4 June, 2023


Sri Lanka In Geneva: Frozen In Fixed Positions

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

With almost exactly a week to go before a crucial vote in Geneva, Sri Lanka seems very much on the back foot. While William Hague, the Foreign Secretary of the UK makes a direct appeal to the readers of ‘The Hindu’, presenting four points in support of his country’s call for an ‘international mechanism’, his counterpart Prof GL Peiris busies himself addressing a series of meetings, not in the member states of the UNHRC but in the Southern province of Sri Lanka. Prof Peiris should rebut each one of the four points and go on to ask his counterpart, in print, in the world’s quality press, whether the failure to conclude inquiries for 28 years into Bloody Sunday indicated a lack of political will on the part of the British state which required an international inquiry so as to further reconciliation in Northern Ireland and prevent the sporadic violence by the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA.

While in Geneva the West trots out seeming precedents for an inquiry led by the Office of the High Commissioner, Sri Lanka fails to point out that these inquiries were to do with emergencies i.e. with exceptional situations. They were to do with ongoing lethal violence of considerable magnitude and not the past conflicts, however bloody of a stable civilian democracy.

During this session Sri Lanka seems to have failed to hold a single ‘side event’, none that made the media anyway, while the West has held three, in support of the draft resolution against us. Instead the Sri Lankan Government side has contented itself with Mahinda Samarasinghe’s bluff and bluster, spiced up with the clumsy and strident statement presented by the SL Mission to justify the recent arrests (some of which have fortunately been reversed) with lurid  claims of Tiger revivalism. It is a source of personal and professional pride that in 2007-2009, with many ghastly incidents happening during the civil war including the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, Sri Lanka never damaged its credibility in Geneva by spouting such rhetoric, which represents the complete submission of Sri Lanka’s diplomacy to the warped, discordant discourse of hyper-securitisation.

Sri Lanka’s friends at the HRC have been engaging in some sniping, doubtless in line with the requests of Sri Lanka itself. What should have been happening instead is that Sri Lanka should have mobilised its friends to engage in a broad gauge critique on the basis of principles, of the resolution’s intrusive aspect, and follow it up with a diplomatic counter-offensive. It seems as if Sri Lanka is incapable of engaging in manoeuvre in Geneva, and in the global arena in general.  Sri Lanka seems incapable of initiative and mobility. It is frozen in fixed positions; maintaining a position of static and dogmatic defence along a diplomatic ‘Maginot Line’, which will collapse in a week. This is in sharp contrast to the point made to me by the US Charge d’Affaires in Geneva in 2009 and current ambassador to Kenya, Mark Storella, after the Special session of May 2009, when he observed that, as Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative, I had been “on top of it from the start”.

Given that the UNHRC is constituted on the basis of proportional representation of the world’s demographic distribution by region, a defeat in Geneva by a significant margin would reveal Sri Lanka’s isolation in the international community, which would in turn make Sri Lanka more vulnerable, exposing as it does its weakness to its enemies, the pan-Tamil Eelamist global movement (‘the Tamil International’ or the ‘Tamil Zionists’).

In a classic example of the phenomena known in psychology as displacement and projection, the Sri Lankan state and the underlying ‘Sinhala psyche’ ( to use a phrase of my father, Mervyn de Silva) attribute this isolation to a Human Rights Council that has changed. Closer the truth is the recent remark by former Deputy Head of Mission of the US Embassy in Colombo, and later a senior official and South Asia hand of the US State Department, Donald Camp:

“…The United States and many other friends of Sri Lanka supported the government in its fight. In 2009, the military succeeded in crushing the Tigers. But the government, after winning the war, has not been able to manage the peace or rebuild Sri Lanka’s democratic traditions…President Mahinda Rajapakse and his government had the opportunity to be magnanimous in victory, and to offer the minority Tamil community clear signals that the government would respond to their legitimate grievances, and would offer a modicum of regional autonomy for the traditional Tamil heartland of the north and east. It has failed to do that…The world community supported Sri Lanka during its battle with the LTTE, and respected the country’s traditional commitment to democratic governance and to religious and ethnic tolerance…It is Sri Lanka that has changed, not the United Nations or the nations calling for action at the Human Rights Council.” (McClatchy-Tribune News Service http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2014/03/17/3552059/un-council-steps-in-where-sri.html#storylink=cpy)

The author is right when he says that the difference between 2009 and five years later, is that “it is Sri Lanka that has changed, not the United Nations or the nations calling for action at the Human Rights Council.”

