To many external observers the Government of Sri Lanka appeared to lose the plot somewhat during the recent UN Human Rights Council (HRC) session. A series of overt and heavy handed attempts to silence dissent, even as the session was discussing a resolution censuring Sri Lanka, appeared to illustrate precisely the point that Sri Lanka’s critics were making and guarantee the passing of a resolution calling for an international investigation in to war crimes committed in Sri Lanka.
However, it is my view that these actions were not simply strategic errors on the part of the government, nor evidence of their indifference or imperviousness to the impact they were having in Geneva. Instead, the Government of Sri Lanka’s actions should be considered as a deliberate part of a long-term strategic plan. These actions gained them considerable ground in their long term objectives of pacifying the Tamil majority areas of Sri Lanka by force, silencing internal dissent, and building a lasting regime with the Rajapaksa family at its apex – in return for which, the loss of the HRC resolution was considered a price worth paying.
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My thesis is that the Government of Sri Lanka, or sections within the ruling family, conceded that the resolution could not be prevented but nevertheless felt that the success of the resolution was damaging their interests. They therefore set out to ensure that it could never happen again, and that the potential positive impacts of the resolution would be negated.