Nearly one hundred soldiers including some senior military personnel up to the ranks of Major will be sacrificed to save the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakshe and President Mahinda Rajapakshe from prosecution for breaching international law, during the war that ended in May 2009. By holding these personnel accountable for some of the heinous crimes committed at the end of the war, President and his sibling believe that the international pressure will be eased from them and their regime.
Fearing that a feeble LLRC report may result in possible travel ban being imposed on senior government and military officials including the President and the Defence Secretary and freezing of personal assets by the US, Canada and European Union, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report will be made public in the next few days by the President’s Office via the Sri Lankan Parliament. This is in light of the Foreign Office Minister of UK Alistair Burt stating in the UK Parliament recently that ‘all options’ are opened and the US, Canadian and Australian foreign ministers have been very vocal on what might happen if the LLRC did not satisfy the international call for an independent credible investigation.
Defence Ministry Intelligence adviser Kapila Hendawitharane and his ‘special branch’ associates have been tasked by Defence Secretary to find some of the soldiers identified in the Channel 4’s documentary ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ and others identified in the video of LTTE ‘Colonel’ Ramesh’s interrogation, released by Global Tamil Forum (GTF) in December 2010 during President Rajapakshe’s utterly failed visit to the UK.
These soldiers will be part of a collection of soldiers who will be held accountable for violations of human rights. The LLRC report will recommend that these identified soldiers be tried under the laws of the land. By claiming to have dealt with these crimes, Rajapakshe regime also believes that media organisations like Channel 4 will become more subdued in its reporting against Sri Lanka.
Family members who reported disappearances of their loved ones in military custody will be recommended to be compensated by way of free housing and one off payments. LLRC report will also recommend that these disappearances to be further investigated.
The panel is well aware of how notorious this government is in investigating disappearances.
LLRC report will also commend the military for successfully rescuing a large number of civilians from the clutches of a terrorist organisation. This is to keep peace with the hardliners in the military who will not be at ease with some parts of the report.
Families of these soldiers have been told through third party agents that once they are imprisoned they will be looked after by the State and that each family will be given a free house. Presidential Secretariat has also verbally confirmed to these selected soldiers that once convicted and after they had served up to two years in prison, the following Vesak (Buddha’s Birth) celebrations, President will pardon most of them.
LLRC report will also recommend that a few out of the thousand or more LTTE cadres held without trial in secret military jails around the country should be prosecuted in open courts. It is learnt that the President will pardon a section of these accused LTTE cadres, once convicted. This will be seen as another step in lending his hand of appeasement to the Tamil Diaspora.
President has commented to his close associates that the biggest single personal headache he faces is from the Tamil Diaspora. President’s wife has told one of her close friends that the President has told his officials not to accept any overseas invitations other than to friendly nations where there is no Tamil Diaspora. It is taking a toll in his health, the first lady has revealed.
LLRC report will also mildly accuse the government for acting irresponsibly and President Rajapakshe will accept blame and promise that lessons will be learnt. No references will be made to targeting hospitals or targeting civilians by the military in the no fire zone. Report will also not refer to the lack of supplies of food and medicine sent by the government during the last leg of the war.
President Rajapakshe and his brothers were not seriously considering dealing with these accountability claims hoping that with time these allegations will fade away, until Basil Rajapakshe was told by a senior US State Department official that they hold a voice recording of Gotabaya Rajapakshe giving orders to shoot and kill senior LTTE commanders even if they surrendered. This was compounded by the fact that both the US intelligence services and another government within the European Union hold text messages sent between UN staff, the former Foreign Secretary and current Permanent Representative to the United Nations for Sri Lanka, Palitha Kohona and Basil Rajapakshe which implicate these individuals in the ‘white flag’ incident.
In a bid to deflect the international community, particularly considering that Sri Lanka may find it difficult to fade off a resolution in the UNHRC session in March 2012, Rajapakshe regime have decided to appoint a South African style Truth and Reconciliation Commission following the LLRC report. This Truth and Reconciliation Commission will mirror the South African model with participations of international players including prominent names from South Africa itself. Others considered are from various other Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries. The idea of bringing the international players is to satisfy adversaries who have been arguing that the local commissions are biased and lack independence from the government.
This 'Truth and Reconciliation Commission' is to have equal representation from women and local religions. Representation from countries such as Norway, India and China will be avoided.
The setting up of this Commission too will be part of a series of recommendations in the LLRC report. This way it will avoid being set up by President Rajapakshe as most observers agree that previous commissions set-up by this President, have not produced any tangible results and have just been smoke screens in one way or other.
President also fears potential backlash from the majority community if too much blame is attributed to the Sinhala people or implied upon them as a result of this commission for the Tamil grievances.
Once this Truth and Reconciliation Commission is announced, Rajapakshe regime will argue through their henchmen like Rajiva Wijesinghe, Mohan Peiris, G.L.Peiris, Mahinda Samarasinghe and Dayan Jayatilleka that any progressive government will be looking to the future when it has dealt with the past via the LLRC report and served justice to the victims.
External Affairs Ministry has consulted an overseas PR Firm and has already launched its pre-emptive strike on the Tamil Diaspora handing an olive branch calling for partnership with the government in development projects in the North and East. The idea is to split the Diaspora by calling at a few as moderates and the ones holding firm on war crimes investigation, seeking justice as hardliners.
It is with these devious intentions that President Rajapakshe will make the LLRC report public via the Sri Lankan Parliament in the next few days.