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Saturday 1 November  
Justice in Sri Lanka?
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Colombo, Sri Lanka
Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Tamil question: Justice, Lies and Videotape

Published on : 5 August 2011 - 3:36pm | By International Justice Desk (Photo:RNW)
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Sri Lanka’s thirty year war is now more of words than of guns, but it is no less bitter. RNW’s team in the country found fierce resistance in the Sri Lankan government to the current calls for international justice.

 

The problem in Sri Lanka today is that the presence of non-governmental organizations is dwindling, a fact witnessed when travelling across the east of the island – where once there were distinctive white NGO vehicles on every corner, the sight is now rare.

With the help of one remaining NGO, which requested anonymity, RNW met nine freshly ‘reintegrated’ former Tamil Tiger guerillas who spoke of their desire for justice for all Sri Lankans. But people in the heavily militarized north and east live in fear of reprisal if they openly criticise the authorities, creating the space for a vociferous Tamil diaspora, the foreign media, and a UN investigation, to demand justice. The Sri Lankan government is now hitting back.

Video counter-punch

This week Colombo released a documentary video in response to British Channel 4’s Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, in which it looks to discredit all claims that government troops killed and raped Tamil civilians and prisoners of war during the closing months of the conflict in 2009. The narrator of Lies Agreed Upon rubbishes Channel 4’s documentary: "Doctored footage and deliberate lies are presented as authentic. It begs for review." The film proceeds to refute claims that the military deliberately bombed no-fire zones and seeks to bring into focus atrocities committed by the Tamil Tigers.

Reactions from the Tamil diaspora to the film are predictable - "The Tamil community is disappointed. The whole documentary is based on lies. The people speaking are all under pressure from the government. What would you do when you were a Tamil and you were under that pressure? You would probably go along with what the government wants," said Mohan, a Dutch Tamil campaigner.

Tamils who feel free to speak openly say they want an independent, international investigation into the many claims of atrocities committed in 2009 and before. "We are requesting, pleading, begging the civilised world to stop the hypocrisy and double standards. And we’re calling for impartial investigations into missing persons," said Donald Gnanakone head of the US-based ‘Tamils for Justice’.

Probing for the truth

Colombo says it is investigating the period in question and that all Sri Lankans, not just the Sinhalese majority, are cared for by President Rajapaksa, an almost omnipresent figure to be found smiling down from countless billboards around the capital.

Evidence of this, it claims, is the President's creation of the ‘Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission’ (LLRC) last year, the stated intention of which is to "focus on the causes of conflict, its effect on the people, and promote national unity and reconciliation." This body claims to have interviewed five thousand people of all ethnicities around the country in the building of its report, expected later this year.

The international community though, led by the United Nations Secretary General’s office, is not impressed by the LLRC’s work so far, saying it is "deeply flawed, (and) does not meet international standards for an effective accountability mechanism."

Lakshman Wickremasinghe is spokesman for the LLRC. Does he hear the ever louder calls from the outside world to make the Commission’s work more credible?

"I hope the international community doesn’t put pressure on the Commission because it’s the best mechanism the country has."

Greater pressure is gradually being brought to bear on the Sri Lankan government. The US Foreign Affairs Committee, which advises Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, says it is pushing ahead with plans to stop American aid to Sri Lanka unless meaningful investigation takes place and the guilty are brought to book.

Wanted: justice for all Sri Lankans

During RNW’s conversations in Sri Lanka with former Tamil Tiger fighters it was clear justice was a high priority for the Tamil community, not only indicting Sri Lankan generals but Tamil leaders too. Critics point out this is easy to say since most of the Tamil Tiger leadership was killed during the closing months of the war.

The desire for justice is not confined to one side, according to the UN’s former spokesman in Sri Lanka, Gordon Weiss: "I think there are many Sri Lankans of all ethnicities who support accountability, who support the rule of law, who support a frank and full discussion of the past history."

The problem is that justice has no track record in Sri Lanka: "Almost nobody has done jail time for the crimes that were committed in 1971 when tens of thousands of Sinhalese were killed, or during the uprising from 1987 – 1990. So there is a long and very profound history of a lack of accountability," said Gordon Weiss.

