Set up war crimes tribunal; it has its advantages As the United States resolution against Sri Lanka makes headlines in the media, it is reported that the Government is determined to fight the move tooth and nail and will not abide by it even if it is passed at the United Nations Human Rights Council [...]


The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka



Set up war crimes tribunal; it has its advantages

As the United States resolution against Sri Lanka makes headlines in the media, it is reported that the Government is determined to fight the move tooth and nail and will not abide by it even if it is passed at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
This attitude may not be wise and may not be necessary, as influential nations can be satisfied with a tribunal appointed locally to probe war crimes committed only in the last stages of the war.

I believe that such a tribunal should be appointed immediately by the President to take the wind out of the sails of the US resolution.
This move, due to its transparency, will satisfy everybody and may not even damage our war heroes.

Such tribunals have been set up in Cambodia and Rwanda and these have gone on for years and years without anyone noteworthy being convicted and jailed. Then there is also Britain’s Chilcott report which has still not been released. The reason is that in any war situation such as prevailed in Sri Lanka no credible witnesses can be found to blame any particular soldier or any LTTE combatant for that matter for a particular killing.

The final battles took place between seething masses of soldiers and LTTE personnel who remain anonymous.

Then there is the question of the number of civilians killed in the crossfire between soldiers and the LTTE. The figure of 40,000 found in the report by the experts panel appointed by the UN Secretary General lacks credibility as no one has identified who testified to this figure.

Also now five years after, who can claim that particular civilians were killed in Army or LTTE fire?
Hostile witnesses tutored by the Diaspora and sent to testify on such issues will fail miserably in any open and transparent forum especially when cross-examined by capable lawyers.

The Government too failed when it attempted to charge LTTE members with crimes committed during the 30-year war. Almost certainly, dozens if not hundreds of LTTE cadres who committed war crimes such as butchering women and children in border villages, committing countless assassinations and aiding and abetting suicide bombers blended with the large mass of civilians and were released often after rehabilitation at Sri Lankan tax payers’ expense.

Going by the experiences of Cambodia, Rwanda and Britain, any investigations and subsequent trials (if any) will take at least 15-20 years.

By that time biased individuals like Navi Pillay would hopefully have been replaced by others.

One last word! The families of any war heroes by any chance convicted should be compensated and the convicted personnel held in comfortable custody. The West cannot complain because we will be conforming to Western standards.

Russel Perera


Elections:Our last chance fellow pensioners

Hundreds of letters have appeared in newspapers but the pensioners see not even a glimpse of any redress. Minister after minister made pre-budget promises to the pensioners among them Sarath Amunugama, a onetime highly respected civil servant and Minister John Seneviratne. Even the then Director of Pensions made a personal appearance before protesting pensioners opposite the Fort Railway Station last year and promised that the anomalies would be rectified in the 2014 Budget.

Key members of the various pensioners associations were invited to Temple Trees just before the last presidential election. They were treated to a sumptuous meal at the expense of the taxpayer, and at the end of the treat they were assured that within three months of President Mahinda Rajapaksa assuming the presidency in the second term, all pension anomalies would be rectified. We swallowed this dangling carrot, and with our kith and kin voted en bloc for the President believing that we would receive the promised redress. Three years have passed and though the President is now in his fourth year into the presidency, there is no word from him about this matter.
My dear follow pensioners: A golden opportunity has come our way in the form of the Western and the Southern Provincial Council elections. Do not be swayed by false promises again. Enough is enough. This is our one last chance, use it wisely.

G.W Somadasa


Let us all follow this lesson in humility

Your ‘photo journalist’ should be commended for possessing a third eye for detecting that the Chief Minister was barefooted whilst the National Anthem was being played at the opening of a cancer hospital in the North. (The Sunday Times of January 26).

The photograph that appeared in the Sunday Times

The news article had referred to Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims only and not Christians. This could be because Christians do not remove their footwear when they honour their deity.

If removing one’s footwear is a form of paying respect, then not removing one’s footwear is the opposite: We Christians are the only people who disrespect the divine presence. We should remember what God told Moses: “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground… (Exodus 3: 4, 5)

When one removes his footwear before entering a place of worship he not only pays respect and honour to the divine presence, but also humbles himself completely.

Of the Christians, it is only the Pentecostal Christians who remove footwear and even sit on the ground in their churches in total humility according to the message of the ‘Stable Birth.” I am sure that they are highly regarded in God’s eyes.

We Christians including the clergy should have the courage to honestly ask ourselves the question, ‘Why don’t I humble myself and remove my footwear in the divine presence.

Is it not my inner westernised pride? Is there any other valid reason?’

M.V. Noel de Silva

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