Credibility Of The UNHRC Has Been Put At Stake By Sri Lanka: Tamil Civil Society, Trade Unions And Political Parties

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The credibility of the UNHRC has been put at stake by Sri Lanka and the UNHRC must respond strongly, Tamil Civil Society Organisations, Political Parties and Trade Unions have said today.

We publish below the Joint Appeal by Tamil Civil Society Organisations, Political Parties and Trade Unions – 09 March 2017:

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

When Resolution 30/1 was passed by the UN Human Rights Council in October 2015 Sri Lanka’s co-sponsorship of the resolution was hailed as an example of how the UN Human Rights Council could work constructively with a state whose human rights was under scrutiny. The cost of this attempt to bring Sri Lanka on-board as a co-sponsor of the resolution was a compromise with the content of the resolution, in that the Council recommended the establishment of an ambivalently worded hybrid judicial mechanism, thus losing the opportunity to lay out the foundations of a strong internationally mandated process for accountability and justice. We pointed out at that time that a hybrid mechanism that was firmly placed within the control of domestic actors of Sri Lanka would not sufficiently deal with the identified problem, i.e the lack of political willingness on the part of Sri Lanka’s institutions to effectively provide for truth or justice in Sri Lanka. The judgments of the Sri Lankan courts in the Kumarapuram case and the Raviraj case since the passage of Resolution 30/1 further confirm the entrenched culture of impunity that prevails in Sri Lanka’s judicial system, particularly where the victims are Tamils, and the gross inadequacy of adding a few foreign judges to a system that lacks political will. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report last week concurs with our assessment.

However even those minimal obligations that were laid out in Resolution 30/1 on accountability have now been officially disowned by Sri Lanka. The Government of Sri Lanka since the passage of resolution 30/1 has for all intents and purposes, clearly intimated that they will not abide by those obligations that they undertook as a co-sponsor of the resolution particularly with regard to those laid down in operative paragraph six of the resolution. That the President himself has led the effort to disown the resolution is well documented. Both the President and Prime Minister even avoided formally receiving the report of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms – a Task Force appointed by them which had recommended a minimalist hybrid mechanism. The speech made by Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister at the UNHRC on 28 February 2017 on the floor of the current session of the Council, is fundamentally misleading, is made up of empty rhetoric and is completely delinked from that of the positions of his Government.

Not only has Sri Lanka failed in its obligations under operative paragraph 6, but it has also fallen short of many of its other obligations under Resolution 30/1 as well. For example,
A substantial number of political prisoners still languish in jail. Some who were released have been assigned for ‘rehabilitation’ by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, a programme alleged to have a culture of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Those who have been released are subject to intense surveillance and continuous harassment.

Less than one fifth of the lands have been released, even in those areas where lands have been released the military has shifted to adjacent lands without demilitarising areas released for resettlement. Land release without demilitarisation hampers return to normalcy. Furthermore large tracts of land are still illegally occupied by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces while land acquisition for the armed forces in the North-East continues under the current regime under various guises. Per the Government’s own claim they have not reduced the military presence in the North-East.

The Office of Missing Persons even with the flawed process leading to its enactment with all its faults remains an institution on paper. Attempts to dilute / remove the provisions in the Act that may have facilitated international participation have been authorised by the Sri Lankan Cabinet of Ministers. The Prime Minister has insisted on more than one occasion that those disappeared are dead.

Police and military surveillance of public life in the North-East continues under the current regime. Activists and civilians fear that if the political situation deteriorates, those who used the current appearance of normalcy to engage in activism may be targeted by State functionaries similar to their crack down on activists following the collapse of the 2001-2003 peace process.

We are also extremely concerned about the Government’s attempt to repackage the peace versus justice debate as one relating to sequencing truth and justice to peace (constitutional reforms). The Tamil people have steadfastly refused to dichotomise peace and justice. The argument of sequencing employed here is a ploy to suggest that peace (constitutional reforms) is more important than justice, when in fact they are deeply interwoven issues. To dichotomise justice and peace will seriously question the integrity of the peace process itself. That the Government is thinking about these issues in the binary is alarming. Regardless it needs to be pointed out that the constitutional process has hit a roadblock owing to sections of the Government putting on hold the release of the interim report of the steering committee of the Constitutional Assembly. Moreover public statements regarding the state of constitutional reforms indicates that the status quo will continue barring some cosmetic changes. The hierarchical unitary character of the Sinhala Buddhist state will remain unchanged according to influential sections of the Government. Tamils are being asked to barter truth and justice for an increasingly empty promise of constitutional reform which may eventually lead to neither a just solution to the political question nor to the quest for truth and justice.

