17 September, 2021

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Amnesty International’s Questionable Approach To Human Rights?  

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

Amnesty International (AI) was the first to express its jubilation, among the international NGOs, when the UNHRC resolution was passed against Sri Lanka on 23 March. That is no surprise as from its inception the Amnesty has characterized their main approach as ‘naming and shaming.’ This is like ‘stoning and caning’ the perceived enemies. Who has unashamedly unleashed this approach this time against Sri Lanka is Hilary Power, Amnesty’s representative to the UN in Geneva (‘Sri Lanka: Landmark UN Resolution,’ Colombo Telegraph, 23 March 2021). 

Naming and Shaming?

Amnesty may be unaware or just ignoring the studies conducted by independent scholars about the counterproductive nature of these approaches particularly to culturally and religiously different countries, without employing a balanced and a constructive way of engagement. The latter is called human rights diplomacy. Jack Snyder was one among the critics on ‘naming and shaming.’ As he said in a study on ‘Backlash Against Naming and Shaming,’

“Neither activists nor the scholars who study them have paid much attention to the emotional dynamics of the targeted group, and in particular to the emotions of shame and shaming, nor to the sociological mechanisms that underpin the politics of status and status competition.”  

Snyder drew his conclusions based on political sociology/psychology. However, this is not only about psychology, but against the whole spirit of human rights. This is exactly what happened in Myanmar even after the military opted to hold elections and form coalition governments with Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD (National League for Democracy) since 2008. The naming and shaming went on even against Suu Kyi and the result was a terrible backlash today even against her.

It is possible that these Western advocates are trying their best, knowingly, or unknowingly, to turn Sri Lanka into another Myanmar. But I hope that Sri Lanka’s democratic and state institutions are resilient and firmer, the leaders are sensible, and the people in Sri Lanka would not get caught up in this trap the Western governments and NGOs are placing on them. I am talking based on my research and experience. What Sri Lanka should do is to campaign firmly within the UNHRC and the UN against these approaches, exposing the motives and deception of the Western countries and western dominated NGOs.    

Vindictiveness

Hilary Power of Amnesty has talked as a colonial madam declaring the following. “This is a significant move by the Human Rights Council, which signals a shift in approach by the international community. Years of support and encouragement to Sri Lanka to pursue justice at the national level achieved nothing. This resolution should send a clear message to perpetrators of past and current crimes that they cannot continue to act with impunity.”

What is this shift in approach that Power is talking about? It is very clear that it is about the ‘interference in internal affairs.’ It is an absolute lie to talk about ‘years of support and encouragement.’ On the contrary, it was maximalist demands year after year that discouraged accountability and national reconciliation. Why then the same policy of ‘support and encouragement’ allegedly continued if nothing achieved at the national level during the last 12 years?

What are the ‘current crimes’ that she is talking about? She should listen to Lord Nasby if she cannot believe the colored people. As an independent academic, I believe that her attitudes are conditioned by ‘white racism’ believing that Sri Lankan people cannot understand human rights. These are the same people or her predecessors that supported and encouraged LTTE terrorism in the name of human rights.

Exaggerations and Misinterpretations 

In the first sentence of the statement, it was completely wrong to characterize the war as a ‘30-year civil conflict.’ It was a terrorist war against a legitimate government and people in the country. The LTTE killed not only the Sinhalese or the government soldiers but also the Tamil innocents and their intellectuals. I lost some of the close friends and relatives. They were not killed by the soldiers or the police. Then elected governments had every legitimate right to fight against terrorism and this was required by the constitution. 

One major defect in the international human rights system today is that it does not have a clear definition or understanding of terrorism. They are clueless or complicit.   

Has Amnesty ever written against terrorism in Sri Lanka or elsewhere? Hilary Power should show us any evidence. Why cannot the Amnesty characterize terrorism as a human rights violation? Perhaps they were funded by some terrorist organizations worldwide. They claim they have seven million members who fund their activities. To my information Amnesty is significantly funded by the British government discretely. I have been to the Amnesty international office in London in late 1980s. They had their own regional scabbles with Africans that time.

