1 October, 2020

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War Crimes Or Political Solution?

By Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

Once again the battle is raging in Geneva about the problem of war crimes in Sri Lanka. I believe that there is a sub-text to that battle, namely the problem of finding a solution to the ethnic problem. Some time ago I wrote an article on the Ban Ki-moon conspiracy, a tripartite one involving the US, India, and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to use the threat of war crimes investigations to promote a political solution to the ethnic problem. I emphasized that it was a “benign conspiracy” meant to serve the best interests of both Sri Lanka and India. Later when India surprisingly voted together with the US for a Resolution regarded as inimical to the Sri Lanka Government, it seemed that my postulate of a conspiracy was being substantiated. The important point is that on that occasion there was an abrupt volte-face on the part of India: it broke with its hallowed practice of never supporting country-specific Resolutions at the UNHRC. At present we are witnessing yet another volte-face, this time on the part of the US. Last year it was enthusiastic for an international war crimes investigation, but now together with the SL Government it favors a purely domestic process. What is the explanation for this volte-face? Last year under President Rajapaksa there wasn’t the slightest prospect of a political solution, whereas there is now at least a reasonable prospect for it. So it does seem that the threat of an international war crimes investigation was meant to propel the SL Government towards a political solution. The sub-text of a political solution is more important than the text of war crimes.

Ramesh 8But is the benign conspiracy still afoot? The question arises because there has been a change in the Indian leadership since the time of the initial hatching of the conspiracy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a much tougher character than that Oxbridge gentleman Manmohan Singh. During his visit to Sri Lanka Prime Minister Modi outspokenly advocated federalism, which was undiplomatic because he knew full well that for the majority of the Sinhalese federalism remains an F word. Furthermore, as a devotee of the backward tribalist ideology of Hindutva, he went out of the way to affirm the Hindu commonality of the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Hindus of India. All that tended to upset many Sri Lankans. We mist note also that although the TNA and the GTF have been admirably moderate in their statements in recent months, they are strongly supportive of the outrageous proposal for a hybrid war crimes tribunal. So, we cannot assume that India would go along with the US at the UNHRC.

But I find it very difficult to believe that the US is acting unilaterally, without an understanding with India and regardless of Indian interests, in backing Sri Lanka’s proposal for a purely domestic process. According to the way big powers think, Sri Lanka belongs to India’s sphere of influence. Therefore the US would not want to do anything about the ethnic problem that might seem inimical to India’s legitimate interests. Furthermore, from the time the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan the US has been building up a special relationship with India. The major objective is of course to counter China. Consequently I would expect some sort of understanding with India behind the US resolve to support a purely domestic process. That could become a major factor in shaping a Resolution favorable to Sri Lanka on September 30.

In any case – quite apart from the US-India factor – I find it very difficult to believe that a Resolution to set up a hybrid war crimes tribunal can succeed at Geneva. The Report released by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights contained the recommendation that the Sri Lankan Government should “adopt a special legislation establishing an ad hoc hybrid special court, integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators, mandated to try war crimes and crimes against humanity, with its own independent investigative and prosecuting organ”. This seems bizarre in the extreme to me. We are required to take action, including the making of Constitutional changes, to set up an institution that will erode our sovereignty to a very serious extent. Which Government in its right mind will agree to any such recommendation? But of course the recommendation would not be bizarre if there is the assumption behind it that punitive action in the form of sanctions would follow if the Government rejects the proposal. That might have applied to the Rajapakse Government, but not to the present one. Anyway most of the members of the UNHRC will have reason to fear erosion of their sovereignty and therefore a Resolution based on that recommendation is hardly likely to succeed.

So the likelihood is that the UNHRC will adopt a moderate watered-down Resolution that will not be inimical to the SL Government. What conclusions can we draw from that fact? It shows that even in an institution that has been established specifically to promote human rights, such as the UNHRC, politics count for more than human rights. I am not denying that the movement for human rights has increasingly become a redoubtable revolutionary force after 1945. Nevertheless when the representatives of States get together, politics have greater weight than human rights. Under President Rajapaksa, who was seen as cynically intransigent on the ethnic problem and as unsatisfactory in many other ways as well, a tough Resolution could have been expected. Under President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil W, who could really move towards a political solution and who are acceptable to certain powerful countries, a moderate Resolution might be expected. So at the UNHRC it’s the politics and not the human rights that really count.

