21 September, 2020

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Will President Sirisena Heed Naseby’s Advise?

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

President Sirisena met with British Peer Lord Naseby during his recent visit to attend CHOGM in the UK.

In October 2017, Naseby, after appealing to the British Information Commissioner, obtain 39 pages of highly redacted confidential dispatches from the British High Commission in Colombo during the last stages of the Vanni campaign. During a debate in the House of Lords, he urged the UK government to revisit the UNHRC Resolution 30/1. Despite redactions, dispatches estimated 7,000 to 8,000 civilian deaths during the closing phase of the conflict with around a quarter of them being LTTE cadre in civilian clothing. One such document contained, “certainly there was no policy to kill civilians by Sri Lankan army.”

On the other hand, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution 30/1 is based on the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts (PoE) report, also known as Darusman Report. It states; “Two years after the end of the war, there is still no reliable figure for civilian deaths, but multiple sources of the information indicating that a range of up to 40,000civilian deaths cannot be ruled out at this stage. Only a proper investigation can lead to the identification of all the victims and the formulation of an accurate figure for the total number of civilian deaths.” (PoE Report p 41, sub-para 137). It accused government forces of “(i) killing of civilians through widespread shelling (ii) Shelling of hospitals and humanitarian objects” (Executive Summary p iii para 5) deliberately targeting civilians.

Even six months after Naseby’s revelations, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration has not requested a review of the Geneva Resolution.

During their recent meeting, Naseby had made some very sensible and relevant suggestions to Sirisena on how to deal with the contentious resolution.

He had suggested; (i) With the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) now activated, it could proceed with the task of resolving the issue of thousands of persons reported missing or dead during the conflict. (ii) Replace the wartime Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) with an act more appropriate for peacetime. (iii) The need for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as recommended by UNHRC. (iv) The government should release monthly, or quarterly bulletins with details of occupied land returned to owners in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

The first suggestion is of enormous importance to Sri Lanka and requires assiduous handling. The OMP office must necessarily embark on the task of preparing a comprehensive list of missing persons. With such a list, assistance need be sought from US, UK, other EU countries, Canada, Australia, and India to reconcile with names of all those granted asylum by said countries.

The PoE, between October 27, and December 31, 2010, received 4,000 submissions from more than 2,300 senders (PoE Report page 5, sub-para 17).  The report does not contain the information if those submitting information were only from members of Tamil community or included those from the Sinhalese community, mostly JVP members who fled the country. A list of missing persons mutually agreed by Sri Lanka and asylum granting nations to Tamils and Sinhalese is vital due to the possibility of those listed as missing or killed in Sri Lankan living under assumed names in foreign countries. The workload of OMP would reduce substantially in the event missing/dead persons are found to be alive.

Three examples of such cases which surfaced during the last decade are;

The film titled ‘Dheepan’ awarded the Palme d’Or, Festival in Cannes in 2015 is a true story. Dheepan was about an LTTE terrorist (referred to as freedom fighter, refugee and immigrant in publicity material and reviews). It begins with Dheepan, in LTTE uniform, at the funeral pier of a fellow terrorist at the tail end of the conflict. After the funeral, he destroys his uniform, obtains civilian clothing and decides to flee, taking with him two total strangers – a young woman Yalini in her early twenties and a little girl Illayaal, nine years old using false documents. The ‘family’ travels from Northern Sri Lanka to South India and finally to Paris. The group eventually obtains asylum as a ‘family’ based on false documentation and declarations. The film ends with Dheepan and Yalini entering wedlock and having a child, with Illlayaal as a family member, all moving to the UK. The French and British governments need be requested to provide the real names of Dheepan, Yalini and Illayaal and details of where they lived before fleeing Sri Lanka, to ascertain if they are reported dead or missing.

According to a report filed by veteran journalist DSB Jeyaraj, a Tamil engineer named KathiraveluThayapararajahhad functioned as Director of the LTTE operated Vanni Tech. He was a known LTTE activist but not a combatant and disappeared in September 2009. A commonly believed theory was, members of armed forces had abducted, tortured and murdered Kathiravelu. The University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), the Australian Government Refugee Review Tribunal, Tamilnet and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights among others blamed Sri Lankan authorities for Kathiravelu’sdisappearance.  A Human Rights organization took up the issue with Robert Blake, the then US Asst. Secretary for South East Affairs and one-time US Ambassador to Sri Lanka from September 2006 till May 2009 who had agreed to investigate the matter through the US Embassy in Colombo.  On May 06, 2014, Kathiraveluwas arrested by the Tamil Nadu Police in Dhanushkodi together with nine others including five children attempting to enter India without valid travel documents.

