4 August, 2020

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Lies Retold – The Annual Sri Lankan Ritual At The UNHRC

By Paul Newman

Dr. Paul Newman

On the 27th morning, the Sri Lankan Minister for Plantation and Special Envoy to the President of Sri Lanka on Human Rights Mr.Mahinda Samarasinghe, made the annual statement on behalf of Sri Lanka at the High Level segment of the 22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council 2013. In the usual rhetoric the Minister spoke of the commitment of Sri Lanka towards peace and normality after eliminating terrorism by successfully conducting a humanitarian operation to free a captive population. The 5 R’s (Reconstruction, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Reconciliation) would usher in an era of sustainable development, social progress and durable peace.

The north had witnessed a growth of 27% where as the growth rate of the rest of the country was 8%. The Government of Sri Lanka was relaying the railway line to Jaffna. The last batch of Internally Displaced Persons had returned to their places of origin on 24th September 2012. The strength of the military has been reduced in the north, the military was involved in reconstruction work of the north. The former High Security Zones have ceased to exist. Only 396 ex-combatants (in his word, beneficiaries) are undergoing rehabilitation. Sri Lanka had completely settled the issue of Child Soldiers. The minister claimed that at no time the ex-combatants or LTTE sympathizers were targeted, but reintegrated into the society.

A court of Inquiry was established by the Commander of the Sri Lankan army to inquire into the observations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) in its report on alleged civilian casualties during the final phase of the humanitarian operation, the court of inquiry would also examine the Channel 4 allegations. The case of the 5 students killed in Trincomallee and the 17 ACF workers killed in 2006 was further investigated.

In the second part of his speech the minister came down heavily on the Western countries and the UN Human Rights Commissioner Ms.Navi Pillay. He accused the western governments of falling prey to the disinformation, outright falsehood and pressure tactics of the remnants of the terrorist organization which has resulted in biased and unequal treatment of Sri Lanka.

He called the resolution passed on Sri Lanka at the 19th UNHRC in March 2012 as entirely unnecessary,unwarranted and unfair. He said Sri Lanka strongly objected any unfair, unprincipled and unjust approach adopted by the HRC and there should be no debate on any country specific resolution.

He felt it was the government’s primary responsibility to resolve domestic issues and unwarranted Internationalization would undermine the local reconciliation process in Sri Lanka impacting their efforts to reap the dividends of peace. Targetting Sri Lanka unfairly would further polarize the affected parties, particularly in the context of no threat from Sri Lanka towards International peace and security. The subjective selectivity of focusing on Sri Lanka was unacceptable.

The UN  Human Rights Commissioner  Ms.Navi Pillay, was scheduled to visit Sri Lanka in April 2011 but has refrained from visiting the country though she had sent a high level delegation in September 2012.  Ms.Pillay paid inordinate amounts of attention to Sri Lanka in her statements within and outside UN Forums, whether it is the Security Council, Human Rights Councils, democracy conferences or merely comments on a wide range of issues since May 2009 which could influence delegations. Her constant targeting of Sri Lanka was based on “unsubstantiated evidence founded on conjecture and supposition only supports the impression of a lack of objectivity”.

Apart from this the Minister spoke of the efforts of the Sri Lankan government to educate its people on the right to freedom from torture. He also emphasized that due process of law was followed in the impeachment of the former chief justice and the appointment of the new one.

He said Sri Lanka has been “instructed by people who know little of our history,culture and socio-political background, from the Asokan Rock Edicts of the 3rd Century before the Christian era, societies in our region have been guided by values underscoring good governance and human rights. We need not be told. We need not be taught. We are fully aware of what we need to do domestically and internationally”.

To conclude he said that the cornerstone of the Sri Lankan policy was effective reconciliation based on home grown solutions and Sri Lanka did not did not wish to adopt a policy of ‘destructive disengagement’ but would continue with the policy of constructive and open dialogue.  He felt that the subjective measures based on unsubstantiated assertions aimed at ‘naming and shaming’ are indicative of a different agenda unrelated to the objectives of the council. With time and space, Sri Lanka would deliver for its people and country.

