‘Moon prejudges SL ahead of Geneva investigations’

Vanni war compared with cases of genocide blamed on Ruwanda and Serbia


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Wartime Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama yesterday alleged that the outgoing UNSG Ban Ki-moon had caused considerable damage to Sri Lanka ahead of forthcoming judicial inquiry into war crimes allegations by comparing the offensive against the LTTE with genocide in Ruwanda and Srebenica in the 90s.

The UNSG’s comments couldn’t have come at a worse time for Sri Lanka, Bogollagama told The Island.

Discussions are now underway to set up a judicial mechanism to probe alleged war crimes accusations in accordance with Geneva Resolution 30/1 approved in October, last year.

The UNSG delivering a speech on ‘Sustainable Peace and Achieving Sustainable Development Goals’ last Thursday (Sept. 1) at the Colombo Hilton at the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, obviously forgot that that he had received the invitation from an institute set up in the memory of a former Sri Lankan foreign minister assassinated by the LTTE in August 2006, Bogollagama said.

Among the audience were war Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, who had commanded the war winning Army and Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, wartime minister in charge of relief efforts.

The former Minister pointed out that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had ruled that the Srebenica massacre constituted genocide. Subsequently, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) upheld the ICTY ruling, Bogollagama said alleging that the UNSG had obviously prejudged Sri Lanka’s case.

Bogollagama held foreign ministry portfolio during eelam war IV (January 27, 2007 to April 20, 2010). Bogollagama succeeded Mangala Samaraweera in the wake of the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa depriving him of the foreign ministry portfolio.

The military brought the war to a successful conclusion on May 19, 2009. Bogollagama said the UNSG couldn’t have compared Sri Lanka’s situation with the Ruwandan genocide in 1994 under any circumstances.

Responding to a query, Bogollagama said: "UNSG’s statement revealed that the former South Korean foreign minister either had absolutely no idea about the situation here or he deliberately undermined Sri Lanka."

The Island yesterday sought an explanation from UNSG’s spokesperson Farhan Haq as regards the basis on which the UNSG compared Sri Lanka’s war against terrorism and genocide in Ruwanda and Srebrenica. At the time this edition went into press, the UN spokesperson hadn’t responded to the query.

The UNSG told the Colombo Hilton audience: "Something more terrible, serious happened in the past. In 1994, in Rwanda, there was a massacre. More than one million people were massacred. United Nations felt responsible for that."

"We said repeatedly, ‘Never again, never again’. It happened just one year after in Srebrenica. Again, many people were massacred when they were not fully protected by the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. So we repeated again, ‘Never again’."

"How many times should we repeat never, never again? We did again in Sri Lanka. We have to do much more not to repeat such things in Sri Lanka, Yemen and elsewhere."

The former Foreign Minister urged the government to seek a clarification from the UN regarding what he called a grave mistake on the UNSG’s part.

The Island also sought a clarification from the Foreign Ministry in this regard. However, the Foreign Ministry too failed to respond to our query at the time this edition went to press.

Bogollagama said that the LTTE rump and those who couldn’t stomach Sri Lanka’s victory over terrorism would exploit the UNSG’s comments. The former minister said that Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.

Wigneswaran had repeatedly accused successive governments of practicing genocide in the Northern region and sought UN investigation.

Bogollagama said that number of Colombo based diplomats had expressed surprise at the UNSG’s comments. The former Minister pointed out that none of those who had been present there or the government were yet to clarify Sri Lanka’s position.

Bogollagama said that the UNSG had implied that many deaths could have been avoided in the Vanni east front if UN was on the ground there.

The former Minister said that the UN in early 2007 admitted that its mission in Colombo kept New York in the dark regarding the LTTE detaining UN workers for helping Tamils to leave the LTTE-held area.

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