1. Why do you believe a number of Western nations are so determined to pursue a resolution against Sri Lanka at the HRC meeting?

I don’t believe a number of Western nations are determined, it seems this time round to be largely the United States (whereas in 2009 it was mainly Britain, with France tagging around – though Kouchner later I was told granted to his much more sensible Ambassador here that the latter had been right). Though the British will end up supporting any American initiative as they generally do, and other Europeans will probably follow, I believe that most of them are not too enthusiastic, and in at least some cases such a decision would I believe be contrary to advice given by ambassadors on the ground here. You can see the difference in the initial reactions to the LLRC report, where the Americans were really quite preposterous, given their own record, while others, including the British, were much more nuanced.

As to why the Americans are in an extreme position on this one, I believe there are several reasons involved, beginning with what a Republican friend told me, that the Bleeding Hearts in the Obama Administration had to do a volte face on Afghanistan and Iraq etc and so they salve their consciences with Sri Lanka. Then there is the essentially Manichaean American view of the world, which is why for instance during Cold War days, when they found a willing warrior here in the form of President Jayewardene, they encouraged his anti-Indian postures. Now, given their fear of China, they are trying to suggest that they are supporting India by pressurizing Sri Lanka, whereas the Indians know perfectly well that, if they got a better offer, they would sell India down the river, as happened with Pakistan earlier on.

Campaign contributions may also have a part to play. Four years ago, the LTTE fronts in the US circulated requests to contribute to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, explaining that she was certain to win. That’s why we’re were quite glad when Obama won, but I suppose credits are transferable, and in an election year I suppose you don’t want to leave any stone unturned, whatever is crawling about under it

And there is still the old view, which even some Europeans have put to me, that a change of regime would be better for Sri Lanka. When this led to support for Sarath Fonseka, one was reminded of the Anglo-Saxon support for Idi Amin, but I suppose people believe what they want to believe, and Americans are adept at swallowing six impossible things before breakfast.

2. What measures is Sri Lanka taking to prevent this happening?

I do not know because I am not familiar now with the workings of the Ministry of External Affairs, my links dating back to the days of our former Ambassador in Geneva Dayan Jayatilleka. He managed to avoid any resolutions against Sri Lanka, even though the British Ambassador in Geneva (a former child soldier as I used to think of him called Nick Thorne) kept threatening them, simply by engaging actively with all the different groups in Geneva, and keeping them abreast of what was happening.

I believe the present Ambassador is employing the same open technique, which will I hope be successful, but in between we seemed to follow Western advice, and we tended, as an Indian journalist told me, to only think about the rest of the World when we wanted a vote, without consulting and taking on suggestions. We should certainly take friendly advice, while also explaining what we have done and what we plan, because discussing things with friends will help us to fine tune our activities as well as our responses.

3. Does the Sri Lankan government intend to implement the recommendations of the LLRC report. If so, when might those steps begin?

Yes, and they have begun already. Unfortunately we are hopeless about letting the world know what we are doing. To give you a typical example of  what I can only describe as the sheer carelessness of our decision makers, we waited until after American diplomats had come to Sri Lanka to wag their fingers at us to announce that we had begun inquiring into incidents where there seemed to be a prima facie case with precise details. The inquiries had begun in fact soon after the LLRC report came out, as I found out when I asked the army commander a month ago what was happening. I advised him to publicize the fact, but of course no one ever takes my advice seriously, so we have to suffer the ignominy of international and even national reporting that claims we instituted an inquiry in response to American pressure.

Similarly, the LLRC made some interim recommendations in 2010, which the President was under the impression were being implemented systematically. In fact they were being implemented, but the Committee appointed to oversee this did not function coherently, which meant that positive measures were not reported clearly, while lacunae were not identified and dealt with swiftly.

We certainly need to do better now, which is why I have been advocating the establishment of a Ministry of Reconciliation, headed by a Senior Minister, who could coordinate the activities of the various Ministries that need to work on this. We are now doing something of the sort with regard to the Human Rights National Action Plan, which was approved by Cabinet some months ago, but which only now has a Task Force to ensure implementation.

As an international journalist friend put it, we are ‘too casual/lazy about communicating what has been done’, which is essential not only to make clear our commitment, but also so that we ourselves can see what more needs to be done.

The Independent 26 February 2012 – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/sri-lanka-resists-un-resolution-against-alleged-war-crimes-7440979.html

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