4 October, 2022

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Echoes Of Aragalaya In Geneva

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

The 51st session of UNHRC in Geneva that began on 12 September and scheduled to end on 7 October, was presented with the report on Sri Lanka by the outgoing High Commissioner of Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. In concluding the report, she stated, “The broad-based demands by Sri Lankans from all communities for accountability and democratic reforms present an important starting point for a new and common vision for the future. The High Commissioner believes there is the opportunity for a new meaningful dialogue on how Sri Lanka can be transformed into an inclusive, pluralist and fully democratic state based on accountability, the rule of law, non-discrimination and respect for human rights in which an environment for freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and democratic participation will be essential.” Don’t these concluding sentiments of the High Commissioner echo the essence of what the aragalaya youth’s demand for systemic change? To that extent and in reaching the inner sanctum of a world body the youth has won part of their battle. Congratulations! 

President Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW) in arresting aragalaya leaders by invoking the dreaded PTA had provided an additional ammunition to the anti-regime groups gathered in Geneva.    

In the meantime, the world listened to two presentations on Sri Lanka among several. One, by Foreign Minister Ali Sabry (AS) and the other, from a former Jordanian public servant and a woman of outstanding calibre who was appointed in 2020 as the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif. Coincidently, both of them are Muslims.

Unlike the minister, an Attorney at-Law turned politician who entered the parliament unelected and on the invitation of his friend and client, the ousted president Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR), the Acting High Commissioner is a qualified social scientist with a master degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a progressive thinker and activist. More than her academic credentials, she had personally experienced the horror of terrorist violence when she was injured in 2003, when a suicide-truck exploded its deadly cargo and destroyed Baghdad’s Canal Hotel, killing 22 lives and injuring another 100 including the human rights lawyer Amin Mekki Medani.  In addition, she comes from that part of the world where kingly dictators, sultans and sheiks run amok with peoples’ human rights and get away from their crimes through the power and influence of their unearned wealth. Al-Nashif, is one of those outstanding Muslim women and a human rights activist who is making her mark in a male dominated world of Islam.  

While minister Sabri was parroting the usual assurances of “advancing, securing and protecting the human rights of our people”, and refusing to allow any international mechanism set up to collect evidence and monitor Sri Lanka’s performance, the Deputy Commissioner was reminding him of the “use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act to arrest three student leaders on 18 August 2022, despite the government announcement on June 2022 that it has been applying a de facto moratorium on the use of the Act since March of this year”. Sabri’s empty assurances were confronting Al-Nashif’s hard facts. She was warning RW’s presidency not to commit the same crime as his predecessor by resorting to that draconian PTA and suppress peaceful protests. It was a dressing down of a country whose economy is gasping for survival.  

Even before RW, when GR was at the helm and AS his Minister of Justice, didn’t that President, with a feeling of retribution, trample on the human rights of the minster’s own community when an order was made through gazette notification to cremate Covid-dead Muslim bodies? It is one thing to admit with fortitude past lapses in administering justice and then argue with determination to close that loophole in the future. That would have won the applause of at least a majority of Geneva attendees. But it is totally a different thing and blatant hypocrisy, tantamount to an exhibition of servility on the part of the Muslim minister to argue as nothing ever happened. In actual fact, he was only trying to save his former master and the current regime, which is headed by that master’s nominee RW.     

Accountability for past crimes, and justice to all irrespective of one’s status, rank and wealth are the crying needs of the country today. That was embedded in aragalaya’s call for systemic change and is being echoed in Geneva. With regard to justice, Minister AS may well be reminded of the popular concept of “circle of justice”, which was widely in vogue in pre-modern states of the Ottoman Empire, and received its poetic version from the writings of the Ottoman writer Kinalizade of 16th century. It is worth quoting one version of it:                   

“The world is a garden, hedged in by sovereignty

Sovereignty is lordship, preserved by law

Law is administration, governed by king

The king is shepherd, supported by the army

The army are soldiers, fed by money

Money is revenue, gathered by the people

The people are servants, subjected by justice

Justice is happiness, the well-being of the world.” 

It is justice in every sector of governance, including economic welfare and distribution, that the people of Sri Lanka are demanding from their leaders. They had been denied of it, and they feel that they had been cheated and thrown into abject poverty, because of their leaders’ uncontrolled avarice, corruption, authoritarianism and injustice. RW’s presidency is proving to be a replica of GR’s presidency with all its authoritarian trappings, but with an IMF designed economic program, which is also not going to make life comfortable at least for the next two years. In addition to hardship imposed by IMF strictures there would be additional ones flowing from a world economy struggling with supply shortages and inflation.  

