May 10, 2013 by The Social Architects
Even though the protracted internal armed conflict has ended, community members have been unable to return to their day-to-day lives. Under the administration of Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s militarization has continued unabated. The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has established numerous checkpoints and camps near peoples’ homes. Military personnel frequently patrol these areas – day and night. Sadly, the military’s intrusion into practically all aspects of civilian affairs remains a way of life in the conflict-affected North and East.
At the entrance to Kanthi Kiramam (Kilinochchi), there is a small army camp. Members of the 7th Battalion of the Sri Lanka National Guard (7SLNG) reside there. A checkpoint is located on the other side of the camp, adjacent to a bus stop. At least three members of the military are actually living at that checkpoint. A brief history of this checkpoint may be of interest to both domestic and international observers.
Checkpoint Installation: Sequence of Events and Dubious Reasoning
Community members opposed the establishment of this checkpoint. Many community members said that such a checkpoint would frighten people while waiting for the bus.
February 28, 2013 by Gibson Bateman
Soon another US-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka will be tabled at the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC). It’s very unlikely that the recent high-level US delegation that came to Sri Lanka would have announced that a procedural resolution would be backed if Washington wasn’t absolutely positive that it had the votes to get another resolution through the council. The votes for another resolution on Sri Lanka are there; that’s for sure.
India has already come out and announced that it too will support the resolution – taking a bit of drama out of the whole affair. But it’s also quite revealing because it shows how much the administration of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has overplayed its hand. Let us not forget that less than a year ago, Delhi was reminding people that it wouldn’t support any country-specific resolution at the HRC. Now it looks like Delhi will have supported two in a twelve-month span.
Along with the major international organizations like International Crisis Group (ICG) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), there are probably a few Western countries – though not necessarily the US – that are pushing for something stronger than the draft resolution in its current form. In spite the circumstances, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is still sticking with its (untrue) story – saying that they are doing all they can to implement the LLRC recommendations and comply with the previous HRC resolution. Unfortunately, the problems with the GoSL’s most recent progress report on the LLRC recommendations start on the first page of the first sentence.
December 28, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
President Obama is still working on remaking his foreign policy and national security team, but it looks like John Kerry will be the next Secretary of State. Inside Washington, John Kerry has been a leading voice on foreign policy for decades. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for twenty-seven years, John Kerry has built up a vast network of contacts abroad. John Kerry understands the politics of the Middle East. And he has already travelled extensively for the Obama administration – going to places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
December 17, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
During the past year, one of the Obama administration’s biggest moves at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) received relatively little attention inside the Beltway. In March 2012, the United States led a resolution calling on the government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which examined the breakdown of the truce between the country’s warring factions, and “to take all necessary additional steps” to “ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans.”
It remains unclear what exactly drove the U.S. resolution, but the Sri Lankan government does not appear to have complied with it. The country continues to receive criticism for its human rights record, as disappearances and extrajudicial killings, among other issues, remain problems. Recent developments like a prison riot in Colombo that left 27 inmates dead and the arrest of several University of Jaffna students are also worrisome.
November 23, 2012 by The Social Architects
Disclaimer: The following document was anonymously submitted to International Policy Digest (IPD) by The Social Architects (TSA).
The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Final Report contains many positive recommendations which merit immediate attention. This document is designed to capture the essence of those key positive recommendations and to come out with a meaningful action plan which will open the door to true reconciliation, sustainable peace, institutional reform and improved governance.
September 29, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
As the 21st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (HRC) ends on 28 September 2012, ongoing human rights developments in Sri Lanka will undoubtedly linger in the minds of many.
Observers will look forward to the country’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review, which will take place this November, and to the National Report the Sri Lankan government has submitted for consideration. Yet it is next year’s HRC session that is particularly intriguing.
May 14, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
On May 18, Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris will meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, DC. The two should have plenty to talk about. The Sri Lankan government’s action plan for the implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will be at the top of the list.
In late April, there were reports that Mr. Peiris would be bringing a “secret” action plan to Washington. It is not clear why such a document would need to be kept strictly confidential, unless Peiris will be presenting a largely incomplete first draft.
March 31, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs, G.L. Peiris, has recently given one additional reason for the passage of a resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva: “collective commitments.” Evidently, Mr. Peiris had been informed by one of his European counterparts that certain members of the European Union (EU) were unsupportive of the resolution, but were compelled to vote in favor of it, since a group decision had been taken by the EU.
Mr. Peiris went on to say that even some US Congressman did not view the HRC in a positive light, due to the fact that the body is “politicized.” (It is unclear to this writer how a United Nations forum where nation states meet to discuss human rights could be apolitical, but I will not belabor that point).
