25 March, 2019

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Sri Lanka: Getting Ready For The UNHRC Session

By R Hariharan

Col. (retd) R.Hariharan

President Maithripala Sirisena is reported to be seriously examining the implications of withdrawing from the US-backed UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution Sri Lanka had co-sponsored in September 2015. By co-sponsoring the resolution, Sri Lanka was committed to set up a tribunal with international participation to investigate allegations of war crimes committed by the army as part of its accountability for human rights aberrations during the Eelam War.

The President’s rethink on the resolution comes on the eve of the 40th annual session of the UNHRC being held in Geneva from February 22 to March 25. It will be taking up the review on Sri Lanka on March 20 when the core group consisting of the UK, Canada, Germany, Macedonia and Montenegro is expected to urge the Council’s support for the resolution once again. Though the US is not part of the Core Group as it had quit the Council, it has continued to work with Sri Lanka government on the implementation of the UN resolution.

The Core Group on Sri Lanka is expected to present a resolution on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, making it more a semantic exercise than a substantive value addition. The resolution will buy time as will have to buy time as all the four aspects of transitional justice are still not fully implemented.

President Sirisena speaking to the Colombo weekly the Sunday Times had said, “I would wish we can withdraw from it. Discussions are now on over this matter.” This reflects President Sirisena’s exasperation in handling the consequences of the UNHRC resolution passed under his watch. He never accepted international involvement in the process to investigate the war crimes allegations as he considered it a domestic issue.

He had always maintained the army never committed any war crimes during the Eelam war. This is understandable as he had served as defence minister in President Rajapaksa cabinet during the Eelam War. In spite of his reservations, in 2015 President Sirisena probably for reasons of political and diplomatic expediency went along with foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera’s suggestion to co-sponsor the diluted US draft resolution.

Moreover, at that point the Presiden probably felt he was beholden to the US and its allies for their open support that had enabled him to defeat President Rajapaksa. He probably also saw sponsoring the resolution would be seen as part of the yahapalana vision, when he joined hands with the UNP to defeat Rajapaksa’s attempt to stage a come-back in the August 2015 parliamentary election.

In the final draft of the 2015 resolution, the US had agreed to tone down the requirement for foreign participation in the tribunal, by not specifying the exact nature of foreign participation, while retaining it in a domestic mechanism. The revised resolution was passed as it recognized the serious nature of the allegations as well as the failure of Sri Lanka to act upon them as required by earlier UNHRC resolutions.

The final resolution disappointed many Sri Lankan Tamils and Tamil Nadu political parties as they had been demanding only international mechanism. They had justifiably little faith in Sri Lanka’s domestic process, because in the past domestic inquiries into any human rights aberrations were subjected to heavy political interference. In spite of this, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) chief Sampanthan accepted the resolution at that time as he felt only a consensus resolution could make its honest implementation possible. Moreover, the resolution also addressed the main issues of accountability and reconciliation. On foreign participation, he was of the view that involvement of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence counsel, prosecutors and investigators would give the judicial process much greater credibility.

But much to the dismay of those who wanted to usher in a clean government and voted the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe duo to power and to the disappointment of the US and the EU who had supported their rise, their government never implemented the UN body’s resolution either in letter or spirit. With President Sirisena breaking away from Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP coalition we can expect the resolution to continue to remain in the half way house, as yet another belied promise.

As the implementation process is connected to good governance, distrust is a growing in the political process itself. Growing national solidarity with the demands of the relatives of missing persons, who have been protesting in Kilinochchi continuously for over 700 days is a testimony to it.

If President Sirisena withdraws Sri Lanka’s sponsorship at the UNHRC, it will only reinforce the long standing belief of among Sri Lankan Tamils that Sri Lankan government never maintain their promise to deliver equitable justice to minorities. In 2015, India had supported the revised US draft, though on principle India is always opposed to the role of foreign judges in internal conflicts.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier spelled out India’s stand on the issue:“Our position is very clear. We stand for justice and at the same time we are respectful of the Sri Lankan sovereignty issues to the extent the Sri Lankan government is comfortable with the formulation that marries the two.” Even as the UNHRC discusses the Core Group’s resolution on Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Modi will be in the thick of the general elections. His party BJP is contesting the elections in Tamil Nadu in alliance with AIADMK and two other smaller parties. So India’s stand could be conditioned to some extent on Tamil Nadu political perspectives on Sri Lanka and UNHRC resolution. However, Sri Lanka Tamils have lost much of the political traction they had in the past. So India can be expected to maintain its stand vocalized by PM Modi.

