By Jude Fernando –
“In all debates, let truth be thy aim, not victory, or an unjust interest.” ― William Penn
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
On October 20, 2015, the Sri Lankan Parliament will debate the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) resolution on alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and the systemic violation of human rights in Sri Lanka. This debate will make history if, and only if, it ends the legacy of political parties coopting debates concerned with ethnicity-related human rights issues to consolidate their political power. This legacy gives life to the same forces that continue to obstruct viable political solution to the ethnic issue.
The current debate will turn into another political fiasco if the government condones and fails to rebut arguments that shift the debate’s focus from the moral core of the UNHRC’s demands. For this purpose, those opposed to truth and transitional justice will employ multiple tactics (e.g., red herrings and strawmen) to undermine the government’s ability to accept foreign assistance to ensure the investigation’s credibility. Such a predicament is an inevitable risk in any society that has lost the culture of a deliberative democracy that values the search for truth and justice through democratic debate and is fearful of true freedom.
The Culture of Debating
Sri Lankan parliamentary debates mostly consist of screaming matches, popularity contests, demagoguery, and sophistry, and they are primarily organized along political fault lines, factions, and demographics, rather than in the pursuit of truth and justice. These sophists’ and demagogues’ truth claims are particularly dangerous because they appeal to the populist consciousness, and no-one can challenge them when they are at the height of their popularity. They gain popularity from their educational credentials, oratorical skills, and the affinities they claim to have with those credited for ending the war against terrorism and defending religion, sovereignty, and national security.
The most vociferous opponents of the UNHRC resolution lack intellectual or moral integrity because they either “prostitute” their intellect and morals for personal gain and popularity or lack shame in their unwavering servitude to their political masters. After expunging reason and morality from political discourse, these opponents continue to celebrate their success in the obstruction of truth and accountability, as national victories, which have spurred tensions among ethnic communities, created obstacles to meaningful post-war reconciliation, provided ideological cover for rulers to destroy the country’s democracy and rob its wealth, undermined the international credibility and Tamil community’s trust in the Armed forces, and made the country vulnerable to geopolitical exploitation.
Indeed, the government’s fear of true freedom was the fundamental reason behind removing morality from the debates on the UNHRC resolutions: It refused to let people seek truth and justice beyond the narrow confines of hegemonic ethno-religious nationalism. True freedom requires the political will to embrace and advocate for righteous governance based on inclusive and just meanings of the national identity, sovereignty, and security. These new meanings require a break from the hegemonic ethno-nationalist narrative upon which the mainstream political parties’ power bases rest.
Setting the tone of the debate
If the government is sincere in its promise to create a reconciliation process that will “involve addressing the broad areas of truth seeking, justice, reparations and non-recurrence,” it cannot allow the hegemonic nationalist narrative to frame the debate. Sri Lanka’s nationalist narrative has been unsuccessful in suppressing the truth, and the only choice it now has is to verify the truth, which is fast becoming self-evident.
If the government is committed to truth and justice, it needs to rediscover the long-lost art of debate as a mature and dignified exercise in deliberative democracy that guides diverse interests within society toward just and equal ends. Accordingly, the leader of the government’s side of the debate needs to set a clear tone and stance for the debate by recognizing that it no longer has the luxury of avoiding accountability and transitional justice.
To that end, it must first center the debate on the moral basis of the UNHRC resolution: the opposition to violations of universal human rights and human dignity. Second, the government must acknowledge that the debate’s purpose is not to verify allegations from the UNHRC report, but to find the best judicial mechanism through which to verify the allegations in a manner that paves the way for accountability and transitional justice. The government must challenge and discard any deviation from this primary objective. Third, the government needs to demonstrate the necessary resolve to accept its own faults and limitations and directly address its opponents’ arguments to dismiss the case for a legitimate investigation, thereby keeping the debate’s focus intact. Countering the tactics typically used to divert attention from and suppress the debate’s main purpose requires vigilance.
An essential prerequisite for a genuine debate is the government’s public acknowledgement and apology for the ambiguities and contradictions in its defenses of the domestic investigation. The government must candidly reveal the truth about the nature of international assistance in the investigation, and the necessity of bolstering its capacity to address domestic issues. International intervention is not an exception but the norm in every area of the country’s social policy. Thus, there is no moral basis on which to refuse such intervention when it comes to addressing the concerns expressed in the UNHRC resolution.
