Sri Lanka Get Ready: Lessons from Tribunal against Yugoslavia

NATO bombing

In May 1993 UN’s 1st war crimes court and 1st tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals was created by the UN Security Council in accordance with chapter VII of the UN Charter. When ICTY officially shuts down in 2016 the UN should be questioned on the ruckus surrounding alleged claims of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ‘collective responsibility when after 23 years only 161 individuals have been indicted while incurring a cost of over $2billion! What could Yugoslavia have done with $2billion given to the welfare of the citizens instead of pumping it into an investigation that has indicted only 161 people? How credible is an international tribunal when NATO spokesman Dr. Jamie Shea says without NATO countries there would be no International Court of Justice, nor would there be any International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, because NATO countries are in the forefront of those who have established these two tribunals, who fund these tribunals, and who support on a daily basis their activities.”… ‘NATO is the friend of the TribunalNATO countries are those that have provided the finances to set up the Tribunal, we are among the majority financiers’…. NATO countries ‘have established these tribunals and fund these tribunals’. Is this the same case and story surrounding the Resolutions and the current investigation by UNHRC against Sri Lanka?

The ICTY was established to deter future crimes – that didn’t happen, indictments in Bosnia didn’t prevent atrocities in Kosovo while indictments for Kosovo didn’t stop atrocities in Sudan nor even in Libya and now Syria. Its aim was to render justice to thousands of victims – that didn’t happen either. It also sought to bring lasting peace to Yugoslavia – that looks very unlikely too.

The Tribunal dealt with the usual themes – genocide (Srebrenica massacre), rape as an instrument of war targeted Bosnian Serbs only while the ICTY upheld that superiors could be found guilty of war crimes ONLY IF they gave specific orders for crimes to be committed. The ICTY however steered clear of atrocities committed by NATO. The ICTY is also accused of selective bias in their choice of indictments and contradictions made by the Court including the attempt made to write the history of the conflict in Yugoslavia. In Sri Lanka’s case the effort must be on to establish that specific command orders had been given!

Over and above all allegations against the ICTY is the fact that it has been an exorbitant waste of money. $2billion on an investigation is no joke. This money could have been put to better use. The fact that the ICTY was used as a cover up for western-influenced militarize policies has brought out the hypocrisy of American and European rich nations dictating tribunals for which they excluded themselves.

ICTY questioned

  • Frederik Harhoff, a justice at the ICTY has accused the American presiding judge of pressurizing colleagues to overturn decisions related to war crimes cases in Croatia and Serbia raises questions of political interference at highest levels.
  • Case against Serbian leader Milosevic went on for 4 years but he died in prison in 2006. He had told his lawyer that he was being poisoned and even wrote of this to the Russian Government – a drug rifampicin was found in the blood stream 2 months before his death. The official stand was that he died of a heart attack. A verdict against him is yet to be issued. Milosevic was refused the right to defend himself claiming he was medically unfit which is questioned when James Bisset (former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia) stated that Milosevic destroyed claims by the prosecution.
  • Serbian politician Vojislav Seselji voluntarily turned himself in February 2003 is still waiting trial and its now over 10 years!
  • In April 2010, a Bosnian Muslim General convicted of responsibility for war crimes against Croats and Serbs was given a state funeral in Sarajevo with full military honors!
  • In April 2013, a Macedonian convicted of war crimes was welcomed by thousands including the Prime Minister when he returned home to Skopje
  • Legal scholar Robert Hayden says that the ICTY has spent $14m per individual trial!
  • Robert Hayden has also questioned why NATO leaders have not been indicted for the use of cluster bombs since Milan Martic, President of self-proclaimed Serb ‘republic’ in Croatia was indicted for violations of customs of law in 1995 for the missile attack using cluster warheads that fell on a marketplace in Zagreb killing 15 and falling on the city’s hospital.

