Feature Article

Blake will draw blank if truth not recognized

[TamilNet, Monday, 29 August 2011, 01:57 GMT]
The US Asst Secretary of State Robert Blake visits Sri Lanka this week, following Indian Foreign Minister Krishna telling the Parliament that what bothered the island for the last three decades was nothing but ‘terrorism’ and the solution confines to material ‘rehabilitation’ of Tamils and political ‘build up’ of the defunct 13th Amendment. Blake spoke to diaspora groups in the US before his visit. The engagement of India and the USA with the island is meaningless if it is not based on the recognition of the truth that the issue in the island is a national question, the war waged there had chronic genocidal intentions on the part of the Sri Lankan State and the military that now occupies the country of Eezham Tamils is in actuality not a State military of international norms but a genocidal Sinhala military, writes TamilNet political commentator in Colombo.

Talking to diaspora groups in the US before his visit to the island, Robert Blake expressed his concern and impatience about ‘reconciliation’ and accountability, a paradigm with which the US State Department thought of handling the post-genocidal-war and proposed-structural genocide situation in the island.

But while talking to the US diaspora groups, Blake feigned ignorance on the intense Sinhala colonisation that is taking place in the country of Eezham Tamils with the active participation of the occupying military.

He said that he would check on it, but didn’t show much interest on the matter.

Tamil politicians in the island who engaged with the US diplomats earlier said that the bunch now deals with Sri Lanka considers such colonisations as a normal and acceptable process and thus indirectly encourage the structural genocide of the nation of Eezham Tamils in the island.

The US itself is engaged in land-grab in the post-war North-East, environmental activists in the island said, citing a US company acquiring thousands of acres of land in the reserved forests in the East in the guise of banana cultivation.

Speaking to the diaspora, the US Asst Secretary of State was more interested in discussing how to ‘compensate’ people for the land grabbed by the occupying military, through ‘open and fair process’ than conceding the territorial right of the nation of Eezham Tamils to Eezham Tamils.

* * *

On the political model of solution, Blake didn’t discuss anything beyond the existing Provincial Councils and getting a commitment from Colombo on a timetable for conducting elections for the north and for defining the powers of the councils.

Blake wanted to support the ‘dialogue’ between the TNA and Colombo.

The TNA can’t do anything without India and the US, the TNA has the clouts only because the US is supporting them, Blake said, showcasing what India and the US had ‘achieved’ by crushing the military balance of Eezham Tamils in the island.

India & US are the countries pushing Sri Lanka issue the most, with UK a distant third, he said.

However, Blake recognized the importance of Tamil Nadu.

With the election of Ms. Jayalalitha, Sri Lanka has become a more important issue in India and will be so for the 2014 election. Tamil Nadu is a swing state and is crucial for forming a new government, he observed.

Blake welcomed the appointment of Nirupama Rao as India’s ambassador to the US.

* * *

Known for his personal bias towards shielding the Rajapaksa family, Blake was not in favour of pushing for international investigation of war crimes in the island.

This is in sharp contrast to the US and Western policy towards Libya, political analysts point out.

When it comes to the crimes committed against Eezham Tamils, what Blake is ‘worried’ at is that if the US focuses primarily on accountability that will set up an adversarial position and will not be able to accomplish anything else.

Blake said if they call for an international investigation that would be used in SL by the JVP/JHU to campaign that the US wants regime change in SL, and that would further polarize the issue and there would definitely be no accountability.

As long as Blake, who was directly involved in the course of affairs when the crimes were committed continues to steer the US dealings with the island, there will definitely be no accountability is what the Tamil diaspora in the US now realises slowly.

* * *

Blake continued to harp on the LLRC.

He thinks that there are some good people in the LLRC.

Channel 4 could not have been forged, and it's not credible for the GoSL to keep denying it. Brutal, awful crimes occurred and it's reasonable to expect GoSL to investigate. All of this will come out eventually, and the longer they wait, the worse it will be for SL, he said.

He will push with the LLRC to come up with a credible mechanism to make sure that those shown in Channel 4 video prosecuted, but he didn’t know yet whether Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was involved, Blake said.

The best evidence will come from SL generals, but they'll want immunity and protection for their family, Blake observed.

The Channel 4 revelations are only a tip of the iceberg and the justice for genocide can’t be just a token prosecution for only what had been shown in the telecast, or finding evidence to indict Gotabhaya alone, commented Tamil political circles in the diaspora.

Blake who said that the US would not forget crimes, however, tried at the same time to pass the responsibility to the UN. He was harping on the mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council.

If Ban gets so frustrated, he could refer the UN Panel of Experts' report to the UNHRC or to the UN Hich Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillai, he said.

There is a lot of damning evidence in that report. The UNHRC has made a lot of tough decisions lately -- UNHRC dealt with Syria this week, and GoSL should be very worried. The GoSL is looking at whether they have friendly votes in the UNHRC. It's a difficult situation because it's a sitting government -- successfully prosecuting the military is tough. GoSL will have to decide if they want to risk a debate in the UNHRC, Blake said.

There will be growing international pressure as early as next year to deal with these issues. If LLRC doesn't deal with it, the international community will have to look at other mechanisms. The US has a mechanism for reporting on HR abuses, Blake observed.

* * *

Like SM Krishna in the Indian parliament, Blake was also discussing many cosmetic provisions to chronic issues.

He was talking on gender-based violence, grease devils, paramilitary, media, judicial freedom, investment in the north, aid to private sector to create jobs, public-private partnership, war widows, sewing machines, water pumps and need to help fishermen with ice.

During his visit Blake has planned to visit Jaffna on Tuesday.

He will be meeting there the TNA, civil society members, NGOs, the Bishop and the commander of the occupying military, the ‘Asian Nobel laureate’ Hathurusinghe.

As a show of solidarity, he is expected to visit the Uthayan Daily in Jaffna, the chief news editor of which was recently attacked in Jaffna.

Blake didn’t forget his pet idea of luring or prodding the diaspora towards Rajapaksa regime and Sri Lankan state to participate in ‘rehabilitation and development’.

The latest idea of Blake was to start ‘indigenously-run NGO’ for the north to carryout programmes in the north and to locally train people.

Besides, Blake also wanted the diaspora to work through Sinhala NGOs, just like what the Norwegians tried to tell the diaspora sometimes back.

Blake was interested in promoting the Sinhalese-led NGOs Seva Lanka and Sarvodaya for the Eezham Tamil diaspora to work with. He sought the opinion of the diaspora.

As a least minimum courtesy if the US Asst Secretary of State can’t consider creating a space for the diaspora to independently go and help its kith and kin without fear, then what is the point in diaspora engaging with such a kind of diplomacy, is a question that irks the mind of many a member of the diaspora.

Even a pro-US diaspora group such as Tamils for Obama, on the eve of Blake’s visit came out with a statement that “Assistant Secretary Blake should exert pressure on the Sri Lankan Government and not on the victimized population.”

On prodding the nation of Tamils into a subservient political formula, the group said last Wednesday: “As the representative of the sole remaining super power, Assistant Secretary Blake should not exert undue pressure on the Tamils’ elected representatives,” said a spokesman for Tamils for Obama. “He should remember that Tamils are the victims here, not the perpetrators.

“We request Assistant Secretary Blake to find the true desire of Tamils,” the group said adding that the best way to find out a solution is to hold an UN-supervised referendum.


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