18 January, 2021

Blog

My Sole Ambition Was To Serve My Country And People

By Ayesha Zuhair –

Tamara Kunanayakam

Tamara Kunanayakam, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative (PR) to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, has accused Navanethem Pillay, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, of playing the political agenda of the US and Western powers.

In an e-mail interview with the Daily Mirror, Ambassador Kunanayakam elaborates on the accusations contained in her letter to the UN human rights chief, and reflects on her tenure as PR to Geneva which comes to an end on 30 June.

Q: Some confusion has arisen as to whether the accusations that you have recently levelled against Ms Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reflect the official position of the Sri Lankan Government. Could you clarify whether or not your letter to Ms Pillay received prior clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs?

A few days ago, the Daily Mirror quoted a very senior Ministry official as having said that the Government has no intention of criticising the High Commissioner or taking action against her. If that is the stand of the Ministry, then it must also be that of the Government!

After having verified the authenticity of the email communication by Mr. Rory Mungoven, I acted in conformity with the mandate given to me by His Excellency the President and the stand taken by the Government so far.

The consistent position of the Government has been to defend the independence and sovereignty of our country and to oppose any kind of external intervention in its internal affairs, and to pursue a policy of non-alignment in international relations.

You will recall that as far back as 2006, the Government refused to succumb to pressure from the previous High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, and certain Western powers, to open an OHCHR field office in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Rory Mungoven was then stationed in Colombo as the UN Human Rights Advisor. A cable sent to the US State Department by the then US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert Blake, and released by Wikileaks, reports Mungoven as having said that what was essential for Sri Lanka was not technical assistance, but a robust UN monitoring and protection mechanism in the field!
The position I took was in full conformity with that stand. Now, if the Government has suddenly changed that position, then it has not been communicated to me.

Q: How do you intend to follow-up on the issue?

For some obscure reason, the External Affairs Ministry has chosen to denounce the Representative of Sri Lanka and instead protect the High Commissioner whose Office (a) played an important role in triggering the adoption of the US resolution against Sri Lanka; (b) provided support to the Darusman Panel that concluded that there were “credible allegations of war crimes” in the country, a report that the Government has previously rejected; and (c), undermined the Human Rights Council by failing to respect its decision at the 2009 Special Session to support Sri Lanka in its internal efforts toward resettlement and reconciliation.

As for follow-up on the issue, you are aware that I have been removed from this position without any explanation given. It is a question that will therefore have to be answered by the Ministry and my successor.

Q: In your letter to Ms. Pillay, you have questioned her impartiality, and accused her of “playing the political agenda of the US and Western powers”. If these allegations are proven, would you recommend to the Ministry of External Affairs to take this issue up internationally – perhaps at the upcoming summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in August?

 It is common knowledge to our friends and allies in the Non-Aligned Movement and the Like-Minded Group of countries in Geneva that the US and certain other Western powers are directly involved in the functioning of the Office of the High Commissioner. We have seen this in the case of Sri Lanka, but also in many other cases.
Some 80% of the staff and programmes are funded through voluntary contributions from the rich countries that come with conditions attached. That is why Sri Lanka joined many like-minded countries in promoting a Human Rights Council resolution on the need for accountability and transparency by the High Commissioner on the allocation and utilisation of such voluntary funds.

Whether we like it or not, it is a fact that the resolution, which Mr. Mungoven claims was the culmination of years of efforts by the Office, was drafted and tabled by the US.

It is also known that the US decision to table the resolution under Item 2 of the Council’s agenda, which has to do with the Annual Report of the High Commissioner, was taken in consultation with the High Commissioner to allow her to introduce elements of the Darusman report into her own report on Sri Lanka, thus giving it official status.

As for taking up the issue internationally, it is up to the Government of Sri Lanka to take that decision and to assume responsibility for it.

Q: Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, reacting to your letter to Ms. Pillay, tweeted: “Sri Lanka attacks UN Rights Office for, of all things, promoting human rights in Sri Lanka,” and describes it as a terrible transgression. Your response?