The government’s boast that it successfully avoided “an international inquiry and a hybrid inquiry” is premature. Claims about “victory in Geneva” and “victory against imperialism in New York” are frivolous attempts to appease the same ethnonationalist narrative that serves to obstruct a credible inquiry. The real victory is the hope that the people have placed in the government’s promise to pave the way for meaningful transitional justice. The manner in which the government sets the tone of the debate will be the first proof of its willingness to manifest that hope.
The argument that a credible inquiry can take place without external assistance is morally and factually indefensible. The government is highly mistaken to think that, in this day of social media and the growing power of transnational human rights groups, it can hide the report’s findings from the public. The report demands an inquiry, not about isolated events or the conduct of a few unprofessional individuals, but rather into the grave systematic, nationwide human rights violations. The government is obligated to comply with the report since its demands are part of international law.
Successfully making the moral case that external assistance is indispensable would be the first tangible victory for the government. This triumph would bolster the credibility of the inquiry and the domestic justice system and prevent the inquiry from being exploited for corrupt ends. In defending the case for potential foreign interventions, the government should be candid about the limitations of the domestic justice system and its vulnerability to manipulation by those opposed to truth and accountability. A show of humility by the government for its failure to be fully transparent about its responses to the UNHRC’s demands would enhance its credibility. It would place the government on high moral ground, help dispel baseless public fears over the resolution, and expose the hypocrisy of those who opposed foreign assistance in the inquiry but not in the country’s social and economic policies.
Keep Morality as the Central Focus
The focus of the debate must be kept simple and appeal to the people’s moral consciousness. The two most important prerequisites for allowing morality, as opposed to politics, to shape the outcomes of the debate are the government’s capacity to accept the uncomfortable truths exposed in the UNHRC report and to not allow the accompanying embarrassment to compromise the inquiry’s judicial autonomy and integrity.
The report’s allegations are first and foremost about morality and the people’s right to know the truth about war crimes and crimes against humanity. Keeping the debate focused on these entitlements will prevent those seeking to justify their opposition to a credible inquiry from shifting the focus of the debate to domestic politics, international human rights bodies, the West, and the diaspora.
The debate will lose the moral purpose behind the UNHRC report if it uncritically accepts the distinction between “international” and “domestic” made by those opposed to the report. When politicians use domestication as a tool for winning the people’s approval and gaining power, universal humanitarian issues become exclusively domestic issues needing domestic solutions subordinated to national interests.
Framing demands for truth and reconciliation as a pretext to international intervention in Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs disguises the fact that those demands are first and foremost made by the citizens. The opposition’s calls for a domestication of the inquiry is a stratagem that serves to keep public attention away from the fact that internationalization was, in part, a result of the incapacities, vulnerabilities and loss of faith in the domestic justice system, and the increasing influence of transnational human rights groups on states.
Allowing those in opposition of the resolution to center the debate within the narrow confines of institutional politics, i.e. tensions between ‘international’ and ‘domestic’ interests, will undermine the original moral intent of the resolution with potentially disastrous consequences. Such a misguided view could be deadly because it permits deception, manipulation, and even violence, particularly when the opposition seeks popular legitimacy for rejecting the UNHRC proposal by claiming to defend history, security, national sovereignty, and political consciousness.
No one is suggesting that the UNHCR is an apolitical entity, or that its moral claims are immune to political maneuverings by those states that command a disproportionate amount of power over its affairs. The emphasis here is the historical abuse of power by the Sri Lankan state to obstruct truth and accountability and expunge morality from politics. In so doing, the state lost its moral authority to navigate its international relations in ways that are not harmful to the country’s domestic affairs.
How can the tactics of those opposed to a credible inquiry that would lead to meaningful accountability and transitional justice be countered?[i] Let us look at some examples.
Expose the Real Conspirators and the Traitors
The government cannot simply let the debate be framed by the distinction that is often used to discredit the legitimacy of a resolution; that is, those who support the resolution and a credible inquiry with international assistance are traitors and conspirators, and those who reject the resolution and a credible inquiry are patriots. Instead, the government could easily reverse this distinction by reasoning that real patriots refuse to compromise on truth and accountability.
The terms “conspiracy” and “traitor” carry emotive power to persuade people to reject core elements of the resolution. Such wielding of emotive power desensitizes people to the cognitive and descriptive contents of language and prevents them from thinking about and meaningfully responding to the unpleasant realities of the war. Such political exploitation of language jettisons the notion that a commitment to truth and accountability can pave the way for reconciliation and solidarity across the ethnic divide.