*Col R Hariharan, a retired MI officer, served as the head of Intelligence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka from 1987 to 90. He is associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies, South Asia Analysis Group and the International Law and Strategic Analysis Institute, Chennai. E-mail: haridirect@gmail.com Blog: http://col.hariharan.info

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  • 4
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    what about India is getting ready for killing thousands of innocent people in Kashmir, you want to lecture us and yet, do not practice what you teach: this is the self-contradictory world we live in today, When mighty says something it is always rights. Please for God sake see what is going in Kashmir. Neither you nor Pakistan has got right to rule people of Kashmir,, You have double standed, when it comes Tamils you say something but when it people of Kashmir, it is some thing else, are not they human beings like me and you?

    • 6
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      Col H: Don’t you know that the US-UK Human Rights Endgame in Lanka is US military bases?
      Didn’t you hear of the landmark ICJ ruling on the Chagos Islands and infamous Diego Garcia US military base and the need to de-colonize the Indian Ocean so that the people of the region may benefit from the IOs rich resources?
      This Most Important Event last week was, either by design or accident unfortunately obscured by the Indo-Pak Fake war to boost Modi’s election, Donald’s visit to Asia to Shake the hand of North Korea’s dictator, and Sam Power’s hosannas to the Sri Lankan FInance Minister who knows nothing about finance, but lots about spin – Mangala.
      True Bondsam Ranil, his finance Minister and butterfly club are an insult to the intelligence of all Lankans, but India Continues to shoot itself in the foot and has failed to secure the rich Indian Ocean resources for Indian Ocean peoples, because it is so obsessed with its Kashmir sore and Pakistan.
      First put your own house in order!

      • 6
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        Col H should also take responsibility for the HR violations of Indian forces in Sri Lanka. Scores of innocent civilians were butchered and raped by Indian forces and property stolen. If I am not mistaken Co H was based in Sri Lanka while the Indian forces went on the rampage. Pity you, Col H, a man who knows not dignity, and an unworthy soldier. Indian “soldier”!

        • 5
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          LAL!
          If not for the assistance given by India in a big way and other counties in general, Srilanka could not have won the war. India is also responsible for the human rights violation ad the murder of over 40,000/-Tamil in the final phase of the war. That is one of the reason why India is silent about the violations.
          Hariharan seem to have forgotten his part in this episode and their IPKF activities prior to this.
          Mahinda has confessed on many occasions that that he fought the war for India and vice versa .

          • 1
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            To Ananga, Going to war on behalf of another country is the stupidest thing one can do. To say that you did is just as stupid. It was India that set up the LTTE with materials, and training in India. Later, India switched sides. Does Col H object to other countries helping Kasmiri “freedom fighters” with material and training aid? Let India and Col H sort out their Kasmiri issue. Sri Lankans need to focus how not to repeat another ugly chapter in their history. A homegrown solution is best. Leave the divide and kill experts, the English, with their history of butchering of people of color in all parts of the world out of Sri Lanka’s search for a solution to the ethnic divide.

        • 5
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          lal loo

          “Col H should also take responsibility for the HR violations of Indian forces in Sri Lanka.”

          Crocodiles do shed tears.

          “Scores of innocent civilians were butchered and raped by Indian forces and property stolen.”

          However, in contrast to IPKF, the Sinhala/Buddhist storm troopers killed only terrorists, saved 300,000 innocent people, rape was never in their mind in fact they saved all those women from LTTE rapists, never destroyed any property, the cash and money they confesticated in Vanni, they did so for safe keeping, ……

          What a stupid racist selective bunkum.

