29 September, 2020

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South African Assistance Is Best Alternative To International Investigation

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

There has been speculation that the government will soon be setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on the lines of the one made famous by South Africa after its transition from apartheid to democratic governance.  Government sources have disclosed that the possibility of South African assistance to Sri Lanka was discussed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and South African President Jacob Zuma on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting last month in Colombo.   This bilateral meeting was preceded by several visits to South Africa by members of the Sri Lankan government and opposition.  There was also a major South Africa- Sri Lanka joint conference on reconciliation that took place just prior to CHOGM in which South African experts on participated.  President Rajapaksa’s visit to South Africa to attend the funeral of the iconic peacemaker Nelson Mandela will provide yet another opportunity for possible collaboration to be discussed.

The urgency in regard to setting up a new type of commission of investigation comes in the aftermath of the Commonwealth Summit during which the British Prime Minister David Cameron declared his intention to pursue the issue of accountability for human rights violations in the last phase of Sri Lanka’s war.   With the UN Human Rights Council to meet in Geneva in March 2014, there is a prospect of increased confrontation between the government and sections of the international community on the issue of accountability.  The government has taken strong exception to the announcements by leaders of countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada that they will insist on an independent international investigation into the last phase of Sri Lanka’s war unless the Sri Lankan government itself sets up a credible process of investigation prior the March meeting in Geneva.

Regardless of Sri Lankan displeasure, however, the international pressure is growing more rather than less.  The French humanitarian organization, Action Against Hunger (ACF-France) which lost 17 members of its staff in Trincomalee during the last phase of the war in the east in 2006, is the latest to join the international call for an independent international investigation into the past.    ACF’s report into what happened gives the reasons why.  The report is titled “The Truth Revealed about the Assassination of 17 Humanitarian Aid Workers in Sri Lanka.”  The aid workers, 16 ethnic Tamils and one Muslim, were killed when government forces took over Muttur.  The ACF statement claims that the perpetrators were from the government’s security forces and that there was a cover up at high levels.  The identity of the perpetrators was contested at the time of the incident with government spokespersons strongly denying the culpability of the security forces in the killings.

International Spotlight

After the eastern campaign was successfully accomplished the government took pride in the fact that civilian casualties had been virtually zero.   But the allegation that the 17 aid workers were the victims of the security forces has not gone away.   It was bound to remain in the international spotlight.  The international humanitarian system depends for its very survival on the guarantee of maximum security to those who work on behalf of people trapped in war zones.   The failure of the government to hold an independent and credible investigation into those killings has been one of the reasons for the general erosion of the government’s credibility with regard to its denials of responsibility for civilian deaths and wartime atrocities.   On the other hand, if an investigation had taken place and the perpetrators on the ground at that time identified, the leaderships of the government and military might not have been under international scrutiny, as they are today.

It was in recognition of the gravity of the Muttur incident and other such incidents that the Presidentially-appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) decided to go beyond its mandate.  Although not specifically empowered to look into individual acts of killings and other human rights violations, the LLRC made its own recommendations in regard to this incident and to a few other serious and controversial ones.   Apart from the Muttur killings, these included the killing of five students on Trincomalee beach [ para 9:120], the Channel 4 allegations of battlefield excesses [para 9.39],  the killing of 600 policemen by the LTTE [para 9.207] and the alleged disappearance of LTTE surrendees [para 4.242 -4.258, 9.23]. The LLRC stated that there was a duty to ascertain more fully the circumstances under which such incidents could have occurred, and if such investigations disclose wrongful conduct, to prosecute and punish the wrong-doers and provide appropriate redress to next of kin as a gesture that would help the victims to come to terms with personal tragedy.

However, the statement issued by ACF with regard to the killing of their workers accuses the Sri Lankan government of not having sought to find the truth.  It alleges that the killers were protected by the Sri Lankan authorities at the highest levels and describes an official investigation into the killing as characterized by the systematic destruction of evidence and multiple irregularities.  On this basis, ACF has demanded an independent international investigation.  The failure of the government to conduct a credible investigation at the time of the incident, or even afterwards as the LLRC recommended, highlights the problem of credibility that the government now faces.  This is the basis of the ever increasing international demand for an independent international investigation into the past.

