Establish mechanism to counter nagging UNHRC issues - Prof. Mahanamahewa | Daily News

Establish mechanism to counter nagging UNHRC issues - Prof. Mahanamahewa

Truth and Reconciliation Commission essential
Set up Database on war casualties
Nullify Channel 4 claims

Sri Lanka’s mechanism to counter allegations of human rights abuses levelled against the country is totally inadequate and there needs to be a credible mechanism to counter these false allegations based on credible facts and figures, Human Rights expert Prof.Prathiba Mahanamahewa said. Testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry for Appraisal of the Findings of Previous Commissions and Committees and the Way Forward, he recommended that Sri Lanka establish a three pronged mechanism to counter the nagging UNHRC issues against the country.

He said a Truth and Reconciliation mechanism should be established while maintaining a proper data base to counter international human rights allegations against Sri Lanka and also suggested that the language rights of Tamils should also be ensured.

The Commission panel asked him what sort of mechanism is best suited for Sri Lanka in the future.

He said that the UNHRC sessions are currently underway and they have given Sri Lanka 13 recommendations. Previously there were some 60 recommendations.

He said, “We should establish a local truth seeking mechanism which should be in the form of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Whether it this should be an international mechanism or a national one, Sinhalese and Tamils of this country have been closely knit throughout history and have lived cordially. However, this changed with the English rule. Hence, what is required now is to formulate a joint mechanism where both the Tamils and Sinhalese could work cordially and address our issues. This is the only way that we could counter all other challenges before us.”

He noted the now the international diaspora and the UN authorities have realised that there is no point in levelling allegations of war crimes repeatedly, but what is required is a suitable mechanism to address these issues. He said that the whole world will someday come to know of the significance of this special Commission.

Prof. Mahanamahewa emphasized that it was due to the Channel 4 videos that the whole world had changed its view about Sri Lanka. There is absolutely no evidence to prove the allegations against the Sri Lankan Forces regarding these war crimes allegations.

He pointed out that even the Channel 4 videos have been proved to be doctored ones, but, our propaganda network on countering these allegations and making the truth heard is utterly inadequate. “The former Attorney General and Chathura de Silva from the Moratuwa University clearly showed frame by frame that the Channel 4 video was doctored. But, Channel 4 did not give the original copy of their video for this investigation. This clearly shows that they are a lie. If their video is authentic, then why do they have to keep it so secretively and bring it out so secretively? If it is authentic, then they can issue a copy of their original video to perhaps international investigators to investigate and determine if their video is authentic or not. They are reluctant to give it out because they know that it is not authentic and what is shown in this video is nothing by concocted lies. The former Attorney General and Chathura de Silva from the Moratuwa University clearly outlines all the discrepancies in this video in an 80 page report. Therefore, if this video by Channel 4 is handed over to an independent agency to evaluate its authenticity and credibility, it could be proven without doubt, but they won’t give their video. As Callum Macrae of Channel four holds the rights to this video he is holding onto it without releasing it under copyright laws. Hence, it is very clear that this Channel 4 video on alleged war crimes by the Sri Lankan security forces is a total fake, but unfortunately the international community is completely hoodwinked by them. If the original copy of the video is given to any computer specialist, they would be able to determine if the video is doctored or genuine, but he won’t give it. Sadly though, Sri Lanka’s propaganda mechanism is too weak to counter these allegations. That is why I suggest that Sri Lanka needs to establish a more credible and vibrant mechanism in order to once and for all counter and discredit these false allegations.”

Prof.Mahanamahewa recommended that a special committee be set up comprising representatives from UK, Russia, China, Canada, New Zealand and another Middle Eastern country to scrutinise the Channel 4 video to determine its authenticity, adding that he had no faith that even if the video was handed over to the UNHRC, whether their investigation would be independent and unbiased.

Speaking to the media subsequent to his evidence before the Commission he said, “A good example of the lack of credible evidence against Sri Lanka is is where Lord Naseby pointed out that around 6,000-7,000 civilian casualties had been recorded during the final stage of the war. However, the UNHRC alleges that the casualty figures are around 80,000. Hence, I pointed out to the Commission that data in this regard is of vital importance and suggested to them to recommend that Sri Lanka sets up a data base where all these figures and included so that we have credible and stable records to support our claims or counter allegations against us. He said that creating a data base is not impossible and it is required to get the assistance of the Census and Statistics Department in gathering all the data in this regard.

For instance, the data presented by Lord Naseby could be obtained and even those in the Diaspora could be called upon to give their account of past incidents and this way we could arrive at a relatively credible number.”

He said that it is a given fact that casualties during a war is inevitable, but it is wrong to claim that war crimes were committed deliberately by the Sri Lankan forces, adding that the Sri Lankan forces had in fact, saved many lives of the Tamil civilians who were fleeing the clutches of the LTTE.


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