Why should Sri Lanka face ‘isolation’ for valid questions UNHRC is not answering?

United Nations Human Rights Council - UNHRC

Former diplomats and other political pundits are attempting to project a fear psychosis through the view that Sri Lanka should meekly allow a UNHRC investigation to conclude, silently watch the panel make its deliberations and announce its final report without demanding answers to some very valid questions. We are told that the West are the masters of good governance which Sri Lanka and similar third world nations must follow and central to that is the right to question and seek answers and if UNHRC is as transparent as it claims there is no reason for the OHCHR head and his office to get all into a tangle issuing derogatory statements without simply answering some very matter of fact questions. What is ‘offensive’ in asking valid questions to which OHCHR instead of answering is making accusations without evidence? It show that it is not Sri Lanka that has something to hide!

What is the central issue?

  • Submissions filled by third parties organized by pro-LTTE groups being accepted by the OHCHR/UNHRC/OISL team as ‘bonafide witness accounts’ unearthed following an arrest of an unrehabiliated LTTE cadre who had been tasked by a Tamil National Alliance member to obtain only signatures and collect copies of photos, national ID cards, death certificates.  This means bogus submissions have been sent to the OISL investigators and the OISL has been accepting them and we do not know how many such fraudulently filled forms will be used against Sri Lanka in formulating recommendations in the final report.

What’s wrong with submission forms being sent to the OISL?

  • The forms which the LTTE cadre had on him were blank forms which had only signatures and no date and no content. This reveals an organized effort.
  • Moreover, it questions if the signatures are victims at all leave alone ‘genuine’ victims.
  • It also questions what the LTTE cadre does having collected the signed forms.
  • The arrest has unearthed that the LTTE cadre hands the signed blank forms to a TNA member who then passes it to another group of lawyers who are filling false details and sending it to OISL
  • Following the arrest and the details that emerged from that arrest the diplomatic community and the OHCHR/UNHRC was officially informed of the new developments.
  • If anyone has been offensive it is both the OHCHR head and the UNSG seen clearly in their statements:

“This continuing campaign of distortion and disinformation about the investigation, as well as the insidious attempts to prevent possible bona fide witnesses from submitting information to the investigating team, is an affront to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which mandated the investigation”.

  1. Informing the OHCHR of a LTTE cadre collecting signatures on blank forms is not a campaign of distortion or disinformation
  2. Informing that blank forms with only signatures taken and handed over to third parties which then fill false details and send to the OISL is not insidious attempts to prevent possible bona fide witnesses from submitting information to the investigation team
  3. It has emerged that some of these signatures on blank forms are repeated several times too.

What adds further weight to Sri Lanka’s case is that timed with the arrest was the request by TNA member Ananthi Sasitharan writing to OISL has requested to extend the deadline for submissions which the GOSL objected given that no official announcement was made raising doubts of selective acceptance beyond the deadline.

For the pundits that have emerged to say that Sri Lanka is likely to be internationally isolated in going on the offensive, all that needs to be said is what is wrong in Sri Lanka asking some very valid questions and it is within Sri Lanka’s right to ask them.

So far instead of answering the OHCHR Head and the UNSG seem to take delight in issuing derogatory statements without simply answering the questions raised.

Moreover, what is crucial to Sri Lanka’s argument is that the OHCHR in his statement says that the OHCHR have trained teams to detect fraud. The golden question is why did the OISL or the OHCHR/UNHRC keep silent about bogusly filled forms that have already been sent to them.

The LTTE cadre was arrested on 25th October 2014 just days before the deadline of the OISL ended on 30th Oct 2014 which means there would have been a frenzy to send more forms with false accounts. Let’s also not forget that the LTTE cadre had on him 500 such filled forms which had been handed over to the TNA member. We also do not know how many others have also been tasked to collect signatures on blank forms both in Sri Lanka and overseas as well. The proscribed Tamil Diaspora LTTE fronts are running website campaigns with teams assigned to collect witness accounts which only leads us to make the same conclusions that these accounts are also likely to be ‘doctored’.

All these assumptions are not fairy tales and have substantial evidence since the LTTE cadre has been arrested with blank forms with only signatures. So the accusations Sri Lanka is making are valid.

How can Sri Lanka’s image be sabotaged when it is asking valid questions? Why should the OHCHR/UNHRC/OISL or even the UNSG get into a tiff without explaining why they kept mum without making public that they are in receipt of forms fraudulently filled which emerged only as a result of the arrest.

What is central to the argument is that if not for the arrest, scores of fraudulently filled forms would have been accepted by the OISL without making public this fraud. However, even inspite of the fraud emerging from the arrest there is all possibility for the OISL to use only these fraudulently filled forms to build their case against Sri Lanka – this is why Sri Lanka has every right to question the credibility of this investigation and questions why Sri Lanka’s political pundits are trying to mislead the Sri Lanka public by projecting the notion of being isolated internationally by asking valid questions for which the OHCHR is bound to answer.

– by Shenali D Waduge