20 September, 2021

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Keep-Up Pressure On Colombo After The UNHRC Meeting

By Kumar David

Prof. Kuma David

Whether the Sri Lankan regime is deep-fired or lightly sautéed in Geneva on 23 March will not in itself much affect the lives of ordinary citizens since sanctions, if applied at all will be against some bigshots, so who cares. I am confident that hard sanctions that will hurt the whole country such as withdrawal of GSP Plus or a trade embargo will not materialise. The Executive and military are thick-skinned and they will brush away verbal humiliation with a wave of the hand. Come end of March the regime will shrug its shoulders, heave a Geneva-is-over sigh of relief and get back to normal; its normal! And that’s where danger lurks. Whatever resolution is adopted in Geneva, the Executive President and his military will say “Up Yours” and set about their as yet unfinished business. Irrespective of what happens in Geneva the ‘Tamil issue’ will remain buried and the Double-Paksas have no intention of exhuming anything.

As you may have sensed I am pessimistic: Whether it be “missing persons”, accountability or retribution for war crimes, nothing will change whichever way annual Geneva window dressing unfolds. After an ethnic war the losing side can go whistle; it will find no consolation. If the Serbs had won Slobodan Milošević of Serbia and Radovan Karadić and Ratko Mladić, the Butchers of Bosnia would be riding high and strolling through the gardens of the Palais de Nations. But they lost and collected their desserts. Likewise the LTTE and the Tamils lost the civil-war. The Tamils will find no consolation in Geneva nor on Planet Mars. Realistically and truthfully, the crucial threat we need to focus on is the now looming next crisis,

I do not at all devalue the efforts of the noble-minded who campaign in this season in Geneva and those who labour through the years for justice. But there is another side which is no less important and more urgent – safeguarding freedom in Lanka in the months and years ahead. This fear springs out of anxiety that the regime will bring forward a new constitution with enhanced authoritarian powers and grant more clout to the military. In simple words, democracy is threatened and the duty of international public opinion is to help the people to push back. Sure, the Sri Lanka government has a mandate to execute economic and social programmes but no two-thirds majority is ever a mandate to crush democracy, bully minority communities, intimidate the press, or figuratively speaking, gas the Jews. If the world wants to do Lanka a favour then help stop this! Likewise the world has an obligation to help the uprising in Burma against the military junta which Lanka’s wretched regime has refused to condemn. All of us are our brother’s keepers and as such the world has a duty to assist the people of this country resist a constitutional counterrevolution and an assault on their freedoms.

Nationalist hypocrites make a point that goes like this: What right have others to criticise us, just look at the skeletons in their cupboard; the British Empire did this and that, the Americans bombed Vietnam, the UN Mission could not stop genocide in Rwanda, the Indians defecate el fresco and so on. This is humbug! Take a simple analogy. If when a drunk assaults his wife and lashes the children, the neighbours intervene to stop the rage, is it not a good thing? Indeed one neighbour may be a boozer himself, another a lazy-lout and the third a thief. All irrelevant in the specific instance if the family is protected. If the outside world interferes to sort out human rights violations and mistreatment of minorities when a nation state does nothing, absolutely nothing for ages, I say Hooray! Welcome! To me the morality of the matter is crystal clear. What are nation states anyway? Enclosures erected by ruling classes to demarcate estates within which they exploit subaltern classes, kerb minorities and in some cultures trample on women. There has been no progress in easing the ethnic standoff between Sinhala-Buddhists and other communities in 70 years. If anyone can twist the arm of the state to ameliorate the post-civil war predicament, and in my view more crucial, stem the tide to authoritarianism, I am in favour of such international intervention in our internal affairs.

