On Critiquing of UN Failures: Missing the Wood for the Trees

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon receives Independent Review Panel on Sri Lanka report from ASG Charles Petrie. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe. Courtesy UN News Centre.

The BBC’s revelation on the leaked “penultimate” draft report of an internal UN review on UN’s handling of humanitarian crisis during the last stages of Vanni war in 2009, has justifiably invoked immense interest – on its content and implications – among Sri Lanka watchers and Tamil activists globally. Charles Petrie, former UN employee, led the review panel and he is expected to handover the final report to the UN Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-Moon, in next few days. Despite the widespread excitement about this report, in this note, I would like to draw a rather depressing and different picture about UN’s legacy in peacekeeping and peacemaking, since the end of Cold War. That will demonstrate that the UN’s failure in Sri Lanka was not the first-one and definitely not the last-one, in the bloody history of UN. It is the unreformed UN system – primarily the UN Security Council (UNSC) – that is causing these repeated failures in preventing mass-atrocity-crimes and blaming the UN and its staff is misguided; it is the Permanent Five members of the UNSC that dictate how the UN responds to a mass-atrocity-crime and not by the career-concerned average human beings, such as Gordon Weiss and Benjamin Dix.

What’s happening now is that the case of ‘UN failure in Sri Lanka’ is going through a very familiar UN ritual of report writing and lessons learning phase, presumably Charles Petrie’s report will likely to be the final stage in the process of putting Sri Lankan case lay to rest.

Many of the excerpts of the leaked UN report mentioned in the BBC report as “highly critical” are in fact familiar language and tone for anyone accustomed to past UN reports, this review is essentially repeating the findings of inquiries into similar UN failures in the past; it is akin to many physicians repeatedly diagnosing the same disease, which is not treated for a long time. I have taken two excerpts of the UN report mentioned in the BBC report, in order to demonstrate that the same old stuff is being repackaged as a new report. Firstly, BBC report states that the leaked UN report “points to a “systemic failure”” in UN’s handling of humanitarian crisis in Vanni, not surprisingly there was similar observation among the findings of the Independent Inquiry into the actions of the United Nations during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, it states “The failure by the United Nations to prevent, and subsequently, to stop the genocide in Rwanda was a failure by the United Nations system as a whole.”1

Secondly, according to the BBC report, the leaked report states “engagement with member states regarding Sri Lanka was heavily influenced by what it perceived member states wanted to hear, rather than by what member states needed to know if they were to respond”. The Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations – generally known as Brahimi Report – published in 2000 has a strikingly similar statement “The Secretariat must tell the Security Council what it needs to know, not what it wants to hear”.

The sad truth about this report is that it is adding few hundred more pages to the annals of UN failures that are already documented in many thousands of pages. This report will not penalize Ban Ki-Moon or his mediocre staff who served in New York and Colombo, who played the game safely. People like Gordon Weiss and Benjamin Dix will move on with their new incarnation, as Pippa Middletons of Royal Mullivaaykkaal.

The post Cold War UN legacy: A brief optimism followed by two decades of continuing complicity with evil

During the early 1990s, there was a renewed hope and optimism within the UN establishment that a peaceful and conflict-free world can be realized with the collapse of Cold War, this is amply explained in the report – An Agenda for Peace Preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping – of then UNSG Boutros Boutros-Ghali. In that report he states,

In the course of the past few years the immense ideological barrier that for decades gave rise to distrust and hostility – and the terrible tools of destruction that were their inseparable companions – has collapsed. Even as the issues between States north and south grow more acute, and call for attention at the highest levels of government, the improvement in relations between States east and west affords new possibilities, some already realized, to meet successfully threats to common security3

But sadly his leadership itself was bogged down with the UN’s handling of protracted conflict in former Yugoslavia, during its fragmentation. His independent approach and Francophile background earned him US fury that is well enough to block his re-election for a second term. Apparently one of his sins was not allowing the NATO to bomb Serbian positions in Bosnia4. Despite the catalog of UN failures during the 1990s, his successor Kofi Annan was comfortable in working with US and he was in favour of more interventionist approach to global conflicts. Under the leadership of Annan, the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) evolved through the UN system and eventually a watered down version of the doctrine was agreed at the 2005 UN World Summit. During Annan’s leadership, the UN faced many challenges in maintaining international peace and security – Kosovo, 9/11 attack, US led invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq and many conflicts in Africa including Darfur. Being an insider of UN system, Annan’s autobiography, Interventions: a Life in War and Peace, may provide some answers to the problems and failures of post Cold War UN peace endeavours. In his review of Annan’s book, Jonathan Powell – Tony Blair’s former chief of staff – notes that Annan’s biography was “unnecessarily defensive”5; this may be due to his late realization that interventions alone cannot be relied upon for the prevention of conflicts.

The incumbent UNSG Ban Ki-Moon – campaigned for the office under the slogan of “promise less and deliver more” – is described by Alex Bellamy (a leading R2P scholar) as “an effective norm entrepreneur for R2P”. On the other hand, he is being criticized for his quiet diplomacy in dealing with authoritarian regimes. Despite the criticisms, Ban Ki-Moon managed to make limited but important institutional changes within the UN regarding mass-atrocity-crime prevention e.g. appointment of the Special Advisor on R2P. In his 2009 report, he made substantial conceptual clarification on the R2P practice. The BBC report states that the leaked UN “report does highlight the positive role played by some UN staff on the ground and the secretary general”. This observation of Ban Ki-Moon’s leadership in dealing with Vanni humanitarian crisis will be strongly challenged by his critics, especially by Tamil activists.      

The critics of the UN often ignores the fact that the UN has been operating with a chronic shortage of funding and man power in peace operations. The UN Security Council  (UNSC) and its veto wielding Permanent Five (P5) are the real locomotors in deciding UN’s response to a particular conflict and it is their political will and backing that can make or break a deal. The UNSG and other UN staff can play their roles only within the space sanctioned by the P5, with the knowledge of what had happened to Boutros Boutros-Ghali no UN staff – including UNSG – will dare to go beyond that space. It is worth reminding ourselves about, former special rapporteur on genocide, Juan Méndez’s public humiliation of being blocked from addressing the UNSC by then US ambassador John Bolton.

The real problem is the unreformed UNSC and its discretionary powers that will invariably lead to selectivity and inconsistency in UN response to global conflicts. Even an interventionist power such as US is refusing to signup for a legally binding obligation to the prevention of mass-atrocity-crimes; therefore it is important to view those UN failures in the framework of a self-interested and essentially a realist international politics perpetuated by the P5 and unreformed UN. On the other hand, it is absurd to expect that the staff of UN and other international agencies are motivated only by the purpose of world peace and protecting humanity, hence there is nothing to be surprised about the fact that the UN staff playing safely and practicing a “culture of trade-offs” in their handling of humanitarian crisis, whether it is in Sri Lanka or in Darfur.

The question of what kind of UN reform – including UNSC – that would bring about a sympathetic and robust response to mass-atrocity-crime prevention, is another contested issue. One of the vociferous reform calls comes from countries like Germany, Japan, Brazil and India for permanent membership at the UNSC, but their past behaviours don’t correlate with a robust and sympathetic response to an active conflict, for example in 2011, Brazil, India and Germany voted against the UNSC resolution-1973 endorsing the NATO intervention in Libya, therefore it is time to ask a difficult question, is it ever possible to take politics out of the decision making process regarding interventions and conflict prevention? Can the decision making process be guided by an algorithm? Where the UN is expected to do something, when the number of civilian deaths has reached a particular threshold, irrespective of geopolitical context. Making a decision on purely humanitarian grounds to intervene militarily in a distant conflict is fraught with many dangers.

Lord Castlereagh’s (British Foreign secretary, who architected the Congress of Vienna, after the defeat of Napolean) famous confidential State Paper of 1820 is still relevant on many aspects when it comes to militarily intervening in a distant conflict:

 “The principle of one state interfering by force in the internal affairs of another, in order to enforce obedience to the governing authority, is always a question of the greatest moral as well as political delicacy…It is important to observe that to generalise such a principle and to think of reducing it to a system, or to impose it as an obligation, is a scheme utterly impracticable and objectionable…This principle is perfectly clear and intelligible in the case of Spain. We may all agree that nothing can be more lamentable, or of more dangerous example, than the recent revolt of the Spanish army…but it does not follow that we have therefore equal means of acting upon this opinion……………… Besides, the people of this country would probably not recognise that our safety could be so far threatened by any state of things in Spain as to warrant their government in sending an army to that country to meddle in its internal affairs. We cannot conceal from ourselves how generally the acts of the King of Spain since his restoration have made his government unpopular, and how impossible it would be to reconcile the people of England to the use of force in order to replace power in his hands.

Even now with the advantage of modern surveillance facilities, it is still difficult for a potential humanitarian intervener to make a “clear and intelligible” picture about an acutely exacerbated conflict, where the situation is changing rapidly. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in his report, An Agenda for Peace, makes it amply clear that “Preventive steps must be based upon timely and accurate knowledge of the facts…An increased resort to fact-finding is needed, in accordance with the Charter, initiated either by the Secretary-General, to enable him to meet his responsibilities under the Charter, including Article 99, or by the Security Council or the General Assembly. Various forms may be employed selectively as the situation requires”. But in Sri Lankan case, the problem was not about lack of verifiable information regarding humanitarian crisis in Vanni; instead it was a premeditated total war against the LTTE with the consent of P5, in order to destroy the organization completely. Based on their experience in dealing with the LTTE during the Norwegian facilitated peace talks, a controversial consensus had emerged amongst western powers, that is to eliminate the LTTE as a political and military force. Hence the ‘international community’, with an underlying naïve expectation that the Sri Lankan military would only deploy necessary and proportionate force, was ready to tolerate a certain level of civilian casualty. In that sense, Sri Lankan conflict is unique because a certain level of civilian destruction was anticipated by major powers that doesn’t warrant an intervention. On the other hand, attacking UN doesn’t make sense, because the UN officials don’t make serious decisions on the matters of peace and security, it is the P5!

When it comes to analyzing the UN response to Vanni war, leading R2P scholars are mostly evasive and in the case of Ramesh Thakur – who criticized Ban Ki-Moon for “having spent more time with autocratic leaders than any of his predecessors”6 – he nearly justifies the war as a R2P operation, parroting the defence.lk! He writes:

The Tigers have been among the most ruthless terrorist organizations and were designated as such by more than 30 countries by 2009. They pioneered the use of women suicide bombers and invented the explosive suicide belt. They killed many civilians, including Tamils, recruited child soldiers and often raised funds from the Tamil diaspora community through extortion…The notion of a responsibility to protect places the responsibility first and foremost on the state itself. Given the Tigers’ nature and record, it was not unreasonable for the government to acquire the capacity and demonstrate the determination to defeat the Tigers as part of its responsibility to protect. Proponents of the responsibility to protect cannot advocate the international use of force against government troops engaged in atrocities against civilians, but not permit governments to use military force to protect their people from atrocities being perpetrated by terrorists. Pacifists can decry, renounce and denounce all use of force. Those who accept that the use of force is sometimes necessary cannot deny that option to governments engaged in fighting a brutal insurgency that kills civilians without compunction.7

It is well evident that when it comes to Sri Lanka and Tamils, Ramesh Thakur’s liberal cloak falls off and revealing his Indian ethnocentrism, his rant against the West is more virulent than Wimal Weerawansa.

The problem with the normative doctrines like R2P is that they are highly abstract principles, for example R2P as a normative doctrine doesn’t have an identity of a specific conflict or people, all it says is:

Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability8

Because of this abstract nature, even North Korea spoke supportively of R2P during the General Assembly debate on R2P in 2009. Castlereagh was not mincing the words, Great Britain, he said, “is the last government in Europe which can be expected, or can venture to commit Herself on any question of an abstract character…This country cannot, and will not, act upon abstract and speculative Principles of Precaution”. This dilemma is still very much relevant to the contemporary world politics.

Since the UN is not a separate entity outside of its memebership, it is essentially operating on the basis of member states’ consent, it is fundamentally a misguided approach to attack the UN for its failures and not bothering to identify and critique the structural problems that are causing these repeated UN failures in preventing mass-atrocity-crimes, such as ethnic cleansing, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The US led western powers, tormented by the legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan wars, are increasingly reluctant to commit troops for land warfare for saving strangers in distant parts of the world. Therefore it is increasingly evident, that the major powers of the world will act to stop mass-atrocity-crimes in distant lands, only if it is advantageous for their national interests e.g. Libya.

