By S. V. Kirubaharan –
The UN Human Rights Council – UN HRC resolution (A/HRC/30/L.29) was successfully passed on 1 October 2015, by so-called “consensus”! It is a victory neither for the government of Sri Lanka nor for the victims, mainly the Tamils. But it is surely a victory for countries which have interests in Sri Lanka – the US and India.
Those who attended the 30th session of the UN HRC will be aware that this resolution was not agreed by a true consensus. We listened not only to interventions by China, Pakistan, Russia and Cuba during two informal consultations on the draft resolution, but also to interventions made in the Council. Those informal meetings were fraught with fierce fighting on the part of Sri Lanka and its baby-sitters – China, Pakistan, Russia and Cuba.
There is no doubt that the US exerted its maximum influence on Sri Lanka, not only to secure agreement on 90% of the original draft but also to become one of the co-sponsors. When Sri Lanka became a co-sponsor, no-one in Geneva believed it. It was a “U” turn in its position on the previous text, which had undergone a few amendments and the inclusion of a paragraph on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – LTTE.
In my 25 years of experience in UN Human Rights forums, this is the first time I have ever experienced a ‘concerned country’ becoming a co-sponsor of a resolution, especially under Agenda item 2 (country situations). However, this doesn’t mean that this resolution is weak, as some in the government and a section of the Tamils claim.
The attitude of the present government especially after accepting the resolution, gives the impression that either Sri Lanka reckons it does not need to implement the resolution or that the main sponsors including India have given a secret assurance to Sri Lanka, that there is no need to fully implement this resolution! We will know the correct answer to these questions only by March 2017.
The victims have high regard and trust in the UN, but they are unable to understand how the UN HRC is politicised! During the last session, Pakistan and China said openly that the resolution on Sri Lanka is a politicised one. They may have said it in a different context, but it is a fact that many resolutions in the UN HRC, especially under agenda item 2 are highly politicised.
China, Pakistan and Russia said the following in the Council:
“Politicization and interference into internal affairs of countries should be avoided.”
“As a sovereign and proud nation, Sri Lanka had the right to chart its own course in pursuing its domestic agenda.”
“Sri Lanka should itself decide which assistance it needed and which recommendations it would follow. Prosecutions of past crimes should be undertaken by Sri Lanka itself.”
For one main reason, we have been supporting this resolution right from the beginning. After many decades the ‘ball’ is now in ‘the Sri Lankan court’. For many years, Sri Lankan lobbyists blamed the Tamils for every failure – the 2002 Cease-fire agreement, Mavil Aaru water issue, the Oslo declaration and many others. The international community believed those Mickey Mouse stories and took the side of Sri Lanka. Now it is too late to analyse or talk about what happened in late 2008 and early 2009.
What is happening presently in Sri Lanka indicates that the latest resolution is going to shame the international community, namely the US, UK and India. The present anti-resolution activities are good examples on which to base a prediction of the resolution’s fate!
1 – On 6 October 2015, a few MPs displayed a banner in the Parliament against the UN HRC resolution. Parliamentary sittings were temporarily suspended,
2 – Impending country-wide propaganda against the resolution by nine political parties. This includes ex-President Rajapaksa and his faction of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
3 – 71 University dons signed a petition openly protesting against the resolution.
4 – Nine political parties staged a rally in Colombo on 19 October 2015, accusing the government of deliberately misleading them about the content of the resolution.
One of the popular news paper in Colombo said in its editorial that, “The contention that a resolution on the country being presented in the UNHRC is itself an assault on the reputation and the sovereignty of the country is vividly valid and also that the Western powers are pushing us to take action against some of the soldiers who immensely contributed in defeating the LTTE. …….Unfortunately, the perpetrators seem to be few among the valiant soldiers who liberated the country from the jaws of terrorism. (Excerpt)
5 – Speeches made by most of the MPs in the Sri Lankan Parliamentary debate on the UNHRC resolution; and what was said by President Maithripala Sirisena in a meeting with political party leaders and representatives, all need to be taken into account!