The Dead-Left and the Bogus-Left serenade ‘Workers of the World Unite’ on May Day and every other day, but if the outside world ‘Unites’ to end oppression in their own backyard they scream Blue Murder! I am not an idealist who expects par excellence internationalism in all the world at such an early stage in mankind’s march towards a civilisation of human comradeship; right now something much less is good enough. That is the recognition of the individuality of nation states with the proviso they do not transgress human values; if they fail, borders must be bent and bullies tamed. It’s time to stop pussyfooting with bogus nationalism and call a spade a spade, and when necessary a bloody shovel. The purpose is not to harm but to benefit the people of a country. Supporting liberty, reconciliation and accountability of state actors is good, it is pro-people. The HRC is well aware of deteriorating conditions and the strongly worded seventh point in the list of Conclusions (12 March version) in the still ongoing drafting of a Resolution on Sri Lanka reads as follows:

“Expresses serious concern at the trends emerging over the last year which represent a clear warning sign of a deteriorating situation of human rights in Sri Lanka including accelerating militarisation of civilian government functions; the erosion of the independence of the judiciary and key institutions responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights; ongoing immunity and political obstruction of accountability for crimes and human rights violations in ‘emblematic cases’; policies that adversely affect the right to freedom of religion or belief; increased marginalisation of persons belonging to the Tamil and Muslim communities; surveillance or restriction of civil society, restrictions on media freedom and shrinking of media space; restrictions on public memorialisation of victims of war including the destruction of a memorial; arbitrary detentions; alleged torture and other cruel inhuman degrading treatment or punishment and sexual gender based violence; and that these trends threaten to reverse the limited but important gains made in recent years and risk the recurrence of policies and practices that gave rise to the grave violations of the past.”

Since the world full well knows what’s going on it is justified for us to ask international actors to pressure the regime to desist from damaging democracy. China’s wishes to safeguard its maritime routes in the East China Sea, Straits of Malacca and the Indian Ocean; friendly states and harbours along the way are much prized. The West including the USA, UK and Europe and Quad members Australia, Japan and New Zealand are committed to stalling China’s upswing. There are also domestic imperatives on both sides. The West has a popular ethos of democratic and human rights in its public spaces – whether bogus or not it exists as a force. If a British or American government goes soft on human rights the domestic opposition (Labour, Republicans, Churches and NGOs) will maul it and the unpopularity will be substantial. See for example the strongly worded Labour Party Statement: https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/labour-party-call-for-referral-of-sri-lanka-to-icc/.

China has internal dynamics too. Its chorus “Non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries” means: So long as its own human rights lapses (say screwing the Uyghurs) are not criticised, it is willing to turn a blind eye to whatever other nations do their minorities or their populations. Hence persuading the world to make a commitment to democracy in any particular country is not automatic. Democratic agencies within a country have to liaise with foreign governments which have their own agendas, international human rights movements and UN agencies to achieve the best outcome. Geneva March 2021 is an episode but protecting democracy has to be a sustained effort.

As I write these lines for publication on March 21 I do not know what juggling there will be between the Lankan regime and other stakeholders in respect of redrafting the HRC Resolution to be put to a vote on the 23-rd.. The feeling among Western stakeholders and India seems to be that whatever resolution is adopted it will be water on the Double-Paksa duck’s back; maybe another 12 years of doing nothing! The grapevine mummer is that the intention of the Core Group is to generously fund the HR Commission to collect data on Sri Lanka to be used at some time, in some place in the future as in the cases of Milosevic, Karadić and Mladić.

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Latest comments

  • 13
    13

    They reason sports exists in school is to teach the concept of winning, losing and drawing. Tamils don’t play aggrasive sports like rugby, hockey, volleyball or football. With their nefarious caste system its not surprising that Tamils are unsportsmanlike. The war was a draw for both the Sinhalese and Tamils. Tamils have taken it as defeat while the Sinhalese have taken it as victory. You can be a good player in losing team and a bad player in a winning team. There were good, bad and ugly players on both sides. End of story. Tamils are still appealing to the 3rd umpire to no avail.

    • 9
      4

      “Tamils don’t play aggrasive sports like rugby, hockey, volleyball or football. “
      Do you live on Mars, dear Westham?