Even though the doctrine of R2P was originally envisioned as a comprehensive approach to prevent mass atrocity crimes, because of the intense opposition from global south – including Russia and China – it ended up largely as a preventive measure. The Canadian sponsored International Commission on State Sovereignty and Intervention led by Gareth Evans proposed measures that will create alternative options for authorizing a military action against a state in order to prevent a mass-atrocity-crime from happening, that may lead to a diminished role of UNSC in the matters of world peace security, therefore it was rejected in total by the P5. Therefore presently what we have is a ‘legalized hegemony’ of the victors of Second World War and cosmopolitans’ attempt to take politics out of the decision making process of UN humanitarian crisis management had effectively failed in 2005, when a watered down version of R2P was agreed at the UN World Summit. The stark reality is not every mass-atrocity-crime will attract a favourable response from ‘international community’; hence the potential for a future Mullivaaykkaal occuring is abundantly possible.

###

Reference

1. The Report of the Independent Inquiry into the actions of the United Nations during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, 15.12.1999.

2. Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, 2000. (http://www.un.org/peace/reports/peace_operations/)

3. UNSG (Boutros-Ghali), An Agenda for Peace Preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping, 1992. (http://www.unrol.org/doc.aspx?n=A_47_277.pdf)

4. http://mondediplo.com/1996/11/un & http://www.nytimes.com/1996/06/20/world/us-will-oppose-move-to-re-elect-top-un-official.html

5. Powell, J ‘Kofi Annan has nothing to apologise for’ Newstatesman, 11.10.2012

(http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2012/10/measure-man)

6. Thakur, R, ‘The model of a mediocre secretary general’ Ottawa Citizen 28.09.2009. (http://www2.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/opinion/story.html?id=ed0d7482-4175-4016-b04a-0d3b5c7ba2bb&p=1)

7. Thakur,R ‘West shouldn’t fault Sri Lankan govt tactics’, The Daily Yomiuri, 12.06.2009.  (http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/columns/commentary/20090612dy01.htm)

8. 2005 UN World Summit outcome document, paragraph 138. (http://www.un.org/summit2005/documents.html)

  • silva

    Thank you, Anapayan, for clarifying so many points.
    That the UN has been making the same mistakes on previous occasions must be taken along with the fact that the UN has been making the same mistakes in Sri Lanka for a long time. The reports strongly speaks of ”government opposition” as one reason for the action of several UN officials in Sri Lanka and in the Headquarters. Successive Sri Lankan governments have been expertly controlling damage at the UN for decades at the same time as they have been oppressing the Tamils severely in many ways.
    Just look at the example after the heinous Black July:

    Leo Kuper in Prevention of Genocide( 1985 ) commented on the failure of the United Nations Sub Commission on Human Rights to condemn the genocide of July 1983 on the Tamil People : “….there were also political currents observable in the alignment of members, though I could not altogether fathom the geo political considerations involved. In the end a very mild resolution was passed calling for information from the Sri Lanka government and recommending that the commission examine the situation at the next meeting in the light of the information available. There was, however, only a bare majority for the resolution (10 for, 8 against and 4 abstaining). It is unfortunate that the United Nations did not take a firm stand at this stage…” That even this mild resolution adopted on 5 September 1983, calling upon Sri Lanka to provide information was opposed by 8 states with another 4 abstaining is not without significance ….”

    Of course P5 is the most urgent part of the UN that needs reform – in the last six plus decades of the UN , the world has changed a very great deal and the UN hasn’t changed appropriately. Hence the ”unfit” of the UN.

  • silva

    Ramesh Thakur doesn’t know about the 50s/60s but only about the Tigers.
    I wonder what he says about the last 41 months:
    ”But that truth cannot excuse human rights violations that currently afflict the nation as a whole; or for that matter obscure the looming threat of the cultural and political colonisation of the north by the Sinhala Buddhist majority” – Biased and Prejudiced Collection on Sri Lanka, *Gananath Obeyesekere, Economic & Political Weekly, VOL 47 No. 04, 28 January-03 February 2012 (*a Sinhalese Buddhist and Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University), http://www.scribd.com/doc/82525102/Biased-and-Prejudiced-Collection-on-Sri-Lanka
    The Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesha Sharma has made statements to that effect.

  • Alex F

    Interesting … the calls for an international investigation will get more serious here on. This is bad news for the Rajapaksa clan. The international community may save Sri Lanka from being a third world chauvinist theocratic dictatorship yet.

    • Gamarala

      Hi Alex,

      On the contrary, this is good news for the Rajapakse clan. Very good news.

      Left to their own devices, the Rajapakse clan will unravel on its own – as has been demonstrated by numerous incidents in the past few years. Even the hard core nationalist element is increasingly at a loss for words, as the corrupt, nepotistic and autocratic style of governance is increasingly difficult to deny.

      In contrast, foreign intervention will enable the Rajapakse clan to galvanize the heady nationalist element once again, dividing the country’s thinking along a false traitor/patriot dichotomy. Since opposing the Rajapakses will be tantamount to “betraying the country”, the possibility of a foreign intervention would be a most welcome relief to them. What else, other than “foreign conspiracies”, can absolve them of their gross misgovernance?

      • Alex F

        Yes your are right that the Rajapaksas will galvanise a nation behind xenophobic (including anti-Tamil) rhetoric – but that has always been the sanctuary of ethno-nationalist socialists which really is the only way to categorise Sri Lankan politics. Huge state, run by the military, with university lecturers and students receiving leadership training and the army running everything from holiday resorts to vegetable markets .
        The likelihood of any state reform without external action is small. The IC is finally recognising that only action will halt the Rajapakses.

  • luxmy

    Pl note Ramesh Thakur signed the letter in:

    Open Letter to the Security Council on the situation in Sri Lanka, 15 April 2009, http://globalr2p.org/pdf/OpenLetterSriLanka.pdf

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Though I disagree with the point of view, I must say this is a most thoughtful and intelligently written piece.

    • GypsyOwl

      Why not take your normal line and say this report is funded by LTTE?

      • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        And when have I EVER said that? Please quote a single instance. C’mon, don’t be shy.

      • Dev

        Well said GypsyOwl !

        The current Sec General is probably the worst in the UN history not just for his failure in SL but in general.

        The man seems to lack the backbone to do anything substantive within the UN.

        He should have learnt that (from his first term) that his softly softly approach does not work with rogue states or rogue states hiding under a veneer of democracy (such as SL).

  • GypsyOwl

    Thank you for this wonderful article.
    Highly enlightening. But on the other hand – highly depressing, as it dashes any hope of the UN improving itself. Too depressed to write more!

  • Iqbal

    The detail analysis necessitates the importance of reforming UNSC that controls the hands of the general body. In this case senior officials at UNSG office also played a decisive role to misinform it because at least one of them had a conflicting interest in that his brother was employed as an adviser to buy favours. The analysis hits the head of the nail more accurately than other similar articles appeared elsewhere. An in any efforts the end result that matters. So far none of the reports produced by the UN Panels achieved anything that matters to the victims that endures decades of agony. Can the UNSG take effective action to wake up UNSG members to the reality?

    What the tormatised Tamil civilians want is a peaceful life in their own areas and homes without the interference of the mono-ethnic military. An arrangement that enables their own representatives manage their affairs.

  • SINGING FISH

    There will be no reconciliation until the warcrime is investigated by UN and the perpetrators are punished.If the international community want peace in Srilanka this is the only solution available.

    • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

      Could you please explain precisely how ‘reconciliation’ in SL will be assisted by a Western bloc inspired war crimes trials, aided and abetted by the dregs of the pro-LTTE diaspora and how this will help the Tamil peoples in SL, especially in the North & East.

      Who will comprise this foreign ‘independent’ panel acceptable to all parties in SL and abroad?

      Which period should they cover? Which countries should they investigate, other than SL?

      Should they be able to indict SL Tamils currently living in the West who can be proved to have supported the LTTE? Will they indict and prosecute Western supporters of the LTTE, including some dodgy NGOs?

      • jansee

        Mango:

        It is more than three years since the war was over. The govt invited the TNA for talks. It promised before, during and after the war that as a measure of reconciliation devolution will be based on the full implementation of the 13A. During an interview in India, Basil Rajapakse promised that SL will fully implement the 13A once the war was over.

        Northern Provincial Council elections were promised soon after war. Please don’t insult our intelligence by talking of the landmines, etc. The presidential and local council elections have already been conducted there. So, it is amply clear as to why the SL regime is frowning to hold elections in the northern province (NP)

        After several rounds of talks with the TNA, the SL regime yet again somersaulted – it then appointed a PSC, proving the long dubious tradition of successive SL regimes taking the Tamils for a ride. Now the SL regime talks of watering down the 13A. So, the only option left to the Tamils is seek outside/international help. Shiva Sankar Menon, the current NSA of the indian govt, once mentioned that the only way to get the SL regime to talk sense was to drag it screaming. As I see it, apart from soliciting foreign participation, the SL regime must be dragged just like that ‘parippu’ drop sort of exercise.

        If the regime does not heed salutary advice and consideration, then declaration of no-fly zones and the notion of UN monitored peace-keeping forces to protect the Tamils would not be far-fetched. If you think that this is wishful thinking, the you are going to be sadly mistaken. Instead of manufacturing nine lies to cover one lie, it will be in the interest of the country to forge a sincere and honest reconciliation and devolution process, at least what it had promised. Instead, if it continues to dupe the international community, then the next step, which had actually started, will be direct foreign involvement. Now with Prabhakaran not in the scene, and now with the alarming latest figures casualties of about 146,000, the time has come for direct foreign intervention. What the SL regime should/could have done but failed to do so, has set the forces in motion for a solution to be supported from the outside. For the sake of local consumption just for the likes of you, the regime may thump rhetorically to prevent foreign intervention but if you are still not convinced, see what the regime said immediately after the UNHRC resolution and how it had been forced to back-off from that confrontational position and the officials of that body have visited SL to make their assessment. An Indian cabinet minister had already stated that if there is another resolution against SL during the 2013 UNHRC session, India will vote against SL. The more SL resists the deeper it will be pushed into the dock. What do you think would be your right advice?

        • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

          Hi Jansee,

          I don’t disagree with much of what you’ve written. GoSL as a matter of routine lies to all and sundry. Its defeat at the UNHRC vote was a result of it breaking its promises to India.

          But you haven’t answered any part of my question; and I ask my question in a spirit of genuine enquiry.

          p.s. your Tamil civilian casualty figures of 146,000 was created by Suba Suntharalingam of the TGTE.

          • jansee

            mango:

            “Could you please explain precisely how ‘reconciliation’ in SL will be assisted by a Western bloc inspired war crimes trials, aided and abetted by the dregs of the pro-LTTE diaspora and how this will help the Tamil peoples in SL, especially in the North & East.”

            It is a bit too late for reconciliation, isn’t it? With the latest damning report from UN, I would think that it will be a moral and legal obligation to immediately enforce a no-fly-zone and place UN peace-keeping forces to protect the Tamils. You cannot expect a sly fox to look after the chickens, can you?

            “Who will comprise this foreign ‘independent’ panel acceptable to all parties in SL and abroad?”

            The answer to this is implicit from my first answer. Even after the cow jumps over the moon, the SL regime would still continue to dupe the Tamils. Tamils will be fools to trust a regime who has not even an ounce of credibility. Look at how Mohan Peiris lied his way through the UN. Waiting for the SL regime to give answers or provide the promised solution to the Tamils will be asking “Tutankhamun” to adjudicate on this matter. It has to be an independent and unilateral action.

            The casualty figures was not created by Suba. The Bishop of Mannar, based on statistics from GAs and the Govt census, pointed out to this alarming number of missing persons. The LLRC panel/Report whitewashed this matter instead of investigating it further. Now you know why there is only limited credibility and acceptance of the LLRC report.

