On My Watch
- by Lucien Rajakarunanayake
Exposed: INGO’s hypocrisy
The surprise would have been if the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW)
had not issued its latest statement, charging that the Sri Lanka
Government is one of the world’s worst perpetrators of enforced
disappearances and accusing the Security Forces and Pro-Government
militias of association with the adduction and disappearance of hundreds
of people “mostly Tamils” since 2006.
We are now in a situation when such reports, whether based on fact of
fiction, are to be expected, followed up with them being highlighted by
international and local media institutions that have an agenda of
seeking to humiliate the Sri Lankan state, when key international
conferences or meetings take place on issues such as Human Rights.
In the event, the report by HRW that has received top billing by BBC
and in some sections of the local media, has come in when Seventh
Session of the Human Rights Council is meeting in Geneva, where HRW and
some others are lobbying hard for the presence of a permanent UN Fact
Finding Mission in Sri Lanka on Human Rights.
It matters little to HRW and other such organisations that the
allegations they make are not supported by actual evidence, or that
their report that claims to cover a period of nearly two years stops far
short of it so that the latest situation in Sri Lanka goes unreported in
its desire to castigate a sovereign government that does not buckle down
to the international lobby that is seeking to take the eyes of the world
away from the LTTE and its terrorism, and working towards a situation
where Sri Lanka will be manipulated by the forces of oppression fuelled
both by economic and at times religious interests, that are active in so
many parts of the world today.
The reality is that the figures on abductions and disappearances
given by the official Presidential Commission Inquiring into Abductions
and Disappearances run counter to these recent claims made by HRW. The
Chairman of the One-man Presidential Commission Justice Mahanama
Thilakaratne says the larger number of persons reported missing or
disappeared have come back to their homes.
The charge that the Sri Lanka government is one of the world’s worst
perpetrators of enforced disappearances is not borne out the facts
available from the investigations carried out by the One-man Commission,
which indicate that the statements by HRW on this subject are
While HRW accuses the Sri Lankan Security Forces of the abduction and
disappearance of hundreds of people - mostly Tamils- since 2006,
Commissioner Thilakaratne is on record that that the Commission has so
far not found any Armed Forces or police personnel guilty of alleged
abductions or disappearances or linked to unidentified dead bodies and
unexplained killings in the country.
The Commission which has covered alleged incidents of abduction and
disappearance from March 2006 has concluded investigations into 6543 of
7130 complaints lodged with the Police about disappearances and related
incidents. Of this number the Commission has found that over 6000
persons have returned to their homes.
There were 108 cases of abductions and disappearances reported from
areas in the Northern Province and the relevant parties have returned or
have been found; while of the 670 cases reported from the Eastern
Province, 402 cases have been resolved so far, according to the
Significantly, the HRW report is a gross exaggeration that does not
take into account the steady decline in disappearances over the past 12
months, mainly due to the new measures taken by the government, and HRW
is basing its claims on unsubstantiated claims.
HRW is possibly unaware that recent police investigations have
revealed the involvement of important cadres of the terrorist LTTE,
including persons close to its leader Prabhakaran, in carrying out
abductions in Colombo and elsewhere. One can be certain that the next
report of HRW on Sri Lanka will also not carry anything about, or gloss
over, that aspect of disappearances and abductions in Sri Lanka.
Although some of these findings by the One-man Commission had been
reported by the Sinhala section of BBC that interviewed Justice
Thilakaratne on the subject two days earlier, it did not stand in the
way of the BBC’s World Service from playing it up on its news it last
Thursday (March 6).
Despite repeated assertions by the Secretary General of the Sri Lanka
Peace Secretariat Dr. Rajiva Wijesinghe, whose comments were sought on
the matter, that the HRW report was flawed and grossly one-sided, the
news presenter that night thought it fit to sit in judgment, almost like
the Secretary General of the UN, and seek to goad Sri Lanka into
accepting a permanent fact-finding presence by the UN here.
There is at present a confluence of events that has made
organizations such as HRW and other so-called pro-democratic
manipulators in Sri Lanka too to gang up just now in their orchestrated
moves to discredit both Sri Lanka and its present government.
On the one hand there is the high visibility (vis-a-vis the western
international community) Human Rights Council Session taking place in
Geneva. On the other is the elections to local bodies in the Eastern
Province that will take place on Monday (10), which if held
successfully, as it appears will be, will strengthen the Governments
hand in the restoring democracy to parts of the country that was denied
it for nearly two decades, and also further expose the LTTE as being no
The other aspect that is propelling these organizations to intensify
their attacks on Sri Lanka is the continuing military operations aimed
at defeating the terrorism and separatist forces of the LTTE, and the
steady reports of successes that the Armed Forces are recording in their
actions each day.
Slow as the progress may be, for those who are eager for an end to
this conflict, we now have the opinions of more objective observers of
the military situation here, such as Jane’s Defence Intelligence, Indian
and US military analysts and strategic think-tanks, who are agreed that
the LTTE is in fact being militarily weakened and is now on the decline.
