15 June, 2024


On Navi Pillay’s ‘Open-Mind’, Mildly

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Navanethem “Navi” Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, is due in Sri Lanka today.  Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe expects Pillay to come with an open mind.  Pillay, for her part, said on Friday (23rd) that she has an open mind and will not be pre-judging anything ahead of her visit.

Well, words are words, can be used to communicate, can be used to miscommunicate, to lie and distort, play down or exaggerate.  Pillay knows words.  Pillay employs them.  And there are times she’s silent.

Navi Pillay says she won’t pre-judge and that’s a good thing to say.  On the other hand she has pre-judged before and has shown a clear penchant to believe tall stories cooked up by pro-LTTE elements and regurgitated by the naïve or else sour-graped, i.e. those who prayed for a different military outcome in May 2009, backed a different horse or bet on a different political winner in January 2010 and April 2010.  None of the claims treated as fact by Navi Pillay are substantiated; dig from source to source and one ends up with an LTTE spokesperson or someone held hostage by the LTTE as Source No 1.

But Pillay is a human being; she can make mistakes.  There are things Pillay’s confidantes have not told her and things she is not ready to give ear to because she is not ready to believe anything contrary to what she has decided was the truth.  That’s human too.  She cannot with finger-snap divest herself of all the judge-baggage she’s accumulated over the years.  So let us not entertain any illusions about Pillay’s open-heart.

On the other hand part of being human is being able to recognize error and having the humility to acknowledge.  Pillay can compare and contrast. She must.  She can take into account context. She must.  She can be fair. She must.  She can visualize the what-might-have-been if things didn’t happen the way they did.  She must.

All this time, she’s clearly been fed by mischievous elements in the I/NGO sector that sided with the LTTE (for a variety of reasons of course, not necessary because of love for terrorism or Tiger but perhaps in accordance with the adage, ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’).  There was that infamous and laughably flawed ‘Darusman Report’.  There were scurrilous documents authored by pen-for-hire ‘scribes’ who are either utterly naïve or incompetent or else suffered traumatic childhoods,  not to mention great television productions by Channel 4 (key word: productions).  Can Pillay shed all that? Let us see.

Pillay must, most importantly, take care not to confuse issues.  This regime is not the best on earth.  It has erred horrendously on many counts.  In this, there’s very little to pick between this regime and its predecessors going all the way back to 1977 at least.  Pillay’s project however is not regime change.  That’s the business of the people of Sri Lanka.  Now there are people who want regime change (for right and wrong reasons), but it is the most pernicious and politically bankrupt among them who would deliberately tag regime-change-need to a tall, uneven and politically tainted narrative about the last stages of the struggle against terrorism.

Pillay is going to be here for a week. That’s a short time to walk the length, breadth and depth of thirty years of a nation, so it would suffice for her to acknowledge that she is but tiptoeing on the corner of a territory that is mapped out according to cartographer’s political preferences.  But blood is blood, terror is terror.  Even Pillay won’t find it impossible to imagine a 2013 with the LTTE (by briefing herself about a Sri Lanka that had to contend with the LTTE) and contrast it to the LTTE-less Sri Lanka she is visiting.

She can think ‘resettlement’ and think of IDP camps she’s known and re-settlement programs that haven’t got off the ground in countries with immense resources. She can think rehabilitation and integration and ask herself which country held to ransom by terrorists and terrorism rehabilitated and reintegrated into society more than 10,000 terrorists and terrorist suspects, against whom there hasn’t been even a single police complaint since.  She can walk around Colombo and imagine a city that had roadblocks and checkpoints at almost every junction, and get a rough idea of freedoms gained.

There are a lot of things Pillay can do.  If she can open her mind (yes, she can say she is coming with an open mind, but few will buy that).

One thing she can be assured about is that whether she comes with open or closed mind, whether she sheds her biases or not, she will see a lot of smiles.  From total strangers, especially those who don’t know what on earth she’s doing in Sri Lanka.  That smile has a name: Resilience.  We have survived all kinds of invasions.  We will not be deterred by judgment, especially by the partial (even if they tell themselves ‘We are fair’).