            Mango, if you had seen my writings/replies immediately after the war, it reflected a moderate approach and appeal to sooth the wounds and pain of the hapless victims. Both the LTTE and the SL regime had no regard at all for what these people went through. They lost everything, I mean everything including including their dignity. And here was a regime that was basking in triumphalism and bluffing the whole world of a humanitarian operation whereas it was anything but a humanitarian one. It will be history one day when MR could have been the kind of statesman to be cherished in history but it will record him as a blood-thirsty and a power crazed politician. As much as his stand has hardened, so is ours.

  • Victim Tamil

    Srilanka state terrorism criminals must be brought to the Justice. It is the duty of civilized democratic countries, UN, ICC and all NGOs of human rights.

  • jansee

    It will be fair to say and acknowledge that Anapayan’s “thesis” is not something new. After all, UN is a consortium of states and that some states are more powerful than the others, as if ‘might is right’ is what is being displayed. Particularly, when this ‘might is right’ states come with divergent personal interests and a categorical opposition of views and actions because of the exalted feeling of ‘hurting’ the other among the P5, sometimes to the extent of doing so for the sake of it, as an aura of autheticity of presence in the exclusive club.

    That the Rajapaksa regime capitalised on this is abundantly clear. That this report will mean and make substantial changes to the way the UN will discharge and handle similar future disasters, and very specifically that mired in non-natural related catastrophes, is foolhardy when the context and basis of how decisions are made by the P5 will remain starkly self-centred.

    It is within this spectrum of limitations that the genocide of Tamils in SL was allowed to happen. Anapayan has rightly pointed out thus “a controversial consensus had emerged amongst western powers, that is to eliminate the LTTE as a political and military force. Hence the ‘international community’, with an underlying NAIVE EXPECTATION (emphasis mine) that the Sri Lankan military would only deploy necessary and proportionate force, was ready to tolerate a certain level of civilian casualty” By and large, the P5, with the active support of India, gave the SL regime the passport to commit these crimes.

    What Anapayan had failed to include in this troubling equation is India’s role, adversarial or otherwise. When it became increasingly clear that the military option was being parodied by the SL regime, the one nation that the Rajapakses continued to court was India. Statements and interviews, at various times, amply testify to this. There were statements by both the president and the defence secretary to the effect that as long as they satisfied India, then it will be bona fide green light to pursue the military option. They went even further – they contended that ONLY India could stand in their way towards the pursuit of the war option. India was determined to annihilate the LTTE, whatever the costs, and this played into the hands of the SL regime. In fact, it will be quite safe to contend that it is India that wanted this war. Is it not the president who stated immediately after the war that he fought INDIA’S war? Quite remarkably, this public statement was never disputed nor challenged by the Indian establishment.

    During the height of the war, the push towards Wanni was desperately pursued, as if a date had been earmarked to finish the crossing line. And that date was the Indian parliamentary elections. The SL regime seemed in a hurry to finish the war, again ignoring the aggravated costs to civilians, apparently to avoid a quagmire situation of a new/different government taking hold in New Delhi (ND) which may have stood in the way of the SL pursuit. It is then evidently clear that the Congress based indian establishment was “heart-and-soul” with the SL regime in this sad episode. Is India complicit in the war crimes? Although this notion has evaded the radar, and quite frankly it is difficult to press this point, the haste and vigour the indian government sought to congratulate the SL regime, and hotly pursuing the now chastised congratulatory resolution in the UNHRC in the immediate aftermath of the massacre amply points to the deceit and duplicitous role played by India. To say that India was not aware of the catastrophic tragedy that was unfolding is laughable and mocks the intelligence of any average person. India not only had the knowledge, it also has means to know and the technology. It was single-minded in getting the Rajapaksas to eliminate the LTTE – that’s all mattered, the tragical humanitarian catastrophe was secondary.

    The foreign secretaries of UK and France were in SL during the last days of the war. They tried in vain to stop the human casualties mounting but they could not. They were even prepared to take the risk of travelling to the war zone but was flatly denied by the defence secretary and there are no prizes was guessing. The SC of the UN was hopelessly divided as there was no will to pursue even a single serious dialogue or discussion. The only picture that mattered was the LTTE. So, the UN was successfully propelled by India to look the other way. India was all along with the SL regime and there was no hope for the devastated Tamils. The thousands of Tamils who paraded the streets of foreign capitals could not impact even the slightest the SL regime’s pursuit.

    The UN could not stop it, the foreign ministers of UK/France could not stop it. India was not willing to stop it. The thousands of Tamils who marched on the streets could not stop the war. But there was one person who could have done this where all the others were unable or not interested or failed in stopping this tragedy – and that was Muthuvel Karunanidhi (MK) – the then chief minister of the south indian state of Tamilnadu. Of recent times, Indian politics has matured into a democratic representation of diverse parties to form a coalition to run the central government, and such was the case when the war was ravaging in SL. MK sent jitters to ND when he announced the withdrawl of his DMK government support to ND if the war was not stopped. Mock resignation letters were publicly presented by the MPs. Pranab Mukherji, the then foreign minister was on the next plane to Chennai but the tragedy of this enactment was it turned out to be a political drama. Jayalalitha, the opposition leader in Tamilnadu, had upped her election fever by declaring a firm stated position against the SL regime. Coalition politics was such that if Jayalalitha had succeeded in getting control of the Tamilnadu block of MPs, then the Congress position in ND would have become questionable. Consequently, the SL’s regime of pursuit of the war could have become questionable, too and that was the major concern of the SL regime and hence the reason for it to hasten the war to finish it before the election results were out. If MK had pursued the withdrawl of support to ND, there is every reason to believe that there would be far, far less bodies to be counted. As recent as last week, newspaper accounts bear testimony to this. In an interview with Salma Yusuf of SL’s Daily Mirror, Shri Rahpal Malhotra, who ‘provides suggestive advice to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, both personally and institutionally’ had categorically mentioned that the indian govt would have collapsed if it had voted against the resolution (and in favour of SL) in UNHRC. This underscores the magnitude and importance of coalition politics in general and, in this instance, tamilnadu politics in issues/matters related to SL.

    So, any doubt that the only person that the Tamils had placed their hope and trust at that time to stop the unrelenting massacre of the Tamils would have been the chief minister of tamilnadu – in this case it happened to be MK – and he failed, for whatever reason(s). There was talk of his selfish pursuit of personal interests in looking the other way and he paid the ultimate price for that. With the strong showing in the parliamentary elections, he may have believed that the SL issue would not have mattered to the Tamils in tamilnadu. There is some truth in this. After the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the response to the SL issue was largely muted and this was the case when the war was ravaging away from the glare of the international community. However, this attitude dramatically changed when news started emerging of the thousands of Tamils massacred and how they were slaughtered without food and medicine and human decency. Not only MK’s DMK party was routed in the state elections, it was also noteworthy that the congress party managed only to win five seats, ostensibly only in those constituencies where there was no vigorous pursuit of the SL issue in these constituencies for lack of electioneering time.

    Confidently informing the UNHRC of India’s intent to vote in favour of SL, the SL minister Mahinde Samarasinghe was elated and hoped for other nations to follow suit. However, the buzz in tamilnadu became hyperactive and the dramatic consequence resulted in just the opposite. It sent shockwaves to the SL regime and SL contingent in UNHRC. So, no one can dispute the fact that MK could have certainly impacted in a very substantial manner the way the war could have turned out to be and consequently could have saved thousands of lives but he did not, for whatever reasons and would forever be in the memory of Tamils as the person who, again rightly or wrongly, failed the Tamils miserably and failed to stop the massacre of the Tamils.

    • GypsyOwl

      Jansee, I agree with most of what you have stated so eloquently except that India was not simply hell bent on defeating the LTTE, but it was hell bent on subjugating and destroying the Tamils esp. those in Lanka. While Narayanan was keen to eliminate LTTE to avenge the humiliatin he suffered at the hands of LTTE’s intelligence, the rest of Indian establishment set out to use the war to defeat Tamils once and for all.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        If that were true, why did India train and arm the separatists for a decade? Ehy did they intervene in 1987 and push through the 13th Amendment? Why did they set up the paramilitary Tamil National Army (the original TNA) on their departure in 1990? Why did they support Vartharaja Perumal’s administration? To simply blame Tamil strategic errors on Indian racism is both childish and shortsighted.

        • jansee

          David Blacker:

          JJ was the president of SL in 1987 and Rajiv was the PM in India. Now you MR and MS respectively. The sun and the moon were in different positions last month compared to what they are today. Are you talking about a static world and nothing moves except your mind? I never expected you to be that naive.

  • Jayalath

    Dear ,readers .
    UN is a partially failed institution ,which was born to do miraculous things toward man kind . Just like so called democracy , religions , and particularly to prevent the humans ingrained habit and desire of killing each other to retain in the utmost greedy power . This is how I recommend this institution .

    It was failed number of time since it born to accomplish what it formed for and the idea of behind , .and the officials had been failed to stand for its fundamental principals due to the influentials of some power houses of the world .they failed to thwart many wars since it established . It has gradually become a piece of paper of failing to keep its demands . Not as a independent institution .

    However ,it covers number of good department , especially the health sector does a remarkable job .

  • http://brainoil.wordpress.com sharanga

    Genocide? You guys seriously need to get a grip here. Genocide is defined in CPPCG as:

    any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

    That’s what happened in SL? That’s pure nonsense. What Sri Lanka did, whatever they did, could not be any worse than what Israel is doing right now. They are bombarding Gaza, and their victims are mostly children and women. But they aren’t committing genocide.

    The UN cannot condemn Sri Lanka without condemning Israel without being total hypocrites.

    • Burning_Issue

      “That’s what happened in SL? That’s pure nonsense. What Sri Lanka did, whatever they did, could not be any worse than what Israel is doing right now.”

      How do you know that what happened in May 2009 in Sri Lanka is comparable to the Israeli attacks in Gaza? Do you have first-hand knowledge about the Sri Lankan killings? Why not allow a UN based investigation to establish the facts then we can discuss as to which is worse! This is an ideal opportunity to put the IC on the back foot by showing that Israel is committing far worse crimes than Sri Lanka did; why not take it?

      • http://brainoil.wordpress.com Sharanga

        Exactly what kind of genocide against Tamils wouldn’t destroy TNA by killing all its members, and instead let them do politics? Jews weren’t allowed to do politics w

        • Burning_Issue

          :) How about if the circumstances were to allow, the Sinhala would be happy to do away with the TNA in any way possible? The TNA is not exempted the chief Justice would fall in that category too if the world is not watching!

          You could not answer my question! You asserted that the Israelis are committing worse crimes on Gaza than Sri Lanka did without any concrete evidences and when questioned you opt to talk about TNA doing politics! You are the sort who would go any length to justify the Sinhala Buddhist Hegemony and enjoy subjugating the minorities.

          • http://brainoil.wordpress.com sharanga

            @burning,

            Your question too easy to answer. You said:

            Why not allow a UN based investigation to establish the facts then we can discuss as to which is worse

            So we can’t discuss about Tamil genocide yet becausr it is not yet established. In that case, shouldn’t you shut up about it, instead of acting like it has already been established?

            The reason for me to say no genocide happened is simple. Genocide is systematic killing of an ethnic group, and when that happen, people die in millions. Rwanda, holocaust, they all had people dying in million. In SL that didn’t happen, and IDP camps weren’t the same as Nazi concentration camps where they waited until they were gas chambered. Even according to estimates that sangam.org kind of sites shows, only 40000 people died. That’s a big number, but if it was a genocide, it’s really small number. That would’ve been the mist poorly executed genocide ever.

          • Off the Cuff

            Burning Issue,

            Sharanga’s question “Exactly what kind of genocide against Tamils wouldn’t destroy TNA by killing all its members, and instead let them do politics?” relates to the ethnicity of the TNA, which of course is Tamil.

            If there was a Tamil genocide, as you claim, the TNA would also be eliminated.
            In fact in a deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group (a genocide), the TNA would have been amongst the first to be eliminated.
            But instead they are living and kicking and doing politics.

            It is you who is guilty of illogical interpretation.
            Please try to make a rational argument without letting your emotions make a fool of you.

            Ha ha haa accusing Sharanga of Sinhala Buddhist hegemony is proof, if proof is needed, of your knee jerk responses to any critical argument from a non Tamil.

          • Burning_Issue

            Sharanga,

            I have never used the term Genocide; I have no evidence to support that claim yet. I would prefer a credible investigation to show in deeds indeed there were evidences that amount to a form of genocide.

