20 October, 2020

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Reconciliation Versus Geneva 2015

By Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

George Rupesinghe(GR) in his letter in the Island of October 13 makes two points of great importance on which clarifications are necessary. The first point is that the US has been pushing its geopolitical interests through the UNHRC. It seems to me, on the contrary, that India was the prime player behind the UNHRC Resolution, and that the US acted as India’s partner to push primarily India’s interests and not those of the US. The premise behind my thinking is that all the great powers would concede that Sri Lanka belongs to India’s sphere of influence. A further factor of importance is that after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan the US has been trying to build up a special relationship with India, the main purpose of which is to contain China. A further factor of importance for the future is that Russian intervention over Syria probably signals that Russia now wants to play a role in international relations that befits a great power. Here we must bear in mind that the very special relationship that India built up with the Soviet Union has continued with the successor state of Russia – at least such was my impression during my spell of service in Moscow from 1995 to 1998. The US and the Western powers could have anxieties that India could play a central role in a new power configuration in Eurasia. For such reasons it seems to me inconceivable that the US engineered the UNHRC Resolution without regard to India’s interests. My guess is that those interests were of primary importance.

The second point made by GR, on which I want to concentrate in this article, is that in focusing on the final stage of the war the UNHRC Resolution conveniently ignores all the horrors perpetrated by the LTTE in the past. This fact, he points out, is not lost on the majority of the people, and he concludes eloquently: “If ALL the crimes, by all the parties, including India, are not fully investigated, one thing is certain: this tumour of deliberate injustice will grow into a cancer that will wreck community relations in Sri Lanka beyond repair”. GR is here articulating a view that is probably held widely, and passionately, by the majority of the Sinhalese. Before commenting on it I want to make a clarification. The war crimes investigations proposed cover the period 2002 to 2009. They would cover therefore two of the greatest horrors perpetrated by the LTTE: the forcible recruitment of child soldiers, and what seems to me the historically unparalleled horror of using no less than 330,000 Tamils as human shields, arguably a feat worthy of Adolph Hitler. So it would appear that the principle of equity has not been forgotten. But the problem is that the LTTE leaders who perpetrated those horrors are safely dead and therefore it would be only those regarded as war heroes by the Sinhalese who would be arraigned for war crimes. That certainly would reek of injustice. It would not be quite the best way of promoting reconciliation.

I must declare that I myself was for long opposed to war crimes investigations at the present stage. It seemed to me that the processes involved would be deeply divisive and run counter to the process of truth and reconciliation, to which priority should be given, postponing war crimes investigations to a later stage. The assumption there was that reconciliation is possible at the present stage, an assumption based on a false analogy with what happened over apartheid South Africa. There the white South Africans recognized and acknowledged that they had been in the wrong in practicing apartheid, and therefore the whites and the blacks were in total agreement over the fundamentals. Here neither the Sinhalese nor the Tamils will acknowledge, or even recognize, that they have been in the wrong except to a marginal extent. The basis for a process of truth and reconciliation as in South Africa quite simply does not exist in Sri Lanka at the present stage. Reconciliation here will require a process of long duration which has to be preceded by two essentials: a political solution to the ethnic problem and a fully functioning democracy as in the West, under which the Tamils could come to feel that they are assured of fair and equal treatment on an enduring basis. Consequently action over war crimes should not be postponed to the indefinite future. It should be made part of the long and difficult process of reconciliation.

So there is a case for investigating war crimes now. But what might be done about what appears to be the grotesquely invidious treatment to which the Sinhalese are to be subjected under the UNHRC Resolution, which GR believes will wreck our ethnic relations for the future? My answer would be two-fold. First of all we must recognize that there is no viable alternative to implementing the Resolution. The alternative would almost certainly be the imposition of sanctions by the US and the EU, the consequences of which would hit the common people hard, and the consequences of that are incalculable – something that we had better not risk in the national interest. In my last article I pointed to two incontrovertible facts. A refusal to take action over crime would mean that ours is to that extent a quasi savage society. A refusal to take action over crimes against the Tamils would be tantamount to the establishment of a case for Eelam.

