Colombo, Districts, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War, Reconciliation, War Crimes

Jayantha Dhanapala responds to erroneous and selective media reports of his submission to LLRC

Internal Armed Conflicts, Humanitarian Laws and the Curious Transformation of Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala by Kalana Senaratne on Groundviews flagged a number of pertinent questioning arising from the media reportage of Jayantha Dhanapala’s submission to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recently.

On our Facebook page as well as through numerous emails sent to the Editors, many present at this session of the LLRC said that media reports, including those on the Ministry of Defence website of Jayantha Dhanapala’s submission were extremely biased and inaccurate. We publish below a response to these reports by Jayantha Dhanapala as well as his written submission to the LLRC.

Download this letter as a PDF here.


    1. My experience as a career diplomat in the Sri Lanka Foreign Service from 1965-97, and in particular my period as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva from 1984-87 and Ambassador to the USA from 1995-97, are relevant to the challenges of representing a country in conflict and defending it against allegations of human rights violations. In addition my service as an international civil servant with the United Nations for ten years provided me with a multilateral perspective which will enable me to help the Commission understand the workings of an international organization in its relations with a member state. Finally my tenure as Secretary-General of the Secretariat for the Co-ordination of the Peace Process (SCOPP) from 2004-2005 and as Senior Adviser to the President of Sri Lanka from 2004-2007 exposed me to an experience relevant to your mandate.
    2. The details of my curriculum vitae and my writings and statements are available on my website
    3. At the outset may I state that I welcome the appointment of your Commission despite its belatedness. It is an opportunity to learn from the tragedy of the recent past and to establish a basis for national reconciliation and unity. The leadership of H.E. President Rajapakse and the bravery of our armed forces resulted in an outstanding military victory over a ruthless terrorist group which ravaged our nation for decades. The time has now come for a multi-dimensional political solution to consolidate that military victory addressing the roots of the conflict. I must warn, however, against a strategy of postponing Constitutional change and a political solution to the problems that culminated in three decades of conflict until the Commission concludes its work and makes its recommendations. That would only exacerbate existing grievances and widen the gulf between the Government and the public at large especially those belonging to the minority communities. It will also affect the credibility of your Commission adversely. A series of  APRC meetings have taken place and a draft report awaits action by the President and its presentation to the general public for discussion and a decision after a wide consultative process.
    4. Your mandate artificially sets a time frame from 21 February 2002 to 19 May 2009. That and its restricted mandate is also a limitation in your good faith efforts to discharge your task. The lessons we have to learn go back to the past – certainly from the time that we had responsibility for our own governance on 4 February 1948. Each and every Government which held office from 1948 till the present bear culpability for the failure to achieve good governance, national unity and a framework of peace, stability and economic development in which all ethnic, religious and other groups could live in security and equality. The political expediency of apportioning blame will not serve the purpose of national reconciliation. A collective apology to the people of Sri Lanka is owed by all political parties.
    5. The supreme law of the land is its Constitution and we have still not been able to frame a Constitution that elicits the confidence and trust of all our citizens. It is not possible within this brief note to outline the form of devolution that I think is vital to prevent future conflict in our land. Suffice to say that constitutional reform is vital and I trust that the excellent talent we have among our constitutional lawyers will be harnessed in this vital task.
    6. Education is a primary tool in creating a tolerant society. The experts we have in this field will advise more competently than I can about the techniques of teaching the three languages in use in our country from the earliest age. This must be more than a token gesture and the need for competencies in all three languages up to the GCE ‘O’ level will be necessary to weld our nation into the harmonious multilingual society we need to be. The cost of recruiting teachers and producing the books for this is a small investment for a huge gain. The example of other countries can be studied most especially in Canada. As far as possible classes in comparative religion could be introduced at senior levels in secondary schools so that a basic understanding of the 4 religions practised in our country is imparted as a pre-requisite for tolerance and religious harmony.
    7. Addressing my own experience more directly I recommend that the career diplomats in the Sri Lanka Foreign Service be trained in the representation of a multi-cultural country. All diplomatic and consular missions of Sri Lanka abroad should have officials conversant in Sinhala and Tamil to communicate with the growing expatriate Sri Lankan communities. The symbols and photographs displayed in these missions should focus on the rich diversity of our culture with representatives of all religions participating in the official ceremonies conducted by them. A special outreach effort to engage all groups within the expatriate Sri Lankan community must be organized by the Ministry of External Affairs and implemented by our missions abroad.
    8. Sri Lanka is a signatory of all the major international human rights conventions and reports periodically on its adherence to these norms. It would be useful if national reports are not only co-ordinated with relevant Government agencies but also with leading NGOs as well. NGO representatives could be included in the Sri Lanka delegations to Human Rights meetings. More prominence must be given in the media to these reports and the proceedings in the international forums considering them. This transparency about the country’s performance in relation to international norms is necessary both for our own citizens and for the information of the international community