Another deceptive claim is that “caving” into the demands of the report endangers the credibility of the war and the security forces that safeguard national security in the present and future. War is a thing of the past. The UNHRC report is not an indictment of the war. It makes no demands on the government to justify the war. The report is about the impact of the memories and psychological wounds of the war on meaningful reconciliation. In fact, the demands for truth and accountability support the government’s argument that the war was a precondition for a lasting political solution to the ethnic crisis that initially sparked the war. What reasonable argument can be made in favor of suppressing the memories and psychological wounds of war to pave the way for reconciliation?
Perhaps the most seductive argument that distracts public focus from the debate at the moral core of the UNHRC report is the claim that the report is an attempt to discredit the soldiers who sacrificed during the war.
The country needs a strong professional army. But professional armies are rigorous in disciplining their members’ transgressions. The US Army, which is one of the most professional in the world, has prosecuted and imprisoned those convicted of crimes on numerous occasions. The Army and the President of the country issued public apologies for those crimes. It is true that these US responses are controversial in terms of their proportionality to the seriousness of crimes. When it comes to human rights violations the UNHRC is lenient on the powerful countries like US and powerful its allies (e.g. Kurds, war in Yemen). On the other hand, the US is quick to address the issues with a great deal of strategic diplomacy and not leave room for the external actors to interfere.
The political parties of the US do not overtly seek political mileage by interfering in the investigations and disciplinary actions on the conduct of its military by its Departments of Justice and Defense, the extent to which it happens so blatantly in Sri Lanka. The US government’s dealing with the discipline of its’ own military is far more mature and strategic way of negotiating morality and human rights. However, the Sri Lankan government’s first response to charges against its military made by its’ own citizens and international community was one of outright denial (e.g. zero civilian casualties) and discredit those who made charges.
The Sri Lankan government position significantly changed only after the international pressure.
Given the loss of credibility of the domestic justice system, Sri Lanka has no justifiable reason to compromise need to finding the truth about UNHRC allegations by avoiding a hybrid inquiry. After the allegations are verified the country can make case that the punishments for those found guilty should be consistent with the punishments meted in other countries for similar crimes. At the same time Sri Lanka should strive to pursue superior moral standards better than US (imperialists), if it wants to claim moral high grounds in the pursuit of truth justice, truthful to its cherished religious values.
Sri Lankan security forces are a part of the international community as they interact with the security establishments of the other countries and participate in the international Peace Keeping missions. They are obligated to follow the international laws in order to maintain their international credibility. Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka noted, only a credible inquiry will clear the good names of those officers who conducted the war within the rules of war and humanitarian laws. The Lieutenant General Crishantha De Silva shared similar sentiments when he expressed his gratitude during his address at the Sri Lankan Army’s 66th Anniversary to those soldiers who conducted the war in “a professional manner” and “to the families of our men and women in uniform.”
The debate over sacrifices made during the war should also take into account the trauma of the victims of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity—the trauma caused by not knowing the truth about the alleged abuses of rights that victims, mostly ethnic Tamils, endured during and in the aftermath of the war. Military in a multicultural nation cannot serve its’ true national interests, unless the nation brings closure to these victims yearning for truth and justice. A credible inquiry is the beginning of a long process of helping the military to enhance its’ credibility among minority Tamil community. In Army Commander De Silva’s words, “the military’s sole aspiration is to safeguard our motherland and its citizens at all times. It requires unity of purpose and the ability to focus on issues to be addressed united with a spirit of reconciliation.” It is only on the basis of truth and justice that the military could expect to be ‘united in the spirit of reconciliation.’
Avoid distractions: “Batalanda” Ranil and Crimes of the West
When the opposition is no longer able to suppress the truth, it will attempt to discredit Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe and those who support the current government. Pointing the finger at the international community’s leniency toward the crimes of Western countries will certainly distract the debate from its moral purpose.
Any discussion of personal traits or Western crimes would form a dangerous tangent because the debate is primarily concerned with the interests of the people and not the personal histories of politicians who support the resolution. Neither the UNHRC report nor the victims are concerned with the alleged role of the prime minister in the Batalanda torture chambers or with a comparative assessment of war crimes committed by Western and other non-Western countries.
Unravel the Truth about Imperialism and Anti-Imperialists
Often the opposition to the UNHRC resolutions presented as a part of country’s struggle against imperialism. The fear anti-imperialist rhetoric generates is so seductive that there is no compulsion to examine its relevance to the demand for truth and accountability. The moral purpose behind the UNHRC report would be lost if it is framed as an imperialist conspiracy. During the debate, the JVP will likely be in a better position to disarm the argument’s credibility and demonstrate its complexity. The emphasis should be on how those opposed to truth and accountability forestall the possibility of creating the social conditions necessary for inter-ethnic solidarity and a meaningful fight against imperialism.