He remains hopeful about an independent investigation followed by justice in the future. The UN however only wants to launch an investigation with the approval of the government of Sri Lanka, which is unlikely to happen. The International Criminal Court does not have jurisdiction, as Sri Lanka is not one of the 114 countries that have signed up to the court. Direct referral by the UN Security Council seems to be the only option left, but with China, India and Russia as major investors in the country, they are expected to veto any resolution on a referral.

Silenced guns or guns with silencers?

Sri Lanka has suffered from a cycle of oppression and violence for decades. And as the former Tamil rebels in the town of Batticaloa told RNW, if basic rights are not upheld, that cycle will simply continue into the future. The danger for Sri Lanka is that silent guns continue to be interpreted as lasting peace. As the NGO vehicles pull out, fear and impunity are left behind. Former Tamil Tiger Mutu told RNW: "I think there needs to be justice supervised by the international community. Because if the Sri Lankan government does it, it won’t be done properly."

The other articles from the RNW team in Sri Lanka:
Sri Lanka's white vans deliver fear and oppression
Sri Lanka: picking up the Tamil Tiger's scent
IJT: Sri Lanka Special

Discussion

mhelpdesk 10 August 2013 - 4:44am / USA

Hello,you guys done a good job by giving thisarticle with us.Keep it up.

Anonymous 26 July 2012 - 10:49am / Australia

If the Racial Sinhala government, belives in true buddhism and Buddha's teachings - there will be no problems in Sri Lanka. Its policy is also to rob the poor to pay the rich.
The meaning of honesty is unknown to the three brothers.

vijith arunasiri bandulahewa 9 October 2011 - 9:36pm / srilanka

as we know India divided by the British in 1947. as well as they wanted to divide the Srilanka. they firstly ( up to 1995 chief of the Srilanka government intelligence was British officer (MI6) and most of other officers are Catholics which hate the Buddhist and the country) create a clash between Sinhalese and Tamils in July 1983,after that Tamils got the sympathy of the entire world,as well as Tamil youth formed the several armed groups like EROS,PLOT.. etc against the government. after destroying the every Tamil guerrilla organisations other than LTTE and continue war about 30 years the reason for this was govt intelligence give each and every support to the LTTE not to the srilankan forces.as well as each and every bomb blast and killings done by the LTTE with the help of government intelligence service. after come in to the power (bodujaya sena party) we claim the cost of the war (2300 billion rupees, the government estimate)and cost of the damage to the economy of the country and people of the forces as well as north and east Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims from the BRITISH GOVERNMENT.
Vijith Arunasiri Bandulahewa,leader and secretary of the bodujaya sena party www.sinhalayani.com

sangaran 17 September 2011 - 2:41pm / UK

On this comments 4 places use singala bad word"DEMELA HUTHTA"MEEN TAMIL CUNT THIS IS BAD SINGALA MAIND nobody cant change this .

M. Kasun Seneviratne 10 August 2011 - 12:20pm / Sri Lanka

THIS ARTICLES CONTAINS TOTAL FALLS-HOOD. THE TAMIL PROBLEM IN SRI LANKA IS MADE UP BY A FEW TAMIL CHUVANISTS. HE WHO COMES TO SRI LANKA CAN SEE PEOPLE OF ALL RACES LIVE AMICABLY ALL OVER THE COUNTRY WITHOUT THE SLIGHTEST HINT OF ANY KIND OF SEPARATISM. THIS SITUATION IS FUELLED BY A FEW FOREIGN COUNTRIES AND ORGANIZATIONS WHO HOPE TO BENEFIT BY DESTABILIZING THE COUNTRY AND BY A FEW POWER HUNGRY TAMIL CHUVANISTS.

