Any action matters only if the motive is genuine and not clouded by double standards and inconsistency. The UNHRC, from top to bottom is biased, and seems to be controlled by the Western powers. Just look at the way its High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet’s behaviour as regards Sri Lanka.
Her biased attitude was on display when the mass grave in Mannar was discovered in 2018. Now, she is on a witch hunt against Sri Lanka and is going beyond her mandate in interfering in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs. The UNHRC is silent or does the least about massive human rights violations by big powers, not only in their own countries but in other parts of the world too, where rich natural resources are available, like the Middle East. They have no scruples about killing millions on the pretext of human rights, just to get their hands on the oil. They have no hesitancy on grounds of conscience in supporting big violators of human rights, like Saudi Arabia, which killed and dismembered the body of dissident Jamal Khashoggi inside their Turkish embassy. And UNHRC does very little in such instances, except to issue a statement condemning the incident. On the other hand, even with no evidence, Sri Lanka is hauled over the coals and if possible dragged before the International Criminal Courts.
Judgment on the bones found in Mannar were passed even before the carbon dating reports were available, and separatists were in great expectation that evidence for their genocide claims were forthcoming. UN ‘s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, herself took the lead in this respect and issued a statement in consonance with the separatist sentiments. She spoke about past mass graves and future ones too, and the important role the Office of Missing Persons has to play in this regard. She had obviously jumped the gun and also given hopes to the separatists. All their hopes had been dashed to the ground by the lab reports. Ironically, it was a laboratory in the US, the country that originally cosponsored the UNHRC Resolution, which had carbon tested the bones. If it had been China or Russia there would be hell to pay.
UNHRC Resolution 30/1 cosponsored by Sri Lanka at the behest of a minister in the ‘yahapalana’ government, is totally lacking in substance and substantiated evidence. The whole thing had been fabricated according to the agenda of the West, well supported by the Tamil separatists. Both parties are angered that
their pet terrorist organization, the LTTE, had been defeated by our armed forces, something that nobody had done anywhere in the world. The West, which assumes the role of the global policeman without any qualifications to do so, would like to teach Sri Lanka a lesson for disregarding their ‘orders’ to let the LTTE, the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world, escape. LTTE was a tool in their hands, which they used to destabilize Sri Lanka, and as the LTTE is no more the West uses fabricated HR issues to pressure us to do their bidding.
These Resolutions reveal the depth of depravity that the UNHRC, which is supposed to be a respected organization of the UN, could descend to. Of the ten organizations of the UN that are concerned with human rights, the UNHRC is the largest and is the one that is representative of the different views across countries. Forty seven countries hold its membership, which changes periodically. Some of these countries are not democracies, and there are human rights allegations against most of these countries. Some of the democratic countries such as India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka are also accused of HR violations. The Western powers are seldom accused, though they commit HR violations not only in their own countries but elsewhere too, as mentioned above. Thus its a mixed bag of members in relation to HR that comprise the UNHRC. The stand they take on issues such as the Resolutions against Sri Lanka would be decided, more often than not, by political reasons rather than the merit of the individual case. The US and the West resort to cheque book diplomacy, and have the power to influence a majority of countries to support their point of view. China and Russia wield similar power but to a lesser degree, but their sphere of influence is growing.
Therefore, the decisions taken by the UNHRC at Geneva and most of its activities are political in nature, and lacks a basis of human rights considerations. The (mis)guiding light in this regard obviously is its High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet. Not that her predecessors were any better. These are people with high qualifications and who have held high posts. Bachelet is a physician and was twice the president of Chile, a country which produced democratic leaders like Salvadore Allende who was killed by the CIA of the US, and also despots like Augusto Pinochet who was supported by the US. The High Commissioners of the UNHRC, of the past as well as the present, are capable of fair and just words and actions, but they don’t seem to do that, for they are under the thumb of the Western powers which finance and control the UN and its organizations. Bachelet had, without compunction of conscience, done her utmost to lay the blame of the Mannar skeletons on Sri Lankan armed forces, before scientific evidence was available. This is unbecoming, to say the least, of a person who holds such a responsible post. Could she or the organization she heads be taken seriously.
The world by now knows that Sri Lankan forces did not commit HR violations; on the contrary, they saved about 350,000 civilians from the clutches the terrorists and in the process took heavy casualties themselves. However the vote on the Resolution against Sri Lanka would be decided by the members of the UNHRC, which as mentioned above, would not look at the truth of the matter but would be guided by their political affiliations. Therefore, the result will not be a fair by Sri Lanka. For instance India has not shown a consistent position on this matter, and has changed its stand according to its own interests rather than on the matter at issue; it has voted for and against the resolution and also remained neutral at different times. Several other countries have similar difficulties in sticking to one position. Thus could the upcoming vote at Geneva be taken seriously. Should Sri Lanka be morally bound by the goings on in Geneva. In short, should Sri Lanka be so much bothered about Geneva?