Questioning NATO’s exclusion from indictments

  • ICTY prosecutor Carla Del Ponte’s position on cluster bombs was that cluster bombs should not be used against military targets. If so why have NATO generals/ US generals escaped indictment for bombing Yugoslav cities.
  • Why did ICTY prosecutor declare that ‘NATO is not under investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor’ – If ICTY was not willing to investigate why did the UNHRC or the UNSG not appoint a panel to look into these violations for what is the logic in only party being indicted for the same crimes the other party is excluded from?
  • Not only the ICTY excluded NATO crimes even HRW in its report ‘civilian deaths in the NATO air campaign’ proclaimed that there was ‘no evidence of war crimes’ by NATO. Yet, if Martic was indicted for using cluster bombs, why is NATO excluded for using cluster bombs too? If HRW can demand an international commission of inquiry into Russia against Chechnya (1999) why does HRW not do the same for NATO/US? This questions the human rights organizations for their silence on the ‘humanitarian interventions’ all of which have resulted in massive civilian deaths by NATO/US/Allies which are simply brushed aside as ‘collateral damage’ and forgotten without justice or accountability. If the human rights organizations can go after Russia, China, India etc…. why do they not do the same against NATO/US/UK & their allies?

Break-up of Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia is an example of how ‘civilized’ nations in self-interest will target nations and bring them to their knees.

The Yugoslav Federation comprised Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia and Kosovo which all became ‘independent’ states in less than 25 years. By 1982 Yugoslavia faced a $20billion debt. ‘Friends of Yugoslavia’ entered the scene with loans from IMF and World Bank and their structural adjustment programs. Slobodan Milosevic became President of Serbia in 1989 but SAP ended up devaluing the currency but with prices soaring the country was left with no choice but to dismantle the social programs. When US intelligence agencies released a National Intelligence Estimate in 1990 predicting Yugoslavia would break up and civil war would result it was no coincidence that the predictions came from the same nation that engineered the break-up. This was followed up by the US State Department and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in 2000 discussing the independence of Kosovo from Serbia in a bit to place US military presence in the region.

A lesson Sri Lanka is likely to face with the rising loans and devaluing of currency as well. In 1995 the Dayton Agreement was signed and more SAPs with the intent to bring down the government building the citizens up against the government. Again a similar outcome lined up for Sri Lanka if leaders do not realize the gameplan. The cease fire agreement of 2002, PTOMs, ISGA were all signed dangling millions of dollar carrots, which is one reason why appeals have been constantly made to politicians not to indulge in pillage, corruption and wastage of state resources.

The breakup of Yugoslavia was orchestrated. Self-determination for Kosovo was only to establish a US military presence in the region to curtail Russia and China. This serves as a lesson for India as well and caution India’s brown sahib complex that mesmerizes India towards subservience to Western googlys ignoring greater dangers and facilitating Western entry to Asia to hasten the fall of these Asian nations one of which is Sri Lanka given its geopolitical and economic advantage east-west/west-east.

Croatia – CIA supported the Croatian armed forces and secret talks with Croatian leader Tudjman and German Chancellor Kohl in 1988 was aimed securing an ‘economic zone’ for Germany in Croatia and Slovenia – these were the 2 most economically developed states in Yugoslavia and would give Germany access to the Adriatic Sea. Thus, Germany became the first nation to recognize Slovenia as an independent nation in 1991. Both Croatia and Slovenia used pro-Nazi flags and emblems. Slovenia joined EU in 2004 and Only Croatians were granted citizenship, property rights and passports. US interests in Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia was to enable US access to route east to west, north to south through Balkan mountains to exploit the oil resource of the Caspian Sea (the area covered are Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Arab nations, former Soviet Union of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkenistan, Tajikistan)

Favoritism for Bosnian Muslims – Serbs made up 31% of the population in Bosnia. Serbs and Croats were expelled from Bosnia to create a theocratic Muslim rule. The same is being attempted by TNA demanding the expulsion from Sinhalese and the armed forces from the North. NATO began bombing Bosnia from 1993 to 1995 which forced Bosnian Serbs to sign the Dayton, Ohio agreement establishing 60,000 NATO troops in Bosnia to write the ‘Bosnian Constitution’. The economic policies of Bosnia were to be according to Bretton Woods and European Bank of Reconstruction and Development with its 1st Director General appointed by the IMF. If Yugoslavia’s entire economy was taken over the same can happen to Sri Lanka.

