28 June, 2022


Sri Lanka Under Fire For War Crimes At HRC

By Ron Ridenour

Ron Ridenour

Ron Ridenour

Geo-politically important Sri Lanka is among several countries, including Syria, under scrutiny at the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva (March 3-28).

High Commissioner Navi Pillay of the Human Rights Council (HRC) will introduce a resolution recommending that Sri Lanka promote reconciliation and accountability with the minority Tamil people. Pillay will ask the HRC to establish “an international inquiry mechanism to further investigate the alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and monitor any domestic accountability processes.”

Since the United States and Britain are expected to pitch either amendments or another resolution calling for a milder investigation to determine if Sri Lanka has violated basic human rights for Tamils, Cuba is expected to back the Sinhalese-led government of Sri Lanka (GOSL).

Sri Lanka is relying heavily on China and Russia for support in convincing the majority on the 47-member HRC to reject any resolution regarding international investigations. Cuba, Iran, Indonesia and United Arab Emirates have also expressed their support to Sri Lanka.

The Cuban government has opposed other resolutions, in 2012 and 2013, criticizing GOSL for possible war crimes conducted during the last months of the three decade-long civil war, which ended with government victory over the guerrilla organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in May 2009.

Cuban ambassador to Sri Lanka, Indira Lopez Argüelles, told Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror that “Cuba will remain with Sri Lanka. Cuba will help in the best possible manner…We are against any country-specific resolution.”

She also promised to promote Sri Lanka “in its effort to forge ties with Latin America.”

The west, as well as many “third world” countries, has merely asked GOSL to enact its own report, Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission. Although the LLRC did not conclude that any war crimes or atrocities had been committed by government forces, Cuba has backed GOSL in rejecting any verbal “intervention”.

The Cuban government’s position is that criticisms against Sri Lanka for human rights abuse is just one more hypocritical interventionist attack by western forces, which themselves intervene in other countries often with wars, such as against Afghanistan Iraq, Libya, Vietnam…

Nevertheless the socially critical Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) has found Sri Lanka governments guilty of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and even genocide against the Tamil people over several decades.

The Rome-based Tribunal is an outgrowth of the original war crimes tribunal created during the war against Southeast Asia by Bertrand Russell and Jean Paul Sartre.

Its panel of 11 judges, experts in international law, and peace and human rights activists, found Sri Lanka guilty of genocide at its December 7-10, 2013 hearings in Berman, Germany. The unanimous decision was taken after hearing over 30 witnesses, including Tamil victims, and experts. It also found that the US and UK were guilty of complicity for providing armaments and intelligence to the war for Sri Lankan governments.

In January 2010, a PPT panel of other international law experts, meeting in Dublin, found Sri Lanka guilty of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. These are the same charges that a United Nations panel recommended be explored by an independent international investigation. Its “Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka” was delivered to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on March 31, 2011.

Many PPT experts and supporters are friendly with the Cuban government and critical of the US blockade against it. Despite the PPT verdict, Cuba contends that the only reason why there is criticism of Sri Lanka is due to US/UK interventionism. Cuban officials say they believe that GOSL is not guilty of terrorism but rather it was only the Tamil people-backed LTTE who were terrorists.

However, its 2012 representatives at HRC stated that the west provided at least 40% of armaments to GOSL to defeat the popular LTTE. Although the US currently indicates that it is dissatisfied with Sri Lanka’s government, it recently donated $6 million in equipment for maritime patrol, and approved a World Bank loan of $213 million. Britain licensed £5 million of military equipment and armament between 2009 and 2011.

While the US and UK maintain solid economic relations with the Sri Lankan government, it offers more economic concessions to China, which obtained an important commercial-navy port at Hambontota in exchange for its major military support. Every government wants influence in Sri Lanka due to its geographic importance. Half the seafaring traffic of goods sails by its location in the Indian Ocean, and the US is especially keen to maintain its strategic interests.

Professor Francis Boyle, a legal expert in International law and counsel to the Provisional Government of Palestinian Authority, told Tamil Net, on February 3:

“Remember that U.S. Secretary of State Kerry…when he was in the U.S. Senate as Chair of its Foreign Relations Committee issued that horrendous and abominable report arguing that the U.S. must promote its strategic interests with the GOSL against China despite its massive human rights violations against the Tamils.