    9. The armed forces of Sri Lanka are already being trained in international humanitarian law and human rights. This must be intensified and the Police and the provincial administrators brought into this training process. All police stations and government offices must have facilities to deal with citizens who speak only in Sinhala or Tamil recording statements in the language of the citizen’s choice.
    10. International Humanitarian Law is work in progress. Currently there are four treaties and three additional protocols which, over approximately one and a half centuries, have set the norms. The modern experience of counter-terrorism needs to be reflected in the codification of this law and Sri Lanka is uniquely equipped to take an initiative in this respect. Armed combat with terrorist groups using suicide bombers, child soldiers and human shields make the protection of civilians and war victims very difficult for the armed forces. While in no way reducing the humanitarian aspects of the existing law some discussion could take place in the international community on how the rules of engagement between the armed forces of the state and the terrorist groups could be amended on the basis of the experience gained in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. For example, the May 2009 heroic breaching of the earth bund, behind which an estimated 300.000 civilians lay trapped by the LTTE as human shields, led to the saving of many lives and the conclusion of the conflict but the alternative scenarios and its humanitarian law consequences for Sri Lanka must also be considered. With regard to anti-personnel landmines, while the Mine Ban Convention applies to nation states the Geneva Call is a neutral and impartial humanitarian organization dedicated to engaging armed non-State actors (NSAs) towards compliance with the norms of international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights law (IHRL). The organization focuses on NSAs that operate outside effective State control. The LTTE rejected overtures by the international community to join this Call. The point I make is that existing norms have to be adapted to new situations that arise. Sri Lanka will need to consult through diplomatic channels and especially with the ICRC to convene a diplomatic conference to formulate a new Additional Protocol on new situations arising on the battlefield when encountering terrorist groups. This would be innovative diplomacy and far more constructive than the vitriolic outburst and melodramatic demonstrations we have engaged in against countries and organizations critical of our human rights record.
    11. The post-conflict situation is an excellent opportunity to de-weaponise our society. In the years of terrorism both in the South and the North we developed a gun culture. The country was flooded with small arms and weapons. Nobody felt secure without a gun. But even after the LTTE were defeated we have seen no replacement of the culture of violence with a culture of peace. There is violence at the level of the village and there is violence in cities. Guns contribute to this. We have a national campaign against the consumption of liquor led by the President called “Mathata Thitha”. Should we not also have a programme which we can call “Aviyata Thitha”? I appeal to you  to place this at the top of your priorities.  The free availability of Small arms and light weapons feeds conflict and crime. They are cheap and can be carried even by children. About 60% of human rights violations in the world have involved the use of these weapons. In Sri Lanka we need stricter laws for gun control. The existing Firearms Ordinance goes back to 1916 during the British colonial era and although penalties for offences under it have been increased the entire law relating to gun control needs revision and modernization. We do not even have reliable estimates of how many guns we have licensed and unlicensed. Some NGO surveys say there are 1.9 million in circulation.  According to news reports guns owned by the LTTE are frequently being discovered. Are we sure they go into the custody of the Government? There are guns which deserters from our armed forces have carried away from the battlefield which may have gone into the underworld. There are trap guns illegally used by farmers which are misused for criminal activities. Guns should as far as possible be owned by the security forces only and private ownership must be licensed and for justifiable reasons. In a post conflict period while ensuring that we are vigilant to prevent terrorism we must also roll back the process of militarization that has taken place in our society.
    12. When I was in charge of the Disarmament programme in the United Nations in addition to urging strong action against nuclear weapons I led a campaign against small arms which was directly affecting the peace and development of developing countries. There are an estimated 875 million small arms in the world 75% in the hands of civil society. They cause the deaths of about 500,000 persons every year. The UN held a conference in 2001 and adopted a Programme of Action to prevent the illicit trade in small arms. That programme is being implemented and every two years international conferences are held to review its implementation. A Preparatory Committee met in July this year to draw up an Arms Trade Treaty which will regulate the trade in conventional weapons in the world. We can use the many experiences in other countries to mop up surplus guns in Sri Lanka. Some of them have had bonfires of surplus guns. I would like to see the destruction of surplus guns in our country. That will symbolize more effectively the end of a gun culture and the defeat of terrorism. There are international resources available for curbing the proliferation of guns which we can use.
    13. Racial and religious prejudices exist close to the surface in our society and can erupt in moments of tension. We need a law banning hate speech and hate incitement so that whether by the majority or the minorities all forms of hatred based on ethnicity, religion and caste are declared illegal. A Race and Religious Relations Act patterned on what other multicultural democracies have could be introduced under the Ministry of Nation Building.

