20 September, 2020

Blog

Facing The Challenge Of Single-Issue international Agenda

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Stephen J. Rapp, Ambassador-at-Large of the Office of Global Criminal Justice of the United States will be in Sri Lanka this week.  He will be meeting with political leaders and also with other influential opinion formers to ascertain the situation in the country relevant to his interests and to make known his own views.    His visit will be followed shortly thereafter by Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs of the US government, Nisha Desai Biswal.  Both these visits are evidence of the international interest in Sri Lanka and its present trajectory of political development.  They are also likely to be connected to the forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March, where Sri Lanka is likely to figure as an important issue and perhaps even as a test case for collective international action.

Due to the global influence the United States whatever its officials think and say is going to be of utmost importance to all of Sri Lanka, and not just to its government.  The views on Sri Lanka of the closest ally of the United States, which is the United Kingdom, are already well known.  British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that his government will use its place within the UN Human Rights Council to press for an international inquiry into the conduct of the last phase of Sri Lanka’s war.    When he was in Sri Lanka to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November last year, the British Prime Minister gave the government an alternative of doing its own investigation in a credible manner.  But this has not been forthcoming as yet.

The ideal for Sri Lanka in the New Year is to have a government, opposition, civil society and international community that will address the problems faced by people and solve them without making them worse.  Among the many urgent problems that need resolution, the issue of accountability is particularly sensitive as it impacts upon the government leadership. Largely in deference to this international pressure, the government has taken some cases of human rights violations before the civil courts and appointed military tribunals to look into other allegations, but these have not yet yielded concrete outcomes.  The visiting US officials are likely to get this message from those whom they meet. So it will appear to them that there is a need for international action.

People’s Concerns

This international action that is being discussed is in a limited sphere, that of accountability, impunity and human rights violations.  But they are not the only issues of concern to the general population whose priorities also need to be considered.  There is a common concern about the rising cost of living and the inability to earn enough.  The government disputes this assessment and will be able to show national income statistics that bolster its claim that post-war Sri Lanka has entered into the ranks of middle income countries.   The government has been producing reports on its implementation of development projects and recovery of the war-affected parts of the country.  However, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Chaloka Beyani, who visited Sri Lanka recently referred to “growing food insecurity and indebtedness in the Northern Province” and to the fact that “displaced and resettled communities seem to remain vulnerable to recurrent shocks”.

The contrast between reality and appearance is not limited to the economy.  Its presence is also felt in the political arena.  The seizure of more than 260 kilos of heroin, the involvement of the Prime Minister’s Office in the crime, and the disappearance of half of that weight of heroin while in police custody have been reported in the media, but the action taken appears to be minimal.  The 18th Amendment concentrated the powers of appointment of all top state bodies in the hands of the President.  Eroding the general public’s confidence in the integrity of state institutions, and the quality of presidential appointments, is the allegation that the Bribery Commission is itself tainted by bribery.  The independence and integrity of the public service has been laid low.

The forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March can address these issues which are pressing to the people.   For this to happen there needs to be a continued focus on the implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, as was mandated by its two resolutions of 2012 and 2013.  It deals very well with issues of governance and reconciliation.  But to the extent that the March 2014 session refocuses attention onto the single issue of setting up a new mechanism to ensure accountability there is danger of a diversion which will not be in the interests of improving conditions of life within Sri Lanka, as experienced by its people.    All indications are that the international community is positioning itself to deliver a resolution that calls for an international probe into Sri Lanka’s conduct of its war.

Standard Response

It seems that the international community has a standard response to post-conflict societies.  It is that they should deal with their past, and punish the guilty for crimes, before there can be reconciliation.  Therefore the international community insists on an investigation and accountability mechanism to be in place as a pre-condition for them to accept that a country has truly become a post-war society that is healing itself.   However, the reality stemming from this approach can be very different.  It can be used by desperate government leaders, who fear being punished, to divert popular attention away from issues of concern to the people to issues of national pride.  They can instigate nationalist groups, to take action against hapless minorities.   This has happened elsewhere in the world.  And so has the reverse, if there is great statesmanship—on all sides.

In 1994 prior to transferring power to South Africa’s first democratically elected government, President of South Africa Frederik de Klerk spoke words that could apply to Sri Lanka too.  “ There is a growing awareness among all South Africans of our interdependence – of the fact that none of us can flourish if we do not work together – that all of us will fail if we try to pursue narrow sectional interests.   Five years ago people would have seriously questioned the sanity of anyone who would have predicted that Mr. Mandela and I would be joint recipients of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. … In the conflicts of the past, there was no gain for anyone in our country. Through reconciliation all of us are now becoming winners.  The compromises we have reached demand sacrifices on all sides. It was not easy for the supporters of Mr. Mandela or mine to relinquish the ideals they had cherished for many decades. But we did it. And because we did it, there is hope.”