It has thus become very clear that the co-sponsorship of Resolution 30/1 was an attempt to divert the UN Human Rights Council’s attention away from Sri Lanka. In fact, senior ministers attached to the Government have argued that the resolution was co-sponsored as part of a clever manoeuvre to placate sections of the international community and to divert attention from the need for stronger action. In other words, the resolution was merely part of an overall foreign policy management strategy on the part of the Government that came into power championing ideas of good governance and human rights.

Sri Lanka’s subsequent behaviour following their co-sponsorship of Resolution 30/1 we believe threatens the credibility of the UN Human Rights Council. Comments from sections of the Sri Lankan Government to the effect that the hybrid court would be an interference with its sovereignty is a mockery of its declared commitment to engage positively with the UNHRC. Member states of the UNHRC must assess before taking a decision, the extent to which steps taken so far in furtherance of implementing Resolution 30/1 have positively impacted the lives of the affected people of the North and East of Sri Lanka. It is our assessment that the Government has taken steps so far only to delay and detract the international community and not to bring redress to the victims. Hence it would be farcical for the UN Human Rights Council in its current session to merely roll over the resolution and provide time for Sri Lanka to abide by its obligations under Resolution 30/1. When a State clearly states that it has no intention to abide by a resolution, for the UNHRC to provide more time to such State to honour its obligations, under the very resolution which it disowns, would seriously erode the credibility of the Council. We reiterate that independent international investigations has been the consistent demand of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Given that Sri Lanka has rejected the creation of a hybrid court, the only genuine means of ensuring criminal justice would be by way of a referral to the International Criminal Court or by way of creating an ad-hoc international tribunal. Relevant agencies within the UN system must now activate steps to make this a reality. In the interim we urge that the UNHRC mandate the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to open offices in the North-East empowering it to monitor ongoing human rights violations.

A robust resolution and strong follow up mechanisms are important to put pressure on the Sri Lankan Government to deliver on its promises. Escalation and not de-escalation of pressure on the Government is the real contribution that the international community can make towards enhancing the human rights situation in the North-East of Sri Lanka. Though international actors may view such a call for a referral as disconnected from their current judgment of Sri Lanka and what is possible within international realpolitik, it is our view based on years of living and working with victims in the Tamil community, that given Sri Lanka’s absolutist position against international participation in accountability and justice mechanisms, measures that we have outlined above are the only viable route to ensure justice.

Signatories:

Civil Society Organisations/ Trade Unions

Association of the Families of the Forcibly Disappeared
Centre for Human Rights and Development
Ceylon Teachers Union
Centre for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Trincomalee
Catholic Youth Federation, Jaffna
Foundation of Changers, Batticaloa
Inayam – Network of NGOs, Batticaloa
Jaffna University Teachers Association
Jaffna University Students Association
Jaffna University Science Teachers Association
Jaffna University Employees Union
Jaffna Peace and Justice Desk, Laity Commission, Catholic Diocese of Jaffna
Jaffna Economists Association
Justice and Peace Commission, Jaffna
Mannar Citizens Committee
Mullaitivu Federation of Fishermen Societies
Rural Workers Society, Jaffna
Suyam Centre for Women Empowerment
Tamil People’s Council
Tamil Civil Society Forum
Tamil Lawyers Forum

Political Parties

Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front
Tamil National People’s Front
Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation

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28 Responses to Credibility Of The UNHRC Has Been Put At Stake By Sri Lanka: Tamil Civil Society, Trade Unions And Political Parties

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    Tamil Civil Society, Trade Unions And Political Parties RE: Credibility Of The UNHRC Has Been Put At Stake By Sri Lanka: Tamil Civil Society, Trade Unions And Political Parties 1. “The credibility of the UNHRC has been put at stake by Sri Lanka and the UNHRC must respond strongly, Tamil Civil Society Organisations, Political Parties and Trade Unions have said today.” Yes. there is less credibility for UNHRC as well as Sri Lanka. Does the UNHRC or Sr Lanka care? What are the other stories? 2. The credibility of the UNHRC has been put at stake by LTTE and others and the UNHRC must respond strongly, as many of the atrocities of LTTE have been forgotten as well, by the UNHRC. 3. The credibility of the UNHRC has been put at stake by Israel and the UNHRC must respond strongly, Human Rights Organisations, Political Parties and Trade Unions have said today, yesterday, last year, etc. 4. The credibility of the UNHRC has been put at stake by USA and NATO and the UNHRC must respond strongly, based on lies and invasions used in Iraq and the Human Rights Abuses and economic destruction, Organisations, Political Parties and Trade Unions have said today, yesterday, last year, etc. 5. The credibility of the UNHRC has been put at stake by Saudi Arabia, Gulf States, USA and NATO by interfering and causing mayhem in countries like Syria and Libya and the UNHRC must respond strongly, based on lies and invasions used and the Human Rights Abuses and economic destruction, Organisations, Political Parties and Trade Unions have said today, yesterday, last year, etc.