  • 11
    6

    KD What’s new in Lanka or with the beloved family ?? What on earth people were expecting ?? I guess people are ready for Basil and then Namal and then ??? Isn’t it funny that the family always keep one spared so that he can return as a new avatar . Though Rajapaksas family play book looks too simple and at times silly and childish it works perfectly for our Lankans. The family has mastered to fonancially exploit any adversity . Whether it’s natural disaster, war , Easter, covid management, return of migrants and now food imports.

    • 3
      2

      Chiv,
      ” The family has mastered to fonancially exploit any adversity . Whether it’s natural disaster, war , Easter, covid management, return of migrants and now food imports.”
      Don’t forget toilets. Who benefited from the imposition of duty on, among other things, toilet seats? They cost 4 times what they used to an year ago.

  • 4
    8

    “But there is another side which is no less important and more urgent – safeguarding freedom in Lanka in the months and years ahead.”

    The good Professor having lived in Singapore knows that so-called democracy and freedom are not essential for economic progress. The best example is China, which experienced double-digit economic growth for decades, despite being run as a Marxist police state. China is now the first country to have its sovereign currency go digital – yet another mechanism for the government to keep tabs on citizens. The issues that Sri Lanka faces are three-fold: (1) political corruption, (2) brain drain, (3) a few extremists in the minority communities who make unreasonable demands. The third issue can be controlled (as long as the security infrastructure is in place) ; the government should focus its energy and resources on the first two.

    • 0
      0

      Lester,
      “Sri Lanka faces are three-fold: (1) political corruption, (2) brain drain, (3) a few extremists in the minority communities….”
      From the way you write, it’s pretty clear which community has the brains to be drained. For corruption, check out which community has been in power since 1948.

  • 2
    2

    It is really great to have you to ‘telpathically’ put it into words out thoughts on SL. For few months we were optimistic in January 2015 after MS+RW cameto power. The two did not work together to achieve what it promised will do. They let all the evil doers prior to 2015 to freely roam and then capture power. The Country will never forget them letting us down.
    KD,
    Do you think that the minorities should join the main parties so that they will be represented in which ever gets to form the Government?
    Would it be nice to have certain criteria for the candidates, to contest the parliamentary and provincial elections. The MPs job should not have the pensions rights, excessive pay and allowances.
    Chiv
    Your last sentence is very very true.

  • 2
    2

    Càn someone please help me understand why don’t the Tamils appeal to India to investigate human rights violations / genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Because they knew everything and cannot be fooled?
    .
    Why don’t the West accuse India of being a silent bystander of genocide of close relatives of a section of her own people? Because they know the truth too?

    Soma

    • 2
      0

      Aiyo soman

      Hindia in may ways inadvertently or deliberately aided and abetted war crimes in this island.
      Hindia is Sri Lanka’s first/last resort for A to Z, including diplomatic cover, financial and military aid, …. mostly free medicine, ……. …. natural disaster relief, housing, …..

      One crucial geopolitical aspect of which you tend to forget is that Sri Lanka is the Sinhala state of Hindia. Therefore Hindia could not entertain accusation against itself.

      Soman
      Please grow up.
      Then only you will understand why Hindia would not allow separation of Sinhala Nadu or Tamil Eelam.
      You will have to die or thrive within the framework of “Union of India” or shall we say Akhand Bharat, as Hindutva would love to call it.

      By the way your Mango Friend Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has tested positive for Covid-19. Can’t you steal one box of free Indian vaccine and send it to him?
      Did Shavendra takle a box of Indian Free Vaccine for Imran when he visited Pakistan a few days ago?

  • 3
    3

    This deal between TNA and India to keep India out of the task of punishing Sri Lanka is obvious. Leave that dirty job to the West and India to help in moving towards the Vadukkodai objective.
    Crafty Tamil political class is not to be underestimated.