But more could be involved in the goings-0n at the UNHRC than the mere cynical manipulation of political interests. Behind a moderate Resolution there could be a genuine concern for the legitimate interests of Sri Lanka. Consider what could happen with a Resolution echoing the bizarre recommendation that I cited earlier. Soldiers who have been regarded as heroes and saviors of the nation could be convicted as war criminals. Thereafter they could be imprisoned or become fugitives from justice or cross Sri Lanka’s frontiers only at the risk of being subjected to universal jurisdiction. How would the armed forces, accustomed to regard themselves as saviors of the nation, react to all that? What might be the unforeseen consequences? And how would the Sri Lankan people react? Would they see the nation as under serious threat again, and would that facilitate the return to power of the forces backing MR ahead of election schedules? Thereafter relations with India and the West could become much more troubled than in the past. Such considerations could weigh with the US in backing a purely domestic process. The US and other Western powers know full well that social action and political action usually have unintended consequences, and those consequences can be very terrible – as in the Middle East. No one can be quite certain of what might be the consequences of a tough Resolution on Sri Lanka.

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Latest comments

  • 37
    6

    Your anti indian and particularly anti Modi bias is so obvious.
    [Edited out]

    • 18
      3

      What can you expect from [Edited out]

    • 4
      17

      Izeth Hussain

      RE: War Crimes Or Political Solution?

      “Once again the battle is raging in Geneva about the problem of war crimes in Sri Lanka. I believe that there is a sub-text to that battle, namely the problem of finding a solution to the ethnic problem.”

      “At present we are witnessing yet another volte-face, this time on the part of the US. Last year it was enthusiastic for an international war crimes investigation, but now together with the SL Government it favors a purely domestic process. “

      Why?

      “So it does seem that the threat of an international war crimes investigation was meant to propel the SL Government towards a political solution. The sub-text of a political solution is more important than the text of war crimes.”

      “During his visit to Sri Lanka Prime Minister Modi outspokenly advocated federalism, which was undiplomatic because he knew full well that for the majority of the Sinhalese federalism remains an F word.”

      Hindutva Conspiracy against Buddhism?

      “So the likelihood is that the UNHRC will adopt a moderate watered-down Resolution that will not be inimical to the SL Government.”

      Yes, when the dust settles,this is likely to happen.

      MaRa MaRa Chatu MaRa and other War and other Criminals will go Scot Free.

      Black Tigers, Assassins, you need to take over the Law and Order Function.

    • 20
      4

      As Izeth Hussain paints a bleak picture of the many choices mobs in the country can adopt – although he does not use the word mobs – what is the justification in stating “Thereafter relations with India (and the West) could become much more troubled than in the past” What is under discussion is a UNHRC Resolution. Where does India come into this. Does this not betray the poorly hidden anti-Indian hatred of this disturbed man. This is totally unnecessary and tends to place a friendly and useful neighbour in bad light with our people.

      The fact is Mahinda and Gotabaya Rajapakse have cooked their own goose and may have to take some of the senior army officers to their own self-inflicted fate. MR’s problem is because he lied left and right dealing with foreign countries and now has to pay the price. Why blame India and the West for all this?

      At to the “benign conspiracy” Hussain is obsessed with, fortunately, this “conspiracy” is only in his highly disturbed mental faculties.
      The shrewd man is merely trying to muddy the waters hoping to benefit from the arising confusion.

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with Indian PM Narendra Modi mentioning Federalism to the Lankan Government, because the word has been part of our political lexicon from 1956. More than one single Lankan administration has discussed this at length with the Indians over the decades – in case this senior ex-diplomat is unaware of this.
      Hussain, however, knows too well Federalism – in the earlier sense – is dead as a dodo as the TNA, speaking for the Tamil Nation, is now openly committed to internal self-rule for the Tamils in their majority areas.

      The reference to a “backward tribalist identity of Hindutva” comes from a man who has a borrowed mother tongue, who does not know where his people come from and one who has no reasonable claim to any country to call his own. True a small number of them were given compassionate refuge by a Sinhala King a few hundred years ago. Characteristically, they have now shifted the dates and claim they have been here for over a thousand years. Now they claim the deeds to the title of the areas where they now live. Much of the areas of their future Caliphate happens to be the land and homes of Eastern Tamils violently chased away in collusion with the Sinhala army and home-guards in a number of villages and towns. This equation will have to change soon.

      Pathetically the desperate Hussain now changes voluntarily into a champion of the Sinhala soldiers – the usual game of his lot to sail with the majority when it is convenient to them. Note the man’s impassioned plea – “soldiers who have been heroes and saviours of the nation could be considered as war criminals ….and imprisoned or become fugitives from justice” Crocodile tears of the good IH, now in a different role. The reality is Rauf Hakeem and the various Lankan Muslim leaders visiting South India regularly sing a different tune and insist they are friends of India. They painstakingly claim they are from the same stock and, therefore, worthy of help and assistance.

