WHAT PRESIDENT SIRISENA PLANS TO TELL THE UNCHR THIS COMING WEEK: Foreign Ministry strikes back and assures the United Nations’ body  the Govt.’s determination to continue with the reconciliation process   This coming week, Lanka will make her biannual trek up the Calvary to the Swiss mountains carrying the cross on her back with a [...]


‘Don’t open an old sore: Let’s just forget the whole war crime probe’


  • Foreign Ministry strikes back and assures the United Nations’ body  the Govt.’s determination to continue with the reconciliation process


This coming week, Lanka will make her biannual trek up the Calvary to the Swiss mountains carrying the cross on her back with a litany of war crimes, allegedly committed by her forces during the last years of the 30-year Eelam War, firmly nailed to it.

When she finally reaches the Swiss slopes, she will face crucifixion by the western powers unless she can show she has atoned and paid the necessary penance. If she has fallen short in wearing the coarse cloth of the penitent but can show to the satisfaction of these Pontius Pilates that she has at least attempted to atone her sins in some measure, she will be granted a stay of execution; and these Christian nations, showing Christian mercy, will grant her a further time period to confess her transgressions and cleanse her sins she is supposed to have committed.

At the March 2015, Calvary climb, Lanka would certainly have been crucified, had there not been a change of regime that January. And the nation would have faced a fate far worse than Iran, with all her oil riches, faced during the embargoes placed upon her. Since these alleged crimes had taken place under the previous regime, the advent of a new more seemingly enlightened Government committed to the tenets of democracy was welcome in Geneva at 30/1 session of the United Nation Human Rights Council and, though the principle held that the sins of a previous government visits the succeeding one, the new outfit was treated with leniency and granted time to set right the UN call for justice to the victims.

The 2015 resolution called, among other matters, for a credible investigation into alleged war crimes. The Sri Lankan government promised to do so; and, on the basis of that undertaking made to the United Nation’s HRC, Lanka was granted a temporary reprieve of crucifixion.

IT’S ALL MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: Sirisena plans to tell the UNHRC to forget the past and the war crime probe and let bygones be bygones

Come 2017, the Sirisena headed government, had failed to keep most of the promises it had made to the UN body, but, with powerful America acting as a co-sponsor, again with Lanka, succeeded preventing the nail being driven into Lanka’s coffin. Lanka was granted a further extension of two years to perform. The international demand was to have a credible investigation to probe the alleged war crimes, set up hybrid courts with local and foreign judges to adjudicate and also to set up an office to inquire into missing persons.

That two-year period of grace runs out this March 21, when Lanka will be called upon to face the music, unless she has a face-saving excuse to persuade why the crucifixion should not be carried out.

With the US pulling out of the United Nations Human Rights Council in June last year, calling it a “cesspool of political bias” with the US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley saying it was a “hypocritical” body that “makes a mockery of human rights”, the Lankan lass was left in the lurch, abandoned on the street without a powerful sugar daddy with muscle to champion her innocence though it did come with a price. She didn’t have to wait long to find another.

Along came Britain — the nation’s old colonial  masters who, more than anyone else, following as they did their tried and tested policy of divide and rule which they practised in every country they set their imperial foot upon, first threw the seeds of division between the Sinhalese and the Tamils and left behind upon their exist from the land, the embers of hate simmering, which in 1983 erupted in flames — this time not alone, as she did in 1802 when she colonised the low land, but with a western werewolf pack to pick up the baton the Americans had dumped in the gutter, to continue the crusade.

And what does the co-sponsored resolution to be presented at this week’s Geneva 40/1 session say:

A resolution titled ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ was submitted to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Monday by Canada, Germany, Montenegro, North Macedonia, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland,

n IT HAILS Lanka for the strong role played by Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions in the peaceful resolution of the political situation that arose in Sri Lanka from October to December 2018,

n IT WELCOMES the establishment of the Office on Missing Persons in September 2017 and the appointment of its Commissioners in February 2018 and the assumption of its work to fully implement its mandate,

n IT NOTES with appreciation the return of some private land previously occupied by the military to civilian ownership while recalling repeated public commitments by the Government of Sri Lanka to release all private land occupied by the military, to enable local populations to resume livelihoods,

n AND ALSO NOTES, other steps taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to implement Human Rights Council resolution 30/1, including progress towards establishing an Office on Reparations and the submission to cabinet of a concept paper on a Bill to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the proposed repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1978 and the preparation of a draft Counter Terrorism Act, while reiterating in this context the need for further significant progress and encouraging in this regard the adoption of a time-bound implementation strategy.