The primary concern is verifying the allegations in the UNHRC report. The alleged human rights violations did not originate with imperialism, as the opponents of the resolution claim, and the connection between imperialism and the UNHRC report is far-fetched. The victims demanding justice are not collaborators with imperialism, and they are not pursuing any anti-imperialist agenda. Likewise, no opponents of the UNHRC resolution espouse an anti-imperialistic agenda or an ideology even remotely connected to anti-imperialism.
All powerful countries support the UNHRC resolution, but none of them let human rights concerns stand in the way of their imperialistic ambitions. Imperialism is a global economic and political phenomenon: It is a project of the all states. Owing to their ethno nationalist biases, opponents of the resolution only levy charges of imperialism against the West, particularly the countries that actively advocated for the resolution. This political strategy simultaneously appeals to the dominant ethno nationalist narrative and distracts the masses from the Sri Lankan state’s complicity with, or class character of, global imperialism.
The anti-imperialistic rhetoric derives its power to dismiss the moral basis of the UNHRC resolution from the uneven distribution of economic and political power among states. The UNP and every member of the UPFA, regardless of their stand on the UNHRC report, are imperialistic in their economic ideology and structural relations with the global economy. The lesser bargaining power of Sri Lanka in this global imperialistic project is its failure to address the human rights issues in the country. The UPFA government sought to increase its spoils of the global economy by soliciting financial and political support from countries that were unconcerned with Sri Lanka’s human rights violations, whereas the current government is seeking to achieve the same economic goal by declaring its commitment to addressing human rights issues to the international community.
The current premises upon which the oppositions’ stance on the resolution rests is blatant racist ethno-nationalism masquerading as anti-imperialism in service of the imperialists. The government’s promise to address human rights issues does not entail a commitment to anti-imperialistic policies. Under these circumstances, the only hope for a genuinely anti-imperialist struggle is to create broad-based solidarity across the ethnic divide inside and outside of the country. Building such solidarity is impossible as long as truth, accountability, and transitional justice issues remain unaddressed and continue to divide communities.
Those who obstruct accountability and transitional justice are de facto imperialists because they hide the global character of imperialism and prevent the creation and sustainability of the social conditions necessary for an anti-imperialistic struggle, which I, in the final analysis, believe necessary to safeguard human rights and security on a global scale. At the moment, only the JVP seems capable of articulating a position during the debate that would simultaneously safeguard the entitlements of the victims of alleged war crimes and help create domestic conditions to continue the global struggle against imperialism. However, given the JVP’s history of ethno-nationalism and it wavering position on the UNHRC report, it remains to be seen how much political will be expended to challenge the dominant ethno-nationalist narratives and whether the JVP will also hide behind the cover of domestic nationalism to oppose a credible inquiry.
*To be continued
[i] The most common tactic the opposition uses is discrediting society (an ad hominem attack, sometimes called the genetic fallacy) to refute an argument by citing the credibility of the source, which is unrelated to the topic and nothing to do with the substance of the argument itself. Arguments are also dismissed by simply referring to similar wrongdoings committed by another (tu quoque). Often, arguments offer conclusions based on an unstated or unproven assumptions (petitio principii). Opposition debaters use ambiguous language to shift the argument (equivocation) to a conclusion that has nothing to do with the argument’s core premise. Often, the weakness of the arguments against truth and accountability are hidden (red herring) by drawing attention away from the core issues of the debate. Arguments are falsely justified or used to intimidate others by name dropping of the popularly admired (ipse dixit or ad verecundiam), not necessarily qualified people. The arguments are justified using the assertion that they are reflective of the popular opinion or majority sentiment (ad populum or playing to the gallery). Such public sentiments can be manufactured by the debaters or those sentiments are proved wrong or detrimental to addressing the core issues of the debate. Many times, arguments appeal to ignorance or lack of proof (argumentum ad ignorantiam): “You can’t prove I’m wrong, so I must be right.” But the proof one is looking for is irrelevant to refute the argument.
Vibhushana / October 20, 2015
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. – Arthur Schopenhauer
I was wondering where you sprung this from. Was it from here?
MA Sumanthiran left a profound impression with a quote drawn from Arthur Schopenhauer. He said …
Its like when a bunch of toilet cleaners leave the scene they all carry the same lingering smell.
These Tamils are undermining the state from within. Its not good for Sri Lanka and by extension Tamils who live there.
