Colombo, November 27 (The New Indian Express): Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has said that he will write to the US President-elect Donald Trump, seeking his help to get Sri Lanka freed from allegations of human rights violations during Eelam War IV and send a “Special Representative” to explain Sri Lanka’s case.
“I will write to President (Donald) Trump to ask him to free us from these accusations”, Sirisena said on Saturday while addressing a membership drive of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) in Galle.
The President also said that he would be sending a “Special Representative” to the US to present Sri Lanka’s case in this regard.
There is a feeling among the majority Sinhalese in Sri Lanka that Donald Trump will be more sympathetic to the majority community than to the minorities, unlike Hillary Clinton and the liberals. Trump’s prescriptions to solve Islamic terrorism and illegal immigration also give the hope that he will lend an ear to nationalistic arguments in relation to Sri Lanka and its security concerns.
Significantly, the President madethis announcement on a day when the Tamil minority in the Northern Province was solemnly observing the birth anniversary of the Tamil Tiger leader V.Prabhakaran, and Tamil political leaders were preparing to observe the next day, November 27, as “Heroes’ Day” to honor Tiger cadres who had gone down fighting for an independent Tamil Eelam.
In his speech, President Sirisena said: “I was able to save the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and our valiant soldiers by giving the UN Human Rights Council necessary messages.”
He was referring to the leniency shown by the US and the international community after he came to power defeating the anti-West Rajapaksa in the January 2015 Presidential election.
From 2015 onwards, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has been allowing Sri Lanka more time to set up rights accountability mechanisms to probe the alleged rights violations that took place in the country during the last phase of the military campaign that ended in 2009 with victory for government troops.
Having led three anti-Sri Lanka resolutions at the UNHRC between 2012 to 2014, the Obama administration adopted a softer line on Sri Lanka since the pro-West Sirisena was elected as President.
Reassuring Sinhalese Majority
Sirisena hopes that his remarks at Galle will go down well with the SLFP cadres and leaders who fear that in the forthcoming local bodies elections ,the faction led by former President Rajapaksa will score because it has been portraying itself as the protector of the armed forces against the Western nations’ accusations, disregarding the fact that the armed forces had rid Sri Lanka and the world of one of the most deadly terrorist groups – the Tamil Tigers.
Sirisena has been at pains to draw the attention of the SLFP cadres and the Sinhalese political constituency to the fact that through his accommodative and non-aggressive approach to the West ,he has been able to soften the stand of the Western powers. This has helped him save Rajapaksa and the officers of the armed forces from international sanctions, if not judicial action.
Sirisena hopes that this particular statement of his will give confidence to the Sinhala-Buddhist majority in the country that Sri Lanka is safe in his hands, and Rajapaksa is not entitled to be regarded as the sole savior of the country.
Tamils Likely To Be Put Off
But Sirisena’s plea to Trump to be let off the hook on alleged rights violations, will not go down well with the Tamil minority, who are already in doubt about the President’s sincerity in addressing their concerns regarding war-time rights violations. They are also concerned about the inordinate delays in setting up post-conflict justice mechanisms and in taking steps to address their post-war grievances.
Coincidentally, Sirisena’s statement came on a day when Jaffna University students were solemnly observing the birth anniversary of the slain Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. To them, Prabhakaran is still the unmatched “Tamil National Leader”. The students and staff lit candles in front of portraits of Prabhakaran and planted tree saplings to mark the day.
On Sunday,Tamil politicians of all hues, including the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which is the official opposition in the Sri Lankan parliament, observed “Heroes’ Day” to commemorate the Tiger cadres who were killed in the 30 year war for an independent “Tamil Eelam”. Solemn ceremonies were held at the graveyards of the LTTE in the former battle zones of the Wanni in the Northern Province.