18 October, 2017

Setting The Record Straight: Response To Sanjana On Sunila

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

A touching appreciation of Sunila Abeysekera (‘A Lone Unifier’ Ceylon Today, Sept 13th 2013, p 6) by my young friend Sanjana Hattotuwa is slightly marred by an inaccurate and misleading reference to me (albeit by former designation rather than name). He writes: “I wondered why just a few years ago, the then Sri Lankan Ambassador at the UN in Geneva blocked Sunila’s representation on the grounds that she lacked adequate academic qualifications.”

I was Sri Lanka’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva at the time. “Blocked Sunila’s representation”: where and in what capacity? What “representation”? Sanjana does not specify.

Having initiated the practice of inviting NGOs and INGOs to open debate with the Sri Lankan delegation (as noted by Wiki-leaked cables of the US Mission in Geneva), invited the Amnesty International representative to chair one such event, and hosted the CPA’s Dr Saravanamuttu and even the GTF’s Fr Emmanuel as participants, I had no reason whatsoever to block anyone’s “representation”. Indeed I solicited and welcomed it.

Sunila was certainly not blocked, nor could be, by anyone, in her presence at the UN Human Rights Council. I last met her there at an event on the sidelines of the UN HRC when she greeted the Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe with a warm hug and took her place around the table as a member of the audience with every right to participate in the discussion. I was at the head of the table and was a speaker, as our Permanent Mission had organised the meeting. If I rightly recall, Harvard educated legal researcher Gehan Gunatilleke was present and raised critical questions as did Peter Splinter of Amnesty International. Sunila remained silent throughout. Young Mr Gunatilleke might attest to the veracity of my recollection.

There was however an episode relating to Sunila, during my term as Ambassador/PR. It had to do with an application, not ‘representation’. I had been nominated to a body consisting of a select group of Ambassadors, which deliberated on applications/nominations for posts relating to Special Procedures, that is posts of Special Rapporteurs and Special Representatives, on various core themes. Our committee, which met in the same building on Avenue Woodrow Wilson that housed the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, would assess the bio data that accompanied the names of applicants and arrive at a consensus. Sunila had applied or been nominated by an NGO for one such post. Almost, if not all, such posts are filled by acknowledged experts in the field; experts who bear solid academic credentials in the subject concerned. For example, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, whom I have the honour to have as a friend, is Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton. I recall my own support of a nominee, a Turkish-American professor of law, for the post of Special Rapporteur on the right to water, but she was beaten to the post by a nominee of the Spanish ambassador, a member of our committee.

The records of that Committee would show that when Sunila’s application came up, I suggested instead Prof Savitri Goonesekere or Dr Deepika Udagama, more suitably credentialed personalities whose independence and outspokenness were no less than those of Sunila.  I had in fact conveyed these counter-suggestions through my staff to the quarters which had supported her application or nominated her (I can’t recall which), as names I could credibly and unconditionally support as Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative. I must also add that as representative of the Sri Lankan state, especially in wartime, I could not –and would not of my own volition– support the candidacy of any applicant or nominee whose position on the public record was considerably and conspicuously far more critical of the democratically elected government of Sri Lanka, the democratic Sri Lankan state and the Sri Lankan armed forces, than of the fascist terrorist Tigers. That was my position then. My sentiments and sadness at Sunila’s death notwithstanding (her parents and mine were friends before we were born) I still consider it valid and correct.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 2
    0

    Dayan, tired of your opportunistic, name-dropping,ego boosting nostalgia to be a player in the HR scene in the corridors of the UN in Geneva or Sl embassy or UNESCO in Paris…!

    Grow up Dude – get a life – and stop spinning!

    • 1
      1

      Yeah, He should go enjoy his retirement gracefully, sipping duty-free whiskey, after his loyal service to king Rajapakse!

      • 1
        0

        Dayan is possibly the most articulate bi-lingual Sri Lankan of the last few decades . His service to the nation during the war years will always be remembered with gratitude . Nothing that has happened since , is important.I raise my hat to you , Sir.

        • 1
          1

          He has been Mr Know-all by his articles so far with idiosyncratic style of his writing – unlike writings of Tisaranee G, DJ^s are well connected to international literature or examples. To me, DJ^s are not easily compressible – and most not addressing the grave issues that the masses of the country are busy with. In contrast to his, TG^s, hers are well conversant, as any 10 year old could easily follow about what ar being described. Not necessarily need them to have read world literature or popular sayings of international writers. In approaching the masses of the country, TG^s WORK much better than those of MR. Know-All.
          I personally like the style of Tisaranee, for one single reason, her skills are unique to her and make it easy for anyone to comprehend easily. There is nobody to write the articles as she has been – when it goes about the abusive politics of the on going ruling bunch.

