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UNHRC resolution: Subverting truth about Sri Lanka

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The UNHRC resolutions on Sri Lanka in the past and present, are characterized by their duplicitous and treacherous attempt to subvert the truth about what happened during the war against the LTTE, and what is happening now. Though the latest resolution deviates from the past and avoids reference to specific allegations of war crimes committed during the war against the LTTE, including the alleged killing of 40,000 civilians, rape, and bombing of hospitals, the reason for all these dubious resolutions remains the same. It has nothing to do with human rights, and is a politically motivated course of action that Western powers have undertaken, to force Sri Lanka to do what they want, such as signing the MCC agreement.

The UNHRC Resolution 30/1 which was cosponsored by the Yahapalana government, had no evidence to back its allegations of war crimes against Sri Lankan armed forces, except hidden witnesses who cannot be questioned to get at the truth. What is worse, Britain had decided not to divulge the wartime dispatches of their defence attache who had knowledge of the ground situation, because they did not want the truth revealed. Neither did they take into consideration the revelations made by the US defence attache, nor the reports of the Red Cross or the former judge C R de Silva’s findings. Further, they decided to ignore the fact that a LTTE cadre, who had trained children to be suicide bombers, was living in England – Adele Balasingham – was neither questioned nor accused of any crime, and remains quite free to date in England. Could anything be more unfair, unjust, crooked and roguish? Could we expect any justice or a change of heart from them this time around? Not likely.

Some supporters of the Resolution argue that UNHRC has been fair to both sides, and has accused both the armed forces and the LTTE of war atrocities. However, has the Resolution recommended any action against the LTTE? There are LTTE members living in Sri Lanka and also in other countries. Adele Balasingham is one of them. No investigation, or a method to bring them to justice has been recommended in any of the UNHRC Resolutions. Moreover, there is undeniable evidence of the brutality of these terrorists, and the heinous crimes they had committed against human beings, which could be examined by neutral judges. Whereas the UNHRC is not willing to make available the evidence that they claim they have against Sri Lankan armed forces for examination by neutral judges. Could anything be more unfair, unjust, crooked and roguish. Has the latest resolution made any recommendations in this regard. It has not. Could we expect any justice from them this time around?

And what about the victims? Even the victims that they say must be compensated are not accessible for verification of identity, and other facts regarding the crimes committed against them allegedly by the armed forces. The surviving victims of LTTE terrorism and their dependents, however, are available for thorough investigation and verification of facts, if needed. And who would compensate them? Has the UNHRC taken this aspect into consideration when drafting the latest Resolution?

The world knows that the US would not get UNHRC resolutions passed against Sri Lanka, if the latter supports the US in its conflict with China. Even the countries that voted for the Resolution know this, and they also know that there would be no resolutions against Sri Lanka if it had signed the MCC. Everybody, including those who voted for or against or abstained, knows that it was a political game and that it has nothing to do with human rights. Further, they all know that the biggest human rights violators are the US and the UK. Thus, even the vote was more a political affair than a human rights affair. Big powers who can use the stick and the carrot could get what they want. Could we expect justice from such an organisation?

The latest UNHRC Resolution has deviated from the previous ones, and has made an unusually lengthy adverse criticism of the present government, in relation to a wide variety of subjects including media freedom, independence of the judiciary, the National Police Commission, the human rights commission of Sri Lanka, 20th A, Covid burials, militarisation of civilian functions and interference in the judiciary process in emblematic human rights cases. Is this criticism, even if it is justifiable, within the mandate of the UNHRC? It may be violating the UN Charter, which prohibits its organizations from interfering in the internal affairs of individual countries. This shows how far the UNHRC will go to harass small countries, to force them to do the bidding of the big countries.

The UNHRC Resolution has advised its High Commissioner to create an office to collect information about war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka, during the war and up to the present times. The Government has already asked the question whether Britain would release the wartime dispatches of the British High Commission defence attache, which categorically exonerates the armed forces of war crimes. Going by what they did in the past, one cannot expect them to be honest. They had released some of the dispatches due to the unrelenting effort of Lord Naseby, but these too had been redacted in order to obscure or remove sensitive information. And Lord Naseby has said that the UK had suppressed robust evidence at the expense of Sri Lanka; and referring to the day the Resolution was submitted by the UK he had said its a “black day for his Government” .