March 23, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
Europe and most of Latin America supported the US resolution against Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council’s (HRC) 19th session in Geneva. China, Russia, and several countries in Africa and Asia voted against it. Unsurprisingly, Cuba and Ecuador also opposed the resolution. Having never before voted for a “country-specific resolution,” India’s vote was significant, both symbolically and materially. It is unclear what Delhi’s decision will mean when it comes to US-Indian relations in the coming years or what effect it will have on Indo-Sri Lankan ties.
The Sri Lankan government has already stated said that the “intimate relations” between India and Sri Lanka will not be affected, but that is just simplistic government braggadocio. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently said that India does “not want to infringe on the sovereignty of Sri Lanka,” which appears to be incompatible with the vote his country cast on Thursday in Geneva. India was in an extremely difficult position, but it is still hard to believe that they did not abstain.
March 20, 2012 by The Social Architects
Disclaimer: The following document was anonymously submitted to International Policy Digest (IPD) by The Social Architects (TSA).
‘Salt on Old Wounds: The Systematic Sinhalization of Sri Lanka’s North, East and Hill Country’ the first study published by The Social Architects (TSA), seeks to set out the systematic, increasing and widespread process of Sinhalization that is taking place in historically Tamil areas in the North, East and Hill Country in post-war Sri Lanka. While focusing on the process of Sinhalization that is currently being implemented, this monograph seeks to situate it within the broader historical process of Sinhalization that has been carried out by different governments spanning a number of decades.
March 15, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
The US recently tabled a draft resolution against Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council’s 19th session in Geneva. No one should be too surprised by this; everyone knew it was coming. However, the draft resolution is so incredibly weak that President Mahinda Rajapaksa must be breathing a sigh of relief. It is no wonder that the US feels confident that it has the votes in needs. Besides, it is likely that the resolution will be watered down even more in the coming days—making this exercise seem that much more formulaic and pointless.
The resolution requests that the government of Sri Lanka implement the recommendations from the Final Report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). In order to achieve this objective, it asks the government to present an outline or roadmap as “expeditiously as possible” so that everyone will know how much progress Sri Lanka is making towards genuine national reconciliation and to addressing purported violations of international law.
February 26, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
The US has made it very clear; they will table a resolution against Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council’s (HRC) 19th session in Geneva. Unsurprisingly, the government of Sri Lanka is asking for more time. The Sri Lankan government knows that this might be the most pressure they ever face at the HRC. When it comes to national reconciliation, the government’s strategy continues to revolve around delay, prevarication and even outright lies. President Rajapaksa told critics to be patient because he had appointed a national body, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to handle questions related to national reconciliation and accountability.
The LLRC’s final report has been out for months and, almost shockingly, the report actually contains some good recommendations. But the government thought it imprudent to even begin to consider implementing any of those. More recently, the government’s entire strategy seems to involve linking all questions of accountability and human rights to the country’s participation in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which will take place this October. President Rajapaksa knows that the passing of time only strengthens his hand.
February 24, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
U.S. Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA) recently submitted a bipartisan letter to President Barack Obama. Cosigned by eleven other members of Congress, it effusively praises the Sri Lankan government for all of its accomplishments since end of the country’s twenty-six-year civil war.
The short note is heavy on rhetoric and light on reality. It talks about the enormous potential for a strengthening of US-Sri Lankan relations, going on to use words like “post-conflict,” while congratulating Rajapaksa’s semi-authoritarian regime for doing such a good job of resettling IDPs, among other misperceptions. Perhaps the most absurd part of the letter is the following:
January 16, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
As promised, the Sri Lankan government made the final report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) public last month. It has also recently released its “National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights: 2011-2016.”
The Action Plan was developed in accordance with a commitment the government had made in 2008, the last time Sri Lanka participated in the UN’s Universal Periodic Review. Both documents are part of the Sri Lankan government’s strategy to placate international observers and convince people that there is no need for any kind of international assistance because the country’s domestic institutions are working just fine.
December 17, 2011 by Gibson Bateman
Readers will find no big surprises after reading the final report of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). It is very much what most people were expecting. A document that looks to the future, exonerates the military, does not touch on the question of accountability and includes some touchy-feely language about the country’s need to move forward, celebrate its diversity and be grateful for the defeat of terrorism.
Essentially, all civilian casualties were the result of people caught in the crossfire or were the LTTE’s fault. “The protection of the civilian population was given the highest priority” by the Sri Lankan armed forces, the Commission has determined.