UNHRC’s Cat is out of the Bag

It is reported that the UNHRC has issued a statement with regard to Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman’s recent utterances at an election meeting in Batticaloa.

Since Karuna’s statement is about certain incidents that occurred at the time of the war, UNHRC has expressed interest in knowing about the recruitment of child soldiers, a practice the LTTE was famous for. It is a war crime of the worst order to enroll children in the pursuit of war, be it terrorism or liberation, and therefore the world body appears quite in order, expressing its concern.

Sri Lanka however, had 4 rounds of peace talks with the LTTE during this 34-year war and during each those talks the Government of the time offered amnesty to the LTTE to give up arms and join the political mainstream. The LTTE not only refused to do so but retaliated with more power after every one of those peace initiatives demonstrating that ‘Peace’ was only a modus operandi in getting to their target; destruction of the Lankan state and its forces.

However, Karuna, the then LTTE’s Eastern Commander declared his intention to leave the LTTE and surrendered to the SL Government in 2004, making use of this peace overtures. The Sri Lankan Government and the public were obviously relieved when this happened, as the LTTE was known at the time as an ‘invincible military foe’ in the international community. Ranil W, who was the Prime Minister from 2001 to 2005, bent over backwards improving on his peace offers to the LTTE, publicly declaring that ‘Sri Lanka could never ever defeat the LTTE’.

In this milieu Karuna not only left the LTTE but declared his support to defeat the LTTE, publicly eschewed separatism, and joined the mainstream politics in the country. This was the ideal situation the country, its public an even the International community (I believe) wished, would happen, with regard to all the Tamil youths in the LTTE.

The rest of the LTTE (except the Karuna faction) declared the 4th Elam war against the SL forces, waged and caused the deaths of about 30,000 persons on both sides, sent the civilians that supported them through hell, and finally succumbed to the SL forces. In this situation we do not see any logic in the UNHRC’s expressing a particular concern on a statement made by Karuna, as if to suggest that ‘Karuna is responsible for war crimes’ when there many other members of the LTTE who had fought alongside till the end of the war.

The moot point in this however is not this special concern on Karuna’s statement by the UNHRC. There is a resolution before the UNHRC alleging that the SL forces committed war excesses ‘at the last stages of the war’ against the LTTE in May 2009, killing a disproportionate number of civilians. The basis of this resolution is the allegations leveled against the SL forces in the report by the UNSG’s Panel of Experts, appointed to inquire in to the Last stages of the Sri Lankan conflict. Although this resolution has been tabled by the USA (no longer a member of the UNHRC) , the evidence in support of this resolution has been marshaled by the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora stationed in the western countries.

Therefore it would be of interest for the UNHRC to know what the report of the UNSG’s Panel of Experts has to say about this Tamil Diaspora in its paragraphs 417 to 420.

417. It is to be expected that the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, large parts of which provided vital moral and material support to the LTTE over decades, continues to harbour grievances about the plight of Tamils and to protest the actions of the Government during the last stages of the conflict. However, significant elements of the diaspora create a further obstacle to sustainable peace when they fail to acknowledge rights violations committed by the LTTE and its role in the humanitarian disaster in the Vanni.

418. During the last stages of the war, many in the diaspora remained silent in the face of numerous LTTE violations, including holding tens of thousands of Tamils hostage in the Vanni, using violence to prevent their escape and forcibly recruiting children into their ranks. At the end, parts of the diaspora appeared more concerned about preserving the political State of “Tamil Eelam” than about the suffering of the civilian population trapped between two fighting forces.

419. The LTTE engaged in mafia style tactics abroad, especially among expatriate Tamil communities, to generate funds for their cause. Significant parts of the Tamil diaspora, who were supportive of the LTTE, played an instrumental role in fuelling the conflict in this way. It is reported that former front organizations for the LTTE continue to operate through private businesses and to control some of the temple incomes. Activities of these organizations should be monitored. In addition, funds acquired by the LTTE from the diaspora and elsewhere, and which still exist, should be secured for the purpose of making reparations to those in the Sri Lankan Tamil community who were victims in the conflict.

420. Members of the Tamil diaspora, through their unconditional support of the LTTE and their extreme Tamil nationalism, have effectively promoted divisions within the Sri Lankan Tamil community and, ironically, reinforced Sinhalese nationalism. A stable future in Sri Lanka demands that all of its ethnic communities, including those living abroad, recognize and respect the rights and interests of others with whom they share a common homeland. The diaspora, which is large, well-educated and has considerable resources, has the potential to play a far more constructive role in Sri Lanka’s future.

The members of this Tamil Diaspora include Suren Surenthiran and T Rudrakumaran who had been most vocal against the SL government during the many sessions of this assembly. Therefore, if the UNHRC is concerned about the recruitment of child soldiers during the war, the best body that could satisfy the UNHRC inquest is the members of the Tamil Diaspora, the financiers, propagandist and theoreticians of the LTTE, who had been in and out of the UNHRC pontificating themselves as the saviors of the Sri Lankan Tamil community.

In this situation, we find this statement by the UNHRC, not just out of context, but as an attempt to implicate Karuna, the only LTTE member who reconciled with the mainstream Sri Lanka politics at the LTTE diaspora’s behest. This is because the LTTE diaspora is still exploring ways and means to pillory the Lankan state for liberating the Tamils from the LTTE. This creates a juxtaposition in the minds of the peace loving Sri Lankans to pose the all-important question, whether the actions of the UNHRC is aimed at, creating a peaceful Sri Lanka where Human rights are upheld or in, exacerbating the divisions leading to recruitment of child soldiers and indiscriminate killings again!

– Asian Tribune –

By Palitha Senanayake

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