By Izeth Hussain –
Sri Lanka is on the brink of a revolutionary transition from quasi savagery to civilisation. My main focus in this article is on the domestic dimension of our ethnic problem and not on its international dimension. My argument that we are on the brink that I have mentioned is premised on one incontrovertible fact: all civilized societies have sanctions against crime and in so far as a society has a culture of impunity it is to that extent a quasi savage or a totally savage society. With the support of, and under pressure from, the international community – which in the present context really means mainly India, the West and the white Commonwealth countries – the present Government can take appropriate action on the crimes committed both by the Sinhalese and the Tamils from 2002 to 2009. We will thereby move from quasi savagery to civilisation If on the contrary that is prevented by the Sinhalese racists who have frustrated every attempt at ethnic accommodation since 1958, we will continue to remain in our present quasi savage state.
In the preceding paragraph I have focused on incontrovertible fact. I now move into the controversial area of the pressure exerted on us by the international community, which has taken the form of the UNHRC Resolution adopted consensually on September 30. The most important subject of controversy has been that of “hybrid courts”. The popular misconception is that they are courts consisting of local and foreign judges. Hybrid courts are really a sub-category of international courts. Wikipedia defines international courts as follows: “International courts are formed by treaties between nations, or under the authority of an international organization such as the United Nations – this includes ad hoc tribunals and permanent institutions, but excludes any courts arising purely under national authority”, The Resolution does not envisage any treaty with another nation about setting up a special court, or one that is under the authority of an international organization. The correct position is that the Sri Lanka Government had already decided to establish a special court – established under “national authority” – to deal with violations of humanitarian law etc, and the Resolution merely requires us to include in it Commonwealth and other foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators. There cannot be the slightest doubt that what is envisaged is technically not a hybrid court.
But does not the inclusion of foreign judges etc make it a hybrid court in all but name? The counter argument is that we had English Chief Justices from 1948 to 1955, and no one held that we had thereby compromised our sovereignty. We even allowed recourse to Britain’s Privy Council without that charge being made. I recall that some years ago Lee Kuan Yew, annoyed by the fact that the best Singapore lawyers would not opt to join the judiciary, threatened to appoint foreign judges to the Supreme Court. Lee was not exactly the kind of leader to brook the slightest attaint on the sovereignty of his country. So, there seem to be very plausible arguments to show that the special court would not be a hybrid court in all but name.
But I believe that it would be disingenuous to stop at that without considering possible further counter- arguments. The important point is the reason why a foreign presence is required in the special court. The ostensible reason is that we lack expertise in international humanitarian law – that is the law relating to war crimes. That may or may not be so, but we all know that another reason has loomed large in the minds of the international community: they have no confidence in the impartiality of our judges. It is arguable in that context that some degree of attaint on our sovereignty is implied. But we must consider yet another argument. Assume that a special court without a foreign presence delivers absolutely impartial judgments. The international community won’t believe a word of it. So our best interests require that we agree to a foreign presence. I believe that in effect the special court will amount to a domestic process but not a purely domestic process.
I support the Government on its co-sponsorship of the Resolution and going for its consensual adoption. First of all, we must acknowledge that the present situation is not of its making. It is the consequence of the MR Government winning the war in 2009 and proceeding relentlessly thereafter to lose the peace. The confrontational positions adopted by that Government at Geneva worsened the situation year after year. I believe that the present Government had no viable alternative to agreeing to a process that is not fully domestic. The Opposition has argued that it should have rejected the Resolution and gone for a vote. Certainly our staunch allies in Geneva, most of whom have sorry records on human rights, would have stood by us and the Resolution could have been defeated. But the Government unlike the Opposition had to consider the consequences that could follow. Very probably unilateral sanctions would be imposed by the US and other Western countries, the impact of which would be much worse than the suspension of GSP+. The Government cannot be blamed if it thought that a consensual approach would serve the national interest better.
