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Updated: March 28, 2013 01:28 IST

Top official denies U.S. toned down UNHRC resolution at India’s behest

Narayan Lakshman
Comment (12)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake. File photo
AP U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake. File photo

Blake notes that New Delhi and Washington "worked very closely throughout the process"

Describing as “fair and balanced” the text of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution passed last week calling on Sri Lanka to expeditiously implement the recommendations of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, a top U.S. official has said the resolution “reaffirms that Sri Lanka had to take meaningful action on reconciliation and accountability.”

While Robert Blake, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, said in his interview with the BBC’s Sinhala Service that Washington had “not seen any indications,” that the Sri Lankan government was “prepared to undertake a serious investigation of their own” into alleged war crimes during 2009, he added that he would “reject [the] premise” that the resolution’s wording was toned down due to Indian influence.

Commenting positively on the role of India during the negotiations on the UNHRC resolution’s wording, Mr. Blake noted that New Delhi and Washington “worked very closely... throughout the process and we indeed welcomed some of the changes that India made.” He said the U.S. was “quite satisfied” with its cooperation it had with India in this regard and “going forward it will be very important for all of the international community to continue to work with India to encourage progress, since India has quite a lot of influence on the island.”

Mr. Blake also remarked on both the alleged shortcomings in the internal investigation into the possible commission of war crimes as well as prospects of unfettered access to external investigative agencies.

On the investigations by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, he said the U.S. was “obviously disappointed” with the conclusions of the internal military inquiry that absolved the military of all responsibility for civilian casualties. A statement to this effect by the Sri Lankan military “raises the scepticism of many that the government is prepared to do its own investigation.”

Asked whether the U.S. still meant it intended for “unfettered access” to be provided by the Rajapaksa government to special rapporteurs, including from the United Nations, Mr. Blake said “Certainly.”

According to reports, the U.S. had allegedly earlier backed the removal of the word “unfettered” in the context of the nature of this access.

Questioned on whether the international community, including the U.S., took any responsibility for the significant civilian casualties in the final stages of the battle in May 2009, Mr. Blake said, “None of us had good information and we still don’t have good information about what happened at the end of the war. As you know, the government asked all of the NGOs, the non-governmental organisations to leave. It refused to allow access to journalists. So there were no independent observers in the north to record and understand what was going on during that last phase of the war.”

It was unclear whether this interview with Mr. Blake was broadcast in Sri Lanka because, in what appeared to some as a stroke of irony, the BBC’s World Service reportedly suspended all its broadcasts on the Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation due to what it described as “continued interruption and interference” in the corporation’s Tamil programming.

World Service director Peter Horrocks was quoted by the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade as saying, “We regret the disruption in service to our loyal audiences in Sri Lanka, but such targeted interference in our programmes is a serious breach of trust with those audiences, which the BBC cannot allow.” He added that the BBC had “warned them they were in breach of their broadcasting agreement. Further disruption… has left the BBC with no alternative but to suspend the service with immediate effect.”

This failed US diplomat who once advised the US to invest a huge sum of her taxpayers money on LTTE, based on his poor ground analysis and for his personal gains when he was the ambassador to Sri Lanka, continues to mislead his mother nation and India only in favour of saving his past mistakes and the failure on the part of his poor diplomatic role in Sri Lanka. US must immediately replace this type of arrogant and short sighted ones from her diplomatic cadre with Obama like moderate US citizens to prevent the US becoming the common peoples enemy in this region too in near future.

from:  David Alponso
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 09:38 IST

It seems, on fist look, as if USA is again and again manipulating the
India on international arena whether against China and now against Sri
Lanka. Though news of Sri Lanka's misdoing against Tamils are almost
confirmed, but India should have taken the path of bilateral
negotiation on resolving the issue. U.N. resolution and India's role
in it, not only reset but almost tarnishes its relation with Sri
Lanka. Why India cannot pressurize Sri Lanka in the case, when it is a
major role player in south Asia now and uprising towards becoming a
super power in the world? To make its position important on
international level, it is must for any nation that the nation proves
itself in the welfare of its citizen on the entire major front. The
same is applied for India.
Sri Lanka's case now will benefit China for its expansion in south
Asia and against India. Already china is making its base surrounding
the India and Sri Lanka is one of its hit list. India opens a new
front.

