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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2678

Radhika & Jayantha promotes the anti-Sri Lankan R2P

H. L. D. Mahindapala

After plugging Jaffna-centric politics from its inception, after mobilizing the international network of NGOs to pressure the Government of Sri Lanka to bow down to the will of the mono-ethnic extremism of the north, after reinforcing ethnic prejudices and exacerbating the ethnic enmities through imported ideological concepts of the West, the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) is now focusing aggressively on its new agenda of pushing the controversial Right to Protect (R2P). This new campaign began with ICES inviting Gareth Evans, head of the International Crisis Centre, to deliver a craftily calculated lecture on R2P.

It is not a coincidence that Gareth Evans, a close ally of Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the former head of ICES, came at a time when the Sri Lankan security forces were advancing towards the heart of the Tiger Terroristan in the east and he north. Evans' lecture was politically angled to threaten Sri Lanka to halt the current offensive against the Tamil Tigers. In short, Evans was brought by ICES to tell the Government of Sri Lanka that there are provisions in international law (example: R2P)to intervene if the Security Forces advanced too close to crush the Tamil Tigers.

Parenthetically, it is necessary to emphasize that the ICES was fathered by Neelan Tiruchelvam and mothered by Radhika. Jointly, they produced a political child and named it the ICES – the Incestuous Cabal for Ethnic Separatism. Their ideological love affair to bring up this anti-Sinhala-Buddhist child can be seen in the politicized literature they produced, packaged, of course, as "research". It could not have been any kind of objective research because the father of ICES was also the committed ideologue of the Tamil United Liberation Front, wearing two hats, one as the head of the ICES and the other as a TULF Member of Parliament.

The TULF, it will be remembered, was the key political force that exerted pressure and manipulated India to intervene militarily in Sri Lanka. Now that Neelan is no longer among the living, the mother of ICES, Radhika, is exploiting her strategic position in the UN to push the international community to intervene under the cover of R2P. The ICES, it must be conceded, has a penchant for doing things legally, even when Radhika re-enacts the role of Madame Defarge knitting her plots at the UN whilst watching the heads of Tamils rolling off the efficient guillotine of Prabhakaran.

Jayantha Dhanapala, is the latest recruit to this campaign. He delivered his lecture at the ICES echoing the same threat as Evans. Like Radhika he used the Sri Lankan ladder to climb the international heights and not surprisingly, like Radhika, is kicking it all in the name of international law and the need to help the helpless.

In hindsight, Dhanapala's defeat in the race to grab the Secretary-General's post at the UN could be read as a positive outcome for Sri Lanka because he would have used his position as Secretary-General to impose R2P on his motherland just to boost his image as an international bureaucrat who is committed to honour the law, particularly the law laid down by the powers that can extend his career into a second term. India did the right thing in putting up a rival candidate because Jayantha has proved to be anti-Asian and pro-West as seen in his pretensions to maintain a disarming (pun intended) balance particularly in relation to India's nuclear programme.

On top this comes the latest report that Radhika Coomaraswamy is heading towards Melbourne to 'reflect on the "responsibility to protect" with particular reference to women and children,' says the blurb of the Christian World Service - the international humanitarian and development agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, a prominent lobby group for Tiger politics, and sections of the Melbourne University sponsoring the 2007 Chancellor's Human Rights lecture.

She is billed to ask: "Who is responsible for protecting women and children?" Predictably, Radhika will be presenting a variation of Evans' R2P theme to argue that it is the state of Sri Lanka and if the state fails then the opportunistic and self-serving body known as the international community should take over the responsibility. Like all UN proclamations, R2P is aimed at achieving commendable goals, though the UN itself has repeatedly evaded its responsibilities and is guilty of not giving protection to those who need it at the time they needed it. However, what is disturbing is the way R2P is politically manipulated by ICES and whipped up at this critical juncture to tie the hands of Government of Sri Lanka.

This, of course, has been the main objective of the foreign-funded NGOs, starting from Radhika's guru and predecessor, the late Neelan Tiruchelvam, the smooth Tamil ideologue who had specialized in promoting the feudal and colonial privileges of the Jaffna Tamils in the guise of minority rights. Tiruchelvam gave the lead to institutionalize and manipulate rights issues globally to advance Jaffna-centric politics. No other community had cultivated the skills and organized institutional networks to exploit the international potential and resources as a means to advance their ethnic political goals. R2P is the latest manouevre of the ICES to use the international community to provide protection not to human rights but to the notorious violators of human rights – the Tamil Tigers facing defeat.