    • 2
      0

      No secret to us all, Dayan has defended the country in the corresponding UN sessions in 2009. But that supported the ruling barbaric regime, not us the nation at all. Today, hr HAS been a joke under Rajapakshe. Does Dayan address any of this in his articles ? No. Does he compare HR issues with those of today – in an episode where no longer civil war is there in the country ? No.
      If this egoist was honest to him, he could better stand for the people rather than trying to debate protecting murderers like Rajapakshes. Now he is thrown away from the ruling bunch, to the same manner as CJ Dr. SB was fated. Now trying to pain a nice picture by articles of his own kind but people have already branded this bugger as a Selfish SO CALLED POLI ANALYST.
      Today, also no secret that Rajapakshes are idiosyncratic in their brutal politics. This became further clear when looking at the key remarks made by UN HR high commissioner lately. At the end of the month, it will be more clear to all member states after MS Pillay has orally produced her report of fact finding mission to our Island lately.

  • 0
    0

    Don’t be silly Dude. The man lives for it. Its his vital supply.

  • 0
    1

    I second the dude. Dayan lend his rather sane voice and posture to war criminals, which makes his current quest to reestablish himself as a somewhat respectable political commentator shameful and I hope unfruitful.
    Either Dayan speaks out about what he knows on war crimes etc, or he is in the same boat as Gota. I hope the boat will one day pass the Suez, the Mediterranean sea, the Bay of Biscay, the english channel and then up some little dutch river to the ICC in the Hague.

  • 1
    0

    Dayan was walking towards Sunila’s house on Initiam Road at Dehiwala. The time was around 6.30 p.m. He was in partly disguised. The house was on the sea-side from Galle Rd. I was walking to the opposite direction towards Galle Rd., from Sunila’s house. Dayan met me on the street, just exchanged two three words and we departed. This was the period that Dayan was on former-JVP’s hit list (and everybody knows that by now so I am not revealing anything new)after the dissolution of NE Provincial Council. Later I came to know that on that night there was an operation to save Dayan’s life taking him out of the country by sea (not from Dehiwala). Sunila’s house was the starting point of that rescue operation as I remember. This was no reason for Dayan to nominate or recommend Sunila for any post over other suitable candidates. But his response intimates that his and her parents were friends and he is not with Sunila. But one thing I know is that many people came to her and her house for refuge and she took the risk. Thanks.
    Hema.

    • 0
      1

      Yes. Sunila akka was very famous in Dehiwelai. Many benefitted from her kind heart but none paid anything in return.

      Dayan stopped going to Sunila akka’s house after he married and settled down in the lap of luxury.

      How people change!

    • 0
      0

      Nice if this came from DJ himself. Anyway, if Sunila had helped in that way to save his life, DJ could have helped her in that regard. At least could have made it clear to her about the situation. All in all, what Sunila has done to the nation is multiple times more than what DJ would ever be able to do. Alone to support brutal regime – proving black as white – DJ would never be able to do any good to this country.

    • 0
      0

      Hema@

      There are just few – of Sunilas in our Society. If anything did by Sunila, there her efforts were wholeheartedly on HUMAN RIGHTS of the the people.

      But you can find plenty of DJ like personalities.

  • 1
    0

    Now cracks are appearing in the Tamil racist camp!

    They are infighting!! A good sign of things to come.

    • 0
      1

      “Now cracks are appearing in the Tamil racist camp!

      They are infighting!!”

      You should be joking. You see cracks in the Tamil camp while UPFA is trying to kill each other just to get a high number of votes.

      I wont be surprised if Dayasiri gets a Baratha from Johnston on election day.

      LOL and you see problems in the Tamil camp.

  • 1
    0

    Internal politics of the writers should not be written as articles in this blog.

  • 0
    0

    Dayan,

    You state, “whose position on the public record was considerably and conspicuously far more critical of the democratically elected government of Sri Lanka, the democratic Sri Lankan state and the Sri Lankan armed forces, than of the fascist terrorist Tigers.”

    Sri Lankan Government is an elected body, with substantial domestic and international commitments towards upholding Democracy and Human Rights. LTTE in contrast is banned as a terrible “fascists terrorist group”.

    Sunila’s “considerable and conspicuous criticism” of the Democratically elected Government is precisely because of the responsibility such an elected office has to the entirety of it’s population – quite unlike the responsibility a misguided rebel group could be expected to have.

    To try a simpler analogy, would it be wrong to be more critical of a responsible officer such as an IGP who resorts to burglary as opposed to a burglary committed by a common thief?

    Is it so difficult to understand as to why Sunila saw the need to hold the Government to a higher standard?

    Please also remind yourself of your own rather recent enlightenment “”how must that state have treated the Tamils in the closing stages of the war,…?”

  • 1
    0

    I cannot even begin to express my frustration and disappointment at individuals such as Dayan Jayatilleke. Not because of the many occasions he has obstructed the provision for a better Lanka through organization and individual aspiration in the political arena, but because he has deliberated and participated in events throughout the Lankan political tumult that brought him to service the current repressive regime.

    I do not have the capacity of academics or photographic memory to guide me in life, but Dayan having much more than that has failed to give just and equitable service for the country.

    This comment is in no way meant to be an angry voice from her brother, but a statement of dismay, that Dayan can comment on a departed, and much loved Sunila only to line his own pockets!

    shame on you, Dayan, just let it go and know there are better people in this world who do not care for your efforts.

    Ranil

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.