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Govt. rejects allegations, challenges HRW, AI, ICG to reveal 'war crime evidence' before LLRC

Govt. rejects allegations, challenges HRW, AI, ICG to reveal 'war crime evidence' before LLRC

2011 Jan 30

A section of the Tamil Diaspora is stepping up pressure on Sri Lanka over alleged war crimes during Eelam war IV, in spite of Sri Lanka’s post-war national reconciliation efforts. Government sources say the Diaspora efforts receive the support of a section of the international community and some INGOs, which depend on ‘Western’ funds for their survival.

Sources say the recent Human Rights Watch report, which attacked Sri Lanka, particularly the ongoing ‘LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) process’ is part of their overall strategy to pressure UNSG Ban ki-moon to initiate ‘war crimes’ probe targeting the Rajapaksa administration.

Responding to a query by The Sunday Island, sources said that the HRW had dismissed the LLRC process on the basis that only those represented interests of the State had been given an opportunity to testify before the commission headed by former Attorney General C. R de Silva. Sources said that The HRW had alleged that all other stakeholders weren’t given a chance to appear before the commission.

The HRW had conveniently forgotten that it along with the Amnesty International and the International Crisis Group (ICG) turned down an invitation from the LLRC to testify before the eight-member commission, which included three minority members, sources said. Sources pointed out the absurdity in the HRW’s allegation that the LRRC had been partial in choosing witnesses, after rejecting an invitation extended to it.  Sources said that it was not too late for them to come before the LLRC.

Sources said that HRW and its partner organizations could reveal whatever they had against the Sri Lankan political and military leaders before the LLRC and simultaneously release the information through the media.

A spokesman for the LLRC told The Sunday Island that the three-member UN expert panel inquiring into ‘war crime’ charges could present whatever evidence it had gathered over the past few months before the commission.

A senior official accused the HRW of deliberately trying to deceive the international community by claiming in its latest report that the majority of those who had sought refuge in government-held areas and accommodated in welfare camps were released after what it called ‘considerable international pressure.’

The official said that this was nothing but a blatant lie. He said: Those who once accused us of setting up Nazi-style concentration camps to hold Tamil civilians now say we released civilians due to international pressure." According to him less than 20,000 remained in welfare camps pending ongoing mine clearing operations, particularly in the Vanni east.

 Acknowledging some of those, who had testified before the LLRC could be considered as pro-government, sources said NGO/INGO representatives, politicians (opposition/non government), business community, doctors, one jurist, religious organizations, media, economists, relatives of LTTE leaders and several hundred northern and eastern people made submissions to the commission. Sources said that LLRC also met LTTE cadres and those held under emergency regulations and the Prevention of Terrorist Act. Over 5,000 Tamil speaking people from the northern and eastern districts made written submissions to the LLRC.

Total military/police officers as a percentage of total oral evidence given in Colombo is about 10.5%, while total military/police officers as a percentage of total oral evidence given in Colombo and North and East- 2.5%

 Other sources said that the Diaspora (LTTE rump) was trying to create an environment, in which the international community could intervene again in Sri Lanka.  A recent statement attributed to Norwegian Minister and former Sri Lankan peace envoy and facilitator Erik Solheim (The Island Jan. 27) revealed a fresh Norwegian move. Solheim said that Norway hoped to play the role of a "dialogue partner" between the Sri Lankan government and people living in exile.

 Government sources said that London protests directed at President Rajapaksa in December last year, move to exploit international intervention in Sudan and filing of a lawsuit in the United States against President Rajapaksa seeking $30 million in damages over alleged extrajudicial killings were aimed at stepping up pressure on Sri Lanka and create a situation, in which the government would need the services of a facilitator to reach an understanding with the LTTE rump.

 In spite of hiring some international PR firms based at US and UK at exorbitant payments, the government is struggling in the face of adverse media reports. Opposition said that both the External Affairs Ministry and costly international PR firms had failed in their jobs.  

Wire services quoted Bruce Fein, a Washington lawyer, as saying he filed the suit on behalf of three plaintiffs under a 1991 act that allows for action in the United States against foreign officials over torture and extrajudicial killings. The US action was the latest targeting Sri Lanka.

 Presidential spokesman Bandula Jayasekera told The Sunday Island that the government had no time for mercenaries funded by the LTTE, who want media attention.

Government sources said that one of the often repeated charges was the killing of 7,000 civilians in the final phase of the battle, though the UN or other so-called human rights groups never tried to ascertain the number of LTTE  dead among the 7,000. The HRW repeated the allegation in its latest report. Interestingly former Deputy Chief of US mission in Colombo James R. Moore (2006 to 2009), who had been critical of UN’s failure to ascertain the number of LTTE dead among the 7,000 perished on the Vanni east front, was in Colombo a few days ago.  

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Moore during his brief stay had the opportunity to take a look at the post-war situation.


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