I have also been to the Amnesty meetings in Sydney in early 1990s when I was doing my PhD research on human rights. From one meeting to the other people were changing while few were running an office on a paid basis. I also wrote to the Amnesty office in London asking whether they had made any statement on the Burmese coup in 1962. Because one of my concerned countries was Burma. They wrote back saying ‘No’ they were working only on death penalty! From amnesty to capital punishment, now they are working on amnesty to terrorists it seems. Because Amnesty type human rights advocacy is a big business today.

Prior to the statement on “Sri Lanka: Landmark UN Resolution” there were two reports issued by the Amnesty International. One was dated 14 January 2021on “The UN Human Rights Council Must Step Up Efforts” in Sri Lanka and the other lengthy Report was in February, without a clear date, titled “Old Ghosts in New Garb: Sri Lanka’s Return to Fear.” When you go through these two reports and the Report by the so-called office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the contents, the language, recommendations, and even paragraphs are, more or less, the same. 

Arrogance and Nonsense   

Perhaps the Amnesty or Hilary Power does not know what they are talking about as follows. “We urge Sri Lanka to engage constructively with the OHCHR, to implement the recommendations of the report and to allow full and unfettered access to the country. Failing this, the Human Rights Council may take more robust action, including the establishment of an independent accountability mechanism, said Hilary Power.” 

Perhaps the British colonial arrogance is behind her. Who is she to ‘urge’ Sri Lanka to engage with the OHCHR? She also ‘urge’ Sri Lanka to ‘allow full and unfettered access to the country.” To do what? She should know the colonial history of the country before talking about human rights today. She is also trying to blackmail the country by saying “Failing this, the Human Rights Council may take more robust action.”

Recommendations

I recommend the Sri Lanka government to completely prohibit anyone from the OHCHR to step into the country.

To campaign within the members of the UNHRC and the UN member countries in general to change the lopsided human rights approaches of the West and to promote human rights with human duties worldwide. To prohibit or limit the dubious organizations like Amnesty International influencing the activities of the UNHRC.   

To strengthen the national security without allowing anyone to undermine, challenge or subvert the country’s independence, sovereignty and integrity as guaranteed in the UN Charter.

To promote human rights and human duties among the citizens of Sri Lanka through education based on the international conventions and covenants, and the traditions and customs of the country.

To complain to the UN Security Council and the General Assembly regarding the illegal nature of the UNHRC resolution and allow the country to carry forward its own processes of promoting accountability, reconciliation and human rights and report to the UNHRC only on a periodic basis.     

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Latest comments

  • 14
    3

    With individuals like Unlaksiri ever willing to suck up; could this world ever become fit as a human habitat?

    • 20
      2

      HP,
      .
      No wonder, this guy was one of the PANELIST Profs. who the suggested to award Dr Title for their killing tactics as no others. Remember ?
      :
      So how can Laksiri Fernando or the like be ever clean ?

      His PSA values would go up, if Karmic Retribution would work properly… wait and see, the kind of men would be punished by the nature, I have no doubt about that.

      • 19
        2

        “One major defect in the international human rights system today is that it does not have a clear definition or understanding of terrorism. “
        Who were the terrorists in 1971 and 1989 when bodies were seen floating down rivers or burnt on tyres, causing Mahinda Rajapaksa himself to go to Geneva?
        Is it totally impossible that the same party that murdered people of their own ethnicity murdered other ethnicities with impunity?
        Stop victim-bashing, Laksiri. Do your arguments convince even yourself?

        • 2
          13

          old codger,
          “Stop victim-bashing,”

          Who are the victims, Tamil terrorists or Sinhala civilians?

          • 5
            0

            Eagle,
            Civilians in both cases. Just ask Mahinda why he went to Geneva.

      • 2
        13

        leelagemalli,
        Did Prof. Laksiri Fernando propose to give a doctorate to Velupillai Prabhakaran?

        “No wonder, this guy was one of the PANELIST Profs. who the suggested to award Dr Title for their killing tactics as no others.”

