Special Courts, special laws and foreign experts are beyond grotesque mistakes
“Daesh [ISIS] is a two faced monster”- French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian “Sri Lanka to launch a special court to probe war crimes”, screamed an AFP story. Lead stories of the DailyFT and The Island of Dec. 1st quoted ex-President Kumaratunga as saying the Special Courts would start in January, armed with the option of foreign technical and forensic expertise.w
“Sri Lanka will launch a special war crimes court early next year to investigate major atrocities during the bloody finale to its decades-long ethnic war, a top official said Tuesday. Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who heads the office of national unity and reconciliation, said…tens of thousands of victims of the Tamil separatist conflict would not accept reconciliation unless war criminals are brought to justice. “…The special court should start its work by the end of this month or by early January,” she said. “They (the court) will not be chasing behind every soldier, but the main line of command will be looked at,” she said…Kumaratunga said she personally believed that involving independent foreign judges was preferable as suggested in a UN Human Rights Council resolution adopted in October.” (AFP, Dec 3, 2015)
Historical realism is imperative. If there were excesses in the last stages of a thirty years war, it is in a manner of speaking, karma, as these most likely resulted from pent-up vengeful blood lust for which the Tigers’ evil deeds over decades were responsible. Command responsibility for any war crimes resides with Prabhakaran who started the war against a democracy, unilaterally returned to war after peace talks with successive elected governments including India’s, and steeped his army in atrocities (e.g. Arantalawa) and terrorism (including the use of suicide bombers disguised as surrendees) such that an element of the Sri Lankan soldiery regarded any member of Prabhakaran’s marauding horde with long-accumulated retaliatory hatred and sought to extirpate them in preventive self-defence.
A non-polarising personality with moral hegemony in the South might reconcile North and South. Un-reconciled with her successor, how can CBK reconcile a polarised nation? CBK may love the “main line of command” to be locked up and/or deprived of civic rights. How dare they win a war she thought could not be won, or tried to but was just not good enough to win-- unlike her mother who successfully defended the State against a shock insurrection by securing external assistance from all points of the compass?
There’s another factor. If Mahinda and Gotabhaya were deprived of their civic rights, the Real Opposition – the 50 SLFP/UPFA dissidents—could be diverted and weakened while CBK’s Constitutional federalization waddles through.
The rulers are hiding the big picture. As captured by the news cameras, the farewell note of the teenager Senthuran who committed suicide over Tamil prisoners, had in spidery block letters in the top right hand corner, the words ‘TO TAMIL EELAM’ and somewhere at the bottom, the dedication ‘IN TAMIL EELAM’.
Mahaveera Day was commemorated in the North and East. The official Opposition in Sri Lanka’s parliament, the TNA participated in it and that’s not merely the maverick Sivajilingam. Mahaveera Day was commemorated in no less mainstream a place than the TNA office by no less mainstream a political personality than ITAK leader Mavai Senathirajah, MP.
The West is “two faced” about terrorism when it permits in its own societies, events with portraits of Prabhakaran and his Tigers in fatigues and demonstrations under the LTTE banner adorned with bullets. The West has stood ethics upside down and placed the Sinhalese at the bottom of a moral food chain. Samantha Power said that a “trust deficit” remains “in the North” and needs addressing. None has the moral courage to denounce the political satanic cult in the North and East (backstopped by Tamil Nadu and the Diaspora). Thus it is the reverse “trust deficit” that is more rational and legitimate, i.e. that of the South regarding the North.
Calls for “demilitarisation” of the island’s North and “security sector reform” are made by countries whose armies haven’t won an asymmetrical war by themselves for decades. Our armed forces are sought to be converted from a combat-ready, war-fighting machine constituting an independent deterrent capacity –including for asymmetric national deterrence—into a dependent quasi-ceremonial military with a dwindling deterrent function and capacity.
Significantly ‘…a British HC Spokesperson told The Island: “…The military have a crucial role to play…in fulfilling the commitments Sri Lanka has made on long-standing issues of reconciliation, accountability and human rights. The appointment of a Defence Adviser will enable the UK to work with the Sri Lankan armed forces on these issues…” ’(‘UK to work with Lankan military on Accountability issues’, Shamindra Ferdinando, The Island, Dec 7, 2015)
The same UK military has yet to punish anyone for the Bloody Sunday massacre of unarmed civilians in broad daylight in Londonderry in 1972. Britain took two commissions and 38 years to conclude investigations. “War crimes accountability” lays a collective guilt trip on the Sinhalese, the South, for winning the war. Special Courts targeting the “main line of command”-- the Strategic Command (Prof. Elliot Cohen’s phrase) -- are a “decapitation strike”. The military will never again defend us with zeal. Neutering the military weakens the State, neutralises the natural leadership of the majority, erodes the natural balance and undermines the island’s organic order. If the narrative of the war, the war record, is falsified by “war crimes” trials, the Diaspora will flip the very outcome of the war through international law and subsequent external intervention. Special Courts, special laws and foreign experts are beyond grotesque mistakes. 2016 is the last chance for a strong, sovereign state. “War crimes” trials; a non-unitary, federalizing constitution; privatisation and foreignization of the levers and commanding heights of the national economy; de-linking from China and Russia and becoming a protectorate of the West and India with their hostile ethnic lobbies—this 2016 ‘total package’ spells the end of our history as a nation with the capability and strength to determine its own destiny. This is enemy action.