18 March 2012

Reconciliation cannot be a single-hand clap

Two statements from two high profile US officials caught my eye this week.  The first was by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, commenting on the brutal massacre of 16 Afghans by a US soldier.  Describing it as ‘awful’ and ‘terrible’, expressing ‘shock and sadness’, Clinton claimed, ‘this is not who we are!’

Astounding!  It can’t be that Clinton has been blind to what US Foreign Policy has been and is.  She knows that this particular crime against humanity is just one of thousands. She knows that if there was ‘randomness’ here and if it was about an errant soldier, for each such random act by each erring private, there are a thousand policy-driven, deliberate and horrendous crimes against humanity. War crimes, all. 

Staff Sgt Robet Bales, the man who perpetrated the butchery, is a highly decorated American soldier. ISAF Deputy Commander, Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw said, ‘I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorized ISAF military activity’.  Bales is said to have ‘left Base without authorization’.  There’s a palpable downplaying and refuge-seeking in the doctrine of ‘errant soldiering’. 

The fact is that when US Drones ‘left base’ it was POLICY.  When they targetted ‘perceived terrorists’ and claimed that it was legitimate even when the said target was in the midst of a high-density civilian population, it was POLICY.  It was POLICY, also, when a million Iraqi children were MADE TO DIE courtesy sanctions on that country.  Torture in Guantanamo Bay is POLICY.  Two quotes will explain it all. 

Madeline Albright, one time US Secretary of State, commenting on US-led sanctions causing the death of so many children, said, ‘it was worth it’.  US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, commenting on the Afghan incident said, ‘War is hell, these things happen’.  

The truth is, for the USA, random acts of butchery and policy-driven crimes against humanity are both ‘part of the story’.  Obama famously said, after all, ‘we do what we have to do, let’s not talk about it’.  It is a criminal policy regime where perception is treated as fact and any amount of collateral is acceptable. 
The second quote comes from the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert O Blake.  He says, ‘unless Sri Lanka's government reconciles with minority Tamils and addresses allegations of war crimes it risks renewed conflict’.

This comes in the context of a US sponsored resolution in the UN Human Rights Council clearly seeking to open the door for direct interference in Sri Lanka by the USA, in complete violation of the spirit and regulations of that assembly.  It also coincided with a ‘new’ video released by Channel 4 on Sri Lanka. 

The Channel 4 ‘new’ footage is actually a re-hash of its earlier ‘production’ and mostly made up of material that has been in the public domain for several years, including in the Defence Ministry website.  Comment would be a waste of words at this point.   

Reconciliation, though, is our business.  Suggestions are welcome of course, but a fist in the pie usually takes away all and leaves just the crumbs.  Secondly, reconciliation is not a single-hand clap.  Even if one were to be out-of-mind democratic about it, then there are at least two parties here.  The LTTE committed horrendous crimes against humanity and its still-alive-proxies (TNA, GTF, BTF and people like Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu who is dining with the cassocked terrorist Fr (sic) Emmannuel in Geneva and getting character certificates to boot) know what the LTTE did.  All communities suffered at the hands of the LTTE.  If Eelam Tamils need ‘closure’ then other do too.  If you want accountability, it cannot be part accountability.  If you want to investigate, you cannot investigate just one part of the story. 

The evidence about ‘policy-led’ excesses by the Government forces makes a pretty thin portfolio.  Nothing like Obama and Clinton watching (live) the murder of an unarmed Osama bin Laden along with the point-blank shooting of a child in Pakistan where ‘chain of command’ is established beyond a shadow of doubt. 

Reconciliation is our business, let me reiterate.  The LLRC gives the road map and action has been taken immediately, via the AG’s Department and the Courts of Inquiry appointed by the Army and Navy.  How about something from the TNA, now?  They could submit a dossier of LTTE atrocities and a sober apology on account of complicity, perhaps.  

The ‘this side’ hand has shown far more willingness to clap, but the TNA hand is hidden.  You don’t get reconciliation that way, Mr. Blake.  All atrocities need to be investigated fully and the perpetrators brought to book.  Suresh Premachandra, for example, was in charge of a military arm of a militant group that recruited 2500 children and caused 700 of them to be murdered in cold blood by the LTTE, from whom R. Sampanthan took his orders (willingly and happily). 

There may very well be a renewal of conflict.  Everyone will suffer, the Tamils in the North and East the most.  It won’t even pinch the pro-Eelam sections of Tamils in other countries.  It will hurt only Sri Lankans.  And that, Bob, would not be because of anything this government does or does not do, because this government for all its faults has done a lot more than its predecessors to get this country back on track.  The TNA is not helping.  You are not, either.  It won’t cost you sleep, we know.  We know that sleep-loss is not possible for those who think nothing of perpetrating crimes against humanity, those war-is-war people. 

Reconciliation is our business.  It involves honesty.  By all parties.  The country is waiting on the TNA to get out of its LTTE shell.  Sampanthan and Sumanthiran are putting together a show. It is called, ironically, ‘no show’.  You don’t get reconciliation that way.  

[First published in The Nation, March 18, 2012]


Sam Perera said...

Keep up good work Malinda. We need more of you for our nation to move forward.

gdesilva said...

This is who they (Clinton and the US administration) really are.....watch the following clip to get some idea on what the US Policy makers have been up to.


Can Sri Lankans stand up this scum on earth?

Anonymous said...

මට නම් දැං මේ රිකන්සිලියේශන් මගුල එපා වෙලා!!!!

sl130 said...

"If you want accountability, it cannot be part accountability"
so mr malinda why dont the sl gov show accountaility on its side first.

Malinda Seneviratne said...

has and is. there is no summary exoneration as there is in the usa. people have been tried and convicted.

Anonymous said...

All these can be construed as collateral damage and should be acceptable as it was in the pursuit of "Democracy" selflessly by USA at great cost in money and lives. Countries like Sri Lanka do not have the right to inflict "Collateral Damage" in their own pursuit of peace, whatever the costs.

Shaik Ahamath said...

Thank you GdeSilva for directing me to Secrets of the CIA (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RXPJmqkxmI&feature=related). It is compelling viewing and the transcript should be made compulsory in our schools for in-depth study lest our enemies within make the same mistakes.

sl130 said...

mr malinda
when did the gov "tried and convicted." those responsible for exection of LTTE prisoners(as shown in CH4) .
and those responsible for eknaligoda
aduction etc......

Malinda Seneviratne said...

that's a process and it hasn't helped that Ch 4 doctors footage. go ask Ch 4 why they had to splice photos, hide relevant evidence etc. ekneligoda (who is not a journalist, btw) disappeared himself on one occasion. investigations don't always yield result at the speed that we want. it took 2 years to find a suspect associated with the assassination attempt on the defence secretary, remember? it's something i have written about. google. google also ekneligoda+uvindu and you might be startled...i.e. if you are not so dumb as to see Ch 4 for what it is....a mischievous, unprofessional plaything of the LTTE.