Debating Human Rights in Warring Contexts

Chandre Dharmawardana, 30 March 2021, in Email Memo entitledAlleged Human Rights Abuses of the Sri Lankan Army” ………..  a memo commenting on responses to his previous Essay[i] … with highlighting imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

Ramesh Somasundaram, (commenting on the Thuppahi website) is absolutely right in saying “that the Sri Lankan governments and the Sri Lankan military personal have been correctly accused of human rights abuses. “Sri Lankan Soldiers have been accused of grave crimes, and they should be investigated and brought to trial. Many of the soldiers were simply carrying out orders, and so the high command must bear the final responsibility except in cases where the soldiers exceeded their acts as soldiers and acted even more inhumanely than needed.

Situation Map 2 February 2009an excellent work by, I think?, the Daily Mirror

However, to meaningfully take legal actions against the soldiers, the UN must first release details of the so called “credible allegations” that the UNHRC talks of, while also saying that the sources and basis of allegations must be kept under lock and key for 30 years.

People must not be harassed by allegations unless they are whetted by competent investigators and hence the detailed allegations must be released to those who are accused, so that their fundamental right to know who is accusing them, and what the accusations are, is upheld.

Furthermore, the Darusman report, as well as the 2014 fact-finding committee of 12 appointed by Navi Pillai made detailed allegations of war crimes indicting LTTE operatives and their collaborators as well; [while absolving] the Sri Lankan Government of a Tamil genocide. Sumanthiran accepted the fact that there was no genocide of Tamils, as reported in the Tamil Net, 19th Sept 2014, after the press conference of the UNHR commissioner Al-Z Hussein.

Many of the ex-LTTE agents live in the West, many under new identities. However, there are many well identified alleged LTTE war criminals living in the countries of the core-group of countries making the UNHR allegations. These countries, e.g., the UK, Canada, EU and USA have shown little interest in prosecuting these individuals who are even openly politically active and work closely with politicians of those countries and have gained political protection.

Similarly, the alleged war criminals within Sri Lanka have gained political protection.

After the World War II, the Nuremburg trials hanged the Nazis, but bomber Harris and others were honoured at the highest level by the Queen. French politicians at the highest level, including Mitterand and Bernard Kouchner (who came to save Prabhakaran), have been accused of promoting the Rwanda genocide, and nothing will happen to the accused there in Rwanda, even with a new juridical report just released in Paris.

Furthermore, 15 pages of the 17 pages of the UNHCR report is an attack on Gotabhaya’s recent presidency of one year. The UNHRC has no mandate to run a continuous political evaluation of a member government without a new resolution for putting a country under continued moral surveillance cum inquisition.

So, it is more a focused attack on the New President, and less concerned with the initial resolutions of 2012 to 2015.

It should also be understood that the laws that apply to the suppression of a terrorist movement by a legitimate government are different from those of international wars. So, these are matters to be resolved by the courts. The courts will also give a chance for the accused to clear their names.

The President of the country may want to pardon war criminals or bring in legislation to protect even rogue soldiers as has been done in UK and in the US.  That is a separate matter of great moral and ethical import that should be debated in parliament and outside.

*****  *****

A SET of COMMENTS from Michael Roberts, 1 April 2021

As usual, Chandre Dharmawardana’s points[ii] are pertinent and wide-ranging [within the limits of brevity] and I have elevated them to the status of a separate Thuppahi post so that they receive due attention. The same weight cannot be attached to Ramesh Somasundaram’s diatribes – just one among several recently inserted in Thuppahi [that have not been censored or blocked by yours truly]. Ramesh does have a social science background, but has been mostly brought up in Perth, Australia. It is quite patent to me that he knows bugger-all about warfare or the landscape conditions and geopolitical background bearing on Eelam War IV. Every one of his comments bears the marks of a bitter Tamil migrant mind seeking vengeance and assuming a definitive role of a judge. Since he has not produced any noteworthy literature on the roots and processes of the Sinhala-Tamil conflict or the Eelam Wars what we witness in several of Ramesh’s brief entries in Thuppahi is a raging mind.