Why do I think its all fake? MA Sumanthiran just last week was on a Tamasha to release Tamil war criminals who bombed innocent civilians and killed politicians. Yet, here he is wanting to know the “truth” about Sinhala war crimes.
These Tamil leaders from inception have done nothing but playing the race card for everything. It does not help Tamils one iota. If it had then there would not be 80,000 war widows and 160,000 orphans in Jaffna.
Jude Fernando / October 20, 2015
Thank you for your comment. I absolutely have no problem in prosecuting war criminals from any community or any movement. I think the UNHRC report includes systemic violation of rights in communities. I think information about these crimes in all communities is well known.
But we must make a distinction between war criminals, those arrested for various war related activities, and political prisoners. Do we consider all JVPers were imprisoned due to their part in the 1971 and 1980s uprising as criminals or terrorists? There are lots of people arrested under PTA, yet to be prosecuted. I am not sure whether the PTA was even applied consistently for all communities.
The notion of political prisoner is a complicated one, particular when those who participate in political struggles are accused of crimes against humanity. The political missions do not always justify those crimes. Then we get into a more serious issue of the state abusing its power and use its’ force discriminatively. How do we deal with use of ‘illegal methods’ by groups and movements use force as the last resort to fight against such states? How do we account for the revolutions, independent struggles, and struggles of the indigenous communities around the world against the states? I am a pacifist and I do not compromise it. However, I struggle understand the other perspective as well.
We must recognize difference between the political prisoners and politics of taking about political prisoners. We must also not confuse the UNHRC resolution with the issue of political prisoners. The latter is a legal matter, which I have not expertise to comment on. (Dr. Wickramabahu makes an interesting argument about the political prisoners.) But I hope that the government will keep the public informed of its stand on the political prisoners and it will be applied to all communities equally.
I think those who are opposed to truth and transitional justice provide the opportunity to for those seek to undermine the state from within. I am not sure call to release the prisoners undermine the state. That needs further explanation.
Vibhushana / October 21, 2015
But you are commenting here as if you are an expert though!
There are 2 components to war crimes. Intention and scale.
Intention is willfully harming civilians.
The scale does not need intention. It makes it unlawful to kill in excess of military objectives.
Davidson Panabokke / October 21, 2015
”on a Tamasha to release Tamil war criminals who bombed innocent civilians and killed politicians”
Why haven’t successive governments framed the chrges?
D.Nimal / October 20, 2015
The Human rights reports proposed for dissolution of Sri Lankan state by the fabrications story of ” War Crimes”.
Human Rights has gone beyond its mandate ,currently proposed to be that change whole structures of state into new Federal Structure;
to be established Tamil Eealm puppet regime in Indian Ocean.
Aim of US -new foreign policy of Pivot Asia to be laid new foundation for US new Military and Naval base in Sri lanka east cost.
State of Eelam is best choice for US Military in Indian Ocean.
Key issues is now US and Imperialist-westerns gang not going to accepts defector governance of Sri Lankan current status of affairs state exist since 1948?
Who rule this LAND since 1948 ? By since 1948 UNP and SLFP were the ruling parties ,while partly- LSSP, SLCP, FP and JVP as coalition partners or alliances with them time to time.
US regime want New Tamil Eealm regime in the part of an Island.
This not human rights or War crimes or legal issues ! This is political issues in Global scale and survival of Sri Lankan unitary state.
The behind the seen, that US want to partition of Sri lanka.
It will lead to , Well is second partition of Indian after 1947.
The “rotten” Indian bourgeois class has no vision to realized that the gravity of issues.
Ajith / October 20, 2015
You need to prove it whether UNHCR report is fabrication or not. So, concentrate on truth, justice.
lal / October 20, 2015
Mr J fernando
“When the opposition is no longer able to suppress the truth, it will attempt to discredit Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe and those who support the current government. Pointing the finger at the international community’s leniency toward the crimes of Western countries will certainly distract the debate from its moral purpose”.
Why not investigate the barbaric acts committed at Batalanda and bring those responsible to face justice. The victims of Batalanda and their loved ones too need to know the truth and need reconciliation. I wonder why Mr Fernando to deny them justice. Is it because they do not have a voice as effective as the diaspora or Mr fernando chooses who gets justice?
Jude Fernando / October 20, 2015
Thank you for your comment. I would not conflate the demand for transitional justice/truth with anti-imperialist struggles. I also do not use the notion of West as a clear and well defined category. I would rather use the working class and capitalist class, since struggles between these two groups are happening all over the world. In fact the distinction disguises the capitalistic relations between west and nonwestern countries and the potential for solidarity between those groups in these countries against capitalism. To that extent the division is a ‘divide and rule policy’, a policy continuing since the colonial period.
