28 May, 2023


Clarifications On Geneva 2015

By Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

It seems to me that there are certain essentials on which we should focus in the aftermath of the recent UNHRC Resolution at Geneva. One, as I argued in my last article, is an incontrovertible fact about which there should be no argument at all: every civilized society has sanctions against crime, and in so far as we fail to apply them we have to be regarded as to that extent a quasi savage society. That fact is not altered one jot by the fact that there may be a hundred and one infirmities in the UNHRC Report and the Resolution that followed from it. The other essential arises from the fact that what is at issue are crimes allegedly committed against an ethnic minority, namely the Tamils. Our refusal to hold credible investigations on the alleged crimes and take appropriate action over them would mean that the Tamils are regarded as a lesser breed who are not entitled as a matter of course to the protection of the law. The case for Eelam would be strengthened to the extent that the culture of impunity applies to the Tamils.

Those two essentials fully justify our Government’s co-sponsorship of the Resolution. There is an additional compelling reason for supporting the Resolution, which is that in the alternative crippling sanctions would almost certainly have been imposed by the Western powers and their associates, crippling because of our dependence on Western markets. That is contested by the Sri Lankan Opposition but the two essentials I have mentioned above should be regarded as beyond contestation. I will expand on them slightly. A society is a whole, not just a collection of autonomous fragments, and that means that what affects the part can come to affect the whole as well. Under the last Government a culture of impunity applied to the Tamils because that Government refused to hold credible investigations into alleged crimes against the Tamils. A coarsening of the moral sensibility, a partial atrophy of the moral faculty, a lapse into a condition of quasi savagery, ensued from that refusal. It is not surprising therefore that under that same Government the culture of impunity came to prevail against the Sinhalese and the Muslims as well.

As for strengthening the case for Eelam, we must first of all take into account the unalterable facts of power. The Sri Lankan state emerged victorious after the 26-year civil war. It has been clearly demonstrated that the ethnic minorities are at the mercy of the Sinhalese majority. But the Sinhalese cannot treat the Tamils like dirt – for instance by refusing to hold credible investigations into alleged war crimes – and hope to get away with it with total impunity. The reason of course is the Tamil Nadu factor: what happens to the Tamils here could conceivably cause a fall-out in Tamil Nadu of so serious an order that Indian intervention could ensue, even possibly to the imposition of a Cyprus-style solution. That is only a worst-case hypothesis, a possibility of a very remote order, but it should not be discounted because the unalterable facts of power are there: the Sinhalese are dominant over the Tamils in a national context, but the Tamils could become dominant over the Sinhalese in a regional context. Those unalterable facts of power dictate that we support a Resolution that is meant to ensure that the Tamils are not treated as a lesser breed that is not entitled to the full protection of the law.

It seems to me essential that the Opposition in particular do some rethinking about our propensity to think of Resolutions on human rights as anti-Sri Lankan. A Resolution on human rights is critical of the Government, not of the people, for violating the rights of the people. It is absurd therefore to think of a Resolution that is critical of the Government over human rights as anti-Sri Lankan. It should appropriately be regarded as pro-Sri Lankan. The confusion has arisen because of simplistic notions about sovereignty. The modern state system has its origin in the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, according to which every state is sovereign and it is in that respect the equal of every other state. The golden principle theoretically guiding international relations was that there should not be any interference in the internal affairs of states. But the notion of sovereignty underwent a sea-change in the course of the centuries, and there has been a steady erosion of state sovereignty in recent decades.

At the time of the Treaty of Westphalia a traditional political order prevailed in the West and in the rest of the world. It consisted essentially of the King and nobles, the clergy, and the commons. It was the result of a process of organic growth over centuries, and it was regarded as immutable because it was part of the natural order of things or God-given. All that began to change in the second half of the eighteenth century with the American and French Revolutions, as a consequence of which the people, not the wielders of power, became sovereign. Consequently when we complain that a UNHRC Resolution infringes Sri Lankan sovereignty, we are forgetting that it is supportive of the rights of the people of Sri Lanka who are sovereign under the Constitution. Such Resolutions should be regarded as pro- not anti- Sri Lanka.