In conclusion I must revert to the first paragraph of this article and point out that what ultimately matters is not what goes on in Geneva but what goes on within Sri Lanka. The external dimension is really important only in relation to India. What, after all, are we required to do? We are required among other things to take credible action over alleged rape of Tamil females by our soldiers. Why should that requirement outrage us? If we are outraged, it certainly means that ours is a quasi savage society. And what about Buddhism? As far as I am aware Buddhism, unlike Islam and Christianity, does not have behind it a tradition of humanitarian law. But surely any reluctance to take credible action over crime would be contrary to Buddhist principles.
In the external dimension it is only India that really counts. If there were no Tamils in Tamil Nadu there would be no Tamil ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. India would not care two hoots about what happens to the Tamils here. It is only because of the fall-out in Tamil Nadu from what happens to the Tamils here that there is a Tamil ethnic problem. If successive Governments refuse to take credible action over alleged war crimes, there could well come a time when India believes that the only solution for the ethnic problem would be Eelam.
Vibhushana / October 3, 2015
[Sinhalese racists who have frustrated every attempt at ethnic accommodation since 1958, we will continue to remain in our present quasi savage state.]
Well, “Ethnic Accommodation” usually fell along the lines of parity.
So in the process of accommodating, the Sinhala community that produce 80% of GDP will be left with just 50% of control of things.
If we put it another way, the Eastern province whose Tamil population is just 30% will become some never existed Tamil Kingdom.
Sinhala people are in top 10 of the most generous populations on the planet. That does not mean capitulation to the unreasonable.
Burt / October 3, 2015
“So in the process of accommodating, the Sinhala community that produce 80% of GDP will be left with just 50% of control of things.”
First do you even understand what “GDP” stands for?
Where on earth did you come-up with this BS? Never has anyone done stats based on race. Having said that and considering tea was one of the major crops and the investments and businesses owned by Tamils and Muslims I would without hesitation say their contribution to GDP was way higher than their representation in the population if not outright more than the majority community.
Jim softy / October 3, 2015
Stop buying products from North.
Govt stop all the subsidies to Tea plantations.
soma / October 3, 2015
“Having said that and considering tea was one of the major crops and the investments and businesses owned by Tamils and Muslims”
You are right about the Tamils, particularly those in the tea estates, but not about Muslims. They buy from unbelievers and sell it to unbelievers with a margin. That is no contribution to economy.
Sengodan. M / October 3, 2015
” what ultimately matters is not what goes on in Geneva but what goes on within Sri Lanka”
Perfectly said! Nothing can be more true!
The proof of the pudding is in eating it. We won’t have to wait too long. Within the next two years we shall know how keen the government is in rendering Justice to the affected people and genuinely promoting reconciliation to take the country on a steady path of progress.
soma / October 3, 2015
“Within the next two years we shall know how keen the government is in rendering Justice to the affected people and genuinely promoting reconciliation..”
Within the next two years we shall know how keen is the “international community” in rendering justice in a fair and unbiased manner to all irrespective of their ethnicity, had they lived in the North, the bordering villages or the rest of the country and holding accountable all who committed, aided and abetted crimes against humanity.
A token mention of “LTTE ‘also’ committed war crimes” seems to be what is on cards. An investigation into the supply of fiances and arms to LTTE, including the political leadership (“LTTE is the sole representatives of the Tamils) must also be a part of ‘accountability’ process.
Partial justice will put the country into a bigger spin. If the Tamil political class is prepared for the consequences of that eventuality Sinhalese will have no option but to accept it and mind their own business – forget “reconciliation”.
Make no mistake. Tamils will always maintain a confrontational attitude with the Sinhalese with ever more impracticable demands. That is the unfortunate compass with which the Sinhalese will have to find their bearings.
Native Vedda / October 6, 2015
You too are hearing voices in your head.
Say hello to Ravi Perera the Sinhala Speaking Demela.
