By Ellalan Rajah –
Several news portals have reported that Abraham Mathiabaranan Sumanthiran, an unelected member of Sri Lanka’s parliament, recently informed the people of Jaffna that they can submit war crimes evidence to the UNHRC inquiry through the TNA. They also report statements made by the TNA’s leader Sampanthan in its parliament will be presented to the inquiry as well.
It seems noble of the TNA to encourage witness to war crimes and crimes against humanity to come forth and handover evidence to them, particularly when they are subject to egregious threats by Sri Lanka’s security apparatus. However, many Western NGOs and human rights activists have raised grave doubts whether this gesture is earnest, or seeks to conceal once and for all the complicity of its political allies in the most heinous atrocity of the twenty-first century from seeing the light of day.
It is not like the Colombo based TNA leadership does not have form.
In February 2012 Sumanthiran told the BBC Sinhala Service that the “TNA backs a domestic process to implement the LLRC recommendations. We should ask for an international probe only after a failure of that,” and “It is a step-by-step process. It will take time. They took 30 years in Cambodia”. This was on the eve of the European Tamil diaspora galvanising European parliamentarians in the European Parliament to pass an unprecedented resolution calling for an international probe!
It also backed General Sarath Fonseka in the 2010 Presidential Elections, a man named in the UN Panel Of Experts Reports On Accountability In Sri Lanka published in March 2011. His command will be thoroughly investigated by the UNHRC Inquiry. Any findings that implicate Fonseka in war crimes and crimes against humanity will be seriously embarrassing for the TNA’s Colombo leadership, and, liable to shed light on the deal it struck with him in Sri Lanka’s murky political underworld.
As recently as July, the TNA’s twitter account continued to defend its choice of Fonseka pointing to a derisory voter turnout in the 2010 Presidential elections i.e. less than 25 percent in the Northern Province and 40 percent in the Eastern Province (significantly lower in Tamil majority areas) against more than 75 percent nationally.
Colombo educated Sumanthiran’ friend Niran Anketell has also been barking to the same tone.
It is also reported that the TNA’s Colombo leadership is now outrageously flirting with Chandrika Kumaratunga with a view to coalescing behind her being the common opposition candidate in the much speculated Presidential elections next year.
Of course, it was under Chandrika’s tenure as President that Sri Lanka first subjected Tamil civilian areas to large scale aerial bombardment. The bombing of Navali Church where over a hundred Tamils who had taken refuge there being killed including infants as young as six months old is one such incident. Also, those buried in the notorious Chenmani mass graves were “disappeared” during her term. And, these are only two of many.
The TNA’s lawyers know full-well that if the UNHRC Inquiry uncovers any crime committed during the time period it is authorised to investigate, but were plotted during Chandrika’s tenure, their mandate will allow them to “look back” and investigate such periods as well.
Any discovery of this nature will seriously dent the prospects Abraham Mathiabaranan Sumanthiran’s ambition of holding government office in Sri Lanka. Many fear he will sell the victims of Sri Lanka’s ethnocide very very short to achieve this. Also, doubts about his bona fides have been raised given his proximity to the UNP before joining the ranks of the TNA.
It is not just such crimes from Chandrika’s tenure that stand out, but all credible Western analysts who have intimate knowledge of Sri Lanka’s failed peace process hold her single-handedly responsible for wrecking it. They also question her fitness to hold office, particularly after the trauma she has had endure; and, in the absence of Kadirgamer who will serve as the restraining influence.
Sumanthiran himself has failed to take Silk; and, as a result doubts have been raised about his judgement and capability. In world populated by Tamil Silks; in London, Singapore, Sydney and very capable Ivy League graduates many are beginning to question why a person of mediocre ability should be the front face of the Tamil national struggle.
Human rights activists in the West have made it abundantly clear that the TNA with Sumanthiran or Anketell cannot be trusted with information pertaining to war crimes and crimes against humanity; and instead been urging those with evidence to approach the OISL (OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka) directly; or, credible Western human rights organisations, NGOs, activists and diplomatic missions of countries who the driving force behind the UNHRC resolution.