21 October, 2019

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Sri Lanka: A War On Words

By Nikhil Eapen

Nikhil Eapen

The people of Sri Lanka are still reeling from the trauma of a conflict can’t forget. The consistent negligence and stubbornness of the Sri Lankan government in dealing with its critics and dissidents is shameful. Peaceful critics are labelled as terrorists, journalists are abducted, and dissidence is suppressed with an iron hand.

In Sri Lanka, in one of the more dangerous places to ever pick up a pen or camera, Lasantha Wickramatunga decided to become a journalist.. As an ardent critic of the Sri Lankan government and its policies, Lasantha knew his life was in danger.

In the months leading up to his death, Lasantha wrote an essay predicting his death at the hands of the government. Lasantha vividly described the dangers that journalists face every day and the government’s brazen disregard for human rights.

He was murdered on his way to work on 8 January 2009 by unidentified men. The essay was published on the 11 January.

It has been three years and nine months since Lasantha’s death and little has changed for journalists. Disappearances, threats, and censorship continue. Fifty-six journalists disappeared between October 2011 and March 2012 alone, according to a study conducted by Groundviews (a citizen journalism website in Sri Lanka), and reported in The Economist in April.

Journalists are not the only Sri Lankan citizens still under threat. A member of the judiciary was also recently attacked as a result of criticizing the Sri Lankan government.

On 7 October, Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission, Manjula Tillekeratne, was assaulted in broad daylight weeks after he said that “efforts” were being made to destroy the freedom of the judiciary and the rule and law, according to a press release written by Tillekeratne, and referred to in The Economist.

The situation is dire in Sri Lanka, and the international community is concerned.

On 1 November, Sri Lanka’s efforts to address repeated human rights violations will be reviewed at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, Switzerland.

For Sri Lanka, this is another opportunity to bemoan Western interference in its affairs, and to accuse Western governments and foreign human rights groups of attempting to derail the country. For India, it is an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to the Sri Lankan people and much needed leadership in foreign policy within the region.

In March this year, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution urging Sri Lanka to investigate alleged human rights abuses committed during the conflict with the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam. India, in a rare show of non-abstention, voted for the resolution. But had it not been for the Ministers of Parliament’s from Tamil Nadu and a key United Progressive Alliance member disrupting Parliament, India may have never voted.

Countries have the responsibility to represent the views of its people, and in the past two months, the Indian community has made its voice heard.

Our campaign received the support of more than one million people. Sri Lanka is obviously an issue that lies close to the hearts of the Indian people, and especially those from Tamil Nadu. If the Indian people feel such an obligation to the people of Sri Lanka, why doesn’t their government? The government reflects the people, and so in this instance, the Indian government should give serious credence the Amnesty International campaign and its supporters, and follow its recommendations as it crafts its foreign policy approach to Sri Lanka.

A nation cannot advance without tending to its wounds from the past – the victims of injustice deserve reparation and rehabilitation, the perpetrators punished, and the institutions which are designed to ensure justice, strengthened.

As the Indian delegation travels to Geneva to faciliate the UPR, the delegates should remember their responsibility to the people of Sri Lanka, and their responsibility to represent, and listen to, the people of India.

Make sure to sign our petition and demand justice for the people of Sri Lanka. Join your voice with more than 1 million other supporters from all across India. Sign now. Every voice counts.

*Nikhil Eapen, Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive, Amnesty International India. Courtesy act.amnesty.org.in

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Latest comments

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    However obstinate the Rajapakse Bros pretend to engage in, sooner than later the international community will force them to subject to
    lawful scrutiny. Within the country they can line up the Mahanayakes and command canines such as the likes of Weerawansa, Ranawake and the Vermin to fool the local people. But a World insisting on transparency particularly on HR Crimes will eventually prevail. This game of throwing the ball from the Rajapakses to Fonseka has to end – soon.
    And that time is nigh.

    Senguttuvan

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    With freedom comes responsibility and the Sri Lankan Government is frightened of it.

    Similarly, how can there be sovereignty without responsibility?? Q.E.D.

    Nothing is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man. Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.-T.J.