And, after this shower of flowery praise, comes the stab. The resolution proceeds thereon to remove its glove and reveal the steel fist. It states:

n It takes note  of the report presented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session, as requested by the Council in its resolution 34/1, and requests the Government of Sri Lanka to implement fully the measures identified by the Council in its resolution 30/1 that are outstanding; and in clause 4

nRequests the Office of the High Commissioner to continue to assess progress on the implementation of its recommendations and other relevant processes related to reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, and to present a written update to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session, and a comprehensive report, followed by a discussion on the implementation of Council resolution 30/1, at its forty-sixth session.

And what are the demands contained in the 30/1 resolution of 2015 which the new sponsors too keep harping upon and insisting it be done to their satisfaction before the cross is dismantled and Lanka set free?

Namely a credible investigation into alleged war crimes, accountability, a hybrid court with a foreign element involved in monitoring the process.

It showed that the western nation’s were still out to get their pound of flesh and, despite the change of guards, both at home and abroad, there would be no let up even if Lanka were to bleed more than the actions taken by her to end the terrorist war and restore peace merited.

Serious stuff.  On the cross. Awaiting to be nailed. That is Lanka’s present fate. Condemned not on the judgment of a Daniel but by those drenched with the blood of those they slaughtered throughout the centuries in pursuit of their colonial ambitions, now come to deliver verdict on this island race for a stain on its sleeve, part of which is its own blood.

Not only those who came before the ecclesiastical courts of yore seeking equitable justice were expected to come with clean hands but the same principle held true for those who charged others with bloodied hands.

But the world has changed and might has replaced right. Their institutions, their courts, their members: their car, their petrol; so who’s to question the destination they seek to arrive at?

No wonder it had the officials at the Foreign Ministry burning the midnight oil trying to compile report after report on how this Government had done its best to satisfy the demands of the international community — as best it could have; how, despite the political odds, it had striven to achieve at least some of the tasks demanded.

But for what purpose did they burn the midnight oil when, according to President Sirisena there was a simpler and surefire way to end the persecution not for two years but forever? A solution that had defied the foreign office mandarins

The President, who stated last week that decisions concerning foreign policy and  international affairs are the sole preserve of the president of the country and taken by him alone, told the heads of media institutions last week that he planned to tell the United Nations’ Human Rights branch, the United Nations Commission of Human Rights, before whose altar Lanka perforce must kneel, confess, beat her breasts  and prove she has done her penance to receive dispensation for alleged war crimes, “It has been 10 years since the end of the war and we have established peace in this country. I want to tell them not to pressure us and allow us to solve our internal matters.”

“I want to tell them,” he said dramatically to the assembled media bosses, “I want to tell this United Nation’s body ‘why open old wounds.’ Just forget about this war crimes probe. And let us live in peace and harmony. Just forget the past.”

Well, it’s a tactic — this direct approach — that may well work, though it has never been tried before by any other country charged with violating human rights to tell the United Nations where to get off the bus and to just live and let live and just let bygone be bygones.

But when news spread of the presidential solution to the crisis, it had the Foreign Ministry officials’ pants in a twist. All the justifications they had mustered to present before the UNHRC this coming week in Geneva at the 40/1 session to gain a two year reprieve and ward off Lanka’s Day of Judgment seemed all in vain.

A simple farmer with his mud washed away and now the presidential king — a Mahadanamuttha with  grassroots wisdom no less — had come up with  the obvious simple but ingenious solution to the problem which had for so long eluded some of the best brains at the highest rungs of the civil service : ‘Just tell the UN  to forget the whole darned thing”. Pure genius.

