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Sunday, 16 February 2014

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Opinion:

Asian giants stand by Sri Lanka against foreign conspiracies

Russia, China and Iran have expressed their overwhelming support for Sri Lanka against international conspiracies that are hatched in the West. It is an inspiration that the Asian giants are standing strong beside Sri Lanka as the unity in the region would be important to beat Western conspiracies.

Children at the rebuilt Jaffna library.

More and more stories are being cooked up in the West to strengthen the US Resolution against Sri Lanka to the UNHRC Sessions in Geneva next month. The US has already said that they are bringing the third successive resolution to the UN human rights watchdog in order to 'help' Sri Lanka.

While appreciating the US 'help' we wish to inform them that that there are enough and more ways of helping Sri Lanka, if they are sincere, honest and transparent with their acts.

Many countries in the West made a big hue and cry immediately after the humanitarian operations in the East and the North. First they shed buckets of crocodile tear after the entire Eastern Province was liberated from the clutches of the LTTE terror, ending untold misery of over 200,000 people. Many had doubts whether Sri Lanka could resettle all those who had been displaced.

Resettlement

But the local mechanism was well prepared to face the challenge and all civilians liberated from the East were resettled in double quick time. Similarly, the international community, especially those in the West, showed undue interest over the plight of nearly 300,000 people displaced after the humanitarian operation in the North.

But the Government set new world standards in resettlement after conflict situations. All those who were liberated from the North too were resettled within a few years after successful demining operations.

When the Government appealed for help in its effort to resettle people in the North and the East and develop infrastructure facilities for those civilians who had been at the receive end of the LTTE terror, only a few countries came to help us. None of those so-called godfathers of human rights who often weep buckets of crocodile tears, never came forward to give a helping hand to the Government's effort to find a better tomorrow for those hapless civilians.

However, the Government with the support of a few friendly countries, rose to the occasion and met the challenge, found houses for the displaced, completed the demining process, developed infrastructure facilities and restored peace not only in the North and the East but in the entire country.

Western pressure

But a couple of countries in the West keep on harping on the human rights of the LTTE terrorists killed in action. It is crystal clear that the Resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC is not for the people in the North and the East but to tame the Sri Lanka's leadership which does not dance the fandango to the melody of the West.

These Western countries know that the current leadership in Sri Lanka would never bow down to the Western pressure. Though they want to get rid of the current leadership in Sri Lanka, they are unable to do so within the democratic framework of Sri Lanka.

Moreover, people in Sri Lanka would never approve of ejecting governments through undemocratic means. Hence, the West has no potion but t0 intimidate the Government and Sri Lanka though resolutions.

If the US wants to sincerely help Sri Lanka with an open mind, they could still play in several vital areas such as providing shelter, sanitary facilities, livelihood projects etc. Hence, they need not bring resolutions after resolutions to the UNHRC to 'help' Sri Lanka.

The so-called big countries in the West have used human rights, media freedom and good governance as effective tools to tames the regimes which does not agree to anything and everything what they say. When these Western prophets finds that a so-called small country cannot be remote-controlled and that their leaders do not dance to the Western melody, they draw human rights, media freedom and good governance as 'arms' to tame those 'disobeying' regimes.

Rule of law

But if a leadership of a country say yes to anything and everything that is ordered by the West, even grave human rights violations of those countries are conveniently forgotten. Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it.

Media freedom and right for information and expression are too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices.

Though the US has been pontificating to us on media freedom and right for information, they have not set a shining example to others. By the way it has conducted and practiced what they preach, they have no moral right to pontificate on media freedom. The Reporters Without Borders, registering the disturbing trend in the United States, declares; "This has been the case in the United States (46th), which fell 13 places, one of the most significant declines, amid increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks. The trial and conviction of Private Bradley Manning and the pursuit of NSA analyst Edward Snowden were warnings to all those thinking of assisting in the disclosure of sensitive information that would clearly be in the public interest".

