N.S. Venkataraman for BeyondHeadlines
An internal United Nations Report is reported to have blamed its own officials, who were part of its Mission in Colombo, for failing to protect civilians in the last months of Sri Lanka’s civil war.
Some people have used this information to blame the Sri Lankan government for all the miseries of the innocent people who are caught in the civil conflicts and had to suffer.
However, Sri Lankan government has denied that it has forced the United Nations or acted against it in any manner. It has justifiably argued that it cannot intimidate the United Nations and force it to act in the way that it would want, particularly considering the fact that Sri Lanka is a small country.
Whatever may be the fact or otherwise of the internal report of the United Nations, the fact is that Sri Lankan government had to fight to protect its territorial integrity and its sovereignty. When a section of the people form themselves into a rebel group and wage war to split the country, no government worth its name can afford to remain silent. Any country in the world would have reacted only in the way that the Sri Lankan government did.
In case that the Sri Lankan government had not fought against the militants, the country would have been split, creating new zones of tension and conflicts causing even more miseries to the people.
Obviously, innocent people have suffered who were caught between the army and the rebels and also hundreds of people died on both the sides. The United Nations played its role to the extent possible in the circumstances and perhaps, its observers in the war zone had their own views and therefore, they acted in the way that they did. Now, once again, raking up the issue is unnecessary and is not going to serve any purpose. The war waged by Americans in Vietnam and Korea, the killings in Iraq and Afghanistan by the multi national forces to defeat the rebels are all matters of recent history and nobody is blaming the Americans and its allies for the happenings and the United Nations is conspicuous by its silence with regard to such unfortunate events.
One can be sure that millions of Sri Lankans feel extremely upset and unhappy about the sufferings of the innocent people during the period of this counter productive conflict , initiated by the rebels who wanted a separate state. It was a very unfortunate situation and nobody would feel happy about this.
Sri Lankan government is facing criticisms in some forums across the world for its act of commissions and omissions during the stressful war period and from all indications, Sri Lankan government really feel unhappy and concerned about the reactions in some quarters across the world. The only thing that it can do now is to take quick measures to rehabilitate the victims and create confidence in them that the government and the citizens feel sorry about their bitter experience and would do the utmost to help them out of the distress situation.
It would be more useful and purposeful, if United Nations would come out with steps to help Sri Lanka and mobilize international funds and technical expertise to relieve the pressure on the victims of war. Instead of this, if mere post war criticisms would be the focus of United Nations , then it would have to face the criticism of beating around the bush and not remaining true to its purpose and objectives.
(N.S.Venkataraman is a Chemical Engineer from Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu and Director of Nandini Consultancy Centre. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org)