Michelle Bachelet in her damning statement has said the Sri Lankan government has failed to pursue genuine truth seeking and accountability processes. On the contrary, it is the organization she heads that has failed to be truthful and honest. If this is the level of honesty and integrity that the High Commissioner for Human Rights could demonstrate, could we expect justice from the UNHRC. What we could expect is a concerted effort to subvert the truth about what happened during the war and what is happening now in Sri Lanka.

N. A. de S. AMARATUNGA



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Opinion

Farewell to Angela Merkel

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With six minutes of continuous, warm and heartfelt applause; out on the streets, on balconies, through the windows, and from all portals imaginable, the whole country of Germany applauded, irresistibly, a woman who is a spectacular example of leadership and a stickler for the defence of human dignity, when she stepped down from her position of Chancellor/Prime Minister of Germany.

Around 18 years ago, the Germans elected Angelica Merkel to lead them, and she led 80 million Germans for 18 years with competence, skill, dedication and sincerity. She did not generally utter nonsense and there was no meaningless political rhetoric. She did not appear in the alleys of Berlin to be photographed. She was dubbed “The Lady of the World” and even graphically described as the virtual equivalent of six million men!!!!

During these 18 years of her leadership authority in her country, no transgressions of political power were ever recorded against her. She did not assign any of her relatives to a government position. She did not claim that she was the maker of glories. She did not get millions of euros in commission payments, nor did she hire or compel anyone to cheer her performance. She did not receive charters and pledges and, she did not fight those who preceded her. In 2021, Merkel elected to step down, not attempt to get a fifth term as the Chancellor of Germany, left the party leadership position and handed it over to those who came after her, with Germany and its German people in the best condition ever.

The reaction of the Germans was unprecedented in the history of the Country. The entire population went out to their balconies of their houses and clapped for her spontaneously for six continuous minutes. A standing ovation nationwide. Germany stood as one body bidding farewell to their leader, a chemical physicist who was not tempted by the fashions or the fancy lights and who did not buy real estate, cars, yachts and private planes. She was always well aware of the fact that she is from former East Germany.

She graciously elected to step down from her post while leaving Germany at the top. She left and her relatives did not claim any advantage. Eighteen years and she never changed her wardrobe. At a press conference, a female journalist asked Merkel “We notice that you’re wearing the same suit, don’t you have any other?” She replied “I am a government employee and not a fashion model”. The entire German populace prayed that God be upon this silent leader.

At another press conference, they asked her “Do you have housemaids who clean your house, prepare your meals and so on?” Her answer was “No, I do not have servants and I do not need them. My husband and I do this work at home every day”.

Mrs. Merkel lives in a normal apartment like any other citizen. She lived in this apartment before being elected Chancellor of Germany. She did not leave it and does not own a villa, servants, swimming pools or gardens. Once a journalist asked “Who is washing the clothes, you or your husband?” She answered “I arrange the clothes, and my husband is the one who operates the washing machine, and it is usually at night, because electricity is available and there is no pressure on it. The most important thing is to take into the account the possible inconvenience for the neighbours. Thankfully the wall separating our apartment from the neighbours is thick”. Then she followed it up with the quip, “I actually expected you to ask me about the successes and failures of our work in the government?”

After losing a devastating World War II, in the early 1940s, Germany was slowly built on the ashes of the Nazi Regime of Adolf Hitler by very many statespersons, the latest of whom is Angela Merkel. They showed a dedicated commitment to the welfare of that country and its people. Their untiring efforts made Germany to be the one it is now; the largest economy of the whole of Europe.

Angela Merkel is the exact opposite of most of our politicians in the Paradise Isle. The latter lot have all the qualities and attributes which are those of precise antipathy to the admirable and fabulous characteristics of former Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is most lamentable that this resplendent isle has so far not seen the arrival of a person of such commendable talents, abilities and statesmanship to guide us out of a 73-year long abyss of perpetual self-destruction. —

Connoisseur

 

(Extracted from https://sgtalk.org/mybb/Thread-Germany-bid-farewell-to-Merkel-with-six-minutes-of-warm-applause)

 

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Opinion

COVID-19 lockdown: Too little, too late

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After dragging its feet to heed the advice of medical professionals, starting well before the Sinhala New Year, the government has finally clamped down on a lockdown, banning movement of people, from province to province. The argument, on the government side, is that a full lockdown affects the economy, but this does not take into account increasing Covid patients and the resulting increased health costs incurred by the Government to treat these patients. It is a case of choosing between death or hunger. People are accustomed to complete lockdowns, as it happened last year, about this time. The question remains whether such a partial lockdown is effective in controlling the spread of Covid. My own suggestion is to go for a complete lockdown of the country, for at least two weeks. Imposing night time curfew is ineffective since people to people transmission takes place during day time when people flock to do shopping and to attend to various other chores.