One-time hardcore JVP activist Premakumar Gunaratnam, having fled Sri Lanka after breaking out from Bogambara Prison in 1988 had been granted asylum in Australia. He returned to Sri Lanka in September 2011 and was involved in local politics as a member of Frontline Socialist Party, a breakaway faction of the JVP.  Having ‘disappeared’ sometime in early April 2012, he ‘surrendered’ to Police a few days later claiming to have been ‘dumped’ by his ‘abductors.’ The then Australian High Commissioner in Colombo Robyn Mudie turned up with Australian passport N1016123, claimed Gunaratnam was an Australian citizen named Noel Mudalige and demanded his release. He was deported on April 10.

These are, but three examples of a dead or missing LTTE combatant and two LTTE and JVP activists found to be living in overseas countries.

Nearly nine years have passed since LTTE was defeated and there have been no signs of a resurgence of terrorism. PTA was a requirement during the civil war, and there is merit in the suggestion to replace the Act with one more suitable for peacetime. Its replacement must not be viewed as a requirement to satisfy the international community but a necessity for the citizens of this country.

Different types of Truth & Reconciliation Commissions have been set up in several countries,  tasked with discovering and revealing past wrongdoing by governments and non-state actors in the hope of resolving conflicts left over from the past. Some have contributed to healing wounds from the past. The Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) was unfortunately not adequately funded and many of its recommendations not implemented. Therefore, a fresh initiative would be essential to move forward with the reconciliation process.

Sufficient time has passed for the state to make up its mind on land required in the North and East for national security purposes. Indefinite occupation of private property does not in any way contribute to reconciliation. In fact, it is a key irritant and adds to the notion; the government is not sincere in its efforts in addressing the national question. Some land has been returned since January 2015 but not given adequate publicity. Therefore, it is time for a decision on what can be released, and compensation paid for what cannot be returned. Meanwhile, the publication of periodic figures, perhaps quarterly, of land returned to rightful owners should be seriously considered.

“Only a proper investigation can lead to the identification of all the victims and the formulation of an accurate figure for the total number of civilian deaths” stated in the one-sided PoE Report makes little or no sense.

In preparing the report, they have not considered some very relevant information/documents; (i) confidential cables from US embassy in Colombo to State Department in Washington released by Wikileaks. (ii) contents of a classified cable from the then US Ambassador to Geneva, Clint Williamson after his confidential conversation with then ICRC Head of Operations Jacque de Mio on July 09, 2009, clearing SL Army of crimes against humanity, released through Wikileaks. (iii) views expressed by British Lawyer and one-time UN Chief War Crimes Prosecutor in Sierra Leon Sir Desmond de Silva and British military expert Major General Holmes. (iv) reports from the then UN country team in Sri Lanka and former UN media spokesman Gordon Weiss (v) dispatches by former British Defense Attaché in Colombo, Lieutenant Colonel Anton Gash. (vi) Causality estimates of other credible organizations, i.e., 6,710 (US State Department), nearly 7,000 (International Crisis Group), 7,721 (UN Country Team) and 10,000 (Amnesty International).

In ignoring such crucial information, PoE members have displayed extreme bias and prejudice.

The Geneva Resolution ignored the Paranagama Commission Report which called for a domestic judicial investigation, backed by international technical assistance, under foreign observers.

US and UK were key promoters of the Geneva Resolution. By not insisting PoE members take all available material including confidential dispatches from their respective representatives on location in Sri Lanka in their deliberations indicates ulterior motives other than professed humanitarian considerations. It also projects a lack of faith in their representatives.

The OMP has it work cut out. The Paranagama Commission received 21,000 complaints (Executive Summary p xviii para 16) related to so-called disappearances and extrajudicial killings. This readymade list of missing and dead persons could be handed over to US, UK, other EU countries, Canada, Australia, and India for reconciliation with details of those granted asylum. States declining to cooperate could be reported to UNHRC for hindering the implementation of item 4 in UNHRC Resolution 30/1.

The OMP is an independent commission not subject to government direction. That said, there is no law against the commission requesting the assistance of government agencies in carrying out their mandate.