Above all, we must look at this problem from a commonsense point of view. What after all do the US and other members of the international community require of us? It is simply that we take action over what are regarded as crimes under international humanitarian law. I regard the Darusman Report to be a deeply flawed document, and that the dead in the final stage of the war amounted to around 7,000 rather than the absurdly exaggerated figure of 40,000. But we can surely assume that war crimes would have been perpetrated and a prima facie case does exist for investigations to be carried out. The Resolution may be discreditable to the last Government but not to the present one, and above all, in so far as it requires action against crime, it is resoundingly a people-friendly Resolution. We must therefore apply it as fully as possible in the interest of the Sri Lankan people.

But what about the crimes committed in the period before 2002? I believe that that is something that we must handle at an entirely domestic level, keeping the international community at bay. Dealing with the crimes of the past should be seen as part of a nation-building process, and a nation can be built only by the peoples who are to constitute that nation, not by foreigners. We did have a Sri Lankan nation for some years after Independence, but it became increasingly a Sinhalese nation with the minorities being in Sri Lanka but not of it. The cost of having a Sinhalese nation in a multi-ethnic Sri Lanka has been very terrible: a 26-year civil war which has left a 100,000 dead. Worse could well follow unless we now get down in earnest to building a Sri Lankan nation. For that there has to be accountability for crimes committed by the Sinhalese and by the Tamils as well. .But what about our third ethnic group, the Muslims? I must confess, alas, that we too have contributed in no small measure to the Sri Lankan tragedy by siding consistently with the Sinhalese racists in all their egregious idiocies.

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Latest comments

  • 0
    2

    Where is Mr Mahinda pala, Over to you Sir.

    Please give the right answers to this [Edited out] working towards his group’s own longer term objectives, hiding behind the Tamil issues. He is trying to couch it like a statesman.
    Alas, he is unable to hide the agenda how much ever he tries.

    You get me?

    We are too sickened by this guy’s views to answer. Please do it for everyone in SL.

    • 1
      0

      There is a huge army stationed in the North. Most of them were recruited when they were like 18 year old boys from poor villages. Some have seen war and need rehabilitation with their mums and families.

      Real reconciliation will happen if you remove the dangerous and unnecessary scary army in the North! Nobody wants to talk about demilitarization!

  • 5
    2

    Izeth, whilst we all condemn the use of child soldiers, the Tamils will claim that the torture and murder of Tamil women and children has been a systematic policy of the Sinhala state, as the UN report indicates. These surely are far worse? Today in Jaffna 7 soldiers were arrested by the police for thieving. The Sinhala army surrounded the police station like a marauding bunch of armed hooligans. This is what Sri Lanka is? A mono-ethnic army committing crimes with impunity. Thank goodness the international community has had enough of being complicit with Sri Lanka and is finally acting.

  • 0
    0

    The dai lama mediate at thimpu. WighinSAARC> Indian government limited involvement. Prema dasa to be their. The men from the boys.

  • 4
    0

    ” a political solution to the ethnic problem and a fully functioning democracy as in the West, under which the Tamils could come to feel that they are assured of a fair and equal treatment on an enduring basis.”
    The above is absolutely true.
    The government should lose no time in setting out on such a mission. If the people realise such fruitful steps, the war crimes commited will become a thing of the past and memories of same will fade away with time.
    Sengodan. M

    • 0
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      Mr Sendogan

      ” a political solution to the ethnic problem and a fully functioning democracy as in the West, under which the Tamils could come to feel that they are assured of a fair and equal treatment on an enduring basis.”

      If only I can remove the words “a political solution to the ethnic problem and” from the above statement I am with you , heart and soul. In fact “a fully functioning democracy as in the West, under which the Tamils could come to feel that they are assured of a fair and equal treatment on an enduring basis.” is THE political solution. That is what the Tamils should fight for and for which many Sinhalese would undoubtedly join, not creating ethnicity based enclaves which are further devided into relgion based sub enclaves and date of arrival based sub enclaves. It is a pool of blood.

      Let me repeat what I always say:

      “IN VIEW OF THE PRESENT DEMOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION PATTERN OF TAMIL SPEAKING PEOPLE (IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR RELIGION OR THE DATE OF ARRIVAL) IN THE ISLAND THERE IS NO CONCEIVABLE DEVOLUTION MODEL TO SATIFY POLITICAL ASPIRATIONS OF AT LEAST 90% OF THEM.