6 – The bizarre approach to the ‘(Mixed-well) Paranagama’ report clearly shows that locally, the government wants to reduce the importance of the OISL/UN High Commissioner’s report.
So what about the government which became a co-sponsor of this resolution? So far the government has not yet explained the resolution in full to its own citizens, especially the people in the South. Instead, the government is relating fairy tales about the resolution.
Protect the ‘war heroes’
When in Geneva, the Sri Lankan delegation agreed to international participation; having boarded the plane to Colombo, they said they will have to study the resolution; once they landed in Colombo, they declared it will be a domestic process, also telling their voters that they will protect the ‘war heroes’ who fought against ‘Tamil terrorists’.
Francis Harrison, ex BBC Correspondent, in her latest article “Sri Lanka at a cross roads” said that, “The biggest unknown is the bloated Sri Lankan military, at best unwilling to see its war perks diminished, let alone their so called “war heroes” put on trial. A coup or toppling of government is not impossible if too many senior officers suddenly feel their interests are threatened by the accountability process.”
In such a scenario what can one expect from the present government? As far as any Sri Lankan government has ever been concerned, when it comes to Tamils the approach has always been the same. The 1st Executive President of Sri Lanka J.R. Jeyawardene said, ““I am not worried about the opinion of the Tamil people… now we cannot think of them, not about their lives or their opinion… the more you put pressure in the north, the happier the Sinhala people will be here… Really if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy.” – Daily Telegraph, 11th July 1983.
This was said more than three decades ago when Sri Lankan soldiers were being killed in battle in their twos, threes and tens; and Tamils civilians were killed in their thousands. During the 30 years of war, there were occasions when hundreds of soldiers were killed in many battles. Therefore, reconciliation is going to be a massive challenge. Long before the war began, even during the period when the non-violent struggle was staged, Tamils in the North and East were never recognized as equal citizens of the island.
Communities to live in harmony
After the end of the war, I wrote many articles on the 13th amendment and a solution within a united Sri Lanka. But presently, the way things are happening in Sri Lanka, many feel that either the people in the North and East should be prepared to convert themselves into Singhalese or else, separation would be the best solution for both communities to live in harmony. If the present situation continues in Sri Lanka, in time to come, the international community, especially the US, UK and India may form the same opinion.
The so-called right to self-determination, federal solutions and 13th amendment are sweet words but at the ground level, the communities and people are divided. Even though the political leaders in the South understand this reality, they are reluctant to state it publicly.
Half of civil society in the South is an innocent crowd. We cannot blame them, because they cannot become enemies of all governments in Sri Lanka. In the past, the other half worked with the government agenda and they were partly the cause of eventualities in Mullivaghzhal.
Breaches of accords and pacts
Anyone who goes into Sri Lankan history will understand that, Sri Lanka is famous for breaches of accords and pacts, it had previously agreed to. A few high lights are given below:
On 26 July 1957 an agreement known as the “Banda-Chelva” pact was signed between Bandaranayake (President Chandrika’s father) and the Tamil leader, S. J. V. Chevanayagam. This agreement was based on a quasi-federal system devolving certain powers to the Tamils in the North East provinces.
On 24 March 1965, an agreement known as “Dudley-Chelva” Pact was signed between Dudley Senanayake and the Tamil leader S. J. V. Chelvanayagam.
On the 29th July 1987, a peace accord known as “Indo-Lanka” was signed between Sri Lanka and India. Even though this accord purported to bring an end to the island’s ethnic crisis, it was signed without any consultation with the Tamils of the North and East. This paved the way for the 13th amendment, which has never yet been implemented.
On 5 January 1995 the Government of Sri Lanka (President Chandrika) signed an agreement for cessation of hostilities with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – LTTE. The Government announced lifting of the economic embargo but the embargo continued. Later Chandrika government argued that there was no such thing as an economic embargo in the Tamil region.
On 21 February 2002, under the facilitation of Norway, a Ceasefire Agreement “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed between the LTTE, and the then Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe.