Twenty years later, in Sri Lanka, the multiple crises facing the country are all indicators of the need for a change in the way the country is governed.  In this situation, the need for change is manifest.  The better way for change, as demonstrated by South Africa, is to try and solve problems within the country with the external actors empowering the local actors to do so, including with the joint Nobel Peace Prize.  With the dawn of the New Year, there was a discussion in Ambalangoda in the southern Galle district on inter-religious amity.  The Ven. Baddegama Samitha, a well known peace activist and former Member of Parliament, and now a provincial councilor, summarized the situation in the country.  He said the country faced many challenges.  There was a need for change in governance.  The opposition was unable to bring about this change, and so the venerable Buddhist monk said it was necessary that the government itself should change from within.  So must the opposition, civil society and international community, like happened in South Africa.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 8
    5

    Jehan Perera is dreaming: What happened in South Africa won’t happen here. Rajapakse would never relent that he committed genocide of Tamils in 2009, if not earlier too. There are no leaders of Mandela’s stature in Sri Lanka.

    Mahavamsa thinking is so deep rooted in the majority of the Sinhalese to accept Tamils as equals, and they have their homeland in the North-East from time immemorial, at least 3 millenniums in history.

    The regime is trying the best and colonizing colonize the North-East with Sinhalese to make Tamils minority everywhere in the island. This is exactly what Indonesia was doing in East Timor before its independence.

    “Through reconciliation all of us are now becoming winners. ” he says – my foot. Does he really believe reconciliation is taking place? If so, he must be joking. What is all the fuss about UNHRC meeting in Geneva 20014 then?

    Tamils want the truth through independent international investigations as Sri Lankan institutions are not trustworthy. They want to know whether it was a humanitarian operation to liberate Tamils as claimed by the government or a genocidal operation. If it is proved genocide then the Sri Lankan state forfeits its right to rule Tamils.

    All these so-called Sinhala intellectuals are trying to wash away the crimes committed on Tamils from 1948 by successive Sri Lankan regimes and pretend everything is fine, and then proceed to destroy the Tamil nation without trace.

    • 7
      3

      Just like the LTTE got cornered with no place to run or hide, one day the MR government will also be cornered. The noose is tightening slowly. Prabahakaran would not settle for devolution of power…he wanted a separate state while Mahinda and his family only want to hold on to power for as long as they can. Prabahakaran met his Waterloo in Nandikadal and one day MR and his henchmen might meet theirs in the Hague or on the streets of Sri Lanka if they continue to play games with the international community. Nothing is permanent…Saddam, Gaddafi and many other dictators found out the hard way.

  • 9
    2

    The visits by Rapp and Biswal are no coincidence. Britain is already in consultation with the EU on Geneva. What is the Govt doing about it, nothing?

    Change needs to come from the very top not within. The politicians within the Govt are busy with their own game of wastage and corruption. The people need to decide and vote for the opposition, if not they deserve what they get.

    • 7
      5

      For the Sinhalese people: What they want is what they get; they consider Tamils as others, others they will become.

  • 6
    7

    Thiru
    Thiru says “they (Tamils) have their homeland in the North-East from time immemorial, at least 3 millenniums in history”.
    That is rubbish. Prove it if you can.
    Tamils arrived in Sri Lanka as invaders when the island had developed to a thriving kingdom under Sinhala kings. The Tamils then burnt, looted, raped the magnificient cities and innocent civilians. Later more Tamils were brought in by Dutch and British to work as plantation coolies. There never was a homeland of Tamils in a contiguous North and East. The Eastern Tamils are a different lot from the Jaffna Tamils, which proves that north and east were separate units. Besides, in the east the Tamils lived in coastal belts, not the eastern hinterland.
    Those who want an exclusive Tamil enclave should consider a boat trip across the Palk Strait. And, what will they do with the Tamils who now live in other provinces in case Sinhalese wish to have a Sinhala only areas? Will you ensure asap that those Tamils living in outside of Jaffna and the narrow coastal belts in the east to vacate their homes and livelyhoods and return to base? See if you can get a few hundred volunteers who would follow you.
    The solution to present situation is rapid Sinhalasisation of North and East and, for both Tamils and Sinhalese to intermingle and develop a common identity. That is something achieveable, but not your homeland nonsense.