    A return to basic ethical principles and values is urgently needed  in our  country today when advocates of exclusivism, prejudice, hate and violence stand in the way of rebuilding a peaceful and prosperous nation.

    Let us remember the words of Buddha, as recorded in the Dhammapada:

    “The others know not that in this quarrel we perish. Those of them who realize it, have their quarrels calmed thereby.”

    It is time we calmed the quarrels among ourselves.

    • Iromi

      I’m glad to see the Dhanapala’s submission published online. It was after finally going for the hearings that I realized that what we’re reading in the papers about the hearings is rubbish. The article on Daily Mirror about Dhanapala’s submission was useless and I remember telling others about how the important sections were just not even reported on, and if I hadn’t been there I would have thought Dhanapala’s submission was quite random and uninformative, when it was just the opposite.

      I think the problem is also that a lot of the media people who were there to cover it were young and not qualified enough to grasp what was being said and they write only what they understood – the DM article being the perfect example. The article in the Island on Dhanapala’s submission, was far better although not comprehensive.

    • eerekaa

      Well, we have a little bit of the history of the last three decades from a person who was
      i.a career diplomat in the Sri Lanka Foreign Service from 1965-97, and in particular my period as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva from 1984-87 and Ambassador to the USA from 1995-97, civil servant with the United Nations for ten years
      iii. Secretary-General of the Secretariat for the Co-ordination of the Peace Process (SCOPP) from 2004-2005 and as Senior Adviser to the President of Sri Lanka from 2004-2007.

    • mango

      3. …ruthless terrorist group which ravaged our nation for decades ….. three decades of conflict….
      4. ….Each and every Government which held office from 1948 till the present bear culpability for the failure to achieve good governance, national unity and a framework of peace, stability and economic development in which all ethnic, religious and other groups could live in security and equality. …..

      ..mmmhhhh…. some inconsistency ….. :
      three decades of conflict and 62 + years of failure to achieve good governance
      ….difficult to decipher even for a diplomat of decades.

      When our politicians and diplomats

    • Davidson Panabokke

      (militarily crushesd satyagrahis, state-aided pogrom if asked for devolution of power, abrogated reconciliation pacts, …), suicide bombers, child soldiers and human shields
      politicised religion, state terrorism(oppressive policies, PTA, ER, politicised judiciary and armed forces), immense budget, foreign countries with similar attitudes and modern technology

    • VG

      10. ”The post-conflict situation is an excellent opportunity …”

      ”post-conflict” ?

      When Sri Lankans stop using the phrase they will frantically start thinking about ways of finding justice for all and peace in the island.

    • Comment sent by Kalana Senaratne, author of Internal Armed Conflicts, Humanitarian Laws and the Curious Transformation of Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala:

      Thanks Groundviews, for publishing Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala’s letter (dated 30 August, 2010). As I pointed out in my article (see final paragraph), I hoped he was misquoted and ‘misquoted badly’.

      Point 10 of Dr. Dhanapala’s ‘Submission’ (on the topic of IHL) does not seem to suggest that he had seriously advocated the non-application of IHL or IL in general as regards internal armed conflicts. If so, this seems to be a classic case of irresponsible journalism on the part of the relevant newspapers and media institutions – which needs to be widely condemned.

      However, one still awaits the release of the ‘authoritative transcript’ of Dr. Dhanapala’s presentation AND the Q & A session. One hopes Dr. Dhanapala makes it available to the general public – so that one could be able to clearly assess, a) the seriousness of the ‘alleged’ statement made by him, or b) the seriousness of the irresponsibility of journalism in Sri Lanka.

      In case it is (b) above, I hope Dr. Dhanapala would accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused. Yet, I maintain the fundamental thesis of my argument – that IHL and IL in general should apply in the case of internal armed conflicts.

      In conclusion, I hope that Dr. Dhanapala or others would make sure that they take immediate measures to publish transcripts of statements made around journalists and media personnel, in the future. If that had happened, it would have saved a lot of my time as well!