Best Option

In the context of the failure of previous government commissions to deliver the expected results, getting international support for yet another commission is going to be difficult.  At a minimum, for the process to be domestically and internationally credible, the establishment of any new commission will require bipartisan government – opposition support that includes the UNP, TNA and SLMC.  TNA Parliamentarian M A Sumanthiran speaking in Parliament has offered such support provided there is international involvement in the process. There also needs to be significant changes in the enabling environment.   In South Africa many persons faced charges in the Courts and the TRC was a forum for confessions by the accused with amnesty granted only if there was a full and fair disclosure. The victims had no fears of intimidation or revenge attacks on them when they gave evidence before the Commission.  This requires a Witness Protection Law and the independence of the judiciary and the police will need to be secured.

Creating a conducive environment for the truth to emerge could prove to be difficult to the government which has got accustomed to controlling processes as much as the truth. As a result, the government appears to be considering an easier option, which is to focus on the LLRC recommendations on accountability and implement them more fully to meet the expectations of the international community.  The problem with the government’s proposed implementation of the accountability recommendations of the LLRC is two-fold.  The first is that the international community has always taken the position that the accountability provisions within the LLRC are weak. This is understandable, as looking into the human rights violations of the past were not part of the LLRC mandate.  The LLRC took this issue up on its own.  The second is that even where the government has set about trying to implement the recommendations of the LLRC, they have done it in a way that is half hearted.

Therefore, in order to ensure the success of any proposed truth and reconciliation process, it is important that the Sri Lankan government should be able to answer its detractors and convince them that it is not engaging in a time-buying ploy to thwart the call for an independent international inquiry into allegations of serious human rights violations and war crimes.  The role of South Africa would be to ensure that the highest standards of transparency and that there will be fairplay to all sides, not only targeting the government.  Such a partnership with South Africa in pursuing the path of truth and reconciliation can go a considerable part of the way to win over many undecided countries to support a nationally driven process of truth and reconciliation but which has international involvement.  At the present time it seems that a properly constituted and mandated TRC with South African support is the best option to transform Sri Lanka’s internal and external relationships in a positive direction.

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Latest comments

  • 1
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    No. Demographics are different.

  • 2
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    Jehan, the SA TRC worked because there was strong independent legislation that would have kicked into action if a known violator (White or Black) did not come forward to the TRC and “confess” and reconcile with the families (victims). Do you seriously think that if we don’t have such a law that will be enforced people like Karuna and KP and others who are just as guilty of crimes against the Sinhalese will come forward? Moreover, to expect a politically compromised judiciary to remain impartial etc is unlikely. I assume that is why Sumanthiram talked about international involvement. Left to our own, we will make a mockery of this entire process.

    We now fly our flags at half mast for Madiba. What hypocrisy? We missed the chance of being immortalized and maybe even a Nobel Peace Price and international statesmanship because we can’t think beyond being a village thug. So, forget a proper TRC it will never happen. Of course to avoid a full blown international investigation we are quite capable of putting up a farce. That we can surely do.

    • 1
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      Li, You have mentioned ‘Karuna and KP’ for ‘crimes against the Sinhalese’ but worst criminals like Adela who we have seen in LTTE camouflage and handing over cyanide necklaces to Tamil humanbombs was never mentioned. // We half-masting our flag for Madiba is perfectly ok for Sri Lanka had backed SA throughout their struggle. But look at the UK and Camoron’s hypocrisy. I remember very well that David Cameron had accepted an all-expenses paid trip to apartheid South Africa funded by supporters of the apartheid regime to back their sanction busting efforts on the eve of the apartheid downfall, and Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, and when negotiations were taking place about a transfer of power. You know what; Tories even wanted Mandela hanged. What do you say?

      • 0
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        Why is everyone speaking about Karuna, Adela only!!! what about the people from the Sinhalese side, who started the violence, killing, rape, burning of innocent Tamils from the beginning ie. from mid 1950s up to today!!! will they come forward and tell the truth? I am talking about the thugs in “leadership” roles, their families and their private army in Uniform and without uniforms who were responsible for the killing of Numerous innocent citizens of Sri Lanka, Tamils, sinhalese, muslims included!!!!

        These are the people who started it and did not leave any options for the Tamil youths. In desperation, they took up arms!!If the so called “leader thugs” took a statesman ship decision, Sri Lanka would not have come to this state. There is no point in forcing down “Sinhala Budhism” down the throat of people!! The type of budhism practiced in Sri Lanka is rotten!!!

