Author: Gibson Bateman

Sri Lanka’s ‘Truth’ Commission: A Brief Assessment of the LLRC Report

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. The report also claims that military operations moved at a “deliberately slow” pace because Sri Lanka’s military personnel were so careful and cognizant of the dangers to civilian life during the final phases of the conflict. While the LTTE deliberately targeted civilians, it appears that Sri Lanka’s military did not, according to the LLRC report. That assertion goes against what most people seem to think, including the report produced by the United Nation’s Panel of Experts. In order to determine “questions of State responsibility,” the LLRC report goes on to note that an “international tribunal” would be unhelpful because there just is not enough evidence about what actually happened during the final phase of the conflict. Essentially, it would be...

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US Foreign Policy and Sri Lanka

After three decades of war, Sri Lanka is still a mess. President Mahinda Rajapaksa could not care less about national reconciliation. Here is a president that did not hesitate to assert his authority at the end of the war. Yet now, he is afraid to be a strong and thoughtful leader, reluctant to take a stand. The widespread human rights violations that occurred during final phases of the war (by both government forces and the LTTE) have been well-documented. Unfortunately, nothing has been done to address this, as government security forces continue to harass civilians in the country’s predominantly Tamil north and east. What members of the international community have failed to understand is that a lack of accountability for what transpired in 2009 has only encouraged further human rights violations, which are still widespread. Impunity in Sri Lanka is not sporadic, but systemic. It is a cancer that will continue to grow as long as the current regime faces no repercussions for its actions. The Sri Lankan military’s intrusion into virtually all aspects of civilian life is appalling. State security forces should not promulgate the idea that the words “ethnic minority” and “inferior citizen” are synonymous. When it comes to the media, Sri Lanka is one of the least free places in the world.[1] The Tamil people do not need a separate state, although they do need a...

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