27 October, 2020

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Yes, Enough Is Enough, Mr Foreign Minister

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

I write to refute a statement made with direct reference to me, by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in the course of his response to former President Rajapaksa in the newspapers of Monday August 1st 2016 under the caption “Enough is Enough”.

I have no intention of replying to Minister Samaraweera’s counter-critique of President Rajapaksa’s critical remarks on the structure of the Office of Missing Persons. However, as a student of comparative international politics I cannot help but note that Minister Samaraweera’s model of the OMP derives from contexts that are very different to that of Sri Lanka and thus has little relevance to us. The OMP derives from mechanisms for investigation into persons missing under military juntas in Latin America or mechanisms set up, also mainly in Latin America, in consequence of negotiated settlements arrived at, usually with external mediation/facilitation, between guerrilla movements and incumbent regimes.

Sri Lanka’s context is drastically different, i.e. that of a democratic state, with democratically elected governments, and whose legitimate armed forces fought a war strictly within its borders, against a terrorist enemy and won an outright victory. In no such context has there been a mechanism structured as the OMP is.

Nowhere in Asia, in the aftermath of war or even transitions from prolonged military regimes, has a mechanism such as the OMP been set up. Quite apart from Asia, even in liberal democratic Spain, an EU and NATO member, there isn’t anything remotely like the OMP to investigate into disappearances during the Civil War.

One cannot help but point out that the morally laudable and ethically necessary quest –from any humanistic and humanitarian perspective–for closure for the families and loved ones of missing persons, has already been carried out by the Maxwell Paranagama Commission. Any lacuna could have addressed by a renewed and modified mandate for that Commission. One fails to grasp the logic of the new structure, the OMP.

That said, may I move on to the point made with direct reference to me by the Hon. Minister. He writes:

“This was also evident when he [President Mahinda Rajapaksa] and UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon agreed to an accountability process in their 2009 Joint Communique, which was later made into a formal commitment to the entire international community via the 2009 Geneva resolution when Dayan Jayatilleka was Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Geneva.”

To use diplomatic language, I shall content myself by saying that the Honorable Minister’s statement is entirely without foundation in fact and fails to either correspond with empirical reality or accord with logic.

A smidgeon of logic alone should make Minister Samaraweera wonder why the resolutions moved by the US in the UNHRC on Sri Lanka in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, made no mention whatsoever to the Resolution of May 2009. Surely, if Minister Samaraweera were right and he is grappling with a legacy of President Rajapaksa’s and my commitments to the international community in May 2009, then the subsequent resolutions, all of which commence with a preamble establishing continuity and locating itself in an institutional context, should have made some reference to the UNHRC resolution of May 2009. The fact that they do not, make amply clear to any logical mind, that there is no continuity with the UNHRC resolution of May 2009.

Foreign Minister Samaraweera and his Prime Minister must stop telling untruths on the public record that President Mahinda Rajapaksa agreed to an accountability mechanism-they sometimes say an international investigation – in his May 23, 2009 Joint Statement with Ban Ki Moon and later in the May 2009 Resolution in favor of Sri Lanka which obtained a near-two thirds majority in the UN Human Right Council.

The “understandings contained therein” (in that Joint Statement) were that the Government would take unspecified measures to address grievances regarding an accountability process with regard to human rights and humanitarian law violations. It merely and blandly stated that the “Government will take measures to address those grievances”. This is hardly a smoking gun! There is no statement to the effect that “the UN S-G and the Government of Sri Lanka agreed” on any accountability approach or measures. There is no evidence of any commitment to an accountability mechanism, domestic, international or hybrid. Indeed it is a semantic model of anodyne diplomatic ambiguity.

Our victory in the vote in May 2009 did not put or retain Sri Lanka on the agenda of the UN HRC. The EU driven Special Session did, but our diplomatic victory removed it from the agenda and there was no further action mandated– not even the need to report back to the Council.

That is why even Callum Macrae of Channel 4 laments as late as November 2014 that “…the Rajapaksa regime pulled off a stunning coup when it gained 29 votes for a resolution congratulating them on their “victory”.

The LLRC and the Disappearances Commission are the measures that the previous Government took, as promised, to address those grievances. That Government’s lapse was in failing to fully implement the LLRC report. That is pretty much all the new government had to do. The return of Sri Lanka to the UN HRC agenda has therefore to be sourced in the actions or inactions – the sins of commission and omission– in the years following the UNHRC success of May 2009, i.e. the post-war years. It has nothing to do with the UNHRC resolution of May 2009.

*Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka was a Vice President of the UN Human Rights Council, elected to represent the Asian Region in 2007-2008.

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Latest comments

  • 7
    1

    In his third paragraph, Jayatilleke refers to Sri Lanka as a “democracy” but many others speak of it as a majoritarian state. See for example the title of Neil DeVotta’s article: ‘Engaging Sinhalese Buddhist Majoritarianism and Countering Religious Animus in Sri Lanka’.

    One is forced to ponder what “democracy” means – a true democracy not in outward form but in essence and practice.

    Pentheus

    • 3
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      Charles:

      As your name implies yiou are a dalit.

      What kind of democracy you get among Tamils ?

      What you are talking is reverse discrimination. Even in Tamilnadu what is your status ?

      • 6
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        jim softy,

        you are simply a clown and your contributions are a source of amusements for the folks here!

        I am a Tamil and a Sri Lankan, Charles is likewise, and have nothing whatsoever to do with Tamilnadu; do you get it? Sri Lanka does not belong to you, the Sinhala; do you get it? Any citizen of SL or any interested party has a right to question the fake political scientist on point of principle; do you get it?