            My beef with you was about your comparison with Israeli killings with Sri Lanka last stand. The allegations are but not restricted to:

            1. No fire zones were set up by the GOSL and then deliberately shelled at them.
            2. Fired shells knowingly at the makeshift hospitals
            3. Preventing the NGOs attending to the wounded and dying
            4. Allegedly killing 40,000 civilians by indiscriminate firing
            5. Summary executions of surrendering LTTE personal.
            6. White flag surrender and massacre
            7. White spread raping and mutilations

            If an investigation were to prove that there were indeed sufficient materials exist to term this as a form of genocide then I would claim as such and not before. This is exactly what you fight with your tooth and nail preventing it from happening.

          • http://brainoil.wordpress.com sharanga

            Burning,

            Oh, so you don’t claim that a genocide happened? For future reference, when you’re objecting to someone, please make the objection clear. I entered this thread saying that jansee’s claim that what happened in SL North was genocide was preposterous. All my arguments are built in order to disprove that. So it would be helpful if you state at the outset that you’re not claiming that a genocide happened.

            Having said that, why do you have a problem with me comparing what SL did with what Israel is doing?

            Is is it because you think that Israel doesn’t fire white phosphorous bombs at civilian cities, doesn’t kill children and women, while Sri Lanka did all that? If that is the case, I can easily disprove that.

            Is it because although you think Israel is committing war crimes, and UN is not punishing it, UN should punish SL for doing similar kinds of things?

            Suppose there was no law against murder in Sri Lanka, and I become president. I make a law through the parliament that outlaws murder, but only when it is committed by Tamils. A Sinhalese man can commit murder. But a Tamil can’t. Would you re-elect me

          • Burning_Issue

            Sharanga,

            Are you playing ignorant or are you one who does not reconcile things before putting pen to paper?

            Firstly, I can pick a point to debate with anyone that does not need to be the crux of the debate as long as the point that I picked has been used to support your main argument.

            “Having said that, why do you have a problem with me comparing what SL did with what Israel is doing”

            Do you even need to ask this? It was manifestly obvious during the whole of last stages of the war, the MR regime did not permit any independent media; they barred all NGOs including the UN and the Red Cross. They ensured that there were no independent witnesss to what they were doing. This allowed them to ostensibly claim that there were zero casualties. They did not account for the smart phones and other forms of recording devices. Suddenly the zero casualties’ claim that was publically made by the president had to be retracted admitting to a figure of 8,000! Have you ever wondered in terms of what had happened to those dead bodies? Why should I believe in the figure that a regime with “a bunch of liars” tag has said? I have outlined all the alleged charges against the regime in my previous post; you did not utter a word about any of those; there is no surprise is there? There are enough evidences exist to charge the regime with war crimes and crimes against humanity but the charge of Genocide need to be established.

            By contract, all Israeli military actions against the Palestinians are laid bare for all to see; all killings are being accounted for and documented. Israel has not set no-fire zones and later indiscriminately fired on them. It drops leaflets telling the Palestinian public to vacate the areas before directing missiles. Of course any secret targeting of the Hamas is done stealthily and Israel pays no regard to any collateral casualties. I do not at all condone the Israeli actions against the hapless Palestinians far from it.

            But the point is that, by contrast, no one knows what actually happened to the mass Tamil civilians during the last stages of the war thus I deem both the Israeli and Sri Lankan issues are mutually exclusive and incomparable! Both require UN intervention but there would be different requirements.

          • http://brainoil.wordpress.com sharanga

            @Burning,

            Seriously? So if the Sri Lankan government dropped leaflets, and allowed access to media, allowed everything to be documented, and did exactly what Israel does, like firing white phosphorous over cities, bombing houses, killing children and women, they should be given immunity by the UN?

            What you’re suggesting is this. You can commit whatever war crime you like. But if you drop leaflets before you do it, and allow international media and the UN to document your actions because you know the US won’t let anyone touch you, UN needs to give immunity to you, while if you do the same things without allowing things to be documented because you don’t have US protecting you, you’re committing war crimes that needs to be punished.

            So suppose that Sri Lanka had no laws against murder, and become the president. I make an internet forum, where you have to state that you’re going to kill someone before you kill someone. If you do that and kill, you won’t be punished. If you don’t do that and kill, you will be. Would you re-elect me?

          • http://brainoil.wordpress.com sharanga

            Oh wait, you do think a UN intervention is needed in Israel. Good, at least we have established that.

            So now the question if UN punish SL for their crimes, and don’t do any such thing to Israel wven though they should, would you say that justice has been serverd?

    • jansee

      sharanga:

      Comparison between the evil and devil and to categorise as one of the lesser evil and if that comparison is done with humans, as you are doing in the instant case, does not absolve the guilt – that he did it, and I also did it but not as bad as what he did – sort of self-consolation of reducing the extent of guilt shows the shameful face laced with an argument – a face still of the devil, or the evil it personifies.

      It is genocide no doubt – what then you call the bombardment of an entire race for the mistakes of a ruthless few – all for the sole purpose of reducing the number of Tamils. Madeline Albright, the once US foreign secretary, was toying with this word – whether what was happening in Rwanda was genocide or not. By the time she had decided, a human catastrophe had ravished that country. It is as clear as crystal water that the SL regime embarked on a calculated, determined and ruthless genocide. The mere numbers of those maimed can only mean just this.

      You can chose all the way and for all the time at your disposal to talk about whatever happens throughout the world – as if what happens at home means or matters nothing but I only have time to talk about what happens at home – not that I would like to talk of charity begins at home – as we don’t have a charitable regime – but rather than seeing to and attending to the “rot” at home, which you have hardly addressed, why talk of something beyond your reach. Also, if you can address to these at home, wouldn’t that contribute to the sum total – might even be an example for others to follow. It is worth noting the implicit argument of yours does admit the atrocities but not the guilt attached to it because “Israel” had done it, so it would be alright for us to do it also.

      • http://brainoil.wordpress.com Sharanga

        “Comparison between the evil and devil and to categorise as one of the lesser evil and if that comparison is done with humans… does not absolve the guilt”

        That’s hardly the point. The UN, by being passive about what is happening in Gaza, have recognized Israeli kind of warfare as legitimate warfare. That is, the UN, through its actions have shown, that it believes it is okay to attack in such a way that it would result in civilian death if your opponents are using civilians as a human shield.

        It would be hypocritical for them to condemn Sri Lanka for doing something that they think is okay for Israel to do. In other words, if they act only against selected countries and not others, that counts as either a misfeasance or a malfeasance.

        • Burning_Issue

          Your argument is that if the Israelis are allowed to kill the Palestinians why aren’t we allowed to kill our own minorities! They can kill; we can kill and no one should ask any questions. Wow what logic!

          • http://brainoil.wordpress.com sharanga

            No. The argument is this. When you say justice needs to be done, it matters who is doing the judging.

            The UN has shown through their actions that they condone attacks like Israel’s where there are civilian casualties due to the fact that Hamas is using women and children as a human shield.

            If UN wants to punish SL for doing the same thing, that is selective justice (kind of like what the government did to Sarath Fonseka).

            Selective justice is a misfeasance, and sometimes a malfeasance. Therefore Sri Lanka or the Sri Lankan government is punished by UN, they are the victims of a misfeasance/malfeasance.

            The fact that the UN did nothing about Israel, and yet punished SL for same things that Israel does, would show a bias against SL on UN’s part. Sri Lanka will be the victims of bias against them.

            You said:
            They can kill; we can kill and no one should ask any questions.

            No. But anyone who says they can kill must also say we can kill. You can’t hold two countries to different standards and call it justice.

          • Off the Cuff

            Well argued Sharanga.

          • Off the Cuff

            Wow indeed.

            Sharanga can hardly be blamed for the Illogical interpretation of his comment.

          • Gamarala

            Sharanga,

            I disagree with your line of reasoning. The issue is deeper than whether the UN is qualified to judge us or not. The issue is that justice is not forthcoming in the present context, which is why some people like Burning Issue are hoping for external intervention. That the UN fails to condemn Israel in what is a complex and even more long running conflict, does not necessarily have a bearing on another, complex scenario like ours. Recall that the UN did not interfere in Sri Lanka’s final massacre despite the evidence that it was inevitable, probably in the hope that the post-conflict scenario would bring about justice. We all know this is not happening. You are therefore asserting moral equivalence on what are essentially superficial similarities in a moral quagmire.

            My personal belief is that the UN should not intervene, but that is for purely consequentialist reasons – not moral objections (what moral objection can there be for correcting an injustice?). the govt. cannot ask for anything better than a UN intervention to save itself.

          • Burning_Issue

            As Gamarala has pointed out, the Israeli conflict with the Palestinians is complex and convoluted with the Jews’ Holocaust during World War II. The west collectively feel responsible and coupled with the vast network of influential Jewish rich and famous form obstacles for any from of justice for the Palestinians. The irony is that, the Arab World is not united; they distrust each other. I strongly feel that the Palestinians are being meted with gross injustice. Personally, I feel that the Jewish state is institutionally racist and prepared to kill all the Palestinians if the world is not watching.

            The TNA is active because of India. India’s influence in terms of winning the war is immense contrary to what the Sinhala public has been lead to believe. There was an agreement that post war there should be form of power devolution and the MR regime is dragging its feet. I agree that if GOSL had been responsible and took measures to build trust and harmony, the call for UN intervention would be waning; in the absence, not only the Tamil Diasporas but also many influential foreign governments are pushing sincerely for a form of investigation. It may have to run it course but certainly, it is going to happen and the future Sinhala public will have to pick up the pieces of its repercussions.

          • http://brainoil.wordpress.com sharanga

            @Gamarala

            Consequentialism is also normative ethical view point, so I’m a little confused as to why exactly you say your objection to a UN intervention is consequentialist, not moral. I’m a consequentialist myself, not a deontologist. So I’m really confused.

            My objection to unfairness is ultimately consequentialist. It’s not as if unfairness has any intrinsic badness.

            As I said to Burning, suppose we have no laws against murder. We decide that having laws against murder is better than not having them. So we implement a law, outlawing murder, except murder is a crime only when it is committed by a Tamil. Does that sound fair? I don’t think so. Does unfairness lead to good consequences? I don’t think so.

            Currently we have an ineffective supranational body. Do you want an effective supranational body with a huge Western bias and a bias against non-Western countries like ours?

          • Gamarala

            Sharanga,

            My apologies for a paragraph so poorly worded, that I myself am confused. Therefore, let me clarify. What I meant is this: At the heart of the problem with a desire for UN intervention, is the fact that justice has not been forthcoming in our ethnic conflict, despite the bloody massacre to end the war. If at all, any likelihood of justice is receding (I don’t mean tribal justice of course, but a just solution to the problem). I trust you agree with me thus far?

            The consequences of not having a just solution are relatively clear. Therefore, I have no moral objection for a desire to see this justice, on the part of Burning Issue and others. However, one can point out that the hope of reaching for that justice through a UN intervention is misplaced, because it will only help this government stir up the “foreign conspiracy” pot, enabling them to rally the public around a red herring, thus prolonging their (the govt’s) existence – eventually derailing all hope of justice.

            You also raised the issue that: “Currently we have an ineffective supranational body. Do you want an effective supranational body with a huge Western bias and a bias against non-Western countries like ours?”

            This is a valid concern, however, not all conflicts are created equal. For example, would you have objected to a (fictional) UN intervention in the Rwandan genocide, because the UN was “biased” towards the west and failed to intervene in Israel? In addition, as I’ve pointed out, there are clear differences in the case of Israel, and in the case of Sri Lanka. Expecting a perfect judge is also an unfounded hope, because there are none to be found. No legal system would work under such an expectation. Therefore, some justice is clearly better than none at all – and the UN is the only body available to us.

            All of these factors have to be considered in this situation, although that doesn’t mean I’m dismissing your concern about UN impartiality. It’s a morally ambiguous situation, a lot of thought is required, and no simple solutions are evident.

          • Burning_Issue

            Dear Gamarala,

            “The consequences of not having a just solution are relatively clear. Therefore, I have no moral objection for a desire to see this justice, on the part of Burning Issue and others. However, one can point out that the hope of reaching for that justice through a UN intervention is misplaced, because it will only help this government stir up the “foreign conspiracy” pot, enabling them to rally the public around a red herring, thus prolonging their (the govt’s) existence – eventually derailing all hope of justice.”