What is this change? the Sri Lankan state is undergoing an unethical conversion into a quasi-theocratic ethnocracy; our government into a clan based oligarchy and our Ministry of External Affairs, its Missions overseas, and even its think tank, into front organizations of the Security  apparatus (when they do not function as places of religious worship). Our diplomats have become fellow travellers and our Foreign Minister a puppet of the powerful Securocracy.

This dominance of the limited worldview of the security managers over Sri Lanka’s conversation with the world is most dangerous because it actually undermines Sri Lanka’s security and defence. With its ultra-nationalism, the security bureaucracy has imposed policies and parameters that undermine Sri Lanka’s national interests including its national security interests. It has done the Tamil Eelamists’ job for it: the isolation of Sri Lanka, making it an easier target. While claiming to be Sinhala, and indeed Sinhala–Buddhist nationalists, the blinkered super-bureaucrats have reduced the numbers of friends the Sinhalese have in the world.

If this weren’t nightmarish enough, the anti-SLMC rhetoric of the Government, and the violent threats against Rauff Hakeem by the BBS Boss are isolating the Sinhala Buddhists from the minorities even within the island. It seems to be forgotten that the numerically unimpressive ethno-lingual and religious minorities in Sri Lanka have vast demographic hinterlands of ethnic kin and co-religionists outside this small island, constituting alliances which will not permit them to be isolated.

Thus, in a painful paradox, in the very name of the Sinhalese and Sinhala Buddhism, the discourse and mindset of the security managers have isolated the Sinhala Buddhists within Sri Lanka and within the global arena. Instead of building bridges of friendship in all directions, along all points of the compass (‘tous azimuths’ as General de Gaulle put it), the Sinhala Buddhist majority has been distanced by its own power elite from the world order, and the world order is distancing itself from the Sinhala Buddhist power elite and its supportive majority. This makes the Sinhala Buddhists more, not less vulnerable to their enemies, on the western front (the Diaspora lobbies) and more especially the age-old front in the adjacent South of our neighbouring giant.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    ” It is a source of personal and professional pride that in 2007-2009, with many ghastly incidents happening during the civil war including the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, Sri Lanka never damaged its credibility in Geneva by spouting such rhetoric, which represents the complete submission of Sri Lanka’s diplomacy to the warped, discordant discourse of hyper-securitisation.”

    You might take personal pride that you were a straight face liar but the truth always comes out and that’s what has happened. Those that you took for a ride are now not willing to give the benefit of doubt to the country.

    “The author is right when he says that the difference between 2009 and five years later, is that “it is Sri Lanka that has changed, not the United Nations or the nations calling for action at the Human Rights Council.”

    What is this change? the Sri Lankan state is undergoing an unethical conversion into a quasi-theocratic ethnocracy; our government into a clan based oligarchy and our Ministry of External Affairs, its Missions overseas, and even its think tank, into front organizations of the Security apparatus (when they do not function as places of religious worship). Our diplomats have become fellow travellers and our Foreign Minister a puppet of the powerful Securocracy.”

    The only part that has some fact.

  • 4

    Whatever the readers may say, Dayan has made an excellent analysis of the predicament the Rajapakse Govt is in.As
    Donald Camp said, it is Sri Lanka which has changed not the United Nations.

    • 0

      What Donald Camp did not say is that Dayan has changed camp. But i guess since he does that on a regular basis no one takes any notice – including MR. When the carrot is thrown the boy will be back in service.

  • 3

    Tamilians are desperate now because no referendum clause, no genocide clause in UNHRC resolution.

    Congenital losers!

  • 4

    Dayan is brilliant. Many Sri Lankans do not like brilliant folk as these comments show, and from how he was denied a position at Peradeniya despite his undergraduate performance.

    It is utter jealous hatred that spurs these attacks on him when his analysis is good. We do not always have to agree with him but must respect his analysis. We grow intellectually by reading him, even if we end up disagreeing.

    Dayan may be a little eccentric but he has a heart. Who but an eccentric idealist with a heart would have joined the EPRLF regime in the North-East Province? We need to accept Dayan as he is.

    A brilliant eccentric with a heart must be allowed to boast a little about himself. What else does he do when people are so unfair to him in these comments, attributing motives to him that are not in evidence?

    He has made mistakes like the Premadasa association and the defence of the atrocities in 2009. But has he not come around? An idealist will come around.

    Be yourself Dayan. I like what you write although not always in agreement.

    • 2

      I think you have not read DJ´s previous articles.

      Please go through all archives and check whether his has been consistent.

      Prior to Aljaseera Interview and after the interview turn its way ridiculously different.

      But I agree today he has added valid points. But he took that long while we the simple toms have always been telling that MR admin is not at all democratic and nor has it been humane.