What Mr.Mahinda Samarasinghe forgets is that we are living in an age of information. The so called humanitarian operation was nothing but a gruesome genocide carried out on innocent Tamils. The war started from the eviction of people from the western coast villages of Arippu, Silavuthurai and Mullikulam ended at the east coast of Mullivaikal. Never were the innocent civilians given a chance to cross over to the army controlled areas. They were herded like cattle from one coast to another for a period of 18 months from the end of 2007 to May 2009. The civilians were reduced to the status of walking skeletons.

The UN Habitat states that 160,000 houses were destroyed. This must be the first humanitarian operation in the world where the collateral damage caused the destruction of 160,000 houses, 146,679 missing people, 4 million Palmyra trees destroyed, cluster bombs used, government proclaimed no fire zones shelled, surrendering prisoners of war carrying white flags shot point blank. Even surrendered women and innocent children were not spared. The UN Panel of Experts says 40,000 civilians would have been massacred on a conservative estimate.

About the 27% development in the north, who are the real beneficiaries? The new roads are for free movement of the Sinhalese soldiers and the business men from the south along with the war zone tourists travelling from the south.  The new houses are for the Sinhala settlers. The minister did not utter a word about the substantiated evidences on Sinhalisation.

Militarisation is the hallmark of the daily life of the Tamil civilians in the north and east, both governed by former military personnel. There was not a word of the cultural suppression of the Tamils who are denied their basic right to mourn their dead. Their cultural remnants razed to the ground and new Sinhala landmarks have appeared in their place.

It is a blatant lie to claim that there are no more High Security Zones (HSZs). In Jaffna alone 70,000 Tamils are yet to return home as their land is occupied as HSZs. The entire village of Mullikulam is displaced into the jungles and a naval complex is coming up. In Jaffna the Talsevana military resort has come up in the place of land occupied from Tamils.

Out of a total land mass of 65,619 sq kms of land in Sri Lanka, the Tamils inhabit 18,880 sq kms of land in the north and east, after May 2009, the defence forces have occupied more than 7,000 sq kms of land.

More than 93,000 people are estimated to still be displaced as of late December 2012, living in camps in Vavuniya, Jaffna and Trincomalee districts, in transit sites or with host communities. Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (January 24, 2013)

The  Channel 4 videos have been authenticated world over, Sri Lanka is yet to accept it as it would amount to accepting its own guilt. Torture, rape of Tamil women and disappearances continue unabated as depicted in the recent report of Human Rights Watch. What is the hallmark of justice in Sri Lanka is the army conducting its own inquiry against crimes conducted by its men!

About the home grown solutions, the President of Sri Lanka put an end to it on the 4th of February 2013 by remarking that there cannot be any privileges given to the Tamils, his home grown solutions are Buddhisisation, Sinhalisation and militarization of the Tamil areas.

No country would have interfered in the internal matter of Sri Lanka if they had settled their issue amicably. Sri Lanka must understand that they do not exist independently, time and again Sri Lanka has sent its own soldiers to settle issues elsewhere as part of the UN forces. The world will not ignore the genocide of the Tamils who have contributed significantly to humanity around the world.

As regards the unscrupulous attack on Ms.Navi Pillai one feels sympathetic to the desperate plight of the Sri Lankan government who did not refute any of her claims since 2009 with substantial evidences. Mere targeting an individual will further alienate Sri Lanka which is trying to prevent the UNHRC from performing her duty.

The whole world except Sri Lanka knows that Ms.Navi Pillai is doing her job to the best of her abilities and intimidating her will only get some cheap popularity of the chauvinistic Sinhalese.  To conclude, the desperation of Sri Lanka could be seen in their panicky move to directly attack Ms.Pillai. Even a few African countries which were contemplating on abstaining are now thinking otherwise.  Sri Lanka is ready to welcome another resolution!

*Dr.Paul Newman from the 22nd UNHRC, Geneva, 2013.

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Latest comments

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    Paul New man’s lies retold

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    Excellent reporting Paul.

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    Annual pilgrimage to extol the virtues of the govt and ask for time from the gods. A long winded mantram of empty rhetoric, self praise and empty promises. This time looks like the devala will collapse on his head.

