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Thursday, April 18, 2024

LLRC Report: The Rock And The Hard Place

The government has a problem acknowledging reality, but so do its critics. The war was not all good and the Rajapaksas are not all bad. That is the middle ground. With the LLRC report, the government has admitted that civilians were killed, that hospitals were shelled and that people were detained and at times disappeared. They explain this as saying it was proportional (the cost of war).

That is, the LTTE was hiding amongst civilians and, to end the war, this is what the military had to do.
This is actually a clear defence against a charge of war crimes and crimes against humanity. To quote Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court: “Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable, does not in itself constitute a war crime. International humanitarian law and the Rome Statute permit belligerents to carry out propor-tionate attacks against military objectives, even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur.  A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage”.

In the Sri Lankan case, they were targetting the LTTE (as evidenced by the fact that the fighting stopped, rather than culminating in an actual genocide) and there was a huge military objective (the end of a 30 year war).

Along the way the government did a lot of bad things, but nothing at all to justify decapitating the elected leadership of Sri Lanka (i.e. the Rajapaksas) and docking them in the Hague. By reaching for too much, however, elements in the Diaspora have at least produced something. An actual representation of the war from the government. The government has finally admitted that the war was not all good.

The rapid development and beautification of Colombo is obvious to everyone. Some people, however, feel obliged to qualify it saying that it disturbs the peace or changes things too much, or somehow cannot last. So stuck are they on hating the Rajapaksas that they cannot admit when they do something right. Everything has to be returned with bitterness.

This is not to say that everything they do, is good. The character of his government and the rank favouritism are not good, but this government has done a lot to improve peoples lives, including the lives of people who do not vote for them, in Colombo. It is patently obvious that the Rajapaksas are not all bad, indeed, very few people are.

Even within this paper there are constant harangues about how everything is a mess or how it is getting there, and it is simply not. Things are getting better, the end of war has benefited everybody, and these unscrupulous men from Hambantota have had a hand in it.

For too long people have used ideologies to frame reality. Mahinda Rajapaksa said that no civilians were killed. That may have been his ideal, but it is not what happened.

By the same token, critics have said that Mahinda is all bad and the country is turning into Zimbabwe. You may not like him, but he has delivered results.

Slowly but surely, reality is beginning to define itself. Indeed, what this country needs most is time, so once the shouting dies down, some sort of mutually agreed upon reality can emerge


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