    • 4
      5

      You are talking rubbish, go back and read true history written bt independent sources before independence, not Mahamamsa crap.

  • 5
    1

    Jehan Perera is not dreaming. He is singing for his
    supper – the Norwegian money he gets for his Peace
    Council. This is an industry for him. The more he
    plugs the peace line, the more he remains plugged
    to the dollar pipeline. That is why he is masquerading
    as a media man. He is a real humbug.

  • 4
    1

    Jehan says above…..”…They can instigate nationalist groups, to take action against hapless minorities. This has happened elsewhere in the world”.

    So, in his own words he admits the dangerous path the many Sl govts., driving the policies through into the 21st century. The serious mistake done by Bandaranayake-The racist nationalist grip on the governing must be reversed. The racist monks should be distanced from policy making and political role. Ven Samitha is an exception though his election paved the way for the evil minded ones to storm the political system.

    I think some people might refer to Sir John’s advice to Banda to keep the monks under control is a true word and very , very relevant for today. Only the racist are preventing this country from producing people like Nelson Mandela. Because, even the elected leaders shiver at the cough of a Racist Monks raising hell in implementing their oft repeated and failed policies influenced from Mahawamsa thought.

    So, let us wait and see the result of nearly 60 years of tireless effort of the racist supremacist elites flower in Geneva this March.

  • 4
    0

    From 2005 the west was facing the single issue as you drum the terrorism now the clipping the terrorism create the human rights violation since 2005 and took the top at 2009
    Gota went with the war agenda to west now the west is coming with the Human right agenda to Sri Lanka

  • 3
    0

    Whether J. Perera is dreaming or not this is the reality. The SLG could have handled it in a much controlled manner had they stick to the commitments they made during the early stages after war. If the SLG is in the opinion that this will die away with time then that’s dreaming.

    The west will use this as an opportunity to punish SLG, like they have done against many countries. Ultimately it’s ordinary citizen of all races who will suffer.

    The opportunities presented to us by winning to war were not utilized for the benefit of the masses but rather misused to the benefit of selected few.
    What this does is giving more opportunities to all the diaspora “scum” to bash Sri Lanaka more, whereas we could have shut them off for good by engaging all communities!
    Good thing would be if this pressure lead to regime change in a democratic manner. I assume that is the ultimate goal.

    • 1
      0

      Are you talking about the Sinhala diaspora “scum”? If so it is very appropriate.

      When the intent and goal of Sinhala governments is to dismantle the Tamil nation of the North-East, why will they do otherwise?

      Now the international community realizes this truth, and they don’t want to be taken for any more rides by the Sinhala racist government.

      The bite of sanctions will make the Sinhalese think more rationally and democratically I hope, otherwise they are doomed.

    • 1
      0

      AFZAL
      correction please.

      “Ultimately it’s ordinary citizen of all races who will suffer.”

      This time it will be Sinhala Buddhists and supporters who remain silent.

      Others are already suffering. Or has finishjed suffering because they are dead. Killed by You know who.

  • 4
    0

    It’s a disappointment that Jehan did not mention the continued suffering of Tamil speaking minorities at the hands of the military and president appointees especially in the north and east. To understand the depth of military control you must consider those civilians chased of their own homes and are languishing in Indian camps, in the homes of friends and relatives, south of Sri Lanka and local camps one of which was visited by British prime minister and the Canadian MP. Three different reports also concur on the attacks by military on TNA candidates and their supporters while it was claimed that they were confined to barracks.

    The extremists in the UPFA coalition may ignite another 1983 riot to hold the minorities and international community to ransom. This will be the justification of what LTTE always wanted, separation because no Sinhalese dominated government will ever resolve the ethnic problem fairly. Rajapaksas are rekindling communalism to ensure their continued power base.

    Rajapaksas are used to the idea of destroying opposition by either bribing the MPs of other parties locally or playing China card internationally. India behaves as if appeasement of Rajapaksas is the only way to beg for justice to Tamils. US has learnt her blunder of helping Rajapaksas to crush LTTE without anything in return. So any move that Rajapaksas make will lead to foreign intervention and subsequent solution which can be within a united country or outside.

    • 1
      1

      Well said Saro.