I would therefore place him in the box “Tamil migrant chauvinist” in a Lankan context where there are also Sinhala and Muslim Moor extremists. Some of the educated Sinhala extremists have displayed their chauvinism recently when responding to the jaundiced activities of the Western powermongers in Geneva and the world-at-large: they have dived into the past centuries of British colonial expansion and hammered away at Britain’s atrocities in, say, 1815, or 1817/18 or in 1848. These meaningless explorations have no bearing on the present-day issues … they display disturbed chauvinist frames of thinking.

Ramesh Somasundaram’s one-line assertions, mutatis mutandis, are illustrations of SL Tamil chauvinism and yet another example of the wide sweep of extremism promoted by the burgeoning social media in the world today.

What is most intriguing is the arrogant assertiveness encoded within the phrase “I know”.

 NOTE Ramesh Somasundaram’s Other Recent Comments in Thuppahi

END NOTES

[i] See “The Real-Politik behind the UNHRC Actions and What the West Aims to Achieve in Sri Lanka,”  https://thuppahis.com/2021/03/29/western-real-politic-at-unhrc-sesions-in-geneva-2021/

[ii] Chande sent t hem to me byEmail in resposne to the Comments on the Thuppahi Item on “Western Reälpolitik ….Geneva.

A REITERATED PROTEST from Ramesh Somasundaram, 5 April 2021

Ramesh Somasundaram has sent another long comment which had slipped through into the SPAM section of my Word Press system. This happens now and then and in fact Chandre Dharmawardena suffered once in this manner when commenting on one of the Thuppahi items.  So, I copy and paste Ramesh’s Note of the 4th April (check date?) here –a Note that was framed under the title Debating Human Rights in Warring Contexts

“In fact reputable writers have resorted at times that this is a factor in the social history of caste in South Asian countries.
I unconditionally apologize to Tamara for referring to caste. It was incorrect on my part and I ask her to forgive me for my mistake.
What Michael Roberts has mentioned about me is defamatory and not coming from a Gentleman or an educated person. I hold a PhD in British Colonial History from The University of Western Australia in 2008 and I have written five history books including my MA by research which was entitled: Strategic Significance of Sri Lanka which analyzed relevant diplomatic documents from the 18th century to the present, including the strategic asserts of Sri Lanka and the ethnic politics in Sri Lanka from the 18th century to the present period. I am going to update this book by including the new world order and key players such as China and India’s interests in Sri Lanka which will cover the geopolitical and strategic significance of Sri Lanka. I am therefore more than qualified to comment about the current political situation in Sri Lanka and the decision by the UNHCR.
I am not a Tamil chauvinist as defamed by Michael Roberts.
I am a very moderate Sri Lankan Tamil. I am not for a separate state and I accept that the LTTE had some terrorist characteristics.
In summing up I wish to state the following ethnic riots against the Sri Lankan Tamil community in Sri Lanka:
1. 1956 the Galoya riots
2. 1977 racial riots against the Tamils.
3. The 1983 racial riots where it was alleged elements within the then government supported the attacks.
4. This led to the militant Tamil movements including the LTTE to counter the armed attacks on the Tamil people. This was the beginning of the cvil war that caused damage to the country and led the fleeing of Tamils out of the country forming the present diaspora.
Even though my father was Senior Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Mahaveli Department our house was completely burnt in the 1983 ethnic riots. I escaped with my life in 1977 ethnic riots and I was racially abused in the place I live Nugegoda because I was Sri Lankan Tamil and in the School I studied St Thomas’s Preparatory School in Colombo till December 1984 when I completed my year ten. This is all not highlighted by Michael Roberts who knows my family including me as a child very well. He is just throwing mud at me. In fact I am not like anyone else being charged for plagiarism or coping any other academic’s work. I have never been called a racist for my writings in regard to Sri Lanka.
My point is that Sri Lankan Tamils have faced racism The Sinhalese regularly mention that Tamils their chief enemies in their literature and history books but Tamils never mention about Sinhalese in their literature or history books. What I have been saying is what the UNHCR has been mentioning about Sri Lanka. I do not appreciate when Tamils like Tamara do state unfavorably about the treatment of minorities when she mentioned that each state is responsible for their own human rights. Then based on her analysis’s minority communities can be murdered and genocide can be perpetrated but nothing should be done by an organization such as UN. If UN did not intervene the Sri Lankan Tamil people would have been totally eradicated by forced transmigration of Sinhalese Families in Tamil areas in the North and East of Sri Lanka. So I am not a chauvinist or a racist at all but just stating the facts historically.”

