By Gomin Daysri
The United States' Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake at a Washington news conference in the presence of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Minister G.L. Peiris said it all:
"The Minister helpfully said that they are -- that the commission will have an investigatory role and that if, for any reason, this commission is found to have shortcomings, that they would welcome the assistance and the advice of the UN to help remedy those shortcomings. So I think that we're in a good position, but now is the time for Sri Lanka to deliver and to proceed with its commission".
Indeed, US are in a "good position" after the minister provided ("helpfully" according to Blake) the space to bring the United Nations into the woodwork with an incredible offer. In the words of the Minister: " And certainly, along the road, if we feel that there is a need for support, then we would be happy to engage in a dialogue with the United Nations to get the benefit of the wisdom and the experience of the United Nations."
The mousetrap was set and the cheese nibbled after Blake's premonition of "shortcomings". Minister Peiris on his return at a video-recorded news conference in Sri Lanka confirmed Blake's fantasy of 'shortcomings' and offered 'input' support in a monumental gaffe in docking with the UN while UN Chief Ban Ki-moon, is in hot pursuit in search of war crimes. We have built a flyover to connect Washington and New York and to bring the UN into the equation.
Blake and Peiris in tandem are parroting the words of the other in envisaging "shortcomings" of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLR Commission) and possibly of the Committee appointed by the President to inquire into the charges of war crimes formulated by the office of Clinton and Blake. The minister has granted an instant visa for the UN to enter our arena to remedy the shortcomings by dialogue with wisdom and experience, after Sri Lanka valiantly kept the UN a safe distance away for so long, amidst insidious attempts to propagate their wisdom and experience. When will we learn lessons?
Why should we barter the rights of a sovereign nation to the UN where its Secretary General is on a witch-hunt on war crimes amidst protests from 77 nations friendly to Sri Lanka? Peiris instantly ties the two strings (the UN Secretary General and the US State Department) round our neck? Why admit lamely to 'imaginary' shortcomings, to our accusers? After displaying bravado during the difficult days of the war, why should we now be servile sycophants? The Foreign Office lacks the razor sharp mind of Lakshman Kadirgamar or even the native guile of extravagant Bogollagama.
The danger is not in the phraseology alone but more in the methodology by which the foreign interventionists can tie us to the guillotine with three knots -- (1) Report of the panel of experts nominated by the UN Secretary General, (2) US State Department Report to Congress on Crimes against Humanity and the (3) many INGO reports accusing Sri Lankan forces of war crimes. These INGOs include the International Crisis Group and Human Watch - INGOs funded by western governments and their allied humanitarian lackey foundations. Peiris is naïve in failing to observe whether there is an orchestrated and coordinated operation.
The foreign inquiries will run parallel to the domestic inquiries on war crimes. Ironically, no mention is made of the "shortcoming" of the extra territorial inquiries where witnesses will parade to pander to the Tamil Diaspora and the foreign interventionists but are focused only on the local inquiry.
Space is provided to juxtapose the findings of these foreign-based reports with the findings of the commission and inquiry, on a possible vacuum of material and to permit the entry of UN for bridging. An opening has been provided via the UN to access the foreign reports to discredit our security forces, unfairly. Surely at such a stage, neither the UN nor the countries favouring foreign interferences will ignore the findings of UN panel of experts possibly no more eminent than the local panel in the LLR Commission, but with more decorous titles to impress vested interest.
They will echo the words of the minister that on shortcomings we have agreed to revert to the UN. The US State Department, author of a damning report, can twist arms to give credence to the UN panel of experts and the UN Secretary-General will have a ready dossier of untested ex-parte material collected at random at his probe on the urgings of interested parties; possibly provided by the same hostile sources as of the allegations to the US State Department. The cumulative effect could be that the State Department is networking the operation in liaison with the Secretary General of the UN?
Was it proper that the LLR Commission and the Committee of Independent Professional Persons to inquire into US State Department humanitarian complaints be discoloured with possible shortcomings before they issue an interim report? This has devalued and tainted the local inquiries and allowed the UN to play the role of Big Brother, while the President had with wisdom created the internal mechanism for an investigatory role. Such findings shall be referred to regular courts for a proper trial within the local framework, as is the practice where the rule of law prevails.
Did the minister fail to recognize that the State Department with its INGO allies are the possible back-seat drivers of the fact-finding vehicles created by the UN Secretary General and the US State Department which lists a chronicle of charges of crimes against humanity committed by our forces? Has Sri Lanka, the elusive passenger thus far, with the thumbs up sign by the minister made a captive traveller by hailing the suspect cab for a suicidal drive? A gleeful Blake asserted in his short speech, of being "thankful" and "in a good position".
During the height of the war under virtually unmanageable pressure, Sri Lanka never wilted and pleaded shortcomings and permitted any foreign interventions by the UN or its agencies. Why now?
If there are prima facie allegations they must be investigated and the offenders duly provided with a just trial before punishment but within the framework of the local judicial process. The local environ of the war situation can be best judged by local courts. The government and the judicial authority must ensure the independence of the judiciary is maintained for its credibility and respectability. Neither the US nor UN can interfere with nor should we barter our sovereign rights with loose expressions.
Fortunately, the LLR Commission has the likes of C.R. de Silva, the former Attorney General, to guide it through the proper legal path and H.M.G.S. Pallihakkara the former Foreign Secretary to display the diplomatic decorum necessary to avert foreign interventions from humanitarian playboys. The experienced and able criminal lawyer D.S. Wijesinghe heads the Committee.
Peiris has value as External Affairs Minister being articulate in classical donnish English and receives a good hearing in Washington because of his leanings to the West and considered "balanced" because of his former pro- LTTE sentiments expressed as spokesman for Ranil Wickremesinge. On reverse gear he works hard to please.
He enjoys the rich experience of being a minister continuously under Kumaranatunga, Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa regimes for 16 years. Yet, need he cuddle to Clinton or Blake, for compliments? - courtesy: the sunday times.lk -