Anonymous 9 August 2011 - 4:37pm / Uk

Elam Tamils have been subject to pograms and other forms ofj violence in addition to state sponsored acts of discrimination including legislation to undermine them and subjugate them to 2 nd or third class citizens in their own country. It is the Sinhala Srilankan who sent their armed forces into the Tamil homelands to suppress their peaceful protests . so the GOSL and the Sinhala peole are the aggressors and terrorists not the LTTE which was the only movement defending the Elam Tamils from aggression of the Sinhala racists, I.e 99% of Sinhalese who have committed friends against the Elam Tamils in 1956 1858. 1971 1977 1981 1983 and onwards. For over thirty years , despite all the assistance , bothe overt and covert, including actual participation of Chinese Pakistani and Indian mercenaries they could not defeat the brave LTTE fighters. Even the West UK US and EU gave all logistical support. in desperation they used the scorched earth policy of decimating land and people - which incidentally is the modus operandi of the Chinese and even Indians to neutralise freedom fighters. after all this the Sinhalas hail their victory as a glorious victory. The noose however is tightening round their neck day by day and soon the genocidal intentions of The GOSL and Sinhalas will be proved by the Intrrnational Community and that will be the stepping stone for the freedom of Elam. The Elam Tamils thirst is for an independent Tamil Elam like South Sudan East Timor Kosova Montenegro , all of which happened in the recent past.

eyes wide open 9 August 2011 - 8:39am

New documentary

On another front, Sri Lanka released a professionally produced documentary this week called "Lies Agreed Upon." It takes aim at another program, "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields," produced by Britain's Channel 4 a few months ago.

"Doctored footage and deliberate lies are presented as authentic," an announcer says in the documentary. "Numbers are pulled from thin air and presented as fact. Sources are not mentioned, faces hidden, and voices distorted -- just like the truth."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSqxYdVDOKo

DEMALA HUTHTHA 8 August 2011 - 5:42am

LTTE TERRORISTS are the worse murderers ever! Please handover this old cow father SJ Emannuel (rotten buffoon) and suren surendiran if EU is against terrorism! SJ Emmannuel and Suren Surendiran are the worse terrorist murderers on earth today!

sangaran 17 September 2011 - 2:35pm / UK

He put his name -"tamil cunt" this is the srilakan singala mind.

DEMALA HUTHTHA 8 August 2011 - 5:33am / Colombo

Dont give ANY JUSTICE TO LTTE TERRORIST GENOCIDAL MANIAC! Only justice for the world is the end of the worse terrorist organization the LTTE! If LTTE terrorists can get justice, then why no justice for drone attack victims in Pakistan? Lives of Pakistanis is a billion times more valuable than good for nothing TAMIL TERRORISTS!

Sri 7 August 2011 - 6:41pm

Look at the lion with human blood on its tongue!

DEMALA HUTHTHA 8 August 2011 - 5:31am / Colombo

LTTE terrorists are blood thirsty! Thats why LTTE terrorists committed genocide of Sinhalese for 60 years and blewup suicide bombs in Colombo and drank Sinhala blood as barbarian cannibals!

Manjula 8 August 2011 - 3:02am

I cannot see any blood on the tounge of the lion, but look at the tiger with the human blood on its tounge.

D.S. Seneviratne 7 August 2011 - 3:39pm / USA

DUTCH or any other Civlized human being believe Sri Lankan goverment and its well disciplined forces, our WAR HEROES have killed innocent Tamils deliberately, bombed the No-fire zone believing these PRO-LTTE and LTTE Tamil's lies, THINK You are being taken for a good ride by these Tamils. You should be ashamed yourself if you ever beleive these liers. Lying is the best talent these terrorist have inherited. Go to Sri Lanka-North and East and also West and experience yourself how disciplined our forcees and how hospitable our SRI LANKANS!!Dont ever beliece these LTTE and PRO-LTTE Tamils. If you do, check your IQ and be ashamed!

Rajah 8 August 2011 - 11:07pm / US

"Go to Sri Lanka-North and East and also West and experience yourself how disciplined our forcees"
"THINK You are being taken for a good ride by these Tamils."

Alright, lets THINK:

Why did the North-East vote for the LTTE-proxy TNA as opposed to Rajapaksa who wiped out the LTTE? Obviously, using basic logic, the tamils in the North-East do not believe that your armed forces are as disciplined as you believe them to be. Was it not these same disciplined forces that barbarically attacked the TNA candidates prior to the elections? That's your idea of discipline? Why did Fonseka claim that Gothabaya ordered the execution of surrendering LTTE leaders? Who is lieing? Fonseka or Gothabaya? Which one of these disciplined persons of the armed forces is the liar? If they have lied about this, what else have these liars lied about? Do you want to THINK some more or is that enough THINKing for now.

"!!Dont ever beliece these LTTE and PRO-LTTE Tamils. If you do, check your IQ and be ashamed!"

