( January 7, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Having massacred more than at least 40,000 innocent Tamils in the Vanni in the war against the Tamil militants as the only strategy to win it, the centre of gravity in the programme in sacrificing innocent Tamils in their continuing racist war against the Tamils has now shifted from the Vanni to Jaffna with the Jaffna university students made to unwittingly walk into their trap.
When President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed commissions of inquiry into abuses of human rights and crimes against humanity, we warned readers to be wary about these for they were intended to be pre-emptive strikes against international reaction to crimes against humanity meant to eventually fizzle out. There was a commission to inquire into the execution style murders of 17 Tamil speaking aid workers by the state security forces. To date no one has been found accountable. The same inquiry also purported to inquire and bring to justice the assassins of the 5 Tamil university student suspected to have been of the LTTE shot down by the military on the Trincomalee beach in the east. Despite compelling evidence of participation by state security forces in the killings, government inquiries did not progress and no one has been charged with the crime.
To give it credibility Rajapaksa also appointed an International Independent Group of Eminent Persons, (IIGEP) a group of individuals nominated by international donor countries to observe all investigations. In April 2008 the IIGEP headed by a former Indian chief justice, resigned in disgust chiefly upon the conduct of the then attorney general whose office fell within the ambit of the secretary to the ministry of defence, the president Rajapaksa’s brother Gothabaya. They alleged that that some of the public statements of CR de Silva the then AG contained baseless allegations that the IIGEP were working according to a secret agenda in order to force UN Human Rights Monitoring on to Sri Lanka in defiance of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. It was quite evident to even other independent observers that the attorney general was intent from the very outset to sabotage the smooth working of the Commission in order to please his master Mahinda Rajapaksa.
It was not surprising therefore that the same CR de Silva, a patriot of sorts, was appointed to chair the LLRC. As to how much he had metamorphosed, we do not know. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, we will say no more.
Before the LLRC report was released the report of the “Panel of Experts on accountability in Sri Lanka” to advise Ban ki Moon on accountability during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka, headed by Darusman on 22 June 2010. The evidence obtained by this panel revealed “a very different version of the final stages of the war than that maintained to this day by the Government of Sri Lanka”. The panel found “credible allegations, which if proven, indicated that a wide range of serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law were committed both by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity”. The panel concluded that the “conduct of the war represented a grave assault on the entire regime of international law designed to protect individual dignity during both war and peace”. They found that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission established by the Sri Lankan government to be “deeply flawed” and not up to international standards of independence and impartiality due the “deep-seated conflicts of interests” of some of its members. The mandate of the LLRC, its work and methodology meant that it was incapable of investigating the serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law or of examining the causes of the civil war.
In the light of the above, the increasing unpopularity of the government over the cost of living, the opulence of the Rajapaksa dynasty, the assaults on the judiciary should be seen in the light of their desperate need to deflect the attention of the masses to the Tamil question and the canard of the threat of another militant uprising organised by the Tamil youth given credence by some idiotic opportunistic elements in the Tamil Nadu who even talk of the LTTE leader Pirapaharan being alive courting arrests providing the pretext to link it to the quite legitimate actions of the Tamil University students in Jaffna. We are informed that under torture, confessions have been obtained from some Jaffna students.
Seizing the opportunity, Gothabaya also using Minister Weerawansa, Mervyn Silva and the like to make out that even the chief justice who is guilty, is being shielded by a Tamil conspiracy. The recent utterances of Gothabaya Rajapaksa are reminiscent of the unprovoked anti Semetic ranting of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s working up the German nationalists towards genocide and at home in Sri Lanka the more recent anti Tamil tirades of a former minister Cyril Mathew within the parliament and without leading to the State aided anti Tamil Pogroms of 1979, 1981 and 1983. The current racist anti Tamil campaign by Gotabhaya who is under a cloud of being considered a war criminal comes especially during a climate when the rabid Buddhist monks, the chauvinists, the criminal elements in the Sinhala polity and the military which he controls are all poised towards attacking anything that is considered anti nationalistic. There is no doubt that more intense racist repression of the minorities will ensue.
Further, the Basil Fernando of the Asian Human Rights Commission in his message issued on 05 January 2013, anticipating the removal of the chief justice consequent to the address of president Rajapaksa on 8 January 2013 in parliament, to remove the incumbent Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, based on a report by a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) has stated,
“……The state media will be used to attack the removed Chief Justice, the legal fraternity and all those who oppose these moves by the government…….As the judicial role is displaced, the most dominant institution of Sri Lanka will be the Ministry of Defense. The paramilitary forces, such as the Special Task Force (STF) and the intelligence services – which, in the recent times, have acquired enormous experience in repression and enjoy immunity – will play the major role in social control. As the rule of law is relegated into an unimportant position, the activities of the Ministry of Defense will not be deterred by legal rules……”.
We have absolutely no reason to disagree with Basil Fernando.
( The writer, Editor of the Eelam nation, an online journal)