The only problem was whether the human rights diehards at the UNHRC would venture to buy it. And lower their bayonets pointed at the nation before the Lankan president’s appeal to them to condemn to the dustbin the damning dossier of war crimes allegedly committed by Government forces, forget it all and carry on as if nothing had  ever happened.

Certainly, Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government did not buy it. And decided that such a ‘simpleton’ approach would not do to resolve the issues faced before an international forum. It would be like a man accused of murder going before a criminal court and telling the judge, as his only defence to the charge murder, ‘look here, my good man, the person is dead, nothing said here will bring him back to life, so let’s forget the whole thing and let me go home to live in peace.’

Thus instructed, the UNP controlled Foreign Ministry struck back to assure the international community that Sri Lanka will continue to demonstrate its commitment and determination towards a steady and long-lasting reconciliation process through a co-sponsored resolution, and will seek an extension of the timeline of the Resolution 30/1 of 01 October 2015, through a co-sponsored roll-over resolution at the ongoing 40th session of the UNHRC.

In a joint statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Department of Government Information, it was further stated that “this initiative will further attest to Sri Lanka’s ownership of the implementation process and to its continued policy of constructive engagement and dialogue with the UN and bilateral partners.”

The statement added: “Sri Lanka reiterated its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, in keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations. The Secretary General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Government will take measures to address those grievances.”

“In the last few years, the GoSL has taken concrete steps such as the establishment of a Missing Persons’ Office and an Office for Reparations to establish long lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka in addition to the establishment of Independent Commissions, enhanced by the enactment of a number of enabling laws, including for the Right to Information. This led to the people of Sri Lanka benefiting from economic dividends, including in particular, the European Union’s Generalized Scheme/System of Preferences Plus concessions. A few more laws will be introduced to strengthen the ongoing processes. The entire mechanism and process of reconciliation is under the control of GoSL.

“Those who shed crocodile tears on behalf of ‘War Heroes’ of Sri Lanka conveniently forget the fact that our brave soldiers are right now engaged in peacekeeping in Mali and in other places. This became possible due to our co-sponsoring of the Resolution. Further, military to military cooperation has expanded considerably, with more training opportunities for Sri Lankan soldiers. The pride of our war heroes has been protected and the confidence of the international community has been gained through the owning up of the UNHRC process. We were able to witness this during the funerals of our two Army peacekeeping soldiers recently.’

‘The draft roll-over resolution recognises the strong role played by the democratic institutions in the peaceful resolution of the political situation that arose in Sri Lanka from October to December last year, which is a strong testimony to the independence, credibility and resilience of our national institutions. The allegations made against the co-sponsoring of the roll-over resolution by the GoSL are part of the campaign to mislead the public and gain undue political advantage. However, the general public of this country is aware how the Government came to power in 2015, and helped to avert a looming international catastrophe by co-sponsoring the resolution at that time. The current initiative is nothing but seeking more time for the GoSL to address the issues of reconciliation, peace building and national integration. For instance, the GoSL was unable to finalise some of the required legislation due to the infamous Constitutional Coup of 26 October 2018. Those who try to seek cheap political advantages shamelessly of a situation in which the country needs to be salvaged are the real traitors of our Motherland.”

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Marapana flew to Geneva carrying with him in his briefcase a report to answer the claims mde by the UNHRC at the failure of the Government to ahere to the commitments it had made. Earlier on Wednsday, he had told parliament that “The draft resolution before the UNHRC and the report of the OHCHR are two different things. Do not mix up the two. We do not endorse everything stated in the OHCHR report. For example, it says the government has not returned the North and East lands used by the military. About 90 percent of those lands have been returned to the original occupants. Likewise, it contains several points that we cannot agree with. We can raise those concerns.”

But one thing is for sure. He would not have carried with him in his diplomatic pouch the President’s simple message to resolve the complex issues involved that “It has been 10 years since the end of the war and we have established peace in this country. Do not pressure us. Allow us to solve our internal matters. Why open old wounds. Just forget about this war crimes probe. And let us live in peace and harmony. Just forget the past.”