Given this context, the presentation by AS and his entourage in Geneva lacks substance and is no more than an attempt to extricate the Rajapaksa regime and its current guardian RW from worldwide condemnation. But the world cannot be fooled any more. The diasporic communities are well equipped with hard facts and they are working behind the scene to effect a change in their homeland. If status quo continues after Geneva, the next phase of aragalaya is destined to have world opinion on its side.       

*Dr. Ameer Ali, Murdoch Business School, Murdoch University, Western Australia

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Latest comments

  • 13
    5

    Fully agree with this, especially over what Ranil W. has to beware of. Thank you.

    • 8
      0

      Aragalaya! Yes! the systemic change yes!

      But Ranil could not be the person to bring in a systemic change because he is a prisoner of rotten politicians along with the evil bureaucrats and he cannot escape from their evil spell.

      This is Ranil’s destiny. He is actually trying to move as per the neoliberal prescription with the help of IMF, then he may succeed, but, but unfortunately with a wrong team that will drag him down along with them.

      . He will not be able to outmaneuver himself and that is the tragedy.

      The good news is that aragalaya is there, but they should learn quickly to play their historic role.

      • 6
        2

        Whatever dirty deeds Ranil does he has only a maximum of 2.5 years ……… when this government falls Ranil, Rajapakses and all the police/army/forces higher-ups complicit in human rights abuses should be jailed for all their illegal activities. No getting away this time.

        Let them “enjoy” the same conditions that Ranjan and Wasantha Mudalige et al had to suffer …… sleeping on the floor even without a padura near uncleaned toilets.

        In a nation, where the innocent suffer horrific abuse on the word and whims of rulers ……… for a change let the rulers feel the pain they dish out

        I hope the day is not too far off ……… that’s suffering I’ll celebrate with champagne …….

        Native, ……. Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon, Nicolas Feuillatte, Krug, Bollinger? ………. name ye drop …….

        • 7
          0

          nimal fernando

          “….Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon, Nicolas Feuillatte, Krug, Bollinger? ………. name ye drop …….”

          Were they Queen Elizebeth’s dresser?
          I am not familiar with these names.
          Do you drop these names during or after a Champagne and Cuban cigar session of socialist debating meetings?

          Anyhow, are you attending Queen’s Royal Funeral?

          • 2
            0

            Nimal,
            “Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot” Didn’t you know Native is a strict vegetarian and teetotaller?
            This is like asking the Pope: “Do you know Fellatio?”

            • 2
              0

              old codger

              “This is like asking the Pope: “Do you know Fellatio?”

              ?????
              No idea.

              • 1
                0

                Native,
                You are a pure and simple soul.
                I admire you. Really. I’m sure Nimal gets it.
                You must watch this:
                https://youtu.be/ujuGKvMSeWA

            • 2
              0

              OC

              “This is like asking the Pope: “Do you know Fellatio?””

              Now, trying to corrupt the already corrupt pope, eh? ……… you are learning fast from your hero, OC! :))

              When one was thinking how could anyone corrupt the already monumentally corrupt Pohottuwa pols …….. Ranil showed his brilliance!

              After 40 odd years of trying hard ……. the man is finally able to show his true innate born talent!


              Rejoice!

              Without pouting in a corner, Sinhala_Man should rejoice ………. at least one Lankan has shown some great talent ………. it’s few and far between …….

              • 0
                0

                “When one was thinking how could anyone corrupt the already monumentally corrupt Pohottuwa pols …….. Ranil showed his brilliance!”
                nimal, That is why I respect you so much!

          • 1
            0

            Native Vedda, Why drag the Queen in when even nimal’s fart can’t near her coffin!

          • 3
            0

            Native,

            “Do you drop these names”

            It’s simple than that. https://luxe.digital/lifestyle/dining/best-champagne-brands/

            Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. :))


            “Anyhow, are you attending Queen’s Royal Funeral?”

            What’s so special about the queen and the royals?

            I don’t pick a group of humans, put them on a pedestal, and treat them differently: give them special qualities/traits they don’t have. …….. I leave that to Sinhala_Man and STC et al ……. all those supposedly hoity-toity colonial antiquities left behind. Let the infirm of mind wallow in it. What else can they do?

            I treat all humans the same …….. like dirt.