      • 3
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        Dinuk, India is a lost cause! The UNHRC case against Sri Lanka is a huge distraction from the real Economic Rights and Justice Issues: i.e. the problem of Euro-American colonialism which continues in Asia and Africa TODAY. This was clear from the ICJ ruling on Chagos Island and the infamous UK-US military base Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
        India has failed to lead the Indian Ocean rim and island states and protect IO resources from poaching and Indian “ocean grabbing” by colonial powers – France, Spain, EU and US-UK bases, as well as, their Asian proxies Japan, Korea and now China who are over-fishing in the Indian Ocean and depleting fish and Tuna stock. to benefit their economies while peoples on the Indian Ocean coastal communities are being impoverished by continuing colonialism.

        India, the wanna be South Asia leader has failed miserably to lead on South-South solidarity and defend the Indian Ocean’s rich living and non-living resources , or promote information and technology transfer to small island Indian Ocean nations, to develop their economies.
        The ICJ Ruling on Chagos islands shows that Colonialism in alive and well in the Indian Ocean because of India’s failure to lead the struggle for de-colonization. It was the African Union that pushed the Chagos case at the UN for Mauritius which is an Indian Ocean country.

        • 4
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          Don Stanley

          “India has failed to lead the Indian Ocean rim and island states and protect IO resources from poaching and Indian “ocean grabbing” by colonial powers”

          Why should another country lead other countries.
          First of all could you stop the Indian fishermen overfishing and destroying the Northern waters, causing long term damage to the fisher community.

          Then go beg the Hindians to lead.

  • 4
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    Rtd Col R. Hariharan was, from 1987 – 1990, the Head of Intelligence of the IPKF in Sri Lanka. The retired MI Officer is now associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies, South Asia Analysis Group and the International Law and Strategic Analysis Institute, Chennai.
    Surely Hariharan by now should have known that Lankans have to choose between two bad teams. UNHRC annual event is used, by the bad-teams, to trade noisy shots locally and in Geneva.
    Both teams are NOT interested in getting out of UN radar.
    They relish getting ready.

  • 0
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    Col. Hariharan: Why International community, particularly the USA, the co-sponsor of the resolution, did not protest the decision given by the supreme court regarding the Parliament dissolution while the International community asks foreign Judges for War issues.
    India bombed a jungle ans said they bombed some Muslim Terrorists. USA looks unhappy and is going to cancel GSP+ India. Imran Khan says his country’s people are not involved in the bombing. Why did not you talk about that. I heard there was a similar Terrorist Attack after when Navar Shriaff and MODI met. What is going on. Modi has some serious trouble looked like came from overseas.

  • 2
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    Mangala Samraweera made Sri Lanka lost it’s sovereignity as every powerful country never allows their forces to be touched. but, Mangala samraweera humiliated Even Kamal Gunarathene when he was an army officer. Mangala Samaraweers sold the country and in turn USA and it’s CIA/church/Private affiliated company MCC is raping Sri lanka.

  • 5
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    Colonel:

    Where have you been . There is so much to discuss regarding the threat to India posed by MR & MS. They were part of the AXIS OF EVIL so you can see why MS wants to get out of it. Sinhala Lanka agreed to cosponsor because they were desperate to prevent being strangled by UN. Now look at the support being given to the armed forces who committed the worst atrocities by all 22 million racists .
    But as far as India is concerned her vital interests are being threatened by MR allowing Chinese a foothold in Sinhala Lanka .
    As I have always said India owns the FREEHOLD of Sinhala Lanka and Sri Lanka is only a LEASEHOLD owner As a Leasehold owner MR shoud have got the permision of India to calve out parts of Sri Lanka to China but he failed to do so. India as a FREEHOLD owner is entitled to force entry as she is doing and there is no force in the Worl that can prevent it.
    Please pass on the message to Mr.Modi to surround Sri Lanka with a few warships during the election to send a clear message that Sri Lanka will pay high price if MR is reelected.
    May Bharathiyar”s draem come true

  • 0
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    Has there been a UNHRC session to investigate Indian atrocities in Kashmir? Has there been an UNHRC to investigate Saudi atrocities in Yemen?

    • 0
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      Yes. There was a UN resolution to investigate crimes in Kashmir but India rejected it. To India’s credit both the parties were against it and stood for India’s sovereignty unlike in SL where RW+Mangala duo was more than ready to allow others rape SL.

      • 2
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        sachooooooooooo the very stupid

        “UN resolution to investigate crimes in Kashmir”

        Could you cite the details of the resolution.