Obviously, he didn’t get the point of my letter or he chose to deliberately misread it. The point of my letter was precisely to defend the multilateral character and credibility of the human rights system that was established by the UN General Assembly under the UN Charter and to ensure that the principles of independence, impartiality, non-selectivity, and objectivity are fully respected, so that both the High Commissioner and the Human Rights Council can effectively promote human rights around the world.

It is widely known that among the institutions funding Human Rights Watch is the National Endowment for Democracy, which is linked to the US State Department and US intelligence.
It won’t come to you as a surprise then that Rory Mungoven was Global Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch and Stephen Ratner, the US member of the Darusman Panel, Advisor to Human Rights Watch and member of the Advisory Committee on International Law of the US State Department.

Q: What were your objectives when you took up your current assignment in Geneva, and to what extent have they been achieved?

My sole ambition was to serve my country and people, and to place at their service my professional experience, particularly within the UN, and knowledge of international relations. I am resolutely attached to the principles of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, non-intervention, and non-interference, as well as to the unity of our people, which is fundamental to the defense of those principles.

The conclusions I have drawn from my fleeting yet intense experience in Geneva are fully coherent with the line of conduct that I have adopted for myself. It is my hope that I have been able to contribute in some small way toward clarifying the real issues, making our position better understood, and mobilising a greater number of friends around us.

Q: Do you think that the sudden proposal to transfer you to another station signals a lack of a coherent strategy in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy? What could / should have been done differently?

I am still to receive an explanation from the Ministry as to the reasons for my sudden transfer. Four Ambassadors in three years does not send a positive signal to the international community, but demonstrates a certain instability and febrility in the country’s foreign policy strategy and objectives.

Daily Mirror has published some of my own views on the subject. The country is going through a very difficult period with risks to its independence, sovereignty and unity. We cannot afford to under or overestimate the dangers that we face.

It is significant that since the end of the last session of the Human Rights Council, the Ministry has not considered it useful to bring together the key members of the delegation to conduct an evaluation of the situation and our work. We need to be lucid in our assessment of the balance of forces and anticipate events rather than adopt an empirical approach.

Q: Former Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, in a recent article published in the Lanka Monthly Digest, has asserted: “With our dependence on the West for trade, aid, investment, and tourism, and our geopolitical vulnerability vis-à-vis India, preventive diplomacy not provocative diplomacy is needed.” Do you agree?

If by “preventive diplomacy” is meant compromise with the West on principles, especially that of independence and sovereignty, then I cannot agree! It is precisely to reduce our dependence on the West that I have always advocated diversification of our economic and trade relations to include Latin America and Africa. This has today become a necessity given the financial and economic crises that is affecting the West in particular, and the shift in the balance of power towards Asia.

While compromise, concessions and trade-offs may be necessary for the maintenance of friendly relations among individuals or collective entities, compromise that amounts to surrender, especially of hard-won independence and sovereignty gained at the cost of enormous sacrifices by our people, and a return to servitude are reprehensible.

Petty and mediocre arguments propagated by certain media or the so-called ‘authoritative’ arguments of certain former diplomats who caricature the resolute defense of these principles as “provocative diplomacy,” “suicidal diplomacy” or “megaphone diplomacy” and project the role of a diplomat in terms of capitulation to the edicts of the powerful, betray the existence of determined efforts to steer our country in a particular direction that is not in line with our traditional non-aligned diplomacy.

There are only two ways of preventing the US from moving a resolution. The first is to capitulate; the second is to build a strong alliance with our natural friends and allies to ensure a majority in our favour. May I recall that of the 47 members of the Council, 34 are from Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean; of the remaining 13, only 7 are from the Western group and Russia is among the 6 Eastern European countries.

