By Ranjith C. Perera –
Thanks Dr. Laksiri Fernando bringing into the focus again the article on oppressors and oppressed. Yes, in the first article instead of UNHRC inadvertently was included UNCHR. However it have been corrected later on. Coming to your article I fail to understand how an article ‘written with a colonial mindset’ when its theme is on oppression of people. You have missed the main theme of the article. It talks for the oppressed against the oppressors everywhere in the world. The plea was to redefine the word ‘sovereignty’ in favour of the oppressed not of the oppressors as it stands now. That is why the article began by saying “Most countries when confronted with human right violations in their countries they hide behind the ‘sovereignty’ principle of the UNHRC.”
Therefore international organization should not allow rulers to misuse the word ‘sovereignty’. On the other hand Human Right violations should not be regarded as ‘internal matter’ of any country, but should be considered as a “universal matter’. Otherwise what is the point of having an international organization like UNHRC if any country could use the term ‘internal matter’ as a shield. If a country is violating human rights and the oppressed do not have any other mean to fight against them without resorting to violence why shouldn’t they bring them to the notice of international organizations. It has to be reminded that it is the present rulers of this country who showed to Sri Lankan people the path to Geneva in 1970s as they thought there are human right violations by the then government. Wasn’t it’s a case of seeking the assistance of colonial powers then or as Dr. Laksiri says with a ‘colonial mindset’? Why this double standard?
Dr. Laksiri says that writer is ‘allergic’ to present government and 20th amendment of the constitution. May I remind that it was the prominent members of the clergy, who openly fought to bring the present government to power, vehemently opposed publicly against the 20th amendment of the constitution. Some members of the government also initially supported that move. It is anybody’s guess what happened to those opposition. I do not think any sane person could support the 20th amendment ‘lock, stock and barrel’. It is not a question of ‘Allergy’ It is a question of ‘Sanity’.
The appointment of military personnel to civil administration is another issue UNHRC has brought out. The president himself criticized such an officer appointed by himself saying to the effect that officer has not doing his duty properly. Very recently another military personnel appointed as a secretary to a ministry was removed according to reports on the request of the particular minister as he had found the secretary is not competent to handle the ministry functions. However nobody can approve such appointments when there is a specially trained and experienced set of Administrative Officers in the country. In one way it is a violation of human rights of the young people who aspire to be in that service and also a violation of human rights of the officers presently in that service, vis a vis to their career development.
Thus the prominent charges included in the UNHRC report other than the civil war cannot just be overlooked as minor matters. They are in fact relates to human rights either generally of the people of Sri Lank or of specific group of people. It is unfair to say the charges framed on such issues as some put it as just ‘hear says’, because the reports are not prepared by one person but there are working groups of specialist in each subject area who collect information, analyze, discuss with others before submitting the reports to relevant authorities.
One prominent plea in the article was not to enforce sanctions or restrictions for the country as a whole or for the oppressed, if there are human right violations. Sri Lankans can remember during the regime of the present rulers’ in their previous ‘incarnation’ (before 2015) how many people lost their livelihood and faced all kinds of hardships due to some sanctions like GSP+ removal which had been enforced on human right violations. Why should people suffer due to the in capabilities or indifferences of rulers vis a vis the general public. Let the violators of human rights face the music. Is that request unfair? Or bizarre as Dr. Laksiri puts it?
As mentioned above the article may be ‘idealistic’ but was aimed at the need for a redefinition of the word ‘sovereignty’ to accommodate the real human rights issues of oppressed not of the oppressors. These oppressions very often are visible in Asia, Africa and Latin American countries. The countries in these regions do not have proper mechanisms to fight against oppressors as in the so called colonial countries. Because either the necessary mechanisms are just not there or they have been suppressed by the oppressors. Lastly I like to state Dr. Laksiri that I too have as much as you have the freedom to express ones views. Because it is a fundamental human right. May I say, in the political arena or is it political wilderness, everything ultimately boils down to human rights.