      Thank you.

    • VG

      10. ”The post-conflict situation is an excellent opportunity …”

      Dhanapala, we don’t have a post-conflict situation. we have a post-war situation:
      Celebrating war victory and banning commemoration of dead civilians: this is “home grown & indigenous” reconciliation and freedom in Sri Lanka? 18 June:
      ‘’… A Catholic priest in Jaffna told me that he had got several threatening calls asking him to cancel a religious event he had organized in Jaffna to commemorate civilians killed in the war. … In Vanni, an army officer had told a villager that he will shoot a parish priest and drag him behind his jeep, because he (the priest) was organizing prayer services for those killed in the war. Another priest was prevented from celebrating a holy mass to pray for those killed in the war on 19th May in the Vanni.”

    • Namel Weeramuni

      Great submissions Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala. As some one said it is unfortunate that we have young and untrained journalists to report on matters of importance. It is paramount that Dr. Dhanapala must release his submissions for more clarity and public knowledge the entire document in verbatim to the press asking it to be published without any editing.

      Congratulations for such substantial, meaningful and valid submissions. I really endorse the idea of embarking on “Aviyata Thitha” that been submitted with a great wealth of knowldge behind him. In addition to this I would also add that the President mandatorily embarks on a “Genuine Cultural Revolution” valuing our traditional values and attitudes through serious forms of arts. The word “genuine”, I underline.

    • justitia

      Dr.Dhanapala should explain why sri lanka has upto now NOT formulated laws to incorporate/implement the Four Treaties and Three Additional Protocols which constitute International Humanitarian Law.
      Unless this is done, these laws can well be ignored by the judiciary.
      The premise that ‘provisions of these laws are already incorporated in the statue book’ is an attempt to sideline the issue.
      He has been director of SCOPP, ambassador of sri lanka to the UN and elsewhere, Under Secretary General for Disarmament in the UN and therefore has an obligation to do so.
      I await his explanation.

    • Shamindra Ferdinando

      The Island stand by its front-page news items regarding Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala’s statement and response to LLRC. Shamindra Ferdinando

    • Grim Hope

      What a disaster! People get what they deserve! Suitable Media and Suitable Politicians.

      Let’s wait for Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala to publish his transcript!

    • ModVoice

      “For example, the May 2009 heroic breaching of the earth bund, behind which an estimated 300.000 civilians lay trapped by the LTTE as human shields, led to the saving of many lives and the conclusion of the conflict”

      Interesting, tempts me to ask few questions to Dr.Dhanapala:

      1. why did the government forces deliberately attack an area that was defined as safe zone?

      2. why were the UN, international humanitarian organizations, and journalists were not allowed to observe and report on this great hostage rescue mission undertaken by the brave SLA (which is coincidentally made of 99% Sinhalese) against a ruthless terrorist organization (which is coincidentally 100% Tamil) that was in the way of peace and harmony of Sinhalese and Tamils, unless they had something to hide?

      3. and finally, did they ask those ever thankful souls, who were living in barbed wire camps and now re-settled to tin-huts elsewhere (thank god for lack of UN funds) under the full protection of the army , whether or nor they wished to be rescued from the ruthless terrorists?

      4. If so that Tamil civilians were grateful for the rescue, why then did the army resort to deliberate attacks of the safe zone?

      If we could believe that LLRC will prosecute the war criminals, then Buddha may as well come back alive.

    • ModVoice

      “International Humanitarian Law is work in progress. Currently there are four treaties and three additional protocols which, over approximately one and a half centuries, have set the norms.”

      Another interesting point. Most of the international conventions were not made with internal armed conflict in mind, but that of between two nations. New laws need to be formed with oppressive states in mind that are ready to use “war on terrorism” or PTA/emergency regulations to crack down on political opposition or violently put down rebellions. The new laws need to reflect current issues such as faced by those in Rwanda, Sri Lanka, and many other oppressive states where internal conflicts brew – to prevent war crimes such as genocide.

    • VG

      Please give a definition of ”terrorism”.

    • VG

      Interstate conflicts have been replaced by intrastate conflicts as ”independence” from European colonisers have been ”gained” in the second half of 20C:

      Fourth World Colonialism, Indigenous Minorities And Tamil Separatism In Sri Lanka, Bryan Pfaffenberger (Virginia University), Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, Vol. 16, 1984:
      ”Despite the withdrawal of colonial power from Third World countries, forms of oppression that might well be termed “colonial” still persist in many of them — the oppression wrought by nationalist Third World governments whose regimes fail to respect the rights of indigenous minorities. For ethnic and regional minorities in many Third World countries, the arrogance and injustice of these governments matches — and often exceeds — those of the departed European colonial regime. The island nation Sri Lanka presents a case in point. ”.

