Louise Arbour - President and CEO of the International Crisis Group

The following preliminary remarks were sent in response to a request by Liberal International to comment on the ICG Report. It is a pity that the same jaded figures have been saying the same things over and over again, often without any evidence. While there may be specific incidents that should be looked into, the credibility of ICG and its leading lights must be in doubt since from long ago they were trying to find roles for themselves in Sri Lanka.      

I have now seen the Executive Summary, and it strikes me as pretty much a rehash of what a couple of interventionist agencies were propagating earlier on, and to which comprehensive responses were given earlier. For instance, the idea that government was firing into the No Fire Zone it declared was in fact first put out by the UN which called up my Ministry, but later granted that most of the firing came from the LTTE. That same day the Bishop of Jaffna issued a statement asking the LTTE to stop firing from within the No-Fire Zone. These facts were ignored by the agencies which seem to have fed in to the ICG report.

Similarly, I dealt at length with the canard about hospitals, first put out by Human Rights Watch, which was self confessedly wrong when it talked about the government engaging in indiscriminate firing on civilians. Its own report at the time, August 2007, recorded only one such alleged instance, in which government did take responsibility but pointed out that firing arose from mortar locating radar. HRW granted that the LTTE did in fact have weapons in an IDP Centre.   

Again. HRW noted that many hospitals it complained about were not known hospitals but sites the LTTE claimed were hospitals. There is ample evidence that these sites were also those where they kept heavy weaponry. It is obviously a problem as to how you deal with an enemy that is meting out death from positions it shields with civilians, but no force can stand back and suffer casualties, all it can do is ensure proportionality in its response.   

Sadly, we have been here before. Gareth Evans wanted again the grandeur he thought he had obtained through his Cambodian adventures, and in fact suggested to us when he visited in 2007 that the Scandinavian monitoring mission was no good and ICG would do a better job. A similar point was made by Louise Arbour’s sidekick Rory Mungoven when she visited, and this was his rationale for suggesting there should be a UN Mission.   

Evans actually lied in pursuit of his aims, in suggesting that Sri Lanka had engaged in genocide and ethnic cleansing, but granted that the ethnic cleansing had been in 1990 by the LTTE and never repeated, and the nearest to genocide was in 1983. He promised to respond to other critiques of his insidious presentation, but did not do so and admitted the following year when I asked him why he had kept quiet that he had realized I was a dangerous person to correspond with. I think a former Foreign Minister who is nervous to debate with a simple academic is not really a serious authority on anything, however distinguished he may have seemed in the past.   

Sadly, these characters whose shelf life is long over seem desperate to continue to sit on commissions. Louise Arbour was flogging this horse three years ago, aided and abetted by one of her Canadian acolytes, who applied again to her successor to sit on the War Crimes panel he anticipated the UN would set up last May. His conduct is now being investigated by the Canadians, who have realized how such activists are really salivating at what they see as a gravy train.   

I would take these characters more seriously if they at least responded direct to questions instead of hiding behind bodies that continue to keep them in the lifestyles they refuse to give up. Questions such as the US State Department addressed to us about the war are legitimate and we should answer them. Condign criticism from proven sensationalists is another thing altogether.