Colombo Telegraph

Navi Pillay Rides Again

 By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Many, many years ago a Sri Lankan cricketer who was more than a tad naughty had been caught napping by his team mates while on tour. The cricketer had brought a lady into his hotel room. His team mates had been tipped off and they were ready. As the manly hero went out to bat, so to speak, his cricketing friends had stepped in to cheer him on.

He was embarrassed. He was livid. He was small made (as in height and weight). He was relatively new to the team. He looked around and ticked off mentally those he could not take issue with, i.e. those who were senior and those who were stronger. There was just one left, a young and frail bowler from Kurunegala. Our hero pounced on him.

This may have happened, it may have not. If it did happen maybe the details are not all that accurate. Still, there is a lesson to be wrung out of this, and one doesn’t have to know anything about cricket to learn it. Indeed, one doesn’t have to come from a cricketing country either. Navi Pillay, for example, may or may not have played cricket, even though she is from South Africa, but she would get the point. In fact there’s no telling whether ‘the point’ was obtained from that particular incident (if it did take place). We don’t know where Navi Pillay went to school, but it is clear that she knows how to ascertain height, weight and seniority.

Navi Pillay is the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. If you google her name along with the name of any particular country, you will find some statement she has made (if indeed she has). The google-weight of ‘Pillay+Country’ would give you an indication of the nature of her concerns. It looks like she’s obsessed with Sri Lanka. Hold on, it might also mean that Sri Lanka has a horrendous track record on human rights, in which case it is but natural for Pillay to be thus concerned.

On the subject of google searches, if you typed the name of any country along with the words ‘human rights’ in the ‘search box’, something will definitely come up because there are no abuse-free nations in this world; paradise, clearly is an other-worldly affair. The world knows, however, who the big bad boys of rights abuse in this world are. So what has Pillay got to say about the United States of America? Precious little, apparently.

On Sri Lanka, her rants are mostly drawn from nightmarish accounts which, if you dig deep enough into source-soil, have been first mouthed by utterly unreliable ‘witnesses’. The line to ‘recall’ is full of politically compromised individuals with multiple axes to grind. Last year, for example, just after the US-led resolution on/against Sri Lanka was passed, Pillay issued a warning: ‘don’t harass human rights activists!’

That was a laugh. Sri Lanka’s ‘human rights activists’ are either terrorist-apologists, donor-fleecers, dis(mis)placed political activists or just down-in-the-mouth doom’s day prophets. They are top income earners. They are not just a miniscule minority but probably the most visible miniscule minority in the world. Pillay has nothing to worry because they are very well looked after. On the other hand, Pillay’s decision to bat for them indicates where she gets her story-line from. It’s no wonder that Pillay seems to have nothing better to do than castigate Sri Lanka. It’s not enough to send a recon-team ahead to Sri Lanka, she wants to send an army too, before she decides to fly in like some hybrid of a Viceroy and a Field Marshall.

Sri Lanka is then a young and frail cricketer from Kurunegala for Pillay. She is not taking on the bigger-made, more ‘senior’ and forbidding United States of America. ‘Drones’ are policy-instruments. The ‘evidence’ of rights-abuse in Sri Lanka, quite apart from being drawn from doctored footage which cannot be conclusively linked to the Sri Lankan security forces and the victim-numbers being marked with inflation and little else, cannot be branded ‘Policy’.

Pillay has been caught with her pants down. She has to save face. Sri Lanka is as good a whipping boy as she can get, considering that other ‘boys’ would probably whip her if she tried anything funny.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation and his articles can be found at

Back to Home page