Anti-resolution protestors. Photo by Geeshan Bandara.
This is the full text of the Resolution the US introduced at the UNHRC. It just passed. I have kinda shrugged it off, but it really is kinda bullshit. Please have a read. I have included my comments in the margins. My source for the text is
Draft Resolution: Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka (March 21, 2012)
The Human Rights Council,
Guided by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other relevant instruments,
Recalling Council resolutions 5/1 and 5/2 on institution building of the Human Rights Council,
Reaffirming that States must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, as applicable,
Here you have to wonder at the gall of the United States of all nations to criticize the logic they introduced in the War On Terror, ie, whatever works or, in their case, whatever doesn’t work.
Taking note of the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission of Sri Lanka and its findings and recommendations, and acknowledging its possible contribution to the process of national reconciliation in Sri Lanka,
Note the noting. Not welcoming. The idea is that the LLRC report is whitewash, which I also thought, until I read it (highlights at least). It’s actually quite helpful.
Welcoming the constructive recommendations contained in the Commission’s report, including the need to credibly investigate widespread allegations of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, demilitarize the north of Sri Lanka, implement impartial land dispute resolution mechanisms, re-evaluate detention policies, strengthen formerly
independent civil institutions, reach a political settlement on the devolution of power to the provinces, promote and protect the right of freedom of expression for all and enact rule of law reforms,
This is the part I don’t like so much. This is essentially saying, ‘noting the parts that confirm our existing bias of Sri Lanka as a basket case, and ignoring the rest’. This is also going a bit out of the orbit of a Human Rights body, proscribing pretty broad changes to the government which – however well meaning – have to be resolved through our democracy, not diktat. Not that I would entirely object to having them resolved by a foreign resolution if that were possible, but the end effect tends to be to weaken local voices by making them smell foreign, and impotent.
Noting with concern that the report does not adequately address serious allegations of violations of international law,
Essentially, noting that Mahinda and Gota did not convict themselves and report to the Hague.
1. Calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the constructive recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and to take all necessary additional steps to fulfill its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans;
Well, OK. Shouldn’t every country do this, at least the latter part?
2. Requests the Government of Sri Lanka to present, as expeditiously as possible, a comprehensive action plan detailing the steps that the Government has taken and will take to implement the recommendations made in the Commission’s report, and also to address alleged violations of international law;
I don’t like this and I’m surprised any country did. It’s asking a sovereign nation to report back to the UN.
3. Encourages the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant special procedures mandate holders to provide, in consultation with, and with the concurrence of, the Government of Sri Lanka, advice and technical assistance on implementing the above-mentioned steps; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to present a report on the provision of such assistance to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second session.
Or face even more drawn out bureaucratic bullshit.
The Rajapaksa government played this retarded, but they also WON THE WAR. The underlying logic of this resolution is the continuing logic of the anti-war forces (of which I was one), namely that the war was a bad idea and that the Rajapaksa are murderous assholes. My main objection to the war was that I thought it was a waste because we couldn’t win. When we did win, I kinda accepted that I was wrong there. The logic here (in the UNHRC) and in too many places seems to be that the war was bad because Sri Lanka shouldn’t win. The effect of negotiating or fighting demurely with the LTTE would have been the continuation of the LTTE, which Prabhakaran literally continued until all his human shields escaped and he died.
In many ways, this type of resolution is a continuation of Prabhakaran’s terrorism, what I call Prabhakaran’s Play – using Tamil people as a human shield to reflect blame on the government of Sri Lanka and get international support to weaken them, and preserve his hide. It’s working, just years too late for the hide preservation.
I’m honestly really unhappy with this resolution. It’s become a political football and it revives the old divide that was starting to fade. For reconciliation to happen there has to be honesty, and that requires amnesty. And that includes amnesty for the Rajapaksas and errant soldiers and LTTErs and whoever did wrong during the war. That has to happen, but there are hostile elements abroad (and a few here) who still want their pound of flesh. They still cannot forgive the Rajapaksa for winning the war and proving them wrong. But I can, because I live here and I just want to live.
We have to stop threatening each other with investigations and blame. That’s not a foundation for reconciliation, it’s just a foundation for recrimination. A TNA MP Sumanthiran was talking about South Africa, how they offered amnesty so tortures and killers (from the police to Winnie Mandela) came out and actually talked. So families could know, and forgive and move on. This ‘Accountability’ dog whistle is the opposite of that. It’s so people that hated the Rajapaksas or supported the LTTE can move back, and punish them for finishing the war years ago.
Real reconciliation doesn’t come from the UNHRC, or even the government. There is no punishment that leads to positivity. There is no one you can put in jail to make our problems go away. Reconciliation has to come from the people of Sri Lanka, and it is coming. I’ve been highlighting these stories and efforts and will do some more. I hope that you and yours can also participate. Join Sri Lanka Unites, travel, talk to your neighbors, marry outside your race, whatever.
Horse races aside, reconciliation is happening, and must happen. Sri Lanka is doing it but this ritual re-enactment of war divisions doesn’t help. If the government could stop acting like a bull and if international ignorants could stop waving red flags in front of the bull there would be a whole lot less bullshit in my life. Just saying.
Further Reading: I honestly can’t find anything on the UNHRC website, so don’t even know if the Draft Resolution I’ve cited is the final. UPDATE: it wasn’t, updated to a State Department source, thank you Scribina. I did find this text describing how the voting went and what people said. Cuba this, China that, America that. It’s kind of like World Cup Soccer, except not as interesting.