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    This type of hatred uttered lies would not bring any thing to Tamils in Sri Lanka but surely brings some credit to PN’s pocket and to LTTE diaspora from thereby misinformed poor Tamils who hard labour abroad.

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      Stop the Disapora biz. You guys are brainwashed.

      Killing of the Sunday Times editor , is it diaspora ?

      Impeachment of CJ , is it diaspora ?

      Grow up guys. Tell your stories to someone else. You are either paid by the Government to put these comments or you are brain washed.

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    Its an opportunity for the Sri Lankan President to appoint another committee or another PSC to evaluate and make recommendation of the Lessons Learnt at the UNHCR 22nd session. So to the list of things that the Sri Lankan Government can present at the next UN session they can add this new committee as well.

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    Mahinda’s humbug story fit only for local consumption. The Int’l communty are smarter and know reality of ground situation through their embassy staff stationed in SL, including new developments to crush and subjugate Muslim minority values without any provocations as such from them. The same thing happened to Tamil community and displaced them all from their homelands.

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    There is obviously claims and counter claims. That is why an independent probe has to be done in order to find out the truth.
    This independent probe can no longer be held internally as the independence of the judiciary is now compromised. That is why
    an international independent probe is an obvious step.

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    Some misguided but well meaning Sri Lankans have suggested that Sri Lanka investigate alleged ‘war crimes’ alleged by none other than the separatist terrorist diaspora tiger lobby and their partners in crime Channel4, HRW, Amnesty International and some politicians in western countries.

    However these allegations are all false based in hearsay and innuendo and no real evidence whatsoever. They are in effect made up stories to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka and to ensure that Sri Lanka is sanctioned at the current sessions of the UNHRC.

    As someone who has until recently lived a long time in the west I can say with confidence that these separatist terrorist diaspora tiger lobby spreads many lies against Sri Lanka on a regular basis now for well over thirty years.

    Their real agenda is definitely to partition Sri Lanka and finally create an Eelam that could not be achieved so far using the LTTEs violence, massacres, mass terrorism and bombings. The diaspora tiger lobby if they even remotely care about human rights should first and foremost apologise for the thousands of sinhala, tamil and muslim civilians who were massacred by the LTTE terrorist leadership and their tacit support of such. Then they should apologise for the civilians massacred by the LTTE using countless bomb blasts. Afterwards they should apologise for the ethnic cleansing of the north carried out by the tigers. Then they should apologise for all the prisoners of war massacred by the tigers. Then they should apologise for the child soldier recruitment. There are too many gross violations of human rights committed by the tigers to list here but they should apologise for all of them unreservedly since they tacitly supported such atrocities without question.

    It is very clear that human rights are the furthest from the minds of the diaspora separatist tiger lobby. Additionally what has this lobby done to make the lives of the people in the north better? Nothing. The people of the north are much better off without them trying to use them as pawns in their dubious schemes and plans. The diaspora tiger lobby are actually trying to destabilise Sri Lanka.

    Sri Lanka should not waste any of its precious time or precious resources investigating gross lies spread by this tiger lobby. Instead Sri Lanka must tell the UNHRC that

    (i) do not waste Sri Lanka’s time demanding Sri Lanka investigate made up stories

    (ii) Sri Lanka has a massive task ahead in terms of development and peace

    (iii) Sri Lanka is doing well and has achieved normalcy during the last four years and is forging ahead with peace and development restored

    (iv) point out that the so called accusers i.e. the tiger separatist lobby were not so long ago supporters of a terrorist criminal gang

    (iv) if any of these groups want to engage with Sri Lanka they should do so directly and bilaterally and that Sri Lanka does not under any circumstances entertain the idea of investigating unsubstantiated stories, video tapes etc. and that Sri Lanka has better things to do like running a country and taking care of over 20 million people.

    Sri Lanka should be very firm and forthright in this reply. Sri Lanka should point out that all these ‘accusers can discuss any issues they have directly and bilaterally with the Sri Lankan Government and that that is it.

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    A good summing up by Paul Newman
    The future of sri lanka depends on who is beleived.
    The UN and the international community cannot be easily deceived.
    Tamils abroad who are in costant contact with their kith & kin back home know the truth.
    But they are labelled “rump” LTTE etc. for this.

