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Sunday, 2 March 2014

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International forces can't sway Sri Lanka

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navaneetham Pillay has again shown her true colours by playing into the hands of the West. She has called for an international inquiry into alleged war crimes committed by both sides during the battle against terrorism, saying that the government had failed to do its own credible investigation.

This does not come as a surprise, going by Pillay's questionable conduct and the manner in which she had conducted herself all along. Clearing the path for the much anticipated US-led Resolution to be tabled at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Sessions next month, Pillay has recommended an "independent, international inquiry mechanism, which would contribute to establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed".

One fails to understand on what basis Pillay could say that Sri Lanka's domestic inquiry mechanism has failed when the country is making headway in reconciliation and implementing the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommendations.

It is crystal clear that Pillay's report is arbitrary, intrusive and of a political nature. It is evident that she has overstepped her mandate as the UNHRC chief by being partial to the whims and fancies of the West.

It is abundantly clear that Pillay's conduct is unbecoming and moreover interferes in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. She had never gone to this extent against any other country although there had been grave human rights violations in several countries, including the US-led NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While turning a Nelsonian eye to the countless civilian deaths due to the US drone attacks in Pakistan, Pillay is weeping buckets of crocodile tears over LTTE terrorists killed in action, alleging that the Security Forces should be held responsible "for shelling civilian areas".

She has gone one step further by trying to tinker with the local judicial system, expressing "concern" that legal proceedings have not begun against any LTTE suspects. Even a kindergarten child knows that the Government has rehabilitated a large number of ex-terrorists and provided them livelihood opportunities. Only a handful of hardcore LTTE cadres who had serious criminal and terrorist charges against them on large-scale bomb explosions and brutal killings still remain in custody.

Does Pillay expect Sri Lanka to grant an amnesty to all LTTE terrorists in custody, ignoring the serious crimes they had committed and the brutal killings of thousands of civilians? Has she shown the same concern on Al Qaeda terrorists taken into custody by the US and its allies?

The Government has rejected the call by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights "to establish an international inquiry mechanism to further investigate the alleged human rights violations in toto.

She pays scant respect and has no regard for the ongoing domestic process here within the framework of the LLRC.

Sri Lanka's Permanent Mission to the UN had pointed out, that the trajectory that has emerged with regard to the recommendation of the High Commissioner reflects the preconceived, politicised and prejudicial agenda which she has relentlessly pursued with regard to Sri Lanka.

After her wild allegations following a tour to Sri Lanka in August last year, the Government called upon Pillay to provide factual evidence to substantiate the allegations and refrain from making general comments without a degree of specificity which would allow the Government to investigate and respond in a comprehensive manner, which however had not been forthcoming.

Rather than doing so and providing concrete evidence, in the event she had gathered any, during her week-long visit here, Pillay continues to level unfounded allegations, generalising the incidents without a specific reference or evidence. This clearly shows that she has a set agenda and a role to play to appease a specific country or group.

The Western agenda came into sharp focus with the remarks by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the end of her visit last year. Though Pillay had made a desperate attempt to prove that her conduct as the UNHRC chief was neutral and transparent by claiming that she began her tour of Sri Lanka with an open mind without prejudice, the cat was out of the bag during her final news conference prior to leaving Colombo.

Her statement at the press conference was carefully worded. While trying to debunk the widely-believed allegation that she was a Tiger sympathiser labelling the LTTE as a ruthless terrorist organisation, she overstepped her mandate as the UN Human Rights Chief saying that the Government is heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction.

There is no doubt, whatsoever, that Pillay had transgressed her mandate and the basic norms which she should have observed as a discerning international civil servant, by making a political statement.

It goes without saying that the judgement of the country's leadership is better left to the people of Sri Lanka to decide, rather than by extraneous forces influenced by those with vested interests. Does she have the right to give a political twist to her visit by passing judgement on the country's political leadership, which had received an overwhelming mandate from the masses at all elections?

Pillay has been notorious for making sweeping statements to pamper the LTTE even during Sri Lanka's 2006-2009 battle against terrorism. Being cognizant that it would be a conflict of interest for a person who has roots in South India to pass international judgments on Sri Lanka, Pillay labelled the LTTE as a terror outfit and added that there should be no place for the glorification of such a ruthless organisation.

What is most intriguing are Pillay's double standards which are not in keeping with the status of a person who holds the high office of the UN human rights chief. Her delegation's wily efforts to pay a floral tribute at Mullivaikkal where the LTTE leadership was vanquished by the Security Forces in May, 2009 were thwarted.

If Pillay and her OHCHR delegation wished to pay tribute to those who had perished during the LTTE's three decades of terror, it should have been done at a venue common to all victims and certainly not at the spot where LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran met his waterloo.

The West is hell-bent on having a puppet regime here which would dance the fandango round it. It does not favour the national leadership which does not fall in line with it. Western forces with vested interests are doing their utmost for a regime change in Sri Lanka so that they could have a leader who could be remote-controlled from Washington.

Certain Western powers yearn to have a Government here that is closely aligned with its interests to influence the country's destiny. They also seek to influence Sri Lanka's destiny so that it would not pursue the independent course it is now taking.

Pillay's report is indicative of a prejudiced mind and in no way shows the fairness and open-mindedness of an official undertaking such a mission. Pillay acknowledges progress and positive developments half-heartedly. What is most deplorable is the tone and substance of her report and the lack of fairness and balance.

The UNHRC chief had no empirical evidence, whatsoever, to support her claim that Sri Lanka is moving towards authoritarianism. Undoubtedly, Pillay would have planned this statement even before her tour here.

Be it the UNHRC or its head Pillay, nobody has the right to scuttle Sri Lanka's hard-earned peace and the peaceful coexistence among all communities now prevailing. Some Western countries begrudged Sri Lanka sailing towards prosperity. They prefer to create problems to control us forever.

The West abhors countries such as Sri Lanka being governed by regimes that could not be controlled by them. None of the present war crimes allegations would have been levelled against Sri Lanka if the current leadership says yes to anything and everything of the West.

Since President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the UPFA Government are becoming increasingly popular among the masses and continue to register landslide victories at every election, the West is determined to exert undue pressure and create problems in the country.

No force on earth could endanger Sri Lanka as long as the masses continue to repose implicit faith in the President and the Government.

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