  • 2
    4

    Jehan is not dreaming, but Thiru is trying to see nightmare. Prominent mind of Tamil high cast politiicians like Chelvanayakam, imported from malasia and his gang’s greedy demands made lot of damage to this country. Sinhalese who had built the civilzation of this country, were always peaceful and helpful. Tamils never be satisfied with anything. If you allow a bit of space to sit in your seat to sit to a Tamil, you will be chased away…This “greediness” in their genes. High cast Tamil, who will not give a cup of water to low cast untouchable Tamils are thinking that Sinhalese are also untochables..Thirus millaneous old history has no any single old monument to show their long history..Any old civilzations have their own national or racial symbols to prove their history in world. But not for Sri lankan Tamils…They have fabricated new history…They know only lick the ass holes of westerners…lick…lick..lick…for ever…

    • 2
      2

      Veera sooriya you are writing bull crap.

  • 0
    3

    War between GOSL and LTTE was launch by Tamil terrorist outfit to be established so-called Tamil Eleam in North-east. Is quite natural emotional momentum that as an Independent and soveregnity nation as Sri Lanka, has to combat Terrorist enemy against to safeguard people of Island; on the other hand by whatever class in power combat against terrorist, (what ever the form) is essential factor of the state.
    That is NOT a war crime by State of SL. War against terrorist not War against people of Tamils in North-east.

    Ongoing war crime is deep rooted in hostile international environment by West and Indian against nation democracy and undermine national soverenity and terrtoial intergrity of SL.
    The ‘war crime’ and process of reconciliation of ‘Tamil terrorist’ which function by way of recognizing the similarities of the assimilated majority community and Tamils alter ego is fraught with serious consequences. In severing the ties that bind between Sinhalese and Tamils peoples with their memory and their histrocial traditional , and as well as religious references, and the reductive version.
    To be produce what ever new certain original and something distinct from old-order imposed by colonial power of politics economy cultural of past era of colonial democracy has need to be change into friendly international environment.
    So- called’ war crime ‘is accepting terrorist disastrous at high political cost of undermine values of democracy had been outstanding in their march towards emancipation freedom of necessity of western political order established by end of Second World war. In principally of democracy irregularities cannot be rectify by looking for so-called ‘war crime’ in last battle in Nandikadal to in SRI LANKA.
    The ‘war crime’ an approach in dangerous and ultimately unrealistic in political terms of democracy and human-right.

    • 0
      0

      What is this “Independent and soveregnity nation as Sri Lanka” you are talking about? Some catch word you picked up somewhere? Where was it before 1832?

      Sovereignty is a Western concept anyway, do you know what it means? Why accept it instead of some home grown stuff?

  • 2
    0

    How comparable is Sri Lanka to South Africa or any other country?

    !948 – legal disenfranchisement of a section of people

    ……..
    …………….- all imaginable forms of oppression
    ……
    …………

    2013/4 – political disenfranchisement of a section of people

    • 1
      0

      Just forget about the crimes up to May 2009.

      Worse crimes continue to be committed since then till today.

      ” …In each, the party previously in opposition gained decisive power on a platform that promised fundamental change. After each election, there were missed opportunities for initiatives that could have addressed many concerns of Tamil community members, while simultaneously respecting the concerns of all but the most radical Sinhalese nationalists. In each instance, however, Sri Lanka’s political leaders chose not to expend their political capital in this way but instead, to accede to demands of the radicals. … it will be useful to seek lessons from periods when Sri Lankan political leaders, like President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had such overwhelming political support that they were in a position, if they chose, to expend political capital by taking concrete steps toward communal reconciliation. …” – Prospects For Post Conflict Reconciliation And Development In Sri Lanka: Can Singapore Be Used As A Model? Prof John Richardson, Text of a presentation at Global Asia Institute Speaker Series (2010), National University of Singapore, Prof John Richardson, http://groundviews.org/2010/11/05/prospects-for-post-conflict-reconciliation-and-development-in-sri-lanka-can-singapore-be-used-as-a-model/

      – truer today

  • 0
    0

    Iraque, Libya, Syria, Sri Lanka. Need anything more be said?

  • 1
    0

    “..in Geneva in March, where Sri Lanka is likely to figure as an important issue and perhaps – even as a test case for collective international action” This should jostle those in the higher tiers
    of the regime their skulduggery prevails only within the boundaries
    of the captive island. It is in their own interest for the regime to
    take corrective and convincing action. Not a meaningless Commission or two locally, packed with bootlickers – yes! lawyers/judges to boot, whose findings announced in the coming months before March the regime will try to use to fool the UN. Pay time will soon arrive. Don’t blame the Tamils, the TNA and the Diaspora because so far you merely addressed the superficial issues – and callously.

    R. Varathan

  • 2
    0

    For the morons who claim Sinhalese set foot on Sri Lankan soil first before Tamils and Muslims:

    All the communities are going to stay in Sri Lanka as European descendants will in US, Australia, NZ and SA.