Ah, Attorney at Law and present Foreign Minister Marapana would have mused on his six-hour flight to the Alpines, if life was that simple, then pigs would fly and cows would jump over the moon on moonless nights with glad delight. What an idiot he would make of himself before the world if his only defence at the bar of this international forum was to plead on behalf of his country: ‘Don’t make much ado about nothing. Why open old wounds and make them bleed again. Forget the past and let bygones be bygones and let us all live happily hereafter in peace and jollity.’

He would have been, as they say in jocular legal parlance, laughed out of court.

Meanwhile last Friday, the President Sirisena speaking at the launch of the Sinhala translation of “The Viceroy Special”, authored by Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, said that he told those responsible for the construction of the Colombo-Kandy Expressway to continue with their work without flattening mountains and ruining the environment, but they  had continued building this road ignoring his instructions and it is clear that there is no one in this government who accepts what he says.

“Everybody knows that I am the minister in charge of the subject of environment and before the construction of the Colombo-Kandy Expressway began, I told the big man in Colombo and the big man in Kandy not to level the mountains. But it seems that they are not listening to me,” he moped.

If the big man in Colombo and the big man in Kandy are not listening to him when he is the executive president of this country, what on earth gives him the idea that the United Nations will listen to him and follow his bidding when he requests them to  forget the past, let bygones be bygones?

The lion sleeps all night whilst the lioness hunts

ERAN WICKRAMARATNE: State Minister of Finance

State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne told Parliament on Monday that “Private sector companies are reluctant to recruit women as they should be given benefits as per the legislation. This is precisely why the government decided to alleviate the burden and offer tax concessions to companies that provide benefits to women. The age limit too will be rescinded.”

That is to be commended.

But he is also reported to have said that “This move will empower women to enter the national workforce. In the present context, women’s contribution to the economy is minimal.

What? Women’s contribution to
the economy is minimal?

That is to be corrected.

Isn’t the honest to goodness ex-banker and econonist Eran unaware of the immense contribution women make to the economy and how they help his finanace minister to narrow the deficit in his annual budget?

Doesn’t he know:

n That thousands of women working abroad, leaving behind their families, to sweat it out in Arabian dunes at the risk of being raped, abused, beheaded and returning coffined home, contribute approximately eight billion dollars and is the highest export earner beating both tea and garments?

n That its an all women force that plucks the nation’s tea leaves, one of Lanka’s traditional top export earners?

n That over 95 percent of rubber tappers are women?

n That more than 75 percent of teachers are women?

n That over 95 per cent of nurses are women?

n That both in the private and public sector, there is an increasing presence of women in employment?

n That in the agricultural sector, its mainly women who reap the paddy at harvest time

n That in the garment sector, another top export earner, nearly 100 percent of who sew are women?

In view of this, isn’t it a travesty to say that women’s contribution to the economy is minimal and belittle the workload they stoically bear without making a song and dance of it?

On the contrary, it’s the Lankan male that adopts the same posture of the lion that sleeps in the jungle leaving his mate to do the hunting and bring to his den the venson.

Fallen Star
By Don Manu
Once it was that I soared with wonder and delight,
As your wandering star enticed and beckoned me
To set my sails by your guiding light;
And dare beyond the horizon of my surging hopes
In the elusive quest for my holy grail;
You lured me from that calm cove and still water
Of placid content and complacency
To toss in turbulent seas of unknown;
And behold beyond my reach, my feeble grasp
The isle shore of illusion and despair
That leaves souls deadened stranded beyond hope.
And now, when my raft of vain ambition
Has floundered upon the rocks and lie dashed
Upon the graveyard sea that sucks unto itself,
To its bottomless depths, the flotsam that hovers above,
You, my shattered star of hope and promise
That once bathed the western skylight
With my hopes and dreams
With ceaseless visions of triumph and glory
Urging me on to assail the unassailable;
Now in my moment of truimphant climax
You choose to wane and die
And, in those death throes of convulsion and contraction.
Drag me with devasting fury of gravity
Into the blackest hole of dark despair
Never ever to see the flickering light of hope
But condemned beyond redemption to languish
In the nethermost region of infinite hell
Where light itself lie imprisoned sans escape
In the blackest valut where Darkness
Sits visible, in all its horror, holding court

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