Sri Lanka needs true friends, not
Every sovereign country has an
inalienable right to protect its territorial integrity and every Head of
State or Government is duty-bound to protect its people and uphold
Some Western countries go that extra mile to protect its people and
even enter the airspace of other countries to launch drone attacks on
the pretext of national security. Hundreds of civilians have been killed
as a result of US drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but
surprisingly, barely anybody spoke about such incidents at the United
Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The US Government's right to protect its people against terrorism is
by no means disputed. No right-thinking person would ever challenge that
right as terrorism should be eliminated from the world at large, at any
In this backdrop, Sri Lanka or any other sovereign nation for that
matter, has a supreme right to combat terrorism and strengthen national
It is deplorable that certain Western countries do not adopt the same
yardstick when it comes to Sri Lanka and its right to protect its
citizens against terrorism, that too against the most ruthless terrorist
group in the world!
But the self-same quarters which even disregarded others' right to
protect their citizens against terrorism and inflicted misery on
hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, brought two
successive resolutions against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC.
Despite these baseless allegations, the UNHRC chief Navi Pillay has
overstepped her mandate in setting deadlines to take Sri Lanka to task,
perhaps for becoming the first and the only country to eradicate
Rather than commending Sri Lanka for its landmark achievements and
exploit Sri Lanka's first-hand experience to crush world terrorism, some
countries are now flexing their muscle to intimidate Sri Lanka. They
seem to be equating the human rights of terrorists killed in action with
civilians who had been used as a human shield by LTTE terrorists.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, who was in New York
last week, said the UNHRC and certain Western countries were
discriminating unfairly against Sri Lanka as a result of disinformation
circulated by the LTTE rump, and were demanding quicker action on
accountability than they had of other countries which had suffered a
Former Yugoslavia and Cambodia received extensive time to bounce back
after conflict situations. In no other similar situation has there been
this intensity of pressure in such a short period of time.
When Sri Lanka's relentless battle against terrorism reached its
final stage, certain Western countries exerted undue pressure to thwart
the Security Forces' operation against terrorism. However, President
Mahinda Rajapaksa took a bold decision that the humanitarian operation
should continue until the last civilian was rescued from the jaws of
Had the President called off the battle against terrorism due to
mounting Western pressure, thousands of civilians would have been
killed. Thanks to the President's political sagacity and the Security
Forces' immense sacrifices, over half a million people in the North and
the East were rescued.
It was indeed most heartening that Sri Lanka received unprecedented
support at the recent UNHRC Sessions with many countries criticising
Pillay's oral update based on her visit to Sri Lanka as 'showing double
standards', 'imbalanced' and a 'pretext to exert political pressure'.
Representatives from over 20 countries spoke in favour of Sri Lanka
while many others lodged strong protests, adducing that the discussion
on Sri Lanka was politically motivated. A number of countries including
Venezuela, Belarus and Cuba disassociated itself from the US-sponsored
Russia's remarks dealt a severe blow to interested parties who tried
to use the human rights body to discredit Sri Lanka. Russia said that
"using the UNHRC to settle political scores and gain geopolitical
benefits is unacceptable". The Russian representative lashed out at
Pillay's observations, saying that Sri Lanka's last four years without
bomb explosions and deaths due to terrorism proved that the internal
process is working in the interests of the people and the UNHRC should
take note of it.
Russia also said that some assertions in Pillay's submissions can be
construed as those beyond her mandate, noting that the elections in the
North, where the TNA had won, were possible due to the defeat of
terrorism. Emphasising that extending capacity-building and technical
cooperation from the office of the High Commissioner should not be a
pretext to exert political pressure, China asserted that the primary
responsibility of promoting human rights lies within the respective
The UNHRC's conduct came into sharp criticism by Cuba which said the
Resolution against Sri Lanka was one of the "most politicised
resolutions moved in the UNHRC" and that Pillay's report does not
recognise most of the country's achievements.
As the Pakistani delegate had quite rightly pointed out, Pillay's
oral update does not give due regard, recognition or acknowledgement to
Sri Lanka's significant strides. The country's milestone achievements in
the aftermath of the victory outweighed the challenges facing Sri Lanka.
Belarus called upon the sponsors of the controversial resolution
against Sri Lanka to re-assess their position and cooperate with Sri
Lanka through engagement and dialogue. Venezuela rejected the selective
interventionist attempts in the internal process of countries while
Australia said that engagement and not isolation is the most effective
way to promote human rights in Sri Lanka.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had no mandate to call for
an external inquiry and set deadlines for Sri Lanka's internal probe.
Hence, the controversial conduct clearly shows that Pillay had
overstepped her mandate.
Moreover, Pillay has no moral right to poke her fingers in matters
pertaining to Sri Lanka due to her South Indian origin. This is clearly
a conflict of interest and the top UN official should stay clear of it.
Her plethora of statements on Sri Lanka, before and after its victory
against terrorism, are highly controversial, to say the least. These
statements have helped promote terrorism and renewed fresh hopes in LTTE
The Government, having restored normalcy, has also taken many
positive steps to address accountability issues. Hence, Sri Lanka
vehemently repudiates Pillay's assertion that if certain concerns are
not comprehensively addressed, she believes "the international community
will have a duty to establish its own inquiry mechanisms".
In this scenario, Pillay has no mandate whatsoever to make such a
claim. Multiple mechanisms to address accountability are now under way
in keeping with the LLRC proposals.
As highlighted by Sri Lanka on many occasions at the UNHRC, the
disproportionate attention paid to Sri Lanka, largely at the behest of
parties with vested interests, considerably complicates the ongoing
delicate process of reconciliation.
It seems that Pillay and her UNHRC is hell-bent on talking about Sri
Lanka at every Session. In the event they had this same concern over the
human rights of Tamil civilians who had been subjected to untold misery
when the LTTE was at its peak, the lives of thousands of civilians could
have been saved. At this point of time, Sri Lanka does not need the
UNHRC's urgent and immediate attention.
What baffles one and all are the extensive discussions on Sri Lanka,
especially at a time when there are more flagrant human rights
violations across the world.
Pillay, for reasons best known to her, keeps on rubbing Sri Lanka's
old wounds, rather than commending the Government for the timely action
to save the lives of thousands of people and rescuing over half a
million civilians who had been forcibly held by the LTTE in the North
and the East.
At this juncture, Sri Lanka needs true friends and not arbitrators.
Self-appointed investigators would only hamper the ongoing
reconciliation. The country's unique feats should by all means be
commended and encouraged, not impeded.