    Soma

    • 1
      0

      Soma,
      .
      How often do you have to be told that almost everybody knows that no government soldier will ever be punished? All that we want is proper investigation of all acts of violence. Those on the Tamil side have been more than punished; they’ve been killed – except some like Colonel Karuna and KP who are actually protected by the Double-Paksah government, whose misdeeds have never been investigated.
      .
      Why do you make so many comments here without even visiting this article:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/weerasekera-senadhipathi-train-guns-on-akd-warn-of-live-bullets-and-6000-uncontrollable-soldiers/
      .
      You will know such a lot about those people having worked so long for Avant-Garde, yet you almost pretend that you didn’t. This is what makes it so difficult for anybody to positively interact with you.

      • 0
        2

        Sinhala_man
        .
        My question is why the Tamil political class does not plead India to intervene in the ‘Accountability’ process. Strangely they have let India kind of ‘off the hook’ in the dirty and complex job of punishing Sri Lanka. After all which better party has more reliable information than India over alleged human rights violations/genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka . Which better party had the wherewithal to put a dead stop to it WHILE IT WAS HAPPENING? Which better party had a more moral compulsion to save close relatives of a section of her own people?

        Didn’t India once send her military to save the Sinhalese from LTTE atrocities?
        .
        Soma

        • 0
          0

          I’m not “Lord of the Tamils” to tell about 3 million of them what to do.
          .
          However, I am asking you, Soma, to tell us what you know of Avant-Garde. Why do you keep dodging that?
          .
          Anyway, thanks for posting at least a “koheda yanne, male pol” response.
          .
          Now could you please go here:
          .
          https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/weerasekera-senadhipathi-train-guns-on-akd-warn-of-live-bullets-and-6000-uncontrollable-soldiers/
          .
          You are losing credibility with all readers, Gamini, by not talking about what everybody knows that you know.

        • 0
          0

          Sinhala_man
          .
          “You will know such a lot about those people having worked so long for Avant-Garde, yet you almost pretend that you didn’t. This is what makes it so difficult for anybody to positively interact with you.”
          .
          I beg your permission to remind you once again that
          Identify theft is bad enough, exposing stolen information on public domain is far worse while affixing wrong identities to individuals (damaging TWO parties) is the lowliest thing to do.
          .
          S_M, ‘Soma’ is known to be character on CT engaged in exposing the hypocrisy of separatists, fundamentalists and anti Sinhala Buddhists.
          If an innocent man somewhere who probably hasn’t seen the colour of Colombo Telegraph gets beaten up or fired by his employer would you bear the responsibility?
          PLEASE STOP PLAYING THIS DANGEROUS GAME.

          Soma

          • 0
            1

            Sinhala_man
            .
            Your urgent response to my comment above on identity theft is kindly requested.

            Soma

      • 0
        1

        Sinhala Man,

        “Those on the Tamil side have been more than punished;”

        The real question is why Prabhakaran did not surrender when Mahinda became President. Without the East and with a hardliner in power, the war was over for Tiger side.. VP did not surrender because there was pressure from the Diaspora to keep fighting. This instigation to keep fighting is a war crime that everyone ignores. It is a war crime because as a result the LTTE took 30,000 hostages to create a humanitarian crisis and force GOSL to negotiate. When these hostages tried to escape to the Government side, they were shot in the legs. Some LTTE cadre dressed up as civilians, surrendered to the SLA, and blew themselves up.

    • 0
      0

      S
      “Crafty Tamil political class is not to be underestimated.”
      So is its Sinhalese counterpart.
      *
      If you ask me, one is as daft as the other.

  • 2
    1

    ‘If anyone can twist the arm of the state to ameliorate the post-civil war predicament, and in my view more crucial, stem the tide to authoritarianism, I am in favour of such international intervention in our internal affairs.’

    Yes its sounds well justified does it not? But will it end there? Having twisted the arm to stem the tide, why not smash the knees to create a free judiciary or break the ribs to impose a new constitution?
    Where will it end and what will the reaction be from the people?