    We are all Sri Lankans and any one of us is treated equally as a foreigner in India (Tamil Nadu is a state of India for those ignorant of its status)or any other sovereign country. 110,000 Tamils fled to India because of army occupation of their homes and their ill treatment are treated as refugees in Tamil Nadu, India. They will return to their own homes as indeed those from the south of Sri Lanka once the military behave as humans or withdrawn when saner wisdom prevails upon our leaders.

    Tamils lived in India for more than 11 millenniums according to archeological evidence. Some morons claim they waited 18 miles away from Sri Lanka until Vijeya and his 700 accomplices set foot FIRST on the shores and after some 1000 years Tamils started “invading”. Vijeyan came from 2,500 miles away. Even a child can understand crossing 18 miles of Palk Strait is easier than 2,500 miles. Further, Tamils have always been seafarers as even the British who ruled more than half the world borrowed the word ‘catamaran’ – multihulled vessel with two parallel hulls for geometrical stability- from Tamil language.

    Even if you believe Mahavamsa, the origin of Sinhalese was from hybrid of male lion and female human and as there is no evidence of lions in Sri Lanka they must go back to Africa or wherever they migrated from in a scenario of having to leave this island. But Tamils and Muslims consider Sinhalese as their sahotharaiyo and want to stay here and enrich the culture and economy.

    • 1
      0

      You can’t blame them Saro………..bestiality dulled their analytical thinking capabilities!!! :-)

  • 0
    0

    Jegan are you unemployed?
    Now your agenda is creating a job yourself

  • 0
    0

    Whatever the pressure, the government is neither going to change its stand (zero civilian casualties) nor it’s approach to the issue as it equates reconciliation with subjugation of not only the Tamils but all minority groups to Sinhala Buddhist Supremacy. So all can easily read the writing on the wall.. The government will be pushed and pilloried into facing an international independent investigation. There is no other way. Any extent of whipping up the narrow nationalist sentiments in the South is never going to salvage the government. For a brief while all the Mondays may feel that they are being heroic in resisting an international hegemony but before long the ordinary citizens in the South as much as elsewhere will wake up to the reality! It won’t take too long and we all can be sure about that!

    Sengodan. M

  • 0
    0

    Sorry, the word ‘modayas’ has got converted to Mondays above as I typed in my iPad.

    Sengodan. M

  • 0
    0

    why do tamils take sinhala names to post here . another example of the inferiority complex of tamizh

  • 0
    0

    Dr thru,……’said catchword collect pickup from some where ‘..sovereignty .
    What the is mean of sovereignty, its origin and development came into being, during the downfall of Constantinopal ( present Istambul) in 1453.That the was year of beginning of Renaissance 1453 in Europe; triumphs of new capitalist nation state was rise at that time of sovereignty came into being . Indeed the modernity of Western political-economic had been shared sovereign by Europeans. Growing out of a shared experience of Western domination of democracy and human-rights ,it not only responded to the common set of dilemmas posed by the global ascendancy of Western imperial political and economics norms, but it also rephrased the questions raised by
    Sri Lankan right thinking persons for hundred years.
    What is good for sovereignty in Sri lanka? What is the nature of state authority of sovereign and JUSTICE AND EQUALITY ?
    What bind an under sovereign and democratic, individual role our state, irrespective race, religion and political views?
    The unprecedented ‘rival war’ and ‘civil wars’ are moral and materialist disaster of the modern AGE–of the Western scramble of COLONIAL in Asia, Africa and Latin American.
    The TWO WORLD WARS between rival develop Capitalist nations and their EMPIRES the rise of anti-democratic WAR-MONGER, as well the rise of FASISM -work out the NIHILIST LOGIC OF A PUREALY WAR CRIME OR WAR CRIMINIAL OUTLOOK. That nothing is sacred in the (not the battle of NADAKADAL)THE,BUT THEY BATTLE FOR WORLD POWER.
    This super power of hegemonism of capitalist state with economics built around the Global endless multiplication of monopoly desire are likely to wage the most DESTRUCATIVE WARS in order to maintain their chosen ways of Imperial system of power.
    The so-called allegation of ‘war crimes’ against small nation like,
    Sri Lankan is nothing it display their deformities of all nakedness rearrangement of world order had been collapse since 2008 Financial crisis in USA, EU and UK.

  • 0
    0

    Whatever said and done there is no remedy against the hidden agenda set by MR and cabal since May 18th 2009. With the dramatic change, the road
    to Sinhala Buddhist racial family rule was curved out for good and will
    go on. No I/C intervention will be tolerated until any meaningful
    exercise is enforced, sooner the better.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.