It is by mobilising our forces that, at the Human Rights Council’s 18th session in September 2011, we succeeded in preventing the US from tabling a resolution against Sri Lanka and in forcing Canada, its proxy, to withdraw within a matters of hours the draft resolution that would have placed Sri Lanka on the Council’s agenda for an interactive dialogue on Sri Lanka. On that occasion, the United States decided not to table the draft resolution but to use Canada as a proxy instead, precisely because of its inability to mobilize the required support for its adoption.

Despite evidence to the contrary, today so-called enlightened experts of diplomacy tell us that our error was to focus on building alliances with our natural allies, the like-minded majority, and that we should henceforth centre our efforts on dissuading Washington even if it means compromising our integrity. Continuing on that path is certain to alienate us from our natural friends and allies, and lead to our isolation and encirclement, rendering us even more vulnerable.

Courtesy Daily Mirror

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Dear Ms K., a little more discretion and a little less defensiveness on your part would have served the country much better.

    Unfortunately now you have been given the ‘karapincha’ treatment (used for flavour and thrown away) by MR!

    We sympathise with you but its a sad fact that when one associates with those of the canine kind,one should not be too surprised if one wakes up with fleas.

    • 0
      0

      Our people s behaviour is unique to them.This was also the case for DJ two years ago. But he survived it.TK was highly respected for the her performance in the session before the last, but this time, it ended up with – imposing a resolution against the country- . It was not at all her ill performance caused many of the member countries to use their vote for the resolution. If FM of GOSL made aware of like minded states much earlier without waiting to do so in the eleventh hour (GL was touring to african member states – during the days of the UNHRC sessions), perhaps, the outcome would have positive for the country. However, making accusations not respecting her role at this alarming juncture of the country- is not at all acceptable.

  • 0
    0

    “I am resolutely attached to the principles of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, non-intervention, and non-interference, as well as to the unity of our people, which is fundamental to the defense of those principles”.
    Her position relies on counter-factuals, is out-dated and untenable since globalization has re-constituted the notion of sovereignty in the past decades.
    TK uses outdated anti-British post-colonial rhetoric to defend internal colonialism in Sri Lanka by one ethnic group against another! What a joke since Lanka has had 60 plus years of independence but no substantive peace or democracy – rather an emergent military dictatorship which TK defends with outdated rhetoric and notions of “sovereignty” just when the country is facing a real possibility of a sovereign currency default!
    She needs to update herself of new developments and theories in IR, political economy and political science and on the ground situ. in Lanka to be of use to anyone!

    • 0
      0

      The Sri Lankan hypocrisy of foreign and domestic policies naturally compels one to compare the island’s sovereignty with prostitute’s virginity.

      One might conclude that prostitutes may have more chances of protecting their virginity than Sri Lanka has over its sovereignty.

      Sri Lankan stupidity knows no bounds.

    • 0
      0

      Her stint in Cuba has obviously clouded her ideas and views about 21st century politics. However, I must agree that she had left leaning views for a long time and fought for the rights of the JVP sahodarayas together with Rajapaksa in the eighties and nineties of the last century. But in todays changed circumstances her anti US and anti West pronouncements have landed her in a situation where she has been humiliatingly discarded by the regime that chose her to defend it against its appalling human rights record. I don’t think she cares about Sri lanka or its people. She is just an opportunist who likes the limelight. She is now alone and friendless, rejected, both by people of her own race – tamils – and by the nasty people who she chose to defend – Rajapaksa and his cabal. She deserves whatever she gets. I have no sympathy for her.

  • 0
    0

    Ms. K, too bad you got the old “Fall Gal” treatment, what do you expect from a bunch of klaptrocratic hooligans? I commend you for the service, wish you all the best and hope you will do the best for the country in your capacity.

