By S. V. Kirubaharan, France
The UN Human Rights Commission was reformed by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi-Annan and the UN Human Rights Council was established in 2006. One of the main reasons for this was that the Commission was too politicised. Now what is happening with the UN Human Rights Council – UN HRC is the same. A few months ago, one of the NGOs said in their statement about the members of the UN HRC that ‘Foxes are allowed to guard the Chickens”.
The forty-seven members of the present UN HRC consist of more violating countries than countries respecting human rights. To give a brief idea of present members – one of them is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which killed the famous journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its embassy in Turkey. Just thirteen years old, the HRC has changed its original shape and has become another politicised organ of the UN.
In such a scenario, how can the worst violators of human rights, like Sri Lanka be scrutinised? How will these countries look at anything on human rights and humanitarian grounds? The same things that happened in the earlier UN Human Rights Commission, are happening in the UN HRC too. Sri Lanka is well protected by the worst violators like China, Pakistan, Cuba and others.
Of course, the former and the present UN Human Rights Commissioners, UN mandate holders and other UN independent experts are doing their best to uphold human rights around the world. But when it comes to action, they are powerless and voiceless in some situations. Their well-studied and well-established reports on violating countries are swept under the carpet by the violators. Some politicised members of the UN HRC earn shame to human rights and humanity.
Let us take Sri Lanka as an example to see the inaction of the UN HRC. What is lacking for the UN HRC to bring a tougher resolution on Sri Lanka? Why can’t they pass their burden to either the UN Security Council – UN SC or to the International Criminal Court – ICC via the UN SC?
Buying time and space
The human rights community around the world tried all possible mechanisms to scrutinise Sri Lanka. Of course, we can’t underestimate Sri Lanka’s smart lobby spending billions around the globe. Since the end of the war in May 2009, Sri Lanka’s Defence budget has doubled – why? They have a master-plan which includes foreign companies, experts, certain sections of Sinhala & Tamil diaspora and ex-Sri Lankan soldiers to counter any international pressure on them.
While they have been buying time and space for years and years in the UN HRC – locally they have been successfully moving with their four pillars – Buddhisation, Sinhalisation, Colonisation and Militarisation in the conflict region, the North and East which is the hereditary land of the Tamils.
The international community - IC is failing to understand the logic of the Sri Lankan rulers. While the president, prime minister, ministers and others are continuously saying that they can’t implement all that is in the resolution, they again co-sponsor the same! It is so obvious that Sri Lanka co-sponsored the resolution to buy more time and space to achieve their four pillars.
Since independence in 1948, every Sri Lankan government in power has strongly believed that once they fully achieve their four pillars in the North and East, then the international pressure for a political settlement to ethnic conflict, and accountability, will cease naturally. The IC should be ashamed to see that Sri Lanka has already achieved more than fifty percent of their goal using the weaknesses of the IC and UN mechanisms.
Disaster for ex-soldiers in Geneva
Now let me turn to what happened in the 40th session of the UN HRC. How can one compete with the Sri Lankan government lobby which spent more than Rs 20 million to cover only the expenditures of the delegation which came from Colombo, simply to sit and listen to the deliberations in the Council? What about the additional expenses of the ex-soldiers and their diaspora friends?
How many people know that ex-soldiers and some war criminals were prevented and barred from entering the UN building in Geneva on Thursday 21st March 2019? The most shameful thing was that the ex-soldiers side event which was supposed to take place at 12.00 noon on the same day was cancelled because the so-called war heroes (cardboard heroes) were not allowed to enter the UN building.
Disappointed Sarath Weerasekara - SW and his gang disappeared from Geneva without making any noise or a statement. Even though some Sri Lankan media knew about this incident, they censored it because of ‘white van’ fear.
When we consider the resolution in the 40th session, UK and members of the co-group – Montenegro, Macedonia, Canada and Germany did the maximum they could. The reason Sri Lanka co-sponsored this resolution has been explained above.
On Tuesday 5th March, the UK and the co-group called for a ‘formal consultation on draft resolution on Sri Lanka’. In this meeting, the Sri Lankan Ambassador endorsed the draft and said that Sri Lanka would co-sponsor the resolution. But countries like Switzerland, Sweden, France and Austria wanted the draft resolution to be made tougher. Then, UK and the co-group informed that they would do the changes and call another meeting.
President and Prime Minister
On the same evening, when this message reached the ears of Government of Sri Lanka - GOSL, the following day, Wednesday 6th March, Sri Lanka started to stage its usual drama. They spread news saying that there was a problem with the resolution between the President and Prime Minister, and the President insisted that Sri Lanka should not co-sponsor this resolution. The UK and the co-group could not understand that this staged drama was purely to dodge any amendments being made to the draft. However, once again Sri Lanka managed to cheat the IC. As usual the victims were let down by the cunning game played by Sirisena and Ranil. They seem like enemies but when it comes to anything on the ethnic issue, they are friends!