Several commentators have attempted to make Geneva appear to be crucial, and one of them has attempted to give it a different meaning. He has said Sri Lanka is stuck with the UNHRC in the foreseeable future, unless and until the Sri Lanka government enlightens itself to find an internal solution to its external problem, which actually is an externalised internal problem (Rajan Philips – Sunday Island 08.03.2021). No doubt what he means by an “externalized internal problem” is the so-called Tamil Problem. He goes on to say that the problem has dragged on for 70 years, from the time GG Ponnambalam asked for 50% representation for minorities in the legislature from the Soulbury Commission, in 1946. He has let the cat out of the bag. Have no doubt, what he means is that UNHRC Resolution has nothing to do with human rights. It has everything to do with Tamil separatism. And he says “Speculating about motives of the US or other core countries is not going to help Sri Lanka”. What he probably means is someday we will have to give in to Tamil separatism.
Another columnist has commented on the possible unsavoury HR record of some of the countries that may support Sri Lanka such as Russia, Belarus, Venezuela etc. However, he is silent about the HR record of countries which may vote against Sri Lanka.
So we are dealing with a human rights problem which is not a human rights problem. What then is the problem? The problem for Tamil separatists, it appears, started 70 years ago and if the government agrees to grant a federal state or a near separate state, they will not support UNHRC resolutions against Sri Lanka, and they will forget about the baseless allegation that 40,000 civilians were killed by the armed forces. Similarly, the problem for the US-led West is China and the geostrategic place Sri Lanka occupies in the Indian Ocean. If Sri Lanka signs agreements like the MCC, ACSA, SOFA of the US and play ball with them, and generally spurn China, there will be no UNHRC resolutions.
In view of the above, should Geneva be taken seriously? Even the authors of the Resolution, the core countries, seem to be not sure of themselves. Bachelet proposed that Sri Lanka should be hauled before the International Criminal Courts, subjected to universal jurisdiction and placed under targeted sanctions. Recommendations in the draft stage, however, have only targeted sanctions. How could the UK, one of the core countries, which recently passed laws banning legal action against their armed forces who are tainted with war crimes in Iraq, pass judgment on Sri Lanka or its armed forces who have not committed any HR violations. The Government of Sri Lanka must deal with UNHRC on its merits, and must reject all baseless allegations, and tell them our internal affairs are not their business. The Government must be resolute in its stance on Tamil separatism, constitution and national assets and must not capitulate as its predecessor did and give in to the dictates of the West.
N.A.de S. AMARATUNGA
Abuse of use of title Professor
I read with much interest the letter by Mr. Nissanka Warakaulle, regarding the above matter, in the issue of the Sunday Island of 18th April 2021. I agree fully with the contents of his letter. He should be very familiar with the regulations as he is a former Registrar of the University of Colombo. I wish to highlight another instance where it is abused. In the 1970s, the title of Associate Professor was created. Until then there were only three categories of Professors. Firstly the holder of the Chair, secondly a co-Professor and thirdly, an Emeritus Professor. There were also, Lecturers, Senior Lecturers and Readers. The title of Reader was replaced with the title Associate Professor, which is meant to be a designation, to be used after the name. However, this category of academics started using it as a pre-fix, dropping the word Associate!
Profesor Sanath P. Lamabadusuriya MBE
Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics,
University of Colombo
Vacant seat in Parliament
by Harim Peiris
One of the more interesting features about the current Parliament of Sri Lanka, is that it has the highest number of parties with representation in that august Assembly, mostly through a plethora of small parties, which have been elected with one or two members to Parliament. Most of these parties are regional in scope and represent specific communities, often ethnic or religious minorities from the Northern and Eastern provinces. Generally colourful almost quixotic political characters have been elected from these single ticket parties, with a couple of them, including the EPDP and the ACTC securing two seats each. They certainly add colour and a vibrant diversity to the composition of the legislature.
Also falling into this same category of a single seat party, from among the minor parties, is the former governing United National Party (UNP), which rather fortuitously through its vote tally in all districts, managed to qualify for a single National List seat in Parliament. The UNP is a small party with a big party mentality and blessed with close links to major national newspapers, its unelected office-bearers and defeated candidates, manage to make the news daily, if rather irrelevantly.