It seems essential also that we should get our perspectives clear about the Western powers. Simplistic notions of pro-Western and anti-western have to be jettisoned because they don’t fit the complex realities that we have to confront in international relations. It is true that the US and other Western powers have been interfering, bullying, aggressive towards weaker powers. At the UNHRC they have been notorious for double standards and for giving priority to political interests over human rights. But – and this is the point of crucial importance – they have been in earnest, or at least partly in earnest, about the promotion of human rights, and that is something of real benefit to the oppressed of the earth. We must see the promotion of human rights as part of a revolutionary transformation of the world, and the West is at the forefront of that transformation.

The negative and positive aspects of Western relations with the rest of the world should, I think, be seen in terms of a schizophrenic divide at the heart of Western civilisation. The prevailing political ideology of the West is liberal democracy, an ideology which is favored by the majority of people in the contemporary world. Liberal democracy really consists of two distinct components, liberalism and democracy, which can be seen in the ideological writings that preceded the American and French Revolutions. Liberalism stands for rationality, secularism, individualism and capitalism, while democracy stands for liberty, equality, and fraternity. The schizophrenic divide can be seen clearly in the two contrasting figures of Voltaire and Rousseau. It is the Western liberal drive to transform the world that has earned the West the detestation of the peoples of many third world countries. As for the democratic drive, shown for instance in the promotion of human rights, alas it has too often been misunderstood, particularly in countries dominated by rogues, thugs, and fools.

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Latest comments

  • 4

    You must give some credit to (Ava)Mangala Samaraweera. He would have worked out all the ramifications (with the help of the GTF etc.) before agreeing to co-sponsor the Resolution to curry favour with his US and the UK masters. There is nothing for us to be worried about. His expertise in Ikebana would see us through.

    • 1

      There is nothing to be worried about if he or she did not commit a crime.

  • 2

    This is what I told the Conservative friends of Srilanka in UK which is made up mainly of Sinhalese with few Tamils :

    The sad predicament Srilanka is in, is due to the commissions and omissions of the last regime, which not only tried to hoodwink the international community, but also was defiant in order to get cheap popularity from the local electorate. The inquiry by UN would never have been carried out if the last regime honoured the promises given to conduct a fair inquiry and to settle the ethnic problem.

    Last year the US and it’s allies got fed up with the last regime and wanted them out. In order to pressurise, they got UN to conduct an unofficial inquiry into allegations of war crimes. To their surprise Rajapakse got dethroned, and since then the approach of US and it’s allies was to protect the hard won victory at any cost. Postponement of the release of the report in March was one such strategy.

    90% of Sinhalese do not want any sinhales punished for war crime, let alone conduct any credible inquiry. They say that due to international pressure if an inquiry was to be held, it should be only by Srilankan judges where scapegoats to be found and major players exonerated. The Srilankan delegation has conveyed to US and it’s allies that they are likely to be ejected out of power if they act against this.

    Unfortunately for US and it’s allies the UN report is quite damning about war crimes and also suggested to have hybrid court as they felt that the Srilankan judicial system is totally biased and incapable to conduct a free and fair inquiry. This placed US and it’s allies in a dilemma, with their credibility at stake in one hand and protecting Srilanka government on the other, and hence this compromise.

    If you read carefully, the tone has been moderated, but the substance remains the same, where the inquiry has to be credible according to international standards. Present government has now to hoodwink the Sinhala electorate, while faithfully adhering to the principles set out in the resolution. Most of Sinhala MPS are unlikely to vote for changes in judicial system to accommodate the demands of UN.