The reports of the advances made by the Armed Forces in the Mannar
region in recent weeks cannot but displease forces that have come
together to attack Sri Lanka. The latest report is that Parappakandal,
one of the major suburbs to the north of Uyilankulam, was completely
brought under the troops this morning (6), causing another major setback
to the LTTE that had kept the whole area under siege, and have been
fiercely resisting the forward march of the armed forces for some
Adding to this heightened concern of what are clearly pro-separatist
forces is the very clear reiteration by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at
Ratnapura last weekend that until such time every inch of land is
captured and the last terrorist is destroyed, his Government will not
cease its operates to liberate the people and land of the North from the
Addressing a mammoth rally President Rajapaksa pointed out that his
Government is a very strong and stable democracy which need not under
any circumstances beg before the international community on bended
“We are no longer a poor country thriving on aid and subsidies of the
world. Our per capita income has risen to US$ 1,625 now. We need not put
our head down to anybody, but we are prepared to listen to constructive
criticism and prudent advice of others,” the President said.
He added that nevertheless there were certain groups seeking and
striving to stifle the ongoing development programmes already under way
and in the pipeline, in diverse ways. Some groups including sections of
the media indulged in a slanderous and misleading campaign to deprive
the country of international aid and disrupt development. The LTTE too
is using all means at their disposal to benefit from these groups, to
It was in the face of the combined attack by the forces ranged
against Sri Lanka that the Minister of Disaster Management and Human
Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe who heads the Sri Lanka delegation to the
Seventh Session of the Human Rights Council, joined issue with another
voice that has joined the team of Sri Lanka bashers, in the form of the
British Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, (Lord) Mark Malloch-Brown.
Exercising his right of reply to ill-informed critical comments by
Malloch-Brown, Minister Samarasinghe said that Sri Lanka regretted his
misconceived approach and that the UK Minister’s statement revealed a
lack of appreciation for the steps taken by Sri Lanka to protect human
rights while dealing with terrorism.
“We share the concerns of many members of the international community
that such approaches only promote a growing belief that some individuals
find it difficult to let go of historical possessions,” Minister
He added that: “Regrettably, Lord Malloch-Brown has allowed himself
to be quoted by the British Tamil Forum as saying that the results of
the last election in Sri Lanka were unfortunate. This report has not
been contradicted as yet, notwithstanding our High Commissioner in the
UK bringing this to the attention of relevant parties.
The Sri Lankan minister responded to the patronizing comments by the
UK Minister said that as a practising democracy of longstanding, Sri
Lanka is well aware of the need to safeguard democracy while combating
terrorism, and has over the years developed new institutions that a
colonial tradition failed to install.
“We are proud of our record in dealing with terrorism, whilst
minimizing harm to civilians. We hope that Lord Malloch-Brown will not
forget that, when dealing with terrorism in other countries, our
circumspection in this regard should be emulated.”
Referring Malloch-Brown’s support for attempts to establish a UN
Human Rights Office in Sri Lanka despite a clear position enumerated to
the contrary by the Government of Sri Lanka, Minister Samarasinghe said
the attitude with regard to Sri Lanka should be more productively
replaced by a genuine concern for human rights for all our citizens in
the context of a genuine struggle against terrorism.
The recent weeks have seen certain developments in several foreign
locations that show the duplicity of the Western international community
on how it deals with terrorism and also about the respect they have for
the territorial rights of sovereign states.
The US that is mired in Iraq, together with the UK that joined it in
regime change there using false charges about Weapons of Mass
Destruction, were quite muted in the reactions to Turkey’s armed foray
into Iraqi territory, the Kurdish enclave in the north of Iraq, when it
carried out cross border attacks on the armed cadres of the PKK that it
considers a terrorist movement. Turkey ignored US calls for it to halt
the incursion and withdrew only after it had completed the task in came
to carry out.
In Somalia, the US carried out a missile attack on what it said was a
known Al Qaeda cell, killing several. It said they had attacked an
identified target using precision missiles. However, witnesses to the
attack reported that no terrorists were killed, but some homes were
destroyed and women and children were killed. There have been no
protests from any international watchers of Human Rights, such as HRW.
In South America, we see the dangers of a major armed conflict with
Ecuador and Venezuela bringing their armed forces to the border with
Columbia, which carried out an armed incursion into Ecuadorian territory
in its battle against FARC rebels, where the deputy leader of FARC was
among those killed.
Although the Columbian Foreign Minister apologised to Ecuador for the
incident, US President George W Bush was strong in his support for the
One wonders whether we are seeing the unveiling of a proxy war by the
US for a regime change in Ecuador or Venezuela, especially with the
Columbians claiming that FARC had been trying to purchase Uranium, which
apparently came to light through a laptop computer captured in the raid
on the FARC camp in Ecuador.
It seems a good timing for another war against Weapons of Mass
Destruction, this time on the backyard of the US, with the US Election
due in November and President Bush endorsing the Republican nominee,
John McCain, who is a well known hawk, that is fully supportive of the
US presence in Iraq, and for many more decades, too.
It is interesting to compare these cross-border incursions into
sovereign territory of countries, and the reactions that one sees when
the Sri Lankan Armed Forces attempt to move into the country’s own
territory to establish the sovereignty of the state and eradicate
terrorism and separatism from our midst.