The UNP has rather unusually been unwilling to fill its single seat, making the current Parliament a full house at 224 members, rather than its complete complement of 225. However, political circles are abuzz with talk that finally its longest serving and possibly leader for life, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, will have himself nominated to the UNP’s solitary seat in Parliament. It has to be a record in any country with a proportional representation electoral system, for a party to fall from a governing party with 106 seats, to a solitary parliamentary seat in the ensuing election. Leaving that grand old party with a nice head office, a proud history, and some political personalities who made a serious error in political judgement, when they denied its longtime deputy leader and presidential candidate, the party leadership, resulting in the formation of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) party.
Just over a year since nominations for the parliamentary elections closed on 20th March 2020 and the UNP thinks about finally getting its act together, to nominate Mr. Wickremesinghe to its solitary seat, and the SJB celebrated the first year anniversary of its formation; it is worth examining the implications to politics and national governance, created by the Rajapaksa political vehicle of the SLPP supplanting the SLFP, and on the Opposition side of the House, the even newer Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, taking over the constituency, the younger generation leaders and the political leadership of the non SLPP/Rajapaksa socio-political forces in the country. The SLPP created its own history in the August 2020 parliamentary elections becoming the most electorally successful political party under the 1978 constitution, securing 145 seats in Parliament, bettering its predecessor UPFA’s result of 144 seats won in the euphoria of the war’s ending in 2010. The SJB also performed approximately comparative to its parent UNP’s 2010 post war performance, securing 54 seats in 2020.
However, the SJB has also made its own mark on the political landscape of the country in its relatively short history. Firstly, by comprehensively wiping its predecessor UNP off the electoral map, and firmly capturing the Opposition political space. It has faced the juggernaut of an SLPP Administration with a super majority in Parliament. In response, the SJB and the Opposition Leader’s approach has been measured, thoughtful and calibrated. Occupying the moral high ground, by claiming that the Opposition should oppose but not obstruct, it has permitted some leeway to the Rajapaksas to implement their mandate; but has been a moral conscience, as well as a check and balance on the government. As a new party it has focused on building up its grassroots capability, and the indefatigable Opposition Leader has been mirroring the President’s own dialogue with the village, by having numerous grassroots level consultations and discussions, albeit without an attendant media circus.
Politically as well, the focus of the SJB has been to bring to sharp focus the shortcomings of the Administration, and accordingly it has been the inspiration for the “sir fail” political concept; a rather direct assault on the performance or alleged lack thereof by the Government and the President, elected as he was among other things as a technocrat who would get things done. Astutely Sajith Premadasa has been careful to refrain from an overly negative assault on his successful rival in the presidential election, focusing instead on the issues and avoiding the personal mudslinging which has been the sorry hallmark of Sri Lankan politics in more recent times. The SJB and the Opposition Leader have sought to adopt a more principled and issue-based politics, rather than on pure personalities and one that is non-sectarian, both distinctions of which are an unusual departure from the norm in mainstream Sri Lankan politics. As the politics of the UNHRC process in Geneva and the cremation issue of the Covid deceased for the Muslim community dominated the political debate in the past few months, the SJB demonstrated remarkable political maturity in taking a principled position opposed to forced cremation based on the WHO guidelines, and then rolling out a newly minted and credible reconciliation policy on the cusp of the Geneva vote, which differentiated it clearly from the Government, arguing that national unity was the best guarantor and contributor to national security.
As a slew of highly charged political issues ranging from exonerating various accused persons from ongoing court cases through a presidential commission, to the controversial proposals for the autonomous Port City Commission come to dominate the political debate in the near future, the SJB will be tested. But Sajith Premadasa took on the Rajapaksas in their home turf of Hambantota for years, and did not flinch from a tough political ask in a local constituency setting. The current challenges are bigger and the setting is the national political stage. One year on, in a game with a five-year cycle, the SJB can take solace and some credit that while the beginning of the end may not have begun for the current Administration, the end of the honeymoon period with the public for the Administration, has clearly already occurred.
How to degrade, dismantle and destroy a country
The current social political and economic decision making and the ‘mysterious’, illogical behaviour of Sri Lanka’s leadership, are classic examples of ‘how to degrade, dismantle and destroy a country’.
What are the essential conditions for a country to be a united, successful, sovereign and independent?
1. The rule of law.
2. A responsible Parliament.
3. An executive totally dedicated to the protection and well being of the country.
4. A vibrant economy that lifts the poor out of poverty.
5. Social fraternity and friendship in a tolerant and peaceful environment.
6. Awareness of and the love and protection of the country’s ecology.
The rule of law, as ordinarily understood, is a code of conduct that a people and a state accept as their guiding and protective set of regulations for the common good. There are two sides to it; rights and duties. Human rights and civil rights on the one hand, and paying taxes, obeying social rules of human interaction, such as observing traffic regulations, etc., on the other hand are the two sides.
