SCOPP Head's venomous campaign against the IC
By Satheesan Kumaaran
Apr 6, 2009
The Sri Lankan government's Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP), Secretary General Rajiva Wijesinha, has been spewing venom against the International Community (IC) for their responses relating to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in northern Sri Lanka in the recent past as the Sri Lankan military conduct their massive military overtures to take control of the traditional Tamils areas under the influence of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

President Mahinda Rajapaksa chose Mr. Wijesinha (actually a cousin of UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe) to serve as Secretary-General of the SCOPP in June 2007, while Mr. Kohona, another hardcore Sinhalese appointed by the GoSL in 2006, as the Secretary. Both focused on eliminating the LTTE.

Wijesinha, the 55-year old scholar in linguistics educated in Britain with a native English accent, was considered suitable material for the Sri Lankan government's campaign in the international arena to counter the Tamil struggle. He had served in several academic institutions in the U.K. Rajapaksa believed that the language skills possessed by Dr. Wijesinha and the knowledge of Law and International Relations of Dr. Kohona would serve his administration to counter the work of the Tamil Diasporas abroad and to continue the propaganda targeting the IC.

Wijesinha is also Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights. The addition shows how desperately Rajapaksa is dependent on him to counter the allegations by the IC of the rampant human rights abuses against the Tamil-speaking peoples and the assaults on media freedom. As Wijesinha travels around the world any independent view expressed by the IC in favour of the Tamils is lambasted as favouring the LTTE.

Fein and Boyle fall victims to Sri Lanka
In the statement captioned "LTTE supporter piggy backs on David Milliband and Navanethem Pillai", issued by SCOPP on March 17, 2009, he attacked British Foreign Secretary Milliband and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay as having been brainwashed by the LTTE fronts. He said the British and UN officials would help the GoSL fight against the LTTE. The global community, including the UN, U.S., and the British government, however, continue with their demands that the Sri Lankan government stop hostilities in the North and enter into genuine talks with the LTTE. They demand that the GoSL recognize the rights of minorities on the island in order to bring permanent peace.

The British government took up the current Sri Lankan military crisis in their parliament, not just once but on more than four occasions in the recent past for discussions. The British Prime Minister in fact appointed the former British Defense Secretary Des Browne, in February 2009, as Special Envoy to Sri Lanka to focus on the humanitarian situation which was rejected by the GoSL as being "extremely unhelpful" and warned of "major repercussions" in relations between Sri Lanka and its former colonial ruler.

GoSL leaders and Wijesinha want to show the Sinhala constituency that as leaders they are not so weak as to not cow down to the IC. On the other hand, Wijesinha need not pontificate to the IC. The NGOs were chased away by the GoSL because the GoSL fear that the truth would be out about the North, another diplomatic failure of the GoSL. Nearly 230,000 Tamils beg for food and medicine, and the GoSL refuses to send aid. Wijesinha vehemently attacks the LTTE saying that it was not the Sri Lankan armed forces launching aerial shelling or artillery firing on civilians, but the LTTE. Wijesinha refuses to understand that the Tamils do not trust the GOSL with all they have gone through.

Neither Wijesinha, nor any Sri Lankan Sinhala leader, has the guts to speak at the IC forums where the IC are well aware of what is happening through independent reports coming out of the so-called 15 square kilometers-trapped land where hundreds of civilians are dying every day. Wijesinha hides the fact that the Tamils in the camps set up by the GoSL to shelter those coming from the war torn areas are still facing severe hardships at the hands of the Sri Lankan armed forces. He conveniently rejects the fact that the GoSL armed forces are the predators of Tamil civilians. In the guise of fighting terrorism and linking even children, pregnant women, and the elderly as either members of the LTTE or supporters, they torture the Tamils and even kidnap and later kill them with their whereabouts still unknown.

Why are Wijesinha and masters not allowing international investigators sponsored by the UN to find out what is actually happening to the Tamil civilians in the government controlled areas? Wijesinha is subservient to the Sri Lankan terrorist State calling the former U. S. Deputy Attorney General Bruce Fein and International Law Professor Francis Boyle at Illinois College of Law as bad seeds who support terrorists.

Contradictory statements at UN
When responding on behalf of Sri Lanka to the discussion of the country's situation under Item 4 of the Agenda of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 17, 2009, Wijesinha flatly denied the UN statistic that 180,000 Tamils were trapped in the war-torn area, saying only at the most, 100,000 Tamils are in the said area with the LTTE and that all others had come to the Sri Lankan government-controlled areas with the support of Red Cross. However, UN officials, including the Red Cross, do not accept the GoSL count.