        “unlike in SL where RW+Mangala duo was more than ready to allow others rape SL.”

        Because the rulers, do not treat their people well.

  • 2
    2

    Indo-Lanka relations have been like a love-hate relationship between inlaws.
    a. In 1971 India did yeoman service to help the small Armed forces of Ceylon get weapons and ammunition on time to beat the first JVP insurrection: incidentally for those who are too young to remember that, Wijeweera was given a fair trial for “waging war against Her Majesty’s government” and found guilty. The verdict was upheld in Privy Council. He was sentenced to life but JR got him released to split the left vote because he knew how charismatic that murdering mini-polpot was. JRJ’s plan backfired on him. India had several warships anchored right off of Galle Face green in case the leadership had to be airlifted. They provided protection in Katunayake. They provided Helicopters with Pilots for Sri LAnka government officials to drop leaflets to ask JVPers hidden in Jungles to surrender. India supplied the first set of 7.62SLRs along with what Ceylon bought from Britain. The Army preferred the British version which did not overheat unlike the Indian ones. But India played a huge role to end that war with JVP
    b. Sadly because of geo-political concerns, India under Indira and her son the Pilot(who married the one who had aspirations to be an air-hostess, but was a waitress in Cambridge when she met Royalty from India and married; incidentally her daddy was a fascist : Stefano Maino loved Mussolini and fought against the Allies in the German army; Sonia Nangi never finished her studies but became the Godlady of Congress I after Rajiv was sent to heaven by a Tamil hindu Tiger terrorist), armed, trained and financed various tamil groups. LTTE being one of them and LTTE had bases in South India. Hariharan bahiji NEVER wants to talk about that eh? So then came the gory black July which was self-inflicted by Sri Lankans on fellow Sri Lankans and a disgrace to the people.

    • 2
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      What about South Indian Dravidian immigrant origin Fake Arab ISIS/Wahhabi Islamic terrorists like you , destroying Hindu temples , and ethnically cleansing indigenous Hindu Tamils in the east and claiming their lands , with the support of all racist Sinhalese led Sri Lankan governments. Ungrateful refugese who only arrived in east Sri Lanka a few centuries ago begging for asylum from the eastern Tamils now trying to steal their lands with funds obtained from certain Gulf nation and Porkistan. Why don’t you writs a comment about this? Recently Sirisena deliberately appointed an Islamic fanatic and Tamil Hindu hater , who was caught openly boasting on video , on how he used his political influence with the current government to steal lands belonging to a Hindu temple, and donated to a mosque , to build a shopping centre and a slaughter house , now he is very busy marginalising the Tamils in the east , who are the real owners of eastern Sri Lanka. Sirisena was overhead stating that he deliberately appointed this anti Tamil as governor of the Tamil east to teach the TNA and the Tamils a lesson. Why don’t you post a comment about this too. Fake Arab Dravidian South Indian convert

  • 1
    1

    Hariharan cannot write about Hindu majority Indian army committing atrocities in Kashmir. He cannot write to apologize for India arming, training and financing terrorism and separatism in Sri Lanka. He does not have the integrity to admit of training and military supply bases in Tamil Nadu by the LTTE

    • 1
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      You are no Thangamma but a Sinhalese Menike or Banda posting under a Tamil Identity. Why don’t yo post under your own identity or under a Sinhalese identity, instead of posting your anti Indian remarks under a fake Tamil identity.

  • 0
    0

    For a person to talk about Human Rights violations and War Crimes one must have the basic qualities of a Civilised People. I do not think Col.Hariharan, his Govt. and the Sl Govt.have any moral right to talk about these matters or about the UNHRC Resolutions concerning Sri Lankan War.

    The right place for them to talk is the docks in a Court of Law for war crimes.

  • 0
    0

    Very interesting as usual. I would love to hear his opinions about his country and the situation in Kashmir where over 47,000 or as some estimates say double that number have died. I ask this because he is an Indian military man. Wonder if he is too afraid to ask questions in India or write anything negative about India in Indian media. Just curious. Also would like to know his thoughts on facts a lot of people have commented and I too referred to in my opinion on Kashmir. He is an intelligent military officer and not a simpleton like me. So it will be good to hear his frank views on the role India played in arming and training separatism and how the Central Government failed to do anything about it when LTTE had bases in S.India.
    I am not making excuses for the terrible treatment meted out to innocent Tamils during the war or the political crisis after our ugly July 1983 when innocent tamils were killed; this led to a massive influx of refugees to S. India causing a serious political problem for the Hindi Speaking N.Indian Cong-I and other governments. They all needed allies in Tamil Nadu to gain power in Lok Sabha and it was also seen as a threat to them.
    But I really loved living in Punjab;(I would trust a Sikh more than any other Indian on my flank, if I were in a fight) and remember the failure that was Operation Bluestar and the curfews and sudden withdrawal of Punjabi Sikh troops to be replaced by non-Hindi speaking S.Indian and other troops across Punjab. They did not speak Punjabi at all. Some Sikhs mutinied in Bihar and other places when Bluestar was revealed. I will put an excerpt rather than using my words at the bottom. You are Hindu Mr. Hariharan and I suspect Malayali or Tamil.

  • 0
    0

    Hitler had a long standing belief that jews in Germany were impeding the development and the sovereignty of the German people. Hitler believed jews played the spoiler role. Is he reasonable just because he held a belief? What the Tamils ‘mean’ by equitable justice is something that Sinhalese CANNOT deliver. Sinhalese cannot punish their sons who fought for the country just to satisfy Tamil ethnic ego on baseless allegations. Contrary to what Tamils think non Tamils are also human. They also have grievances and ambitions and they need not to sacrifice them to satisfy Tamil ethnic ego.
    And this comes from a Indian military officer whose country rejected a UN resolution on Kashmir very recently. Why? What do the Kashmiris think? Why is India rejecting internationalization of the Kashmir issue? What did Sushma Swaraj say in the recent OIC meeting. Didn’t she say, let us handle our own problems? So why shouldn’t Sri Lanka act in a different manner? Are Sri Lankans some less valuable humans, which I know UNP seems to believe? But majority of the Sri Lankans don’t. There were Norwegians, Americans hissing at the Lankans to save the LTTE, but when we had decided we will get rid of it, we did!
    These people want Sri Lanka to commit to something they never will do when it comes to their country.

    • 0
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      Sach
      “Sinhalese cannot punish their sons who fought for the country to satisfy Tamil ethnic ego on baseless allegations.”
      When Sinhalese fasctic ethnic ego unilaterally initiated to punish Tamils after independence in 1948 they in return as humans naturally would responded to defend themselves.
      The LTTE was was a creation of Sinhala intransigence!
      If that real fact is accepted and the Tamils are treated equally in every respect as equal citizens by the Sinhalese, then there would be no necessity for India or the U.S poke their noses to interfere.

      As long as Sinhala ego is unable to accept that reality, interference will continue in the internal affairs of the island by outsiders.
      It is simple as that. So don’t distort facts and wail and complain.

  • 0
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    Contrary to what Hariharan says, there was no toning down of the resolution. What was toned down? It had everything the TNA wanted.
    Why should Sri Lanka ditch the UN resolution?
    Mostly because it is based on false allegations. UN did not have any details about war crimes committed in SL, and so did USA. So Norwegians and their NGOs came up with few reports and thanks to some diplomatic talks between Oslo and Washington, the misinformation could reach the files in UN. I am pretty sure the recent UN report would be a copy past of Zooka’s ITJP report. So Sri Lanka has every reason to ditch it.
    It is common knowledge now Norway and USA tried to save the LTTE leadership in the final war. Blake even went to extent of threatening Lankan FM of bringing war crime charges as a punishment for not listening the big thug, USA. We have to understand war crimes allegations in this context.

  • 0
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    News item from Al Jazeera below/ You can see how India operates vis-a-vis freedom of expression.

    – Major English- and Urdu-language newspapers in Indian-administered Kashmir have printed blank front pages to protest against the central government’s decision to block advertisements to two dailies.

    In place of regular news, the papers’ front pages, on Sunday featured a message denouncing the “unexplained denial of government advertisements to Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Reader”. Several journalists, led by the Kashmir Editors’ Guild (KEG), also held a demonstration in the main city of Srinagar, demanding the withdrawal of the ban

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