Co-sponsorship vs. consensual – Geneva Resolution
By Ajantha Premarathna
Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage revealed that the Government was having discussions with the Core Group for Sri Lanka in a bid to explore the possibility of reaching a consensus on what he described as a “consensual resolution” ahead of the 46th Session of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) scheduled for February and March this year.
It seems that the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is getting ready to submit another proposal to counter the Yahapalana proposal made by the pro-federal Government led by Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mangala Samaraweera in 2015.
The terms “co-sponsored” seems comfortably replaced with “consensual” by the GoSL. However, it is learnt that the replacement does not make any difference to Sri Lankans, as long as the objective stands as it was before – creating a federal state in Sri Lanka. The federalism would be the steppingstone to the so-called Tamil Eelam – a monolithic exclusive Tamil country in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka for little over 800,000 Tamils, while 70 million Tamils are living in Tamil Nadu. The state of Tamil Nadu in southern India is considered as the homeland for Tamils, which is the ideal location to establish so-called Tamil Eelam.
It would be another diplomatic approach by the new Government after they have withdrawn from the previous one-sided UNHRC Resolution 30/1 co-sponsored by the Yahapalana Government at the expense of national security. The Government withdrew from the 30/1 UNHRC Resolution in September 2020 to bring a domestically developed mechanism to seek answers for the so-called ethnic issue, power sharing, and reconciliation in a more consensual manner. The 30/1 Resolution sponsored by the Yahapalana Government was formulated based on a one-sided, punitive mechanism against Sri Lanka, while the party that initiated the violence and terrorism, the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), was to be considered the victim as opposed to the accused. Nine out of eleven allegations made in the OISL (OHCHR [Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights] Investigation on Sri Lanka) report were directed against Sri Lanka while just three were for the LTTE.
The LTTE grossly violated the human rights of all ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. The Sinhalese have been the most affected ethnic group at the hands of LTTE Tamil terrorists. The LTTE carried out over 500 suicide and terrorist attacks, specifically targeting the Sinhalese in various parts of the island. Tamil terrorists attacked strategic locations close to the hearts and minds of the majority; the attack on Pettah Central Bus Station, Maradana and Dehiwala railway stations, the Central Bank, Petroleum Corporation, and Colombo International Airport are just a few. Further attacks on the Sri Dalada Maligawa and Sri Maha Bodhiya, the Aranthalawa Bikkhu massacre, the Kaththankudy mosque, and taking hostage of the Madhu Church are to be counted beyond the war crimes committed by the Tamil terrorists and its proxy diaspora organisations that funded such crimes.
However, there are no records or proof for similar organised institutional attacks on civilians by the Sri Lankan security forces. There may be a few isolated incidents, but these have been committed by individuals on their own volition, without the involvement of any chain of command. Almost all of these latter cases have already been brought to book or been handled appropriately.
In that sense, while most Tamils suffered at the hand of the LTTE during the conflict in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, the LTTE also inflicted violence and terror on other parts of the island. So, the people in other parts of the island too need reconciliation, as they are affected.
Taking over 300,000 Tamil civilians as human shields during the latter part of the war is a gross violation of human rights by the Tamil terrorists. However, human rights champions, various member countries in the core groups, the Tamil Diaspora, and Tamil politicians never raised any concerns against the LTTE or even demanded the release of the innocent Tamils. In particular, the Tamil Diaspora living in the West and North America capitalised on the human shield of Prabhakaran for their luxurious existence in those countries.
The UNHRC has conveniently overlooked such crimes and genocides committed by Tamil terrorists and by its official representative of TNA (Tamil National Alliance) parliamentarians for the sake of regional geopolitics. It is a fact that Sri Lankan security forces did not commit any war crimes or genocides. On the contrary, Sri Lankan security forces carried out a humanitarian mission to liberate the Tamil civilians from LTTE clutches.
In view of the above, when the Government begins to compile a new set of proposals in the form of a resolution, it should take into consideration that no compromises on the sovereignty of the country should be made. It should keep national security as the highest priority and maintain the unitary status of the state; no devolution of power of land, police, or finances. The implementation of 13A (13th Amendment to the Constitution), demand for a new constitution, and amending the structure of the security forces like internal affairs should not be a matter for the UNHRC to consider in the consensual resolution by the Government. Furthermore, it should not leave any room for separatism and the glorification of terrorism in Sri Lanka.
The Resolution 30/1 brought by the UNHRC failed and was not workable throughout the four years of the Yahapalana tenure. The Resolution 30/1 had been compiled by Westerners who were brainwashed and manipulated by pro-LTTE Tamil terrorists’ Diaspora living in the western world, who were given only one side of the true picture. It was not framed for reconciliation among the majority community and minority, but to take a punitive stance towards the whole nation of Sri Lanka. It was not intended or designed to address the human aspects of the conflicts but was playing into the hands of geopolitics by poor Tamil politicians and its Diaspora. Throughout the whole four years of the Yahapalana term, it was not able to reach any of the objectives set by the UNHRC in a tangible manner due to it being impracticable in the Sri Lankan local context. Therefore, the resolution brought under the pretext of “consensual” shall be acceptable to all communities in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is being accused of a crime that was never committed by our soldiers. However, the Tamil Diaspora is manipulating in order to gain their separatist agenda using the western interest of regional geopolitics over Sri Lanka. In other words, Tamils are victims of the geopolitics game of the West; while the real, poor Tamil civilians in the North and East of Sri Lanka are suffering due to TNA politics and due to Diaspora infighting for their existence in the West.
So, the Government should not be trapped in these geographically motivated, so-called war crimes allegations. The Government should conduct a credible investigation process based on a locally formulated mechanism and with a local, eminent panel of judges for the alleged war crimes. International bodies like the UNHRC, ICC (International Criminal Court), etc. and NGOs (nongovernmental organisations) that are credible, are to be allowed to participate as observers during the investigation process with a proper regulatory mechanism in order to avoid influencing or interfering in the investigation mechanisms. This way, Sri Lanka would be able to clear her name from these so-called war crimes and genocide allegations once for all, and would be able to keep her future generations from being harassed by the so-called international community.
What ordinary Tamil people need is to be the priority of the consensual resolution, not the tools of geopolitical play by Tamil politicians and their Western masters.
(The writer is a civil society activist involved with the Global Justice Forum)