        • 1
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          burning Issue:

          You tamils are safe. Why ? LTTE explained it. Sinhala Mahavamsa mindset don’t keep your kind of crap in their mind. We try to forget the past and move on.

          If you live in a country like former Yugos lovia or even in Tamilnadu, You dalits are history, if you talk this much.

          • 8
            0

            Jim not so softly,
            When racists like you live in their midst, the Sinhala race does not need any enemies. Your lot will destroy them. First you lot made them monolingual, then gave them a Mahavansa mindset and made them receive a dictator making them believe in a feudal Royal lineage.
            They are still suffering from it as we saw in the Pada Yathra. The Royalty is itching to come back and crush the remaining bit of independence and some semblence of Democracy.
            People like you will cheer “Long live the Rajapakses to finish off the Singhala race”!

      • 1
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        No need for name calling, argue with valid facts.

    • 0
      5

      Why – have any of YOUR democratic rights been curtailed, Mr. Sarvan? Name one and then we can talk about BS majoritarianism. Your comment is racist and has no basis whatsoever.

      • 4
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        rashantha – BS majoritarianism. is a fact mostly since 1972.

    • 1
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      [Edited out]

    • 8
      1

      You are right Mr. Ponnathurai.Sri Lanka was never a democracy, especially after 1972 constitution.Other tha the politicians that revel in torturing the citizens there is another force, the safron wearing thugs.

      • 3
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        Mr Wickremasinghe, and Mr Charles Ponnuthurai Sarvan

        You are right; and having seen the unseemly jostle (especially, but not only, between Jr and SWRD) from the time independence was granted, for the heart, mind, and soul of the Sinhala-Bauddha core voter, I would say majoritarianism was firmly bedded down in the mid-fifties.

        The nascent rumblings of sections of the Sangha from the 50’s has now manifested itself in an open challenge from groups like the BBS, SU, et al and they will not rest until their objective of an ABSOLUTE BUDDHIST state is established. So much for democracy, so much for majoritarianism.

        But there is still hope, and many good and decent people of all our communities continue to work towards a better, stronger and happier Sri Lanka.

  • 4
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    DJ successfully ‘brainwashed’ all other members of UNHRC (It was a Commission earlier) to vote for the resolution congratulating Sri Lanka, in May 2009.

    He should be appointed Media Minister.

  • 2
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    “”Sri Lanka’s context is drastically different, i.e. that of a democratic state, with democratically elected governments, and whose legitimate armed forces fought a war strictly within its borders, against a terrorist enemy and won an outright victory. In no such context has there been a mechanism structured as the OMP”

    Dayan
    We Tamils don’t buy your BS argument about legitimate governments around the world have to liquidate any opponents using armed forces in barbaric ways. If so the Nazis and Hutus done nothing wrong during their lawfully elected time period. We have repeatedly articulated that Tamils faced repression and oppression from your lawfully elected governments since independence. Please don’t write same thing like broekn record again and again

  • 1
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    I gained a lot from reading comments section than his article itself.

  • 5
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    Enough is enough DJ,
    Your transformation from a seemingly principled leftist to a shameless wannabe diplomat ready to prostitute his academic credentials to please the cruel and corrupt rajapakse regime has added your name to the endless list of opportunists in Sri Lankan politics. Of course you would never be as popular as the high profile and highly successful opportunists like Rajapakse himself. But if someone ever bothers to compile a list of such people, you will be found probably in the last section named ‘Other names probably worth mentioning’

    But on a positive note, at least you never killed or tortured anyone in your life. You are only guilty of trying to please such criminals to get a decent job and then, after realising you made the wrong gamble in the last election, spending your free time defending your decision. Shame on you DJ, you had a great opportunity to stand out as one of the rare examples of Sri Lankans who put principles first. But you chose the road more often traveled.

  • 0
    0

    It’s a strang pattern one can see in his arguments when you see past the rubish dresed up with a nice choice of words and cultural references that are not relevant to the modern world carefully camouflaged is a simple messages. Simply some countries have been involved in criminal behavior in the past so my country should be free to do so in the modern world too. The successful nations would take an opposit stand and move away from such primitive behavior.

    This chap has a bright future in a country like North Korea. Kim Jung-Un would love him. If he doesn’t use too many fancy words that the supreme leader finds annoying and has him executed. Thing is facist leaders are like that they turn on their own once they run out of people to oppress.

    Just stop this nonsense and let the nation grow into a united secular land for all Sri Lankans. Every Sri Lankan will be treated as an equal and free of those who divide and breed anger, hate, bigotry and any form of discrimination religious or cultural.

  • 0
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    We are here today. We shall understand today’s context first to solve problems.We should analyse logically and clearly who has the need to solve the problem through positive attitude towards the country and who need to tight the problem. Do not be deceived by mysteries.

    Really I love this country. Pl analyse critically.

    • 3
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      “Really I love this country. Pl analyse critically. “

      She will never come right again- 1948-2016.
      We can run our own affairs- what a nightmare??

      You are repeating `rice from the moon` scenario.

      Would you not be the first to jump the next boat or flight abroad like the government servants and politicians?
      Given the opportunity you choose one set of thieves to get rid of another so all have become thieves.((amma nathnam tattha anduwa)

      Passion rules the world not rational ants. Think of something in lines with your cultural values not imitating russia, china, usa uk.
      you love your begging bowl then go sit under the tree.

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    [Edited out]

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