  • 1
    1

    At this point of the life in Ceylon, Martin Niemöller is more far fetching prophet than any one known to this world. Martin had nothing against Buddhist Sinhalese. It is only fraternity that talking about Buddhist Sinhalese’s true protection & sovereignty. Buddhist Sinhalese should open themselves to believe societies and transact five take with others. China has promised to Sinhala Buddhists that they will use their Veto to protect Sinhala Buddhists from the tyranny of UNHRC. Ma, this what the Hinds talk the world in Kaliyuga (dark days, in which everything go in negatives ex. A lie is only truth; a murder is a gift for the victims, theft is part of decedent life……. started about a 5000 years ago). Beyond all good and bad, China is not the only country in that world. It is extremely dangerous, like North Korea, to take China’s yoke only to secure a veto against the minority Tamils. China is not just interfering in local politics, but it is closing all windows for Lankaweyans to appeal or seek relief from the world of Chinese loan & computer tyranny (so far). That is why it has successfully monsterized UNHRC for Lankaweyans which one time Lankaweyans thought would bring relief for them from Vaalaiththodam – Ranil administration.

  • 5
    6

    Like LTTE tigers, UNHRC is a toothless tiger.

    If UNHRC keep on putting pressure Sri Lanka should:
    * Punish all he Tamils who violated the Constitution by promoting separatism. Punishment is stripping civic rights and confiscating movable and immovable property.
    * Give all the islands in the North to China on a 99 year lease. Sinhalayo will have no objection to that.

    • 2
      4

      “Give all the islands in the North to China on a 99 year lease.”

      Good idea. Give Jaffna and Kattankudy to China for 99 years. China will be responsible for all economic development and security in these areas. In return, all of GOSL’s debts to China will be cancelled. Without security concerns, GOSL can focus on developing the South and Central provinces.

      • 0
        0

        Did China even suggest that option?

  • 3
    5

    Such a partial skewed article reflects his biased opinion. If his theory itself taken seriously, why does not Sri Lanka call for intervention for the next door drunk neighbour India beating & harrasing citizenry in Kashmir if justice called for equally? Above all why he does not scream for independence & halting harrasment of his own 84 million Tamil brothers in Tamil Nadu who are kept under a tight rule by the drunken neighbour? His Tamil blood should boil in his veins as 84 millions deserve a country. Geneva will come and go whether you win or lose the vote for Sri Lanka. However all these ‘bright’ brains do one thing they just don’t want to happen. It is strengthening the hand of Rajapakshas & put the opposition to further oblivion. They will spite the yahapalanites now in pieces more & more giving way in Geneva The masses will get together in spite of hard difficulties to protect & save their beloved country that has existed over 2600 years in Buddhist tradition.

  • 3
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

    For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 5
    2

    Lanka Herath, you mean like in North Korea. I can see how much you are in Love with your country. Please do not stop loving. Country needs people like you with unconditional love.Is that part of your Buddhist tradition.

    • 0
      0

      Chiv, thanks you understood that I love my country unconditionally.. Also the facts I pointed out, if India can behave like a drunken neighbour on David’s terms then why why not us? Because we are small in size? 84 million Tamils’ grief & 13 millions Kashmirs’ suffering in comparison is much more than here.

  • 6
    2

    Westham, Just curious, how many years did it take you to study such vital issue ???? The subjects of your case study , “are they from only Westham, Lanka or global”. Do you have anymore interesting case studies to present ??? Keep it up the good work.

  • 1
    1

    Is the refrain “Non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries” specific to China?
    Have you compared Cuba’s stand with China’s in HR games?
    *
    Victims of imperialism know the HR game as played according the imperialist rule book. They refuse to play ball.
    Prof KD should by now has found for himself that the annual UNHRC theatre in Geneva is not about anybody’s human rights but is about advancing imperialist interests, that of the US specifically.

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