from:  rajeev sharma
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 08:38 IST

In his time in Colombo, this Blake was in Karaoke Pubs most of the
time and during the war, also was seen just walking freely on the
streets without any escorts attired in his coat and tie at 12 mid
day and burning afternoons. He was assured that he is not going to
be killed by LTTE and now LTTE's hefty monthly pay packet speaks.
He has to do his job for LTTE or else, there would be no salary.
Such pathetic mean self.

from:  Gasmaaru
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 08:09 IST

'Describing as “fair and balanced” the text of the United Nations
Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution passed last week calling on
Sri Lanka to expeditiously implement the recommendations of its
Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, a top U.S. official has
said the resolution “reaffirms that Sri Lanka had to take meaningful
action on reconciliation and accountability.”-The Hindu. That top
official being Robert Blake, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and
former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, let him not strain and seek to
convince us that the the wordings of the resolution passed at the
meeting last week of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), were
not "toned down" due to Indian influence, once he concedes that"that
New Delhi and Washington “worked very closely... throughout the
process and we indeed welcomed some of the changes that India made'.
what were the changes proposed by New Delhi and accepted by
Washington? was not Indian influence at work?

from:  P.Padmnaabhan
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 06:24 IST

Hillary Clinton sowed the seeds carefully. Blake only needs to carryout
the process of regional destabilization. No quite capable of handling
situations.Divide and rule is the Western way. India is falling to the
trap. Good luck .

from:  Viraj
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 06:09 IST

Replying to M.Chan's comment: What is wrong trying to break way when there is no
equality in human respects for life?. Is it always expected certain race should be below the other race? Even within India, south indians are considered lower to a north Indian. If Nature's model of survival of the fittest is the one that governs >everywhere then there is no human culture and civilizations required. Just fight till die.

from:  Anand
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 05:45 IST

Time to read the Riot Act to the Central Government. Just keeping the
surname of Gandhi they started disintegrating this nation for what our
forefathers fought and died. There is no Central Government without
the Union of States, so the Union of States should be respected first
then any external countries. I think in the Srilanka Situation it is
quite opposite, it was the external countries are respected and
revered rather than the Union of States. If this injustice continues,
its better that TamlNadu split from the Union and be happy to engage
with the world for the Tamil Cause.

from:  Srinivasan Iyer
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 04:20 IST

It is time India showed some initiative and leadership in getting to the bottom of what happened during the war in NE of Sri Lanka. As the distinguished CM Jayalalitha rightly pointed out, for an aspiring UN Security Council member, sitting on the fence is the last thing that India should be doing.

from:  rakavan
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 02:15 IST

Of course, US knew all along what was happening! Even the public knew behind the wall of silence!

from:  Scrivanamoth
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 01:17 IST

It's really pathetic to see the media and neutral countries not doing
enough to stand up against Sri Lanka’s “continued interruption and
interference” of BBC Tamil programming. By curtailing the Tamil media
the Sri Lankan government shows it’s true racial colors.

from:  A.Raja
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 01:12 IST

@ Chan No South Indian, including Tamilians want to break away from India. It is true that people of TN feel for Srilankan Tamils. But a big majority of them identify themselves as Indians. Only a fringe section of TN get swayed under petty politicking played by TN political parties. Remember previous Loksabha elections happened when war was going on in SL. Still people of TN spurned rabble-rousing parties of TN completely.

from:  Madhu
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 23:49 IST

India must be careful of any outside parties stirring up issues in India's neighborhood that also destabilize India in the bargain (in this case Tamil Nadu). This is a classic old divide and rule tactic of the British Empire. In few years the South of India will want to break away from the North.


from:  M. Chan
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 15:12 IST
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