Undue pressure will harm peaceful
Western countries and key
international organisations seem to be preoccupied with Sri Lanka's
internal matters. Notwithstanding many world issues such as climate
change, food security, global economic recession, terrorism, sanitation
and water, most of the world fora are hell-bent on Sri Lanka's internal
Certain Western countries seem to be more inclined to discuss matters
pertaining to Sri Lanka at almost every international summit rather than
finding solutions to problems in their countries such as the economic
crisis and unemployment. Despite these challenges, most Western
countries and international organisations seem to have a penchant to dig
into old wounds in an attempt to intimidate Sri Lanka rather than find
solutions to more pressing problems.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is no exception and
allocates time lavishly to discuss the human rights of terrorists killed
when confronting a legitimate army of a sovereign State rather than
speaking in favour of the hundreds of thousands of civilians who had
been killed due to the LTTE's indiscriminate terror attacks.
Some Western countries which exert pressure on Sri Lanka are
masquerading as saints. In the event they are really keen on human
rights and accountability, the Western nations which invaded countries
such as Sri Lanka, killing hundreds of civilians and held the land
forcibly as their colonies in the past, must examine their conscience
and look into the accountability of what they did during that time.
Had any of these Western nations even tendered an apology for the
lives of civilians whom they massacred when they invaded countries such
as Sri Lanka? Moreover, has anybody talked about the human rights of
civilians being killed by drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
But these self-same countries now pontificate to us on accountability
and display extraordinary concern on the human rights of LTTE terrorists
killed in action. It is deplorable that those international
organisations which had been set up to protect human rights are
extremely biased. Is this due to the fact that several Western
politicians depend heavily on the Tamil Diaspora vote for their
The Tiger cohorts and LTTE sympathisers have colluded with some key
figures in international organisations and their conduct is highly
questionable, to say the least. Contrary to what they often preach on
transparency and accountability, they do otherwise.
UN Human Rights Council chief Navaneethan Pillay is better known for
carrying out her own agenda while holding that exalted position. As
Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe quite rightly pointed out at the UNHRC
sessions in Geneva last week, Pillay is behaving in an irresponsible
manner with a secret agenda of disparaging Sri Lanka.
In the guise of preparing the groundwork for a future visit, Pillay
sent officials to Sri Lanka to gather information for her highly
controversial report that was released recently.
It is now evident that Pillay's team was sent purely to collect
material for her present report and by no means to help prepare the
groundwork for her visit.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his Independence Day address to the
nation in Trincomalee last month, called upon world leaders to visit Sri
Lanka to find out the real ground situation. Is it fair for them to make
wild accusations based on LTTE propaganda without gaining first-hand
Regrettably, Pillay who has shown such extraordinary interest in Sri
Lanka's internal matters had failed to visit the country for quaint
reasons. Perhaps, she may be reluctant to visit Sri Lanka as that would
induce her to give up her long-standing presumptions.
Although the Government had extended an invitation to Pillay to tour
Sri Lanka in April 2011, she put it on hold until May last year and said
that she could undertake such a tour to Sri Lanka only after an advance
visit by her team of officials to explore possible areas for
cooperation. However, when Sri Lanka complied with the request in good
faith, it was used purely to gather material for Pillay's report and
level fresh allegations against Sri Lanka.
Moreover, considerable attention has been paid to Sri Lanka in the
High Commissioner's statements within and outside the UN fora. Be it in
the UN Security Council or successive sessions of the Human Rights
Council, democracy conferences or comments from her on incidents or
events in Sri Lanka ranging from economic migrants to the judiciary, the
High Commissioner had invariably made negative observations from around
the end of the battle against terrorism in May 2009.
Are Pillay's vitriolic remarks on the eve of each UNHRC session an
attempt to mislead member countries? As Minister Samarasinghe
highlighted at the UNHRC Sessions, Pillay's barrage of comments to the
media, ahead of the Council's sessions, could tendentiously influence
delegations, especially when there are Resolutions being contemplated.
It is needless to state that such bizarre conduct runs counter to the
detachment, objectivity and impartiality expected from the holder of
such an exalted office. Sweeping generalisations using terms such as
"massive violations" of human rights and the constant targeting of Sri
Lanka, based on unsubstantiated evidence founded on conjecture and
supposition, only supports the impression of a lack of objectivity.
It seems that the UNHRC chief cares two hoots for Sri Lanka's
Herculean efforts in eradicating terrorism and the progress made so far
in development and reconciliation.
Had the UNHRC been sincere in protecting human rights of those in
every corner of the globe in equal manner, we would certainly endorse
Pillay's strong voice on behalf of alleged human rights violations
during Sri Lanka's battle against terrorism. Strange as it may seem, she
did not utter a word when Sri Lanka was at the receiving end and tens of
thousands of civilians were brutally massacred by LTTE terrorists. The
UNHRC had never discussed about the lives of hapless civilians killed by
NATO and the US drone attacks.
Are there two types of definitions to terrorism? As President
Rajapaksa had told the UN General Assembly almost five years ago, there
are no good terrorists and bad terrorists. Terrorism in any part of the
world would unleash the same devastation and should be eliminated in
like manner. Hence, Pillay cannot adopt two different standards on
terrorism - one for Sri Lanka and another for the West.
It's mindboggling as to why Pillay and those who bring resolutions
against Sri Lanka are unable to see the tremendous progress in the
country after terrorism was eradicated. Are they averse to the peaceful
coexistence of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims in all parts of Sri Lanka?
Else, do they wish to see a nation grappling with problems and being
overdependent on the West?
Reconstruction work is going on apace in the North and the East,
apart from the restoration of physical and social infrastructure,
strengthening of civil administration, provision of livelihood support
and housing facilities. This resulted in a 27 percent growth in the
Northern Province while Sri Lanka's overall GDP recorded around eight
percent growth in 2011. Doesn't this prove that the nation is marching
towards prosperity triumphantly?
As a peace-loving nation, the masses in one voice strongly object to
any unfair, biased, unprincipled and unjust approach that may be adopted
by the UNHRC as far as the protection and promotion of human rights in
Sri Lanka are concerned. We strongly believe that the UNHRC would not
embark on or encourage either a debate or any country-specific
resolution by virtue of a selective process as it would run counter to
the Council's founding principles.
If the UNHRC were to do so, it would not only reflect its double
standards, but it would also seriously affect Sri Lanka's development
Targeting Sri Lanka unfairly would only serve to further polarise
those affected, especially considering the fact that there is no threat
to its citizens or international peace and security.
The eradication of terrorism has given a new lease of life not only
to those in the North and the East, but also to all Sri Lankans who now
live in peace and harmony. The West should by no means try to harm the
country's national unity that has been built with renewed hope.
The structures and procedures of multilateral organisations should be
uniform and consistent and devoid of any discrimination. As we have
pointed out earlier, there are no short cuts for a nation which is
recovering after terrorism was wiped out. Sri Lanka must be given
adequate time to complete its development and reconciliation.