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TNA's well-meaning folly

The Sri Lankan government's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) was from the outset a shameless gimmick: an audacious attempt to appease international spectators. The commission has no mandate to investigate the alleged atrocities and only serves to buy time by discussing the breakdown of the ceasefire. Sri Lanka is in no position to objectively examine its own conduct. It is a state with a miserable record on free speech and an increasing disregard for the rule of law.  Indeed ‘witness intimidation’ is too mild a term to describe the president’s brother openly stating that the government will hang the former Army Commander, Sarath Fonseka, if he testifies at a UN inquiry.

The Tamil nation has never doubted the futility of the LLRC or hoped for a positive outcome. This commission, as Amnesty International promptly pointed out, is just another commission in a long line of dubious ones that have not given justice to the victims involved.  Moreover, the Sri Lanka’s state’s racist mindset means that any internal self-appraisal lacks the needed impartiality or the necessary transparency. A point was echoed by fifty-eight US Congressmen in a letter to Hiliary Clinton, where they stated that Sri Lanka’s probe ‘lacked the needed credibility’ and ‘whatever conclusions it comes to, only an independent inquiry can verify it’. Martti Ahtisaari, a member of the World Elders Group also expressed deep scepticism towards the LLRC in the recent Elders report along side other members including Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Mr Ahtisaari highlighted the fact that "Over the last 30 years the reports of other commissions similar to this have no even been made public, so this effort leaves much to be desired."

It is in this context of international criticism and the Tamil nation’s deep seated disapproval of any internal commission, that the TNA’s response to an invitation to address the LLRC must be viewed. Mr Sampanthan is quoted as saying ‘We believe that we have a duty vested upon us to put on record the position of the Tamil people and how there can be a genuine reconciliation’.

When the Tamil nation and international community have spent several months discrediting the commission and insisting on the need for an independent inquiry, the TNA’s acceptance of the invitation is nothing short of a slap in the face.

There is no doubt that the Tamil people’s plight, both past and present, must be publicised and a party such as the TNA has the obligation to spearhead such a campaign, however they have an equal responsibility to consider the wider implications of their actions. By accepting the invitation, the TNA is not only acknowledging the LLRC as a creditable commission but most damagingly, they are undermining the Tamil nation's calls for an independent inquiry.