DELHI’S PATRONAGE ENCOURAGES SRI LANKAN WAR CRIMES TO GO INTERNATIONAL

Excerpts of the SBS Lateline 18 October panel discussion reveal a belligerent Sri Lanka (SL) targeting specifically the diaspora, threatening to use the much dreaded weapon in its portfolio namely ‘disappearances’ (kidnapping/rendition).   One Prof Rohan Gunaratne strongly advocates its use though the panel pointed out that the act. ’..is.. unlawful and violates international law..’.  Rohan’s astonishing reply was ‘There was no other way for the SL government to do this….’

Rohan’s advocacy of kidnapping or rendition of a visiting Tamil right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur is precedent setting taking SL’s war crimes regionally. When the Malaysian Home Affairs Minister denied any knowledge of that kidnap Rohan argued that ‘KP was wanted by the SL government for a very long time’ to justify his ‘kidnapping/rendition’ when visiting third countries.  This makes the SL’s rendition threat all the more ominous for the diaspora despite their foreign domicile and nationality. Nations are required to observe extradition procedures to arrest anyone for any alleged crimes. In the KL rendition the victim was a visitor of foreign domicile and/or nationality.  

Rohan advocacy of rendition (the illegal and violent kidnap of a visitor in a third country) is a blatant international human rights abuse. Damage to the world tourist industry aside SL’s KL style abduction or rendition brings back memories of past aircraft hi-jackings. SL (Rohan)’s declaration of intent to commit rendition on the diaspora living in a third country is specific and forthright (‘..mounting similar operations against other enemies in the Diaspora..Yes, I can share with you that the SL government is already planning to bring a number of other people home …There are a number of professionals who are living in Australia and they have supported a terrorist group providing them funds, distributing their propaganda, advocating violence, and supporting a group that conducted violence’).  To insulate from such a threat the diaspora have grounds to approach the Australian authorities including courts for protection against SL and its rendition violence protagonists. The international community especially the host countries better informed now on the brutality of SL’s human rights/war crimes have sound grounds to treat this threat seriously and not remain passive observers when SL submits its people to violence and destabilize society. In essence Rohan by his statements is implicated in ‘propagating’ SL’s violent (rendition) against citizens of other countries.  Rohan‘s advocacy of rendition adds an international dimension to SL’s state terrorism/violence.

State violence played a key role in the SL genocide to marginalise the Tamils who on a population basis had a 30 per cent representation in parliament when Britain granted independence to Ceylon to a miniscule 5 per cent now. SL genocide used a sustained programme of (mob and armed forces) killings (SL official estimate is 80 000; a Harvard study estimate was over 350 000 by 2004), ethnic cleansing depriving Tamils of the means of livelihood, causing starvation deaths and massive displacements of Tamils (internally and overseas). The crux of the Tamil cause today is basically escaping state violence. Tamils of all persuasions acknowledge that the Tamil resistance (LTTE) as a viable force protected them from SL’s genocide atrocities for nearly three decades until it was eliminated in the May 18 massacres. Following that, Tamils island wide without the protective umbrella of the resistance suffer the brutalities of state violence never before experienced. Hence over 300 000 civilians interned in pathetic sub-human conditions for months (and still are) is a shocking disgrace to humanity that was duped into equating the Tamil resistance with terrorism. Following the May defeat of the resistance SL’s naked brutality is on parade to the world.  Hence the international community is at pains to redress the consequences of hastily lumping the Tamil resistance (who for 30 years protected the Tamils against the brutal SL atrocities) with Jihardi terrorism, a scourge the world is fighting.

The EU and the West were victims of deception when the resistance/LTTE and in fact every Tamil was treated as a drug runner, people smuggler, extortionist and killer.  The iconic Bernard Goonetileke, SL ambassador (US) used the Washington Post radio to lie that the LTTE reaped hundreds of millions of US$ selling to Al Qaeda 130000 stolen Norwegian passports (that duped Jane to  factor this amount into its estimate of LTTE’s funding) gives a taste of SL’s deception that destroyed  the cause of the Tamil resistance.

The focus of debate is shifting away from LTTE terrorism to prosecuting top state level officials responsible for state terrorism crimes.  Officials at other levels liable for similar crimes including advocates/instigators of state terrorism, state violence/human rights crimes including rendition have also to face war crimes charges.

The West’s failed war crimes initiatives at the UNHRC May meeting do not preclude victims resorting to other war crimes redress regimes. Countries singly or as groups (EU) applying sanctions beginning with denying war criminals visas and freezing accounts were effective in controlling the scourge of state sponsored human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The timely introduction of sanctions (especially denying the GSP+) will save the lives of the remaining Tamils in SL. The US government withdrawing a prestigious invitation to General Fonseka, to attend a PACOM event in US is laudable. There is a blunt message to SL in this US action. The grounds stated gives hope to the genocide victims while serving as a warning to war criminals in SL.  The report ‘alleged .. “crimes against humanity” during the final weeks of the Sri Lankan war”. In Page 46, inside a chapter on killings of combatant seeking to surrender, the Report said, “July 10 – A media reported on 18 July that at a celebratory event in Ambalangoda, Army Chief General Sarath Fanseka stated that the military had to overlook the traditional rules of war and even kill LTTE rebels who came to surrender carrying white flags during the war against the LTTE’… “it would be untenable for the US Government to officially host him at any event”’. This national level action withdrawing the invitation is a ‘beware message’ to war criminals indulging in war crimes with impunity.

Rohan’s advocacy (like Fonseka justifying the killing of surrendering enemy combatants) of unlawful kidnapping or rendition in KL is a disgusting act of an overrated expert on counter-terrorism that taints the franchise of his employer.  These views are akin to the views of the ‘holocaust deniers’ who do not deserve the platform of the reputable SBS dateline especially when the speaker openly advocates rendition, a state terrorist violence or war crime. The diaspora is encouraged to initiate a Sulaiman action (against Rohan and associates) filed in the Federal Court of Australia (September 2006) under the Genocide Conventions Act 1949 and War crimes Act. Belgium courts also accept actions in war crimes cases. A Canadian court sentenced recently a Rwandan, Desire Munyaneza, a political extremist for war crimes.

vssubramaniam