“Kerry is more concerned about keeping the genocidal GOSL happy so that he can further pursue his ‘pivot’ against China than he is with promoting the basic human rights of the Eelam Tamils.”

In addition to western complicity with Sri Lanka’s war crimes against Tamils (see the PPT verdict and Channel 4 series “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” ), the key western Middle East ally, Israel—widely accused of committing genocide against Palestinians—has also been a major supplier of war industry equipment. The same is true of Russia and Iran, as well as India and Pakistan. They have all provided hundreds of millions of dollars in military and intelligence support, in order to defeat Tamil efforts for a sovereign homeland: Eelam.

Among civilian investigations into Sri Lanka’s atrocities against Tamils is a new study by the International Crimes Evidence Project (ICEP) based in Sydney, Australia. The conservative English daily, The Telegraph, reported on February 5 that its legal assessment has concluded that there is a legal case for war crimes charges against Sri Lanka.

“The Sri Lankan Army and the Tamil Tigers murdered civilians, including pregnant women and medical workers, during the last months of their conflict, according to the most detailed report to date by war crimes experts and former United Nations investigators… [It is] a legal assessment of reported human rights abuses and fresh allegations which could form the basis of a new UN war crimes investigation.”

“While both sides had committed atrocities, the evidence indicates ‘members of the Sri Lankan Security Forces perpetrated the vast majority of alleged crimes’…Government forces were responsible for massive ‘torture, the targeting of civilians – among them medical staff at hospitals – rape, the conscription of children…’” concluded the report, “Island of Impunity.”

The ICEP also found that Sri Lankan government police and army may have deliberately and systematically destroyed mass graves containing the remains of thousands of men, women and children after the conflict. Recent construction diggings have disclosed cadavers of Tamils believed to have been buried in mass graves.

March 1, 2014

NOTE: (1)

Among concrete recommendations by the High Commissioner she requires of the government to: “(a) Finalize laws dealing with incitement to hatred, witness and victim protection, the right to information and the criminalization of enforced disappearances, and revise existing laws in accordance with international standards;

(b) Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and lift the regulations promulgated under it that allow for arbitrary detention;

(c) Arrest, prosecute and punish perpetrators of attacks on minority communities, media and human rights defenders, and ensure protection of victims;

(d) Undertake independent and credible criminal and forensic investigations with international assistance into all alleged violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including recently discovered mass graves…”

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Latest comments

  • 4

    A number of members of Rajapaksa’s family are currently active in politics. One brother, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa a former military officer who served in the Sri Lanka Army for 20 years is the current secretary of the Ministry of Defense. Another brother Basil Rajapaksa, was elected to the Parliament of Sri Lanka from the Gampaha District obtaining the largest number of votes by any candidate in the April 2010 general election, and was appointed Minister of Economic Development. His eldest brother Chamal Rajapaksa has been a Member of Parliament since 1989, and was elected Speaker of the 14th (current) Parliament of Sri Lanka.
    Other family members involved in politics include his nephew, Shashindra Rajapaksa, who is the Chief Minister of the Uva Province. Shameendra Rajapaksa (second son of Chamal Rajapaksa), Director SriLankan Airlines, his cousins Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United States, Udayanga Weeratunga, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Russia, Prasanna Wickramasuriya, Chairman Airport & Aviation Services Limited Sri Lanka and Rajapaksa’s brother-in-law Nishantha Wickramasinghe is the Chairman of SriLankan Airlines

  • 8

    Ron Ridenour

    A man who claims to be a leftist works to promote fascist LTTE agenda now being taken up by its diaspora rump with the connivance of western imperialists. An unprincipled, false propagandist. Shame on you.

    • 5

      Cuba claims to be a supporter of oppressed peoples all over the world but sadly has opted to support an oppressive dictator called Rajapaksa who murdered thousands of defenceless people. Cuba has disgraced Castro by supporting Rajapaksa and lost the moral authority to call herself a leader of the oppressed. Mr Ridenour, a true leftist, is merely pointing out the stupid decision of Cuba to support a dictator.