Bosnia-Herzegovina – Al Qaeda-CIA links to Muslims in Bosnia helped the breakup. German intelligence BND is accused of funnelling arms to Bosnian Muslims financially backed from Saudi Arabia. This again beckons Sri Lanka’s leaders to not ignore the US-Saudi efforts to use Muslim fundamentalism as another front to dislodge Sri Lanka’s peace.

Serbia – In 1995 Croat forces supported by US attacked Krajina expelling 300,000 Serbs and killed 14,000 people, burning thousands of Serbian homes and destroying Orthodox churches. Not many cried foul. In 2009 Sri Lanka saved close to 300,000 Tamils from LTTE but the UN, UNHRC, Human Rights Organizations and even foreign governments are asking accountability for ‘dead’ numbers which they don’t even have names for or cannot prove that they even lived!

Kosovo : Heroin became a factor involving the Kosovo Liberation Army and Albanian mafia taking over the Balkan heroin trafficking in 1996. KLA was linked to the Afghan Mujahideen and KLA began fighting Serbian forces. Not surprisingly, KLA was removed as a terrorist organization from the US State Dept list in 1998. Allegations remain that KLA were trained by Defense Intelligence Agency, German intelligence BND, MI6, British Special Forces, British and US private security companies. US Secretary of State Madeline Albright was accused of close links to KLA leader Hashim Thaci so much so that in 2000 she had virtually ‘ordered’ Carla del Ponte the Hague Chief Prosecutor to remove Thaci from the list of war crime suspects.  As in all cases it was only after the invasion of Yugoslavia that the foreign intelligence links to the KLA emerged. Incidentally, the German intelligence alleged that Marti Ahtisaari was bribed by the KLA to deliver Kosovo independence. Marti Ahtisaari serves as one of the 3 panel members for Sri Lanka’s investigation!

These are again good lessons for Sri Lanka in so far as connecting the dots to why LTTE was able to thrive and survive for 3 decades. It is also why any investigation into all those links are being stalled by attempting to pin blame on the victims so as not to expose the players involved in LTTE terror.

Kosovo’s independence – Tamil Self-determination and False Propaganda/Allegations

In a greater plan for the region EU/US began working towards creating the grounds for the separation of Slovenia, Bosnia and Croatia from 1991/2 by supporting secessionist movements run by Tudjman, Izetbegovic and KLA whom the US supported  while Serbia’s Milosevic was projected as the ONLY demon.

In whose interest is the division of Sri Lanka’s north will provide answers to who has helped LTTE over the years. Therefore, it is imperative that Sri Lanka’s leaders screen the foreign ‘investments’ being made in the North lest these offices are used to push different agendas for which the GOSL will find it has no control over. If the mighty Yugoslavia was orchestrated to fall, Sri Lanka is peanuts.

Kosovo independence from Serbia came in 2008 with EU and US quick to recognize the new state that they helped create and Albright’s stooge former KLA terrorist Hashim Thaci became its Prime Minister.

Where were the dead bodies – we ask the same question from those pointing at Sri Lanka.

As in Sri Lanka’s case, the allegations of massacres exceeding 100,000 on ethnic Albanians was given global coverage. US FBI claimed it was the ‘largest crime scene in the FBI’s forensic history’ – funnily enough only 3000 bodies were exhumed in the ‘mass graves’ drama that hit mainstream media. Even the ICTY had to announce in 2000 that the ‘mass graves’ was only 2788 victims! Sri Lanka is accused of killing  40,000 to 175,000. The stories of dead were invented for Kosovo liberation, the same is being done in Sri Lanka. None of those that accused Serbs of ‘murder’ apologized when only 3000 bodies was discovered and the same will probably happen in Sri Lanka’s case as well. Now the newest trend is to claim ‘eyewitnesses’ and then give ‘anonymity’ for 20 years which is a perfect cover up to hide the lies!

Having violated the Geneva Convention, UN Charter, Nuremberg Principles, Helsinki Accords and even the US Constitution – Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright, William Cohen (Secretary Defense), James Rubin, Jamie Shea (NATO spokesman during Kosovo war), HR organizations, NGOs, UN, NATO all were liars – If everything was a lie then so too was the US-NATO appointed ‘war crimes tribunal’.