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    tAMILS LIVING IN sRI LANKA HAS TO SUFFER BECAUSE OF SUCH SCUMBAGS FROM OVERSEAS MAKING STATEMENTS WITH A HIDDEN AGENDA TO ACHIEVE THEIR OWN ENDS.

    WHY DOES THE GOSL HAVE TO DO SO MUCH FOR TAMILS WHOSE POPULATION ID ABOUT 3% AND OF WHICH 1.5% LIVE OUTSIDE THE NORTH.
    GOSL MUST BE CRAZY TO SPEND SO MUCH TO DEVELOP THE NORTH.

    WHY DOES THE GOSL HAVE TO RELAY THE RAILWAY LINES BACK AGAIN. NOBODY ASKED THE TAMILS TO DESTROY IT.

    NOBODY NEED TO BELIEVE SRI LANKA AND PAUL NEWMAN CAN REMAIN WHERE HE IS.

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      Hello friend, the development of the north is a myth, the construction of the military resort is development, the salary paid to the soldiers is part of the accounted money calculated as development. As far as the railway line goes, it is not for the Tamils but for the easy movement of troops, the Indian and Chinese companies which would take over Jaffna and the other coastal areas. Please get your facts right. The Tamils form 12% of the population, the Indian Tamils another 6%. Don’t worry I do not live in SL, when MR comes for you there will be no one to save you!

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    Dear Dr Newman,
    I was fascinated to read your bizarre and interesting version of recent history.
    You say: “The war started from the eviction of people from the western coast villages of Arippu, Silavuthurai and Mullikulam” Can you tell us what happened in Mavil Aru in 2006? Is it not objectively verifiable that the LTTE closed the sluice gates and thus started Eelam War 4?

    You say: “Never were the innocent civilians given a chance to cross over to the army controlled areas..”
    Who was stopping the ‘innocent civilians’ from crossing over to Army-controlled areas, away from their LTTE kidnappers? Since the civilians were under LTTE control

    You say: ” They were herded like cattle from one coast to another for a period of 18 months from the end of 2007 to May 2009.”

    Who was doing the herding? Was it the Army or the LTTE? If it was the Army, how were they ‘herding’ them? Are you denying that the LTTE used the civilians as a massive human shield to prevent a military assault?

    You say: “The civilians were reduced to the status of walking skeletons.”
    Was that due to a) insufficient food stocks reaching the trapped civilians, b) the LTTE using the supplied food stocks for their combat units, c) LTTE attacking ships carrying food supplies or d) all of above?

    Finally, did the LTTE Sea Tiger suicide boats attack MV Ruhuna and MV Malawa, which were carrying food supplies to the North?
    marsec4.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2011/03/Suicide-WBIED-Attack-off-Jaffna-SriLanka-10-08.pdf

    Oh, one final thing: the railway line to Jaffna existed before the LTTE blew it up in the l990s. Please send your contribution to its’ rebuilding, directly to SLR.

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      LTTE were not innocent but the SL Govt has more to answer since they are a internationally accepted body. The same cannot be said of the LTTE. So the GoSL has a lot to answer to the questions put by the International community.

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        No it doesn’t. GoSL is responsible to its own citizens and not to a bunch of whiners in Tamil Nadu, a fantasy cabinet in cyberspace or self selected members of the ‘international community’.

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      Dear Mango, I talk of the war in the northern battle grounds. The Eastern story was finished in 2006 and there was a lull till the end of 2007. Please note that I’m not holding brief for the LTTE or any other group. My concern is the civilians who suffered and have a right to get justice. The whole world knows that the civilians were surrounded by the army, multibarrel rockets were launched at them, aerial bombings were conducted mercilessly. The government declared 3 No Fire or Safe Zones and bombed these very places with cluster bombs. When there were nearly 400,000 people GoSL was authorising food only for 100,000 people. Even food and medicine were used as weapons of war. If you say these are wrong I can only pity your ignorance or you pretend to be ignorant. You cannot call all those who have produced reports like the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, International Red Cross, the United Nations as liars and the great MR family as saints who conducted a humanitarian operation saving 300,000 people. I can go on but I do not want to waste my time trying to convince people who don’t want to be convinced! Be a human that is what matters in the end. Make SL as the land of laughing Buddha, educated people like you should touch your heart and listen to your conscience, what was the crime of a 12 year old boy other than having Prabhakaran as his father? Was it his choice, you have a choice, to speak to truth or not, thank you my friend!