    Amarasiri
    March 9, 2017 at 5:05 pm
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      Well said Amarasiri, Sadly, I don’t see any skillful political manoeuvring among the Tamil leaders who had conducted the Asia’s longest brutal civil war for more than three decades. Regrettably, I don’t see even a slightest evolution among Tamils who have assassinated leaders and intellectuals far more than any other terrorist organization in the world. The credibility of the whole world has been put at stake by the dangerous creatures of Asia. The UNHRC, as well as the whole world must respond strongly.

      Antany Peter
      March 11, 2017 at 3:40 pm
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    Hopefully, the prophetic wisdom of former UNSG H.E. Ban Kee Moon to set up the POE does not go to waste. This can be a great start and the rest can Q-up. Entrusting Srilanka with this mammoth task would be like sending a cripple person to the battle field. Srilanka is at the very bottom of the evolutionary ladder. The government servants have yet to be taught the utmost necessity to say the least: “we received your letter or email or fax etc.” If the telephone happen to get picked up; the person you need to talk to is at a meeting and is always so. We always talk about miracles but none of us have seen one.

    Frustrated
    March 9, 2017 at 8:43 pm
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    TNA Leader Sampanthan has categorically stated in Parliament yesterday[08th] that they are not in favour of a Two-Year postponement for the release of the Lands unjustly confiscated by the Security forces. So that puts the record straight.

    Plato.
    March 9, 2017 at 8:59 pm
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    Funny titles by CT> It is Tamils and Civil society which is NGOs, Trade Unions and then political parties are more crediblae than UNHCR. What a stupid way to present. This is like Tamilnut articles.

    jim softy
    March 9, 2017 at 9:27 pm
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      If Jim doesnt like it its stupid.. He never realizes what a stupid perspective i that

      AJ
      March 10, 2017 at 2:54 pm
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      when you say Tamilnut, are you referring to the nuts that you like to suck on in Tamil guys?

      AJ
      March 10, 2017 at 3:03 pm
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    “The credibility of the UNHRC has been put at stake….” It is not a new development; UNHRC lost its credibility long before that specially when it started interfering with the affairs of democratically elected governments under the bulling attitude of certain political leaders like Hilary Clinton. Many new world leaders including President Trump have warned the UNHRC and other UN organisations to stick to their official work or risk their jobs. Recently, the president of the Philippines had to remind the UNHRC chief (the prince) that he is a paid employee of member states and he should follow the orders given by member states; if not they have to remove him for disobedience. After this stern warning he became concerned about his job and kept quiet. Now President Sirisena has given the same warning in a different way, and I hope the Prince has no option but obey the orders of the President when he speaks about matters pertaining to Sri Lanka. UN was formed to keep democratically elected countries together, and not to break them according to the wimps and fancies of certain self-appointed world leaders (luckily most of them had disappeared from the world arena now mainly due to Brexit and the recent US presidential election)! Hopefully, therefore, the future world will be less confrontational and all of us can pay more attention to practical human issues like poverty, gender inequality, child protection, trade gaps, environment, etc. Thank you.

    A democrat
    March 9, 2017 at 11:17 pm
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    Dr Batalanda Ranil signed the MOU & Eelaam Agreement with Sambandan to win the Election. Now he wants to keep the job for the full five years. Even without implementing the UN/ Manglan resolution, Dr Rani is scared to go to even a Municipal Election.

    K A Sumanasekera
    March 9, 2017 at 11:40 pm
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      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera “Dr Batalanda Ranil signed the MOU & Eelaam Agreement with Sambandan to win the Election.” It is terrible, betrayal of the majority Dalits, …. How could Sambandan do it behind the back of the LTTE diaspora? By the way what is in the agreement? Let us have a copy please.