The institution that oversees the whole complexity of the rule of law is the judiciary. The judiciary must be like Caesar’s wife––totally above suspicion. That is what the blindfolded lady with a sword and scales of justice signify. What we see happening now is something worrisome. I am not going to list all the unsavoury happenings in the recent past. But the Presidential Commission on political victimisation has removed the blindfold of the lady, thrown away the scales, and she is wielding the sword against those few who sincerely and competently did their duty.
How can an independent judiciary stop ongoing trials and release the suspects just because the executive or a commission says so?
In other words, they are degrading the judiciary, destroying its independence.
A responsible Parliament is the very soul of a democratic country. A Parliament that behaves with decorum, efficiency and a keen sense of responsibility to the people that elected it is essential for the country’s progress.
People’s representatives are stealing public funds. They get tax free vehicles and sell them for millions! This is stealing the money due to the Treasury. They sell permits for everything, from petroleum to pharmaceuticals, from sand to stone, collecting millions. This is a brazen demand for bribes. When the President concludes his term, he gets a mansion for free in Colombo. This does not happen even in a banana republic. They have no shame to lose the elections and creep back into the Parliament through the back door, called the National List. They get huge commissions for development projects.
Listen to the current parliamentary debates. What are the crucial problems facing the country today? The gigantic external debt is number one. Number two is China, India and the USA nibbling away at the country’s sovereignty. Number three is the worsening situation of poverty. These are the three main problems among many others. Are they discussing and making laws and policies to solve the debt crisis? Are they making statesmanlike policies and diplomatic overtures to keep the three ogres at bay? Are they discussing ways and means of improving agriculture and industry and making our economy vibrant and people friendly? Listen to the gibberish they are mouthing, or rather screaming, at one another. They accuse, scold and insult one another using un-parliamentary words. They call one another thieves. They may belong to various political parties and may be in the government or in the Opposition, but are united “thick as thieves” and protect one another.
An executive totally dedicated to the protection and wellbeing of the country is yet to be found. If such an executive had been there, would there have been an Easter massacre? If such an executive is there, will it tell us only what we already know, after years and millions spent on a Presidential Inquiry into the Easter barbarity? They have shown us only the tip of the iceberg, which is there to be seen even without an inquiry. We want to know what is hidden under. Why is the executive so coy about showing it to us? We can only say with Marcellus in Act I, scene iv of the Shakespeare’s tragedy “Hamlet” – “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark (Sri Lanka)”. We have neither trust nor hope in the executive. It too has gone the way of the Parliament.
A vibrant economy that lifts the poor out of poverty. Isn’t that the main task of any governing body of a country?
But it is not so in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka they only talk about getting loans, more loans and bigger loans. And when they get a loan they crow about it as if it is a great achievement. Any decent gentleman would keep his loans secret, for he would be ashamed of the public getting to know it. We do not have gentlemen. Ours are scoundrels who are happy to get loans so that they can get their cut. They are not worried because they do not repay the loans. It is we the people who have to settle their debts.
If not for the women sweating away in FTZ factories, if not for the women plucking tea buds by the ton in the plantations, if not for the women sold to slavery in West Asia, where will this country be? What have the governing ingrates done for them? Nothing. It is the private small industries and entrepreneurs that are some consolation to the local labour force.
What have they done for the farmers? They do not get water in time, the fertilizer in time and now, as if Sena is not enough, they have the pachyderms! Their habitats are sold to multinationals and they have nowhere to go. They are being massacred more than one a day. This is a national crime against innocent elephants that cry to heaven for retribution. The country is cursed for it, but for our scoundrels it is water on the duck’s back. The farmers suffer, they are protesting in sit-ins all over the country. The politician monkeys see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing, and of course do nothing. We are going downhill, getting poorer and will soon end up in bankruptcy.
Social fraternity and friendship in a tolerant and peaceful ambient, is necessary for people to live happily in a country. It was so sad to watch a popular tuition master, teaching ecology on YouTube, advise the students to leave this country for their own good, adding that he himself is contemplating such action. Can anyone blame him? We who have passed the three score and ten probably will remain and prefer to sink with the ship. But the younger generations certainly have a right to enjoy this short but incredibly beautiful life, instead of getting bogged down in the lawless, fearsome chaos this country will become.
