https://twitter.com/TamilGuardian/status/687738075682856960?s=04

Panel begins with Bharath Gopalaswamy

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  • BP: Intl involvement in faced challenges, from lack of local support to questions of sovereignty
  • @SolheimDAC said he is the non-Tamil who met most with LTTE leader Pirabakaran. More people should have met him. Pirabakaran came to believe violence was only, best way. For sure a brilliant military leader, but insufficient engagement politically

    Richard Armitage speaks next, said he admires Norway’s history of involvement around the world. Can’t say Norway failed. Can say intl community failed. Can say Sri Lanka failed. You can’t want peace more than the parties want peace. Not well understood why US was involved in #srilanka. Based in part on ’87 meeting with Rajiv Gandhi -told RG not to get involved in lka

    RA: US had a feeling of regret, not being able to persuade Rajiv Gandhi not to get involved. Also an issue of terrorism -very clear who the good guys and the bag guys were. #srilankan citizens were good guys and LTTE were bad. Personalities matter. George Bush believed in Ranil, that Ranil wanted peace so he could focus on creating a functioning economy. Need to consider impact of statements on all audiences: Sinhala community, Tamils and Buddhists

    BP: Says he is an ethnic #tamil from India; asks whether Norway understands conflict better

    @SolheimDAC, Valid question and fair criticism. Norway should have had a bigger team. But we had unique insights into LTTE leadership. But ES said he had better insight into Tigers than #Tamils

    @marsal61 speaks of critical importance of getting people informed on local conflict to advise intl facilitators

    @SolheimDAC says he believes both parties were sincere, and conflict could have ended with a negotiated political solution. LTTE started peace process at the peak of their power; LTTE was very close to taking control of full Jaffna peninsula

    Questions begin. First question from former US Ambassador to #lka Teresita Schaffer; asks to look at efforts that failed, such as India’s diplomatic efforts, Thimbu talks; Chandrika’s efforts. Lessons for #srilanka and other peace efforts

    RA: always thought LTTE wanted a separate state. Nothing else would be good enough

    ES: LTTE wanted a protracted peace process to build confidence. Majority of Tamils and Sinhalese would have accepted a federal solution with wide-ranging autonomy for Tamils.

    MS: Chandrika recognized need for public opinion and education to support peace

    Question from @gowricurry about intl involvement in #srilanka now with respect to accountability mechanism

    ES: Urgent issue for people to know what happened to ppl given to military custody; likely dead; need actual knowledge and closure. Another urgent issue is political prisoners – need to be tried or released. Urgent issue of accountability, needs intl component bc Tamils tired of so many domestic commissions

    RA: Sri Lanka said they’ll get intl help with accountability mechanism but want it to be a “Sri Lankan” mechanism. Intl comm should be trying to get Tamils equal rights and equal treatment in #srilanka

    MS: New report detailing torture in Northeast in 2015, released last week – just as brutal and horrible as it ever was. Impunity of military; military had de facto autonomy during conflict and unwilling to sacrifice that now

    Question from audience regarding whether intl community accepted mass atrocities against #Tamils in order to exterminate LTTE

    RA: wasn’t in US govt at the time, but from his perspective, they just wanted the war to end

    ES: knew the military wanted a full military victory, no matter the cost. The US had been willing to provide ships. Norway was willing to negotiate a surrender. Pirabakaran rejected this throughout. Many civilians killed, more than what we could accept. Collateral damage and bombings much more than we could accept. Nadesan and others surrendered and killed the next day

    @SolheimDAC Pirabakaran’s 12 year old son surrendered, was given a snack, and then killed. Totally unacceptable

    MS: @Callum_Macrae ‘s film shows UN worker leaving Vanni, like Dutch leaving Srebrenica, Blue Helmets leaving Rwanda; extreme moral failure. But Sri Lanka bullied UN and UN let them.

    Richard Boucher, former State Dept official, says US was meeting #lka govt daily, showing pictures of previous day’s bombings. US was meeting Gotabaya daily; saying to stop the bombings. Threatened stopping aid programs. Couldn’t convince the #lka govt

    Closing comments from panelists

    ES: there was very limited room for moderates on both sides. Optimistic that room for moderates will prevail now

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