Yes, Ranil Wickramasinghe and main stream politicians are capitalist and they are working will all countries, West and non-west, to further their capitalist interests. Struggle against these capitalist forces is impossible when there is no reconciliation between the communities in the country. I see truth and transitional justice as a means towards building such solidarity.
Yes, of course, those responsible for Battlanda and Matale should be prosecuted. That is government responsibility.
Anpu / October 20, 2015
Thanks Jude. Keep up the good work
Anpu / October 20, 2015
The privileging of Buddhism moreover regularly requires the subordination of other identities. Just days before Mr. Kerry’s visit, a government appointed commission ordered the destruction of the long established Kuragala mosque claiming that it sat on Buddhist archaeological site. Meanwhile across the occupied north-east the military builds Buddhist temples and conducts elaborate Buddhist festivals amongst the overwhelmingly non-Buddhist population whilst also preventing locals from culturally and economically rebuilding in the aftermath of devastating war. The government’s duplicity – saying one thing abroad and another at home – appears to secure international legitimacy for this reality and makes the transformations that will be needed for a more a more inclusive order to emerge that much more difficult to secure.
Continued international engagement will be crucial to establishing credible accountability in Sri Lanka as well as a lasting political settlement. However, Sinhala leaders also need to step up to the plate and make clear to their electorate that the status quo of ethnic hierarchy and ongoing militarised repression in the Tamil speaking areas is internationally unsustainable, quite apart from it being ethically un-defendable . The end of apartheid in South Africa was presaged by F. W De Klerk’s campaign amongst white South Africans that spelt out the necessity of political reform to ward off the threat of further international cultural and economic isolation that was imminent in a post-Cold War world where apartheid could no longer be justified on the basis of its alleged centrality to the global anti-communist campaign.
If the new government is serious about its international pledges, it must start doing the hard talk with the Sinhala electorate. If instead it continues on its current course of pledging accountability, political reform and an inclusive multi-ethnic order to international audiences whilst pandering to the Sinhala Buddhist majoritarianism of domestic ones, this current set of pledges will simply be washed away by the next tide of Sinhala nationalist mobilisation as have all previous ones. Most recently the Norwegian mediated talks were cut adrift by a surge of Sinhala nationalist mobilisation that balked at any compromise with the Tamils; a dynamic that rehearsed the failure of the most distant compromise between Bandaranaike and Chelvanayagam in 1957 undone by Sinhala Buddhist mobilisation including a now infamous march to the Buddhist temple in Kandy by the uncle of the present Prime Minister. Sinhala leaders need to make the case for the urgent necessity of change before Sinhala audiences – not Tamil or international ones who do not need convincing. But this is precisely what they are not doing.
Jude Fernando / October 20, 2015
Thank you and I agree with you.
“Sinhala leaders need to make the case for the urgent necessity of change before Sinhala audiences – not Tamil or international ones who do not need convincing. But this is precisely what they are not doing.”
I totally agree with the above statement. But this is not happening. There is no recognition of how ‘privilege works” for the benefit of one community and against another. There is no acknowledgement that we have a problem of racism in the country. I think there has to be education on these matters at every level of the society. Until then no resolution is going to work. Truth and justice is necessary for an inclusive political order.
Vetmahadeva / October 21, 2015
Nothing can be better explained than this article pertaining to the current situation.
The Nut-Shell is
“The current premises upon which the oppositions’ stance on the resolution rests is blatant racist ethno-nationalism masquerading as anti-imperialism in service of the imperialists. The government’s promise to address human rights issues does not entail a commitment to anti-imperialistic policies. Under these circumstances, the only hope for a genuinely anti-imperialist struggle is to create broad-based solidarity across the ethnic divide inside and outside of the country. Building such solidarity is impossible as long as truth, accountability, and transitional justice issues remain unaddressed and continue to divide communities.”
As promised this article as well has been shared in my FB, for the message it carries!
Raymond / October 21, 2015
You have risen far above the racist and religious discords that drown this country and almost take it to the brink of extinction. The problem is the education level of our public and secondly the mistrust between the communities. Both can be rectified by an independent media. Unfortunately we don’t have one. Our media, police and even justice system is influenced and controlled by our political leaders. People re-elect them without any hesitations. In western countries any evidence against an elected representative will result in resignation.Re-election of a corrupt individual is never heard of in those countries. But our people are mired in chauvinism. You can see Vibushana in this column is a prime example of this.
