14 June, 2024

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Second Bid To Extricate From UNHRC Resolution Likely To Fail

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

In March 2020, the Sri Lankan government under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa believed that the massive mandate the president had received gave the government license to get out of the cycle of UN Human Rights Council resolutions by unilaterally opting out of the process. It announced that it would no longer consider itself bound to implement the resolution in force at that time. It stated its position was “backed by a people’s mandate and is in the interest of Sri Lanka and its people, instead of opting to continue with a framework driven externally that has failed to deliver genuine reconciliation for over four and half years.” However, the government also sought to keep itself within the framework of the UN system. The government stated that within a new framework of national reconciliation it was proposing it would continue to welcome the visits, advice and technical support from the UN system.

The re-emergence of the Easter Sunday bombing of 2019 into the mainstream of political debate is bound to have both domestic and international political consequences. Presidential elections are scheduled for October the latest. The UN Human Rights Council will meet in Geneva in September. The role played by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith who gives leadership to the Catholic Church in the country is proving to be important in both. He has openly accused the government of being unresponsive to their search for the truth and justice. He complained that he and other members of the church had addressed a letter to the president “calling for a fresh and independent investigation into these attacks, but not even a letter of acknowledgement was sent to us.”

In a recent media interview, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith stated that two political parties had met him and submitted their proposals for investigations of the Easter bombing if they win the forthcoming elections. The Cardinal has called upon those in his church not to vote for parties that have failed to make a commitment to truth and justice and presented concrete plans regarding this. The implications of this will have a bearing on the Catholic vote at the forthcoming elections. In addition, the Cardinal has announced that the Catholic Church is planning to present a proposal to the UNHRC. This is likely to have a detrimental effect on the government’s plan to extricate itself from the UNHRC process in Geneva.

Other Conflicts 

The previous government’s bid to extricate itself from the UNHRC resolution by the strategy of unilateral withdrawal was not successful. Instead it led to a stronger resolution being passed the next time around which set up a special monitoring mechanism in Geneva to collect and safeguard evidence of human rights violations in Sri Lanka. This is especially worrisome to those in the government, especially those who can be accused of having violated human rights, as it opens the door to prosecution by any government or individual who files a case in an international court that accepts the principle of universal jurisdiction.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe is generally believed to have a special relationship with the international community and particularly with those Western countries that give special attention to international human rights. There has been considerable media coverage of his easy familiarity with heads of states at international conferences where the top leaders of the world fraternize with each other and with him. His latest achievement was in welcoming the President of Iran to Sri Lanka as a state guest at a time when the world is on tenterhooks due to Iran’s open clash with Israel which is backed by the Western world. The state media reported that “As in other countries, many people in Sri Lanka thought that the Iranian President Dr. Ibrahim Raisi would cancel the visit at the last minute. The current issue with the West is the proximate cause of this. But it is President Ranil Wickremesinghe who is leading Sri Lanka on a Non-Aligned path without angering the West and without angering the neighbour.”

There is a further reason for believing that Sri Lanka might be able to surmount the challenge of the UNHRC at the present time. This is due to the change in the international environment in which the Israel-Palestine conflict has taken a special place with the intensity of violence in Gaza exceeding that of Ukraine. These are both ongoing conflicts which ought to take priority in contrast to the Sri Lankan conflict which ended 15 years ago. Unlike Ukraine and Gaza, Sri Lanka is today a country without large-scale violence. Indeed, it is remarkable that there has not been a single incident of large-scale violence after the end of the war except for the mystery of the Easter bombing to which answers are not being found.

Hidden Suffering 

International tourist guide books have selected Sri Lanka as the safest country in the world for a single woman to travel through on account of warmth and civility of the people and, of course, a well-functioning security system. In addition, where the post-war situation is concerned, the government is able to show a plethora of state mechanisms, ranging from multiple commissions of inquiry, the Office on Missing Persons, the Office of Reparations and most recently a Commission for Truth, Unity and Reconciliation which will be established soon. On the other hand, though Sri Lanka is at peace and able to offer a standard of hospitality that is seeing a boom in tourist arrivals, there is pain and suffering inside the society that needs to be taken care of and not neglected.

The largest scale of pain and suffering is due to the economic deprivation that suddenly hit people who were making ends meet, but who have found for the past two years that prices have tripled whilst their salaries remain the same. The World Bank’s most recent study on the impact of the economic collapse states that poverty has increased over the past four years—from 11 percent in 2019 to almost 26 percent in 2024 in Sri Lanka. It further states that approximately 60 percent of Sri Lankan households have decreased incomes, with many facing increased food insecurity, malnutrition and stunted growth.