Classified information

The Global Report gives examples within the United States: "US journalists were stunned by the Department of Justice's seizure of Associated Press phone records without warning in order to identify the source of a CIA leak. It served as a reminder of the urgent need for a "shield law" to protect the confidentiality of journalists' sources at the federal level. The revival of the legislative process is little consolation for James Risen of The New York Times, who is subject to a court order to testify against a former CIA employee accused of leaking classified information.

And less still for Barrett Brown, a young freelance journalist facing 105 years in prison in connection with the posting of information that hackers obtained from Statfor, a private intelligence company with close ties to the federal government."

It adds: "The 2014 World Press Freedom Index spotlights the negative impact of conflicts on freedom of information and its protagonists. The ranking of some countries has also been affected by a tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner to the detriment of the right to inform and be informed.

This trend constitutes a growing threat worldwide and is even endangering freedom of information in countries regarded as democracies".

The US Government's handling of whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency leaks and the investigation of a string of leaks produced a plunge in the country's rating on press freedoms and government openness, the latest global survey said last week.

Reference tool

The US, under President Barrack Obama, who once promised to run the "most transparent" administration in the country's history, fell from 32nd to 46th in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, a drop of 13 slots.

Compiled by the press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, the index analyses 180 countries on criteria such as official abuse, media independence and infrastructure to determine how free journalists are to report.

"The World Press Freedom Index is a reference tool that is based on seven criteria: the level of abuses, the extent of pluralism, media independence, the environment and self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency and infrastructure," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloireb was quoted as saying.

According to the Global Report the United States, which preaches freedom of expression to other nations such as Sri Lanka has failed the test. "It makes governments face their responsibilities by providing civil society with an objective measure, and provides international bodies with a good governance indicator to guide their decisions." The report adds.

The 2014 report by Reporters Without Borders further says the superpower - meaning the United States - who for a long time was the embodiment of an established democracy where civil liberties reign supreme unfortunately in reality falls far short of this.

Challenges

It is deplorable that none of the local media has highlighted the deteriorating trend in the US as far as the press freedom is concerned. If Sri Lanka has faced such decline, the local media would have gone to town. Even the pro-US international media and main global news agencies keep a low profile on the US's unimpressive rating.

Measures taken by the leadership and the people of Sri Lanka to overcome post-terrorism challenges have been hailed by Russia. Goodwill and national movement towards reconciliation and economic restoration will strengthen national harmony.

Some countries often threaten or imply sanctions against other countries which they consider to be violators of human rights. Those sanctions only increase the suffering of people and contribute to aggravating their situation.

Everyone must firmly uphold general principles of technical assistance in human rights promotion. It must be provided on request of the state concerned and politically neutral. No state must be forced to accept technical assistance, unless they are willing to do so.

All right-thinking people in the international community would undoubtedly rejects threats, intimidations or implying sanctions against other countries considering those to be human rights violators. Although human rights could be a legitimate concern of the international community, they must not be used as a pretext for interference in internal affairs or, even worse, use of force.

Not impartial

The conduct of the UN, particularly in the field of promotion and protection of human rights, must be conducted in strict accordance with the international law. No violation of the UN charter or attempt to undermine norms and principles of the international law may be justified by any cause, whatever it is - political considerations,economic interests, human rights or anything else. It is a pity that the UN human rights machinery experiences a number of problems. The most prominent of them is lack of trust as the UNHRC has failed to conduct in an impartial manner. It is obvious that UNHRC chief Navi Pillay has had presumptions in certain matters pertaining to Sri Lanka. The UNHRC must immediately restore this trust. In order to do so, it is necessary to firmly introduce the principle of cooperation in the work of the UN human rights dimension. An international dialogue in the sphere of human rights is infested with politicisation and double standards.

Although human rights could be a legitimate concern of international community, they must not be used as a pretext for interference in internal affairs or, even worse, use of force. As Russia has quite rightly pointed out, no country is totally free of human rights violations.

Hence, all right-thinking leaders in the international community should strongly reject the practice of teaching, naming and shaming which actually discredits human rights cause.

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