  • 0
    0

    rather than insult the likes of dhanapala the lady would have done well to learn a few tricks of the trade from those likes..diplomacy is not about self glorification or building personality cults..it should be about getting what is best for the country..sri lanka’s interest were not served in geneva..if tamara wanted to go on some ideological battle with the west she should have done so on her own accord not compromising sri lanka’s interest

  • 0
    0

    I wish this woman read all the comments from these sinhala chauvinists to understand its character

    She thought if she pamper MR it would solve our ethnic issue

    • 0
      0

      So what you are saying is that Ms. Tamara K should instead listen to the Tamil chauvinists. Ha Ha Ha. Your slip is showing.

    • 0
      0

      I really dont think a personality of TK would go pamper top of the incumbent regime. She performed her best as it is unique to her always. but the very issue that she and others have to address in defending the country is the fact- that UNSCR ended up with a resolution supported by many of the member states. Vasu s view could be a well match with Mervin, Duminda and the like – but not with a lady who represented the country bravely- not the last time, but several similar occassions before. There, you and the same thinkers were on her side, but not this time. Shame on you.

  • 0
    0

    Rather poor show Mrs Kunanayakam. Its all well and good saying (now, with the violin playing loudly in the background…) that your ‘sole ambition was to serve your country & people’. Some of us are quite confused as to which people you mean.
    Your stance did not reflect a sense of understanding or sympathy for the tamil cause – & by that I mean a chance of equality, respect and consideration for a time to heal; prior to all this rash and ugly relocation and reconstruction. It was almost as if you are one of the many boot-lickers hovering like flies around MR…
    Shame on you Mrs! Innocent people are still in camps. Families are still awaiting news on the disappeared. Children are bereft without parents, grandparents. Many thousands have no hope of a job. Trauma surrounds the victims who endured the destructive last weeks of the war. All this while the Government PR department screams that things couldn’t be better & that Sri Lanka is on the path to prosperity and peace.

    • 0
      0

      YES MEN AROUND THE THRONE, AND KING IS NAKED
      THIS IS THE TIME WE WANT SOMEBODY LIKE HON LAKSHMAN KADIRAGAMAR TO DEFEND OUR COUNTRY .
      NOT A BUNCH OF MONGOLS, HEROINE DEALERS, AND IDIOT POLITICOS LIKE KUDU MERVIN, WEERAWANSA, , BADULA ECT.

  • 0
    0

    ‘My Sole Ambition Was To Serve My Country And People’, I wonder how sincere when she makes this pronouncement, because she was definitely looking for position, power and recognition.

  • 0
    0

    I have just one simple question to Mrs. Kumanayagam. Why did ‘nt you advise Mohan Peris not to lie to the Council concerning the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda, knowing well that such lies will be immediately exposed by those who are defending human rights?

  • 0
    0

    Agreed with all the comments here above.
    TK wanted to serve the regime for her own benefit
    and not that of the people.
    Even Karuna, Douglas, Pillaiyan can claim to serve
    their people and the country.
    She seems to have some grudge with the west, and
    this is interview exposes this view.

  • 0
    0

    JVP had mentioned that it is Hilary who wanted to Tamara Kunanayakam out. I believe that. Sri Lankan govt is chicken. But, Dayan Thilake also got problems by not keeping his mouth shut. So, just be patient.

  • 0
    0

    She is working as a free thinking academic in a politically sensitive field. That is why there is conflict. free thinking – Intellectuals and politicians don’t go together.

  • 0
    0

    My Sole Ambition Was To Serve My Country And People

    This statement is a crime if you tell this in west, especially from a woman who seeked political asylum telling the canadian authorities she is hunted by sinhalese chauvinists

    If you tell this in east you are a regime supporter, which is a reason to be purnished in some years after a regime change

    If you tell this in north you naive and good for nothing

    If you tell this in south you are corrupted and you probably work for mafia

    Our weeping Tamil woman from diplomatic services what does she expect?

    Sympathy from Mervyn Silva, Weerawamsa and all other ………..?

  • 0
    1

    It looks like Ms. Kunanayakam is having some kind of imaginary diplomatic war with the west. There are some issues with Sri Lanka, mainly implementation of LLRC and credible aligation of human right vioalations, country has to come up with a good plan to addres those issues.I don’t think any country in the west want to disturb our sovereignty or independence, they respect the democracy and freedom unlike the countries she wants to be with.