        • 4
          0

          I am not against JVP then leader VIJEWEERA and Tamil Srilankens Leader VP being offered any such titles, if our so called scholars did it with MEDAMUNALA killers that are born to destroy our srilankenness.

      • 13
        2

        Laksiri, day by day by tour gutter journalism, you are becoming a despicable person, showing your true colours as a racist. It is you who has questionable approach to Human rights of Tamils. When world renown agencies like Amnesty International exposes gross human rights violation of Sri Lankan state you are slinging mud on them. Since 1956, Sinhalese had been allowed to act with impunity to violate the highest human right of an individual, namely the right to live. There appears to be no end to Sinhala thuggery on Tamils. Sri Lanka is a member of UN and a signatory to several UN acts. UNHRC has acted within the mandate to bring Sri Lanka to book. It is rogue and failed states have voted in favour of Sri Lanka, and among those who refrained are also several such states. When a state is continually denying a section of its people of their inalienable rights, and not willing to correct itself, naturally international community will move in. (CONTD)

        • 11
          1

          (CONTD) Look at your recommendations to GOSL.
          1. Let the government deny anyone from OHCHR to enter Sri Lanka. Remember what happened when Darussaman commission was denied entry to conduct investigations. Last time they just ignored it, but this time Sri Lanka will be taught a lesson. You should be expelled from Australia and denied entry into any civilized country.
          2. Let government go ahead and campaign among other UN members, the result will be the same. Please remember the most important. human duty is to protect other human beings and treat them as equal, which Sri Lanka has failed to do during the past 73 years. Sri Lanka government is the most dubious entity, telling lies in global forums and reneging promises to UN to establish peace with justice to Tamils.
          3. It is under the guarantee of UN charter that independence, sovereignty and integrity of member countries were allowed to be subverted, undermined or challenged, with birth of new nations of oppressed people like Bosnia, East Timor and South Sudan. This practice is being applied to Sri Lanka to save Tamils from Sinhala terror.

        • 0
          6

          Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam,
          “There appears to be no end to Sinhala thuggery on Tamils”

          Sinhala thuggery is somewhat better than Tamil terrorism that massacred Sinhalayo using suicide bombers, claymore bombs, AK47s and chemical weapons.
          ****
          “UNHRC has acted within the mandate to bring Sri Lanka to book.”

          Bring Sri Lanka to book for what?
          UN and Western countries want to create a world free of terrorism. By eliminating LTTE Tamil terrorism that plagued Sri Lanka for three decades Sri Lanka made a significant contribution to make the world free of terrorism. The International Community should have awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace to President Mahinda Rajapakshe for giving leadership to eliminate Tamil terrorism and bring peace to all the people in Sri Lanka who suffered for three decades.

    • 3
      16

      hanchopancha,
      If there are more people like Prof. Laksiri Fernando who have the spine to expose the hypocrites in this world, the world will become a suitable place for civilized people to live. Now what prevails in the world is ‘Law of the Jungle’.

      • 11
        2

        Mahindapala, if you and Laksiri do not like the law of the jungle of western world. please relocate to Sri Lanka where there are Kangaroo courts. Look at the civilized Sri Lanka full of hypocrites who condemned Tamils for demanding international investigations against atrocities committed by state on their people, where Catholics, Muslims and opposition members are now requesting the same. You and Laksiri are misusing the hospitality given by Australian people to attack them. Can any Tamil make constructive criticism against racism of Sri Lankan state, and hope to remain alive.

        • 5
          0

          Dr GS,
          .
          as of today, Mahindala Pala or the like backlickers are hung by their balls. See entire country is gone in to pieces, each and every family in our sinahala dominated areas are in all anxities, with POL THEL – COCONUT oil being contaminated by direct mediation of the GOSL.

          Now we can raise the question – ARE U ALL HAPPY ?