        • 0
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          truth, Tell us what is Sinhala Buddhism? // As far as I know, there is no religion called ‘Sinhala Buddhism’. There are Sinhala Buddhists, Tamil Buddhists, Burger Buddhists, English Buddhists and others who practice Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Google ‘Theravada Buddhism’ and you can read about Buddhism in Sri Lanka in detail. Tell us if you know anyone to whom Buddhism is forced down. // It’s a lie to say Tamil youth hadn’t taken up arms in desperation. As Sumanthiran MP said in these columns, Jaffna Youth Council had boycotted election in 1931 to demand a separate country. And Tamil leaders continued it. // On May 14th 1976, tantai Chelva got people to approve the Waddukkodai resolution that says in verbatim “this Convention directs the Action Committee of the TAMIL UNITED LIBERATION FRONT to formulate a plan of action and launch without undue delay the struggle for winning the sovereignty and freedom of the Tamil Nation; And this Convention calls upon the Tamil Nation in general and the Tamil youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves fully into the sacred fight for freedom and to flinch not till the goal of a sovereign state of TAMIL EELAM is reached.” Calling us thugs won’t help.

      • 0
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        Banda:

        You seem to be so sore of Adele’s actions. How about giving some thought to what President Premadasa did. It is public knowledge that he gave arms and money to the LTTE. How more hypocritical can this get?

  • 3
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    But, a prostitute would resist every attempt to get a certificate on her chastity. Current Sri Lankan rulers (read: Rajapakse Family) would NEVER agree to an impartial inquiry. The Family will use religion and patriotism to protect themselves, only to trash the good name of Sri Lankan people and Buddhism. Those who subscribe to the Rajapakse brainwash along Sri Lankan / Sinhala / Buddhist are the real fools! Good luck, future citizens of new Zimbabwe.

  • 2
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    From filling his pocket with Norwegian money,
    Jehan P is now angling for South African help.
    These NGO kaakkas will never give up!!

  • 1
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    It seems church know separate srilanka will harm Christian in most and Buddhist and Hindus will celebrated it…..becose church baby Ltte no more..

  • 0
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    You don’t need any one’s assistance to find the truth or true reconciliation in this island. Truth and Reconciliation should not be a mechanism to escape from international pressure or international investigation. You only need the will power and mentality to accept the facts. The truth is that the war was not against terrorism, it is against Tamil people and destroying the identity of Tamils in Sri Lanka. This is what we have been seeing for over six decades including the period after end of the war. We are making all efforts to hide the truth and destroy reconciliation. We all know the truth but we don’t want to share that truth with the people and the world.

    • 2
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      The World knows LTTE is a terrorist organisation. But I doubt very much the world remembers the extent of LTTE killings and Tamil diaspora contributions to LTTE killings. Your buddies the neocons and the so called IC has been covering it with the alleged war crimes by SL forces since the end of the war.

      • 0
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        The same IC that banned the LTTE and gave all the support to fight the LTTE. War crimes are war crimes and do not expect any support from the IC! When it suits you the ICC is fine :)

        • 0
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          To say the least, the so-called IC didn’t sell us arms. Both LTTE and Al Qaeda were named by the US as terrorist organisations. So, why did Obama ask Rajapakse to allow Velu (LTTE leader) surrender to a third party while he himself was searching Bin Ladden (leader of Al Qaeda) to kill him? That alone shows double dealing and the hypocrisy of IC and the gang. All Sri Lankans know the buggers are after us. We have China and Russia to back us at the Security Council.

      • 0
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        How come you people conveniently forget to mention the more than 70,000 Sinhalese, mostly youths murdered and buried without a trace by the Sinhala regime during the two JVP uprisings? Hypocrisy has reached new standards in SL. For the situation the Tamils are facing in the North, it would appear that Prabhakaran should have blown off a few more of you guys before he departed. At least it would have comforted the Tamils that he really taught you guys some lessons in fear.

    • 0
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      Ajith, No worries, the MR Regime will not conduct TRC under the guidance of the South Africans. It is purely because, such a process will be inimical to their Rajapaksa project and moreover will be extremely embarrassing as they will be directly implicated. It will be like the saying in Tamil “Pollu koduthu addi vaandinaan” Got beaten by their own batten!

  • 0
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    Jehan Perera is showing his colors as a Sinhala extremist: Tamils want independent international investigation first. What is wrong with it? ————————————————————————————————————————Does Jehan want the continuing Sinhala oppression and destruction of the Tamil nation continue to its logical end which is the dream of the Sinhalese to establish a Sinhala Buddhist country?

