Groundviews

Is it worth the wait for international support after the UN Secretary General’s report?


Photo courtesy Inner City Press

Finally, yes finally, one big phase of the game came to a close with just a whimper. Now, its the next phase of the game. On 12 April, just before the South (wouldn’t know how the Hindu Tamils in the North would celebrate new year) gathers into their culturally colourful Sinhala New Year on 14th April, the UN Panel of Advisers on the Sri Lankan conflict (?) handed over their report to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

Very little is officially said about, it being made public, but, a copy was immediately despatched to President Rajapaksa. Ban’s media spokesperson said, its just “courtesy”. A very curt news release in the UN news web says, the UN SG “will study the report carefully and will determine his next steps in the coming days.”

What went into this report writing and how, is now history. Yet that would give an indication to what would finally turn out as the next phase. In the absence of super power requests, the pressure on Ban Ki-moon that media talks about is not what could change Ban’s stance on Sri Lanka. Public statements made by different groups and organisations will not in any way prevail upon Ban to shift gear. All the statements, all the protests, all lobbying over the past year did not push Ban Ki-moon to make any positive move in favour of victimised, war devastated people. He was into playing politics with the Rajapaksa regime.

The very appointment of this advisory panel by the UN Secretary General, though kicked off to a big State sponsored protest here in Colombo, was not a UN Panel of Inquiry. Many  international human rights organisations and conscience groups wanted an investigating panel. The PUCL of India made a clear and legally argued appeal on 08 May, 2009, asking for UN initiated investigation on war crimes and crimes against humanity in SL. He would not go that far. In South India, he was blamed for having Vijey Nambiar with him. The fact is, no Super Power asked him for an investigation on SL.

It wasn’t that President Rajapaksa was unaware of the reach, Ban’s advisory panel had. But as with everything else, he used it to keep the “warning fires” burning in the South. This hysteria against “a threatening, hungry demon at the kingdom’s gate” is what keeps the Sinhala sentiments in favour of the Rajapaksa regime, never mind its militarised, political presence with colossal waste, mega corruption and family rule with cronies and thugs.

The role of Ban’s panel was perhaps decided with silent and sneaky dealings between the Rajapaksas, the UN SG and his closest allies. There seemed an unwritten compromise had been worked out to restrict the panel from directly holding the SL regime accountable for war crimes.

There were if not more, at least two unexplained and almost hushed up meetings that throws suspicion on Ban and his stand on SL. One, was when President Rajapaksa  travelled to NY for the 65th UN General Assembly in mid September, 2010 when Ban Ki-moon gave Rajapaksa an audience that had contradictory media statements. The other was between Ban and the AG, Mohan Pieris, accompanied by the controversial appointee to the deputy UN representative post in NY, General Shavendra de Silva. There is speculation still, whether this duo met with the panel itself. Denied by one of SG’s aides Nesirky and blushed over by another, Farhan Haq, with Lyn Pascoe cited as the one, who wanted the meeting to be kept undisclosed.

There was also the proposed visit to Sri Lanka. Again, Ban’s men played hide and seek with the issue and allowed MR to have a popular anti imperialist stand on it, for the benefit of his Sinhala constituency.

That being the panel’s pre report life, what can the Sri Lankan Tamil society and the world citizenry, expect from this collection of global players ? This may perhaps tell the world and the Tamil Diaspora once again, the UN is no world body that play independent roles to make this world a better place, despite efforts put in by effected constituencies to make this “august” body realise their global responsibility.

Its history is proof alone. No armed and brutal conflict had been adequately or purposefully handled by the UN and its Super Powers, ever since it was mandated to work towards global peace. All had been dominated by one or the other of the Super Powers for their advantage and the UN has only fallen in line. It is also no secret, the person elected to the post of UN Secretary General has to function as an “appointee” of the US and its allies.