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    NFW!! now let me think. “Speck in my eye, log in yours” “people in glass houses” “….cast the first stone” etc etc.
    The level of institutional graft, intimidation of journalists, nepotism etc, that is to say, most of the evils in SL, is exponentially magnified in effect, in India!
    MR ‘Nikhil Eapen, Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive, Amnesty International India’…. surely your cup runneth over, with demands for Justice in India. Right next door, S P Udayakumar and the people of Kudankulam are in fight for their collective lives. The plethora of issues in the ‘BIMARU’ states are mind boggling. The political musical chairs the Indian Central govt plays with regional political power satraps leads directly to the various injustices meted out the ordinary Indians.
    Not saying you shouldn’t care but to go around collecting a million signatures about problems in SL while Indians have their hands full, with the shenanigans of their own political class, reeks of agenda. Or should I say Agendum.
    This is like Dr. P Sara and Nimalka Fernando handing Mahinda a petition to get the Lokpal bill passed in it’s original draft form.
    What is Dr Singh supposed to do with these million signatures? Do you think he doesn’t know the kind of crap that goes on SL? He has RAW directly reporting to his office. He knows, trust me he knows.
    May I Hazard a guess? would I be wrong to assume that most of the signatures are from Tamil Nadu? If so isn’t it time responsible NGO’s like yourselves and hate spewing politicians like Vaiko and Seeman, stop playing ‘pandu’ with emotive feelings of the people of that state. Whenever someone wants to get elected, they start SL bashing. Dude, stick to Indian problems. We have own NGO’s.

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    Amnesty’s lectures to GoSL would have more force if they hadn’t accepted a $50,000 donation from the Canadian Tamil Congress. AI finally released a statement denying any impropriety in their funding from CTC, saying: “These hundreds of contributions were offered with no conditions or qualifications. They were not earmarked to support our programming on Sri Lanka and will in fact be used to support a variety of ongoing global initiatives…”

    But, just like GoSL,Amnesty lies. Their own words betray them.

    Alex Neve of Amnesty at the CTC Walkathon says: (on video) “Every dollar you raise… is all going to go to support our ongoing crucial human rights work. Our human rights work with respect to Sri Lanka where we’ve worked for years, for decades to ensure that human rights violations against the Tamil community come to an end and that the rights of all Sri Lankans be equally upheld and protected.”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nZVpRwygv4&

    And now Amnesty’s pretending to take the moral high ground, lecturing to Sri Lanka. Utterly disgusting and a betrayal of Sri Lanka’s own, genuine, non-partisan human rights workers and organisations.

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      Just bring a resolution in UN about the crimes US has commitedor India has commited during its stay in Srialnka, simple as that….why are your masters scared?any country can put forward a resolution…so stop whining about Amnesty..

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    @Nikhil Eapen
    You say, “Peaceful critics are labelled as terrorists, journalists are abducted, and dissidence is suppressed with an iron hand.” What you did not mention is that sycophancy is well rewarded, and sycophants who whitewash the government and the armed forces are accepted with open arms. :)

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    Here’s what wiki has to say about amnesty,

    “Criticism of Amnesty International includes claims of excessive pay for management, underprotection of overseas staff, associating with organisations with a dubious record on human rights protection, selection bias, ideological/foreign policy bias against either non-Western countries[63] or Western-supported countries”

    Not saying that wiki is gospel but this like getting sexual abstinence advise from Kim Kardashian.

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    India after being party to the MR govt. to decimate VP and the LTTE cadre, at the behest of the Americans, wonder how they are going to stand up for Justice with blood on their hands. Manamohan is nothing but a puppet and an imbecile. It is a shame for India to have such ineffective leaders to rule being a strong country. When one sees how India tries to wriggleout after MR denies after agreeing is so darn pathetic.

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      Sonia is an Italian woman, whose family and its members are Italians.I cannot believe 1 billion people let her do politics of such heirachy..In US, people fuss of Obama’s Kenya connection, but in India its the reverse…

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    The impunity of this regime is overwhelming. The people of this land are being held hostage.

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    Nikhil preaches “A nation cannot advance without tending to its wounds from the past – the victims of injustice deserve reparation and rehabilitation, the perpetrators punished, and the institutions which are designed to ensure justice, strengthened.

    I’d like see Amnesty account for the following blatantly partisan and ‘wounding’ actions against the Sri Lankan people as they fought to destroy the LTTE.

    1. Amnesty attacking only the Sri Lankan cricket team at the 2007 World Cup.
    2. Amnesty’s Jim McDonald’s fake ‘Cluster Bomb’ story in 2009.
    3. Amnesty refusing to attend the LLRC.
    4. Amnesty accepting $50,000 donation from the Canadian Tamil Congress, a pro-LTTE front group.
    5. Amnesty’s Yolanda Foster allying herself with British Tamil Federation to promote C4’s ‘Killing Fields’.

    http://tinyurl.com/cmtw854

    How does Amnesty propose to give reparations for these injustices, punish its own staff for their poor judgement and partiality and ensure that its own institution is strengthened?

