One`s mind boggles at the government`s volte face on the Moon Panel, which it dismissed as a launching pad to a war crimes probe. It also denied visas to the members of that panel to visit Sri Lanka to ascertain information. Now we are told that they have been allowed to come here to meet the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). The government claims that they will make representations before the LLRC, but according to what UNSG Ban Ki-moon has told the media, they will only have discussions. The government`s gobbledygook defies one`s comprehension.
It may be argued that at a time some human rights groups are on a campaign against the LLRC, having rejected it out of hand as a farce, some international legitimacy will accrue to it from a meeting with the Moon Panel because such a powwow is tantamount to UN recognition for the LLRC. However, the fact remains that by granting the Moon Panel members permission to enter the country and meet the LLRC, the government has given credence to the UN-sponsored war crimes witch hunt.
It may not be too cynical a view that the Moon Panel has already prepared its report according to specifications given by those who want Sri Lanka`s political and military leaders tried for alleged war crimes. For, neither the UNSG nor the members of his panel can afford to disappoint the US and its allies determined to launch a war crimes probe. A group of US lawmakers (17 senators and 30 members of the House of Representatives) have written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to seek a UN probe into war crime allegations against Sri Lanka and to have the LLRC conclusions verified by a parallel international mechanism.
So, one may wonder whether the Moon Panel has already assumed the role of that `international mechanism` to monitor the LLRC with a view to examining the latter`s conclusions to be drawn.
The curricula vitae of the members of the Moon Panel amply demonstrate the UN bias against Sri Lanka. The UNSG could not have found a group of people to serve the purpose of the anti-Sri Lankan elements in the international community better. Chairman of the Moon Panel, Marzuki Darusman was one of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) involved in a presidential commission that probed some alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka. They had a row with the government and left the country. Darusman is, therefore, prejudiced against this country. Steven R. Ratner is of a similar mindset. He has exposed his bias against Sri Lanka in a book he co-authored with Jason S. Abrams, Accountability for Human rights: Atrocities in International Law-Beyond the Nuremberg Legacy, in which it is suggested (on page 123) that the ban on apartheid be invoked in responding to `the plight of Kurds, the Tamils, the South Sudanese, Japanese of Korean origin` etc. The following observation in the book is of crucial import as it gives an insight into Ratner`s thinking: `It thus becomes best to regard the Apartheid Convention as a potential source of law for imputing criminal responsibility for certain patterns of racial discrimination.` As we have argued in these columns previously, we do not intend to contest Ratner`s view. Nor do we question his right to express it. But, the fact that he holds that view is demonstrative of a glaring bias which is sure to prevent him from carrying out his duties as a member of the Moon Panel with an open mind. Yasmin Sooka, a former Truth Commission member, is Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights, which is heavily dependent on EU funds. The EU has allocated 25 million Euros for one of its programmes. That she is beholden to the EU, which is pushing for a war crimes probe against Sri Lanka, is obvious.
The scheduled visit by the Moon Panel is sure to pave the way for an international media onslaught against Sri Lanka the whole caboodle of INGOs will turn it into a circus by trying to meet the panel members, knowing very well that the government will deny them permission to do so, thus enabling them and their propaganda allies to claim that Sri Lanka is suppressing the truth.
The proposed meeting between the Moon Panel and the LLRC has all the trappings of a Trojan horse and government has blundered by agreeing to it, albeit under duress. However, now that President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself has consented to facilitate that powwow, according to UNSG, he cannot go back on his commitment.
A way out appears to be for him to arrange for the meeting at issue to take place in some other country so that the question of granting visas to the Moon Panel members and thereby recognising them will not arise.