People in this country are not disciplined to wear face masks and practice social distancing. They wear the mask, only at the sight of a policeman. The enforced partial lockdown, at present, will not curb the spread of the disease, especially in the provinces where people attend to their business as usual. In crowded market places, in particular, there is scant regard for health guidelines. It may be appropriate to include someone uthorized in human behavior, in the COVID task force. The Health Ministry epidemiologist has gone on record saying that the present escalation of Covid patients is mainly due to the Sinhala aurudhu season where people were travelling all over the country, specially to places such as Nuwara-Eliya and Kataragama. Media were reporting uthoriz frolicking in Nuwara-Eliya without any consideration of health guidelines and where the Mayor, himself, was involved in uthorized a festival for holidaymakers. The result is all the traffic policemen, on duty, in Nuwara-Eliya, got Covid and they had to be replaced by officers from other stations. Similar incidents have taken place at Kataragama where large crowds gathered. It is a well-known habit that people travel to these places during the New Year period. Had the government listened to the health professionals, instead of its own advisors, this could have been avoided.

In India, which is facing a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions, ignorance of people is the main cause in spreading this virus, just like here. Political consideration takes precedence over health and even some provincial elections were held during the pandemic. Also, religious activities, such as mass poojas, with complete disregard to health guidelines, are another main reason for the spread of Covid in India. Even in Jaffna there was a pooja attended by a large crowd where none wore face masks. . The famous Indian writer, Aurunditha Roy, was blunt in venting her anger and frustration, even asking Prime Minister Modi to step aside. Similarly, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the Covid Task Force, in the USA, urged Prime Minister Modi to go for a total lockdown, at least on two occasions. This Indian variety is the most contagious and a WHO official said on Monday (May 10) that it is reclassifying the highly contagious triple mutant Covid variant spreading in India as a “variant of concern” at the global level. This is known as B.1.617, which has been found to spread more easily than the original virus and there is evidence that the currently available vaccines are ineffective against this virus mutant. Recently an Indian Professor from the Rutgers University, USA, who was an expert on infectious diseases, who travelled to India, died of the corona virus and this was after getting both vaccines in the USA. This is alarming because this virulent Indian variety was found in Sri Lanka from an affected Indian citizen. How many Indians came to Sri Lanka in recent weeks should be investigated and they should be properly isolated and quarantined. The question arises as to who uthorized the entry of Indians to our country when most governments have banned the entry of Indians into their countries. In April alone, statistics of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Board (SLTDB) reveal that a total of 4,168 international tourists have arrived in Sri Lanka during and most of these arrivals were from India followed by China and Kazakhstan.   It is shocking to see some ministers still talking about a tourist bubble to bring in Indian tourists. Doctors at the Sri Jayawardenapura University also reported that the British variety of the virus originated from the tourist bubble of Ukranian tourists. This was first revealed on April 8th by the same group and despite this warning the government thought it fit not to go for a complete lockdown during the New Year period.

Health professionals, too, has a role in taking a more positive stand, instead of talking vaguely about provincial lockdowns which are not going to work. Why cannot they ask the President to completely lockdown the entire country? Recently, Malaysia enforced a complete lockdown of the country to tackle the problem. New Zealand controlled the pandemic by strictly enforcing lockdowns, even when one positive case was found. The USA has been able to control the pandemic through mass vaccinations and over 50% of the total populations has been vaccinated so far, as opposed to 3% in Sri Lanka. It is the only way to fight this invisible enemy. There is no other alternative but to enforce a total lockdown if we have to come out of this dire situation.

