Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 9 June 2013





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Government Gazette

Pillay’s impending Sri Lanka visit, an eye-opener

Human rights and reconciliation are bandied about by some Western countries to intimidate Sri Lanka after the Security Forces liberated the country from the grip of LTTE terrorism. Rather than hailing Sri Lanka's singular achievement, which set an example to the world in eradicating terrorism, certain international organisations and Western countries pontificated on reconciliation and human rights to appease LTTE cohorts in their countries. These Western politicians, who survive on the vote of adopted Tamils from Sri Lanka, dance the fandango round the LTTE cohorts. On the pretext of advocating reconciliation, they only exerted pressure on the Government to gratify LTTE cohorts and a section of the Tamil diaspora.

Two successive Resolutions against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) had only rekindled fresh hopes in LTTE cohorts.

It is indelibly etched in people’s minds how some world organisations and certain Western countries spared no pains to thwart Sri Lanka's humanitarian operation and pump the last drop of oxygen to moribund Tiger terrorists. They issued a plethora of statements to retard the advancement of the Security Forces.

Nevertheless, Sri Lanka's friendly countries proved their mettle and overwhelmingly supported President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his praiseworthy efforts to liberate the people from the clutches of LTTE terror.

Some international organisations and certain Western countries took Sri Lanka to task during her relentless battle against terrorism. The UNHRC was no exception and the statements by its head Navi Pillay renewed fresh hopes in the Tiger terrorists.

Sri Lanka's High Commissioner in London, Dr Chris Nonis, in an interview with the BBC World News last week, gave an appropriate reply to those who shout from the rooftops and expect Sri Lanka to perform miracles in national reconciliation.

When BBC's Mishal Husain asked Dr. Nonis as to how many years Sri Lanka would take to complete reconciliation targets, Dr. Nonis cited South Africa and the post-apartheid period, where there are still substantial issues, and Northern Ireland where, despite the “Good Friday” Agreement, issues remain unresolved. “In comparison, I think we have done pretty well,” Dr. Nonis was quoted as saying.

When Sri Lanka was at the receiving end of LTTE terror, the West preached to us on peace while it went all out to crush Al-Qaeda terrorists. When the LTTE was militarily crushed, the West exerted pressure on Sri Lanka over displaced persons and made a big hue and cry. Despite Sri Lanka having resettled over half a million displaced persons in the North and the East in double quick time, thereby setting new world standards, the West is now showing extraordinary concern in Sri Lanka's reconciliation efforts. What is more intriguing is the manner in which certain Western countries expect Sri Lanka to perform miracles and do something that no other country has achieved so far. Sri Lanka’s speedy resettlement of displaced persons, which no other country had done after a conflict situation, sent shockwaves to the world. UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has eventually accepted Sri Lanka's invitation and plans to visit Sri Lanka from August 25 to 31. She would have definitely changed her mind, had she done so earlier. In April 2011, Sri Lanka invited her to tour the country.

Regrettably, rather than coming here to gain first-hand experience and making an assessment of the true ground situation, Pillay seemed to have been misled by the LTTE cohorts. Her sweeping statements on Sri Lanka had clearly shown that her knowledge on Sri Lanka's achievements and development is far from reality.

Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative in Geneva, Ravinatha P. Aryasinha had told the UNHRC's 23rd Regular Session in Geneva last week that Sri Lanka considers Pillay's visit as part of its continued, transparent and proactive engagement with the High Commissioner and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Pillay's visit would undoubtedly enable her to experience at first-hand the significant strides Sri Lanka had made and the efforts under way in reconciliation in Sri Lanka. The international community should bear in mind that barely four years had elapsed since the end of the ruthless terrorist conflict that had devastated the country for nearly three decades.

It is earnestly hoped that Pillay’s forthcoming visit would not only be an eye-opener to the UN human rights chief, but also to other Western countries which are making ludicrous statements on Sri Lanka due to ignorance. Hence, Pillay's visit would help build a platform for constructive engagement between Sri Lanka and the OHCHR, debunking the fallacies that guided the UN system's actions and engagement with respect to Sri Lanka and its reconciliation. It is deplorable that there is lack of “financial independence” as far as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is concerned. This leads to disproportionate attention being paid to country-specific action in the UNHRC which selectively targets some countries.

Sri Lanka is convinced that there is an urgent need for more sustainable resourcing of the OHCHR to ensure efficient and objective fulfilment of its mandate. This could be checked only if the bulk of the OHCHR funding comes from the UN regular budget.

Though countries such as Sri Lanka are often targeted, human rights violations and restrictive practices in other parts of the world that warrant more urgent and immediate attention and action continue unabated for reasons best known to the West.

On an axiomatic basis, the continuation and proliferation of the selective adoption of country-specific resolutions in the UNHRC is a tool that exploits human rights for political purposes. Hence, Sri Lanka has reiterated time and again that such politicised action runs contrary to the ideals and principles of the Council and must be arrested forthwith.

The call for an international investigation on the situation in Sri Lanka emanated at the UNHRC, barely a week after the Security Forces vanquished the LTTE leadership in the Nandikadal lagoon and that the “ill-conceived resolution” on Sri Lanka resulted from “politicised action, diaspora compulsions and reports not mandated by the inter-governmental process”. Such controversial resolutions lack transparency and credibility. Resolutions against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC are totally unwarranted as they have been brought in at a time Sri Lanka is making a determined effort in national reconciliation while affording a new lease of life for people in the North and the East.

Sri Lanka had quite rightly pointed out that the collusion which is becoming increasingly evident among some countries that support action against Sri Lanka and certain extreme elements of the Tamil diaspora with vested interests must be addressed more comprehensively by the OHCHR. It was amazing that some of these diaspora elements had been accredited as members of a country delegation at the previous UN Human Rights Council sessions. This is indeed, alarming.

This would by no means assist the ongoing reconciliation in Sri Lanka, nor help people in the North and the East, who had been subjected to untold misery when the world's most ruthless terrorist outfit was at its peak. Moreover, it only caused mistrust about the international process among Sri Lankans while negatively impacting on the country's reconciliation efforts. President Rajapaksa had on several occasions invited all those who level allegations against Sri Lanka to visit the country and see for themselves. The aspirations of the Tamils rescued from the jaws of death are poles apart from the Tamil diaspora and LTTE cohorts in the West. In this scenario, Pillay will be afforded a golden opportunity to understand this stark truth. Sri Lanka considers her visit as part of its continued, transparent and proactive engagement with the High Commissioner and the OHCHR. If the international community is sincerely interested in the well-being of the people in the North and the East, they must feel the pulse of those who had been liberated during the world's largest human rescue mission, and not merely go by what the domiciled Tamils in the West project.

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