Not too long ago, we lived side by side, Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim, without any suspicion or antagonism, enjoying one another. We were together in school, in the playground, in the market place and in the neighbourhood. Now we realize how wonderful that was. Then came the petty political rascals. Just to get power and amass filthy lucre, they would sell anything, sacrifice anything. For them there is nothing sacred or invaluable. Even foolish religious leaders were made use of for their benefit. The Sinhala were pitted against the Tamil, then against the Muslim. They pit religion against religion with fantastic canards like bound fallopian tubes, kotthu with impotence pills, female underwear laced with infertility drugs, etc. The media slaves of the petty political scoundrels, and even some political religious, went to town with the incredible stories without checking on their veracity. The gullible public swallowed them hook line and sinker. How much blood have we shed for the last 50 years?
What a waste of life!
When will the people ever learn that they are governed by a coterie of scoundrels––Ali Baba and the 225 thieves? Will we ever have social fraternity and friendship in a tolerant and peaceful environment? The answer is blowing in the wind, my friend; it is blowing in the wind.
The awareness of and the love and protection of the country’s ecology is the duty of every true patriotic citizen.
Ali Baba and the 225 thieves are hell bent on destroying just that, the ecology. The cunning scoundrels and their bootlicking officialdom are good at shooting the messenger. A young girl declares that Sinharaja is destroyed. And the officers instead of investigating those felling trees ask the girl if she knows where the forest boundaries are. A civil activist exposes the fraud of the Sahana Malla. Instead of verifying the accusation by checking the items in the Malla, he is arrested. You point the moon to them and they cut off your index finger. In the cancer causing coconut oil case, they have shown that they are more interested in protecting the crooked businesses, rather than the vulnerable citizens of the country. They are destroying the forests in Wilpattu, in the Sinharaja and all over. They are destroying our country, they are destroying us.
I’m sure the governing ignoramuses have never heard of Chief Seattle’s almost ‘sacred’ ecological declaration, where he tells the aggressive white invaders that his people and the environment are not two things but one. I’m sure they have never heard of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si” on the love and protection of Mother/Sister Earth. They know only their insatiable greed; they see nothing beyond their own navels. They have no love or kinship to the soil and the rocks, the rivers and the seas, the flora and the fauna of Sri Lanka. They certainly have no love for Sri Lankans whom they deceive every five years. They are not the legitimate children of Mother Lanka. Their only goal in life is to exploit this country and its people to the maximum possible and get away, the dual-citizen traitors. There is no hope for our beautiful elephants, our environment and us.
Ali Baba and the 225 thieves know quite well how to degrade, dismantle and destroy our country. They not only know it, they are deliberately committing the heinous crime. Who can stop them? Only the PEOPLE can stop them. That’s why I have been calling for a Grand Alliance of Good People. But I feel I am only a voice crying in the wilderness.
Cannot our people see the cunning deceitful trickery they are perpetrating on us? When the A20 was mooted, before genuine opposition could come up, their lackeys, political, religious and lay, vociferously stood against it. The genuine Opposition was silenced. At the last moment, the bootlicking slaves supported the Bill in the Parliament. The same trick was repeated at giving away of the West Container Terminal of the Colombo harbour to the Adani Group of India. The trick is being repeated for the third time with the Port City. The same bootlicking pack of lackeys is vehemently attacking the draft of the Port City Management. The genuine Opposition has no time even to get organised. The draft is deliberately made worse than what the Chinese imperialists demand. Eventually, they will remove the unnecessary excess and the lackeys will say a compromise is won by them.
If our people still cannot see this traitorous tragic betrayal performed before their eyes, they do not deserve a unitary, sovereign, independent, self-respecting state called Sri Lanka.
Fr J.C. PIERIS
SJB: Excise, FM officials all out to pocket Rs 1 bn
Reserves fall to lowest since 2009, rupee strengthening to be short-lived: report
Sinharaja World Heritage
7-billion-rupee diamond heist; Madush splls the beans before being shot
Unfit, unprofessional, fat Sri Lankans
The Burghers of Ceylon/Sri Lanka- Reminiscences and Anecdotes
Features4 days ago
Port City Bill Requires Referendum
Sports5 days ago
Sebs’ cricket stalwart Cooray retires after more than three decades of service
news4 days ago
Two hotels to be built obstructing elephant corridor in Sinharaja – MONLAR
news5 days ago
Govt. MP Wijeyadasa strikes discordant note on Port City Bill
Opinion5 days ago
Buddhism and all beings’ right to life
Sports5 days ago
Mendis and Babar; careers that have taken different routes
Features5 days ago
Precision measurement shakes world of science
Features3 days ago
Dangerous and meticulous work copying Sigiriya frescoes in Bell era (1896)