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        Dear Dr Newman,
        Firstly, thanks for taking the time to reply to me. I appreciate it very much. I’d appreciate it even more if you could find the time to reply to my points about which, as you can see, I’ve been very specific and avoided blanket generalisations.

        The facts prove that Eelam War 4 started with the LTTE closing the sluice gates at Mavil Aru in 2006. GoSL responded and the whole thing ended in May 2009. So, why do you deny this and instead go off on a tangent about people being ‘evicted from Arippu’ without providing any proof to substantiate your claim.

        As an educated person you should know that :)

        Again, I appreciate your reply and hope to hear your thoughts and answers to my specific rebuttals of your claims.

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          Well Mr.Mango, Why don’t you write your real name so that I can address you by that! The war was started in December 2005, kindly refer to the Pesalai church incident and the naval shooting at Palimunai. Kindly check those facts. That apart it is not the question of who started and who ended, it the question of justice to the “innocent civilian victims”, will we accept if they had to be our brothers,sisters,children our own kith and kin? Kindly reflect.

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            Dear Dr Newman,
            Thanks for the reply. The Pesali Church attack happened in June 2009 and was part of the much-abused ceasefire which was violatedby both sides, with the LTTE having committed the overwhelming majority of violations, as confirmed by the SLMM. Full scale war started in July 2006 at Marvil Aru.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Theater_of_Eelam_War_IV

            Since you refuse to admit to having made errors in your original article, let’s turn to your justice for “innocent people”. These are indeed my kith and kin and not a foreign people in a far away land.

            Will you now admit that these “innocents” were used as a massive human shield by Prabha and the LTTE? And that they were used in this fashion to prevent the LTTE being defeated in a final assault by the SLA.

            Logically, the blame for their deaths and injuries lies with the LTTE who a) used them as hostages, b) prevented their escape into govt controlled areas, c) forcibly recruited even more youngsters to die in a futile attempt to halt the SLA advance.

            You should be happy that justice was dealt to the senior LTTE leadership who paid the price for their crimes of using “innocents” as a shield, no?

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              My dear I was very much there in Pesalai and Pallimunai in December 2005, June 2009, the war was over! Here we are discussing on state responsibility. If you are siding with a rogue state so be it you have a choice, the LTTE was not a signatory to any International Instruments or UN Conventions. Please conduct a fair independent International trial, bring LTTE to defend itself along with the GoSL!

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        Make SL as the land of laughing Buddha, educated people like you should touch your heart and listen to your conscience

        If the Buddha could see Sri Lanka right now, I doubt laughter would be the end result. More like, mycardial infarction and permanent paralysis.

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          *myocardial

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    Paul, a good piece and informative. I am sure many of us read your article or for that matter all other articles to be informed of the current status or I should say the course which the government is heading in the troubled Island of Sri Lanka. Some contributors simply don’t understand the crux of the matter, but simply come out with negative comments, which make no sense further it is no use to anyone. I would say please don’t be deterred by them, continue writing . When one is a sleep we can wake them without difficulty, but when one is pretending to be asleep it is huge task to wake them.

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    Mahinda Samara does NOT have anything new to tell the world? What a shame ? He being such an intelligent politician he should NOT have just accepted once again to tell the same lies to the member countreis of the UN to which Sri Lanka is a member.

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    Good article. If there was anything more I would point out, it would be that we can often gain quite a lot of insight into motivations by way of a quick glance at language.

    Exhibit A: In the usual rhetoric the Minister spoke of the commitment of Sri Lanka towards peace and normality after eliminating terrorism by successfully conducting a humanitarian operation to free a captive population

    I find it unfortunate that the Sri Lankan government resorts to such phrases as “terrorism” and “humanitarian operation”, especially at the UN, of all places. Not only does it show a lack of diplomatic tenacity, but also serves to put the audience (basically the rest of the world) off.

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