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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Latest comments

  • 0

    This regime loves to blame everything from Typhoons, Cyclones to murders, rapes and robbery and assaults on journalists as western conspiracies. Sooner or later people will get sick and tired of the “wolf wolf” excuse. Rape is on the rise, murders on the rise, politicians who rape on the rise, rich have gotten richer and corrupter and it is all the fault of Tiger Terrorists and western conspirators. No one is accountable for anything in Sri lanka these days.

  • 0

    I responded to Susan’s comments. As for others who love to yap at me, read my piece ‘The staunchest friends of the regime’ (http://malindawords.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-staunchest-friends-of-regime.html). Keep writing boys and girls. Meanwhile, I go back to writing serious stuff, stuff that you people take the time to read! I visit CT, but don’t waste my time reading comments, unless I am alerted to something like what Susan has written. I have a life, y’know. Cheers!

  • 0

    Malinda is right, in the sense that human rights violations are going on throughout our history because of a fundamental flaw in the value of citizenship. It continues to be a deep rooted flaw because always there was one group to cover up human rights violations citing history. Always the same argument repeats – “the situation is not so bad compared to so and so’s era of rule.”. So, Rajapaksa supporters justify it citing HR violations in JRJ or RP era. UNP supporters in JRJ and RP era covered it up citing history and the domestic radical groups in the same way too. If some historical similarity or a domestic threat cannot be found, they point the finger at the West – “look, this is not the worst country in the World. See over there! so, why pick Sri Lanka only?”. This type of deceitful arguments have brought Sri Lanka to the present situation, and it will continue.

    James A. Baldwin wrote – “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually”. This is the type of attitude a patriotic citizen should have, realizing that covering up HR violations will only lead to deterioration of respect for human life. On the contrary, what happens in Sri Lanka is bashing HR defenders, branding them as traitors. In the absence of such a strong domestic drive to defend human rights, it is natural for an organization like UN to be worried about human beings in Sri Lanka, which is a broader belonging to the human race than to the domestic label of “the citizen protected by constitutional rights”.

    In that sense, I am not that surprised to see why Sri Lankan Government, state media, and groups like Ravana Balakaya, BBS, and JHU, are so worked up to see an officer related to Human Rights visiting Sri Lanka. Looks like some people are a bit over-scared and want to use the sovereignty of the country to create a phantom scarecrow to amass a human shield. It is so odd when that human shield consists of the very victims of HR violations who deserve some redress.

  • 0

    {1} First, I sincerely apologize to MalindaSeneviratne, for any errors which I made in my comment made partly on the basis of what I heard from my STC friends. my comment had timestamp: Susan – August 25, 2013, 8:55 pm

    {2} My STC friends tell me that their Royal College (RC) buddies are still very surprised, that Malinda who had been a guy with nice personal qualities at RC, for unknown reasons became hopelessly entangled and drawn into the most senior levels of various Singala racist orgs. One STC buddy even remembers meeting Malinda at the 1984 Roy-Tho match, and that Malinda had been an RC prefect.

    {3} Because my in-laws and others still live in SL (some even trying to get out of SL right now), I cannot reveal my identity because of the very real fears of White Vans, murders and arrests.

    {4} I was quite disappointed that CT did not post my comment immediately – because their posting was delayed by 24 hours, many CT readers would have missed my comment.

    {5} Malinda states in his comment with timestamp August 26, 2013, 5:12 pm: ” I was not a member of any organization, Sinhala Buddhist Supremist or otherwise, when I was at Peradeniya.”. Technically he may not have been a member when he was at Peradeniya. But didn’t he associate very closely and share the views of such Singala Buddhist supremist orgs?

    {6} Malinda states: ” I was never in a temple, ‘Sinhala Buddhist’ (sic) or otherwise, in the 1980s.”

    It seems that I got the year wrong. But is that the most important issue? It is a terrible shame that Malinda is hiding behind this error on my part.

    This URL seems to be very credible (just search this doc using keyword “Seneviratne”. You will get 12 matches. I am referring to match 6 onwards):


    CT readers will find that Malinda told Athureliye Rathane (one of the topmost monk leaders of Singala Buddhist supremist orgs and later a Member of Parliament) that he thought that the formation of the Ratawesi Peramuna as “a broad agitational from” was “a good idea” and attended two of its meetings and met Rathana and others at the “open canteen” of the University at Colombo at about 6 PM on 26th Feb 1992, and agreed to meet at the Kawduduwa temple.