  • 0
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    With the cancer of Sinhala Buddhist supremacy is eradicated no genuine independent truth and reconciliation process is possible in Sri Lanka.

    All you have to do is to see what is happening to Tamils in the North-East right now. Sinhala ruling regime is not deviating from its goal of Sinhalaization of Sri Lanka.

  • 0
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    Yeah Jehan, let sinha-racists element keep on killing spree, you would make comission after commision till end of a last tamil there? How shameless?

  • 0
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    It is utterly unjust to speak of accepting the South African TRC before the (political, economic, social, cultural and environmental)oppression of the North and the East by the government eases – there is absolutely no sign that the government has any will to ease the oppression.

  • 0
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    No, never. Are you trying to let the mass murderers off the hook? Completely different scenarios between South Africa and Sri Lanka. This is a cunning plan by the war criminals to let themselves escape punishment. I hope all the Tamils reject this.

  • 1
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    I like to ask Jehan Perera a simple question: How is it possible to conduct Truth and Reconciliation Commission in a country where there is no independent judiciary, corrupt police force, and most important of all truth is prevented from reaching the people by the suppressing all news media?

    Are you yourself being truthful, Jehan?

    • 0
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      At the end of the day, whether it is Dayan or Jehan, they still prove that blood is thicker than water. The time for talking of such commissions is long gone. In the South African case, the majority race was able to put in place all the mechanisms for a really “TRUTHFUL” commission. The victims belonged to the majority race and it had the numbers to its advantage to moot and implement a proper mechanism. In the case of SL, the history is checkered with lies, deceit and duplicity. The courts have repeatedly ruled in favour of Sinhala hegemony. It is like asking the monkeys to look after the bananas. Even at this eleventh hour, Jehan has a soft spot for the Sinhala regime rather than for the civilians who were murdered and some even raped and murdered. Alas, this is their true face.

  • 0
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    Jehan this would make sense only if there is a positive move forward. The Sinhalese have now got their very own Prabakaran – with a well established track record. Naive of you to think that things will change for the better. The opportunity for that has been squandered.

  • 0
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    Just one single move against separatists’ roadmap by Jehan and the entire thug set of LTTE rump are at his throat. Imagine if the army is withdrawn from the North. We should recruit more Tamil women to defence forces and expand the bases there. Keep diasspora out and encourage assimilation as the answer.

  • 0
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    Jehan talks for MARA for his own benefit.Get big sums to his pocket from the NGO he runs.Jehan should first ask a independent commission with international monitoring to find out how many Tamils were killed during the war or allow TNA to conduct a survey without the interferences and intimidation by the government forces in north east.For fairness to Sinhalese a similar one can be conducted in the south. You may ask JVP to conduct this as people have greater doubt over MARA regime.Do you know that MARA is doing a bogus survey in north in order to mislead international community,especially at the March conference of HR council? Jehan should stop talking nonsense and also should withdraw from supporting MARA.MARA will use you and throw you to the garbage bin as in the case of others.We know that you are used by MARA through his henchmen VASU and his henchmen Thilakasiriri who is a close associate of MARA who is also the Secretary General and a Board member of your Peace(cash)Council.Can you have active ruling political party member to be the Secretary General of a independent impartial NGO ? Please don’t try to fool CT readers and the public.Don’t try to sell the sufferings of Tamils to make money.But still you are in the winning side as you can show all these comments to MARA and get credit ad awards.You good friend AKASHI(A useless guy)has also visited Sri Lanka to have some joyful days.You may convince him to recommend you for another Peace cash award from Japan.

  • 0
    0

    Jehan talks for MARA for his own benefit.Get big sums to his pocket from the NGO he runs.Jehan should first ask a independent commission with international monitoring to find out how many Tamils were killed during the war or allow TNA to conduct a survey without the interferences and intimidation by the government forces in north east.For fairness to Sinhalese a similar one can be conducted in the south. You may ask JVP to conduct this as people have greater doubt over MARA regime.Do you know that MARA is doing a bogus survey in north in order to mislead international community,especially at the March conference of HR council? Jehan should stop talking nonsense and also should withdraw from supporting MARA.MARA will use you and throw you to the garbage bin as in the case of others.We know that you are used by MARA through his henchmen VASU and his henchmen Thilakasiriri who is a close associate of MARA who is also the Secretary General and a Board member of your Peace(cash)Council.Can you have active ruling political party member to be the Secretary General of a independent impartial NGO ? Please don’t try to fool CT readers and the public.Don’t try to sell the sufferings of Tamils to make money.But still you are in the winning side as you can show all these comments to MARA and get credit ad awards.You good friend AKASHI(A useless guy)has also visited Sri Lanka to have some joyful days.You may convince him to recommend you for another Peace cash award from Japan.
    Ok ?