      • 5
        0

        EE,
        .
        GLP and LF are best examples that Rajapakshes have abused them to the core so that the two would not sense it in this life.
        :
        They behave like FEMALE PROSTITUTES that bend their heads to their pimps for their day today runs. These both damaged the greater respect earned by srilankens that studied at Oxford and other prestigious colleges. Only wayout would the kind men be passed to genetic engineering companies such as MONSANTO for genetic modifications.

        • 2
          0

          I can understand people like Laksiri Fernando from third grade schools behaving like this, but I have no answer for behaviour of GL Pieris and Dinesh Gunawardena from top schools which are multi ethnic and secular outlook.

  • 22
    3

    Sinhalese leaders both in the government and in the opposition, Sinhalese writers and Sinhalese in general, are knowingly skirting the truth: They are perhaps ashamed to reveal the truth underneath or hope that the truth will go away.

    Yes, the truth is shameful crimes against humanity – starving the innocent Tamils in Vanni, denying them adequate medicine, bombing and shelling them indiscriminately and killing about 150,000 of them – genocide of Tamils.

    Furthermore they raped the surrendered women and executed the LTTE cadres who surrendered.

    Still no Sinhalese leader or writer has the moral fiber to ask from the victims’ kith and kin and the Tamil people for forgiveness.

    • 2
      14

      Thiru,
      Tamils who massacred Sinhalayo using suicide bombers, claymore bombs, AK47s and chemical weapons are the perpetrators and Sinhalayo are the victims.
      Do you live in a place where the victims are supposed to ask for forgiveness from perpetrators?

    • 2
      0

      Dear Thiru,
      .
      Our protests against the actions of the government would be more effective if what you write is more balanced. There are many of us, who identify as Sinhalese, who don’t skirt the truth. Please try, always, to focus on those responsible for the present state of affairs – the politicians, even many from the “UNP-group”. Admittedly, it is relatively easy to drive many Sinhalese into a frenzy by mouthing racist slogans.
      .
      That most Tamils are innocent is something that I admit; it requires much rigorous and patient inquiry how some of them ended up doing some of the nasty things that the LTTE did. It may all have begun with knowingly unreasonable demands like 50-50.
      .
      I have many times, on this forum, asked Tamils for forgiveness; you’ve glossed over what doesn’t fit your theories.

  • 21
    2

    Laksiri, PhD thanks for your uncalled recommendations. First you accused UNHRC and abused the head. When that did not get the desired results you now go after AI. As per your arrogance and nonsense ” not allowing people in” , I guess it will not be needed , because there are highly specialized experts recruited and already at work collecting , analysing and preserving evidence. Laksiri as you would have realized by now, we are not mere suspects anymore , but accused.

  • 16
    2

    [edited out]
    If Sri Lanka does not want to be part of UN or Commonwealth or IMF or WHO and become a province of China what is the barrier?

  • 16
    2

    It appears that the writer is carrying a huge chip on his shoulder, living in Sydney as a second class citizen, he attempts to take revenge on the White colonial system using the HRC mandate against Sri Lanka. While I do not condone colonial attitudes by the British or anyone else, it is a fact that human rights are abysmally lacking in Sri Lanka. Simply look at an ordinary fellow arrested by police. He will be kicked, slapped about, abused in filth and a confession will be extracted. This has been the case for many decades. Look at people who disappear without trace each time there’s an uprising or resistance against the ravaging of the country by its political parasites. Can even a human rights lawyer work with freedom of expression? No. Is the judicial system in Sri Lanka fair? It sends victims of crime to jail while exonerating grand criminals. Decent police investigators are hounded and imprisoned while murderers, extortionists, arsonists, drug dealers and pimps roam free. Can the innocent civilians who lost their lives under any circumstances ever get a just hearing or compensation? No. So what is this fellow talking about then? Sri Lankans have never been able to bring justice to its people, whether majority or minority. It is high time that the world looks very closely at what happens inside the dirty state buildings where ordinary innocent people are tortured or denied justice.

    • 2
      13

      Lasantha Pethiyagoda,
      “Can the innocent civilians who lost their lives under any circumstances ever get a just hearing or compensation? No.”