      There has not been a political solution for 67 long years, as many bemoan, BECAUSE there is no conceivable political solution. “

      Soma

      • 1
        1

        Soma,
        You are not telling the truth. 90% of Tamils living outside the Northern and Eastern provinces are Indian Tamils while 90% of Ceylon Tamils are living in the Northern and Eastern provinces. It has been proved by DNA analysis that the core genetic material found in Ceylon Tamils and Indian Tamils are different. It is the Ceylon Tamils who are demanding the right to rule themselves.

        You are also conveniently covering up of the fact that at the time of Portugese conquest, Tamils ruled themselves and this soverignty was not returned to them when British left. It is this lost soverignty that the Tamils are fighting to regain. If you cannot accommodate Tamil soverignty within a united Srilanka, then there is no other way than for independence to Tamils.

        Secondly Tamils had been struggling to safeguard the territorial integrity of their traditional habitat which is under threat by large scale Sinhala colonisation and ethnic cleansing of Tamils. Indo-Lanka accord of 1987 clearly identifies Northern and Eastern provinces as lands of historic habitation of Tamil people. Recent excavations in Eastern province goes to substantiate this.

        International community has accepted this concept and want this implemented by Srilanka government. At every international forums Srilanka government accepts it but fails to honour it, due to Sinhala racists like you. An opportuniy has been given to present Srilanka government to settle Ethnic problem according to these parameters, if not there may be international intervention.

      • 0
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        somass

        “THERE IS NO CONCEIVABLE DEVOLUTION MODEL TO SATIFY POLITICAL ASPIRATIONS OF AT LEAST 90% OF THEM.”

        Have you ever seriously thought about alternative models? If you haven’t then of course you cannot be convinced with any other alternative models, especially when you are sitting on brain.

        Forget your stupid question, let/send the Tamils go to North East and withdraw your armed forces. The problem is solved.

        Are you trying to solve the issues or trying hard to prevent any solutions?

        Your judgement can be right or wrong however what puzzles me is your intentions.

        • 0
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          NV, no doubt you are a very clever man – you chose to quote only part of what I said:

          “IN VIEW OF THE PRESENT DEMOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION PATTERN OF TAMIL SPEAKING PEOPLE (IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR RELIGION OR THE DATE OF ARRIVAL) IN THE ISLAND THERE IS NO CONCEIVABLE DEVOLUTION MODEL TO SATISFY POLITICAL ASPIRATIONS OF AT LEAST 90% OF THEM.”

          The answer to your question is “IN VIEW OF THE PRESENT DEMOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION PATTERN OF TAMIL SPEAKING PEOPLE (IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR RELIGION OR THE DATE OF ARRIVAL) IN THE ISLAND ” which you chose to ignore to mislead the readers.

          ” let/send the Tamils go to North East and withdraw your armed forces”

          The day I observe Tamil speaking people presently in the south (IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR RELIGION OR THE DATE OF ARRIVAL) are showing a tendency to go and settle down in the North / East I will actively support a separate political unit for the Tamil speaking people (Ealam) .
          (Could you ask Sumathitharan and Vingeshwaran to lead the way)

          “Are you trying to solve the issues or trying hard to prevent any solutions? “

          Of course I am trying to make everyone understand that ““IN VIEW OF THE PRESENT DEMOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION PATTERN OF TAMIL SPEAKING PEOPLE (IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR RELIGION OR THE DATE OF ARRIVAL) IN THE ISLAND THERE IS NO CONCEIVABLE DEVOLUTION MODEL TO SATISFY POLITICAL ASPIRATIONS OF AT LEAST 90% OF THEM.”

          “Have you ever seriously thought about alternative models?” yes NV Yes, but miserably failed. You can help me here. I have been begging in these columns for the reference of any proposal of a devolution model which covers at least 90% of Tamil speaking people (IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR RELIGION OR THE DATE OF ARRIVAL). Will you oblige, please.