      I try hard to avoid this Izeth Hussain as far as possible. But when he exceeds the limit one has to reluctantly call the deranged man his bluff.

      Kettikaran

      • 1
        1

        To the reader – This Kettie said earlier that he avoids my writings like the plague. But practically every article of mine provokes his diatribes. No point in asking him to explain the contradiction. It will only provoke another diatribe.Another point is that he keeps claiming that I am equally under attack by the Sinhalese and others as well, not only by the Tamils. My retort is that the Tamil attacks are in a class apart for their hysterical hatred and mad dog rage. The reader can contrast his present performance – with terms like “disturbed” and “deranged” and hatred towards the Muslims – with the other 15 replies.
        Kettie – keep going boy, keep going – you are substantiating my charges of Tamil lunatic fringe anti-Muslim racism. You must have seen recent encomiums of my writings by Hermes and Professor Carlo Fonseka in the Island. It looks like the IH caravan keeps moving on. But keep barking, Kettie boy, keep barking. – IH

        • 0
          0

          [Edited out]

  • 19
    1

    We need action on both.

    • 4
      2

      Revanchist Tamils want war crimes investigated and the guilty hanged.

      Tamils with a futuristic orientation are anxious for a political solution.

      Pragmatic Tamils like to see growth and development for peace to descend.

      Let there be a division of labour. Diaspora for war crimes; politicians for a political solution and development administrator for growth strategies.

  • 4
    32

    You said it best with this line Sir: WELL SAID

    “Furthermore, as a devotee of the backward tribalist ideology of Hindutva, he went out of the way to affirm the Hindu commonality of the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Hindus of India. All that tended to upset many Sri Lankans.”

    It is this ideology that is sending India spiraling towards conflict at the same time he is empowering States. India has overwhelmingly oppressed and continue to have a massive military presence in the 7 N.E States. It will never demilitarize in those States.

    It has massive oppressive operations in Kashmir. It will never allow outside forces to investigate HR abuses in Kashmir. and US will never dare to come and go head to head with India on these issues or ever dare utter a peep because their strategic interests are married to India’s paranoia about China. China whupped their asses in 1962 and while China has no interest in India; India continues to be afraid of China. If you ask Chinese policy wonks, they will say they have no interests in India or going to war with India. The inferiority complex of the Hinduvta Mentality (do not forget nearly 800million Indians still defecate in public without even basic outhouses unlike Sri Lanka’s poor)has them becoming a giant military power.

    In addition they have real fears of Pakistan and its nuclear weapons the way your fellow muslim Pakistanis suffer a tremendous inferiority complex about India because India whupped their asses 3 times in 3 wars in 3 different decades. So Pakistan dreams of Muslim revenge.

    Hindus raped and massacred Muslim Indians during the struggle for partition; Muslims raped and massacred Hindus and Sikhs too. That was one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the last century caused by British.

    Of course Hindus raped and murdered thousands of Sikhs in 1984 with glee. Hindus under Modi massacred a couple of thousand Muslims in Gujarat too.

    Hinduism is reeking with Casteism.

    • 2
      18

      Krishnanand

      “The inferiority complex of the Hinduvta Mentality (do not forget nearly 800million Indians still defecate in public without even basic outhouses unlike Sri Lanka’s poor)has them becoming a giant military power. “

      “Of course Hindus raped and murdered thousands of Sikhs in 1984 with glee. Hindus under Modi massacred a couple of thousand Muslims in Gujarat too. “

      “Hinduism is reeking with Casteism.” When Indians meet, they want to know the other persons caste, Gothra, Clan or Varna.

      It is rather unfortunate that Buddhism did not prevail in India for various reasons. The enlightened Buddha almost succeeded.

      Varna is a Sanskrit term varṇa (वर्ण). It is derived from the root vṛ, meaning “to cover, to envelop, count, classify consider, describe or choose” (compare vṛtra).[13]

      The meaning of the word as used in the Rigveda has the literal meaning “outward appearance, exterior, form, figure, shape, colour” besides the figurative “colour, race, kind, sort, character, quality, property”. In the Rigveda, the term can mean “class of men, tribe, order, caste”, especially expressing the contrast between the āryas and dāsas.[14][unreliable source]

      According to Indian sources the word Varna originates from the root word “vrinja” which means “choice”.[

      • 5
        0

        Amarasiri is a Muslim tribalist and fanatic pretending to be Sinhalese. The writer meanwhile hates India. Both are idiots.