Why was NATO bombing of 5000 civilians in 78 non-stop airstrikes from morning dill night not investigated? Only 2% of NATO’s missiles struck military targets – hospitals, schools, factories, churches and broadcasting studios were all hit. Moreover, NATO destroyed and bombed using toxic nerve gasses, surface mines, bombs containing uranium, black napalm, sterilization chemicals, sprays to poison crops and weapons never before seen. Why have these not been included into any UN/UNHRC investigation!

Navi Pillay and her office have done nothing against NATO – except a passing statement. Why did she not question the lack of due process, demand for rules of evidence and the need to produce corpus delicti?

Why has the ethnic cleansing and racial murder of Kosovo Serbs and gypsies by the KLA not been investigated and this argument is no different to why the ethnic cleansing of Sinhalese and Muslims from the North was never a subject at any of the international discussions against LTTE.

Why is Navi Pillay also silent on NATO deployment disguised as observer missions? Is this not the reason why after having nothing to say negatively of Sri Lanka’s post-conflict development that she claimed Sri Lanka was heading towards ‘authoritarian’ rule – at the back of her agenda the plan to place a UN Observer Mission in Sri Lanka!

If the West organized a kangaroo court for Milosevic, the same has been done for Sri Lanka. ICTY has no provision in the UN Charter. The Security Council does not have the right to establish an ad hoc court. Its expenses are covered not by the UN but by ‘benefactors’ from the US, multinational companies, entrepreneurs like George Soros!

Milosevic and Serbia did not have a BIG POWER to protect him. In the case of Sri Lanka, there is a need to realize that India is NOT a big power and will continue to be regarded so in the manner it has a habit of destabilizing its immediate neighbors.

Sri Lanka’s leaders need to take stock of how Yugoslavia fell – the funds that came in from foreign sources, the political parties, movements tapped, clandestine ways that arms was shipped, ‘democratic movements’ trained, social media training to minority youth and attempts to weaken the nationalism within the citizens especially via education and its syllabus. Ignoring the majority and giving in to minority demands only will spell doom for Sri Lanka’s leaders if the majority were to eventually decide Sri Lanka’s leaders have betrayed them and the nation’s future.

Tribunals and legal structures that do not include US and NATO war crimes and crimes against humanity that have been waged with impunity and often including collaboration of the UN office cannot be accepted as ‘universal’ and this is where countries now need to raise their voices to put on trial US and NATO nations and their command structures first.

Exactly who gave the US the right to decide who was a good leader and who was an evil one and who was to be killed or removed from office simply because these leaders did not fit into their agenda? When did international law take sides? Who gave the right to the US to think that it can say ‘jump’ and people had to jump? What right does the West have to bring Western values to the rest of the world and accompany that with military power? Do Governments not realize that all the concepts and terminology being drafted by Christian Western states are to enable them to weaken the nationalism in people, weaken the national defence apparatus and there are many among the Sri Lankan leadership pushing these western concepts with new ideas to downsize the army and denationalize the people. The Government should be alert to what some of its own Ministers are up to.

The manner in which the common candidate emerged, the foreign sources linked to the selection needs to be considered in the context of how NATO managed to get the Yugoslav parliament to agree to NATOs demand and presence of UN peace keepers and necessitates that the Sri Lankan public identify all MPs who have no love for the nation and can be bought over easily! It is also good for Sri Lanka’s leaders to realize that in wanting to remain in power not to grab straws of promises that the parties planning to overthrow may offer. Serbia and Libya opened up their nations to US demands thinking that would make US happy but it quickened their downfall! In Sri Lanka’s case too we wonder whether even the invitation to the Pope is meant as a gesture but that is a bargain not worth taking which Sri Lanka’s leaders need to realize before it’s too late. We are not one of them…we can sell our souls but we still would not become one of them. In selling our souls and our nation the fall make likely be quicker!

The ICTY has taken 23 years, 4500 witness testimonies, costing $2billion and only 161 indictments! What a waste of money and years and the same is being promoted by the same people.

– by Shenali D Waduge