      Yes they can. Tamil and Muslim terrorists killed civilians. Now the Government is paying compensation even to families of LTTE carders declared as missing and to the victims of the Muslim terrorist attack.
      Government paid Rs.382 million as compensation to Tamils but I do not know the exact amount paid to victims of Muslim terrorist attack.

    • 3
      1

      He does not live as a second class citizen but is enjoying all the benefits and luxury , that these liberal western democratic societies offer. I live in Melbourne and these is no entrenched racism or racism legislated in the Australian constitution, like in Sri Lanka. You may get a few individual white Australians,other Europeans and even some western Asian people like the Lebanese and Turks displaying some sort of racism towards the darker skinned people or other Asians but they are in a very small minority and even then cannot openly do it, as they will condemned by the general Australian population, who will not tolerate this behaviour. Remember now 25% of the Australian population is now of Asian or of part Asian ancestry. Racism is found everywhere but nothing beats Sri Lanka. Believe me I have travelled throughout the world, lived and worked in the Arabian Gulf , Britain and now Australia. The Sinhalese and Sri Lankan take the cake.

      • 3
        1

        Ironically many Sinhalese living in the west like the author of this article and Eagle Blind and few others, who enjoy every aspect of the freedom and equal rights given to them and their family by these liberal western societies and also demand it, are the biggest critics of these societies that they are very fond of living in and are also biggest supporters of the marginalisation, the structural genocide and the war crimes committed on the island’s Tamils by the Sri Lankan state. People who should no better . Enjoy the liberties of the west, the rich lifestyle will never return to Sri Lanka other than for a cheap luxury holiday , are the biggest Sinhalese Buddhists or Catholic Fascists.

  • 12
    1

    Dr Laksiri Fernando,

    Human Right violation is not an abstract concept.

    Let us forget about UNHRC and Amnesty International for a moment, and look at what happened in Sri Lanka outside the war zone.

    I will give you only a few specific cases, which received worldwide publicity.

    The killing of five Tamil students in Trincomalee beech in Jan 2006

    The killing of 17 humanitarian workers in Muttur,in Aug 2006

    The killing of 11 persons for ransom in Navy custody in Trincomalee.

    The killing of Lasantha Wicramathunga in Jan 2009.

    These are all high profile cases, there was massive cover up in each one of these cases, and the complicity of top men in the Mahinda Rajapakse administration is apparent.

    If the kith and kin of the above demand justice, what is your answer? If there is cover up within the country W ho is responsible. Covering up a crime is much more repugnant than actual commitment of a crime.

    Are you happy with your government being accused of such outrageous crimes?.

    • 1
      5

      srikrish
      “Covering up a crime is much more repugnant than actual commitment of a crime.”

      This is exactly what Tamils are doing. After passing the Vaddukkodei Resolution to create a separate State for the descendants of Dravidians brought to Yapanaya by Portuguese and Dutch, racist separatist Malabar Vellala Tamil politicians promoted terrorism by asking Tamil youths to take up arms and fight until their objective is achieved. Backed by Tamil politicians, LTTE Tamil terrorists committed most heinous crimes against Native Sinhalayo to grab their land to create the separate State. After massacring Sinhalayo using suicide bombers, claymore bombs, AK47s and chemical weapons for three decades they want to cover up their crimes by charging that Sri Lanka Armed Forces who defeated LTTE committed war crimes and human rights violations which they did not do.

  • 10
    2

    have stopped reading this guy….who has turned in to a gutter journalist

    • 3
      1

      Laksiri is in Australia, a brown man living mostly with decent white men. Yes, at least half of those whites are now decent. Some have racist attitudes but keep them under control.
      .
      Go back a hundred years. What then were the attitudes of the ancestors of those whites? Didn’t 90% not then shoot Aborigines with the same abandon as they shot kangaroos? Why not research that, and write about all that?
      .
      The most absolute hypocrite ever! Laksiri why don’t you explain how you happened to write this in October 2015?:
      .
      Quote: “There are credible allegations of gross human rights violations at the last stages of the war under their command.” Unquote.
      .
      You will find it here:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/i-propose-to-revoke-doctorates-from-gr-mr/
      .
      I there is a single fibre of honesty in you, you will respond to this. Also, we don’t want any more disgusting articles from you.