    • boubtful

      [sarcasm] Yes Mr Dhanapala, please take note to do whatever you can in future; never to waste Mr Senarathne’s time [/sarcasm]

      @Kalana, a keen intellect like yours can serve us well if it were not so arrogant.

    • Davidson Panabokke

      ”I have been surprised and disappointed … erroneous and selective writing”

      “For example, the May 2009 heroic breaching of the earth bund, behind which an estimated 300.000 civilians lay trapped by the LTTE as human shields, led to the saving of many lives and the conclusion of the conflict”

      Dhanapala, if you go back to January 2008, that is when the aerial bombing and intense shelling of Northeast corner of the Vanni gradually and meticulously and most barbarically shoved the population to the Northeast corner of the Vanni in 12/13 months. With selected journalists with the army.

      Selective writing??

      Oh, NO. This is continuation of the drama of 62+ years.

      The world hasn’t evolved yet to give the oppressed a platform on international bodies. The UN and the Commonwealth will remain an arena of collusion of human rights violators till man flees the planet, Buddhist statues under every tree or not.

    • Davidson Panabokke

      Ooops, sorry, my previous post should have been:

      ”…when the aerial bombing and intense shelling of Southwest corner ….”

      and NOT

      ”…when the aerial bombing and intense shelling of Northeast corner ….”

    • mango

      The deadly combination of i.History of a few millennia up to the Bushwagon of ”terrrorism”and ii.Geography pushed the Tamils in Sri Lanka to Mullivaikal and Menik Farm. It isn’t going to stop there. While the returnees are prevented from getting the help of NGOs, roads are laid down from Vavuniya to the islets and huts and houses erased, fishermen restricted from fishing and 3-5-star hotles planned, tourism journalists given visits and tourist advertisements are going globally.

      Even Mandaithvu is out of bounds for Tamils?

    • niranjan


      To this Government international norms and conventions mean very litle. This Government is national rather than international. As long as this regime is in power it will continue to ignore most if not all international conventions, protocols etc.

    • mango

      6. ”Education is a primary tool in creating a tolerant society. ”

      Dhanapala , you’ve spoken of language and religion in education. But distorted history in our textbooks has been venomously supplementing the ethnic outbidding of Sinhalese politicians:

      Respect for Diversity in Educational Publication – The Sri Lankan Experience, Ariya Wickrema and Peter Colenso, 2003:

      ‘’It is necessary to trace briefly the historical links between the development of the education system and the development of an ethnic -based politics, leading to armed conflict. …. ”

      The Two Faces of Education in Ethnic Conflict: Towards a Peacebuilding Education for Children – Kenneth D Bush and Diana Saltarelli(2000) – published by Innocenti Research Centre, UNICEF:

      ”…. A review of the textbooks used in the segregated schools of Sri Lanka in the 1970s and 1980s, for example, found Sinhalese textbooks scattered with images of Tamils as the historical enemies of the Sinhalese, …”

      The Changing face of Wesak in Colombo and Militarizing Sri Lanka, 15 May 2009

    • Kalana Senaratne

      @ boubtful

      Thanks for that comment. It was never a case of arrogance, ‘boubtful’…have no doubt about that. The point was simply this – if Dr. Dhanapala had not stated what he was reported to have said (i.e. that IHL did not apply to the SL conflict), I wouldn’t have written the piece – because Dr. Dhanapala’s submission is a good and important one. Also, more importantly, I wouldn’t have questioned his integrity – as I did in my article.He could have very easily posted the draft of his submission on his personal website (as some others who have personal websites/blogs did, eg. Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha). It still baffles me as to why he didn’t do this. And what use of personal websites/blogs, if one cannot publish one’s important statements etc.? That was the simple point I was trying to raise. Also note – if I had been arrogant, I wouldn’t have apologized in advance (as I did in my comment above). Thanks.

    • justitia

      What is the opinion of Dr.Dhanapala about State Terrorism practised by powerful nations. Has he ever condemned these happenings when he was in the UN?

    • Pillai

      In Sri Lanka there are the ongoing atrocities and land grabbing in the Tamil areas.

      A large Tamil population is still behind bars, 15 months after the end of the Tamil war.

      There has been not a single word about political rights to the minorities.

