U.N. chief urges Sri Lanka to redress wrongs of war
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged Sri Lanka to do more to redress wrongs committed during 26 years of war with Tamil rebels, including returning land and restoring the accountability of the judiciary and security services.
Ban, on a three-day official visit, praised the efforts of President Maithripala Sirisena’s administration since coming to power last year to address some rights abuses committed during the war.
“But more can and should be done to address the legacy of the past and acknowledge the voices of the victims,” he told a gathering in Colombo, without mentioning the army or the rebels. “Sri Lanka is still in the early stages of regaining its rightful position in the region and the international community.”
Dozens of Sri Lankan nationalists, who back ousted president Mahinda Rajapaksa, on Thursday protested against Ban’s visit, demanding he leave the island and stop an investigation into alleged abuses at the end of the civil war.
Rajapaksa’s administration crushed the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009. The United Nations and rights groups have accused the military of killing thousands of civilians, mostly Tamils, during the final weeks of the conflict.
The Tamil Tigers were also accused of widespread abuses during the conflict, such as using child soldiers and targeting civilians with suicide bombers, including an attack on the central bank in 1996 which killed nearly 100 people and wounded more than 1,000.
Sirisena’s administration has established offices to look into reconciliation and missing persons while it also has returned some military-occupied lands in the north.
However, Sirisena, also the defense minister, has yet to withdraw the military from the former war zones.
Ban said there was still much work to be done “in order to redress the wrongs of the past and to restore the legitimacy and accountability of key institutions, particularly the judiciary and the security services”.
“I also urge you to speed up the return of land so that the remaining communities of displaced people can return home. In parallel, the size of the military force in the North and East could be reduced, helping to build trust and reduce tensions.”
Ban also visited northern Jaffna, center of the would be homeland of the rebels, where he said the United Nations would help Tamils in the resettlement process.
Around 500 Tamils gathered in front of Jaffna library, the symbol of Tamil learning and one of biggest libraries in Asia before it was burned by a mob in 1981, and urged Ban to help find relatives who disappeared in the war and ensure the release of political prisoners.
- Reform momentum must continue despite tentative signs of improvement in Sri Lanka Economy – IMF June 2, 2023
- Government’s objective is to develop Sri Lanka as a thriving nation by 2048 June 2, 2023
- Sri Lankan Rupee appreciates against U.S. Dollar June 1, 2023
- Professionals belonging to 14 categories required to register with Inland Revenue Department from June 01 June 1, 2023
- Bruno Divakara remanded until June 07 June 1, 2023
- Over 9,000 dengue cases reported in Sri Lanka in May, 2023 June 1, 2023
- Sri Lanka unexpectedly cuts rates by 250 bps as inflation eases June 1, 2023
“‘In parallel, the size of the military force in the North and East could be reduced, helping to build trust and reduce tensions.”
Who the hell do you think you are Mr Sectary General, we are a sovereign nation and we only have the right to increase or decrease the presence of the military in whatever part of the island , do not be the voice of the Tiger Diaspora,
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who deemed it fit to sermonize to Sri Lanka during his visit this week, is under fire for appointing his son-in-law, Siddharth Chatterjee, as UN Coordinator for East Africa last week.
Mr. Ban is reported to have signed his appointment letter, according to media reports from the UN headquarters in New York. They had called it a “textbook case of nepotism”.
Mr Chatterjee served as a major in the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) while stationed in the North of Sri Lanka. Inner City Press, a UN headquarters based news agency wrote a series of articles on how Mr Ban in late August awarded the top job in Kenya to Mr Chatterjee without recusing himself.
Inner City Press also said it has been told that Mr Chatterjee had posed with dead and disfigured LTTE cadres, which was a violation of the Geneva Convention, and therefore, a war crime.
Mr. Chatterjee, however, is reported to have praised the Sri Lanka Army for the way they defeated the LTTE. “The Sri Lankan Army deserves all our respect, gratitude and admiration,” he wrote some years back in an essay where he said the Sri Lanka soldiers “are men of sterling character, and I hope they overcome and demolish the LTTE, this organization of pathological tyrants and killers.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon caused controversy this week by categorising Sri Lanka alongside Rwanda and Srebenica to make a case for increased intervention by the United Nations in internal conflicts.
Mr Ban’s comments were a departure from the prepared text of his speech ‘Sustainable Peace and Achieving Sustainable Development Goals’ delivered in Colombo at the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute. It is widely accepted that the massacres that took place in Rwanda in 1994 and in Srebrenica the following year were genocides: the first targeted against the Tutsis by Hutus and the other against Muslim Bosnians by the Bosnian Serb Army.
The conflict in Sri Lanka has never been categorised as genocide (for obvious reason), despite a vehement campaign by fringe, pro-LTTE diaspora and Tamil extremist groups to have it defined as such. Some are now using the Secretary-General’s remarks to validate their claims of ethnic cleansing in Sri Lanka.
Looking up from his speech, Mr Ban told the audience that, “Something more terrible, serious happened in the past. In 1994, in Rwanda, there was a massacre. More than one million people were massacred. United Nations felt responsible for that.”
“Of course,” he continued, “it was their war and massacres. But the United Nations was not able to act on it. We said repeatedly, ‘Never again, never again’. It happened just one year after in Srebrenica. Again, many people were massacred when they were not fully protected by the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. So we repeated again, ‘Never again’.”
“How many times should we repeat never, never again? We did again in Sri Lanka. We have to do much more not to repeat such things in Sri Lanka, Yemen and elsewhere.”
The comments, which were tweeted out by audience members while the speech was in session, caused glee among pro-LTTE campaigners who have long pressed the UN to categorise the military defeat of the terrorist group as “ethnic cleansing”.
The UN Chief, in his final address of the recent visit, admitted that the conclusion of the war in SL in 2009 is comparable with genocide committed in Rwanda and Srebrenica. Brave admission. So, Mr Ki-Moon presided over a UN which failed in its mission the 3rd time; however, Mr Ki-Moon continued to preside over the UN. The honourable action would have been to resign his position and admit failure.
My dear Sinhala Brethren, despite this last minute fart by Mr Ki-Moon, rest assured that the Tamil Community had lost faith in the UN many decades ago. The major turning point was how the UN kept silent when the Bush-Blair-Howard combine invaded Iraq on flimsy reasons despite strong international opinion.
My dear Sinhala Brethren, a war was fought and the war has ended. Both parties to the war committed ‘errors’ as defined in the White Man’s Book of Rules for War. Forget about it. There will be nationalists on both sides who cling to these happenings, never-endingly. The Leadership in the NPC are an example; they have exceeded their brief by passing resolutions on genocide while basic amenities for the population have never been attended to. The NPC leadership was foisted by the MR1 regime to demonstrate false commitment to democracy.
My dear Sinhala Brethren, Mr Ki-Moon’s parting fart raises a definitely intolerable stench. Please do not get distracted by it.
As the government of Sri Lanka has stated that its war was conducted in accordance with the laws and customs of war, surely it has a lot to gain by allowing an international investigation of its conduct of the war.