Several rounds of negotiations took place in Thailand, Japan, Norway, Germany and Switzerland. The government of Sri Lanka failed to implement the agreed outcomes of peace talks.
On 24 June 2005, the Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure – PTOMS was signed between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. This agreement was made null and void because of a political judgement on 15 July 2005, from the Supreme Court. The PTOMS involved distribution of Tsunami aid in the North and East.
Out of all of the above, not a single agreement was respected by the political leaders or governments of the day in Sri Lanka. Therefore, ignoring or breaching the latest resolution of the UN HRC is not a difficult affair for the present government.
Of course there are a few individuals on both sides who want a peaceful political solution and demand justice for what has happened in the past.
Changes made worse
Consider the world and see how it has changed within the last 10 years. Changes from Afghanistan, Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt to Libya have made things worse than before. If someone tries to say that Sri Lanka is going to contribute to a better world and set an example for democracy and good governance in South East-Asia, I wish them good luck.
The Sri Lankan government says something completely different to the people in the South, than what is in the resolution. This hide and seek attitude is not going to last long.
There is no place in the resolution where an impression is given that the investigation is going to be purely domestic. But you would never think this is the case, if you listen to speeches given by the government side, also speeches made by the President, Prime Minister and cabinet spokesperson.
My best advice to our friends in the Tamil National Alliance – TNA is that they should not try to sell this resolution to their voters, unless Sri Lanka starts the right procedures as mentioned in the resolution. At the present time, if the TNA tries to convince the voters, then they will be in trouble and compelled to take a compromising position. Their victory in any future elections in the North and East will be in a dilemma.
Usually, Sri Lanka’s pattern is that one government violates the rights of the people and then the next one comes to power and will do the cover-up task. It is a smart way of running a government.
Since the ‘end of the war’, there are members of the Tamil diaspora who have been making use of the space for their name and fame. They are in touch with countries like South Africa, Norway and Switzerland, saying that they are the sole representatives or the spokespersons of the Tamil diaspora! In fact, 99% of these individuals never experienced the pain of either the political struggle or the suffering of the people.
The other 1% is still ambitious for their Nobel Prize! In the past, these individuals tried to create a religious conflict among the diaspora. Because of their thirst for the Nobel Prize, they now exaggerate their contribution to the Tamil struggle, especially their task in the UN.
During the early 2000s, because the LTTE refused their unreasonable request to recommend them for a Nobel Prize, they now presume that Managala Samaraweera can do it for them. It is a shame that these cheap individuals are telling utter lies to attract some foreign countries and the Sri Lankan government.
If these individuals are really honest to their heart and really want to find a durable political solution, why are they reluctant to recommend the right individuals? It is a pity that certain countries are dealing with personae non gratae as Tamil diaspora leaders. This path will never produce any fruitful result either on reconciliation or on the ethnic conflict.
Therefore, the government of Sri Lanka and members of civil society should find their way to deal with the right people. Otherwise this will be yet another time-buying tactic as in the past.
On 1st October 2015, the Tamil National Alliance – TNA had a press conference soon after the resolution was passed in the UN. It was an utter mistake on the part of the TNA to allow others to speak at this event. This platform was used purely by non-TNA individuals to glorify themselves.
punchinilame / October 28, 2015
“Usually, Sri Lanka’s pattern is that one government violates the rights of the people and then the next one comes to power and will do the cover-up task. It is a smart way of running a government.”
Well said. A fairly good analysis. The TNA is now geared to follow a logical stride with International support.
Amarasiri / October 29, 2015
S. V. Kirubaharan
Sri Lanka Breaches Agreements & Promises!
Sri Lanka Populated by Para-Sinhala and Para- Tamils breaches promises.
Remember war crimes by Para-Sinhala AND Para-Tamils?