      Sri Lankan regime continue to shamelessly play the “terrorist” card on the innocent Tamil refugees.

      I feel like living in Hitlers era when the atrocities on Jews were all justified and considered “just” by most part of the world due to Hitlers preachings about how Jews deserved the ill treatment.

      The West is watching silently the brutal murders of theTamil civilianswhile Sri Lanka Mass Murderers are playing the ”war on terror” card and hoodwink the whole world.

    • Kanagarathnam


      Yes, Rajapaksa cleverly plaid the ”war on terror” card !! 🙂

      Sri Lanka with its adaptation (or rather manipulation I should say) of George W Bush’s famous “war of terror” strategy has created, what I would like to call the perfect “Genocide for Dummies” handbook – that is being seriously considered by several oppressive genocide seeking regimes worldwide

    • Thiruvananthapuram

      Unfortunately ,Sri Lanka is heading towards Dictatorship.

      Mahinda Rajapaske lacks the vision to solve the ethnic problems in Sri Lanka.

      True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.

    • samuel

      I personally think this commission is rubbish and will not have any impact on the existing nature of treating Tamil speaking community. I could see normal Sinhala and/or Tamil civilians are not keen to engage with the commission as there could be lots of repercussions to follow. I did see some racist elements have been invited to ‘confess’ what they learned over the period of time. I think the word ‘Peace’ looks like back in Sri Lanka but the issues faced by innocent Tamils are not solved as yet. LTTE and GOSL and their supporters have put lives of both Tamil and Sinhala civilians into deep trouble.

    • Heshan

      It is not possible within this brief note to outline the form of devolution that I think is vital to prevent future conflict in our land. Suffice to say that constitutional reform is vital…

      Why doesn’t Dhanapala state the obvious: that devolution is actually a misnomer, because there will be no devolution (of any kind). In fact, the “constitutional reform” that Dhanapala speaks of is being carried out for exactly the opposite purpose – to strengthen the hand of the Centre.

      Education is a primary tool in creating a tolerant society. The experts we have in this field will advise more competently than I can about the techniques of teaching the three languages in use in our country from the earliest age.

      Instead of teaching three different languages, the focus should be on science and mathematics education, so that a class of competent technical workers is created. Then SL won’t have to hire Chinese contractors to build roads, bridges, ports, etc. thereby saving the island billions in revenue. Teach what’s practical and beneficial to society – there is no point teaching hollow doctrines like Mahinda Chinthanaya or Jathika Chinthanaya, which are really useful only for propaganda purposes by the Rajapakses and their allies, including Jayantha Dhanapala. The idea of a trilingual society is another hollow doctrine. Even if SL wanted, it could not afford a trilingual curriculum in the public schools.

      For example, the May 2009 heroic breaching of the earth bund

      Interesting how Dhanapala uses the word “heroic.” His bias is glaringly apparent. Now we can see why he was selected to give a submission to the LLRC. Dhanapala cannot be considered an *objective* contributor in any sense of the word.

    • Giustinia

      O tempora o mores

      Alas for the times and customs….

      Not many of us bother to follow the ramblings of Kalana Senaratna but perhaps he thought that this was a way to get people to take notice of him. His article illustrates the ‘frogs in a well’ character of our esteemed ‘armchair critics club’ that think that they can take up our time and resources with the usual ‘cut and paste’ analysis.

      Examining Kalana Senaratna’s blog entry we see the usual bad carpenter who blames his tools, after he publishes his article he blames the journalists for providing him inaccurate material and then targets Amb. Dhanapala for not releasing his report immediately after his submission not knowing that correct protocol is for the Commission to release it. Further lets not use these hearings for target practice as it will prevent well mind citizens from presenting submissions openly.

      Finally on the blog members of all our ethnic communities have very rightly criticized the state for past wrongs, for not providing justice to our minorities, Amb. Dhanapala in his submission only tried to present recommendations to promote initiatives for reconciliation such as the implementation of the language policy, constitutional reform, providing opportunities to assist youth networks and countering terrorism, instead of trying to study the recommendations to understand how we may bring about some change it has unfortunately provided an opportunity for the usual attempts at character assassination, nit picking and third rate analysis that continues to plague our progress.