Most importantly, what is required is the political will on the part of the Sirisena-Wickramasinghe administration and for its leaders to provide the political leadership necessary to address the issue at hand.

Furthermore, Sri Lanka must do what it takes to establish the truth about the mythical 40,000 deaths during the Vanni campaign, so critical in meeting the challenges of the Geneva Resolution.

Will President Sirisena heed Naseby’s advise?

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Latest comments

  • 1
    2

    I think FSP was established by Rajapakses in order to counter act JVP. As a journalist you know it. JVP is highly haressed by medisa, I heard, because the sri lanka media is not fair. So, I approve what happened to them during the last govt. they got what they well deserved. MEdia doe snot write as much information about the govt corruption as they published during the last govt.

  • 2
    3

    I don’t know how to call this journalism!

    Is this called sincere dedication to the course or taking fire to light the cigar from a burning house?

    There is big campaign on Colombo Media from Old Royal Camp that Apocalypse is on its way to Lankawe because of the Sins of New King and Ranil. As usual, Yahapalanaya feels reluctant go against Old Royal and deny Apocalypse because it is has to pull the past Old Royals’ history, i.e. White vans, White elephants, War Crime, which Yahapalanaya did its utmost to hide. Yahapalanaya is in confusion of not knowing how to stop the campaign of Apocalypse, thinking if it can use it back to deter the Old Royal Competing for the power with it.
    Lord Nearby had said that Lankawe had accepted in Resolution 30/1 and so have accepted the number as 40,000. So he indicated they should stay with that agreement. Thero had torn off at CT that Thank You letter sent from New King to Lord Nasby as only a farcical comedy but not real. Even after all that Jayaweera has been bucking the Yahapalanaya to use Lord Nasby as witness at UNHRC. Last March Tilak indicated at UHRC that Lankawe may quit UNHRC as it is not going to comply with the resolution it signed.

    Now this! Poor guy this Jayaweera is!
    Aaathai Padukira Paadukkai Kuththiyan Palukkazhuthaanaam! (Spoiled brat is crying for milk while the mother is at her edge on everything)

    • 2
      0

      Rajeewa why are you wasting your time and energy on these worthless matters. MS meeting Lord Naseby is nothing but political stunt. Are you aware that the all-party parliamentary group for Sri Lanka is silent on the matter of war crimes. Can you name a single conservative MP including Liam Fox had ever voiced about it, because they cannot go against the UK government policy that there should be accountability to war crimes and perpetrators be brought to justice. Why don’t you come back to UK and run your bucket shop, unless you closed it down and ran away to Sri Lanka for any nefarious reason. Once in UK, you can dance with that stupid Nosey Boy.

  • 0
    1

    Rajeewa Jayaweera,

    RE: Will President Sirisena Heed Naseby’s Advise?

    Will he? He is a foreigner.

    See what Sarath Fonseka had to say.

    SF takes swipe at President

    http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/SF-takes-swipe-at-President-149518.html

    Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development Minister, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said yesterday that former president Chandrika Kumaratunga told him recently with tears in her eyes that she was unable to get an appointment to meet President Maithripala Sirisena for three months and could not contact him over the phone for two months.

    He said the President, who agreed to appoint him Law and Order minister, refused to do so later saying that some people including several DIGs and Buddhist monks opposed the move.

    When asked why the President who initially agreed to offer the ministry later changed his mind, the minister said it was a long story and explained what happened.

    Addressing the media at his office yesterday, Minister Fonseka stressed that both leaders of the ‘Yahapalana Government’ President Siriena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe must take the full responsibility for the major electoral setback suffered by the government at the February Local Government polls

  • 4
    3

    Aiyo Rajeewa

    What are you trying to prove?
    FYI between 1987 and 1989 Chandrika’s three commissions identified the war criminals who caused 30,000 cases of disappearances. These commissions were abruptly brought to halt.

    I suggest you spend some productive time bringing these criminals to book. Some of them are in the parliament.

  • 1
    4

    I was in Mullative recently.
    It was only 15 to 20 to Nanthikdal from where I stayed.
    How even 4000 , let alone 40,000 dead bodies were cleared from Nathikadal is an un imaginable puzzle.
    No Gas there except 20Kg bottles..
    No major access roads And no mass burial grounds
    And the people who run the Hotel there said there were no major issues in Mullative Town, even during the final battle in Nathikdal.
    Will the OMP boss check the Undertakers invoices in Lanka along side the secret War dispatches from Yahapalana friendly Ambassadors in Colombo?
    With Kanthale Sugar plantation already gone to Hindians and so many other ETCs being signed off by Mallika ,how much land will be left for the public in those areas after TNA gets titles for the Army Camps, under 13 A?.