Kettikaran / October 3, 2015
“If there were no Tamils in Tamil Nadu there would be no Tamil ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. India would not care two hoots about what happens to the Tamils here” The suggestion is India takes interest in the Lankan Tamil issue ONLY because of electoral considerations of the Tamil Nadu factor in Delhi’s Parliamentary configuration. Disproving this flawed theory is the case of Indians in Fiji in the South Pacific – not only from several parts of North India mainly but also from the South. There is no one single Indian State government bringing pressure on Delhi on behalf of the Fiji Indians and yet the Indians are relatively safe in Fiji because of the vigilance and pressure from the Indian Govt.
Hussain could have phrased his language politely such as “India is not interested” But the man, seething in anti-Indian prejudice as usual, rubs it in, probably gaining sadistic pleasure thereby. He seems to prefer the slanderous statement “India would not care two hoots about what happens to the Tamils here” And we are told the man is a former diplomat. O Tempora! O Mores!
Izeth Hussain / October 6, 2015
Impossible to engage in serious dialogue with this Kettie. Practically every article of mine provokes an outpouring of utter hatred – prejudice, slanderous, sadistic. He is a lone straggler. The other Tamil lunatic fringe racists gave up long ago. Probably he is the paid agent of an Islamophobic group.However he continues to provide material for my study of the Fringistas.
Hey, Kettie – you are aware of course that I have been the subject of encomiums from Hermes and Professor Carlo Fonseka. That made you foam at the mouth of course.The latest from Professor CF refers to me as the “respected” contributor to the Island. Looks like the IH caravan moves on. But the curs keep barking. – IH
soma / October 3, 2015
Mr Husain, quasi savage state is where you Muslims hang on to a parasitic existence on idol worshiping unbelievers.
Ibadun / October 3, 2015
If part of region /society says there is something went wrong then as a nation we should see what has happened and it should be done credibly.
What is the point keeping sovereignty without enjoying peace and prosperity this is what the case of most African countries…
Getafix / October 3, 2015
It looks like Mr/Ms Burt has a problem with statistics as well.
M.Yoga / October 3, 2015
Well written, I agree that we need a Hybid court is essential to bring back Sri Lankan credibility to the world arena, where we are part of the international socity. Sri Lankan population Can not close all the doors and say we want to do What ever we want since our people have more interaction with world community rather than USA. Our main income is from people working abroad and exports of material to international community.
I think by support with international legal experts we can become our self expert in humanitetian law and even engage in international activities and even become experts in this field.
I am not a Expert in buddhisme but we could use this operchunity to compare buddhisme and produce new compitence in our country with several new Phd students in this field.
Thank you for this articale Izeth.
ashwin / October 3, 2015
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Jim softy / October 3, 2015
Most of your aticle proves eventhough that you were a former Diplomat or so, you are idiot with respect to the reality of international geo-politics. Your arguments are crap.
How does Sri lanka face the the UN as a member of the 192 equal countries or a obedient puppy of the west ?
Just last Week, US bombed a hospital in Afghanistan. What kind of war crime is that.
How do you expect to get rid of a world’s most ruthless Terrorist organization which held their own as hostages.
As those countries and as well you talk about human rights of black tigers, suicide bombers. did they fight in military uniforms ?
Finally, just say you don’t anything even though you are writing. the following paragraph proves you all.
“As far as I am aware Buddhism, unlike Islam and Christianity, does not have behind it a tradition of humanitarian law. But surely any reluctance to take credible action over crime would be contrary to Buddhist principles. “
With the above statement you showed you are just the Stupid muslim. You were to such a person by your own cultist-religion.
Jim softy / October 3, 2015
It is a crap article, foreign judges worked in from 1948 – 1955 won’t be as same as the judges they will send this time.
It is the politician’s strategy which goes in front.
Mahinda Rajapakse chose one strategy and RW wanted another strategy.
The way, you have written the article, your don’t show your maturity or experience