Anyone with half a brain who has done an ounce of THINKing would realise that it is you who needs to check your IQ and be ashamed. You and Sri-Lanka are making fools of yourselves to the world - keep it up though, the more you do so, the better for the tamils - please keep it coming...

Ananda Seneviratne 7 August 2011 - 3:38pm / USA

DUTCH or any other Civlized human being believe Sri Lankan goverment and its well disciplined forces, our WAR HEROES have killed innocent Tamils deliberately, bombed the No-fire zone believing these PRO-LTTE and LTTE Tamil's lies, THINK You are being taken for a good ride by these Tamils. You should be ashamed yourself if you ever beleive these liers. Lying is the best talent these terrorist have inherited. Go to Sri Lanka-North and East and also West and experience yourself how disciplined our forcees and how hospitable our SRI LANKANS!!Dont ever beliece these LTTE and PRO-LTTE Tamils. If you do, check your IQ and be ashamed!

Anonymous 9 August 2011 - 5:02pm / Uk

What about your war heroes sent home by The UN for child sexual abuse of Haiti children , a hundred and thirty heroes received back home as HEROES. Perhaps these are the well disciplined forces you hail as heroes . Every time your Gothabaya opens his mouth he is spilling the beans never mind murdering the Queens English and eating his own words -zero civilian deaths has now become unavoidable civilian deaths

Ananda Seneviratne 7 August 2011 - 3:36pm / USA

DUTCH or any other Civlized human being believe Sri Lankan goverment and its well disciplined forces, our WAR HEROES have killed innocent Tamils deliberately, bombed the No-fire zone believing these PRO-LTTE and LTTE Tamil's lies, THINK You are being taken for a good ride by these Tamils. You should be ashamed yourself if you ever beleive these liers. Lying is the best talent these terrorist have inherited. Go to Sri Lanka-North and East and also West and experience yourself how disciplined our forcees and how hospitable our SRI LANKANS!!Dont ever beliece these LTTE and PRO-LTTE Tamils. If you do, check your IQ and be ashamed!

Ananda Seneviratne 7 August 2011 - 3:28pm / USA

ONLY ONE QUESTION theDUTCH and the entire world need to ask themselves. JUST ONE QUESTION!!!!!!!!!!!After eliminating the worlds most ruthless terrorist organization bloody LTTE and bringing 100% PEACE to Sri Lanka, why these -PRO LTTE TAMILS are so interested, spreading every lie and false information and trying to agitate the WORLD?. NOthing other than taking the revenge from Sri Lankan giverment and the ARMY for eliminating their beloved Terrorist org who killed more than 50,000 innocent Sri Lankans. Instead of helping the innocent Tamils living in Sri Lanka as decent human being, these sepratist ass licking smelly mouth liers are trying their best throwing millions of LTTE's remaining money in banks to destroy SRI LANKA, THIS IS THE ONLY AIM of this DUMB PRO-LTTE TAMIL ASS HOLES.....good luck ! Sri Lanka will prosper and win the false video and propaganda campaign too!

Ananda Seneviratne 7 August 2011 - 3:27pm / USA

ONLY ONE QUESTION theDUTCH and the entire world need to ask themselves. JUST ONE QUESTION!!!!!!!!!!!After eliminating the worlds most ruthless terrorist organization bloody LTTE and bringing 100% PEACE to Sri Lanka, why these -PRO LTTE TAMILS are so interested, spreading every lie and false information and trying to agitate the WORLD?. NOthing other than taking the revenge from Sri Lankan giverment and the ARMY for eliminating their beloved Terrorist org who killed more than 50,000 innocent Sri Lankans. Instead of helping the innocent Tamils living in Sri Lanka as decent human being, these sepratist ass licking smelly mouth liers are trying their best throwing millions of LTTE's remaining money in banks to destroy SRI LANKA, THIS IS THE ONLY AIM of this DUMB PRO-LTTE TAMIL ASS HOLES.....good luck ! Sri Lanka will prosper and win the false video and propaganda campaign too!

Anonymous 7 August 2011 - 12:01am / Sri Lanka

Tamil Tiger terrorists are the biggest oppressors in the country that killed and maimed over 100,000 civilians. Tamil Tigers killed more Tamils than any other conflict. Tamil Tigers eliminated the Tamil elite so than they could control the remaining Tamil population.

