President Mahinda Rajapaksa has little interest in a thorough investigation and his government’s systematic persecution of journalists and other critics amply demonstrates that he brooks no criticism, the New York Times said in its editorial today (3).
“Nobody should be naïve about the motives or intentions of Mr. Rajapaksa,” the NYT editorial board said.
The highly respected newspaper said that while it would be easy for the world and American officials to give up their demands for accountability given that nearly five years have passed since the end of the war, that would be tragic and would signal to public officials that they might never have to answer for mass murder.
The newspaper’s editors said that it was also true that international pressure has forced Rajapaksa to make some decisions that he would not have made on his own. “For example, in September, the country held regional elections in the Tamil-dominated Northern Province that it had been resisting for years. The new provincial council recently voted to call for an independent war crimes investigation,” the New York Times editorial read.
“It is important that the world stand with those Sri Lankans who have demanded a full accounting of what happened during the war,” it added.
The NYT Editorial Board said it had been a good move by Washington to send US Assistant Secretary of State for South And Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal to the island last weekend “to press the case with public officials and community leaders.”
“A United Nations panel reported that as many as 40,000 civilians may have been killed in the last stages of the conflict, many of them by military shelling. But the country’s government has failed to hold officials accountable and has resisted every effort by the international community to do so. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has largely ignored two resolutions adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council calling for Sri Lanka to investigate war crimes by both security forces and the separatist Tamil Tigers,” the editorial said.