Then on Wednesday 20th March 2019, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet officially released her report on Sri Lanka. The delegation which came from Colombo – the Trio, foreign minister Tilak Marapana, MP Sarath Amunugama and the governor of the Northern province Dr. Suren Raghavan never objected to the report other than Marapana’s few minor comments.
The following day Thursday 21st March 2019, the resolution on Sri Lanka was tabled on behalf of the co-group by UK and it went through without any big fuss made by Sri Lanka or by their UN HRC saviours.
The Trio who came all the way from Colombo, having a lavish holiday in Geneva, could have easily objected to the resolution by raising their name board, bringing a point of order from where they were seated. In fact, they did nothing in the UN HRC other than posing for photographers. For this meaningless task, the unintelligent President had spent Rs 20 million from tax payers’ money.
Slave trade by the Governor
The Trio who never objected to anything in the UN HRC, went back to Colombo, jubilant. They started to make false and biased statements to the local media to show their unintelligent President and the locals that they had done a great job in Geneva. The trio’s activities are laughable for those who were actually present in the UN HRC.
In fact, the present governor of the North has defeated late former minister of foreign affairs of Sri Lanka Mr Lakshman Kadirgamar. Kadirgamar did his international lobby as the minister of foreign affairs, whereas here, the Governor of the Northern Province, whose duty has no concern with international lobby, came to Geneva to do his ‘slave trade’.
The governor of the Northern Province was included among the Trio to show the IC that they have a prominent Tamil who says that everything is fine and good for the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
The way the frustrated regimes are using some prominent Tamils to show the world that there are Tamils who will endorse their projects, suggests that one day some prominent school principals from the North and East will be included in their international lobby team.
However, one should understand that the present resolution in the 40th UN HRC is calling for the full implementation of the actual resolution 30/1, passed in the UN HRC in 2015. This resolution called for various matters including foreign judges and lawyers.
Cowardice of Sri Lanka
After they gained another two years’ time and space in the name of implementation - one by one, the President, Prime Minister, ministers started to show their cowardice. Now they say that they will not implement most of the recommendations set out in this resolution. Hope the international community and the members of UN HRC will make a note of it. Now, the aftermath of the appalling incidents of Easter Sunday and the present turmoil in the country will be shown as good reasons for not implementing the resolution. This is Sri Lanka.
We organised a side event on 18th March 2019 and SW and his gang attended it. Even though we were short of time, I deliberately gave a chance to SW to intervene in our meeting to show the attitude of these cardboard heroes to the other participants. He could not counter any of the points made by the panellists.
As usual SW started to slander the panellists with a bunch of lies and deceptions. One of the things he said was that there are Tamils living happily in greater numbers than the Singhalese in the South. This is one of the exaggerated claims of the Sri Lankan propagandists. Take it for granted that it is true! If so, how many Tamil Members of Parliament are there in the South? If this propaganda is true, why have they chased away the Tamils who lived and developed Kataragama and other parts in the South? If they are honestly talking about genuine resettlement, what about resettling Tamils in Kataragama and other parts in the South? In the present situation can any Tamil or Muslim live in peace and harmony among the Singhalese in the South? Tamils who lived in Kataragama and its surrounding area for centuries were the ones who developed those areas and the holy sites.
Where is Mangala Samaraweera?
Can so-called ‘good governance’ explain to the world, why Mangala Samaraweera - MS was removed from the post of minister of foreign affairs? This is a game of the cunning politicians in the South. On behalf of the present government MS was telling fictions and giving bogus promises to the IC that the so-called good governance would do wonders on accountability and reconciliation. This was believed not only by the IC, also by some Tamils who pose as moderates and who celebrate birthdays and cocktail parties with MS. Since MS was removed from this post, he says that he tried his best, and now you speak to the man presently in this position. Such political duplicity has continued in Sri Lanka for decades.
Here I have a duty to highlight at least one joke which took place in the 40th session. In this session there were many more Tamil agents of the Sri Lankan intelligence than in any other previous session. They are all well paid and looked after by the Sri Lankan ministry of defence.
During the last week of the session, we saw a man in the UN HRC, dressed with a red colour turban and pure white dress. Initially we thought that this was someone from North India. Later we were told that he was ‘a relative of Tamil King Sangilian who was the King during early 16th century in Jaffna’. This fake character presently lives in the Netherlands it seems. For many years this man and another man who pretends to be a Member of the Netherlands Parliament had been paid and looked after by the Sri Lankan ministry of defence. They both are planted by the Sri Lankan ministry of defence to mislead the IC with regard to the history of the Tamils. To be frank, with this same dress, if he could participate in any ‘fancy-dress’ competition, he would certainly win the first place. Who is fooling whom? This shows how Sri Lanka is frustrated and finding very cheap ways, but financially costly to avoid international scrutiny. Today Sri Lanka is in a mess because of the short-cut methods and underhand actions of the rulers.