  • 9
    2

    Laksiri Fernando, I want to be fair by you. If you’d guarantee that you are willing to take me up on CT, I am ready to thrash the contents of your write up. If not, sorry, I have better things to do.

    • 2
      1

      Well said, Nathan.
      .
      Sometimes his excuse is that he will not respond to anonymous commenters. Yet you are consistent, and I respect you. I second what you have said. Therefore, let him respond to me.
      .
      Let him write about how it was in Australia a hundred years ago, when contless numbers of the ancestors of today’s white Australian population decimated the owners of the country, the Aborigines.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe aka “Sinhala_Man”

  • 1
    0

    I didn’t read this. I don’t have time to read these type of jokes any more. Just comparing two headings here. ” UNHRC Resolution: An Opportunity For Sri Lankan’ s To Monitor Themselves “ . This is an essay Basil wrote two days ago. Can Laksiri Fernando understand Basil’s essay?
    Other than Laksiri and Chandrika, so far I didn’t read many Sinhalese those who are not in the government but criticizing the resolution. Even Chandrika said the resolution is dangerous to Lankawe not because itself, but by the path government going to take in retaliation. So she too wants the government to comply with the resolution. She didn’t say that is disadvantage to Sinhalese but advantage to Muslims and Tamils. Basically this time uncountable Sinhala Leaders are pointing out that the HC’s report and Resolution covering in more 75% on them, the current situation of Lankawe. Sinhala Buddhists didn’t approach UNHRC. But numerous Buddhist Sinhala activist has brought to UNHRC’s attention what is going back in home. Even Chandraperuma called from UNHRC and told to ministers that it was they who were making his job of covering up the Aanduwa difficult. There was no need to lobby with any country who had seen Chandraperuma’s chest beating, to understand where the Lankawe ministers are standing these days.

  • 0
    6

    Thank you Dr. Laksiri Fernando for an enlightening article. Amnesty International is the extended arm of western imperialism. If fighting terrorists who had taken possession of our country and killing us in the thousands is a violation of human rights, then we must question the definition of human rights. In end of January 2009 when the government gave an 48 hour humanitarian ceasefire for the LTTE to let the civilians they were keeping as a human shield to go, LTTE didn’t let them go and Amnesty-International came out saying that it was not enough time! Then the government again gave another humanitarian ceasefire of 48 hours in 13th-14th April 2009 to let the civilians go. But LTTE didn’t let them go. Then again Amnesty International came out with the same thing, namely that it was not enough time! A few days later the army broke the sand bund LTTE had made to prevent the civilians escaping and over 100,000 civilians poured out of it and was taken to safety by the army. That didn’t take 48 hours. If the LTTE had let the civilians go at least in the January 2009 ceasefire, then many deaths could have been avoided.

  • 3
    0

    Laksiri,

    It is not who says it, but what he says it, that is relevant.

    Only those who could not face the message or answer the contents intelligently, attack the messenger. We thought only cheap politicians and ignorant idiots resort to this type of responses.

    As an academic, we expect better responses.

    The scientific method in physical sciences and Research Methodology in social sciences concentrate not on persons who postulate such theories, but on the facts.

    Why blame the messenger? And go on researching on the messenger, but ignore the message.

    Could you honestly and sincerely say that the minorities were not at all discriminated against and that they were not mercilessly killed and raped and the governments of the days were only bystanders if not active participants and all the security forces , police and judiciary were part of this process?
    .
    Leave UNHRC and Amnesty International alone, they could be discussed at another forum and they themselves could reply, if they consider your accusations deserve any response.

    Now stick to the subject-the massive human rights violations by the state since Independence in 1948.

    And tell us whether the state has complicity or not and whether the victims deserve justice or not.

    I hope your next article will deal with the message and not with the messenger

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