“[i]f GoSL wants to settle the national question it knows what it needs to do and could have done so a long time ago; no need for commissions. End the military occupation of Tamil areas and close down the High Security Zones, implement full devolution of power, and release Tamil youth held in illegal detention for years. For starters, these few steps will do more than a hundred commissions of inquiry.”
Meanwhile, local media reported Friday that the Sri Lankan Ministry of External Affairs has announced it will take legal action against organisations that have criticised the LLRC.
Deputy Minister of External Affairs, Neomal Peiris said that certain human rights organisations have made false allegations about the LLRC report to the international community. The Minister expressed his regrets over the behaviour of those organisations.
The LLRC report has been criticised by several organizations, including the Tamil National Alliance, the Tamil National People’s Front, the US State Department, a cross-party group of British MPs, the International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
Noting that what the international community was waiting for was whether war crimes were committed and human rights trampled in the closing stages of the war, David observes that “in Chapter 4 on Humanitarian Law Issues (the term war crimes is taboo as per the Terms of Reference) the learned commissioners have most firmly and unambiguously confirmed that such was indeed the case. Of course you guessed it, by the LTTE and only the LTTE!
“The rest of Chapter 4 reads like plain vanilla whitewash, naivety and acquiescence in swallowing the military’s version. Some passages are incredible; the learned commissioners are puzzled who was shelling makeshift hospitals and the now internationally notorious Pudukudiriuppu (PKT) hospital. Was it the military? Perhaps it was LTTE cadres themselves; no, maybe it was little green men from Mars! The Commission has handled the military and the regime with kid gloves. What independent forensic evidence did it collect from the ‘crime scene’ to confront the military? If it did not confront field commanders with the massive deaths, what then is the value of the Report?” Prof. David asks.
Voicing approval of LTTE crimes noted in the report, Prof David questions the whitewashing of crimes committed by Colombo, saying “[t]he Commission’s findings pertaining to LTTE atrocities are credible and known; conscription of child soldiers, cowardly use of civilians as human shields and shooting their Tamil brothers like dogs when they attempted to flee, placement of artillery pieces in the thick of civilians, and such other monstrosities of psychopaths like Prabhakaran and his commanders. But for the LLRC to follow this with a whitewash of the symmetric crimes, equally well known, of the regime and the military, is what fatally deprives the report of respectability and credibility.”
Prof David adds, “[n]o statement of condemnation of the state’s repressive forces (no such reticence when it comes to LTTE atrocities), no assignment of accountability, and the usual platitudes about the authorities needing to attend to these matters; of course the same authorities who were the culprits in the first place.”
“One of the weaker sections of the report deals with the horrendous Channel-4 videos, on whose authenticity the commissioners heap suspicion. Nevertheless, they refrain from calling it a fake and opt to recommend “further investigation,” Prof. David notes.
Prof David concludes, “an investigation commissioned by the Government of Sri Lanka will carry little credibility – GoSL has no one but itself to blame – and underlines the importance of an independent international probe of not just the videos but also the whole war crimes issue.”
On the question whether the human rights lobbies and Western governments take the bait and concur with the LLRC that the regime and its armed forces stand acquitted of war crimes and human rights violations, Prof David speculates that “non-governmental and human rights lobbies will not take the bait, New Delhi will be delighted to go along with the report; as for Western governments, let’s watch for a bit.