  • 0
    0

    Jehan shops for the Rajapakse government.

  • 1
    0

    Bloody nonsense. Nothing should replace an independent international investigation of both sides of the conflict.

  • 0
    0

    Will TRC be safe from Gota’s companies:

    http://www.lankaenews.com/English/news.php?id=13984

  • 0
    0

    BLACK – South Africans had to do that because White Europeans had stolen their country.

    IF Sri Lanka and the SINHALA PEOPLE do that they have to study how black South Africans approached Africaners in that TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION.

  • 0
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    Royal Family knows how foolishly they got caught in the LLRC technique. (Or how it was turned back on them). Now, the LLRC report that was prepared to save the Royal Family is the one causing all the pain to the Royal Family at HRC . It is hardly a chance that they will form a tougher commission than that and repeat the same mistake. Nobody is that kind of Modayas.

    SA’s efforts are not going to have any effect at UN HRC. Royal Family knows well this too. But, this is another idea to use people’s tax money. Royal Family is going make some more gain on the travelling and trips. There many more sub- and deputy- ministers who could not be in the “plane load people” went to Geneva, in 2012 and 2013, are waiting for their chance. That is the main reason of the talk of SA TRO.

    SA TRO was medicine for stomach pain (SA). It is not suitable for diarrhea (SL). Minority, the whites were running the SA country. Power was transferred to majority, the blacks. This mechanism was designed, during the power transfer, to protect the country’s resources and put them to work continuously for the country without interruption. The past crimes were not the only reason to setup TRO.
    In SL, after the war, the Royal Family continues to rule country. Royal Family is continuously plundering the country. Majority prefer the Royal Family for any political parties ruling the country. At any time, minority is not going see the power devolved.

    But, if the pressure is coming from outside and Royal Family ends up forming the commission, they will make sure it is not reaching the situation of the International Media’s demand to visit Jaffna during the CHOGM. Once they come to know that is what the situations is, they will stop the commission from functioning further. This is how the Royal Family handled the international Media’s pressure to visit to CHOGM. When Royal Family saw that they had to allow international media, they let them in to the country. There were the usual parties, presentation and leaflets were prepared to keep the international media entertained. But, instead of following the propagandist, entertainment parties, some of them wanted to go to Jaffna on their own. So the plane and train service were stopped going to Jaffna. In the same way, if the truth finding of SA TRO cannot be contained in the Royal Family ‘s entertainment schedules, then it will be abruptly terminated.

  • 0
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    ”The President must stop lying” should be the most important condition to start TRC.

    • 0
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      Square peg in a round hole ?

  • 0
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    Really Jehan did not put forward any valid arguments for his theory. Yet, there is a chance that he might turn out to be 100% correct from the side of the Tamils. Because these it very hard to predict the political trends in SL.
    See these three cases your self.

    (1).In 2009, in the HRC, SL defeated a minor condemnation resolution and brought itself another praising resolution instead and won it. What someone would have thought that time if another one had tried to predict that SL going to be convicted of war crime in 3 years?
    (2).When LLRC was started no Tamil were able to witness in front of. They felt badly dismayed and opposed it. Would they have believed if some one predicted that it is going be the Royal Family death chamber in 3 years?
    (3) In London Tamil were even fasting until death to stop Prime Minister David Cameroon going to CHOGM. But they could mot stop him. Still, the outcome of that visit is not believable for many Tamils.
    So there is a chance that the SA TRC being formed and putting the final nail on the dream of the Royal Family.

  • 0
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    I am actually not aware this all discussion which is actually goin on here. But, I need to say that after listening this news and Mallaiyuran is right here that SA being formed putting the final nail on the dream.

  • 0
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    How far is Justice Weeramantry’s Peace Education programme going?

    This is frightening:
    The main news and the footnote on the training:

    Writing on the blackboard for ‘military principals’, 7 July 2013,
    http://www.sundaytimes.lk/130707/news/writing-on-the-blackboard-for-military-principals-51968.html

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