  • 15
    2

    ” I find it very difficult to believe that a Resolution to set up a hybrid war crimes tribunal can succeed at Geneva. “

    Was this not why Samaraweera’s concurrence was essential, and yes, he did he sell us out. US puppetry at it’s best.

  • 18
    2

    In the first instance is the proposal, as presented, for a ‘purely domestic process’? If so, from where would the judges from ‘the Commonwealth and other foreign countries’ come? What are you really writing? It may be that Sri Lanka will choose these judges from outside Sri Lanka. But then, they have to be of international repute!
    The world will be watching!
    Sengodan. M

  • 6
    16

    One needs to look at only one fact: The time period that the investigation was limited to by the US: only the “final stages of the war” – a 30 year was to be exact.

    But they only wanted to look at the “final stages”. Why?

    Why not investigate the terroristic acts by various Tamil paramilitaries in both Sri lanka and India, at the onset of the war? Why not look at the sexual abuses and other crimes against humanity the IPKF was accused of? Why not the UNP and the SLFP’s crimes against poor rural Sinhalese affiliated with the JVP? Aren’t their lives worth the same as those of the innocents killed in Nandikadal?

    The fact that India and US limited the scope o the investigation in their resolution shows their true motive: NOT protection of human rights or TRUE justice to ALL victims of the war and the Sri Lankan state’s military. They only wanted selective justice to satisfy a certain group of politically and internationally connected individuals. And finally they wanted to get rid of a China and Russia -leaning Rajapakse government.

    True defenders of human rights and advocated for victims of the war and other injustices of the Sri Lankan state should call a spade a spade and decry the duplicity of the US, TN, India and the entire UN.

    • 2
      6

      sinhalese buddhist

      “But they only wanted to look at the “final stages”. Why?”

      Why?

      Until the final stages of the war, the LTTE was committing War crimes…

      1. Recruiting Children

      2. Forced Recruiting of Civilians

      3. Holding Civilians as hostages and not allowing them to escape.

      4. War Crimes Murder of Muslims

      4. Ethnic Cleansing of Muslims

      7. Ethnic Cleansing of Sinhala

      8. Killing captured soldiers

      9. Destroying placed of worship.

      So all, those LTTE War Crimes and atrocities, can ignored including the War Crimes by the IPKF and the funding by India in the early 1980s.

      Forgotten People – The Evicted and Displaced North Muslims of Sri Lanka (English)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JV60McNQ9o

      Published on Jun 1, 2013
      The Evicted and Displaced North Muslims of Sri Lanka. The expulsion of the Muslims and other nations from the Northern province was an act of ethnic cleansing carried out by the Tamil militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organization in October 1990. In order to achieve their goal of creating a mono ethnic Tamil state in the North Sri Lanka, the LTTE forcibly expelled the 72,000 strong Muslim population from the Northern Province.

  • 7
    4

    As stated by RW we are not going allow anything that undermines our National Sovereignty. It is MR who destroyed the credibility of this nation by giving dead ropes to the UN and IC for the last 6 years. He promised home made solutions, 13A+ etc and did nothing to address the concerns of the UN and IC. Sri Lanka was on the verge of becoming a Pariah state.

    Now that there is a new opening and relations with the UN, IC we need to give a chance for ‘Due Process of Law’ to work and deliver Justice to the victims of the Rajapakse rule of terror. We should not listen to the drumbeats of racist like Modawanse, Gamanpillay, Gamaya and Rotten Watakka.

  • 1
    6

    Mr. Izeth Hussein is correct.

    As far as Tamils concerned, they sacrificae this war crimes investigation for a political solution.

    US wants more prominence in the Indian OCean via SriLanka.

    India wants more pro-Indian Sri lanka and a colony in a mega Indian Economic/Security zone.

    Sri lankan politicians are handling it very poor.

    they are divided and handling poor and the result will be Sri lanka lost it.

  • 5
    0

    Mr. Hussein,

    If you feel a hybrid mechanism is “outrageous,” you have to ask what you and other citizens did to demand a credible internal investigation of all the crimes committed by the State in the last 30 years, if not since independence. Wouldn’t it be correct to argue that by your inability to make sure that war crimes and crimes against humanity were prevented ( or, once it happened, promptly investigated and justice meted out), you and others of your mindset have lost the right to be outraged?

    No political solution is possible without a proper accounting and justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity, which the UNHRC has determined to be systemic. How can Tamils continue 1ive in Sri Lanka with the fear that those very criminals continue to roam the streets with impunity?

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