In all their political endeavours they have wrapped their mono-ethnic extremism as just causes based on international law and rights. In the process rights issues have leapt to the forefront not because of the intrinsic values inherent in rights but because they have been politicized perversely to further agendas of one armed group. The latest is the Right to Protection which Radhika Coomaraswamy hopes to exploit by making a song and dance about it in international fora. But they have failed to make a case for it. Even Gareth Evans says that the situation in Sri Lanka does not warrant R2P action though, according to his tea-leaf predictions, it has the potential to deteriorate to that level.

Evans admits that Sri Lanka is neither Rwanda nor Kosovo. If so what is all this fuss about applying R2P to Sri Lanka arbitrarily? It should be noted that any move by the international community to intervene in Sri Lanka without the consent of the people is arbitrary. Nor is there universally accepted criteria by which these self-appointed do-gooders have a right intervene in the manner they choose to act at any given time. Quite rightly, Prof. G. L. Peiris took on Jayantha Dhanapala, the defeated candidate for the UN Secretary-Generalship, and debunked his contention that the international community has a right to invoke R2P and apply it on criteria they choose. Dhanapala, like Evans, has a hard time in convincing that there is a case for R2P military intervention in Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, they were issuing warnings that there could come a time when R2P should be applied, with the consent of Security Council.

It is clear that both Dhanapala and Evans were barking up the wrong tree. If they had the read critically and objectively the Outcome Document which refers to R2P and grasped its implications they would not be issuing warnings to the state of Sri Lanka. Instead they should, in accordance with 138 of the Outcome Document, "help and encourage the state" (of Sri Lanka)"to protect its people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity" committed with impunity by the Tamil Tigers.

Evans can be excused for interpreting Sri Lankan issues in his own fanciful way because he possibly cannot know as much Dhanapala on the Sri Lankan situation. Consequently, Dhanapala has no excuse to follow Evans as if he is an obedient and well-trained pup. He knows that the state of Sri Lanka has, according to R2P, the "responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity" – most of which have been committed by the Tamil Tigers. He should also know that the Sri Lankan government's violations arise primarily from acts to contain or prevent the Tamil Tiger terror. He will probably agree that the Sri Lankan forces commit collateral damage in a complex process of trying to eliminate the primary cause of violations of human rights rooted in the Vanni. Unlike the Tamil Tigers it is not launching military operations to deliberately target civilians. Even the American Ambassador concedes that in any war collateral damage is inevitable in a any democratic state engaged in restoring democracy, law and order.

This raises some fundamental issues: Against whom must Evans and Dhanapala invoke R2P? If, according to 138 of the Outcome Document, it is the responsibility of the state of Sri Lanka "to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity" committed by the Tamil Tiger terrorists then why is Dhanapala dancing the jig with Evans to use it against the state of Sri Lanka? And if "the international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help states to exercise this responsibility" why is Dhanapala warning the Sri Lankan state instead of helping it to carry out its responsibility through military interventions to eliminate these political criminals?

Besides, the Outcome Document envisages military intervention by the international community if the state fails. First, there is no evidence that the Sri Lankan state has failed to combat the sub-human violence of the Tamil Tigers whose crimes cannot be stopped by offering flowers picked form the garden of UN or even a reasonable dialogue. Second, there is an assumption that the military intervention of the international community is superior in moral and physical terms to that of the state engaged in protecting its people from inhuman violence of terrorists. Since intervention as a last resort involves a military engagement those who invoke R2P have to first establish that military intervention by the international community is going to be superior and/or more humane than that of the Sri Lankan state. In what respect, therefore, is the military intervention of the NATO forces in Kosovo, or the US forces in Vietnam or Iraq or even the Indians in the north and east superior to that of the Sri Lankans?

In fact, the entire case for R2P in Sri Lanka has been negated by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) operations in the north and the east. IPKF adventure represents the R2P principles in its entirety. They first dropped lentils (parippu) over Jaffna and then moved in ostensibly to protect the Tamil people on "humanitarian grounds". It began well with the local peace merchants hailing it as the best means of achieving peace and producing a fair deal to the Tamils. But how did it end? Even the Tamils of Jaffna went against the Indian R2P. With the available historical evidence running against R2P intervention on what basis can Dhanapala argue for R2P intervention by his masters in the West?