      Native Vedda
      March 10, 2017 at 1:09 am
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        Dear Native, You got a point finally.. mate. Suren Surendran betrayed your own Dalits by sucking up to Dr Batalanda Ranil who has been in bed with Vellala Sambandan all along. They all got the same feathers.. Right. The Vellala CM had the cheek to say that estate Tamils must have a separate Mini Eelaam for them well away from the Vellala Eelaam.. My Elders tell me . the Bedouin Prince will get a rocket up his ass from HR dudes in the West, if they come to know that Jaffna inhabitants give Dalits, water in Polkatta, when they come to Vellala households. Now you know why he wanted to make a pre emtive strike. Now Vellala CM is sucking up to the real Eelaam PM to stay in power and hoping to be the first Premier of Vellala Tamil Eelaam. My Elders tell me the Eelaam PM in New Jersey is a vellala too. Is it true?..

        K A Sumanasekera
        March 10, 2017 at 8:22 am
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      Didn’t he sign a similar agreement with LTTE in 2002. But, he was unable to keep his job then.

      Liyanage
      March 10, 2017 at 6:40 am
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        Liyanage “Didn’t he sign a similar agreement with LTTE in 2002.” That was the begining of end of LTTE. “But, he was unable to keep his job then.” VP too could not keep his job after, and lost his life too.

        Native Vedda
        March 11, 2017 at 12:44 pm
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    We need to read the article first. It is completely Catholic Tamils and christian Tamils. Even the University Teachers Association is not true Tamils. It is title being used to spread the religon. Because As Tamils are conservative, they should be hindu and not Catholic or christian. Initially Sri lankan govt should have allowed Tamils to name it as a Tamil HIndu UNiversity.

    jim softy
    March 9, 2017 at 11:58 pm
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      We need to read the article first. You read it. so you need it

      AJ
      March 10, 2017 at 2:56 pm
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    It is nice to see those who burnt copies of UNHRC Resolution 30/1 are now complaining about non-implementation of the resolution itself. Your statement as usual is one-sided and negative. There has been some movement since the regime change though far below our expectations. You have not acknowledged the release of 1055 acres of land in Sampur to the IDPs completely. This includes the closure of the Naval camp occupying 237 acres of private land. Likewise, 1,927 (30%) acres of land out of 6381.5 acres of land in Vali North have been released. Yet it is true the army is occupying 5,322.35 acres of private land in the Jaffna district. A total of 437 at acres at Paravippanchan in Kilinochchi district confiscated by the army have been completely released. In Keppappulavu 42, acres belonging to 84 families have been released. At end of 2016, the number of IDPs in Vali North had shrunk to 3370 individuals, 971 families and 31 welfare centers. They include 271 land owned families and 700 extended families without any land ownership. The Keerimalai housing project would facilitate settlement of over 100 of these families in the first stage and 33 more families in the second stage. Former Navy Intelligence Director Ananda Guruge and Lieutenant Commander Sampath Dayananda, attached to the Welisara Navy camp have been arrested in regard to the abductions and disappearances of Vadivelu Pakkili Sami Loganathan and Rathnasami Paramanandan. Another, Navy Intelligence officer Lieutenant Commander Dhammika Anil Mapa attached to the Welisara Navy camp was arrested for allegedly abducting Vadivelu Pakkili Sami Loganathan on November 1, 2009 and in remand custody. Such arrests never took place during Mahinda’s rule. The murder cases relating to Raviraj, Pararajasinghan have been re-opened. Pillayan the prime suspect is in remand jail for the last 1 ½ years.

    Thanga
    March 10, 2017 at 12:06 am
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      It is not a complain. It is a fact.

      Ajith
      March 10, 2017 at 2:13 am
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    contd In the past murderers, white van abductors, rapists went scot free. According to CPJ 25 journalists were killed between 2000 and 2009. Recently police three military personnel in connection with the May 2008 abduction of Noyahr, then deputy editor of the Nation weekly. The hated PTA is now on hold to be replaced by a new Act. The army is confined to the barracks. Police powers vested in the army have been withdrawn. Out of 217 political prisoners in 2015, 123 have been released. The number under detention is only 94. The Missing Persons Act No 14 of 2016 on the establishment of the Missing Persons Office came into effect on 26th August, 2016. Military Battalions deployed in North reduced by 48 from 152 to 104. Yet there is one soldier for every 6 civilians! It is true the government is moving at snail’s pace and Tamils are losing their patience. Yet we can talk to the current government unlike Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime. TNPF of which you are the god father lost deposits at elections at two consecutive elections. Other two parties have only one MP each. Many of the civil societies you listed are only in paper. Moreover, this TCF is a one-man show. Now you say the UNHRC must refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court. I like to know which country will move a resolution to that effect. Whether that country can muster 24 countries to pass the resolution. Then there is the UN Security Council. You think China and Russia will vote for the resolution? You are completely pessimistic about the future and your only hope is the ICC. Sending Mahinda Rajapaksa to the electric chair is good, but that will not solve the mirage of other problems faced by the Tamils.