    Government is aware that it cannot simply escape from the problem and will dilly-dally in conducting the inquiry. It may hope that witnesses will not come forward to testify against the forces, as there will be no protection. It will put all its efforts to sabotage the process and the final result is that nothing tangible will arise out of internal inquiry whether any international elements are there or not.

  • 1

    Izeth Hussain

    RE: Clarifications On Geneva 2015

    Thank you good summary.The para-Sinhala need to be told and held accountable to its crimes against its own Para citizens.

    “Our refusal to hold credible investigations on the alleged crimes and take appropriate action over them would mean that the Tamils are regarded as a lesser breed who are not entitled as a matter of course to the protection of the law”

    This is where the UN really comes in. Force the Para-Sinhala, and hang some main criminals, and move on.

    “Those two essentials fully justify our Government’s co-sponsorship of the Resolution. There is an additional compelling reason for supporting the Resolution, which is that in the alternative crippling sanctions would almost certainly have been imposed by the Western powers and their associates, crippling because of our dependence on Western markets. That is contested by the Sri Lankan Opposition but the two essentials I have mentioned above should be regarded as beyond contestation.”

    UN comes in here. The Para Sinhala thinks that the Land of Native Veddah Aethho belongs to the Para-Sinhala. That is the core problem. Some of these Para–Sinhala, in addition to believing in the Lies and imaginations in the Mahawansa, also believes that the Sun goes around the Earth, just like Monk Mahawansa believed.

    Mitochondrial DNA history of Sri Lankan ethnic people: their relations within the island and with the Indian subcontinental populations

    Journal of Human Genetics (2014) 59, 28–36; doi:10.1038/jhg.2013.112; published online 7 November 2013


    Lanka Ranaweera1,3, Supannee Kaewsutthi1,3, Aung Win Tun1, Hathaichanoke Boonyarit1, Samerchai Poolsuwan2 and Patcharee Lertrit1

    ” both Tamils and Sinhalese clusters were affiliated with Indian subcontinent populations than Vedda people who are believed to be the native population of the island of Sri Lanka.”

  • 4

    Back during IKPF days the LTTE would shoot at the IKPF troops and then deliberately run inside a hospital. The IKPF who gives chase then shoots killing Tamil patients and doctors.

    In the last phase of the war the LTTE would deliberately position their artillery inside hospital compounds and fire. The return fire kills Tamil patients inside the hospital.

    The govt can stop HR violations by its own troops. But how do you stop the Tamils from cannibalizing their own and scream to the world govt is at fault?

    I think system in Sri Lanka however imperfect is geared towards respecting rights of humans.

    Its when you have this macabre cannibalistic culture within your borders that aim to portray a side that is blatantly untrue.

    The fact the this keeps getting wrong exposure is mainly due to govt inability and lack of resources in countries to overcome the negative propaganda.

    The resistance by Mahinda Rajapaske regime to work with UNHCR was perhaps a way of not falling deeper into the trap and setting the country on a course that is inimically against wider interests of all people.

    Given the track record its not hard to think even BBS was paid by one of these extremist organisation to bring Sri Lanka into disrepute.

    So what MR did at the time was the best course of action given the options he had.

    • 0

      “Its when you have this macabre cannibalistic culture within your borders” like that of
      1. Communal Riots of 1958, 1976(Trincomalee) 1977, 1983, 1985-1986 (Upcountry) in which so called Sinhala human burned alive Tamils, looted the hard earned properties, uniform clad and monks raped and molested Tamil women, with well orchestrated and impunity
      2. 1962 Deploying and Army Under Curfew against compatriot Parliamentarians, in response to a non violence movement in Jaffna and uniform clad forces looted the hard earned an properties of shops, raped and molested who got caught in the curfew imposed on short notice Tamil women, with well impunity orchestrated
      3. Deploying Police against 1974 International Tamil Research Conference being held in Jaffna against the Wish of Government who insisted it to be held in Colombo to be disturbed on the final day after orchestrating stone throwing through then Mayor Alfred Durraiappah towards final day podium
      4. Orchestrating violence through Hooligans and thugs brought from Colombo including cabinet ministers to disturb the District Development Elections and looting and burning the what the eye saw, including the cultural symbol Jaffna library and the Jaffna Cooperatives
      In all these violence scores human were burnt alive ……for Humans Rights of ….

