Sri Lanka War Crimes Test Series – Will Sri Lanka win The Third Test in Geneva?
13/03/2012 2 Comments
Can Sri Lanka win the Third Test Match (scheduled to end around 15th March) of the thrilling five game series of the Sri Lanka War Crimes Test Series being played at the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the inter-governmental body within the United Nations System?
The US has sponsored a resolution aimed at pushing Sri Lanka into implementing its own LLRC (“Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee”) report, whilst unsubtly telling it that unless it does so, Sri Lanka will face unforeseen, negative consequences.
Sri Lanka’s position is that as a sovereign country, it alone will decide the speed of implementation of the LLRC report. The Sri Lankan government simply has no choice but to defeat this US-sponsored resolution, even if the recommendations are seemingly harmless and well-meaning, because it views a US/UK/EU victory as opening the door for further international scrutiny and punishment by the Western bloc and its baying mob of Eelamists and human rights activists.
To defeat the US resolution, Sri Lanka has to gain the support of a majority of the 47-member UNHRC, including African states whose support is far from assured. Russia, China, Cuba, Thailand and a few other key Sri Lankan allies have already pledged their support to defeat the resolution.
Although Sri Lanka is a long-standing member of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM), it’s difficult to predict how African states will vote. Being generally poor and weak countries, they’re dependent on Western aid and thus susceptible to diplomatic blackmail. When Yemen joined Cuba in opposing the US in a Security Council vote authorizing Gulf War I in 1991, US Secretary of State James Baker warned Yemen that it would be casting “the most expensive vote in history.” Within three days, the US aid programme of $70m was stopped. Yemen suddenly developed problems with the World Bank, the IMF and 800,000 Yemeni workers were expelled from Saudi Arabia.
“Koheda Yanne, Malle Pol” – Sri Lanka’s foreign policy
India is the key to this game, because Sri Lanka is firmly in India’s sphere of influence and the US would not have advanced this resolution without India’s tacit support and understanding. Sri Lankan foreign policy can be encapsulated in the famous Sinhala saying “Koheda Yanne, Malle Pol” which refers to an evasion of the question “Koheda Yanne?” (Where are you going?), with the answer “Malle Pol” (I have coconuts in my bag), thus not answering the question and giving an answer that had no relationship to the question.
That this has resolution has been proposed at all is indicative of the failure of Sri Lankan foreign policy about the commitments it gave to India about starting to address Sri Lanka’s long-standing ethnic grievances in exchange for India’s indispensible support during its long, brutal and necessary war against the LTTE. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke, then Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the UN, who led Sri Lanka’s stunning victory in the first Test Match in May 2009, against a UK/EU resolution condemning Sri Lanka’s war crimes said of the indispensability of Indian support: “If India stops supporting us, not even the Non Aligned Movement will defend us fully, because they take their cue from respected Third World states such as India..”
So, how will this Test Match be played? An US client state like Djibouti will vote as ordered. Others like Libya, which under Gaddaffi’s rule was strongly allied to Sri Lanka, may, under its new Western puppet leadership, vote for the US resolution. The Sri Lankan foreign minister has clocked up his air miles at an alarming rate, canvassing support from African states. Some African states may take their cue from the fact that South Africa has declared its support for Sri Lanka.
Most Asian states will support Sri Lanka. Thailand has already declared its support for Sri Lanka’s position. India, the most important Asian country has yet to declare its hand, although it has made coded references about the inadvisability of UNHRC making ‘country specific’ resolutions, probably referring to its own vulnerability to charges of human rights abuses caused during its own anti-secessionist campaign in Kashmir.
Western European states slavishly adhering to US/UK/EU policy will, as a matter of course, vote for the resolution. Those inclined to support Sri Lanka, like the Czech Republic will abstain. Britain, which long ago abandoned any pretence of having an independent foreign policy will, from the sidelines, do to everything necessary to support the US resolution. British foreign policy aims were succinctly expressed in instructions received by Christopher Meyer, British ambassador to Washington from 1997 to 2003. “We want you to get up the arse of the White House and stay there”
Eastern European states wishing to curry favour with the US/EU/UK axis will vote ‘yes’ whilst ex-Soviet countries firmly within Russia’s sphere of influence will either abstain or vote ‘no’.
Of the Latin American states Cuba, a strong Sri Lankan ally will vote ‘no’. Mexico’s will probably vote ‘yes’ despite enjoying a civilian death toll exceeding 45,000 since 2006, from its anti narco-terrorist campaign.
The wild card is Channel 4’s second polemic documentary scheduled for screening on 14th March for maximum impact on the proceedings. This will undoubtedly contain a mixture of new and old atrocity footage combined with heart-rending stories of civilian deaths and executions conveniently conflating war crimes with crimes against humanity.
Channel 4’s own links to pro-LTTE groups and pro-LTTE UK politicians will be conveniently ignored. Siobhan McDonagh, a pro-LTTE UK Labour MP could barely contain her excitement at the sterling work being done by Channel 4
“..the guys from Channel 4 have been extraordinary and dedicated to this cause and they’ve become more dedicated and not less … they text and contact me and Lee [Scott] all the time telling us what the next step they’re taking [is]..”
This resolution has very little to do with human rights, reconciliation and accountability and everything to do with geo-politics. Win or lose, faced with domestic discontent, huge fuel and food price increases, corruption and demonstrations in its Sinhala heartland, the Sri Lankan government will have strengthened its domestic position.