War crimes are defined in the statute that established the International Criminal Court, which includes:
Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, such as:
Willful killing, or causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health
Torture or inhumane treatment
Unlawful wanton destruction or appropriation of property
Forcing a prisoner of war to serve in the forces of a hostile power
Depriving a prisoner of war of a fair trial
Unlawful deportation, confinement or transfer
Uthungan / October 28, 2015
There has always been a symbiotic relationship feeding off each other between the Tamils and the Sinhalese throughout history, and it got exacerbated in the mid twentieth century following the collapse of colonialism which had kept both entities at bay. It has now reached a high point with sharp edged, hysterical propaganda and wild generalisations and only causes intense suffering misery of both sections of the ordinary people.
If there is to be any pacifist or progressive process to emerge, then it has to begin with forgetting the bitter memories of the past and accept the realisation that tolerance and compromise is the only way forward in the context of the present globalised world we live in, and that there is no other alternative.
So it is better for both sections of the community in the island to accept the ground realities and develop a collective common national psyche if the future is to be not as the past.
Cholan / October 28, 2015
60 years of con by all Sinhala governments are known to Tamils…..
But so called foreign governments still believe Sinhala state…what a joke ..
US will soon get the boot …
Thanks to US and her supporters for driving SL Tamils towards Greater China
Greater China is sharpening her knife ….even a child know well that China will never ever leave Sri Lanka
Poverty empty stomach fakir India will soon look like a clown and became a International laughing stock …
Indian South Block jokers thinks that Tamils in Sri Lanka are live in poverty ..illiterate ,,and worship film stars like their Indian Tamil slaves..and still can’t understand the situation…China is already near Rameswaram after 2009 May.
Now Assad of Syria can do whatever he likes to his people …because United Nations can’t even touch him ..
James / October 29, 2015
Kiruba, are you refering to Father S. J. Emmanuel?
The other 1% is still ambitious for their Nobel Prize! Because of their thirst for the Nobel Prize,
During the early 2000s, because the LTTE refused their unreasonable request to recommend them for a Nobel Prize, they now presume that Managala Samaraweera can do it for them.
Sukunthan / October 29, 2015
In the past we heard many stories about the Nobel Prize. Now it looks like coming from a Horses mouth. We feel sorry for the people.
Silva / October 29, 2015
My observation is that Eelimist are going back to their own position.
This is the reason Rajapaksa and company should be in power.
In 2020, there will be either Eelam or Sinhala Island
cholan / October 29, 2015
No worries Mr.Silva (Portugese Name)..
you can have your Sri Lanka ..and Tamil can have their Eelam…Greater China will decide Hambantota harbour and airport will fix in which country ..because Greater China has got big big plans and your Murderpakse couldn’t understand this he wanted his 10% perfect cut only.
sinhalese buddhist / October 29, 2015
all I can say is DUH!!
The UN IS a political machine. It’s strings are pulled by powerful countries, not by poor countries.
Despite all that’s said in the halls of UN buildings in the West, the masters do not give a s**t about real human rights. If they did they would be unbiased and charge the UNP, SLFP, IPKF, LTTE, PLOTE, JVP and all the other paramilitaries of human rights abuses.
I would advise the Tamils who are seeking genuine redress to their grievances to look else where. Do not waste your time with the UN,India, Canada, UK/US, Norway etc. Speak to the sinhala people. Be honest: admit your mistakes and share your fears. Listen to their fears and allow them to admit their mistakes while listening calmly. That will be the beginning for change.
Ravi / October 29, 2015
Speak to the sinhala people. Be honest: admit your mistakes and share your fears.
Are you a retired corned individual?
Read more books on spirituality or about good wine.
Your view may be good to please your servants at home!
J Francis / October 29, 2015
This is an alien come from a different planet!
Otherwise how can this person ignores the long history of failures!
This has no logic and it is an arogant view.
cholan / October 29, 2015
@sinhalease buddhist (ex-Kerala Hindu)
It is your great grand father–grand father ..your father ..and you all drove Tamils to think about Eelam…sit quietly and study what all these people have done to Tamils since 1948 and you will get answer ..
and International politics is changing every minute ….understand ?