  • 2

    Mr.Izeth Hussain.

    A fine analysis.Its going to be a good day for me.Thank you.

  • 1

    Thanks Izeth. There is much food for thought from what you have mentioned, especially to those opposing forces like Dayan J, Wimal V and the likes, who keep deceiving the public with their ‘wolf coming’ theories. Aside from the expected fallout of this motion, the maxim ‘If you can’t beat ’em, then our best and only option is to join ’em,’ seems to have worked positively in our country’s favor, as things have now turned out. In this circumstance it was also a wise move that helped soften the blow by gaining at least some control over its (resolution) final destiny, whilst it also helped share the burden of responsibility with the rest of the world community to help put things right in our country. The final outcome of the resolution getting passed without a vote was the icing on the cake, as it was like ending on a winning note for all the efforts of the UNHCR leader Prince Zeid and his team who put it all together.

  • 2

    An excellent analysis devoid of any prejudice or partiality.Bensen

  • 3

    Hear, hear Izeth Hussain,

    An enlightening article indeed, will the rogues, thugs, fools and the bigots listen?

    There are too many of them in Sri Lanka; many of them are institutionalized over 67 years.

  • 1

    According to me nothing is too pathetic than assaulting a 17 yr boy making him naked taking photos and threatening him to accept a four yr pretty girl’s rape and murder case and planning to give him capital punishment. This happened in Sri Lanka . i prefer International Jurisdiction very frankly as a mother of a son of same age. I am really helpless in Sri Lanka.

    • 0

      Sriyani Mangalika

      “According to me nothing is too pathetic than assaulting a 17 yr boy making him naked taking photos and threatening him to accept a four yr pretty girl’s rape and murder case and planning to give him capital punishment. “

      Reverse to 1971. A lot of Sinhala youth were taken into custody, and killed. They had mother too.

      1958 A Lot of Tamils were killed, courtesy of Sinhala “Buddhists”. Repeated several times including Black July 1983. They all had mother too. The Jaffna Library was burned.

      A Lot of Tamil Youths, Civilians and Politicians were killed by the LTTE wars for hegemony. They all had mothers too.

      With the war a Lot of Tamil youths were taken into custody and simply killed.

      LTTE also killed Muslims and Ethically cleansed them. They all had mothers too.

      The Para- War even affected the remnants of the Native Veddah Aethho.

      There are two things in common here.

      1. Each victim had a mother, just like you.

      2. All of them, except Native Veddah Aethho, were Para, Paradeshis.

      This is the very reason why, the Land of Native Veddh Aethho need UN supervision, because the Paras have failed miserably.

    • 0

      Sriyani Mangalika,

      This is only one sympathetic case – and it moves you so much. That is because you are human first and Sinhalese thereafter. But, my good lady, what the Tamil nation went through in the past 2-3 decades has hundreds of such cases – many covered up by those men in uniform and our wobbly judicial system. What saddens me is our judicial system was an exemplary one in the bygone decades before we were separated in a multitude of ways – racially, religiously and emotionally. Will Sri Lanka every produce a Desmond Tutu and a rainbow nation he succeeded to produce.

      One of our tragic weaknesses is even the quest for basic justice and truth is given a racial colouring. The worst perpetrators of war crimes and violations of human rights are now protected by a cloak of innocence – in a strange mixture of majoritariansm and sovereignty. Simply put, if a Sinhalese physically harms a Tamil/s it is no longer an offence. What a pathetic society we have become!!!


  • 0

    An excellent analysis. It is indeed a victory for the people of Sri Lanka.

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