Sri Lanka has one more year within which it could effectively countermand the mandate the Human Rights Council (HRC) has given to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to undertake a comprehensive international investigation on Sri Lanka pursuance to paragraph 10(b) of the HRC resolution adopted on 27 March 2014.
Paragraph 2 of the 27/3 resolution reiterates the HRC’S call on the Government of Sri Lanka, to conduct its own independent and credible investigation into the alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and to hold accountable those responsible for such violations. It is ridiculous for Sri Lanka to continue to tell the world of zero civilian casualties during the mandated period of the war. That premise is beyond common sense. Zero civilian casualties may be vital as a matter of public policy but as everyone knows it is not credible in reality! Sri Lanka must change course and very quickly, defeat the ominous international intrusions that are bound to follow. A credible internal investigation alone could best help Sri Lanka to dispel the myths and caricatured versions spread in world capitals of what occurred during the final stages of the war, while recognising the genuine extent of civilian casualties and the culpability of the LTTE and/or members of the armed forces in the commission of unjustified civilian casualties, if any. That alone can help clear the image of the entire armed force, the government and the country from being continually harangued for years to come.
It is ridiculous for Sri Lanka to continue to tell the world of zero civilian casualties during the mandated period of the war. Zero civilian casualties may be vital as a matter of public policy but as everyone knows it is not credible in reality!
It can also help prevent huge disasters still to befall on Sri Lanka. An internal credible investigation would extend to establishing the truth of the involvement of all those including foreign governments, their missions here and elsewhere, international corporates, syndicates, mafia’s, INGO’S, foundational fronts of international arms manufacturers and their operators etc. Sri Lanka needs to know who conspired, aided and abetted the widespread incidents of bank robberies, murders of civilians, killing of worshippers at worship, recruitment of child soldiers, expulsion of Muslims and Sinhalese from the North, including as to who trained and armed the terrorists and from where the arms came etc.
Every single person or group who or which conspired, aided or abetted against this country and its people in the commission of the offences alleged in paragraph 2 of the Geneva resolution must be made accountable for all such crimes. Sri Lanka should not hesitate to act under paragraph 11 of the resolution and obtain ‘advice and technical assistance’ of the OHCHR for a more credible investigation than what the movers of the resolution would want us to go into.
We should also seek funding from the OHCHR for a global investigation into who fathered and fostered terrorism in Sri Lanka. We should amend our laws to keep open a follow-up investigation after the declassification of confidential records of governments who may have conspired, aided and abetted terrorists to commit widespread and continual acts of terror. We must keep the HRC clearly informed of our action plans at the forthcoming 26th session of the HRC and ‘encourage’ the OHCHR to well and truly cooperate with Sri Lanka in its global search for truth and justice.
All these may sound preposterous for little Sri Lanka to take on. But, we need to know the truth in line with the aspirations of those who voted and abstained from voting at the HRC. Meanwhile post-war extremist groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena(BBS), Sinhala Ravaya(SR) and the Ravana Balakaya (RB) must stop aiding and abetting the 23 countries which voted against Sri Lanka through their race-hate rhetoric. They must know that their irresponsible actions have helped the prime movers against this country immeasurably. New accusations were added on to the resolution, thanks to the ridiculous campaigns against the minorities carried out by these dollar-funded groups. They need to realise at least now that the pleas of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) did not impact on India nor did the cries of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) result in at least one Muslim country voting against Sri Lanka! On the other hand five countries - Pakistan, Algeria, Maldives, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, out of the 12 which voted in support of Sri Lanka were Muslim majority countries. Furthermore, of those 12 countries which did not vote against Sri Lanka but abstained, 4 were Muslim majority countries namely Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and Kuwait. Some amongst these Muslim countries are close allies of the US with a few of them even hosting US bases in their countries.
Sri Lanka’s current strategy of rejecting the HRC resolution outright, in line with the Israeli strategy of the outright rejection of HRC resolution 5-9/1 relating to the Israeli military operations in Gaza between 27/12/2008 and 18/01/2009, is unlikely to help Sri Lanka as it did to Israel. There are major differences in the two cases, which cannot be discussed here exhaustively due to space constraints. The US is the foster father of Israel and will do everything in its power to protect Israel from falling into any difficulty, the least of which is Israel being hauled up before the HRC for human rights violations. On the other hand, the US detests the current regime in Sri Lanka, a country of strategic importance to the US or for that matter any world power and the US would take its present moves to their logical end of seeing President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse hauled up before the International Criminal Court (ICC). The US would take a break only after ensuring or even installing a US friendly regime in this country. Those who do not want to comprehend the reality could write this off as another conspiracy theory!
Both Israel and Sri Lanka are not signatories to the Rome Statute which created the ICC. Nevertheless, pursuant to HRC resolution 5-9/1, a four-member international panel of inquiry headed by Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa was appointed on 3 April 2009, “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed, at any time, in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after”.
The Goldstone panel’s investigations were completed in only six months and the report of the panel was tabled on 29 September 2009 at a plenary session of the HRC and was adopted by the HRC on 16 October 2009. The Goldstone report accused both sides - the Israeli defense forces and the Palestinian militants of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The panel recommended that each side openly investigate its own conduct and if they failed to do so, HRC should refer the case to the ICC.
The matter was however, never referred by HRC to the ICC, with Justice Goldstone, the Panel’s Chairman on 1 April 2011 publicly retracting from his position in the report that “Israeli government forces intentionally targeted civilians as a matter of policy”. It may be noted that Sri Lankan forces could also place the identical argument before a credible domestic inquiry, that it did not intentionally target civilian civilians as a matter of policy.