The reports say that Nuraichoolai machinery is still down. China is not allowing that is being repaired even by India. Excessive rain is delaying a break out of a disaster of electricity supply. Brushing the Noorachcholai handicap situation, China is putting a heavy jack on Lankawe to dig out the stalled Port City Project. That land sold to China cannot be taken back. This is not the land Muththaiya Muralitharan played cricket with Dole. Yahapalanaya is doing all kind of covering up of the truth to save the Old King’s money face. It is final deal. China, without exception, will built the Port City Naval base with the name of an Entertainment Complex. India is not in a situation to interfere. It had handed over the Kachchativu. In the past, Indian Fishermen have been reporting that Chinese Navy was in the island. To counter the damage on its part, It is trying to build a bridge, blocking the passage beyond it without its monitoring. Japan wants to build a power station in Samboor, where India and China is in fierce competition to build one. Mannar oil exploration is being tapped by Russia too. Though the situation looks like a bitch shows its back to dogs and induces a biting competition within them, Other than with China, Lankawe government is one step ahead with others. So far nobody has got in even with UNHRC war crime or GSP+ and any other economical embargo.
    It is in this background Jehan PhD is proposing of fooling the west with pleasing them and gets the EU’s GSP+. The Chinese boats with Lankawe license are draining out the water around the Island to vacuum the fish resources. EU wants to Lankawe to monitor these boats with GPS. Lankawe cannot tell the truth out as it is only Chinese fishermen doing it or tell China to stop it because of the fear of retaliation in Nuraichchoolai, government departments’ computers, Colombo Port, Port City… and other numerous Chinese wedges where Lankawe, the lion’s tail has got caught.
    Jehan PhD is not ready to talk about the pain the people revenged by the Royals Governments suffered. He is not ready to discuss the humanitarian grounds why the Tamils have to be treated as human being or let them to go out. He has not recommended his standards to treat Tamils. He is insisting on 13A, LLRC and the other provision of the UNHRC resolution beyond the accountability. There is no need to tell a Tamil what is the meaning of this. He did not dodge this time. He is out spoken this time. He is telling, if there is a will there is a way. “Hey The Royal Government, there is not one way to fool the west, let me advice to you; I can I fill your note book with a list of suggestions”.
    If the west wants to reinstate the rule of law in Lankawe, If the west want to stop Lankawe government practice on easy target of Tamils and then throw it out to west too, it is Tamils who have to start fell easy. It is not implementing crooks like Jehan PhD’s corrupted Ideas. It is not LLRC which refused to listen Tamils’ complains. LLRC was established to save the Old Royals. It was made only make Sectary Clinton not to stop the GSP+. 13A was not drafted by JR and Rajiv to save Tamils. It cannot be implemented. By pushing CV to take over the CM job of NPC, the west has created crakes in TNA. Seeing that he can do nothing to Tamils with the handicapped 13A’s NPC, CV is inching out of the net towards new opening to serve Tamils. This is what we have been calling in the past that Yahapalanaya government is making only another Pirapaharan by fooling the west with the NPC as Tamil have got the power to rule north. If the west wants to save the TNA it has to request the 13A abolished right away. Otherwise TNA will not survive until the next election.
    EU should not open the GSP+ just for faking talks of UNHRC resolution other than the accountability, it should open it only after Tamils too can manufacture and export from their area with their manual labor.

  • 0
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    Active peace building is very necessary for the different communities to work together towards a better Sri Lanka. Does Dr. Perera mean that if the Western support were not to be forthcoming, the GOSL can go an freely kill all the minorities in the Island? For the good things to happen in SL peace building should come out through their own volition not through externalities.

  • 1
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    Jehan Perera

    Active Peace Building Remains Necessary To Garner Western Support:

    *** What Sri Lanka signed up to at the UN was a Solemn Vow. To love and Honour till death do us part. But Sri Lanka has not kept the Promises and what we are seeing is the early stages of Lust which is now waning.
    The marraiage wont last if one Party Cheats ( Sri Lanka ) and the other Party is not yet aware of the Extra Martial Affairs which are plenty but sure will find out.

    1) An attempt to lie
    2) A determination to Protect THUGS, CRIMINALS and THIEVES.
    3) Nepotism
    4) No respect for Rule of Law and Mister of Justice is a living embodiment.
    5) Treat the Minorities with utter contempt and no attempt to bring those culpable to Justice .

    I can go on adding to the list. But I will say ” Poga Poga Therium”

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