    {7} In this same doc, after the 11th occurence of keyword “Seneviratne” you will find:


    In my first posting I had been incorrect when I stated: “Malinda had been tipped off that the Sinhala terrorist Sri Lanka army was going to raid the hideout in the Buddhist temple. “

    Because Malinda and other meeting participants were arrested by the Police, before Malinda could run away.

    {8} I seem to have been incorrect when I stated that Nalin Seneviratne Commander of the SLA from 1985 to 1988, was Malinda’s father’s brother, and that he had tipped off Malinda about a Police/SLA raid to a buddhist temple where Malinda was hiding.

    &&&&&&&&&& Question:Can Malinda or any CT reader let us know if this person is Malinda’s dad:

    Ganegoda Appuhamelage Don Irwin Gamini Seneviratne SLOS is a Sri Lankan civil servant and diplomat, who was the former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Thailand and the Republic of Korea.


    The brothers of this particular Gamini Seneviratne, are General Nalin Seneviratne, who became the commander of the army, and the other Ana Seneviratne served as the Inspector-General of Police and Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Malaysia.

    The above Wikipedia entry states that this Gamini Seneviratne’s wife is Indrani, who my STC buddies thought was the same Indrani Seneviratne who was a teacher at Royal College.

    {9} My STC buddies tell me that Malinda ran away to the USA in the late 1980s because he was a coward, and was scared that his association at Peradeniya Univ with Singala Buddhist supremist groups, the JVP etc was going to be found out by the Police and SLA. I believe that this is correct.

    I still maintain that Malinda is a terrible hypocrite. Because he claimed to have been a hard core Marxist since the time of his A/L days at RC and in Peradeniya Univ. But, he had no qualms accepting in his words “a full scholarship” at the ultra elite Harvard Univ, in the ultra capitalist USA. Why didn’t he run away to North Korea, Cuba, China or the former Soviet Union and obtain a bachelor’s degree?

    {10} Malinda’s longtime buddy from RC days is [Edited out]


    Does anyone know for sure?


    This URL has info about Malinda, but all its contents don’t seem accurate:


    {12} To those CT readers who do not know Malinda, please search this article by Dayan Jayatilleka for keyword “Malinda”:

    Anti-BBS Vigil: A Critique Of The Critique by Dayan Jayatilleka


    {13} Article, by Malinda’s father, Gamini Seneviratne. Has some info about Malinda applying to study at Harvard.


    • 0

      Many thanks for all the information:) Lüge haben kurze Beine. Truth will come to surface sooner or later.

      Whenever I read MS^s articles I feel he should be an another guy being posted by MR to lead his mission in a very unique manner. If graduates are being easily caught by MR tricks, so why the need of passing any critics towards the gullible poor villagers accross the country.

      DJ was once upon a time caught by MR admministration, but to this date, he has opened up at atleast to some extent dare to add few remarks against rulers. Still he seems to be on the fence, but wait and see.

    • 0

      My father is Gamini Seneviratne. There are many who share his name. The court case was filed by myself (and 13-14 others) against the Attorney General. We won the case. You should read all affidavits. It makes interesting reading. And maybe you should do more than ‘cursory reading’, of Ratavesi Peramuna and other stuff too. Anonymity is a human shield. trotting up lame justifications is, well, sad. But yes, READ what I’ve written about Dayan, from 2000 September/October. If you want, write to me and I will forward you my pieces (along with what HE has written). Cheers.

  • 0

    Thanks, Malinda, for confirming that your father is NOT the person described in this Wikipedia page:


    As I stated before: Because my in-laws and others still live in SL (some even trying to get out of SL right now), I cannot reveal my identity because of the very real fears of White Vans, murders and arrests.

    Myself and those close to me are not high profile Tamils such as J. S. Tissainayagam. We are so fortunate compared to Singalese, Tamils and Muslims who live in SL – since we live outside SL we are beyond the reach of the GOSL, SLA, and Police.

    Tissa was finally freed (after arrest, some torture and cruel jail conditions) only after international outcry and intervention by the US government. You must be delusional to state that the threat of White Vans, legal and illegal imprisonment and torture, are lame justifications.!

    Why don’t you post on CT, one or two of the best articles (even old ones) you have written about Dayan? Can you at least post links to them in this comments section?

    Even the CT founder and assistants are able to run CT without fear of the GOSL, SLA and Police, because they are based abroad after having fled SL!

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