            I hope that you would agree that the MR regime is unscrupulous; it would do any means possible to stay in power. I do understand your point about UN intervention and the foreign conspiracy theory; it is true that any foreign intervention would make the MR regime to easily galvanise the Sinhala public. Even in any absence of foreign or UN centred intervention, the MR regime would stay in power with any means possible. Hence, the Tamils and the other minorities would continue to suffer with the chauvinists gaining more and more free hand for many years to come. All the signs are there in terms of 18th Amendment and attempt of impeachment of the Chief Justice; they are in it for a dynastic rule for decades to come. This is why I am very keen that the UN with the support of the powerful nations should hold the MR Regime to account. I would like to see a situation where the foreign bank accounts of the MR brothers frozen putting serious pressure on them to implement the LLRC Recommendations and sincerely resolve issues with the minorities. At the end of the day, the MR regime would not want their children to study in China and Russia!

            May be I am completely mistaken but I have no other way to think. I am particularly not interested in seeing the MR brothers punished but feel that any form of investigation would go some way alleviating the sufferings of the civilians though it may be counterproductive!

          • http://brainoil.wordpress.com sharanga

            @Gamarala

            We’re mostly on the same footing here. As I said, I’m not a deontologist who thinks things like justice, fairness, injustice etc. have any intrinsic value. I see them leading leading to bad consequences, and that’s all. Also, when I say justice, for example, I don’t mean some concept I’ve derived from first principles. I mean simply what they conventionally mean. (I’ve been trying to derive the golden rule from first principles but still without a lot of success).

            ***

            What I always thought about the Rwandan case was the UN should have made a military intervention while the genocide was going on (provided that they were reasonably certain that a genocide was going on).

            Intervening after the fact is a different question. In the first case, you could have many lives by intervening, so that even if the intervention is unjust in a certain sense, leading to bad consequences, the bad consequences of not intervening would easily outweigh them. In the second case though, what exactly can we achieve by intervening after the fact?

            Intervening after the fact will not save any lives. So the good consequences from it needs to be weighed against the bad consequences of not doing it. One of the bad consequences is, which can affect even us, is selective justice.

            I must also note that we don’t feel the same way about Rwanda what we feel for SL. For example, the political instability that would result from a UN intervention, and the resulting crippling of the SL economy, matters much more to us than anything that can happen in Rwanda. To be blunt, losing couple of millions in the stock exchange matters to a person much more than killings in Rwanda (if there are people who doesn’t feel this way, either they are saints, or insanely rich, or just deceiving themselves). So there’s the risk of us underestimating the bad consequences to Rwanda that can follow from an intervention.

            I don’t have enough knowledge about Rwandan crisis to comment on it. What I can say is, if an organisation wants to punish us, when they haven’t punished people who a-bombed Hiroshima, dropped white phosphorous bombs into Palestinian cities etc. it is unfair to us, and in the long term, unfair to all countries like us, and nothing good can come out of it.

          • Gamarala

            Dear Burning Issue,

            RE: “I would like to see a situation where the foreign bank accounts of the MR brothers frozen putting serious pressure on them to implement the LLRC ”

            I am honestly not qualified to judge whether such measures would work or not. What evidence or basis do you have to demonstrate that this could work? (After all, mere acts of desperation alone are not enough). I can only comment based on observations of the present political landscape. And in the present climate, it is demonstrably the case that the MR regime is using “foreign conspiracies” to hide its shortcomings. Therefore, let us assume that sanctions are imposed for example. The MR regime would immediately pin its entire financial failings on it. They will say, as they already are, “The westerners are conspiring to undermine our military success and make sure we fail. We must fight against this neo-colonial imperialism etc. etc”. We may even have to endure the sight of that buffoon Weerawana eating Maliban unto death, once again.

            As long as they continue to be in power, they can continue to live in excess at the expense of the public. I doubt that the MR regime is particularly concerned about the education of their children, as long as they can accede to the “throne”. Do any of these people have a particularly noteworthy education?

            The long and short of it, is that we may end up more a North Korea than anything else. Dissent will be curbed under the guise of silencing “western traitors” and it won’t be long before we have to praise the “dear leader” even after his death.

            In contrast, leaving the MR regime to its own devices would provide few excuses for its multitude of failings. Even mindlessly staunch supporters are running out of excuses for their egregious excesses. It is merely a matter of time when the situation becomes unsustainable.

            This is my view on it. although I am more than happy to be persuaded otherwise.

          • Gamarala

            Hi Sharanga,

            WRT to deriving the golden rule from first principles. Can one even move past solipsism? I believe that the only way to move past it is on the ground of practicality. It is simply not practical or useful to have a solipsistic belief system, and therefore, one is compelled to assume that a shared reality exists. This is necessarily an assumption. It cannot be derived from any prior principle, can it?

            Similarly, the basis for the golden rule is also practicality. It is simple sub-optimal and a zero-sum game to live in a society which does not adhere to it. That is my rather simplistic take on it. Now, if you were to ask me, so what if it’s sub-optimal? There is no answer to provide, I believe it must necessarily be axiomatic. One can only show that the practical realities would be dire. I’m interested in hearing your take on it.

            I tend to agree with your assessment that the consequences of an intervention may well be dire. But any objections cannot be based on the basis of “selective justice” alone. It is one of the consequences. But the bad consequences are that, murdering people by the thousands by an elected government becomes quite kosher, and there need be no action on the part of that government to provide long-term solutions. These are bad consequences not just for the Tamil people, but for the character of the nation as a whole. But in all fairness, I too see more bad coming out of an intervention, than any good, as I’ve pointed out to Burning Issue. However, if I believed otherwise, “selective justice” would be the least of my concerns.

          • http://brainoil.wordpress.com sharanga

            Gamarala

            Don’t be so hasty to give up on deriving the Golden Rule. Even if the quest may ultimately fail, finding out the reasons why is very important and illuminating. For example, even if you think Kant’s Categorical Imperative is a failure, you need to be able to show exactly why it fails. Otherwise you’re not only being unnecessarily pessimistic and vague, you’re missing a chance to learn.

            Besides, “practicality” is just a magic word. It doesn’t mean anything without a proper definition and would be useless if you’re trying to make a friendly artificial intelligence.

          • Burning_Issue

            Dear Gamarala,

            “I am honestly not qualified to judge whether such measures would work or not. What evidence or basis do you have to demonstrate that this could work?”

            This is in relation to my suggestion that the bank accounts held in the western countries by the Rajapaksas should be frozen. I consciously did not talk about blanket sanctions on Sri Lanka as this would impact on the poor people of all sections. Rather I spoke about hurting the very people who are responsible by freezing their foreign stashed funds. Such measures have had varying results. The European Union froze the Swiss and UK based bank accounts of the Mugabe and his clan; this measure in conjunction with pressure from South Africa resulted in a government of National Unity. On the other hand freezing the bank accounts of Saddam Hussein did not yield that much results. My viewpoint is that it is very difficult to gauge what will come of with freezing the accounts of the rajapaksas but it would certainly project a serious intent on the part of the IC that it is serious.

            “And in the present climate, it is demonstrably the case that the MR regime is using “foreign conspiracies” to hide its shortcomings. Therefore, let us assume that sanctions are imposed for example. The MR regime would immediately pin its entire financial failings on it.”

            This is a very pertinent point; it is very difficult to argue against it. Pretend for minute that the IC has overlooked the killings and the Tamils Diasporas have been won over by infiltration; what next? I have already said that the MR regime is Unscrupulous; it will do any means possible to stay in power. How long it will take the Sinhala public to rise up against it? It is absolutely conceivable that by the time the Rajapaksas are done away with, the minorities would have been completely subjugated both culturally and geographically! This is the quandary that we face!

          • Gamarala

            Dear Burning Issue,

            Frankly, I doubt that freezing bank assets would work. The regime would easily find a way to circumvent any such restriction, given the sheer number of loyalists available to it. But the more important point is this: If you agree that international intervention will only serve to increase jingoism, and will help rally the public around the regime, then you agree that dislodging the regime subsequently becomes an idea even further removed from reality?

            In contrast, and as I’ve already mentioned, many former loyalists are already disillusioned by this regime. Therefore, it is evident that the better strategy is to just let them be, so that they may unravel on their own. Mind you, I don’t meant to suggest that it will be any less of a herculean task to dislodge them, given that MR is in the habit of appointing all and sundry who are willing to tow the line, to positions of power. It’s a really effective strategy, and one which will be difficult to counteract. But certainly, it will be far easier to counteract such issues with a disillusioned public than it will be to dislodge a regime that are seen as “guardians against foreign meddling”.

            The minorities will have to survive and be tactful till that day comes. I doubt that running about like headless chickens and grasping at any and every straw, something that has already driven the Tamil polity to the brink of destruction (think about the mindless support for the LTTE for example), will yield better results.

        • jansee

          sharanga:

          It would have been wonderful if the SL regime had admitted your line of argument – that if Israel can do it, so can we but that was not what the SL regime claimed – it was a humanitarian operation, with the humanitarian charter in one hand and the gun in the other and there were “zero” casualties. The Israelis have never to go to NFZ and then start bombing them. And above all, there is a very fundamental difference. The Israelis dealt with foreign countries/authorities whereas it was its own citizens that the SL regime massacred, that it claimed it wants to protect – the claim of a humanitarian operation was to bomb hospitals, murder children. BTW, how many hospitals did the Israelis bomb?

          • http://brainoil.wordpress.com sharanga

            @jansee

            Are you even following your own line of argument? Because I’m not following yours. What is the arguments here? That SL government is guilty of crimes against humanity by virtue lying about there mission, while Isarael is not guilty by virtue of not lying about what they are doing? Is this a truth or dare competition now?

            What a government says about what they did or are doing count for nothing in determinig whether they are guilty of war crimes/ crimes against humanity. What counts is what they actually did.

            For the record, UN does not recognize Palestine as a member state. Palestine only has limited recognition. But this doesn’t even matter unless you can somehow interpret the Geneva convention etc. saying that it is okay to blow up foreign cities and kill civilians, but not okay to do the same to your own cities. That really isn’t the case.

            So far your attempt to discredit SL government, while trying to justify Israel’s actions in order to stop me from drawing a comparison, has been fruitless.

            So let us consider your final question: how many hospitals did Israel bomb?

            I’m not sure. I’m not going to waste my time to find it out. But we can pretty safely assume, by extrapolating what we already know about Israel, that if Israel thinks it has cause to bomb a hospital, they will. Remember, these are the guys who phosphrous bombed Palestinian cities. The places they attack right now aren’t military complexes. Hamas doesn’t have many. Instead they are hiding behind civilians. So Israel has no option other than to blow up houses. That’s exactly they are doing. Of course it would make the situation even worse because that sort of thing only fuel extremists. But that’s what happening right now.

    • justitia

      sharanga,
      Genocide – according to your definition – commenced from 1954.
      LTTE was born after the July 1973 pogrom

      http://www.eelamhomeland.com/infor/Lest_We_Forget_p1.PDF

  • http://anapayan.tumblr.com Anapayan

    Thanks Silva, DJ, GypsyOwl and Jansee.

    Jansee,I didn’t intend to write this piece as a “thesis” for the understanding of ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka or Mullivaaykkaal event. It is too early to write about Mullivaaykkaal – because of its immediacy that brings the elements of emotion and contemporaneousness to the topic – in terms of historicizing. It is in fact, what we are seeing right now is the very battle for the history of Mullivaaykkaal is being conducted via the post-war discourse on accountability by both sides – Tamil nationalists and the Sri Lankan state.

  • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

    Hi Jansee,
    Ok, so if you don’t see reconciliation (which will take decades and many generations), as being possible. And you’re also convinced that some sort of UN-mandated military force will arrive in SL to ‘protect the Tamils’. Hmmmm… amazing. And the Bishop’s entry into the casualty figures bingo is that. Just an entry.

    The war’s ending was foretold from the moment that the LTTE proclaimed their intention of using the Tamil civilians as a human shield. We all know it, so let’s stop pretending that there could’ve been any other outcome.

    As alway, DBS predicted the end in March 2009.