    • 2
      1

      KA Sumane,

      Ask Gotapaya, how he did it? The same way the Sinhalese army buried 60000 in the South? You are very good at digging burial grounds

    • 2
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      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      If TNA gets the land Kanthale Sugar plantation it should be their problem and not yours. In the mean time by the virtue of being Sinhala/Buddhists two crooks had already negotiated 540 Million in kickbacks. I know its painful and a great loss to you and Basil (10%, 20%, 30%).

      By the way what were the Chinese cleaners doing in Vanni area? You should approach Ambassador Bandula Jayasekara for further information.

  • 2
    1

    When president Srisena, Rajeewa and other non followers of Buddhism going to learn Buddhism and follow its principles???

    • 3
      0

      Society for Threatened Peoples (Switzerland) has produced a report on Human Rights in Sri Lanka which is available at https://www.gfbv.ch/wp-content/uploads/sri-lanka-vanni-e-lang.pdf

      Its recommendation to SL govt

      • Comply with the human rights framework, which the GoSL has ratified, and
      implement the recommendations of UNHRC Resolution 30/1 on promoting
      reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.
      • Demilitarize the Vanni by reducing the military presence and ordering the
      cessation of all commercial activities by dismantling military-run hotels,
      farms and other businesses.
      • Order the military to cease the surveillance, intimidation and harassment of
      the local population, civil society, NGO staff and journalists.
      • Ensure land rights for all displaced people by releasing all occupied areas to
      the public and resettle all displaced families on their traditional land.
      • Inform displaced people about the resettlement process and make them
      aware of any resettlement plans. Make displaced people part of the implementation
      of the resettlement process.
      • Compensate displaced families for the period of occupation and the destruction
      of houses and other properties.
      • Provide displaced and resettling families with sufficient basic facilities,
      such as drinking water, electricity and sanitary facilities. In addition, ensure
      access to essential health services and education needs.
      61
      • Provide resettling families with adequate housing facilities by supporting
      them to rebuild their houses.
      • Ensure an adequate standard of living for female-headed households, so
      that their families can meet their basic needs.
      • Ensure unrestricted access to land and water for local communities and
      stop the destruction of fishing resources by migrating fishers from India, as
      well as those from the south of Sri Lanka and Jaffna.

  • 1
    1

    Rajeewa Jayaweera has lots of faith in Lord Naseby.
    Rajeewa implies that MS/RW are not pursuing the nit-picks of Lord Naseby. This Lord has no standing among his colleagues. What has the Lord done to persuade the stand taken by British All Party Parliamentary Group?
    What did the Lord do when ex-PM David Cameron took us to the cleaners at the 2013CHOGM?
    .
    To cut a long story short Rajeewa, do you think that Lord Naseby can get us out of the UNHRC radar?

  • 3
    1

    “Even six months after Naseby’s revelations, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration has not requested a review of the Geneva Resolution”. UNHRC will not accept the Governments now “Scientific” method of compiling the list of missing persons. Whether it is 4,000 or 40,000 why not produce the list done so far over the past nine years for International scrutiny. Will the list have any credibility after the revelations of the corruption in the Judicial system in Sri Lanka will be another big question.

  • 2
    3

    There are numbers and there are numbers. I doubt very much 60,000 died in the 89/90 period, it is exaggerated ten times or more just as the Nathikadal numbers, that was also the number given for ’71. Yes one extrajudicial death is too many yet exaggerations only flame the anger of the “defeated” and kill (pardon the pun) any chance of healing.

    • 3
      1

      Whether it is 60 or 60000, there was an intention to kill civilians. It is undoubtedly proved that there were war crimes and crimes against humanity by Srilankan state between 2006 & 2009.

    • 2
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      wannihami

      So as usual being Sinhala/Buddhist you cannot, do not, will not count bodies. Instead blame the victim.

      Body count will bring the war crime issues to closure. It would not harm the defeated nor kill chances of healing. There has never been any serious initiative towards national healing.
      When and where did the healing process start?
      Why are you lying?

      • 0
        1

        There has never been any serious initiative towards national healing.
        When and where did the healing process start? – National Healing for whom, NGOs, Protestants ?

        How do things happen in MeXico.

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