The decision of Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and the Catholic Church to take their unaddressed grievance to the UNHRC in Geneva is a sign of the pain and suffering due to injustice that continues to burn within the hearts and minds of people, especially those who fell victim and those who are involved with them. Whether or not Ukraine and Gaza figure in the forthcoming resolutions of the UNHRC, it can be expected that Sri Lanka which has been on the agenda will continue to remain on the agenda. Sustaining the present peace in Sri Lanka requires that change that goes beyond a change of faces in government. It requires a new governmental commitment that the two main opposition political parties are promising and the government needs to match.

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Latest comments

  • 11
    3

    The Bharathipuram murder and the conviction of five policemen by the court in Anuradhapura is just the tip of a colossal iceberg. There are many killers floating around in the community. They pose a danger to society. They are an outshoot of the Mahavamsa moronic mentality that killing Tamils is okay, as was told Dutugemunu who had valiantly killed an old man. An international crime has no time limit. The prosecution was brought some 19 years after the event. The politicians who inspired these crimes also need to be prosecuted if a true deterrent is to be created. The Tamils, Muslims and Catholics who were targets of these crimes will ensure that justice prevails, though the Sinhalese celebrate these killers as great heroes. This is not to exonerate the Tamil militants who also killed but they would not have come about if not for Sinhala chauvinism and successive rounds of Tamil killings.

    • 2
      9

      “They are an outshoot of the Mahavamsa moronic mentality that killing Tamils is okay, as was told Dutugemunu who had valiantly killed an old man.”
      This is an unhealthy remark.
      Where does the Mahavamsa say any such thing?
      It was a battle. The Tamil king was not a meek old man by any means.
      If he was he could have sent in one of his generals to do battle.
      Let not prejudice push us into absurd positions.

      • 2
        0

        Dear SJ,
        .
        I disagree with you.
        You usually write sense.
        .
        This is the problem when we deal with events that we have no knowledge of.
        .
        I will only ask questions, not look for answers. How can I know?
        .
        For how many years had Elara (Tamils call him Ellalam) been a king? About forty? He must have been very old.
        .
        Wasn’t Dutugemunu only about thirty?
        .
        Elara must have gone into battle to save thousands from massacre; knowing that he would be killed. A most virtuous guy.
        .
        I’ve always thought like this, but not said it, until “provoked” by your comment.
        .
        Having said all the above, may I ask, SJ, what you think of the five carefully thought out comments by me at the bottom of this Kumar David article?
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/a-season-of-fun-every-pantaloon-is-running-loose/
        .
        There I’ve tried to grapple realistically with the task of electing decent people to Parliament. I haven’t tried to camouflage my faith in the NPP. Compare with D.B.S. Jeyaraj’s thoughts:
        .
        https://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/Ranils-evolving-strategy-to-win-2024-presidential-poll/172-281445
        .
        He praises Ranil Wickremasinghe. Jeyaraj has given his email address; let me write to him, and see what he tells me.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V) of Bandarawela

        • 4
          3

          Hello SM,
          My old school friend (aged 71 now) back in Aberdeen was attacked a few years ago by some Druggies much younger than himself. He was a Building contractor and had his tool-bag with him. He reached in to get something to defend himself with and the first thing that came to hand was his Industrial Stapler. So he stapled their heads. The police had been called and arrived to find the injured druggies screaming. My friend appeared in the Sheriff Court charged with Assault (or GBH). Anyway after hearing the Evidence he was Admonished. The moral of this story (factual) is just because a man is in his late sixties (90 Kilos and nearly 6 feet) don’t think he is an easy mark for stealing from. Any King that can climb on the back of an Elephant is not going to be a pushover.
          Best regards

        • 2
          2

          Dear Rational Thinkers,
          .
          as added SEVERAL TIMES elsewhere, each on its own.
          If you respect democracy, you must give dissidents the opportunity to express their thoughts. Sinhala man is not mature enough to discuss anything in general but he brings his usual links and bold texts.
          :
          Not only Jayaraj but also Diwayina as a whole is praising RW today.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMHqYnnaWmE
          Both supported RAJAKASHE RADICALISM (mlechcha Politics) for a long period.
          Sri Lankan media and corrupt politics act like the bark of a tangled tree. Facts aside and obvious, they persist
          SIRASA TV was instrumental in branding RW as BANKUHORA (Bond-scammer) until the 52-day political crisis in October 2018. This shameless tv channel today also repeatedly comments on RW’s great successes in the last two years.
          :
          We cannot completely disagree with the SJB leader and his men as they are also tolerant and allied with several other parties represented by different ethnic groups. However, with NPP there is only JVP and with JVP there is only NPP. So how would they proceed or “take new measures for the benefit of the masses” if they are unwilling to tolerate others?