J.MUTHU / October 29, 2015
How? Please explain bit more…
Native Vedda / October 30, 2015
Jami Muthu Banda
“How? Please explain bit more…”
The earth is being slowly taken over by women. Any wrong move on your part you had it.
Imagine a world without a willy.
Manisekaran / October 30, 2015
It will be wonderful if women take whole world, I find them are less racist, false patriots than the so called we brave men
Jim softy / October 29, 2015
There is no limit to the Tamil hallucination.
How intelligent they are..
Pandaram / October 29, 2015
can you please tell us from which TN tribal area (Dalit) your ancestors came to SL and got converted into Sinhala-Buddhists?
abey / October 29, 2015
With the wildest generalisation, it seems this man has taken over from Anton Balasingham. He seems to think that the S/L Govt has fought a war against an ‘imaginary’ LTTE (i.e. Sabotaging every single peace deal, killing Rajeev Gandhi Preseident Premadasa and dozens of Sinhala & Tamil leaders are all imaginary) harming the Tamil. Why dont we hand over the North & East to this Kiruhbaran and his Diaspora.
When the TNA leadership, the President and the Prime Minister are trying their best to find a solution to this difficult problem whilst addressing what ever their political issues to keep racist elements backed by MR and the gang at bay, we should expose Dangerous people of this nature for what they are, ELAM lobbyist and I hope people friendly NGOs and newspapers will take them on to crush them and crush them for good.
The Rogue Ayer / October 29, 2015
“This platform was used purely by non-TNA individuals to glorify themselves.”
Did you manage to do that?
soma / October 29, 2015
Dear Mr Kirubaharan
‘Sinhalese Buddhist’ above has said it:
“I would advise the Tamils who are seeking genuine redress to their grievances to look else where. Do not waste your time with the UN,India, Canada, UK/US, Norway etc. Speak to the sinhala people. Be honest: admit your mistakes and share your fears. Listen to their fears and allow them to admit their mistakes while listening calmly. That will be the beginning for change.”
Another gem in my collection of good comments:
“It is my duty as a Sinhalese SriLankan citizen to stand up for fellow Tamils. If their equality or aspirations are violated by the State.
Sinhalese are only horrified by relentless, unceasing Ealamist attempts to dismember &
Balkanize Sri Lanka. One cunning way or the other.
Once that fear is weakened in the Sinhalese mindset resolution of this problem will be a formality. Millions of Sri Lankans will fight alongside Tamils.
Fellow Tamil Sri Lankans should help Sinhalese to reach that mental state.
I am afraid TNA is doing the exact opposite.
I hope Tamil moderates will cease control from Ealamist extremists soon. Sinhalese need to do the same on their side.”
cholan / October 29, 2015
Sorry you and your Sinhalease have missed the Bus …and it will never come again
Jim softy / October 29, 2015
when pabakaran was reigning you thought that the ship has arrived.
soma / October 31, 2015
Wish you a safe journey. It is a long winding road in the toughest terrain on earth. Make sure the bus has enough fuel.
Native Vedda / October 29, 2015
“Sinhalese are only horrified by relentless, unceasing Ealamist attempts to dismember & Balkanize Sri Lanka. One cunning way or the other.”
The Sinhalese and Buddhists are not horrified nor do they suffer from paranoia. Its the noisy minority the Aryan Sinhala/Buddhists who continue to infect the others with “delirium”.
Therefore you should be worrying about your “Delirium” attacked mental state than the others.
I am told you could find treatment for this infectious disease and available in this island. If and when you go for the treatment, please take Dayan, Nalin, Dhinesh, Wimal, …. Jimmy, sachooooooo, Nuisance, Ramuuuuuu ……………… with you.
KASmaalam does not need any treatment.
