Human Rights Law Center,
I have learnt that The Human Rights Law Center has invited participants to a discussion about accountability for war crimes and the current human rights situation in Sri Lanka.
On the face of it , it appears to be a very praiseworthy initiative of the legal body to find the truth of how the Sri Lanka war against terrorism ended, about which many contradictory stories without any acceptable account has been put forward. But the bona fides of the Conveners efforts become questionable when reading the names of the panellists invited for the discussion.
If the Human Rights Law Centre is different from the Human Rights Watch, I thought it would be more objective, open and independent in its search for the truth of accountability for war crimes and the current human rights situation in Sri Lanka.
In that sense of objectivity the Human Rights Law Center should have been more careful in the choice of the panellists, unless of course the search of the “truth” is only an attempt to promote a pre-established “truth”.
You could have for instance invited some one from those who had visited Sri Lanka to see for themselves what had taken place, such as the Australian Opposition Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop, opposition Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison, or opposition Justice, Customs and Border Protection spokesman Michael Keenan. Then your organised discussion would have been more credible and useful.
But, As it is it smacks of a publicity campaign for the sale of the books by Gordon Weiss and Frances Harrison written on the Sri Lanka’s terrorist war. Those books are fictions rather than true accounts, as what actually took place in that closed area, where only the terrorists, and the Sri Lanka Armed forces were present with a large number of civilian Tamils held by the terrorists as a “human shield”, Gordon Weiss and Frances Harrison would not have known, and it is not possible they could even have found credible eye witnesses.
But the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Crisis Group and other human rights activists all make a great effort to seek the truth of what happened at the last phase of the terrorist war in Sri Lanka .
They have chosen the worst period of the conflict to find the “truth” as no body could tell exactly what happened in that particular area during that particular period of time. The Sri Lanka Armed Forces were not fighting a “last stand war” like the terrorists who were in fact fighting for their “dear lives” in an unwinnable war.
Therefore the Armed Forces had to go slow, firstly to save their own lives as they were carrying only small arms , secondly to eliminate the terrorists , and thirdly to rescue an unexpected number of about 300,000 Tamil civilians, men, women and children running away to save their dear lives.
The terrorists were fighting unto their last using the heavy arms they had placed amoung the civilian crowd now running away from them. They were angry that their last hope of living to fight as long as possible was fading with their “human shields” taking to their heels.
In that situation, who could have stopped to count the numbers dead and dying, the escapee Tamil civilians were a stampede of cattle let loose from a cattle ranch. The Armed forces had to take cover from aimless shooting by the terrorists, rescue the Tamil civilian “human shields” running away from the terrorists , while shooting at the terrorists to protect themselves and the Tamil civilians they were rescuing. Therefore, they could not have stopped a moment to count the dead. And the terrorists did not care who died and how many died as they were fighting to keep alive and could not and did not count the dead and the dying.
Then who counted this 40,000, 8000 or 7000 dead bodies as they claim at different times,lying in the war zone ? If it was done by aerial photographs, how could they have distinguished the dead civilians from the dead terrorists ? If there were 300 000 civilian Tamils in that war zone during the last phase of the war against terrorists, and if 295 000 had been rescued and counted. The missing number is 5 000. Arn’t all these different numbers at different times a fabrication to discredit Sri Lanka Armed Forces and bring the Armed Forces before a war tribunal ?
It would have been more convenient and intelligent to have left out the last phase of the terrorist war to call for accountability, and concentrated on the 27 years before that. The “war crimes” during that period may have been documented and the “criminals” more easily found.
But this has been avoided perhaps to exonerate the real perpetrators of “war crimes” –the terrorists.
Now the whole burden of accountability for war crimes has been put on the Sri Lanka Government and its Armed Forces. And all the stories, tales of eye witnesses coming forward to tell that 40000 or less numbers died is all made up. No one in his or her right sense could accept these eye witnesses. Most of those who escaped from the war zone while escaping were concerned only about their own near and dear ones. Those who were wounded when rescued by the Armed Forces were in terrible state of fear, and psychological shock.
They were starved, unwashed, unclean, sick. The old men and women hardly able to walk were carried by the Sri Lanka Soldiers in their arms, they carried the wounded on stretches despite the shooting of the terrorists and exploding bullets. But yet these soldiers of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces get no Credit for their dedication to save human lives, from those who are more keen to accuse the Armed Forces for war crimes.
Therefore, this good effort of the Human Rights Law Centre, should have objectivity and openness to find the truth, and for that it should not have a panel composed of biased persons, who have already concluded that the Sri Lanka Armed Forces are guilty of War Crimes.
Persons for various reasons have an axe to grind against Sri Lanka government and therefore all-out to put the blame of war crimes on the Sri Lanka Government Armed Forces.
Any one can come forward and say I saw the Sri Lanka Armed Forces were shooting at the civilians to kill them, but another more objective could ask, if the Government Armed Forces opened fire at the Tamil Civilians purposely to kill them how come that the same Armed Forces rescued nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians.
If the Government Armed Forces were as ruthless as the Tamil Terrorists, was it not an ideal occasion for the Government Armed Forces to have killed all the 300000 Tamil civilians without leaving a single witness ?
Is that not a “good” question to ask the panellists ?
It is time nearly four years after the elimination of terrorists to forget demanding accountability for what happened at the last phase of the military operations against the terrorists and begin to look after the living.
Even to the International Community, asking for accountability for war crimes and the current human rights situation in Sri Lanka, it is becoming a burden which it would like to leave aside.
The truth that the Sri Lanka Armed Forces cannot be held accountable for war crimes will have to come out. Already there are those in the USAID, the Secretary General of UNO, and even Germany who seem to be taking a more balanced view of the situation.
If your discussion is to have credibility it is best that the four panellists Frances Harrison, Dr. Sam Pari, Gordon Weiss and Bruce Haigh. are left out and take others more objective from both sides- the side accusing the Sri Lanka Armed Forces for war crimes and those who are against such accusations.
I hope that good sense will prevail.