Friday, 27 February 2009

Hearings of the USA Foreign Relations sub Committee on Sri Lank was a trial at bar without the Accused being called to defend.

The Great American Nation has been awakened. The American people wanted a change to what it had been during the past 8 years. For that change the American People have elected a new President with a New Vision for America. He is the President Barrack Obama. The 44th American President. A President of America, the people of the world looked forward to have.
The Great American Nation has been awakened. The American people wanted a change to what it had been during the past 8 years. For that change the American People have elected a new President with a New Vision for America. He is the President Barrack Obama. The 44th American President. A President of America, the people of the world looked forward to have.

President Barrack Obama spells change. He does not want America to be aggressive, but friendly, He dos not want America to be proud and arrogant , but humble and generous. He does not want an America dictating terms to the world, but an American that listens and understands. He does not want an America aloof and indifferent, but cordial and caring.

But old habits are difficult to change. The President Barrack Obama extended his hand to his friends and foes to unite with him not for his own sake but for the sake of the American people.. But the Republicans remain chillingly indifferent. They do not want change. They are still arrogant and intolerant.

The world too expects this change the President Barrack Obama had promised, reflected in all dealings the American Administration has with the Nations of the World. But unfortunately this change was lacking in the recent hearings of the Foreign Relations Sub Committee on recent developments in Sri Lanka.

The Sub Committee was Chaired by Robert Casey Jr. the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Sub Committee. He was Assisted by two Senators. The Committee had called as witnesses to recent developments in Sri Lanka a former Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mr. Jeffrey Lunstead,the Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists Mr.Bob Dietz, and Ms.Anna Niestat of the Human Rights Watch.

The three witnesses are persons prejudiced against the Government of Sri Lanka, and well known for their stand against the military operations of the Government of Sri Lanka against a ruthless group of terrorists, banned in the USA itself. Watching the session of hearing by the Sub Committee, one wondered what good it is establishing Diplomatic relations with America, if the American Administration on an hearing by the Foreign Relations Sub-Committee on an important issue concerning Sri Lanka did not see it fit to invite the Sri Lanka Ambassador to USA to hear his view of the situation, or at least as an observer !

The hearing was a condemnation of the Government of Sri Lanka for its military operations to eliminate terrorism, that caused misery to its people of the North and East and massacred the civilians of the south by claymore bomb blasts and firing at buses and trains carrying civilians and caused irreparable damage to land and material.

The ex-Ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead had perhaps been invited for his having served as the Ambassador of America in Sri Lanka from 2003 to 2006. But today three years after the situation in Sri Lanka has dramatically changed and the Ambassador’s experience then cannot be related to what is happening now to be admitted as a reference to the recent developments in Sri Lanka.

Mr.Lunstead did not make a statement for the Sub Committee to make it understand the present situation in Sri Lanka, but made a virulent attack on the Government and the President Mahinda Rajapakse of Sri Lanka, without mentioning for once that the Government Forces are fighting against a group of terrorists, the FBI it-self had defined as a “ruthless group of terrorists”.

Ms. Lunstead’s contention was that the Government was using terrorism to wage a war against the minority Tamils denying them their rights as the citizens of Sri Lanka. . He did not mention the word “terrorists” thus shrouding the reality of the recent developments of Sri Lanka with contentious arguments of discrimination against the Tamil people.

His knowledge of the situation of Sri Lanka is confined to his past memories as the USA Ambassador in Sri Lanka who moved with the upper class Society without any personal contact with the ordinary people, and the information he had been fed by the “influential” Sri Lanka Tamil diaspora in America.

The Tamil diaspora had been financing the terrorists in Sri Lanka and was responsible for the modernisation of the terrorist forces with the purchase of modern arms and ammunition and transferring what ever technological assistance they could get from USA, to the terrorists. These are the informants of Mr..Lunstead, as well as the other two witnesses at the hearing -Ms. Niestat and Ms. Dietz.

As a leverage to force the Government of Sri Lanka to stop harassment of the minorities, and stop the military operations and give the Tamil people their political rights Ms.Lunstead suggested the American Government to withhold any American Aid that would be required by the Government of Sri Lanka to reconstruct the war torn country. The suggestion contradicts USA President Barrack Obama’s call for a change, to be generous, not to be arrogant, jumping to punish nations for being different, without understanding their problems and the solutions they have for the problems.

Next it was Ms. Anna Niestat of the Humanitarian Watch. She started a harrowing story she had heard from another. A woman, after artillery fire, putting her head out of a bunker in which she was hiding, saw a woman lying on her stomach dead, with a dead child besides her, and another decapitated, and half a body of a child on the branch of a tree. She stopped either to thinking of more harrowing details to add, or to dramatise the instance of horror. She then continued what she had heard from others . She said that about 200,000 Tamil civilians are concentrated in a small area and they have neither food nor medicine. The civilians who are trying to get away into free zones were indiscriminately shot at by the army. She had been told that the hospitals have been bombarded.

She complained that the Tamil Civilians entering into the Government controlled areas are herded into camps in which they are kept.

Women soldiers helping the refugees

They are not allowed to go out and contact people. Some refugees are taken away by the army and there is the fear that they may not be seen again. The ICRC, she said is not given a list of names of the people separated and taken away from the camps. The camps are guarded by armed paramilitary groups. The Army which is in charge of the camps she said does not allow foreign aid workers to come. She said the International Community should assure a presence in the area to control that there is no violation of human rights of these Civilians in the camps.

