Colombo Telegraph

All Those Shouting About War Crimes Are Not Hypocritical

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Prof Rajiva Wijesinha

Reconciliation: Looking Forward xiv – Motivations At Geneva

Though obviously the issue of the Chief Justice’s impeachment will reverberate internationally, but it will be very sad if it is used to attack Sri Lanka in relation to very different matters. I was disappointed then that the American delegation declared that this recent development is a reason for the resolution it proposes to bring in Geneva.

There are in fact three very different issues involved. The first, and longest standing, is allegations of War Crimes, which are excessive and hypocritical. The problem is that these allegations arise from two different motivations. Neither of these relate to whether or not there were War Crimes, since the leading advocates of the charges have never cared about War Crimes perpetrated by their own favourites.

This does not mean that all those shouting about War Crimes are hypocritical and with their own agendas. There are many idealists who get carried away by emotion, and that is why we need to deal with the issue systematically, and on the basis of evidence. The blanket denials that we sometimes here do no service to anyone. I continue astonished that we have not dealt clearly with the numbers that are flung around, using statistics we possess that almost entirely support our case. But with a dysfunctional Foreign Ministry, and no coherent policy about information dissemination, we will continue to suffer – or rather the armed forces which did so much will suffer, while those reaping the fruits of their efforts will continue to swan around ineffectively, but joyfully.

The two principal proponents of the War Crimes charges are the Tiger rump, who are still pursuing their separatist dream (but using now the consequences of Tiger terrorism rather than terrorism itself) and those Western politicians who have their own agendas. Some of these want only to appease the Tigers, but we should not therefore dismiss all of them. There are some whose motives are relatively decent, though they have failed to understand that the end cannot justify the means.

I refer to those who thought that any form of pressure was acceptable so as to promote pluralism and political equity in Sri Lanka. From the relatively decent American who declared in India that they had found the perfect weapon – Sarath Fonseka – to force President Rajapaksa to move forward, to the earnest young British diplomat who said the 2009 resolution in Geneva was designed to ensure that we resettled the displaced Tamils swiftly and dealt leniently with former combatants, they have made the problem worse by being devious.

Why they cannot understand that they have only succeeded in increasing the influence in government of hardliners with very different agendas from their own is beyond me, but I have long understood there are people who are too clever by half – and they generally lurk in Foreign Ministries where they deal with relatively unimportant countries and issues, so they have a free hand (in Sri Lanka they deal with the important issues, but that is another question).

The result is that they have contributed – though it is certainly not their fault alone – to the fact that our progress towards Reconciliation has been far too slow. This is the second reason for a Resolution in Geneva, and while I sympathize with the aims of those who want us to move more swiftly, I wish they did not confuse issues. I suppose a Resolution on this subject alone would not fit within easily within the scope of the Human Rights Council, and would not rouse the emotions needed to ensure success, but I think it could be done, and I could only wish India– which in the last couple of decades always promoted pluralism in Sri Lanka whilst being tough on terrorism – would direct attention to this aspect alone. But since we have failed utterly to ensure cooperation with India in this regard, we will suffer again, and the other issues to which I have referred will continue to haunt us.

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