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Debating Human Rights in Warring Contexts

  1. Ramesh Somasunderam

    Thank you very much Chandre. We need more people like you to make a difference in Sri Lanka. Wishing you all best, Ramesh.

  2. Ramesh Somasunderam

    In fact reputable writers have resorted at times that this is a factor in the social history of caste in South Asian countries.
    I unconditionally apologize to Tamara for referring to caste. It was incorrect on my part and I ask her to forgive me for my mistake.
    What Michael Roberts has mentioned about me is defamatory and not coming from a Gentleman or an educated person. I hold a PhD in British Colonial History from The University of Western Australia in 2008 and I have written five history books including my MA by research which was entitled: Strategic Significance of Sri Lanka which analyzed relevant diplomatic documents from the 18th century to the present, including the strategic asserts of Sri Lanka and the ethnic politics in Sri Lanka from the 18th century to the present period. I am going to update this book by including the new world order and key players such as China and India’s interests in Sri Lanka which will cover the geopolitical and strategic significance of Sri Lanka. I am therefore more than qualified to comment about the current political situation in Sri Lanka and the decision by the UNHCR.
    I am not a Tamil chauvinist as defamed by Michael Roberts.
    I am a very moderate Sri Lankan Tamil. I am not for a separate state and I accept that the LTTE had some terrorist characteristics.
    In summing up I wish to state the following ethic riots against the Sri Lankan Tamil community in Sri Lanka:
    1. 1956 the Galoya riots
    2. 1977 racial riots against the Tamils.
    3. The 1983 racial riots where it was alleged elements within the then government supported the attacks.
    4. This led to the militant Tamil movements including the LTTE to counter the armed attacks on the Tamil people. This was the beginning of the cvil war that caused damage to the country and led the fleeing of Tamils out of the country forming the present diaspora.
    Even though my father was Senior Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Mahaveli Department our house was completely burnt in the 1983 ethnic riots. I escaped with my life in 1977 ethnic riots and I was racially abused in the place I live Nuegoda because I was Sri Lankan Tamil and in the School I studied St Thomas’s Preparatory School in Colombo till December 1984 when I completed my year ten. This is all not highlighted by Michael Roberts who knows my family including me as a child very well. He is just throwing mud at me. In fact I am not like anyone else being charged for plagiarism or coping any other academic’s work. I have never been called a racist for my writings in regard to Sri Lanka.
    My point is that Sri Lankan Tamils have faced racism The Sinhalese regularly mention that Tamils their chief enemies in their literature and history books but Tamils never mention about Sinhalese in their literature or history books. What I have been saying is what the UNHCR has been mentioning about Sri Lanka. I do not appreciate when Tamils like Tamara do state unfavorably about the treatment of minorities when she mentioned that each state is responsible for their own human rights. Then based on her analysis’s minority communities can be murdered and genocide can be perpetrated but nothing should be done by an organization such as UN. If UN did not intervene the Sri Lankan Tamil people would have been totally eradicated by forced transmigration of Sinhalese Families in Tamil areas in the North and East of Sri Lanka. So I am not a chauvinist or a racist at all but just stating the facts historically.

  3. Ramesh Somasunderam

    Michael Roberts has written defamatory statements about me and if he does not apologise or withdrew his comments which I have addressed in my reply I will hold him liable legally. He is no gentleman or academic but behaves and writes especially in resent times like a man off the street.

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