    • 2

      Look whose talking about left wing supporters of Tamils, when the so call left fascist JVP splinter by our own Modaya Vimal is barking anti-imperialism to mask sinhala fassicim behind a mask of leftism…
      Cuban’s are really wrong on this one.

  • 3

    Does it matter?

    At most LTTE will come back and it will be the same result.

    Tamils will again cry genocide and genitalocide.

  • 2

    The LTTE remnants and the fellow travellers (including some Catholic Bishops) revised the book of propaganda by that well known and revered Goebbles. They came out with the utterly absurd allegations of wilful killing of Tamil civilians who were carolled and held hostage by the Tamil terrorists. There is no doubt that some were there willingly, and yet others had been coerced and forced to do the bidding of the terrorists. Some died while carrying out such tasks, and others no doubt died as mere victims of a conflict which they had no control over. Sad as it is the blame cannot be laid at the door of the security forces who were tasked with their liberation and the elimination of terrorism from Sri Lankan soil. They succeeded in both.
    Today the LTTE remnants are being used as tools in the pursuit of Western policy dictates in Sri Lanka. Remember that they placed an American, Panic, as president in Yugoslavia before the population rejected him and sent him back to the US. They placed another American, Shakashvilli, to lead Georgia and that country has seen no end of trouble since. The Afghan invasion brought in another American Karzai as president will little control over that country. The guy meant to be anointed as Iraqi president after the ILLEGAL INVASION/OCCUPATION was found to be untrustworthy. Iraq and Libya today are train wrecks with rampant terrorism.
    We do NOT need to take lessons on Human Rights and Accountability from these nations who have NO RESPECT for national sovereignty. The UN seems to follow where the US goes as it’s water carrier.

  • 1

    The author is a pro LTTE journalist who is on Tamil Diaspora [Edited out]. He had been on the run with Francis Harrison, McCray working for the terror outfit.

  • 0

    Not only the family members who burden our tax payers what about the almost 100 presidential advisers Mahinda Rajapakse appointed ? Is this not an abuse of public funds ?

    Even the disgraced former Principal of the Law College Mr Rodrigo who was removed by the Chief Justice on account of certain allegations has been appointed as a chief legal adviser to the President even before those allegations have been investigated ! The President has so many advisers that he probably has no time to even listen to their valuable advice.On the legal side alone the President has the Attorney General, former Chief Justice Asoka Silva, the present Chief Justice Mohan Pieris, some other judges like Marasinghe and her professor husband, Sathya Hettige an expert on espionage law,several so called ‘PC’s and now the former Principal Law College to advise him ! Former Ministers Ronnie De Mel, Tyronne Fernanado, Vasudeva Nannayakkara and several other lesser known people have been his advisers at various times . According to the Daily News he even has a couple ( Sunimal Fernando and his wife Shirani)advising him on computer English ! There seems to be no subject on which he needs no advice ! According to his servile followers none may question the qualifications and suitabilty of those appointed as advisers , as President is above all other humans!

    Needless to say all these advisers get a big salary, a car with driver , office space , telephone facilities and a small staff. On retirement they also have a monopoly on diplomatic appointments !All this while the average person has to struggle to pay his daily bills.

    This is of course unconscionable abuse of public office and public money. But that is not a word the Rajapakse’s are familiar with

  • 1

    Dear Piranha,

    Thank you so much for understanding what motivates me to write about the Tamil people. It hurts me more than anything in the world that the country where my heart was laid has betrayed its basic morality: solidarity with all the oppressed in the world. Cuba has let its principle and humanity down, and that saddens me deeply and hurts your people tremendously.

    Let yourselves not, however, begin to rely on the greatest of all terrorist states: US/UK.

    In solidarity,

  • 0

    Why do people find truth a bitter pill? Evidence is mounting for GOSL war crimes and the sooner the people and government open their eyes to what is ahead of them the better it is for all.
    There is simply no escaping justice. The time is now ripe to face UNHRC direct and find speedy means to justify why it never addressed war crimes investigations. God forbid this time round the government is digging a deep hole to bury itself by being in denial mode.

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