  • 0
    0

    In 1987 she was a vociferous critic of the state of Human Rights in Sri Lanka,as an interventionist & member of the World Christian Students Federation at the UNHRC Periodic Review meeting.
    Then she met Mahinda Rajapakse who recruited her to the diplomatic service as ambassador to Cuba, most probably to silence her.
    Recently he sent her to the UN post.
    Now, the Human Rights situation is far worse under her mentor MR.
    The country is a dictatership, and people – the ordinary men,women & children – are suffering.
    The entire world knows – not only the UN.
    She can serve the country and the people only by admitting the truth and by trying to correct the situation.
    All this diplomatic jargon will not correct the state of affairs.

  • 0
    0

    Tamara Kunanayakam says “I am still to receive an explanation from the Ministry as to the reasons for my sudden transfer.”

    A hooker cannot complain that she is been exploited while taking payment for the service. She can’t have it both ways. Why these so called diplomats who were well paid by the govt. for what they did are going mad and making statements like the above to Media?

    The resolution was lost she could not muster even support from India and govt. realized the world was not stupid. The govt. made a blunder by appointing her as a show piece to show the world that our diplomat is a Tamil? On what grounds was she offered the post in Geneva? Was Tamara qualified enough for this post or is it being a Tamil her only qualification at this particular juncture? Just because she is very loyal to the President and the UPFA, the govt. wanted to show off that they elected a Tamil to the post. She talks about her professional experience, particularly within the UN, and knowledge of international relations but she could not deliver anything.

    She says “My Sole Ambition Was To Serve My Country And People”
    What nonsense! Her sole ambition was position, power and recognition. I have no sympathy for this purely selfish woman. She is no different to DJ but she should be admired for one reason, she did not go and lick the feet of her masters in Colombo to get her job back.

    If the govt. says she has failed in her duties (of course she has), then where were all those best diplomats when Tamara was appointed to do the job she is not capable of? Why are they complaining now?

  • 0
    0

    Outdated diplomacy? imaginary diplomatic war? serve the regime for her own benefit? I don’t see any of these in her. All I see is that this Representative has ‘balls’ than those pundits who are better in making statements to press than defending the country in critical situations.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Tamara……

    This is what always happens to people who seek personal gains at the behest of other’s tears..

    you were denying the massacre of more than 40,000 innocent tamil men, women and children to make some money in the name of diplomacy..

    This savage act of you has brought you this position.. And wait.. God will punish you for all your sins..

    • 0
      0

      I think you got the number of so called “innocent” tamil civilians dead at 40,000 wrong. According to the latest reliable reports a zero has been added to this number to read 400,000 and by the time the next UNHCR session this figure is expected to reach a staggering 4,000,000.

      • 0
        0

        Deva

        There are various figures floating around in media regarding civilian dead toll, 4, 40, 400, 4,000, 40,000, 400,000 and I won’t be surprised if it reached 4,000,0000.

        However according to Mahinda’s media the estimated figures cited were -40, -400, -4,000, -40,000, ………… to minus infinity.

        I do not understand these figures and how they counted them.

        Could someone sit down and gather names and details of people who were either missing or killed, so we would be able to put name to these numbers.

  • 0
    0

    Looks like the Tamil Diaspora is having a field day here. Instead of criticizing Ms Pillays dirty move, every body is criticizing the brave lady who stood for Sri Lanka. No body talks of the dirty work of the USA HR violations in Iraq and UK’s dirty works all over the world. No body is interested in the damage that was caused to SL . No body has mentioned it nor Criticized the Western Nations dirty games all over the world. It is indeed hilarious,as if you go to you tube and watch the games played in other countries. Pissing and all. It is obvious that all the comments are not from people in SL as so called Sinhalese Chauvinism does not exist , The great lady , who was made a Scapegoat at the end to cover up the SL government ministers inefficiency . We as Sri Lankans salute you Ms Tamara , for your brave act.

