Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry seek explanation from EU regarding job role of its employee Yasmin Sooka


Part of Sri Lanka’s problem has been not to challenge some of the lies being propagated by the power of funding sources both legitimate and illegitimate. There are plenty of diplomatic avenues to take and plenty of polite jargon that can be used just as effectively. EU that enjoys holding the red card to all countries of the world must be questioned on how funding giving by EU to a worthy cause can end up being used by a proxy NGO to target Sri Lanka? Sri Lanka has every right to raise this question through its foreign ministry and EU needs to offer an explanation.

Yasmin Sooka is a paid employee of the European Union. The job given to her by EU is to look into the welfare of South Africans in South Africa. But, how much of her paid time has been spent in looking after South Africans.

Why is Yasmin Sooka so paranoid about Sri Lanka? She is not even an ethnic Tamil. Since 2001 she has been employed by EU to function as Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa which EU set up in 1996 through a cooperation agreement between the European Union and the South African government channeling a portion of the EU’s development assistance allocation to civil society organisations.

Foundation For Human Rights in South Africa is funded by EU & Belgium and receives funding from Ireland CARE, UN bodies & even the America Foundation.

The Board are all South African

Flanders International Cooperation Agency (FICA)

Nowhere in the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa website does it list the International Truth & Justice Project-Sri Lanka as one of FHR’s projects? There’s a long list of projects by South African province but there is no mention of any International Truth & Justice Project-Sri Lanka

However, the ITJP-Sri Lanka website claims in its ABOUT US

The International Truth and Justice Project  – Sri Lanka (ITJP) is administered by the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa under the guidance of transitional justice expert Yasmin Sooka”

If so why does the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa not mention this?

The main question is why should the EU and international donors funding South Africa wish to plug some project totally unrelated to Africa under its Executive Director? There is nothing in the ITJPSL website other than the name of Yasmin Sooka.

What’s the real story here?

Is this ITJPSL a one-woman show?

If EU and international donors are funding South Africa through the FfHR in South Africa why should this Foundation have a project related to another country in it?

ITJPSL first came up dead figures initially starting with 40,000 and ending up with 200,000 but ITJPSL only submitted a list of 351 MISSING persons names to the Office of Missing Persons in June 2018 – that was after 9 years following defeat of LTTE ground force in May 2009. Why didn’t they give names of 40,000 dead or 200,000 dead? If there are ‘tens of thousands of Tamils’ who died in 2009 why can’t she provide their names? If she could after 9 years provide only 351 MISSING persons names what does that tell about the allegations.

In 2015 the ITJP managed to get a report published in the Oakland Institute (formed by Anuradha Mittal in 2004) on the issue of land & offences by Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces.

Sooka though employed by EU to look into South Africa/South Africans is too busy churching reports against Sri Lanka and its always timed for an international session targeting Sri Lanka we released the report in time before the Geneva Resolution because we wanted to influence the Geneva Resolution” (so says Sooka)

The 2014 ITJP report was funded by the British Foreign Office through the Bar Human Rights Committee of England & Wales. Of the 40 selected cases most were former LTTE illegal combatants seeking asylum.

Sooka became involved with Sri Lanka only after being selected as a non-UN member of then UNSG Ban Ki Moon’s PERSONALLY appointed 3-member panel to advise him on the last 3 months of Sri Lanka’s conflict. That report held LTTE as ‘the most disciplined & nationalist of the Tamil militant groups”.

So it should come as no surprise when in March 2012 the 3 members of Ban Ki Moon’s panel co-authors an article published in the New York Times Revisiting Sri Lanka’s Bloody War” and replaces ‘credible allegations’ (what they said in the 2011 Ban Ki Moon report) with ‘credible evidence’… on what basis did the 3 write a completely different version of what they said in their own 2011 report?

Sooka is one among an bevy of international players who for some unknown reason are simply anti-Sri Lankan/anti-Sinhalese / anti-Armed Forces

The organizations include:

Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice (Sooka on Advisory Council) Board members include Charu Lata Hogg (Chair) previously Associate Fellow in the Asia Program at Chatham House & Callum Macrae (of Channel 4 fame)

SLCPJ Advisory Council includes

Norwegian film maker Beate Arnestad – ‘My daughter the terrorist’,

Lakhdar Brahimi – also a member of The Elders” & the Global Leadership Forum; Governing Board, SIPRI; Board of Trustees, International Crisis Group and Global Humanitarian Forum.

  • – Executive Director of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC).
  • – former Australian diplomat, patron of Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in which his colleagues are proved supporters of the LTTE (Brahmi Jegan, Dr. Sam Pari) Dr. Sam Pari is designated by the GOSL as a terrorist supporter under UNSC Resolution 1373
  • – a member of the Executive Director’s Leadership Council for Amnesty International USA, the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch America. While former Executive Director Ian Martin even held workshops for LTTE judges” in 2003.
  • is Executive Director of the United Nations Association – UK
  • is an independent journalist and human rights defender
  • Tissainayagam – now living in the US

So is it a surprise to see Yasmin Sooka guest speaker at Global Tamil Forum in 2013 and introduced as ‘comrade’ – TNA’s R Sambanthan and M Sumanthiran were also present!

Prof. William Schabas was also one of the speakers.

Is it any surprise that Sooka led a call to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka that same year?

Is it a surprise that in March 2014 Sooka as an Advisory Council member of the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace & Justice (SLCPJ) led a petition joined by Desmond Tutu, Bishop Rayappu Joseph, R Sambanthan, C V Wigneswaran & 35 others to write to the UNHRC to set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate war crimes & crimes against humanity committed by Sri Lanka. She was the 2nd signatory.

The SLCPJ in March 2014 issued a report titled Crimes against Humanity in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province” & the forward of that report was by Centre for Justice & Accountability & no surprise Yasmin endorses it. Also endorsing the report was UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak, and international criminal law and human rights law scholar Professor William Schabas.

Also in March 2014 Yasmin Sooka wrote an article to the Mail&Guardian ‘Sri Lanka: Living in Fear of the White Vans” – in 2019 we know what a farce the white van gimmick has become. Sooka can first start by naming who has disappeared in the white vans!

In September 2015 Sooka served as the George Soros Inaugural Chair at the School for Public Policy at Central European University.

Yasmin Sooka also is on the George Soros Human Rights Initiative Board. Is it a surprise that Sooka thanks them for funding her anti-Sri Lanka report we thank our funders – the Sigrid Rausing Trust and the Open Society Foundation” 

Just who is Yasmin Sooka to be making allegations of this nature? Has Sooka visited Sri Lanka? Whose opinion is she voicing? Who are the sources she is citing? Have they visited Sri Lanka and what are their bonafides? Do they have connections or links to LTTE fronts operating from overseas, if so their claims cannot be accepted without reasonable doubt & conflict of interest!

Leaving all that aside what EU needs to answer is how Yasmin Sooka can plug a separate project into funds that have been allocated to looking after the people of South Africa – is EU aware that The International Truth and Justice Project  – Sri Lanka (ITJP) is administered by the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa under the guidance of transitional justice expert Yasmin Sooka” (as the ITJP website says) but no such mention is made of the ITJP in the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa website.

GOSL through the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry must seek clarification from the EU regarding this.



Shenali D Waduge

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