Mallaiyuran / October 21, 2015
The recent reports in Tamil Media said that there is allegation that Diaspora activities are the one hindering government to do some good on the investigation. It not something totally unexpected. That is only an attempt to shut the mouth of the people have freedom to talk.
When G.G was presenting 50:50, it was said that was the one disturbed the Soulbury’s ability to provide a justifiable constitution. Then tearing off the Banda-Chelva fact was blamed on Tamil, with the reason for 1958. The problem found was SJV asked for Federal State, it was seen as separation. But the Federal Constitution was suggested by SWRD. Then it was blamed on Dudley for not being able to do anything to Tamils because he had FP in his government. That is why they opposed his initiations. Then it was blamed again FP (TULF) for not inserting itself into Colvin’s and JR’s constitutions, but following a non-cooperation path with the powerful governments. Latter everything was conveniently put on LTTE. After the war, it was put on the future, resurrectable LTTE. Now their are invention is, it is the diaspora disturbing them.
I think it is time for them to leave it IC to investigate and let them know what had happened during the war. Claiming that incident was not investigated, Batalanda is not investigated is not IC’s problem at this time, though IC has insisted Lankawe’s governments should rule by law. OISl report has not put any condition anywhere of what crime should be investigated and wht should not be. It simply talking about that war crime has to be investigated with Hybrid courts. Lankawe’ has been asked by the OISL report to sign to Rome treaty. This is proving way for anything that can not be locally investigated can get help from ICC. those who insist on other cases should be investigated, if war crime of 2009 is going to be investigated should consider a campaign in Lankawe to agitate the Ranil’s government to sign the Rome treaty. If they do it many of the cases they want can be investigated by ICC with out this laborious process of UNHRC.
IC here recognize that the main reason for failure to investigate is because the racial barrier preventing the majority race. This condition is not there in Batalanda murders. Though the suppression of JVP was pretty brutal, Premavati’s case atten or justice Chemmani mass murder did not receive. I am not mentioning anything of 2009. That is completely different. But in Manampere’s time, brutal Sirimavo was in power, but Chemmani time, it was Chandrika, who is still being recognized by IC as mild president. That is very clear indication as IC can not find out a milder president than Chandrika for Lankavwe to prevent repetation of Chemmani investigation. So, this has to be done by IC.
Jim softy / October 21, 2015
Always the objective behind everything is subjugating Sinhala people.
Otherwise, why these 70 million Tamils, 2 billion each christaina and muslims are talking the same subject.
Jude Fernando / October 21, 2015
“Always the objective behind everything is subjugating Sinhala people”
I have no reason to believe that any community is inherently morally superior to another when they are given power. Any one of them can abuses power to harm another. However, this is not a excuse to avoid transitional justice issues. In fact, UNHRC report is a response to long term power inequalities between communities. In talking about the fears of the Sinhala community, one must also address the fears of the Tamil community and other minorities. If we address the transitional justice issues mentioned in the report, and power inequalities between communities, then we have a better chance of preventing one community oppressing the other.
s dulcie / October 21, 2015
Congratulations.very good keep it up.
curtis hellfire / October 21, 2015
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
Thank you for this quote Mr Fernando. It completely encapsulates the behavior of most Sinhalese and Tamil Ultra Nationalists over the last six years who have constantly accused each other of War Crimes and Crimes against humanity.
A mirror has been held up to all citizens of Sri Lanka, through the UNHCR resolution and we have to look at ourselves and each other.
And that Mirror will turn into a microscope when the War trials begin.
Both sides of the ethnic divide will come under intense international scrutiny and it wont be a pretty sight for either. We should all get ready for the rest of the World to start laughing at us and our amateur attempts to responsibly Govern ourselves since 1956!
K.A Sumanasekera / October 21, 2015
When Mr Pirahaparan was blowing up Sinhala Buddhist Temples and Wahabi Mosques and his Black . Brown and Baby Soldiers were mowing down School Kids, Mums, Dads, Uncles , Aunts, Grand Mas , Grand Pas, even baby apprentice Monks no one said it was immoral.
Mr Jude must have been in Scarborough or East London helping with the Collection at Diaspora Congregations, not to have heard about those immoral acts and now to find that elimination of Murderer Terrorists is immoral and politically incorrect…
Spring Koha / October 21, 2015
Where were you in the fifties (yes, not just 1958), and the 70’s (not just 1977), and the 80’s especially July 1983, when most of our innocent Tamil brethren were set upon by vindictive, vituperative, racist thugs?