Most of her statement was based on hearsay. The human rights watch is also dependent on the Tamil diaspora for their information. Karen Parker is an instant in question. She mocks and ridicules the Sinhala people their flag and the President of Sri Lanka. Ms.Niastat gets her firsthand information from the Tamil diaspora. Ms. Niestat and Karen Parker are of course doing their job and it is the continued existence of conflict situations in the world that keep them in business. So it is quite natural for them to seek prestige in appearing in high-power forums like the Foreign Relations Sub Committee to condemn governments as the cause of conflicts.

But Ms.Niestat’s statements were not substantiated by facts. It was a sort of “ my word against yours”. That type of hearing does not give much credit to the Foreign Relations Sub Committed which would at the end of these hearing make a statement, perhaps accusing the Government of Sri Lanka for the “ recent development”, on uncorroborated evidence. The whole story of the bombardment of the Hospitals were unfounded mere hearsay. The Government showed photos of these hospitals intact in many Government Websites.

The Government of Sri Lanka is engaged in military operations to eliminate a group of terrorist. The Government Forces carried out a very successful military campaign in which they were able to recapture a large part of the territories that had been under terrorist control . The terrorists are now cornered in a small area of about 150 of land and continue to fight against the armed forces keeping a large number of the Tamil civilians as a human shield. The Government Forces opened a no-fire Zone within the area and requested the Tamil civilians to come into it to be taken to the Government controlled areas.

But the terrorists do not want the people to leave the area as it would open them to Artillery fire of the army. In order to dissuade the Tamil Civilians from leaving the area in which the terrorists are cornered, the terrorists shot artillery fire into the free zones into which the civilians had come, killing and wounding many of them. The Government Forces are not firing into the Free Zone, but the Human Rights watch which accepts the version of the terrorists, that it is the Government Armed forces that are shooting into the free zone repeats it in her turn to get the American Government to intervene.

The Government Forces are on the verge of terminating the military operations against terrorism, and do not want to enter into a cease fire now as the terrorist would make use of a cease fire to gather force and re-organise them-selves to fight back the Government Forces. This they had done during several cease fires declaration before.

The human Rights Watch had been from the beginning of the Governments military operations against the terrorists, had acted with sympathy towards the terrorists, and now the terrorists are on the verge of being eliminated for good, the Human Rights Watch is going all out to defeat the aim of the Sri Lanka Government to end terrorism, thus trying to give a lease of life to terrorism in Sri Lanka.

The Refugee Camps to house the Tamil civilians coming from the terrorists controlled areas are under surveillance as terrorists infiltrate into the camps along with the refugees, and endanger the lives of large numbers of people who have gathered into these Refugee Camps.

There were already two terrorist suicide cadres who had exploded themselves within the camps killing many civilians including children and members of the armed forces. The Army personal after questioning the refugees coming into the camps , separate the suspected terrorists from the genuine refugees. The suspected terrorists are taken way for further verification. Some of them have already informed the Government forces of plans by the terrorists to explode claymore bombs, and described areas where explosives are hidden.

The humanitarian workers- the so called NGO’s have been proved to have helped the terrorists to build air strips, bunkers, submersible boats, make bombs and transferred lot of material meant for the Civil population that were affected by the tsunami , for the benefit of the terrorists . Therefore, the Government does not want to send NGOs once again to war affected areas as they have forfeited the trust and confidence placed upon them by the Government. The number of persons still in the areas controlled by the terrorists is far less than 200000 mentioned by Ms.Niastat. And, the Government of Sri Lanka sends regular stocks of dry food and medicine to the terrorist controlled areas through the UN Office in Colombo.

Medical Facilities are avilable in the Refugee Camps

The last witness to give evidence was M.Bob Dietz Coordinator of the Committee for the Protection of Journalists. Of course on the Agenda was the assassination of Lasantha Wickramatunga. Mr. Dietz described how the assassination was carried out and how the assassins in their motor bicycles disappeared in to the barracks of the Army. He said that though there was no direct accusation against the President of Sri Lanka for the assassination the hand of the Government in that killing and the killing of many other journalists before and after that incident cannot be written off.

His evidence too was based on the stories related to him by other journalists. The Government had no interest in killing Lasantha Wickramatunga, as the News Paper that he edited is not a popular journal, and posed no danger to the government . The Police is investigation into the killing and evidence so far found does not connect the assassination to the Government Forces. In a war situation the news papers have to be careful of what they report. Therefore warning the News papers not to publish false information concerning the military operations is justifiable.

In that hearing the presence of a terrorist group in Sri Lanka had faded into the back ground. They referred to the terrorists as the LTTE, speaking of them as a mere political group. The Government's point of view was considered unimportant.

EU pressures the Government for a ceasefire, they may also withhold aid to Sri Lanka on the issue of a non existent violation of human rights. The donor states too consider some sort of sanction. Is that how the developing nations should be assisted when they suffer for decades under terrorism ? Is that what the USA President Barrack Obama spoke of as a new world order ? The fact that the terrorists in Sri Lanka are not a threat to USA, does not make them any less terrorists than al-keida.

This is not the change that the President Barrack Obama expects. I am sure the USA President will call for a more balanced credible hearing with the presence of a representative of Sri Lanka, if he receives a biased negative report on the recent developments of Sri Lanka, from the Foreign Affairs Sub Committee.

No comments: