Amidst a war of narratives waged by LTTE proxies in the West, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is using Sri Lanka as a platform to further a more sinister geopolitical agenda. Sri Lanka is facing an ominous situation where false atrocity propaganda disseminated by the overseas proxies of the LTTE, which is an influential part of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in North America and Europe has converged with geopolitical interests of the United States and its allies.
It is not only Sri Lanka’s sovereignty which is under threat of arbitrary international interventions; the island nation is facing international tyranny which threatens the domestic reconciliation and peace-building process. It has become obvious that the call for intervention and attempts to take Sri Lanka before the International Criminal Court (ICC) based on inconclusive evidence is driven by Western geopolitical considerations which include the primary ambition of countering China’s presence in the Indian Ocean Region.
It is not only Sri Lanka’s sovereignty which is under threat of arbitrary international interventions; the island nation is facing international tyranny which threatens the domestic reconciliation and peace-building process
Even though the LTTE has been militarily defeated, its presence overseas in many Western states is very much active in promoting their separatist ideology through false atrocity propaganda in an effort to revive another insurgency in Sri Lanka’s north and east. The newly- elected administration of US President Joe Bidden is determined to exploit the false atrocity narratives against Sri Lanka in order to further their strategic objective to counter China’s influence in the Indian Ocean Region which has intensified over the years. Military dominance and control of the Indian Ocean Region has been a significant motivator for US, India and China that are locked in a rivalry which has serious regional and global security implications.
Canadian politics and Diaspora sentiments
Just few days after the commencement of the UNHRC sessions on Sri Lanka, Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton in Canada, joined the LTTE propaganda bandwagon by equating the final stages of Sri Lanka’s conflict to the Holocaust. The Brampton Mayor along with many likeminded Canadian politicians have often whitewashed the atrocities committed by the LTTE by considering the terror group as a freedom movement, which is an indication of a consorted effort to delist the LTTE as a proscribed terror organization in Canada.
Much like in Canada, Diaspora sentiments are intertwined with local politics in many countries, leading to the local Diaspora dynamics influencing a country’s foreign policy. Taking an unbiased stand which would hold the LTTE accountable for their atrocities can end the political careers of Canadian politicians such as Patrick Brown who is dependent on the Tamil Diaspora voter base that is financing and supporting his political campaigns. Therefore, it is required for Patrick Brown to dance to the tune of the LTTE proxies that influence a large community of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in order to politically survive in Canada.
Despite the LTTE being an internationally proscribed terrorist organization, the significant presence of ex-LTTE combatants in Canada was clearly highlighted by their former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Martin Collacott who quoted Toronto Police as saying that in early 2000, “there were already 8,000 highly-trained LTTE combatants in Toronto alone.” He further added that ships similar to MV Sun Sea were being used to smuggle what he described as ‘terrorists’ into Canada. MV Sun Sea gained much attention in 2010 when it was intercepted by Canadian authorities in the waters off Vancouver with 492 undocumented Sri Lankan Tamils onboard. By using vessels such as MV Sun Sea, many former LTTE terrorists managed to escape the fighting during the final stages of the war succeeded in finding sanctuary in North America and Europe.
Many of these ex-LTTE combatants residing overseas have not been brought before any court or tribunal to answer for their atrocities and crimes against humanity, which they committed in the name of establishing a mono-ethnic Tamil state.
By not holding ex-LTTE terrorists overseas and all actors to the conflict, both local and foreign accountable for their actions in Sri Lanka’s conflict, the UNHRC resolution against a democratically elected Sri Lankan government would be a one-sided affair which blatantly infringes upon the sovereignty of the country.
The sponsors, members and supporters of the current UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka should only cast the first stone if they are without sin. Clear double standards in the UNHRC system is visibly manifested as countries such as Eretria, Malawi, Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan and Venezuela that have committed heinous atrocities and grave human rights abuses are members of the same council that would eventually pass judgement on Sri Lanka’s military that was fighting a war to liberate an entire population that was held as hostages and human shields by LTTE terrorists during the final phase of the conflict.
