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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

LLRC – near enough, or not? Editorial Lakbima News

The LLRC report released in parliament this week probably sets a record as a document which was mercilessly attacked before it saw proper light of day — without anybody really having seen so much as one single letter or word of its content.

Those who aimed broadsides at it probably wanted the document stillborn. They wanted it aborted, cut down on   arrival. They appeared to be succeeding — to the extent that the Minister of External Affairs was virtually down on his knees appealing to the international community, or rather the more bellicose sections of it, to ensure that ‘all local remedies are exhausted’ before the issue of Sri Lanka’s war against terror is taken to the UN or other tribunals.
Eventually, they had the good sense to listen to him. The LLRC report has been made public subsequent to its release in parliament this week. The document is detailed, as it is voluminous.
From a first glance, it appears that despite the fact that every busybody — no offence meant — appeared before it, the Commissioners had made every attempt to focus like the laser beam, on the key issues or the bones of contention that had led to many of the controversies such as the so-called Darusman report, about alleged incidents during the last phase of the hostilities against the LTTE.
The document quotes extensively from civilians caught up in this last stage of the conflict, and in the main, does not make any excuses for arriving at the conclusion, through these civilian witnesses and the content of their depositions, that the LTTE used unarmed men and women as human shields.
One thing that would have been inexcusable is the heaping of more ambiguity and confusion upon a situation that is already vexed, and overheated.
At first glance the LLRC document seems to be one that has the courage of the convictions of the Commissioners. For example, having considered the pros and cons of the Channel 4 ‘Killing Fields’ video footage, the Commissioners arrive at the unambiguous view that the entire production was expertly orchestrated.
There is also the point in the recommendations at which the Commissioners are blunt in saying that with regard to the resettlement issues in the former Northern theatre of war, the issue should cease to be a political football that makes for points-scoring between various parties that represent either side of the political divide.
A cursory reading of the report seems to indicate that there is no conclusive deduction with regard to the highly contentious issue of exactly how many civilians perished during the last stage of the hostilities between government forces and cadres of the LTTE.
Notwithstanding the thorough treatment of issues in the commission report, it is certain that the same   interested parties that were keen on seeing that the LLRC report was dead on arrival, would now cavil about the fact that the document avoids giving a number to those that died.
Numerical quantification is ideally what should follow a document of this nature; a number count is not the work of the Commissioners themselves. They have used a fine tooth comb over the issues, and taken representations from all sides, particularly from the civilians affected.
The most sanguine aspect of the report seems to be that it has cast away the frivolous and ignored the frill, and at the cost of deflating the egos of some of the self-important busybodies who gave evidence, given prominence to the testimonies of all those very ordinary people who bore the brunt of the hostilities, particularly during the last few days of the fighting.
Copious amounts of space has been devoted to recording the testimonies of ordinary people in Killinocchi and Trincomalee and in the other        inhospitable terrain in which unfortunate folk were trapped during those last few days of the war — when guns blazed and artillery fire was at once a force of torment, as one of liberation…
With this record however obtained from ordinary people, the LLRC document makes certain that it cannot be accused of being an elitist construct. It offers a solid base towards moving towards restoration, and even though the critics probably would be hell-bent on saying that no numbers have been given, the document offers the basis by which those who are entrusted with the task at a future date, can make a census of the men women and children that perished.
Entirely predictably, organizations such as Human Rights Watch have already debunked the report, stating that it does not address the issue of the culpability of forces in directing artillery fire at civilians during the last stages of combat, for instance. This missile is so predictable in nature that in the way that major newspapers keep obituaries of celebrities ready for publication on death, HRW probably had the critical statement print-ready to be delivered as soon as the document was made public.
In that context the LLRC report does not mean that the Sri Lankan government is out of the woods, but depending on the reaction in the next two weeks, it could be determined whether the international community thinks it forms a viable basis for     closing the case on Sri Lanka’s war, and its immediate aftermath.

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