By S. V. Kirubaharan –
The 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council – UNHRC has just concluded, allowing Sri Lanka another two years to implement the UN HRC resolution 30/1. In every meeting held with VIPs including diplomats, myself and a few others made it very clear that whether it is given 2 years or another 20 years, the present government or any other government in Sri Lanka will not implement 30/1. Especially a war crimes inquiry with international judges, prosecutors and lawyers. As soon as the resolution was passed in September 2015, we predicted that Sri Lanka would not implement it.
When I said during one of the meetings that the present government is a minority government and does not have the two third majority required to amend or introduce a new constitution – the government reply was that they won 165 votes in support of every budget in the past. This shows how they cheat the international community. Voting for a budget and voting for a constitution are not the same. A country’s budget estimates government revenues and expenditures over a specific period of time, whereas an amendment or change to a constitution changes the practices of a country! If the present government wants to see this in action, let them propose a budget giving a good increase in pensions, salaries and other benefits for ex-Presidents, ex-Prime Ministers, Ministers and others. Then they will see their budget supported by everyone, even the so-called joint opposition. My point is that since 1948, all Sri Lankan governments have successfully fooled and cheated Tamils. Now they find a way to fool and cheat the international community. I wish them good luck in their endeavour.
There are some interesting affairs which took place in the 34th session of the HRC that many inside the UN HRC and outside do not know.
As far as the Tamil lobby is concerned, there was a jumbo team with 60-70 people from various parts of the globe. The usual hardworking organisations had a small number of activists doing quality work, proving that ‘quality’ is better than ‘quantity’. One Tamil organisation lost its credibility after creating huge fictional publicity about arresting a war criminal in Geneva, whereas they achieved nothing.
There were some people from Tamil Nadu in the jumbo Tamil team. Of course the regular attendance at the UN HRC by Dr S Ramadoss organisation Pasumai Thaayagam / Green Motherland does constructive work. Founder S Ramadoss’ son Dr Anbumani Ramadoss made a very good intervention in the HRC. It was well received because it was an intervention by an ex-health Minister of India. Anbumani said that, “……….The Tamils in Sri Lanka have been subjected to constant racial abuses, ethnic cleansing and structural genocide since its independence, which culminated in the killings of more than 1,00,000 Tamils in 2009 by the Sri Lankan Government forces. Even after 8 years Justice has not yet reached the victims………” (Excerpt)
Some others from Tamil Nadu worked purely on emotion rather than anything useful for the victims. Many in the HRC said that the emotional activists from Tamil Nadu should lobby their own country India, before making a trip to the HRC in Geneva.
Another two courageous interventions were delivered by Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu on behalf of the Franciscans International and Nimalka Fernando of IMADR – the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu said that ‘‘………..The Special Procedures and the Consultation Task Force – CTF on Reconciliation Mechanisms appointed by the Government, of which I was the Secretary, have also made a number of recommendations adding to and reinforcing Resolution 30/1. The Consultation Task Force Report records the concerns and expectations of over 7,300 Sri Lankans from all communities, on the gamut of issues of transitional justice and its pivotal importance. The Government must heed the voices of its citizens. In particular, the expedited return of land, the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and its replacement with legislation consonant with international human rights standards, a political and constitutional settlement of the conflict, demilitarization, an end to the culture of impunity, upholding the rule of law and the establishment of the Office of Missing Persons and the other mechanisms and measures identified in Resolution 30/1 and the Task Force Report“ (Excerpt).
Ms Nimalka Fernando said that, “On the other hand, mixed messages from the leaders of the ruling coalition give rise to an uncertain future for the justice and accountability process. I speak with a sense of sadness as we experience the transitional justice agenda being placed on the backburner. The OMP Act adopted in Parliament urgently is now being deliberately stalled. Once again we see the intrusive manner which the security and military have invaded the executive and administrative life of our country. Military run businesses still continue to operate with impunity. Releases of land are painfully slow. Political prisoners still languish in jail cells. Surveillance and harassment in war affected areas continue unabated. The President’s own party is disavowing the constitutional reform agenda which they were elected to pursue”. (Excerpt)
Soon after Nimalka Fernando returned to Colombo, demonstrations and vigils took place in front of her residence in Colombo. Why? Because she spoke of realities and truth to the participants of the UN HRC. Slandering is happening via Face book and in a ruthless newspaper. All this is happening under so-called ‘good governance’. So, who is presently governing Sri Lanka?
Sri Lankan war criminals in the HRC
Now let me come to the actual information not known to many inside and outside the HRC.
Sarath Weerasekara is a retired Sri Lanka Navy Rear admiral. His right-hand men are Keerthi Warnakulasooriya and former PLOTE cadre Palipodi Jegatheeswaran of Batticaloa. They were brought into the 34th session of the HRC, along with another businessman from Sharjah – UAE. They were fully supported by a chap known in the HRC as Sanjoy. In fact, Sanjoy was a Buddhist monk from Bangladesh who originally attended the then UN Human Rights Commission in the 90s. Later he gave up his robe, got married, and is living in Geneva with his wife and children.