Thus in the Mid-East and in Afghanistan everything had been manipulated for the advantage of the US and its Coalition partners, with no UN member, no regional alliance being able to stop that run by the US and its allies. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, drone attacks in Afghanistan, over 107,000 civilian deaths and 3.9 million people turned refugees in Iraq since US occupation in 2003, Micheal Burn from Kabul reporting that while the UN was giving reduced numbers, the ISAF itself had given increased numbers in civilian casualties in Afghanistan, totalling over 5,500 deaths between 2009 and 2010 alone, well who would take US to task for any or all of that human tragedy? The UN and its Super Powers have never, lets stress that word “never”, taken decisions against any of the Super Power nations, in favour of human rights, democracy, regional stability and world peace, what ever language they use in UN Resolutions and Assemblies.

The number of US invasions and armed interventions that had gone without any censure on the USA and with no Resolution calling for any US President to be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the 225 UN Security Council Resolutions on Israel that was never forced on Israel, as it was on Gaddafi and Libya, speaks volumes on how the international community and its world bodies apply themselves in establishing global peace, democracy, human rights, justice, rule of law and fair play, good governance and transparency, all key words in their rhetoric when making highbrow statements for the under developed and the under privileged people to listen to and take home.

Through all those years and conflicts, this world have moved to a new global era, where anti terror war has allowed all global power brokers to openly compromise in allowing any sadistic, despotic power to remain, through geo political compromises and resource utilisation. This post 9/11 World is more naked now, but not any less shy in supporting any war, in the name of eliminating “terrorism”.  The Sri Lankan war proved it beyond doubt.

British law that checks arms supplies to warring nations was covertly violated in supplying arms to the Rajapaksa government, despite Miliband and his tough talk. EU dragged on its GSP “Plus” issue till the war was declared over by Rajapaksa. The US played through Japan and India in supporting the war, while issuing a statement now and then, for the Tamil Diaspora to take pride in their lobbying capacity. India was holding its own people at bay, tossing the Chinese dragon to scare them, while the war was waged with tacit Indian support on intelligence and military logistics.

It wasn’t that Rajapaksa out manoeuvred all others with his backing from China, Iran, Libya and Russia. They did provide crutches for the Rajapaksa regime to stand erect, but they could have been outplayed if the EU member states and the US wanted to. They certainly did not want the war to stop. Every single member of the Western world, the Tamil Diaspora is stilling pinning faith on, held back their hands, till Rajapaksa finished off the LTTE. They did have a social conscience within their own boundaries that had to be satisfied, but that was not loud enough to stop them from looking away, while the war was brutally waged  for 03 years, ending in 2009 May.

That was more than clear, even during the worst and the last phase of the war in the Vanni. Thousands of grieving and protesting Tamil people who flocked to London in May, 2009 in freezing weather to demand a cease fire, ended up blocking the Westminster streets, but having 36 arrested, two jumping into the Thames and the British government staying solid cold as their coldest winter.

I for one would not therefore expect Ban Ki-moon on his own to drag Rajapaksa into a Waterloo. In the absence of Super power pressure, he would make the report public, only in consultation with Rajapaksa, if Rajapaksa feels he could gain politically, out of it. It is true and it is a fact, the Tamil Diaspora is working 24×7 to expose the Rajapaksa regime on its war crimes committed, is keeping the Tamil issue and the need for a political solution ever present in international media. But that is not what would make Rajapaksa budge even an inch from where he is firmly saddled on.

Most recent events across the globe prove, it is after all the people who are suppressed, exploited and cheated, who eventually decide the fate of their ruler. Ben Ali was forced out only after the people living within Tunisia decided he should go. Egypt’s Mubarak faced the same fate at Tahrir square. Shah Palavi of Iran and Marcos in Philippines went out, not because of international pressure, but because the people in those countries decided they should go.

Where international pressure and collaboration intervenes, the result is bad enough to accept. Iraq and Afghanistan in modern times and Vietnam in the 50s to 70s. Or, may perhaps be Libya in the waiting. I sure believe, the Tamil Diaspora is not asking for such change in Sri Lanka. It seems anyway, we are wasting time with hopeful international interventions that would never make Rajapaksa’s stay, any more uncomfortable. Total all the dollars that have been pumped into his stay in power, since the war was declared over in May, 2009. That’s enough prove of what is in store for justice, accountability and good governance.

Thus Ban Ki-moon’s advisory panel report may not bring desired results, with all the campaigning by the Tamil Diaspora, to have it public. The answer after all, would have to be worked out in Sri Lanka, for better or for worse.