      • 4
        4

        With $ 30 Trillion of Debt and 750 military bases around the world, and many wars under its belt, the US which is the biggest militarizer of the plant and human rights violator ironically is using Debt and the Weasponized US dollar and Human Rights hypocrisy at the Generva UNHRC circus to erode Sri Lanka’s National Sovereignty and COLONIZE the Strategic Indian Ocean Island with its Western allies and existing colonies.
        This game will fail as the Western dreams of Global Governance with the Covid-19 Biowar far and DIGITAL COLONIALISM project has failed.. just check out the SCO meeting…

        • 1
          8

          Aragalaya is part of the CIA Chaos Strategy to establish a pro- Washington Consensus Ranil Rajapakse regime.
          All sides in the Sri Lankan equation have been penetrated by the CIA and the NED, particularly academics and the funded NGO civil society Aragala Hagiographers.
          The only and great achievement of the CIA backed Aragalaya leaders who used peoples Genuine Frustration and anger was to being in the US puppet RW as President to advance the IMF WB colonization of Lanka with the Colonial Club de Paris.
          There should be a BAN on future borrowing from private markets after cancellation of ALL ISB debt! Also the people of Lanka have a Right to see the IMF Debt Sustainability Report, the Lazard Report and the IMF staff agreement. They are paying for these! RTI is needed from IMF and Colonial Club of Paris!

  • 16
    2

    Interesting poem. But can it be applied literally to a modern society?
    Is there a universal law that is free of class interest?
    We have courts of law but none of justice.
    If there is general consensus about justice, what will the legal profession do for a living?

    • 5
      0

      Here is a relevant poem applied to modern society:

      In June Heaven’s armies chastise the corrupt and evil,
      Seeking to bind roc and whale with a league-long cord.
      Red glows the far side of the River Gan,
      Thanks to our wing under Huang Gonglyue.

      A million workers and peasants rise up,
      Sweeping Jiangxi straight towards Hunan and Hubei.
      To the Internationale’s stirring strains
      A wild whirlwind swoops from the sky.

      MAO ZEDONG
      https://mypoeticside.com/show-classic-poem-35437
      “Sailing the seas depends on the helmsman”

  • 13
    5

    “If status quo continues after Geneva, the next phase of aragalaya is destined to have world opinion on its side.”
    Let us not fool ourselves.
    May we know what world opinion was on Aragalaya?
    Has the author some premonition of the form of the next phase?
    One round of soothsaying has all gone awfully wrong.
    Now, are we being prepared for another?

    • 5
      0

      According to recently passed U.S senate resolution (opinion) ” After decades of conflict, political mismanagement , inequalities the Sri Lankan people have made it clear they aspire for something better U.S senate stands with peaceful democratic efforts to address these long neglected challenges. (isn’t it same as Aragalaya demands). After years of civil war, government mismanagement and abuse, country needs a govt that is committed to ethnic tolerance, equitable economic development, human rights and justice. This should be the focus of U.S policy. By the way what was the message from Mr. Ding Dong in Geneva ????

      • 4
        1

        “Let us not fool our selves”. Of course, here are the China/Russia opinion on Aragalaya. China maintained “the 46/1 resolution is a product of politicization and did not follow the Chinese principles of impartiality, objectivity and selectivity , accusing the council of not succeeding in promoting and protecting human rights in SL” (even though our govt it self, is not committed). They reiterate that “they will show no tolerance to any country taking advantage of bankrupt, failed and dysfunctional Lanka”. ( LOL). Whereas Russia said “significant progress has been made towards national reconciliation (which Lankans are not aware ) ,an office and commission has been setup for umpteenth time to investigate human rights violation”.They further defended the arrest of protesters who damaged public property during the RIOTS ?? (was there ??) is entirely justified”. We ain’t fooling our selves, are we ???

      • 4
        3

        This should be the focus of U.S policy. There is something else to focus on:
        Right now the Prez has a job putting his house in order.

  • 9
    2

    Echoes Of Aragalaya In Geneva

    The vibration was caused by the president all nations know that he is in power due to Aragalaya and punishing them No popularity exists to him he thought the old way that this is his strategy now inviting the bitterness has no time to take root.

  • 10
    0

    Thanks to Aragalaya for exposing corruption, SHAM governments, nepotism among many others to entire world. In past Lankans sought solace in saying UN/UNHR are powerless, they can warn but cannot take any action. Now that the country is bankrupt, they will be desperate than finding solace. Lets wait to see how UN and people react to the outcome. Hope in future , Ali Sabry will not be forced to do an abrupt U-Turn like GLP, Ranjith and many others.

    • 2
      4

      “Thanks to Aragalaya for exposing corruption etc….”
      Was not Aragalaya an event in response to what was already exposed by various people who seldom earn a mention.?

      • 5
        0

        “Was not Aragalaya an event in response to what was already exposed by various people who seldom earn a mention.?”

        Of course corruption was exposed many times prior to the commencement of Aragalaya. Exposure always brought white van along with wrath of the corrupt brothers. However this time around the strongman, single handed Gota, the Sinhala/Buddhist, ….. was expelled from power and position and made to fly away.