You certainly were not around when we asked the question ‘how long before these beleaguered people say enough is enough, we cannot take this any more’?
May be you were one of those lifting your sarong, strutting your stuff, and feeling superior.
As you sow, so shall you reap (or, as they say in old Dematagoda, what goes around comes around).
Mallaiyuran / October 22, 2015
“Mr Jude must have been in Scarborough or East London helping with the Collection at Diaspora Congregations” – comedy?
Lonely night owl!
When the stray light of the dawn of the still hidden sun started to show up, many Mr.Hydes have become Dr. Jeyklls.
Light is the enemy of the vampire owl. Those who know to change the skin has survived by accepting minister posts or learned to write in CT.
The owl KAS still hooting but struggling to fly by quickly fading visions to the glaring light.The only left out night owl still has not understood for reason to loose it’s vision.
If owl is too late to realize, the praying bird will become the pray of the birds of pray. I do not think KAS wants wing clipped, in dark dungeon, to dine with Pillaiyan by the hand of Batalanada.
The Professional / October 21, 2015
“In all debates, let truth be thy aim, not victory, or an unjust interest.” ― William Penn
It is easier said than done Jude.
In Sri Lanka each community wants its share for consumption by members each community. I hope that the reports help to stop pointing fingers at each other. It will continue as long as wealth and well-being remain as the goals of all major political parties.
Jude Fernando / October 21, 2015
The good news about bringing closure to the transitional justice issues is that, it at least provides the possibility for building broad based solidarity among different ethnic groups to deal with other forms of inequality, especially the economic one. I really do not trust any mainstream political party. We need a third party with different types of politics. Building such a party is a long process. I have faith in humanity!
kali / October 22, 2015
In the Sri Lankan context the following has no meaning
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
**** I dont hold out much hope of the above happening and let me give you the order of Proceedings.
Truth up to now has been
1) ” Ridiculed ” ( for example Channel 4 Killing Fields)
2) ” Truth Stifled “( The Paranagama Report)
3) ” Truth buried” ( Already there is a clarion call for all those who are guilty headed by Mahintha despite the scale of atrocities to be Pardoned.
In the end Justice to the victims will be the Casualty and the Architects of Genocide will emerge as Victors.
The New Sri Lankan ORDER.
Every attempt by GOSL and other institutions ha only one Goal and that is to save MR and his Cronies.
I will just give you a few examples.
Start with the arrest and detention of Pillaiyan. I have nothing against his arrest and detention if he is Guilty of Murder.
But compare the swiftness with which he was arrested and charged and the slow progress in apprehending those Guilty of killing ” Lasantha, Ekinagoda and Thajudeen. Because the trail leads back to MR and his Cronies.
Justice will never be served we are wasting out time.
D.Nimal / October 23, 2015
Moral issues of Democracy has been that totally lost that US led credential of politics of Democracy, that ‘Human Rights’ and ‘War Crimes’ since immediately before that tail end of Second World WAR 1945 by US nuclear Bombing in Japan.
US cannot justified Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 1945 6t and 9th Of August but by the US bombing of B29!
Character and act of US Imperials has not change even after 70 years of world domination by Pentagon rule of current world order.
US still want rule Globe by their own games of ‘Rule of Democracy’….of hegemonies politics …….
US led war crime and human rights violations has been continuously growing that world wide large scale by supporting Terrorist Outfits many regions including that Sri lanka for their own Global strategically interest.
LTTE of Tamil Eelam is one of them that back by US Global identical which that vested interest in Indian Ocean for NEW MILIRARY and Naval BASE in part of Sri lanka.
That is why suddenly ongoing ruling governances of UNP-RW, CBK and MS regime is alliance with US “war crime and human rights” resolutions by current regime which against People of Sri Lankan state?
Why is that UNP-Ruling party of led by Ranil.W…. now suddenly turn into that “liberation” of Tamils in Sri lanka ?
Is that UNP’S for the Tamils rights? NO at all.
In reality that UNP is working up to the gain political power for the Tamil political class power in North-East Eealm state, which is that serve aim forced by US to be established Tamil puppet regime an Island.
Politics that behind ‘war crime and human rights’ are nothing else is against that Sri Lankan territory to be partition for the Land for Tamils. Partition and divide of land New Policy of US and UK in Indian Ocean .
While aim of US is that of dismantle democracy state in the South Asian region. And eradication of majority race and eliminated their religion believes once and for all.
This is systematically policy of destroying of 2600 years civilization of an Islands back by US and local bourgeoisies, who are in ally with Westerns vested interest of Hegelianism,.