He further states that the LTTE do not allow civilians to leave the war torn areas. The GoSL had admitted earlier that nearly a quarter million Tamils were trapped in the region, but then they were transported to government-held areas. Now, they say that at the most 100,000 Tamils trapped in the war zone. If this is the case, then why did not the LTTE fighters stop the150,000 Tamils who already left the LTTE areas to the so-called government's safety zones? The GoSL statements designed to hoodwink the IC are contradicting and misleading. The bare truth is that the Tamils who are staying in the so-called 15 square kilometer war zone area do not wish to go to the government held areas as they fear they would be tortured by the GoSL armed forces as the others who are already housed in the "concentration camps" guarded by the Sri Lankan army. Moreover, the people from the area still hope that the LTTE will launch military operations against the Sri Lankan armed forces allowing the people to return to their own villages safely rather than remaining in the government sponsored camps. No one wants to live in such camps because they might come under attack any time by the Sri Lankan government sponsored thugs.

Further, when the LTTE was in control of the Vanni region, Wijesinha branded the occupants as living in totalitarian terrorist dominance, when in fact, they enjoyed freedom. Can Wijesinha refute the fact that even women could walk in the streets at midnight without any fear in the LTTE held areas? He would do well to have word to the Westerners, including Scandinavian government officials and the Japanese who had praise for the administration of the LTTE, about how the people lived happily in the LTTE-controlled areas. These testimonies prove that the LTTE can better administer the Tamils with freedom and dignity without the fašade of a democracy.

NGOs are cause of concern to Sri Lanka
In a statement on March 18, 2009, Wijesinha lambasted the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) under the caption "The Great NGO Game", in which he said NGOs were making a comfortable living, unlike in the past, by collecting money through illegal means. He further cited that NGOs which are operating in the LTTE-held areas were helping the LTTE acquire equipment such as luxury cars. He questioned how it could be possible for the NGOs to operate in the LTTE-held areas without prior permission from the GoSL. He also condemned the NGOs for hiding the truth about the atrocities committed by the LTTE to the IC.

Wijesinha failed to acknowledge the fact that these NGOs were using the vehicles brought from Colombo with the permission of the GoSL. The vehicles were used by the NGOs. However, the GoSL, whenever possible, wanted to brand the NGOs, especially when the NGOs condemned the GoSL for violence against Tamils. The GoSL fabricated different stories to link the NGOs with the LTTE. But the LTTE officials no longer needed to get vehicles from the NGOs, as they have easy access to vehicles with the permission of the GoSL officials. Numerous vehicles the LTTE used were captured by the LTTE fighters from the Sri Lankan armed forces. Also, it is possible for the LTTE to bring in such luxury vehicles from overseas as they have an effective and strong naval force, the Sea Tigers.

The statements against the NGOs are the result of extreme frustration due to the growing international condemnation against the GoSL.

Who are the perpetuators for self-immolation?
The statement issued by Wijesinha under the caption, "British Parliamentarians Promoting Tragedy" which came out on March 21, 2009, slammed British parliamentarians. He accused them of encouraging individuals to self-immolate for the cause of war in Sri Lanka. He referred to Murukathasan Varnakulasingham who self-immolated on February 13 in Geneva demanding IC intervention to stop the war against Tamils as a human tragedy. Self-immolation among Tamils around the world has become a frequent occurrence, especially after Sri Lankan armed forces launched military operations with the aim to capture LTTE-held areas. More than 18 individuals have committed self-immolation within the last few months. No human being can justify such deaths and the perpetrators who are behind these should undoubtedly be punished.

Wijesinha said people who support such acts should be punished and that the acts should not be encouraged. In a five-page letter which was discovered near his body by the Swiss police, Murukathasan said: "I, Murukathasan, an innocent Tamil civilian displaced from Sri Lanka, now living in the UK, openly and clearly declare my last will in this statement to the IC which failed to stop the genocide against the Tamils living in their traditional homeland (North and Eastern provinces in Sri Lanka) by the chauvinist Sinhala Buddhist Government and to wake up the heart of the world community."

Murukathasan is not the only one who self-immolated for the cause. So far, over 18 individuals in India, Malaysia, and Switzerland have self-immolated. However, when over 80,000 Tamil civilians died in the three-decade war, governments around the world remained mute. Eventually, the IC began to speak the truth. So the question is whether the IC will do what is necessary to bring the perpetuators of the genocidal war and the leaders who are responsible for killing hundreds of people daily in Vanni, to justice?

The speeches and statements by Wijesinha lack validity. It is unfortunate, however, that some countries still fall victim to such unconscionable individuals who have the innate intellectual dishonesty to attempt to manipulate the world with lies quite unbecoming of one who portrays himself to be an intellectual. Scholars like Wijesinha should realize their mistakes, because he is not just doing it against his own morals if he has any, but academic ethics too.

(The author can be reached at: satheessan_kumaaran@yahoo.com)