Dhanapala is normally not known for advocating such inane absurdities. But ever since he authored the NGO-backed P-Toms, handing over the administration of the north and the east to the Tamil Tigers, he has been playing the lead role in the theatre of the absurd. Besides, with his international experience he should know that the international community has no magic formula to intervene and resolve the complex Sri Lankan crisis. Invariably, interventions interventions, whether under UN auspices or not, have been disastrous as seen in the naval cordon thrown round Iraq to prevent food, medical and other essentials getting into Iraq. UNICEF figures state that 500,000 children died because of this. Why didn't Dhanapala, who knew the Iraqi situation so intimately, invoke R2P against the USA leading the UN forces that killed 500,000 innocent children?

In any case, neither Dhanapala nor Evans can guarantee that international intervention under R2P is going to be more effective and capable or resolving intra-state conflicts than the military operations run by democratic states. Since they assume the role of pundits who have the answers to the Sri Lankan crisis Dhanapala and Evans have to answer a simple question: 1)Can they guarantee that R2P intervention can work when the Indian R2P solution implemented under IPKF protection and later the Ceasefire Agreement with its international "safety net" failed to resolve the crisis? Dhanapala has also to answer a separate question: Is this his underhand ploy to foist P-TOMS on the Sinhalese, Muslims and the Tamils who have rejected his political solution?

Both Evans and Dhanapala are running against historical and prevailing realities. Both must drop their theoretical cant and face the hard realities in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka does not need another blood bath with majority and minority communities rebelling against the weird theories of Dhanapala and Evans.

Clearly, there is a case for the Sri Lankan state to be given the first priority to protect its populations. But both of them assume that (1) the Sri Lankan state is incapable of handling these gross violations of humanitarian laws and (2) only the international community has the competency and the authority to intervene. Their pronouncement is a finger-pointing exercise at the Sri Lankan state and not aimed at helping the state to contain the violations of the human rights committed by the Tamil Tiger terrorists. Evans' view concludes rightly that the Sri Lankan state is not a replica of the Pol Potists regime. But his blinkers do not permit him to see the Pol Potist regime (New York Times) in the Vanni. His argument for intervention under R2P is tantamount to accusing the Sri Lankan state as the Pol Potitst regime and not the one in the Vanni. In essence, if they are serious about R2P, it is the duty of Evans and Dhanapala to jointly issue a statement endorsing the action of the Sri Lankan state to eliminate the one-man, fascist state in the Vanni. Instead they have opted to restrain the Sri Lankan government which is acting according to the R2P. And the Sri Lankan public is expected to take their pronouncements lying down, praising them as the messiahs with the magic wand of R2P as the only solution to he state battling the terror of the intransigent Tamil Tigers.

These self-proclaimed pundits also pretend that the beneficiaries are the Sri Lankans if they are allowed to R2P when in reality they are serving the vested interests of their masters. Prof. G. L. Peiris has focused on this aspect in his essay on "Human Rights, Sri Lanka and the international community" (Sunday Observer, Nov. 4, 2007). In arguing against the legal validity and the morality of the R2P, as laid down by Evans, he says: "The plea by Evans that the beneficiaries of the doctrine are 'not prospective interveners" but those needing support" caries no conviction. It is all too probable that the reasoning which seeks to fortify the doctrine will, for all intents and purposes, be of avail only as a pretext for self-serving action intended to protect not oppressed populations but vested interests."

Perhaps, more than Evans, Dhanapala is making a vain bid to pull wool over the eyes of the public as he did in the case of promoting the ill-fated P-TOMS. It is unbecoming of a man of his stature to indulge in such unethical practices. Of course, coming from the UN where the reporting mechanism is overloaded with cooked up evidence it is not surprising to find Dhanapala going down the tracks of Colin Powell, Richard Butler and the rest of the mob at UN producing doctored reports to push their preferred political line.

More than Evans Dhanapala, being a Sri Lanka, has a duty to protect the people of Sri Lanka. He should know that like his P-TOMS the R2P is not going to salvage Sri Lanka. It is shy-making when he acts like "Mut"-suura siding with the Voice of Tigers knowing that it is an agent of Tamil Tiger terrorism. Sri Lankans who have respected him expect something better than R2P from him. Hope he lives up to that expectation.

Merry Christmas, Jayantha and Radhika! Hope you both will come down the Sri Lankan chimney with goodies far better than fake R2Ps which will never work.

- Asian Tribune -

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