Hailing the progress made after the January 8 presidential poll, the US Assistant Secretary of State has also said that the US would sponsor a resolution at next month’s UN human rights session backing Colombo’s efforts for reconciliation.
Speaking on the US stance the spokesman of the Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) R.K Guruparan said that the US was acting on its own interest and Human Rights have been instrumentalised for a regime change.
“I am disappointed but not surprised. The US wants to protect the transition that was achieved in January 08 and August 17. Not necessarily the transition from autocracy to democracy but from Chinese influence to US Indian influence. The US and India know that to expect things from the National Government that will anger the Sinhala Buddhist extremist forces will be dangerous to this transition that they have achieved. Hence they are putting pressure on the Tamil side to compromise, adjust and cooperate with their agenda – even if it is against Tamil interests and the mandate that the Tamil people have given at successive elections,” he said.
Leader of the Tamil National People Front (TNPF) Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam said that his party “has right through warned the Tamil people that the US sponsored resolutions in UNHRC is geo-politically motivated and had nothing to do with the issue of accountability from the Tamil victims point of view”.
“The main problem was a pro-China Rajapaksa, and the moment his regime was got rid of, Sri Lanka would cease to be a problem. Today since the Ranil-Sirisena govt is pro west and pro India, there is no more need for pressure on Sri Lanka and hence a white wash accountability process in the form of a domestic mechanism would suffice,” he said.
“Such a decision if true would be a total betrayal of the Tamil people’s mandate at the last general elections,” the leader of the TNPF said.
Internationalised domestic mechanism!
Commenting on the latest development, Sri Lanka Project Director of the International Crisis Group (ICG) Alan Keenan said that it’s been clear for months that the US government wanted to support Sri Lankan domestic efforts at accountability and truth for crimes committed during the war, but said “it’s too early to say there has been a ‘u-turn’ in US policy”.
“There is no reason that a Sri Lankan domestic process couldn’t include significant international involvement at all stages: investigators, witness protection, prosecutors and judges. Indeed, given Sri Lanka’s long history of institutionalised impunity for human rights abuses, an investigative and judicial process in Sri Lanka can be credible only with outside participation and monitoring,” he said.
“The US government knows this fact very well, so it is to be hoped that any consensus resolution agreed to at the Human Rights Council will include a strong international element, with continued monitoring by the UN High Commissioner’s office,” Mr Keenan said.
On 21 August 2015, North-East based Tamil Human Rights activists attached to numerous Tamil civil society organizations including the Centre for Human Rights and Development, Home for Human Rights and the TCSF wrote a joint letter to the new US Ambassador Atul Keshap, objecting to attempts at imposing domestic/ hybrid mechanisms on the Tamil people.
The letter insisted on continuing international processes including referral to the ICC through the UN Security Council. These organisations have requested to be included in the list of NGOs for the meeting with the visiting US officials.
The visiting US Assistant Secretaries, however, have met the leaders of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).