I would be grateful to you.
soma / October 31, 2015
You see Native you can count them all on your fingers while you will need a super computer to list all on the other side. You may acknowledge how tough is our job. The biggest challenge is those tigers in sheep skin. But we shall prevail for the reason is on our side.
jansee / October 29, 2015
Quite frankly the ordinary Tamils and Sinhalese should have no problem in getting on with their lives but SL is a highly politicised country. Politicians have built their careers in keeping the races divided. While I do wish that this country can shed the bloody past and move on, there are two factors that diminishes that hope. As I had already mentioned, politicians will fight tooth and nail to keep the races divided.
The unremarkable history of SL since independence has always been built by pitting the races against each other. The mistrust among the races runs so deep. A sincere person wishing to unite the people will be up against the wall or may even get drowned. Lot at the clowns in town now. They say one thing but mean another just to make them acceptable to the gallery. I do understand this, as otherwise another joker will grab the opportunity to run down the person who wishes to embark on uniting the races.
The stark truth and history is bare to see. The hallmark of popularity is to wag the hell off the minorities. Even the question of a separate nation can only happen because of the Sinhalese. No matter how hard the Tamils try on their own, there is not going to be an Eelam but it may happen if the Sinhalese continue with their streak on a destructive path.
I believe the psyche of most Tamils is such that they will be willing to strike a common stand with the Sinhalese. Since independence, they are quite used to a Sinhalese president and I believe they will warm up to any friendly handshakes. I can’t tell that for the majority of the Sinhalese. That is how the politicians in the south have influenced their psyche. Left to their own wishes and over time the races will be able to forge an understanding but I don’t see that happening in the forseeable future because politicians will become very restless if that happens.
Another major factor is how religion has been allowed to play a dominant role in politics. Many a times this had wreaked havoc. When religion enters the political space, politicians jump on its wagon to champion it and deride other religions. In SL Buddhism has sometimes earned a notorious name for being violent and oppressive. It is sad that people are not able to rise above all these but react emotionally and sentimentally.
We all want a better SL but it looks doubtful that the maze surrounding the country will clear any time sooner. Pessimistic it may sound but look at the circus now, does that inspire any confidence?
Manisekaran / October 30, 2015
What a gem Jansee, there are no religious,race war. All are only politician war using the people as pawns hypnotizing with the deleterious drug “patriotism”
soma / October 31, 2015
Thank you for your considered response. It is refreshing to read a comment free from personal vilifications.
As you say ordinary Tamils and Sinhalese should not have a problem in sharing a common destiny, for basically we share the same ethical foundation and common roots from India. While acknowledging that the politicians are the root cause of the mistrust I myself am of the strong opinion that different political entities based on race and religion will only leave our children and their children in an unending conflict. Therefore I believe these two entities must be cohered to live together. So dear Jensee, would you consider to believe that all born in this small island must be citizens equal in ALL respects regardless of their ethnicity or religion with freedom to live anywhere is racism? Let anyone come up with any argument to justify separate ethnic enclaves based on history, discrimination, genocide , what you have, I will show how self contradictory/hypocritical that position is in view of the present demographic distribution and that is what I am mostly engaged in these columns.
While I do not wish to engage in a long exchange at this point allow me mention one important issue which makes me very uncomfortable. Majority of Sinhalese being ‘Buddhists’ is akin to majority of Italians are Catholics, majority of British are Anglicans, majority of Arabs are Muslims and so forth. But I don’t see any permanent coupling of race and religion when discussing their misdeeds such as ‘German Christians killed six million Jews, American Christians dropped atom bombs on civilians, killed off so many millions of Red Indians, British Anglicans committed horrendous crimes on natives in the colonial period or Australian Christians tried to exterminate the aborigines etc. Different racial groups run around with different religions as crowns on their heads and their is nothing special about Sinhalese who claim that they Buddhists. Every Tom and Harry is attempting to teach Buddhism to Sinhalese but never try to enlighten the Germans, the British, Americans or Australians on Christianity. Why?
Plato. / October 29, 2015
The Government of SriLanka is in a dilemma.In Greek Mythology,it is like being caught between Scylla and Charybdis.
Without any offence to you,you too seem to be caught between the Govt:of Srilanka and the Tamil Diaspora!
Manoharan / October 31, 2015