        • 2
          2

          Dear Rational Thinkers,
          .
          as added SEVERAL TIMES elsewhere, each on its own.
          If you respect democracy, you must give dissidents the opportunity to express their thoughts. Sinhala man is not mature enough to discuss anything in general but he brings his usual links and bold texts.
          :
          Not only Jayaraj but also Diwayina as a whole is praising RW today.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMHqYnnaWmE
          Both supported RAJAKASHE RADICALISM (mlechcha Politics) for a long period.
          Sri Lankan media and corrupt politics act like the bark of a tangled tree. Facts aside and obvious, they persist
          SIRASA TV was instrumental in branding RW as BANKUHORA (Bond-scammer) until the 52-day political crisis in October 2018. This shameless tv channel today also repeatedly comments on RW’s great successes in the last two years.
          :
          We cannot completely disagree with the SJB leader and his men as they are also tolerant and allied with several other parties represented by different ethnic groups. However, with NPP there is only JVP and with JVP there is only NPP. So how would they proceed or “take new for the be REAL CHANGES nefit of the masses” if they are unwilling to tolerate others? Pig might fly !Basta

  • 11
    2

    Sri Lanka may be a good tourist place for foreigners and money makers but for Sri Lankan people particularly Sinhalese majority it is a worst country to live and nothing changed in the system of governance. The focus of the Government and the President is about getting into power nut nothing about sharing the weight of economic crisis. All the weight of the economic loss of the country is with people but nothing from those criminals and murderers who robbed the nation. They still enjoy the benefits of ministerial benefits. Even those who are involved with Easter Bombing are protected by the Government. What guaranty now those murderers and criminals are brought into justice and share the weight of the loss of the country? Will the people of this country make a change with coming elections to say enough is enough to the drama’s of our political masters?

  • 11
    0

    War criminals nust be hunted down and punished.
    I hope the UN will carry these resolutions to their inexorable conclusion — long terms of imprisonment for the killers

    • 1
      9

      Agree
      The US and UK have a long list of people who have ducked punishment for decades.

      • 3
        0

        Hello SJ,
        If you are referring to personnel involved in the Irish “Troubles” when you say “decades” then yes I would agree. I can’t speak for the US, but Bush and Kissinger come to mind. As for Blair he matches up with Bush.
        One of my ex colleagues (ex Military) had experience in a group like this – https://www.eliteukforces.info/the-det/
        Of the 15 people in his particular group 13 are dead. He blames Gulf War Syndrome as they also served during the Iraq War and were exposed to depleted Uranium dust. They were also injected with multiple Vaccines https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222854/
        After his injections all his hair fell out. When I worked with him he was completely bald. He showed me a video from before – he looked totally different.
        Some may say “Karma” but it’s part of the risks associated with the Lifestyle.
        Best regards

    • 2
      8

      “War criminals nust be hunted down and punished.”

      What about the Tamil diaspora that funded suicide terrorism for 26 years? Takes two to tango.

    • 1
      8

      Jaffna Man,

      You’ve said “War criminals nust be hunted down and punished”

      What is taking you so long….?

      It’s been now almost fifteen years since the war has ended.

      When are you going to hunt them down and punish?

      I’m waiting to see…

  • 8
    1

    The crime or alleged crime for which a person can be hounded and harassed most brutally in this country is the offense of “Hurting the religious sentiments of Buddhists.” The offender is remanded and kept in custody for months on end until the final determination of the case when the court declares him “Not guilty!”

    • 2
      1

      Hello Captain,
      Can I have a law for “Hurting the non-religious sentiments of Atheists”?
      Best regards

  • 6
    0

    STARTING FROM JR JAYAWARDENA WERE VERY HAPPY WHEN LOTS OF TAMILS STARTED TO LEAVE SRILANAKA AND WENT TO WESTERN COUNTRIES AND TO CANADA THINKING THAT WHEN TAMILS LEAVE THE COUNTRY THEIR POLITICAL POWER WILL BE REDUCED AND HANDLE THE REST IS NOT DIFFICULT.BUT IT HAD THE OPPOSITE EFFECT.LATER FROM 1983 TO 2019 MORE AND MORE TAMILS LEFT THE COUNTRY ON FORGED AND FAKE PASSPORTS AND VISAS ABLY SUPPORTED BY POLICE ARMY AND THE IMMIGRATION STAFF AT THE KATUNAYAKE AIRPORT.POLICE ARMY AND STAFF AT THE AIR PORT MADE MILLIONS OF MONEY BY HELPING TAMILS TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY.NOW THE TAMILS OVERSEAS HAVE BECOME BIG HEADACHE FOR SRILANAKA GOVERNMENTS TO HANDLE AS THEY ARE THE BIG FORCE BEHIND CREATING PROBLEMS TO THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH UNHCR.

  • 4
    1

    LankaScot,
    I can’t make laws, only the parliament can.
    Atheists are generally level-headed, unflappable, and rational persons, so they don’t allow trivial things to hurt their sentiments.

    • 2
      0

      Hello Captain,
      Damn I have been found out 😢. You are right, but my Sri Lankan Wife worries that what I say could be misconstrued as “hurting Religious Sentiment” and the “White Van” will take me away.
      Best regards

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