          Soma

      • 1
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        Soma,
        There IS a political solution. As a first step let the government implement the 13A in full, including land and Police powers to the provincial councils. The other steps towards a political solution will follow. It is only a matter of time. Tamils have nothing against the Sinhalese but they don’t want to get assimilated by the Sinhalese. They want to preserve their identity for their posterity and that is quite possible. Your example of the relationship that the Tamils have with the Sinhalese being treated as akin to the relationship of Sri Lanka with India is ridiculous. Please don’t live in an imaginary world!
        Sengodan. M

        • 0
          0

          “The other steps towards a political solution will follow. It is only a matter of time.”

          This is what the Sinhalese should be prepared for.

          The greatest lesson in the recent past for the Sinhalese should be that even after the VP-RW pact which surrendered the control over one third of the land mass the Tamil political class, supremely confident of their military wing decided to go for the final goal, whatever the cost in blood.

          Soma

  • 3
    0

    Physically Sri Lanka is a very tiny country in close vicinity to a giant neighbour, that is India. Hence it is absolutely inevitable that Sri Lanka will be under the sphere of influence of India and there is no purpose in any future leader of Sri Lanka playing the ‘China card’ as Mahinda foolishly thought that he could successfully do.
    Sengodan. M

    • 1
      1

      Mr Sendagon

      Same logic aplplies to Tamil minority inside Sri lanka. Sinhalese are the overwhelming majority within which Tamil speaking people are living in pockets. What was the end result of the war the Tamils fought for 30 years? Why? Your own logic in relation to Big India and small Sri Lanka. It is foolish to have played the Indian card. The reality of the matter is it is a mutual hostage situation. If the Tamils are content with giving a hardtime to Sinhalese while continue to live in misery, well we Sinhalese have no option but to get adjusted a accordingly.

      Don’t forget Sri Lanka is an island however much it is close to India. We are all in the same boat.

      Soma

      • 0
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        somass

        “What was the end result of the war the Tamils fought for 30 years?”

        Its a good question however you should asked VP when he was alive. Since he was hacked to death, he cannot answer your question. VP won the war for MR.

        Do you know the reason as to why he worked for others through out his entire life for example, Indra Gandhi, Rajive Gandhi, Premadasa, Mahinda, ….. rather than for his own people?

        • 0
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          Vingeshwaran can answer on VP’s behalf.

      • 1
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        Soma,
        Sri Lanka is an island but not Great Britain!
        Sengodan. M

  • 2
    1

    Can you elaborate how you came to this no of 7000 dead? You counted did you?

  • 2
    0

    “The alternative would almost certainly be the imposition of sanctions by the US and the EU, the consequences of which would hit the common people hard, and the consequences of that are incalculable”.

    Well said Mr Hussein. I don’t think the vast majority of Sri Lankans realise how close the Country was to staring into the economic nightmare of our two largest trading partners refusing to trade with us.

    Some might think (along with the ostrich mentality that the Rajapaksas held dear and the sycophants that hope for their Messiahs return)that if the US and EU placed sanctions on Sri Lanka we would simply turn to our benevolent friend China and they would step up to the plate and bale us out.
    Thus allowing us to put two fingers up to the western world and the so called international laws, protocols we broke.

    Anybody who believes the above scenario would happen, has to have the intellect of a five year old.

    The only way the above scenario might have become a reality was if Das Fuhrer Percy Rajapaksa was still in power.

    Just imagine what price China would have extracted from us. By voting in Sirisena we have at least maintained our sovereignty.

    • 1
      0

      I think MR did not care what happened to us. He wanted to be a sort of hero facing up to the West Gadaffi style. Even Gadaffi later gave up that idiotic stance. But not MR.

      Perhaps the Billions of $ he has made him think like that.

