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Sunday, 12 October 2014

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Opinion:

Certain quarters in UNHRC continue to intimidate Lanka


Sri Lanka' Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinha

UN Human Rights Committee Chairman Sir Nigel Rodley, when concluding the review of Sri Lanka's human rights record for the fifth time in Geneva last week, has said that they are not judging Sri Lanka and that their attempt is to evaluate the extent of Sri Lanka's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The Chunnakam power sub-station was destroyed by the Tigers. Here the rebuilt sub-station.

But at the same time, he had mentioned about allegations on disappearances, extra judicial killings, torture as a systematic practice and the questions on impunity - stating that those issues should be addressed.

It is unfortunate that certain quarters in the UNHRC continue to intimidate Sri Lanka in the guise of protecting human rights. There is no debate whatsoever on the protection of human rights. But human rights should not be used as a tool to fulfill the whims and fancies of strong Western nations.

Human rights

Allegations on disappearances, extra judicial killings and torture are mere wild allegations to suit the agenda of the LTTE rump. A section of the Tamil Diaspora and the LTTE sympathisers have always come out with such concocted stories to discredit the Security Forces.

There are enough and more instances where the LTTE rump had come out with false allegations to woo international sympathy.

Where were those godfathers of human rights at the UNHRC when Sri Lanka had been at the receiving end due to barbaric terrorism unleashed by the LTTE?

Where were Sir Nigel Rodley and his men when the LTTE was exploding massive bombs in Sri Lanka, targeting innocent public?

None of them came to Sri Lanka's rescue in those difficult periods and Sri Lanka had to wage its own battle for survival. Thanks to the supreme sacrifices of the Security Forces and the political sagacity of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka managed to beat all overwhelming odds to crush the LTTE terrorism. If not we would still have been subjected to untold misery of LTTE terror.

Calculated risks

As Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva had noted before the UN Human Rights Committee, Sri Lanka does not shy away from making considered choices and stressed on the fact that it is set at differentiating, in the best interests of its people.

Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha had made these remarks in response to a question raised by the Committee during the second and final day of the reviewing of Sri Lanka's human rights record, as to why the Prevention of Terrorism Act is still in existence in the country.

It should be recognised that notwithstanding security concerns, the Government has taken measures to speedily resettle almost all the displaced persons, re-integrate a majority of the ex-LTTE combatants and even allowed the Emergency to lapse although many at the time thought it was too premature.

Terrorism

In spite of the raised concerns, the Government has taken calculated risks. However even reluctantly due to the information that indicates the possible resurgence of terrorism in Sri Lanka, the PTA has to be remain in enforcement. The UNHRC should note that several countries which are under the threat of terrorism have made similar measures.

The Committee must judge Sri Lanka in proportion to the challenges that Sri Lanka has continued to face as a country emerging from a three decade long terrorist battle.

Concerns that were raised in Geneva regarding attacks and threats against media freedom, freedom of expression and on journalists are also part of the international conspiracy to discredit Sri Lanka. The spread of social media networks and online news outlets that are widely critical of the Government have contributed to the diversity and increased the speed of propagation of news.

No mandate

In a country where no one was spared the horrors of terrorism, the Government has succeeded in restoring to the entirety of Sri Lanka's population the most important right - the right to life. The UNHRC Committee must practice sensitivity regarding the questions raised by some of the Commissioners.

It is on the basis of a 'Tamil Homeland' concept that the separatist battle was fought for thirty years. No mandate had ever been given at any election for a division of Sri Lanka and that a citizen from any community was free to choose his or her place of residence.

Citizens has the freedom to commemorate any event, with the exception of Mullivaikkal day, the day the Security Forces vanquished the LTTE leadership and liberated the country from the clutches of Tiger terrorism.

The celebration of the so-called Mullivaikkal day has been raised by certain members of the Geneva committee.

We cannot understand why the members of a UNHRC committee are so concerned about the death of the LTTE leader who had been instrumental in killing thousands of innocent civilians.

Is the normal norm that terrorist leaders and the places they died are venerated and commemorated in civilised society? Sri Lankans are allowed to mourn all those who had died, but no glorification of terrorism should be allowed.

In the name of protecting human rights, certain quarters in the UNHRC are trying to glorify a barbaric terrorist leader who had inflicted nothing but misery to over 21 million Sri Lankans.

Since the day the LTTE was militarily defeated little over five years ago, the LTTE ump and a section of the Tamil Diaspora have come out with various concocted stories on the number of persons killed during the humanitarian operation.

But all those numbers are far from the truth. While there's no shortage of people coming forward to make their predictions on the number of dead, they have failed to disclose a single name of the dead or missing.

There have been an endless number of wild accusations through media channels shedding crocodile tears. What the champions of human rights have conveniently forgotten was the fact that the Tamil Tigers had hacked to death innocent men, women and children in Sri Lanka and carried out nearly 400 suicide attacks - more than any other terrorist organisation in the world.

That is precisely why the LTTE was called the world's most ruthless terrorist outfit when it was at its peak.

Gordon Weiss initially quoted 7,000 civilian casualties during the last phase of the battle. In order to boost his book sales, the numbers were later raised to some 40,000 as dead. Anyone quoting numbers of the scale must be responsible enough to make accusations aligned to proof and evidence.

Accusations

All those who give various figures on people killed or missing during the humanitarian operation, they must come out with concrete evidence, producing the names of the dead, locating the relations of the dead and where the dead had lived. If they don't have death certificates, they must at least produce birth certificates or national identity cards or some other form of identification. None of those accusations have come out with such proof.

The accusations had been made immediately after the defeat of the LTTE so there was hardly room for skeletons which means there would have had to be bodies with flesh and it is understood that the American Association for the Advancement of Science had identified only three graveyards of which one belonged to the LTTE and showed 960 burials. Is it possible to burry

some 40,000 to 125,000 dead bodies placed one on top of the other without it being caught on the satellite imagery? Those are mere concocted stories initiated by the LTTE rump.

Anyone could quote numbers of civilian casualties but those allegations should be put forward with ample proof. Such lies and distortions have a huge impact as those could be used as interested parties to discredit Sri Lanka.

Hard times

In addition to its battles with the Security Forces, the LTTE also carried out frequent attacks against civilians throughout the country. Numerous bombings took place in public locations in Colombo, killing thousands.

Hundreds more were massacred in vulnerable villages near LTTE dominated territory. Critical installations and economic targets such as the International Airport, Central Bank, and the Kolonnawa Oil Refinery were also ruthlessly attacked.

Those who champion human rights have forgotten those hard times experienced by 21 million people, who had undergone untold hardships due to terrorism.

One wonders where the UNHRC was when we were at the receiving end. Navi Pillay and her men were at a faster asleep then and they only woke up after the Security Forces had liberated the entire country from the scourge of terrorism.

Now that we have won our own battle, there are enough and more experts and self-appointed investigators who try to advocate Sri Lanka what to do.

It was our leaders and the Security Forces who were there for our rescue when we were in danger, without knowing when the LTTE would explode its next massive bomb.

Hence, we don't need any investigators or consultants to tell Sri Lanka how it should implement reconciliation.

We are a nation which has a proud history of respecting human rights for over 2,500 years. Hence, the West need not lecture us on human rights. Sri Lanka, under the direction of

President Rajapaksa, will surely implement all possible steps to strengthen national reconciliation and to protect the hard-earned peace.

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