Response to the US Congressmen & Resolution 413 against Sri Lanka
Resolution 413 was presented to the US Congress on 18 May 2021 by Deborah K Ross and 4 co-sponsors though 9 US Congressmen signed a letter to US Secretary of State on the same day. It was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ironically, 4 of these signatories have direct links to pro-LTTE lobbies. Presumably Resolution 413 was to be about Sri Lanka’s conflict that ended on 18 May 2009 but the demands coming out of it, tells a different stor. The clauses and allegations no doubt were penned not by them and warrants to know the architect of this draft resolution.
Part 1: Questions for US Congressmen writing to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s conflict that ended in May 2009 was between Government of Sri Lanka National Army and LTTE. Members or leaders of other armed Tamil groups were killed by LTTE during the 1980s and 1990s.
Sri Lanka’s conflict was not ‘civil’ nor ‘ethnic but terrorist. With an armed group attempting to by gun carve part of Sri Lanka and hold control of it with the gun. LTTE were an all Tamil armed group but LTTE killed more Tamils than they care to admit not only in Sri Lanka but overseas as well. Overseas killings continue to this day. What are foreign governments doing to stop pro-LTTE groups threatening non-LTTE Tamils?
Not only Tamil people, but every other citizen of Sri Lanka suffered while LTTE prevailed with their guns. There was never a day without a LTTE suicide mission, bombing or assassination attempt. All communities were displaced and casualties prevailed from all communities. It is unfair to presume & promote notion that only Tamils suffered.
The Lessons Learned & Reconciliation Commission was appointed by the Government in March 2010. The UN Secretary General appointed a 3-member panel to personally appraise him in June 2010. There is no ground to claim that because the LLRC failed the UNSG appointed a panel.
Moreover, this panel was only a personally commissioned panel without mandate of either the UN General Assembly or the UN Security Council.
The UN must explain how a personally commissioned panel report can end up the basis for the OHCHR Head’s reports and the foundation of successive resolutions against a sovereign and UN member state.
Challenge to UNHRC:
The UNHRC must explain the legal basis for OHCHR’s report using a personally commissioned report as basis for reports against Sri Lanka.
The UNHRC must explain why the UNSG’s personally commissioned report was never tabled in the UNHRC, UNGA or UNSC
The UNHRC must provide evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity and verifiable violations of international humanitarian laws instead of hiding ‘witnesses’ for 20 years and depending on media lobbying and lies to embarrass and humiliate a sovereign state and its national army. We accept that there may be one or two soldiers who may act reckless and outside of the line of orders, but this should not warrant for the UNHRC or any country to paint the entire army as war criminals. Bring out the evidence against these individual soldiers and demand action be taken against them only. We will all support this. But, we are not ready to have our armed forces branded as war criminals based on a legally questionable post-conflict process that has denied due process to Sri Lanka and has more questions than answers.
It is clear from every demand made in the successive UNHRC Resolutions and the coterie of co-sponsors headed by US that these demands are using the conflict as a guinea pig to continue their geopolitical arm twisting against Sri Lanka.
The US Congressmen may like to look at all the international tribunals held and realize the futility of these tribunals which have not brought any justice to the victims whatsoever. South Africa is a good example of no truth nor justice arising after millions have been spent. Thus, the allocation of funds for a similar exercise in Sri Lanka is going to be nothing but distribution of employment opportunities and to facilitate people to poke their nose into Sri Lanka’s internal affairs on the camouflage that they seek truth.
There is no such ‘traditional Tamil homeland’and anyone claiming so must prove where Tamils evolved first (in Tamil Nadu or Sri Lanka) and next answer how there are 76million Tamils in Tamil Nadu (named as State for Tamils) and only 2million Tamils in Sri Lanka. Where Tamils evolved is the homeland of the Tamils. Tamils sought self-determination in Tamil Nadu first.
An ethnic group cannot demand 2 separate homelands in 2 separate sovereign states.
On what evidence are these Congressmen claiming the North is ‘heavily militarized’ – this is the very nation that is refusing to remove troops from Okinawa, Japan, continues to maintain troops in Germany despite end of World War 2 and is illegally occupying countries with armed forces stationed since 2001.
The US Congressmen have completely ignored the US military attache of the US embassy Lt. Col. Lawrence Smith and the UK defense attache Lt. Colonel Anthony Gash’s despatches from January to May 2009 that completely demolishes the allegations by UNHRC.
Authenticity of statements
The former Northern PC Chief Minister, former justice of the Supreme Court who lived all his life in South of Sri Lanka, was educated amongst Sinhalese and only after his 70plus years went to live in the North in 2013. He needs to survive in politics and to do so, he needs to play to the gallery by making statements to keep alive the LTTE /separatist lobby. The allegations he has made publicly is now facing a court case.