    “The stalemate is simply this. The LTTE wants a ceasefire for the ostensible purpose of ensuring civilian safety and security. It would be easier to do that by evacuating the civilians but the tigers will not agree because if the people go the tigers are vulnerable.
    When the LTTE and pro-tiger lobby calls for a ceasefire the international community counters it by saying-let’s have a temporary one to get the people out.

    To this the LTTE wont agree. If there’s a permanent ceasefire there is no need to evacuate the civilians is the counter argument.
    The Government too is wary about a truce as it sees itself on the verge of winning the conventional war. Colombo does not want the LTTE to wriggle out through a ceasefire permanent or temporary.

    If one were to dispense with the “concern” displayed for entrapped civilians and appraise the situation realistically what Colombo and the International community are asking the tigers to do is to commit politico-military “hara-kiri”.

    Given the track record of the LTTE it is impossible that the organization would do so. For that matter no entity in the world is likely to let itself be led to the slaughter willingly.

    If necessary the LTTE will go down fighting to the very end and also take down a large number of civilians with them. But they wont let the people go.

    As for the government, the Rajapakse regime will not be concerned of civilian life and limb if firmly resolved to capture the remaining LTTE territory. Eggs have to be cracked to make an omelette.

    The situation has steadily deteriorated. Civilians are dying or getting injured on a daily basis. The worst is yet to come.
    If and when Colombo decides to end the current “stand-off” state of affairs and embark on an all out, no-holds barred offensive to capture what remains of tiger territory, the LTTE is also likely to offer determined resistance.

    In such an environment there is very likely to be large scale civilian casualties. That would be a humanitarian catastrophe of gigantic proportions. In a worst-case scenario around 15,000 civilians at least could die during the military push.
    I fervently hope and pray that such a situation will not come to pass.”

    http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/235

    The situation he predicted came to pass. The responsibility for large scale civilian deaths lies at the hands of the LTTE and their supporters and funders.

    I think this govt’s been fantastically short-sighted and hubristic in not even attempting to grope towards a solution – the reason for which this war was fought to its brutal and inevitable conclusion. As as long as these ‘accountability demands’ are tied to war crimes prosecutions, I don’t see any movement. Isn’t that obvious, surely?

    The moderate approach you cried out for (which I agree with wholeheartedly) has been scuppered as much by the govt’s own paranoia and hubris and by the reality-denying activities of the overseas LTTE factions, which in turn allows the govt to justify their own threat perception.

    Can you explain more on this “independent and unilateral action”? Who will carry this out?

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Mango,

      The EU Election Observation Mission roundly condemned the LTTE-TNA alliance. The mission chief, John Cushnahan incurred the wrath of the LTTE as well as of some EU countries for being overly critical of the LTTE /TNA grouping. In spite of overwhelming evidence of threats, intimidation and killings carried out by the LTTE in support of the TNA, the international community remained strangely silent on Cushnahan’s report. The UPFA and UNP, too, remained mum as they didn’t want to antagonise the LTTE/TNA alliance. Interestingly, the EU, a key member of Sri Lanka’s Peace Co-Chairs –an outfit set up in support of the Norwegian initiative – wanted to take up the issue. Although the Co-Chairs should have used Cushnahan’s report to rein in the LTTE/TNA alliance. It felt any attempt to bring pressure to bear on the LTTE would be counterproductive vis-a-vis the CFA.

      Secret pacts
      Electoral alliances and secret pacts dominated the period up to the April 2 general election of 2004. But, none could be as diabolical as the understanding between the LTTE and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which came into existence in 2001. The formation of the grouping comprising members from the ITAK, ACTC, TULF, EPRLF and TELO was meant to strengthen the LTTE’s interests both here and abroad in keeping with its battlefield strategy. The TNA played its part well. (Shamindra Fernando in The Island newspaper)

      A statement issued by the TNA in the run-up to the April 2, 2004 general election highlighted its alliance with the LTTE.

      The TNA declared: “Accepting the LTTE’s leadership as the national leadership of ‘Tamil Eelam’ Tamils and the Liberation Tigers as the sole and authentic representative of the Tamil people, let us devote our full cooperation for the ideals of the Liberation Tigers’ struggle with honesty and steadfastness. Let us endeavour determinedly, collectively as one group, one nation, one country, transcending race and religious differences, under the leadership of the LTTE, for a life of liberty, honour and justice for the Tamil people.”

      They do not leave much room for speculation, do they?

      Is there an alternative Tamil Leadership that can reach out to the Northern Tamils? The LTTE annihilated the moderate Tamils leaving their proxy the TNA an open field.

      It is pertinent to question whether a govt that won a war against a ruthless Terror organisation like the LTTE, would be willing to fritter away that hard fought victory by leaving the field open for the LTTE’s Proxy, to step into the vacuum created by the LTTE itself.

      Logic seems to dictate that building an alternative moderate Tamil leadership and providing the means for economic recovery to the Northern people should take priority. I am not sure that the govt is on the road to achieve the first but it sure seems to be doing so with the second.

  • Off the Cuff

    Jansee observes

    “The foreign secretaries of UK and France were in SL during the last days of the war. They tried in vain to stop the human casualties mounting but they could not. They were even prepared to take the risk of travelling to the war zone but was flatly denied by the defence secretary and there are no prizes was guessing. The SC of the UN was hopelessly divided as there was no will to pursue even a single serious dialogue or discussion. The only picture that mattered was the LTTE. So, the UN was successfully propelled by India to look the other way. India was all along with the SL regime and there was no hope for the devastated Tamils. The thousands of Tamils who paraded the streets of foreign capitals could not impact even the slightest the SL regime’s pursuit.”

    GypsyOwl concurs,

    Curiouser and curiouser, where was this concern when for 30 long years the LTTE was attacking Public Transport, Civilian Aircraft, School buses, Public Markets and Public facilities, indiscriminately Killing and Maiming civilians irrespective of ethnicity (or were the Tamils in the South forewarned by the terrorists?) and abducting Tamil children to use as cannon fodder? Surely 30 years should have been enough to prevail on Prabahkaran’s Terror outfit to desist and negotiate a political solution !!! After all, “The thousands of Tamils who paraded the streets of foreign capitals” controlled the purse strings!!!

    The Millibanks, the Kutchners, the SC, the Indians, the Karunanidhi’s and most of all “The thousands of Tamils who paraded the streets of foreign capitals” or Tucked into Fast Food while staging Death Fasts were ALL Very Significantly Missing in Action and could not or would not prevail on the LTTE to mend their ways and prevent the escalation that did happen and ended with the Mullivaaykkaal Event.

    Those who funded or sang hosannas to terrorists are more culpable than the terrorists themselves, the New Found Humanitarian concern not withstanding.

    Burning Issue asks,

    “How do you know that what happened in May 2009 in Sri Lanka is comparable to the Israeli attacks in Gaza? Do you have first-hand knowledge about the Sri Lankan killings?”

    But bombs did go off on Lanka’s Public Transport killing and maiming indiscriminately, without any ethnic selectivity, for 30 long years.

    We did have first hand experience of that.
    But then, that is no concern of those that don’t use Lanka’s Public Transport to go to school or work, as they are safe in their cocoons!!!

    Hmm anyway Palestinians are not as important as Tamils, they are just ordinary humans! So why bother comparing the Palestinians to SL’s northern Tamils who are incomparable!

    “Why not allow a UN based investigation to establish the facts then we can discuss as to which is worse! This is an ideal opportunity to put the IC on the back foot by showing that Israel is committing far worse crimes than Sri Lanka did; why not take it?”

    ha ha haa …child baiting.

  • jansee

    off-the cuff:

    Oh, you forgot about the 1983 black july pogrom. You forgot about the Sinhala Only Act. Come-on, all what you have stated started only after the Tamils realised that talking to the Sinhala regime, that has always been deceitful and full of lies, will bear no fruits. Every single agreement the Sinhala leaders made with the Tamils were torn off, not by the Tamils but the Sinhala regime – big cheaters, aren’t they?

    Look who is talking about Tamil children. Have you had any remorse for the almost 50,000 during the first JVP uprising and almost 15,000 (mostly young/youths) Sinhalese, massacred by a ruthless regime. What moral do you have to tell us what Tamils have done. Go and clean your house first.

    “Logic seems to dictate that building an alternative moderate Tamil leadership and providing the means for economic recovery to the Northern people should take priority. I am not sure that the govt is on the road to achieve the first but it sure seems to be doing so with the second”

    You can dictate whatever you want. Just let me tell you this. Rajiv Gandhi did not dictate to SL and forced that “parippu” incident on his own. It was the firm stand of then chief minister of Tamilnadu (TN), MG Ramachandran. You have no right to know what the under-currents are in TN. Even Mahinda’s saviour, Karunanidhi had started to move in that direction, after sustaining heavy electoral losses. If the congress led central govt had voted for Sri Lanka during the last UNHRC resolution, it would have collapsed – all because of TN politics. This time around the Tamils are going to vote in only a leadership that tightens its grip on SL as far as the Tamils are concerned. And Karunanidhi, too knows this and that is the reason why he is singing the TESO song. It is not the UN or the US, once the issue has been decided by the majority of the Tamils in TN, then there is every reason that SL would have no choice but to toe the line. Mind you, the present SL regime has angered the Tamils in TN like no other. We can see the fun after that.

    Mango:

    You are utterly wrong that the end of the war was foretold when the LTTE used the civilians as human shields. When the CFA was signed, it was on a parity basis with the acknowledgement of a de-facto Tamil nation but the SL regime seriously undermined it. Whatever proposals made were based on this understanding. The war was started by the SL regime, not as a humanitarian operation but to annihilate substantial numbers of Tamils. The casualty figures (civilians) have been mentioned as high as 146,000, and it is the SL regime that has been accused as the perpetrators of this heinous crime. You have a murderous regime in your midst. Hope you still remember the 50,000 and 15,000 Sinhala, mostly youths murdered by your “heroic” and “honourable” forces.

    • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

      Hi Jansee,
      The manner of the war’s ending (huge civilian casualties due to them being used as a human shields by the LTTE to prevent a final assault) was foretold and predicted as I’ve noted above.

      The CFA terms meant nothing after the LTTE, in a act of supreme over-confidence, blocked the sluice gates at the Mavil Aru in August 2006, allowing for its’ much-longed for crushing and annihilation to begin. Let’s at least try to stay true to basic, agreed facts. The ‘de-facto Tamil nation’, under VP’s infallible leadership undermined itself, without needing any external assistance. GoSL just had to wait and be patient for VP to do something so utterly stupid (i.e. Mavil Aru) that GoSL could in all innocence say “look at this mono-maniac warmonger, he has to be defeated”. VP had almost everything he wanted and blew it on his maximalist ‘Eelam or nothing’ stance.

      The casualty figures change depending on who’s making the allegations. They range from 1,000+ (GoSL), 7000+ (UN) to 150,000+ (Eelamists). Just pick a number you’re happy with. There’s a long queue of Lankans wanting ‘justice’, stretching as far back as JVP 1 & 2. The dead of the those two insurrections are still waiting for their ‘justice’ and accountability. What makes the victims of Eelam Wars 1-4 so special?

      The brutal crushing of the Sinhalese JVP, by a mainly Sinhalese armed forces proves that the SL Armed Forces don’t have an ethnic bias, in carrying out their orders. The fact that SL has had so many post-independence insurgencies proves a severe governance deficit and is nothing to be proud of.

      • jansee

        mango:

        There has never been any dispute that civilians were used as human shields by the LTTE. That the SL regime descended to that low or even lower level in killing by the thousands whom they bluffed the world as wanting to protect are the issues that are being considered. The chill of the entire operation is nothing more than a premeditated plan to reduce the number of tamils. The call for an independent investigation is to place not only the SL regime in the dock, it is also the LTTE, or the remnants of what remains. Also, it asserts the fact that if it had been known that the LTTE would be using this ploy, and knowing well that heavy shelling would cost the lives of many, the SL regime misled or bluffed India and the world that is was not using heavy shelling but it was doing just that. The use of cluster bombs also would have meant for that particular reason – to kill in mass numbers. It also does not explain why hospitals were bombed. And are we fools to assume that the LTTE would not move into the NFZ declared by the SL regime. The declaration of the NFZ was neither an accident nor the SL regime was not aware of the possibility (in fact, it would be a reality) that the LTTE would not also move in. The idea was, by coercing the people to move into a small, narrow NFZ, it would be much easier to get the people out of their hiding bunkers and bomb them easily.