    • Shamindra Ferdinando

      Commenting on the controversy over former Peace Secretariat Chief Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala’s statement to Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), Namel Weeramuni blames young and ‘untrained’ journalists for poor coverage.
      Kalana Senaratne’s piece on Internal Armed Conflicts, Humanitarian Laws and the Curious Transformation of Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala is obviously based on The Island (Intl.laws shouldn’t apply to conflicts between States and terrorist groups-Aug. 26, 2010), and the Daily News. The Daily Mirror did not publish Ambassador Dhanapala’s comments relating to this particular issue.
      This writer had been present throughout the proceedings. Our front-page lead story was based on what transpired at the LLRC, including Ambassador Dhanapala’s criticism of a government decision to destroy LTTE cemeteries. The Island carried a separate front-page news item (Ex-AG says people aren’t interested in constitutional reforms-Aug. 26)).
      Ambassador Dhanapala went to the extent of urging the Sri Lankan government to initiate a dialogue with countries engaged in military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq on the basis that international covenants shouldn’t be applied to conflicts between States and terrorists. Those who criticize Ambassador Dhanapala conveniently ignore that the former UN top gun’s criticism of successive governments for their failures…
      Ambassador Dhanapala did not contradict our news items. The LLRC meets again on Friday (Sept. 3 at 2 pm). Former Attorney General C. R de Silva and other members of the Commission, particularly former Foreign Secretary H. M. G. S. Palihakkara and Dr. Rohan Perera will take up this issue if we created a story to…
      Ex-diplomat and veteran commentator Nanda Godage was seated in the front row. He can clarify….
      Ambassador Dhanapala did not make available a copy of his written submissions to the media. Our report was based on what Ambassador Dhanapala told the LLRC.

      Shamindra Ferdinando (News Editor of The Island)

    • Davidson Panabokke

      ”Ambassador Dhanapala went to the extent of urging the Sri Lankan government to initiate a dialogue with countries engaged in military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq on the basis that international covenants shouldn’t be applied to conflicts between States and terrorists.”

      ”terrorists” are created by terrorist states.

      ”Those who criticize Ambassador Dhanapala conveniently ignore that the former UN top gun’s criticism of successive governments for their failures…” of the last 62+ years amount to state terrorism.

    • Davidson Panabokke

      This shows that Jackyll and Hyde in Dhanapala are bothering him.

    • Davidson Panabokke

      Collective trauma in the Vanni- a qualitative inquiry into the mental health of the internally displaced due to the civil war in Sri Lanka, Daya Somasundaram, 28 July 2010:
      ”What happened in the Vanni and to its people from August 2006 onwards, particularly from January 2009 to May 2009, has been described in apocalyptic (in the local Tamil as pralayam) terms. ….
      The psychosocial and mental health consequences of massive trauma to individuals, families and communities can be profound. However, the underlying political context and struggle for control, power, discourse and obedience complicates what is allowed and can be done.”,-northern-Sri-Lanka,-where-war-has-never-ended-18558.html
      Vanni, northern Sri Lanka, where war has never ended, Melanie Manel Perera,1 June 2010:
      ‘’… The area is still actually in the hands of the military, which allowed the return of the population but force them to live in absolute poverty. The military blocks any attempts to improve their lives, but does not stop abuse and violence..… Permission has been rejected for counselling, capacity building and empowerment activities.”

    • Davidson Panabokke

      Some Tamils have been saying for years now: we have not been hitting the nail on the head: people poisoned by ethnic outbidding of UNP and SLFP and the venom in the mahavamsa through the school texrbooks colud have been changed by Tamils going to all corners of the South and telling them what has been actually happening to the Tamils in the last 6+ decades.

    • VG

      Kalana, Jayantha and ALL
      WSWS reporters visit the devastated Sri Lankan town of Kilinochchi, 2 June 2010:
      The first thing that strikes you about the situation in Kilinochchi is that you find more soldiers than civilians in the town. … Most of the eating houses are run by the army … Former detainees have been sent here almost without any assistance … ‘’There is no difference between staying in the detention camps and living here”…. The Kilinochchi district was famous for agriculture and fishing. The large Iranaimadu tank (artificial lake) mainly supplied irrigation for several thousand acres of agricultural land. The tank is now under the military’s control. Water has not yet been fully released for farmers. A few farmers have begun cultivation but they do not have tractors or other basic equipment. Many do not have even a mammoty (a type of spade). Fishermen are not allowed to fish in the tank.
      ….At Poonahari, the Vikneswara School is now occupied by the military, so students must walk to another school five kilometres away. The military has also occupied Poonahari’s government hospital. As there are no longer any hospital facilities, people have to beg someone in the army camps to take any seriously ill patients to Kilinochchi in a military vehicle for treatment. Patients with minor illnesses simply have to suffer.In Vattakachchi village there is no hospital and no school, and the people live in tents. The houses were destroyed during the war. The local Vattakachchi and Ramanathapuram schools remain occupied by the military.”

