Disappearances and extrajudicial killings of Tamils are once again on the rise in Sri Lanka. In Jaffna a simmering terror campaign by government-backed paramilitaries has escalated with several people going missing and the bodies of others, bearing horrific wounds, being dumped in public spaces. The victims include business people and prominent members of the community. And it is no coincidence this is happening amidst international efforts, led now by India , to restore normalcy in the Tamil areas and kickstart the economy there.
Sri Lanka’s rhetoric on the urgent need for development in the Northeast belies its systematic efforts to disrupt the Tamil people’s recovery and subvert international assistance towards further consolidation of Sinhala dominance over them. The state’s cynical calls for the international community and the Diaspora to contribute to development of the Northeast must be viewed against its actual practices and past record.
No sooner had Sri Lanka’s supposed change of heart on allowing the UN panel of experts on war crimes convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon been announced, the Colombo regime made clear the circumscribed space it will accord the panel and, more importantly, the dangerous reciprocity it is demanding.
Sri Lanka’s new preparedness to allow a three-member expert panel on war crimes appointed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to visit the country is clearly linked to international economic pressure and the diplomatic embarrassments recently suffered by President Mahinda Rajapakse’s regime, proving that - as we argued last week - only direct pressure can bring about Colombo's compliance with international norms, and that ‘quiet diplomacy’ is utterly ineffective.
By going ahead with his planned visit to Sri Lanka next week, Defence Secretary Liam Fox is irresponsibly undermining Britain's calls for an independent inquiry into war crimes in Sri Lanka and international protection of human rights. It matters little that Britain is not paying his way.
Amid the furor that enveloped President Mahinda Rajapakse’s visit to Britain last week, a Foreign Office statement on Sri Lanka’s war crimes went largely unremarked, if not unnoticed. T he position it sets out suggests that, while no longer legitimizing Sri Lanka’s ongoing sham commission, Britain is still not putting its weight behind a proper investigation into war crimes.
Sri Lanka’s defiance of international criticism over the past two years has been interpreted by some as proof of the lack of international leverage over Colombo’s conduct. Nothing could be further from the truth. President Mahinda Rajapakse’s disastrous visit to Britain last week clearly reveals that even as his government haughtily rejects criticism, it also craves acceptance. For all its bluster, the regime desperately seeks international respectability.
The leaked cable to the US State Department from US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Patricia Butenis has this week added to growing calls for international investigations into the Rajapakse administration’s culpability for war crimes. However, it is worth remembering that the cable's contents can only be a ‘revelation’ about Washington’s awareness, if relatively recent history is ignored. For example, this is what President Obama said on May 13, 2009 : “First, the government should stop the indiscriminate shelling that has taken hundreds of innocent lives, including several hospitals, and the...
News that Sri Lanka's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has had it mandate extended by another six months was always expected, but there is an assumed logic behind Colombo's actions. The commission is the Sri Lankan state's attempt to fend off critics, buy time and forestall an independent, international inquiry.