Prof. O. A. Ileperuma

 

 

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Opinion

Geographical Information Maps for Covid-19 control

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Around six months ago, the issue about lack of spatial information about the whereabouts of Covid-19 patients, came up, but, unfortunately, it has not been resolved yet. At that time the GMOA gave an ultimatum to the Ministry of Health that it will withdraw from the Technical Committee for Covid-19 control, if analyzed Geographical Information System (GIS) maps of Covid-19 patient-locations will not be made available. Although most don’t agree with the GMOA with some of their actions, on this matter I was more than 100% with them. The GMOA is an organization, which has many knowledgeable specialists in the areas of epidemiology, disease control and Information Technology, and I believe their knowledge, attitude and valuable inputs made it easy for the control teams to prevent the escalation of this epidemic.

The geographical maps are valuable tools to the MOHs, PHIs for their control work, and also to the general public to know of the locations of the patients, at least at the street level, so that they can avoid such areas. I think the Presidential Task Force also should be shown these maps, if they have not seen it yet, to make informed decisions. This week again, the President of the GMOA stated, over a private TV channel, that they, in fact, put up a GIS room next to the Director General of Health Services’ room, and that is a right move. He vented his frustrations when he came out with the difficulty in getting the maps done through the Epidemiology Unit to get this genre going. To fight a war there should be a central command and control room, and maps are a very important tool. Even 30 years ago, the officers in the field sent in the data about the spread of diseases, or they took samples, such as of stools of cholera patients, but they never got the analyzed reports, as someone was keeping them in the centre to write a paper to a journal.

Twenty years ago, when I was the Chief Medical Officer of Health of the CMC, realizing the value of GIS maps, I used them for dengue control in Colombo; and it provided great information to plan and implement control measures. We could see clusters of patients, and the gradual movement of the cluster into newer areas with time. My maps were used by at least the Peradeniya University to train Medical Officers in Health Mapping. I was also invited as the keynote speaker, by the Geographical Information Society. Many came to me from the Ministry of Health, KDU and other institutions to learn what we had done. Since then, the Ministry has trained some doctors who are now experts in GIS mapping, and they could be used to map the patient locations, show high, medium and low risk areas and also put in other information. The Public Health Department of CMC gave Geographical Position System-GPS training to Public Health Inspectors those days, to send in the information from the patient’s location to the GIS centre at the Town Hall, where all such information was collated. We then prepared the maps and sent them out to the MOHs and also discussed the situation at meetings.

I hope they have continued that work and, if so, they also should put out the maps of present patient locations in the CMC website, so that the people in Colombo will also know which areas in the city they should avoid. Colombo city was the centre of transmission of Covid-19 in the country a few months ago as nothing materialised. It is a pity that I can’t even get any information about Covid-19 patients in the CMC area, although I am the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Health and Sanitation at the CMC. The system I built up has come to a standstill, and sometimes even after eight months, I can’t get any answers to my questions given at Council meetings. Frustrated, I even wrote to the Epidemiology Unit asking for information about patient locations to better plan our prevention programmes, at least to prevent patients dying at home. But after listening to the GMOA President, yesterday, I now know it is a futile exercise. Information is power, but why not give it at a time of national crisis for the greater good of the people?

Technology should be used in disease prevention as much as possible, especially in this case, but the people in top positions are scared to use newer technology mostly because they don’t know about such technologies, or do not know how to use them. When PCR testing was started, a few leading private firms wanted to donate the latest automated PCR machine, but it was turned down by the people who were to use it, as they wanted a machine that could be used manually. That was my personal experience. There are other interests involved, too. Now I believe only the Sri Jayewardenepura University has an Automated machine which is 4-5 times faster in giving results.

Similarly, through GIS mapping we can put together a lot of information in a short time, and the analyzed information can be made available to the people who make decisions, and those in the field. Seeing the ground situation with one’s own eyes, is better than seeing some numbers. I hope the President, the Ministers and the Presidential Task Force will seriously take note of this, as this is very valuable public information that can be used to control this epidemic, at this critical juncture. For example, the information through maps could be used at least to know whether we should lock down a city or a district, or a province, or a few of them, etc., to prevent further escalation of this Covid-19 epidemic. There could be even a working sub-committee set up to do this work. Please do not put away this information in cold storage as someone’s private property. Let saner counsel prevail.

 

Dr. PRADEEP KARIYAWASAM

Former CMOH/CMC,

Chairman, Standing Committee on Health/CMC

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