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Justice Is A Two Way Process

[The Sunday Leader.lk, Saturday, 1 October 2011 21:18 No Comment]

President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the recent sessions of the UN General Assembly made a plea for ‘justice’ for his country, as most pleaders for Third World countries usually do, at international fora. ‘The might of powerful nations cannot prevail against justice and fairplay’, he declared.

President Rajapaksa, being a lawyer, may have deliberately ignored the reality of the concept of justice while making that plea. He should

have known well that ‘justice’ both in the international and Sri Lankan concepts is a relative term. From the time when laws were

framed to regulate behaviour in primitive societies under façades of various forms of morality, ‘justice’ has favoured the mighty—those who framed the laws. Today, even the much sophisticated international law framed by eminent jurists embodies the concept that ‘might is right’.

That is what happened at the last sessions of the United Nations General Assembly where an interim government was recognised by the United Nations as being representative of Libya even though the person who ruled it for more than 40 years is still in the country.

Might is right in international law and in Sri Lanka too. The family, friends and colleagues of former Editor of this paper Lasantha

Wickrematunga who was killed by unidentified assailants are still crying out for justice which has not been forthcoming for more than

two years. So is it for the family and friends of Pradeep Ekneligoda and for those of an indeterminate number of journalists in Jaffna,

particularly of the Uthayan newspaper.

While President Rajapaksa would be convinced that  injustice is being committed against Sri Lanka when allegations of war crimes being committed  by Sri Lankans involved in defeating terrorism were made, he should realise that there are governments as well as people abroad who—rightly or wrongly – believe that such crimes were committed.

Much of these charges made may have their origins in scarred minds of Tamil expatriates but they are now being believed – so it is the powerful western nations that matter. Even the international media have fallen prey to this propaganda.

The Rajapaksa regime’s counter propaganda offensives have not been able to blunt this expatriate propaganda. The furious invective of our academic and Hultsdorp oratorical warriors are not going beyond our shores and only re-convincing the converted at home.

Internationally, the Rajapaksa regime is taking a heavy beating. The pressure is being kept up. Last Tuesday a US State Department

spokesman was quoted urging Sri Lanka to take steps to ‘credibly address’ the allegations levelled against Sri Lanka on war crimes.

The expatriate Tamil Community is obviously having deeper motives than painting Sri Lanka black. A separate Tamil state is their objective and the so called international community has set up a ready made mechanism for the purpose—the Right to Protect (R2P).

This simply implies that if a government cannot protect its own people, the international community has the right to intervene. We have seen this happening in the creation of Kosovo and now Libya. Perhaps another LTTE type insurrection and military intervention could lead to international intervention here. No doubt this seems a far cry but any move in this direction should be thwarted at the initial stages.

The question is being asked: What should the Rajapaksa regime do?

Sadly, it does not seem to be doing anything positive in resolving the Tamil issue. While demining and resettlement of refuges in the

North had been done, core problems of the Tamils which led to youth terrorism have been left untouched.

Regarding allegations of war crimes the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission has been appointed but the composition of the commission resulted in the commission’s loss of credibility both here and abroad at the very inception.

Since Ban Ki-moon’s main demand was for ‘accountability’ of the armed forces in the terrorist conflict, it has been pointed out that the

government’s accountability is to the people—those affected as well as those not affected by the conflict. It has been suggested that a

credible Sri Lankan commission of inquiry, perhaps headed by an independent Tamil, could satisfy the government’s insistence and those of nationalists of not permitting outside interference in an internal Sri Lankan affair as well as the UN demand for accountability.

The implementation of the 13th Amendment could also take the wind off the extremists and counter charges of continued discrimination.

Of course there will be vehement opposition to an independent commission that would include Tamils. ‘How could we bring our war

heroes before such a commission?’ it will be asked. But there could be no qualms in this regard: The former army commander regarded as the greatest of all war heroes has been taken before military and civilian courts and is now behind bars!

It will be also argued that giving into UN demands and rejuvenating the 13th Amendment could only result in appeasing the UN and that the 13th Amendment has been rejected by the TNA. Thus if these suggestions are implemented, the problems of the Tamils would still be there.

Sinhala extremists will always strongly oppose any major concessions being granted to Tamils and Mahinda Rajapaksa has not done justice since he came to power in 2004 apart from post conflict rehabilitation.

The fear may be the erosion of the solid Sinhala vote base in the South which has given him election victories ever since he became

president. While the Rajapaksa regime is on political terra firma, Sri Lanka is becoming increasingly isolated internationally. Russia and

China are standing by us but fast changing economic fortunes may override political allegiances. China’s recent recognition of the

National Transition Council of Libya as the country’s ruling authority is such an example.

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