        Any Tom Dick and Harry would have known that without any higher qualification.

        Their courage and perseverance is legendary.

  • 4
    2

    Dear Dr Ameer Ali,
    .
    Many thanks for yet another article trying to show this dishonest government of ours that they can’t get away with all the sneaky things that they are doing to us. It is a blessing for us to have you supporting us from Perth, Australia.
    .
    There’s a Perth in Scotland, too isn’t there? There was a “hustings” there, in an area which hates Liz Truss the new Prime Minister of the UK. Still she became the Prime Minister because of the system of elections which prevails there. But eighteen months from now, she must have elections. Charles III will have to ensure that. I was so disgusted with Lankan politics that I was following British affairs for about three weeks.
    .
    I’ve now got stuck with this article:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/is-unelected-president-ranil-a-vicious-hypocrite/
    .
    Pardon me for neglecting all other articles. Main issue here: we don’t know what’s going on behind our backs.

  • 1
    1

    Ameer Ali is well known for vigorous presentation. But, on this occasion, he falls flat.

    • 1
      1

      Dear Nathan,
      .
      Since reading an article needs focussing, I won’t try to challenge your rather disappointing verdict. It is easy enough, usually, to read a comment, especially from a source that I have learnt to trust.
      .
      Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, when all this is over, we can meet here in Lanka? I don’t have much faith about meeting elsewhere! Ameer and I have exchanged notes about what we had in common in our past.
      .
      People are increasingly living in worlds of make believe.
      .
      Best regards,
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe in Bandarawela, Sri Lanka

    • 2
      1

      ‘But the world cannot be fooled any more’.
      The world has been generous in ‘gifting’ time for Sri Lanka. Year after year, session after session, Sri Lanka has been playing the same trick.
      For a while – for many years, I too was saying what Ameer Ali is saying. I am disillusioned. I have given up. Will he meet with better luck?

      • 4
        0

        Nathan

        “For a while – for many years, I too was saying what Ameer Ali is saying. I am disillusioned. I have given up. Will he meet with better luck?”

        Have you ever thought the single handed strongman the Sinhala?Buddhisht could be disgraced, chased out, made homeless,, ….. once the island of Eelam exported food to Tamilnadu, ever will beg for food, medicine, …. from the same state ….
        Please remember Change is the only constant, rest are subjected to impermanence.

        • 2
          0

          Native Vedda,
          Your cli·ché – Change is the only constant – is more overused than any other I can imagine!

          • 2
            0

            Nathan

            I thought the most overused cli·ché is “KARMA IS A BITCH”.
            May be I am ill-informed.

            • 1
              0

              Native Vedda, That only tells that our planes are different!

  • 3
    0

    I do hope that IMF/WB/ADB + any other donors to the current Ranil+Rajapaksa GoSL will insist on Political Stability in the isle by the formation ” INTERIM GOVERNMENT” CONSISTING of MPs with clean slate. India too insist on this.

    • 1
      0

      Where do you go for MPs with a clean slate, Naman?

  • 3
    2

    Sufferings of any being including human is the hotbed for revolution or conflict may that it may be human to animal, ethnic or economic conflict. The art of ruler’s survival depend on how clever they are to keep the frog in the boiling water by gradually increase the temperature to play with the mockery of the people. There is a story about a king arrested the protestor against the ruler put behind the bar, on protest force to have poor quality food and then share the cell with a dirty pig. Finally the prisoner forgot everything and beg to remove the pig only. That’s the state we are now in SL.

  • 3
    0

    The people must unite as one, and stand up to its oppressors, the state. The people’s will must prevail. It must not be cowed by the aggression of the PTA. All possible means must be used to make a clean sweep and dismantle the parasitic and corrupt system that has so far deprived future generations of a decent life. The UNHCR and all international agencies that are in place to ensure justice for the poor in third world nations must act against the corrupt and despotic regime and its enablers and help its downfall so that the people will again be empowered.

  • 2
    0

    This UNHCR lady is too strong—- as for lawyer’s suits she has seen them all.
    What about sending a true patriot to do a marriage proposal to buy some time
    We need meritocracy —at least a pseudo patriot for a start.

  • 3
    0

    Aragalaya movement needs to guided by a group of people representing all religion/caste/race. They should actively educate the voting population on the causes/reasons for their current predicament. They could start their own Newspaper in order to counter disinformations spread by stooges of Rajapaksas who OWN newspapers in SL. I still can NOT believe that there are EVEN educated Singhalese who do not believe in the seven decades of subjucation/suppression/belittling of the Tamil speaking population. Entire Lanka is poor because of self inflicted injuries.
    Every time I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel some how it gets obliterated.

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