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      1) Just because you would like CTC to be a pro-ltte does not make it one and what is wrong in promoting Killing Fields, your masters have not proved them as fake, have they?Hilarious when they defend it

      2)And the cluster bomb story, one was found in March this year, no investigation was done, perfect governance by your masters…Also the victims are out there, a skin sample from their burns would show what chemicals burnt it, if it was from Cluster Bomb then these people just bought one and burnt themselves?

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        This is turning into a regular session of ‘educating Jegath’. I consider it a meritorious act.

        Only a complete moron and liar would deny that the Canadian Tamil Congress is not a pro-LTTE front group.

        The CTC’s Director of Communications, Sahilal Sabaratnam is currently serving a 25 year US jail sentence for trying to purchase $1 million+ of high-powered weaponry for the LTTE.
        http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/229107/sabaratnam-indictment.txt

        Cluster bombs usage being proved by analysis of skin samples? Where’s this evidence? In Donald Gnanakone’s house?

        We’re still waiting for evidence that GoSL used cluster bombs. No, not the rubbish published by Tamilnut. Why would GoSL deny using something that isn’t illegal or forbidden from use in Sri Lanka?

        http://groundviews.org/2012/04/26/cluster-bombs-in-sri-lanka-from-denial-to-discovery/

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    The way you crisise the Amnesty are you in a position to critise the MR GOVT and live in SL. PLEASE LET US FACE THE REALITY THAT IN SL THERE IS NO RULE OF LAW PREVAIL ONLY CRIMINALS RULING THE COUNTRY AND WITH THE COMMUNAL AGENDA CONTINUE TO SATISFY THE sINGHALA MAJORITY. lOOK BACK THE HISTORY HOW HITLER FOOLED HIS PEOPLE AND FINALY BROUGHT HUMILIATION TO THAT GREAT NATION, THAT IS WHAT MR IS DOING NOW AND THAT IS WHAT GOING TO HAPPEN TO THIS LOVELY NATION.

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      Ok, but no need to yell! Maybe what you say is true, but what does it have to do with young Nikhil and his petition. Trying to pass of a complete waste of time and donor money, as something meaningful is also exposing injustice.

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        What genga’s saying is true, but Amnesty’s the worst possible HR organisation with which to attack GoSL, because of their proven partisan relationship with the post-war Eelam exiled groups and their wartime activities.

        If you’re a human rights group and you want to harshly criticise GoSL for their blatant post-war abuses, you’d better be squeaky clean and like Caesar’s wife, be above suspicion. If not, GoSL will simply bat away any inconvenient questions.

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          First tell your masters to prove all allegations as fake, until then guilty until proven innocent case….Also Amnesty is too big for GOSL, some unknown third world HR group is what GOSL deserves..Not Amnesty..

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    These Indians are international fraudsters!!! They get involved in these bogus organizations like Amnesty, which is receiving money from LTTE terrorists, to cover up India’s own crimes. 300 million Indians are labelled as untouchable and cannot even get a decent job, young women of lower castes are raped in broad daylight by Hindu goons, Kashmiries are slaughted by the Indian occupying forces on daily basis….list can go on. Indians spend more time preaching to Sri Lanka and they have no time to solve their own problems.

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    @ Jegath,
    My good friend, Jim McDonald (Amnesty International’s Sri Lanka country specialist) said: Anyone can make a charge at any time against anyone; that doesn’t require the person being charged to have to prove their innocence.”

    It’s back to primary school for you, my ignorant friend, where the teacher’ll have to beat some knowledge into you.

    First lesson: “innocent until proven guilty”.

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      Looks like Jegath still subscribes to the justice code of the mythical ‘Demezh Eezham’.

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    I’ve found something very odd about Amnesty’s laudable pursuit of ‘war crimes’ investigations against nations engaged in wars of choice (the US, UK) and wars of survival (Sri Lanka) and boring insurgencies (India).

    A Google search with the key words “amnesty international” “sri lanka” “war crimes” “investigation”, produces hundreds of links to stories of actions instigated by Amnesty against Sri Lanka’s ‘war crimes’.
    http://tinyurl.com/3y5tx3y

    A Google search with the key words “amnesty international” “india” “war crimes” “investigation”, produces ZERO links to stories of actions instigated by Amnesty against India’s ‘war crimes’.
    http://tinyurl.com/cauoo54

    Another Google search with the key words “amnesty international” “united states” “war crimes” “iraq” “investigations”, produces ZERO links to stories of actions instigated by Amnesty against the US’s ‘war crimes’.
    http://tinyurl.com/cl4daju

    Conclusion: Amnesty is only capable of attacking small, poor countries like Sri Lanka for its war crimes and doesn’t have the balls attack rich, powerful countries like the US, UK and India for their war crimes.

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