    • VG
      World Federation of Scientists: PERMANENT MONITORING PANEL ON TERRORISM on ‘’war-on-terror”, May 2006:
      We discussed at some length the relationship between terror intentionally inflicted by state actors and terrorism espoused by weaker players as a tactic in asymmetric struggles, and noted that one could scarcely be fully understood without reference to the other. The profound economic and human costs, not least on ordinary people, were underlined along with the threats to respect for international law and the system of multi-lateral relationships which had contributed to global stability over the previous half century and which were now at profound risk. The paradoxical outcome and counter-productive results of security measures and other actions were also identified in a number of presentations.

    • boubtful

      Thanks Kalana. I accept the point you make.

    • eeurekaa

      ”Education is a primary tool in creating a tolerant society.”

      ”…Presidential Advisor Advisor Basil Rajapakse: ”de-militarization had been successfully achieved”…”

    • Shamindra Ferdinando

      Please read the section on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in official transcript of LLRC oral submissions by Ambassador Jayantah Dhanapala. Then you’ll know the truth…Shamindra Ferdinando (News Editor The Island)

    • All this hot air in cyberspace is relevant only for few people. The issue is simple. if the Island had published a wrong report of Amb. Dhanapala’s submission and his responses to the most honourable Commissioners, Amb. Dhanapala should have resorted to a simple demand for a correction the next day. This is ordinarily what people do when the media misreports. Instead, we are told that he is waiting for the transcripts to come. is it that Amb Dhanapala could not remember what he precisely said in response nto as important an assertion attributed to him, that humanitarian law should not apply in internal conflicts such as Sri Lanka’s?

      As of now, in the minds of many people who do not spend time in cyber space, the Island report is all that they will recall. Did Amb. Dhanapala believe that the Island, of all paper, would not seek to misrepresent what he said? Should he not have adequately guarded himself against this at the outset by handing out written submissions accurately reflecting what he said? This simplicity on the part of our purported intellectuals is harder to take than the misdeeds of the government and its media apologists

    • Shamindra Ferdinando should post Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala’s comment on International Humanitarian Law. Let people decide … (IHL).
      Shamindra Ferdinando

    • longus

      It’s great to see the plethora of Tamils and some Heshans with bleeding hearts and broken dreams after the demise of the LTTE,crying foul at everything,once again!

      You guys fought and lost! So bear it up like Japan and Germany did!

    • eeurekaa

      what happened in the 30 years before LTTE was born and what happened during the existence of the LTTE and what has been happening in the 16 months after the LTTE was dead remains the same. it is set to worsen hereafter.

    • eeurekaa

      1. So far people have been comparing Sri Lankan problem with those in Northern Ireland and South Africa. With the introduction of the eighteenth amendment, things can only get worse ….

      2. With increasing population and decreasing resources, people who hold power can do anything and the oppressed have no chance of seeing a better life in this world.

    • jansee


      Sometimes it is just between ignorance and innocence. While innocence can and should be excused, ignorance reveals abundantly the stupidity in a person. Let me tell you why:

      The wars Japan and Germany fought were with foreign nations. The SL regimes ruthless bombed its own civilians in the name of a humanitarian operation, what more one that air-bombed ruthlessly and mercilessly its own citizens.

      Well, the Rajapaksa brothers are trying all the tricks to escape international condemnation and punishment. The loops around their necks are looming large for their dastardly crimes. Their was should have been with the LTTE and a military option to take the LTTE out was a right the SL regime exercised, but annihiliating 40,000 innocent civilians is a shame and crime. Hiding behind the facade that the LTTE held them as human shields is but a pathetic attempt to wash away the blood-stained hands and, as it has become evidently clear, the fates of Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic await these blood thirsty tyrants.

    • longus

      OK jansee!

      I thought they (the LTTE ) were holding the civilians in the Tamil Eelam, and they never consirded themselves to be Sri Lankan citizens then, right? (I wonder whether you did, either!)

      You can have big, fat, “salaami” hopes of bringing the Sri Lankan leaders to Hague! It will never happen, bro!

    • ModVoice


      Do you think Tamil Eelam is a “soverign” nation and LTTE a “national” army? What do you call it when a government bombs its own civilians?

    • longus


      You call it the same thing as Israel calls the West Bank and Gaza, when they engaged the terrorists, bro!