The Provincial Council system was forced upon Sri Lanka following the forced signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord in 1987. No one in Sri Lanka asked for a PC system. The merged North-East Provincial Council was annulled following a unilateral declaration of independence in 1990 by Varatharaja Perumal who ran away to live in India. The merged N-E PC was demerged in 2006. While elections have been regularly held in other PCs, the terror of LTTE prevented elections in North & East. However, no sooner the East was liberated PC elections were held in 2008 and PC elections were held in North in 2013. The people of Sri Lanka however do not wish to continue the PCs primarily because it is a burden on the tax payer. Regular elections are held for Parliament & to elect a President therefore the people’s democratic rights are very much prevalent.
According to IHS Markit, there are 85million surveillance cameras watching over US citizens (one for every 4.6 people in the US) Under the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, the U.S. Postal Service photographs the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States and these Congressmen are talking about surveillance in Sri Lanka.
With over 609421 covid deaths in US, the highest the world over, the US can hardly be proud of its record. Sri Lanka until October 2020 had just 13 deaths and the health workers and Sri Lanka Armed Forces, Police & Intel agencies were doing an admirable job handling covid.
Reminding UNHRC of the UN Charter
The UNHRC has been of late targeting smaller nations as a result of lobbying of powerful nations and powerful lobby groups. This runs contrary to the main UN Charter that assures non-interference into internal affairs of sovereign states.
It is unfortunate that while the very countries that accuse Sri Lanka, violate all international laws with impunity & immunity, they deem fit to question every internal system of Sri Lanka and demand that Sri Lanka only enforces what they desire, and they call this democracy and human rights!
Do the US Congressmen questioning about military appointments in Sri Lanka know that out of the 45 presidents of the United States, 29 had some military experience!
Do the US Congressmen now quoting the US role in the UNHRC Resolutions against Sri Lanka, also recall that the US walked out of the UNHRC calling it the ‘cesspit of political bias’.
Certainly, we want justice but that justice must cover all the victims without favor and it must begin by giving justice to the victims of the terroristsand that even includes all of the other Tamil militant groups that were virtually annihilated by the LTTE.
The commemorations that the LTTE lobbies attend with fanfare does not include mourning for the dead of other Tamil militant groups. In fact, mourning them is taboo.
All of the commemorations taking place in US, UK, Canada, France etc featuring pro-LTTE groups proudly displaying the LTTE flag alongside the US National Flag, the Union Jack etc are mourning LTTE dead not Tamil civilian dead.All of the commemorations taking place to which US, UK, European, Australian, Canadian MPs attend are to mourn the LTTE dead not Tamil civilian dead. This is what makes a mockery of banning LTTE by their governments. It is not that everyone does not know this. Everyone knows this but it is a good geopolitical arm twisting tool.
Therefore, it is the LTTE that must face the war crimes charges. They took to guns. They chose their fate. They were given 3 opportunities to surrender. They refused to lay down arms and surrender. With this opportunity given and denied from January 2009 onwards the war ended and the humanitarian rescue operation began until all of the Tamils taken hostage and kept as human shields were brought to safety on 15 May 2009.The remaining 3 days was between the LTTE fighters and the Sri Lankan National Army. If anyone claims that during the last 3 days some 40,000 died – then these were LTTE fighters and too bad they met their waterloo by choice. Anyone getting killed after 15 May 2009 by Sri Lanka’s troops were LTTE and not Tamil civilianswho chose to fight till their last man. Let no one forget that some 12,000 LTTE in civilian clothing did surrender and this included 594 child soldiers who were all given a presidential pardon, rehabilitated and returned to their families.
But if foreign governments and foreign politicians & even the UNHRC wish to cry over LTTE dead & hold international commemorations – we won’t stop them because it is a hilarious sight to watch!
Nevertheless, continuing the demand for justice, what the people of Sri Lanka want is for the GoSL to hold an investigation into every individual and political group that had links with the LTTE & begin with the TNA and hold them guilty of treason and declare them traitors to the nation for aiding and abetting terrorism and separatism via the 6thamendment.
As for the UN mechanisms for tribunals and truth seeking, we seriously question how far any of their tribunals have manifested in providing any justice except giving employment and creating opportunities to poke the noses into internal affairs of countries for further geopolitical interference. Isn’t this the real reason for the conflict that ended in May 2009 to continue politically? When the people are Sri Lanka are getting on with their lives. When the Tamils are enjoying a developed North, when former LTTE are also starting a new life – who seems to want to reverse all this? The LTTE lobbies living overseas and their political cronies overseas.
Are LTTE lobbies influencing foreign governments and foreign politicians or are foreigngovernments and foreign politicians manipulating LTTE lobbies for their geopolitical agendas?We all know the answer – its nothing but a ‘you scratch our backs, we will scratch yours’.
If the UNHRC was doing its job properly, it should have investigated and taken action against all the illegal invasions & arming and training of terror groups & exporting them to countries to cause mayhem instead of henpecking a country that solved its terrorist problem by its own armed forces, a fete no other national army has been able to do.
Let jealousy and revenge not tarnish the image of Sri Lanka’s national army.
By all means, let the personally commissioned Darusman Report be tabled in the UNGA, UNSC together with the OISL report and afford an opportunity for us to present counter arguments and for the UN legal team to answer one simple question – was the process of UNHRC Resolutions legal & was due process followed by the UNHRC and OHCHR Head and Office.
Shenali D Waduge