Sanjoy is known as the Geneva representative for a very famous UK based NGO, ‘Liberation’. For several years, Sanjoy’s job has been to bring people from India to speak of atrocities committed by India. When one carefully analyses his activities in the HRC, it is strongly believed that Pakistan is behind him.
Being a long time member of Liberation, I complained about Sanjoy’s hidden activities in two Annual General Meetings of the organisation. But for unknown reasons, Liberation never took any action against him. There were occasions when Sanjoy blocked some interventions that were supposed to be made on Sri Lanka by Liberation. In the last two HRC sessions, Fr S. J. Emmanuel’s interventions on behalf of Liberation were blocked by Sanjoy.
Such a man has now begun to bring a group of war criminals from Sri Lanka to the HRC. Concerning activities in the HRC, it is obvious that Pakistani Intelligence is either working with Sri Lankan intelligence or with the so-called Sri Lankan joint-opposition or with both. However, it is purely the work of Sri Lankan politicians from the South, with the purpose of delaying any action the international community might take, until Sri Lanka fully achieves its four pillars in the North and East – Colonisation, Buddhisation, Sinhalisation and militarisation.
Sarath Weerasekara is from Ampara and is a politician belonging to the so-called joint-opposition. He was a Member of Parliament from 2010 to 2015 and a very close associate of dictator former President Mahinda Rajapasa. Spouses of Weerasekara and Gotabaya Rajapaksa are relatives. Weerasekara was a Deputy Minister of Labour in the previous government.
Sarath Weerasekara’s right-hand man Keerthi Warnakulasooriya is well-known to the staff of the UN HRC Secretariat, because there have been many complaints made against him. He used to say he was a journalist from a Singhalese newspaper which publishes cock and bull stories.
Along with these notorious guys another well known eliminator from Batticaloa, who works very closely with Sri Lankan military intelligence, attended the 34th session. He is Palipodi Jegatheeswaran who worked with all paramilitary groups – PLOTE, Razzek group / EPRLF, EPDP, Karuna / Pillayan and is responsible for several killings of civilians in the East. Presently he lives in Switzerland on some pretext and uses a wheel-chair. It is believed that he was brought to Switzerland by the Sri Lanka government. When I was walking towards the main entrance of the HRC, this killer was waving at me, signalling to come over to him. I ignored him.
The man from Sharjah, UAE, is believed to be managing a company in Sharjah, belonging to Mahinda Rajapaksa.
This notorious group believed to be backed by Pakistan have just begun their lobby in Geneva. They say that they wiped out the most notorious terrorist group and saved the Tamils. They find it difficult to answer any question on war crime and command responsibility. In future, we will possibly see more and more war criminals and members of paramilitary groups in Geneva, to justify the war crimes they committed.
Since the 33rd session in September 2016, another issue has found a place in the HRC. This is also with the backing of Pakistan. The Pakistani-based NGO, ‘World Muslim Congress’ has been working for a very long time in UN forums. They speak only about the atrocities committed by India. In October 1990, when the Muslims of Jaffna were evacuated by the LTTE, the World Muslim Congress knew about it and kept silent. But now as they find their lobby presumably difficult against India, they make use of Jaffna Muslims who have the world’s sympathy.
In fact what happened to the Muslims of Jaffna is unjustifiable and the LTTE tendered their apology several times. When there are hundreds of NGOs in the UN, why is the World Muslim Congress taking the lead on Jaffna Muslims? This collaboration may damage the sympathy Jaffna Muslims have globally.
India is nowhere now! As China and Pakistan have placed their footsteps very firmly in Sri Lanka, India which gave several promises to the Tamils, turns a blind eye. There was a time when Sri Lanka listened to India. But now China and Pakistan have made Sri Lanka ignore the regional superpower.
India is, however, answerable to the Tamils in Sri Lanka – North, East as well as the up country / plantation Tamils. The Indo-Lanka accord, signed in July 1987, caused tremendous difficulties to the people of the North and East and many casualties. Also, India is blamed by the Tamils for being behind the elimination of the LTTE in May 2009.
Events during the 34th session of the UN HRC predict that the battle-field in Sri Lanka has now moved to Geneva. Firstly, the Tamil lobby for an independent international inquiry on war crimes; secondly, the ex-soldiers and paramilitary lobby on accusing the LTTE and thirdly, the Jaffna Muslims lobby about their plight – all three are going to clash in future sessions in Geneva.
Some politicians previously in power and some currently in power in Sri Lanka are directing this counter-lobby of ex-soldiers, paramilitaries and Jaffna Muslims. The idea of a counter-lobby and cover-up of genocide is believed to be the brain-child of two failed Sri Lankan diplomats to Geneva.
Soon after the 34th session of the HRC, some people have been followed by unknown people in their place of residence. Hope the battle in Geneva will not cause any casualties in or outside the HRC.