Deceived Tamil activists in UK falsely claimed ‘substantial changes’ to Zero draft

[TamilNet, Monday, 15 March 2021, 20:36 GMT]
A newly formed letterhead organisation in London calling itself ‘Movement for Truth and Justice’ has claimed that “substantial changes were made to the resolution text” of the Core Group on Sri Lanka. The outfit has come with deceptive articulations while announcing the end of a 17-days long hunger strike that was waged by a courageous Tamil woman activist, Ambihai K Selvakumar, on Monday. The announcement was citing a letter written by the UK’s Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 10 March 2021. The letter and the text of the latest update of the draft submitted to the UNHRC on 12 March 2021 expose the claim’s falsehood. The deception comes a day after hundreds of Tamils mobilised in London amidst British police attempting to crack down their protest.

In his letter, the UK minister repeated the same old argument that his ministry used earlier against referring the situation to higher forums above the ambit of the UN Human Rights Council mechanism.

Referring the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) through the UN Security Council “would not help accountability in Sri Lanka for an ICC referral to fail to win Security Council support or be vetoed,” Lord Ahmad reiterated.

The argument was the same as the one FCO gave in a previous letter issued on 16 February 2021, eleven days before the hunger strike commenced.

Similarly, on calling for an International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) through the Security Council or the General Assembly, the UK minister was justifying the containment of a such process inside the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The UK minister was sophisticatedly rejecting the demand for a Special Rapporteur on Sri Lanka. “[W]e do not believe this would prove beneficial in the current circumstances since, at present, the High Commissioner for Human Rights is herself at the forefront of the UN’s efforts,” he said. The reply is the reasoning for keeping Sri Lanka on Agenda Item 2, which is less contentious than Agenda Item 4. North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Burundi, South Sudan, Myanmar and Syria are being addressed under the Agenda Item 4, which is “Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention”.

Lord Ahmad was maintaining the status quo of the Zero draft on all accounts.

But, the letterhead group was claiming it as a “substantial victory” and it was falsely projecting the arguments of the minister for the updated draft resolution as including more than one of the four demands put forward by the hunger striker.

The OHCHR based non-substantial alternative for evidence collection mechanism was also a feature already included in the Zero draft, which triggered the hunger-strike.

The UK minister did not mince his words when he replied in the negative for the IIIM demand. The alternative, which the Core Group had proposed in the Zero draft already would “build on the work of previous resolutions, including the 2014 resolution which mandated a comprehensive OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL),” he noted.

The OISL was not a Commission of Inquiry. It was merely an exercise of ‘international reporting’ rather than an ‘international investigation’. The three experts appointed to the OISL were not independent as their participation was limited to an advisory role. Furthermore, the OHCHR managed process completely ignored the Tamil demand of looking into the crime of genocide, even at the level of “reasonable grounds to believe,” the standard of proof it was using.

The main focus of the hunger striker and those who were protesting in support was investigation on genocide, which must be the gravamen of any legal case against Colombo according to the mainstream Tamil perspective.

The Terms of Reference (ToR) of the IIIM on Syria includes the crime of genocide and it is more substantial than the ToR of the OISL that didn’t accord independence or make any specific reference to the crime of genocide.

Even if the OHCHR gets strengthened with necessary staff and technology, it won’t address the crime of genocide without the necessary mandate through a substantially firm resolution.

On the question of a referendum to determine the aspirations of the Tamil people, Ahmad said: “we recognise your strength of feeling on this matter.”  However, he did not think it was realistic to include a reference to a referendum on Tamil self-determination in the draft UNHRC resolution.

The Zero draft and the revised update (A/HRC/46/L.1/Rev.1) are provided below for the informed readership’s close perusal.

The letter from the UK Minister, intended to calm down the Tamil protests and the unsigned statement from the so-called ‘Movement for Truth and Justice’ also follow:

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