  • 3
    1

    Reconciliation versus Geneva 2015

    A good analysis of possible impacts to the reconciliation, by the Geneva Resolution.
    ////“that India was the prime player behind the UNHRC Resolution, and that the US acted as India’s partner to push primarily India’s interests and not those of the US” ////
    Absolutely, Premier Mody’s oration at an International Buddhist Symposium in Delhi, as the UNHRC session started in Geneva, witness this, Japan is also in this distantly, as well has been into that coincided symposium.
    Mahinda’s China love led all to this, and to the Joint Naval Drill Display in Indian Ocean after 8 years, yesterday says it all.
    This has to be looked on the context of impunity enjoyed by the certain section of all communities for crimes orchestrated periodically against another community since independence that led to the war. Inquiring into war crimes 2002 to 2009, was proposed Government Sri Lanka nobody else, based on the LLRC basis. GOSL did not want an, even now does not want or showing least interest in involving LTTE, because it fears that details of imposing an war on to the Minorities, inter connivance of political killings, killings of Defense Personals, all actions for the unnecessary protraction of war, along with pushing the Tamil people in mass of 300, 000 towards trusting LTTE, as attempt teach a lesson against their rightful democratic inclination would come out and THAT IS WHY THEY ORDERED to SHOOT ALL THE Surrendered LTTE leaders. The GOSL conceived this notion of lesson against democratic rights in comparing them to the Muslim community who had surrendered their self-dignity for few privileges, and the author has pointed out nicely. The GOSL never understood the language of Tamils, they are for self-respect and dignity than of a Separate State, – V. Prabaharan was inducted into total Separatist Mode, by the State actions, who will not like to eat a cake, that is what happened to the People killed during the last stages of war, (it may be 7000 or 40,000 thousand) what shame for a Responsible Government, does not even know the exact number of its own people killed even after 6 years end of war. Such an ignorance they carry to the people, throughout history and that is what mandates for ACCOUNTABILITY AND RECONCILIATION STANDS COILED UP FOR TRUE MEASURE OF INTEGRATION.
    Majority can be respected only if they are showing respect to others! Showing Power will not yield any positive outcome!!

    • 3
      1

      The Correction please read the above

      1. Inquiring into war crimes 2002 to 2009, was proposed BY Government Sri Lanka nobody else,

      2. The GOSL never understood the language of Tamils, or never in a mood of trying to understand that language to that they are for self-respect and dignity than of a Separate State, – in obnoxious determination to teach a lesson driven by the confidence of State power in hand for pursuing the hegemonic politics-

      inadvertently missed in the original.
      Thank you.

  • 3
    1

    We have been at each others throats for centuries till the Portuguese, Dutch and British came and kept us apart. The moment the last colonial master announced the end was nigh, our politicians started jostling for power, and it was evident that that would come to those who could win the hearts and minds and votes of the majority of the Sinhalese. The rest is history as the gloves came off and we went for each other with a vengeance. Foreigners? Hybrid courts? Justice? Take it easy, there will sham investigations, sham trials, sham justice, and finally a Presidential pardon that will ensure we all live happily ever after.

    As for Mr Hussain, I have a vision of HLD coming after him, sarong held high in one hand, a pen dripping vitriol in the other. Run Izeth, Run Izeth, run, run, run………

  • 2
    1

    Whilst I hope you are right, Izeth, knowing the brutality of the Sri Lankan army, I would not be surprised if the numbers are substantially higher than 40,000. The UN found systematic practices. I.e. not just a few bad eggs. The investigation needs to be thorough and independent. Judging from the Govts words post Geneva, it looks like they are starting to wriggle again and not deliver – the same old game played by Sri Lanka, just by a new government. Lets see.

  • 0
    0

    Izeth:

    Even if the Darusman’s report is dismissed, the Petrie and other reports have suggested the around or more than the 40,000 possible deaths during the last phase. The 7,000 has prominently figured in around some of the Sri Lankan circles. While it may be difficult to pin down a reliable figure, some of the smoke that emanated from the events around that time, the end and soon after the war suggests that the regime was indeed hiding a huge lie.

    What started as a “zero” civilian casualty gradually reached a peak of 7,000. As one comment had suggested, it is a wonder how you indeed rounded up this 7,000 figure, perhaps alluding to the “probable” factor. The truth needs to be investigated. Whether it is 40,000, 70,000 or even 7,000, the grim tales that had made the rounds have been to much to digest. At the end of the day, how many are implicated in committing and participating in those alleged crimes would make these numbers irrelevant.

    The SL state had earned the ominous name of a savage society. In this, even the Sinhalese have not been spared. The victims of two insurrections tally more than 70,000. Yet the empathy is stark and politicians have had roosted to spin wool over the eyes of the populace. What is in that that the people have become so immune to the drudgery that have allowed politicians to continually have bloodied the landscape with little or no accountability. In that sense, this investigation should be seen a brake to the continuous idiosyncratic impunity that has plagued an unassuming populace that had allowed to be fooled like forever.

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