        The victims of the Eelam wars are no special than the Sinhalese youths who perished during the two uprisings. Just that the Tamils are awake and Sinhalese like you are sleeping, or worse, pretending to be asleep. Should that be a problem for the Tamils? The conviction of the Tamils have and will always be to be a pain to the SL regime as long as it holds them under their gun and subjugate them. If the Tamils go down, so will SL as a whole and make no mistake about that. You will see how this unravels in front of your very eyes in the years to come. To talk of a war for thirty years is an under-statement. Since independence SL had never been at peace. So, the choice is theirs but to expect the Tamils to give up – that will not happen.

        • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

          @ Jansee,
          So we agree that:
          • LTTE held 300k+ civilians as hostages to prevent an LTTE defeat.
          • VP and his team refused all offers of unconditional surrender & ceasefires to allow their hostage to leave and live.

          If GoSL really wanted to ‘cull’ the Tamil population, why did they allow 300k+ civvies to escape death?
          This fetish with cluster bombs is getting a bit old. Still no proof of their use and even if there was proof, GoSL is legally allowed to use them because (like the US) it never signed up to a cluster bomb usage ban.

          The NFZ was designated for the civilians only. We know that the LTTE entered the NFZ, fought in civilian clothes and amongst the civilians. The evidence is there in the LTTE’s own combat videos. So, how is that GoSL’s fault?

          Yes, hospitals were shelled and I’m appalled about that. I’m even more appalled that the LTTE deliberately sited their artillery near the hospitals to ensure that the civilians would be killed by the inevitable SLA retaliatory counter battery fire. That’s the disgustingly cynical nature of their calculation.

          As for international investigations, can you provide answers to these basic questions:
          – Who will comprise this foreign ‘independent’ panel acceptable to all?
          – Which period should they cover? [see my answer below]
          – Which countries should they investigate, other than SL?
          – Should they be able to indict SL Tamils currently living in the West who can be proved to have supported the LTTE? [You've already answered 'yes' to that. So, I expect to see Aunty Adele and a plane loads surviving senior LTTE officials arriving in CMB]
          – Will they indict and prosecute Western supporters of the LTTE, including some dodgy NGOs?

          But before we get there, we should investigate and provide accountability for the dead and disappeared of JVP 1, JVP 2, Eelam Wars 1-4 and the perpetrators of Black July. Atrocities should be dealt with in strict temporal sequence.

          But before any of that, any international investigating body must apply the same principals of justice and accountability to far greater war crimes. So let them start with the biggest enablers of civilian deaths in the last two decades, the UK & US (remember Iraq sanctions in Gulf War 1, then Iraq 2 and currently AfPak quagmire?), then on to Russia (Chechnya) and then perhaps India (too many insurgencies and atrocities to list – Punjab, Kashmir etc) oh.. and Israel of course and then by all means prosecute Sri Lanka.

          After all, for justice to be done, it must be done impartially, no?

          If justice cannot be administered impartially it proves that the motive for investigations remains that of revenge against the GoSL for defeating the Tigers and destroying Tamil nationalism. So, no deal.

          • jansee

            manga:

            The population in Vanni before the final war was 429,059 and the people who came out/accounted for was 282,380 – which would mean 146,679 are unaccounted for. A regime that possibly murdered 146,000 should be cited for genocide. I have mentioned this times and again, the main reason of the barbarous shelling and murder is to reduce the number of tamils. That the regime allowed about 300,000 to “escape”, is to show the world the 300,000 and hide the 146,000 murders, achieving a dual objective but as the veneer gradually started to wear off, it comes up with other dubious arguments. Pray tell me, isn’t it this regime that dubiously argued of its claim of zero civilian casualties? Your argument, as of the regime, doesn’t really hold water.

            It is true that SL did not sign the ban on cluster bombs use, then why not admit it? Do you want the proof? Allow an independent investigation team into the Vanni. Why should the regime prevent this if it wants to clear itself? What has it got to hide? What is it afraid of? This regime will be haunted, again and again, until it comes clean.

            The NFZ was created to decimate the tamils hiding in bunkers. As I have mentioned, the primary objective of the regime’s war was to reduce the number of tamils – consequently reducing the bargaining power of the tamils who had always been a “pain” to the SL regime. That has always been the primary motive. Getting to the LTTE was only a part of this main plan. The fact that the NPC has not been allowed to choose their elected reps, the talk of modifying the 13A amply proves this point. International law mandates that civilians should be protected in confrontations. That burden lies with the SL regime. If it is as easy as what you claim, let the SL regime claim that it had no choice but to murder all these hapless civilians because of the LTTEs presence in their midst – then we can see where this leads to. Your shallow argument tallies with the dubious argument of the regime’s zero civilian casualties.

            I have already mentioned a couple of times. The SL regime is in the dock. The argument has shifted from the local scene to the international scene. There would be no necessity to refer and depend upon a recalcitrant regime that continues to lie and have been deceitful all along. It has been cited for the murders of 146,000 civilians. The ball is in the regime’s court – allow an international independent investigation – talking of anything else doesn’t seem to matter now. The resolution in the UNHRC was the begining of a number of steps towards making this regime be accountable for its genocide. It has reached a stage where the SL regime has no say in how the matter progresses against it. It had its time but simply squandered it.

            You must be really joking – or are you? The JVP 1 & 2 and the Black July incidents should have pulled out all those who were responsible. Were you all sleeping and allowed regime after regime to get off scot free? A regime that can’t even resolve the recent 5 students and the 17 ACF murders can hardly be expected to resolve the “historical” ones. Are you in your slumber?

            Do we really care what happens anywhere in the world when our own brethren, kith and kin are being brutally murdered by this regime. Let people elsewhere take care of their problems. It is this regime that has to answer the tamils for the atrocities committed. Do we have to give a hood on what happens elsewhere, as if we would matter there. I have no problem in you embarking on this “sacred” journey to be the “police” of the world – but it will reflect on you well if you start from home.

        • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

          @ Jansee,
          The Vanni population figures are hotly disputed because the LTTE didn’t allow a census and they routinely under and over-inflated the figures to suit their purposes for gaining food supplies etc. So now, your casualty figures have risen to 146,000. It’s only a matter of time before they reach 200,000.

          How were these people killed and where were they buried? It’s no easy task to dispose of 146,000 bodies. There’s been plenty of leaked film and images of atrocities, so where’s the evidence of 146,000 civilians being murdered and disposed of? If the UN genuinely believed that GoSL had deliberately murdered 146,000 civilians, they would’ve charged them by now.

          The govt maintained a policy of ‘zero casualty figures’ but that was of course ridiculous and I’ve never, ever claimed that there were ‘zero civilian casualties’. There were always going to be civilian casualties since the LTTE was using them as a human shield. Therefore the blame for their death lies with the hostage takers (the LTTE) and not with the rescuers (GoSL).

          Given that SL isn’t party to a cluster bomb ban, why should the govt deny their use, if they used them? So far, there hasn’t been any genuine, verifiable proof of their use. All the pix provided have been of ‘dumb’ iron bomb casings.

          “Why not allow independent investigations?” Because no fully sovereign state (with powerful allies) will allow ‘independent investigations’ of its alleged war crimes by an external organisation. e.g. India will never allow the UN to investigate its Kashmir conflict and abuses. Standard international practice (e.g. UK, France etc) is for internal investigations to grope towards the truth after 50-70 years.

          The NFZs were created to try to separate the LTTE cadres from the civilians. The bargaining power of ‘tamils’ has been reduced and diminished because the LTTE lost the war.

          “International law mandates that civilians should be protected in confrontations..” No it doesn’t. Salient points from the Geneva Convention regarding civilian casualties, applicable to our little war:
          1. “The presence of a protected person [i.e. civilian hostages] may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.“4th Geneva Convention, Article 28.
          2. The armed forces are not liable where injury to civilians results from unavoidable collateral damage, provided it is proportionate to the military gain expected of the attack.
          The military gain was the total destruction of the LTTE. A very necessary and laudable aim, no?
          3. “Civilians do not enjoy absolute immunity. Their presence will not render military objects immune from attack for the mere reason that it is impossible to bombard them without causing injury to the non-combatants.” Oppenheim’s ‘International Law’.

          Where I agree with you is that this Govt has been incredibly dumb in how they’ve responded to these attacks, adopting a ‘head in the sand’ attitude, coupled with its own recent abuses of power. That however doesn’t detract from the ludicrousness of the ‘genocide’ charge.

          As I wrote before, we should investigate and provide accountability for the dead and disappeared of JVP 1, JVP 2, Eelam Wars 1-4 and the perpetrators of Black July. Atrocities should be dealt with in strict temporal sequence.

          You appear to care deeply for various people being murdered by this regime. Can I apply the same logic to you and ask what action was undertaken by the ‘Tamil community’ when the LTTE was at its zenith and nadir, forcefully recruiting the next generation to fight and die in a futile war?

          • Off the Cuff

            Mango,

            Addressing Jansee you say “You appear to care deeply for various people being murdered by this regime. Can I apply the same logic to you and ask what action was undertaken by the ‘Tamil community’ when the LTTE was at its zenith and nadir, forcefully recruiting the next generation to fight and die in a futile war?”

            The Tamil community in Lanka was helpless as part was living under a murderous megalomaniac and his followers who were busy abducting children, pilfering food and medicine meant for civilian welfare, sent by the govt and aid agencies (such as the WFP), while the balance who managed to escape to the Sinhala majority South had comparative safety and their children could attend school and University.

            However the Tamil leaders in the South were regularly killed by LTTE hit squads operating in the South. Only the LTTE Proxy, the TNA, who sold their soul to Prabahakaran by publicly accepting the LTTE as the “unquestioned leaders of the Tamils” was safe from the Megalomaniac murderer.

            The rest of the Tamils went abroad. Some with genuine fear went to the closest refuge, India, while the others played the affluent countries for suckers and became economic refugees.

            The new found wealth made them deaf and blind to what Praba was doing to a future generation of Tamils. They did not hear the voice of UTHR(J) that was telling them that Tamil children as young as 9 years were being abducted and forcibly pushed to fight a man’s war, a war these new rich abandoned, a war which they decided to fight by proxy from afar, with a generation of Tamil Children for whom they did not care a tuppence when the war was on. The Vanni civilians did not matter to them, they wanted Eelam and to hell with the Vanni Tamils and their children. The children of the Vanni were sacrificed on the altar of the Eelam Dream by the Diaspora High Priests such as Jansee whose own children were safe attending school and University in the west. Not one protest was held on behalf of the Vanni Children for 30 long years.

            The University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) which was formed in 1988 (they were educated Tamils) kept releasing report after report documenting the atrocities the People of the Vanni and their children suffered at the hands of the Terrorist murderer Prabakaran.

            The outpourings of the UTHR(J) fell on deaf ears of the Tamil Diaspora who kept on pouring money to Prabahkaran’s coffers to buy the guns and bullets that destroyed at least two generations of Tamils.

            Jansee would talk of the JVP (as she has done above) even though the the Sinhalese did not fund the destruction of the JVP, unlike the Vanni Tamil destruction which they directly funded for 30 years. The money spent on destruction could have turned the North in to a Utopia.

      • Gamarala

        Mango,

        Regarding your comment: “There’s a long queue of Lankans wanting ‘justice’, stretching as far back as JVP 1 & 2. The dead of the those two insurrections are still waiting for their ‘justice’ and accountability. What makes the victims of Eelam Wars 1-4 so special?”

        I think you will agree with the observation that this question is often raised by hardcore Sinhala nationalists, although it is reasonably evident that you are not one. The general premise is that the victims of the racist wars are not any more remarkable than the victims of the JVP insurrection. I disagree. The victims of a racist war are indeed special. This is because they are being discriminated against on mere account of their existence, as opposed to the JVP insurrection, where a specific political ideology was professed.

        Therefore, given the minority status of the Tamils in the midst of an overshadowing body of Sinhalese, the length of the conflict, and the nature of the discrimination, it must clearly be higher on our list of priorities that the JVP insurrection.

        However, I will also make the observation that there is not much difference in the tribal nature of SInhala and Tamil politics. Therefore, as in the case of the Sinhalese. a fundamental shift in Tamil political ideology is also needed. However, that still doesn’t mean that the situation surrounding this conflict, and its victims, is not “special”.

        • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

          Hi Gamarala,
          Both internal conflicts were civil wars and by definition more brutal and pitiless than a bog-standard war between nation states. I define the victims of Eelam War 4 (EW4) as the civilians caught in the middle. The armed combatants on both sides (excepting the press-ganged LTTE cadres) were volunteers.

          The discrimination you mention is quite separate from the Vanni siege/hostage rescue situation where VP held the mass of the Tamil population to prevent a final SLA push. GoSL really had no other option than to do it quickly, hence the high cost in civilian casualties.

          If EW4 was fought by GoSL on a racially predicated doctrine, why was the Eastern front campaign fought and won with incredibly low civilian casualty figures? The answer is that the LTTE never had time to corral the civilians as they did in the Vanni.

          I agree with you on the depressingly tribal nature of SL society and politics. One solution would be to repeal all ethnicity-based laws like Kandyan, Muslim, Thesawalamai etc which perpetuate these divisions and enact one common law applicable to all citizens, irrespective of their birth ethnicity. Fat chance, eh?

          • Gamarala

            Mango,

            I have no disagreement that the LTTE was largely responsible for the civilian shield issue. I also agree that the GOSL was forced to hasten its campaign because of the tremendous external pressure that was being brought to bear. But it is not possible to analyse this issue entirely divorced from its background. Therefore, you cannot say that the victims of the war are not “special”, because they are, and it is the background to the problem which makes them special.

            The antidote to this call for external intervention, would have been genuine steps on the part of the GOSL to make reparations and amends for the many crimes wrought against Tamil citizens. At the end of the day, this is what makes the matter unconscionable. Not only were people killed by the thousands, but that killing has not resulted in the establishment of a long-term framework for peace, only subjugation.

            WRT to the tribal nature of SL society. No disagreements. We are still emerging from feudal thinking after all, although some might argue that this has taken a step backwards of late. However, given that we are a “democracy”, it is unavoidable that the onus largely falls on the Sinhalese majority to do the right thing, regardless of what everyone else does.

    • Off the Cuff

      Jansee,

      “Look who is talking about Tamil children. Have you had any remorse for the almost 50,000 during the first JVP uprising and almost 15,000 (mostly young/youths) Sinhalese, massacred by a ruthless regime. What moral do you have to tell us what Tamils have done. Go and clean your house first”

      Yes look indeed.

      Are you trying to hide behind a govt’s action against Sinhala terrorists? The only thing that it confirms is that the govt treated Terrorists alike be they Sinhalese or Tamil. Terrorists are Terrorists.

      In your case you provided the Guns and Bullets to kill your own. Now you talk with all the false sympathy for the Tamils of the Vanni whose Children (as young as 9 years) were abducted from school, torn away from the hands of terrorised parents and thrown as cannon fodder for 30 long years. Thirty Long Years that you closed your eyes and continued to supply the terrorists with Guns and Bullets to carry on regardless.

      When for 30 years you had no compunction and not a single street protest or a single threat was made to the LTTE to COMPELL them to stop abusing Children, you are today, shedding Crocodile Tears. You could have easily saved those Tamil Children if you threatened to withhold that money you kept pouring in.

      You cannot plead ignorance as Tamil Organisations like the UTHR(J) kept releasing reports that regularly highlighted the desperate situation of the under aged Tamil children who were being abducted on the roads, from schools and snatched from the hands of their parents at gun point.

      All the while you were beating war drums that led 15 – 20 thousand Children to their deaths or loss of limb, you made sure that your own children had an Education and a Cushy life in the west, safely out of reach of the LTTE.

      And you are shamelessly trying to blame Sinhala citizens who did not fund any atrocity unlike you.

  • Cas Shivas

    Failure of U.N. in its protection mandate is nothing new. I listened to Kofi Anan I think in the ultimate or penultimate sessions of the then Human Rights Commission,saying ,”we can not afford to have another Ruwanda”, when he was speaking about Dafur.

    Lt.Gen.Romeo Dallaire,Commander of the U.N. mission to Ruwenda, in his book,’Shake Hands with Devil-The Failure of the humanity in Ruwanda’ stated that he pleaded with the UNHQ to give him around 3000 well trained Army men with a reasonable number of tanks with which he might have prevented at least partially the genocide in Ruwanda, but all he got were the not so well trained Bangladeshi army men with ordinary rifles.

    Starting September,2008 when UN Agencies and the INGOs were ordered out of Vanni Ban Ki Moon knew what was going to unfold.From that time onwards he saw what was happenning there from reports from his men on the ground,reports from various H.R.organisations,Holms and other higher U.N. officilas who were visiting SL and from U.N. Sattelite images.He failed to act upon them.

    Even at the tail end his Chief de Mission Vijay Nambiar was sleeping in a 5 star hotel in Colombo Fort.And speaking about the surrender of ltte’s Pulidevan,Nadesan and many others,’the second time they spoke,Colvin had woken Nambiar up at five in the morning.He said he ha’d been invited to witness the surrender of the group of Tigers but didn’t think it was necessary to go in person, “Shouldn’t you go?This is a very,very fraught situation, Colvin asked, horrified that he didn’t seem to seize the opportunity. Nambiar told her he’d recived assurances from president Rajapakse that the tigers who surrendered would be safe, and he thought that was sufficient'(Still counting the dead, Frances Harrison,pe66,67).” Some diplomats were willing to turn a blind eye to the killing hoping the government would get it over with quickly-ibid pge 62).

    There is nothing to learn for Ban Ki Moon from this report.When 40 children in a bus were killed at a railway crossing a Minister in charge of Railways resigned recently. As the SG of UN he is also responsible for not preventing the genocide in Sri Lanka and many of his officers both at the UNHQ and on the ground should be punished especially Holmes and Nambiar and that will be a deterent in the future.

    • Rontejan

      I repeat below what Ramesh Thakur said, in case it has been forgotten by you when everybody was arguing of the rights and wrongs of Eelam War 4-EW4 (just joking, I guess,I mean about EW4; we were always at war-the term World War 2 was also a joke-there were many wars before.)

      Please read again:

      “The Tigers have been among the most ruthless terrorist organizations and were designated as such by more than 30 countries by 2009. They pioneered the use of women suicide bombers and invented the explosive suicide belt. They killed many civilians, including Tamils, recruited child soldiers and often raised funds from the Tamil diaspora community through extortion…The notion of a responsibility to protect places the responsibility first and foremost on the state itself. Given the Tigers’ nature and record, it was not unreasonable for the government to acquire the capacity and demonstrate the determination to defeat the Tigers as part of its responsibility to protect. Proponents of the responsibility to protect cannot advocate the international use of force against government troops engaged in atrocities against civilians, but not permit governments to use military force to protect their people from atrocities being perpetrated by terrorists. Pacifists can decry, renounce and denounce all use of force. Those who accept that the use of force is sometimes necessary cannot deny that option to governments engaged in fighting a brutal insurgency that kills civilians without compunction.”

      I do not want to go on for very long, ‘cos Mango and Off the Cuff have answered all the questions very cogently I think. Their detractors have obviously not fully agreed with them.

      A few observations and questions; if you read Thakur above again it will help.

      It was very evident that the GOSL ultimately had to go for all out war. We had bled for too long, the destruction and bloodletting (all over our country) had gone on for too long: the LTTE had reneged on all the ceasefires and all the hopes for peace by all the citizens.

      Don’t forget, Mahendra Rajapakse who became the President on a hardline platform still gave a lot of leeway to Tigers, negoitiating with them while they went around bombing and killing civilians in Buses and Trains and also killing Military and Police personnel all over the Island.

      Ultimately he had to give in to the “Hardliners” when Mavil-Aru broke the Camels back. It’s obvious isn’t it, we all are born with “thus far, and no further” in our lives, if not we are nothing.

      So the war began; I will not try to say it is right or wrong; all wars are wrong, there is no question about it. Here the very survival of our Country was at stake-separation was not an option. What do you do with a man who thinks killing will solve all the problems? (Narayanan-In An Elusive Mind), and a TNA who abdicates Tamils to a killing machine? So the GOSL had to fight to a finish-negoitiations was not an option-burnt the fingers too many times and all that.

      It is a well known and a proven fact that majority of the Tamil civilians died because Prabhakaran didn’t let them go to safety. D.B.S. Jeyaraj (Tamil himself) says that so many Governments in the West asked him to let them go, but the LTTE did not want to commit ‘Harakiri'; I personally think it was utter Cowardice of Prabhakaran who wanted to hide behind civilians to save his own life.

      If there is ever an international investigation on War Crimes, I think the first to be accused will be Prabhakaran who surrounded himself with civilians to save his own life. He also ordered his cadres to fire from Hospitals and temples so that return fire will kill Tamils and allow him to capitalize on that. Did you want a leader like that?

      Artillery rounds typically travel for a minimum of 10 kilometers; Therefore when the Army fires back, they don’t know that they are firing back at a Hospital-only the LTTE knows where they are firing from-from a Hospital.

      On the No Fire Zones (NFZ)s, Tigers did the same again-go and hide behind the civilians, knowing very well that they were putting civilians in the harms way. I say again, that was utter cowardice.

      On the now inflated missing numbers, I think you should check on how many have migrated to Colombo and abroad. It is a well known fact that soon after the war, there were many agents operating from Vanni to send ‘war victims’ abroad,probably with the connivance of lower level Military personnel. I read about the”agents” in newspapers.

      I have spoken to my friends in the Military, and they put the dead numbers around 8000, including the LTTE fighting in civil clothes. I am ex-military, although I did not take part in this fight. I have no reason to doubt their word spoken genuinely as I know them as people who have never lied to me.

      Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar, is very well known for lying through his teeth for the LTTE Terrorists. Unfortunately, Hindus of North and East were forcibly converted to Catholicism by the Portuguese a long time back. He does not have the welfare of Tamils in his Heart; only of Catholics; Catholicism is the most hated sect in Christianity in the world; ask any christian who is non Catholic. He is well known to favor Catholics over Hindus. Don’t take my word. Ask the Hindus there.

      I also know that majority of the Tamils live in the South with us Sinhalese-in friendship and camaraderie, so where is the suppression, depression and compression? We have never looked at Tamils as lower people than us.

      I personally think that some of you have written your posts out of bitterness and in a quest for revenge. Bitterness ‘cos you believed Prabhakaran when he promised you the impossible and you lost it. Did you really think that Eelam was possible?

      Revenge ‘cos the GOSL killed P and the Eelam dream. If you think that the Western countries can force us to give Eelam, you are sadly mistaken because we are friends with the most powerful emerging Countries-China and Russia. The more you push, more hard we will become.

      This decade will be the decade of China and Russia my friends, and we are friends with them. Pls don’t push it too much ‘cos we might have to abandon you. Let us not have a repeat of failed negoitiations with LTTE. Don’t have faith in the bankrupt West as they have no clout; they are finished. The sooner you understand it is better.

      Frances Harrison should be asked to count the dead again, killed by the LTTE Terrorists.

      All I can say is that we fought a war

      WE HAD TO DO WHAT WE HAD TO DO GUYS, TO DESTROY THE TERRORISTS TO GET OUR COUNTRY BACK FOR US. IF YOU DIDN’T LIKE IT, SORRY, WE WILL DO IT AGAIN. WE WILL DESTROY YOU AGAIN, IF YOU TRY IT AGAIN.

      I invite again to read the truth again:

      “The Tigers have been among the most ruthless terrorist organizations and were designated as such by more than 30 countries by 2009. They pioneered the use of women suicide bombers and invented the explosive suicide belt. They killed many civilians, including Tamils, recruited child soldiers and often raised funds from the Tamil diaspora community through extortion…The notion of a responsibility to protect places the responsibility first and foremost on the state itself. Given the Tigers’ nature and record, it was not unreasonable for the government to acquire the capacity and demonstrate the determination to defeat the Tigers as part of its responsibility to protect. Proponents of the responsibility to protect cannot advocate the international use of force against government troops engaged in atrocities against civilians, but not permit governments to use military force to protect their people from atrocities being perpetrated by terrorists. Pacifists can decry, renounce and denounce all use of force. Those who accept that the use of force is sometimes necessary cannot deny that option to governments engaged in fighting a brutal insurgency that kills civilians without compunction.”