Now that none of these things are happening, Tamil Tiger diaspora living abroad bad mouth the country using every possible means.

Anonymous 6 August 2011 - 4:33pm / Norway

Please be aware of Srilankan propaganda machines, which use bots and paid sinhalse,s to write comments in alle western online papers, only to hide the lies.
To the papers. check IP-.adresses and bots/auto-softwares.

If you want to truth, then google or find it by yourself /watch channel 4- an independent english channel.

Anonymous 7 August 2011 - 2:15pm / Sri Lanka

Not a single True Sri Lankan Will agree with he you! you are a supporter of terrorism and separatism.Your kind has been trying to destroy this nation for thousands of years! So far Sri Lankans have been able to resist and defend it from your kind. No one needs to pay or entice anyone to speak against lies and fabrications formulated by the likes of you and appologist of mass murderers (L T T E) ie:- Scandinavians and their other friendly caucassions!

Rajah 8 August 2011 - 11:24pm / US

"Not a single True Sri Lankan Will agree with he you!"
"No one needs to pay or entice anyone to speak against lies and fabrications formulated by the likes of you and"

The Sri-Lankan external affairs ministry recently complained about the high rates of billing for Patton Boggs, a public relations firm that has been paid US $ 35,000 per month (over Rs 3.8 million) with additional fees for any specific tasks undertaken.
So the Sri-Lankan government does not pay anyone to counter propaganda? Stop making a fool out of yourself.

Anonymous 6 August 2011 - 3:06pm / Canada

Dutch should look themselves in the mirror, and focus their attention on the Western block before focusing on SriLanka. Where were you when the Rwanda massacres happen? Did anybody look at the warcrimes in Afganistan, Iraq and Libya. Remember what you did in your colonies?

Anonymous 6 August 2011 - 3:27am / Canada

However much racist supporters of the regime in this blog shout,
war criminals will not escape punishment.

May be some of them will get their reward for the crimes in a divine way.
Others will suffer in publc, as a warning to future tyrants

T. Sivakumar 6 August 2011 - 1:44am

Who is this clawn author telling us what to do in our motherland Sri Lanka. Rajapaksa goverment hae been eected by the majority of Sri Lankans. As far as the majority is happy Rajapaksas will rule the country. If white fellas are not satifified with, tough luke.

Anonymous 6 August 2011 - 1:39am / Australia

Some of the Tiger Terrorist Leaders are still living, having escaped and are hiding in foreign lands and others who funded and encouraged the LTTE to commit ethnic cleansing of non-Tamils are openly serving on various committees set up overseas with Tiger funds. Will the foreign Govts preaching accountability for crimes, ever charge these individuals with high connections?

Raja 6 August 2011 - 1:29am / Australia

Though Gordon Weiss has made many bizzare imaginary accusations against the Govt in support the LTTE, for reasons best know to him, he is spot on when he says SriLanka hasn't got a good accountability record relating to internal conflicts. Unlike the conflict with well armed LTTE Terrorists, the JVP terrorists were poorly armed or not armed at all and many young unemployed graduates were dragged out from homes to end up as a statistic in the 50 to 60 thousand killed which has now escalated to nearly 100,000 with the subsequent conflict with the LTTE. Another comment I wish to make is that I dont believe all the LTTE leaders are dead. Many of them who fuelled the internal conflict by providing funds, propoganda and weapons to the terrorists, are today serving on committees formed overseas under different names using LTTE funds and assets. They too are liable to be charged for war crimes committed by the LTTE and those foreign Govts which preach accountability, should set an example by charging them without further delay, not withstanding their high connections to politicians.

Anonymous 6 August 2011 - 1:15am

Sri Lankan government under the current ruling brothers will do anything to subjugate the Tamil minority which the predecessors (comparatively educated) failed to do with several ethnic riots unleashed on the minorities.

It is obvious that Sri Lankan government is trying to immunize the political and military leadership/genocidaires by appointing them in the UN and other diplomatic missions.

Defence Secretary (one of the siblings of MahindA Percival Rajapakse) said in an interview about the last week attack on a journalist, " These are isolated cases. Everywhere there are incidents. These are normal. This is common and happens in other countries"

Previous Sri Lankan goveramil minority

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