  • 0
    0

    She served her Cuntry alright.
    That is what she thought in 1989 in Geneva when Apey Mahinda Singo was visiting, and she was serving.
    People who lived by the sword will die by the sword.
    She was lucky to get a cushy job like this.
    She was not kicked out of a job, salary and home.
    All are well provided in Cuba or Brazil. For doing virtually nothing.
    She happily accepted her job in Cuba a few years ago from Mahinda Singo.
    What is her problem now? Yes it is a demotion.
    Now she can tell the Castros in Cuba that no Tamil civilians were killed in the Vanni. None of her relations were not killed there. Even if they were killed she wouldn’t know. Cause’ she does not know her relatives.

    She never bothered to visit Chundukuli (Jaffna) where her Grand Mother lived for 70 years and where she lived there too for a few years. (200 yards from the Kacheri- on the Kacheri Nallur Road, next to the former Blue Ribbon Hotel).

    Surely, Mahinda has paid his dues to her for services rendered. lol.
    Sri Lanka will manage without her expertise in the diplomatic service, and she was not a member of the foreign service. In other words she was a mercenary with an expired contract.

    I must say she did a good job for Sri Lanka and her Cuntry.

  • 0
    0

    Look Who Says PEOPLE WHO LIVED by THE SWORD will DIE by THE SWORD !!!

  • 0
    0

    I have always said it in public.
    But the Tamil cause, struggle, aspirations, goals and objectives did not die 3 years ago, and it will never die.
    It will endure, hope still lives, and and will finally succeed.
    Tamils can never be defeated.
    The Tamil diaspora is a good example of what they were in 1983 and 30 years later. They even (We), have a billionaire and a Tamil MP in the Canadian Parliament. Soon it will be in the British and European Parliament too.
    Tamil diaspora will grow from strength to strength, and that is helpful to Sinhala Sri Lanka. They send nearly 3 Billion dollars a year, and assist in the Tourism and investments as well.
    All this 1 Million diaspora has the right to sponsor their family as well as other ways of immigration. The numbers and strength continues to grow, and so doe their passion. Don’t you all ever underestimate that strength, resoluteness and resolve.

  • 0
    0

    Donald J Gnanakone says:

    “The Tamil diaspora is a good example of what they were in 1983 and 30 years later.”

    How good or useful were/are they?

    How do you measure their effectiveness amid international consipiracy to defeat the LTTE and kill your Tamil cause.

    How effective was the Tamil Diaspora which refused to demand LTTE to release all the Vanni Tamils who were kept captive as human shields by the LTTE?

    I believe Tamils are no different to Sinhalese if you could quantify their stupidity.

  • 0
    0

    In 1983 Some Stupid Sinhalese Thugs Killed Innocent Tamils & Since Then for 30 Years pussy-tigers Killed Innocent Tamil People Said to be Theirs & Helped to Reduce Own Tribe Perhaps by 25% & U Say it is a Freaking Achievement !!!

    U have Made 1 Billionaire & Bit More Than 1 Hundred Thousand Crying Mothers in the North !!! Of Course Who Else Can Do Such a Miracle ???

  • 0
    0

    Kapila Kahapola, UAE asks:

    “Of Course Who Else Can Do Such a Miracle ???”

    Apart from stupid Sinhalese and stupid Tamils, who isle can do such a miracle???

  • 0
    0

    How About Chances of Doing it by Uruwarige Puthalam Booruwa ???

    • 0
      0

      Kapila Kahapola, UAE

      If the Kallathonies, the Tamils and Sinhalese didn’t arrive in my ancestral land, these man made calamities wouldn’t have happened.

      You say:

      “How About Chances of Doing it by Uruwarige Puthalam Booruwa ???”

      The only way to save the island is to send both people back to their motherland, India.

      I hope you are in agreement with me.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.