The UK has displayed its hypocrisy in its quest to seek transitional justice and accountability in Sri Lanka as they harbour Adele Balasingham, wife of former LTTE chief political strategist, Anton Balasingham who is responsible for the forced recruitment of thousands of Tamil girls that were under the age of 18 years, who would later become suicide bombers. Despite clear evidence of Adele Balasingham’s involvement in grooming female child soldiers and suicide bombers for the LTTE, she remains protected in Britain.
The UK protecting its troops from war crimes charges despite an International Criminal Court ruling on the torture, rape and killings of hundreds of Iraqi detainees committed by British soldiers between 2003 and 2009 is another clear example of double standards of the UNHRC which has remained silent over such issues.
Defence Analyst, Nilanthan Niruthan said that the UK is attempting to enact laws which would protect its armed forces from international prosecution from war crimes and violations of international humanitarian laws. “This is like a rat accusing a squirrel of being a pest. The UK has been found responsible of systematic war crimes by the international criminal court prosecutors, but the court could not proceed because the UK refused to cooperate with any further investigations. Worse, the UK is now working on a law that will make its own soldiers immune to the very same international prosecution they are trying to push on Sri Lankan soldiers. The fact that they are leading the charge against Sri Lanka is evidence of how hypocritical and corrupt the system is. There is a difference between justice and politics. The UK sponsoring the resolution makes it undeniable that all this is much more about politics than anything related to justice. I hope Sri Lankans of all communities are paying attention to these double standards,” Niruthan said.
Hybrid warfare through false atrocity propaganda
Through the marketing and branding of atrocity propaganda which is often sensationalized or fabricated, we see a global call for action against what is perceived as war crimes and atrocities.
One such instance that led to intervention based on false atrocity propaganda was when Amnesty International (AI) promoted a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl named Nayirah to provide fabricated testimony before the United States Congressional Human Rights Caucus on how the Iraqi soldiers were stealing incubators and killing babies, which eventually led to a US military intervention resulting in the first Gulf War in 1990. This narrative which was finally proven to be false was often cited by the then US Government of President George H.W. Bush as a basis to intervene in Kuwait in order to conduct offensive military operations against Iraq.
Similarly, the US-led invasion in Iraq in 2003 was initiated based on a manufactured narrative of Saddam Hussain’s autocratic regime possessing Weapons of Mass Destruction. Russia too directed its own narratives of false atrocity propaganda prior to conducting their campaign in Crimea and Georgia. Such false atrocity propaganda campaigns are not uncommon in an ever-evolving global security landscape. The use of false narratives is part of a hybrid warfare strategy which uses a mix of political warfare strategies, conventional military and asymmetric tactics which also includes false propaganda, cyber-attacks, psychological operations and diplomatic lobbying to coerce sovereign states.
Sri Lanka’s post-war reconciliation process was not always smooth and unchallenging. However, a Eurocentric version of liberal peace will not help Sri Lanka to achieve its reconciliation and peace-building objectives. In order for sustainable peace to be achieved in Sri Lanka, many local factors are required to be addressed within an inclusive domestic framework. For centuries, international law and the practice of states had affirmed to the fundamental universal principle of mutual restraint among nations: courts of one country would not judge the sovereign acts of another. The UNHRC which is cherry-picking human rights issues across the globe is acting as a tool that promotes a Western hegemonic agenda in order to interfere in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state.
Sri Lanka’s situation is a warning sign to smaller states that could face the threat of international intervention which appears in the guise of protection and promotion of human rights, which is enforced by super power nations that act as judge, jury and executioner. It has now become clear that the UNHRC which has failed to uphold its mandate in protecting human rights across the globe has become the latest battle ground for competing visions of global order. The council’s resolution against Sri Lanka will set a precedent for super powers to exploit fabricated atrocity propaganda and false genocide narratives disseminated by remnants of vanquished terror groups as a justification for international intervention at the cost of peace and sovereignty of militarily and economically lesser powerful nations.