    Thanga
    March 10, 2017 at 2:00 am
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      Thanga, You should have added the following account of some of the massacres of Tamils since Independence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_massacres_in_Sri_Lanka The references too are important.

      justice
      March 10, 2017 at 3:35 am
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        justice what about the massacres by the LTTE of Sri lankans?

        Eusense
        March 10, 2017 at 11:53 pm
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    How can the UNHRC (Geneva) maintain any credibility when its whole operation is directed and controlled by the United Nations Office of Under-Secretary General (Political), the Number Two Slot in the UN, occupied for decades by retired-former US State Department officials. During the Obama Administration, the UNHRC-led Sri Lanka issues of ‘war crimes-accountability-hybrid courts issues were directed and controlled by US Ambassador to UN Samantha Power and her deputy Michelle Sison who was once US Ambassador to Sri Lanka who was the architect of making Sri Lanka issues global. I have deal extensively this issue and US foreign-policy adventurism in my recently (AMAZON) published book TAMIL TIGERS’ DEBT TO AMERICA as I knew what was going on for decades (1970-1995) when I was employed by the US State Department at the American Embassy in Colombo as its Political Specialist. Washington created a conducive atmosphere for the professionals/operatives within the Tamil Diaspora to become a powerful global diplomatic movement to de-legitimize the State of Sri Lanka with the objective of bifurcating the country, the objective the LTTE failed because of its military defeat. At least now, the GSL should develop a strategy to get out of this mess in properly dealing with the Trump Administration. – Daya Gamage

    Daya Gamage
    March 10, 2017 at 3:32 am
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    The ongoing confrontation between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamils demanding war crimes investigation reminds me of Poet Kannadasan’s film song “Parama Sivan kaluthil erunthu pampu kettathu – ‘Karuda Savavukiyama’. Panpu sonnathu – ‘Irrukum idathil erunthukondal allam sasvukiyama’. (King Cobra sitting around the neck of Lord Siva asked the Eagle (that kills and eat cobras) “Are you in good health”. Eagle replied “If you are in the right place, everything will be healthy and happy”) The present Sri Lankan government is like the King Cobra sitting around the neck of Lord Siva. It has the support of the United States and west European countries as well as of China and Russia and it is thumping its nose at the Sri Lankan Tamil parties (other than Sampanthan’s ITAK), Tamil diaspora and pro-Tamil NGOs against their continued attempts to drag the Sri Lankan soldiers before a war crimes tribunal. The simple truth is that the Sri Lankan war crimes issue was successfully taken up before the UN Human Rights Council by the US and its western allies including India, because Colombo had an anti-US government headed by Mahinda Rajapakse. Now that the present SL government is friendly to US and its western allies, these government will not press for any meaningful action against the Sri Lankan government.

    Naga
    March 10, 2017 at 4:36 am
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    These so many Tamil NGOs. I think, they are milking the UN

    jim softy
    March 10, 2017 at 6:00 am
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      So many Tamil NGS milking the UN couldn’t successfully pass a resolution against sri lanka, what a logic

      AJ
      March 10, 2017 at 2:58 pm
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        aj True. Tamils have failed in every endeavour they tried!

        Eusense
        March 11, 2017 at 12:01 am
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      jim softly: What makes you think that they have not milked the sinhalese and left that race almost dry (but not out)? The sinhalese think they have outwitted the Tamils in the UNHRC. Silly fools.

      jansee
      March 10, 2017 at 3:03 pm
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      jim softy dimwit “These so many Tamil NGOs.” How many? “I think,” Good. There’s a first time for everything. “they are milking the UN” How, how much worth of, ……?

      Native Vedda
      March 14, 2017 at 1:26 pm
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    So, a bunch of terrorists and terror supporters are saying “The credibility of the UNHRC has been put at stake….” !! That is serious stuff, now UNHRC is in deep trouble!

    Eusense
    March 10, 2017 at 11:43 pm
    Reply

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