    • 0

      “We grow intellectually by reading him, even if we end up disagreeing”

      who are this “we” ?

      If you read them considerately, you will get clear whether his has been consistent (take for example during last 9months).

    • 0

      “brilliant” be humble we have met greats in our field.

      Diamonds are girls best friend. father forgive them for they do not know what they do.

      Socrates tells Hippias that he does not agree with himself, and is perplexed about his own conclusion.

      Every positive value has its price in negative terms…The genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima.

      “An idealist will come around.” Idealist please don’t come around square head. Heard of Fire-wire port by kids of USA it realistic than the Japanese 32 IEEEEE.

    • 1

      Regular Dayan Reader: your hero worshipping of DJ is quite touching. I (and dare I say, many other readers here) pay DJ due respect by reading what he writes and responding with our comments – agreeing or disagreeing is beside the point. There is no doubt that he is well qualified to write on the matters he turns his attention to and, agree or disagree, we all must defend his right to make his points. But our response to the topics that we are dealing with here should not be left to the vagaries of emotion. I trust you will find enlightenment as you mature.

    • 0

      Yes, Dayan is blessed with a sharp mind and a flexible spine. Hi betrayed every group that he wa a part of.EPRLF, UNP,MR Band Wagon. Do you call that eccentric?
      Do you not see the oppertunitsm ?

      But the it is all for the Cause of the Vast Majority. So swollow that one please.The Tamils did that and its your turn now.

    • 0

      Regular Dayan Leader (RDR):

      Dayan has a heart, so says this reader. Then by the same analogy Prabhakaran, too, had a heart, a very big heart at that. Before I can even talk about that, Dayan had, in all his writings and comments berated Prabhakaran as a ruthless terrorist. Prabhakaran’s adversary was the Sinhala state, not just the Sinhala army. The war was labelled as a humanitarian operation. Thousands of civilians were displaced, brutalised and ruthlessly murdered. This, to Dayan, is collateral damage, a necessary evil to win the war. In the same breath that he berates Prabhakaran and the LTTE for taking on his adversaries, he rejoices and applauds the murders of Tamil civilians in the thousands. And, it is not difficult to see why, he is, as the regime is, a Sinhalese. To him, whatever the regime had done during the war was sacrosanct. The regime never claimed the Tamil civilians as their adversaries but that is exactly how they treated them.

      At one time, even Hitler was praised as brilliant. He was smart, too. So is Dayan, but for the wrong reasons. His ego had perversely betrayed whatever illuminative mind he may have secured. The Tamils ought to be given some measure of autonomy, Dayan says. There is no charitable disposition from this egoist streak but such a measure is only to the extent of appeasing the international community and India that the Sinhalese regime cares and worse, that it is to “balance the scales”, so to speak from the concerns expressed by them. It has nothing to do with the Tamils aspirations whatsoever.

      Dayan is as a criminal as the Rajapakses. When the coterie of Hitler’s lieutenants were rounded up and put in the dock, Joseph Goebbels, too was made to answer the charges. He (Dayan) and the regime had been furiously arguing that being the victors the history has always been on the side of the victors, and should be so in the case of SL. That shows the regressive argument of a fading mind, eclipsed by his “defeats”.

      The war front was in SL but behind this war included such players as India, the USA, EU, etc. The sinking of the arms ships of the LTTE was based on the intelligence provided by the US. That India looked the other way and provided crucial software support has been widely acknowledged by the regime. As if Dayan has forgotten the assurance he gave the UNHRC, and so do other Ministers from the regime, and it is such support that defeated the LTTE. These are the stakeholders in the war who are now pressing for the honouring of the assurances given to them.

      Against the widespread rapes and disgraceful acts of women, who have been stripped off physically, mentally and spiritually, and for a country that cynically takes pride as a Buddhist country, it has earned the horrible and shameful reputation as a country rapist beasts, to put it mildly, Prabhakaran still shines. After all, there can be not even one Sinhala girl or woman who can blame him or his LTTE for such a demeaning and disgraceful behaviour. The Tamils can never forget or forgive the regime for subduing them by raping their girls and women. If you know the meaning of “what goes around comes around”, then your (RDR) hero has a lot to answer, to himself.

  • 0

    something keeps Dayan going …in the face of a barrage of criticism , ridicule and even personal insults.

    Is it his ego, self belief or a tinge of lunacy ?

    I guess it is up-to the reader to judge !

    • 1

      We had Brilliant Academics like Dr.Dayan in our Foreign Ministry then, but now gone to dogs.

      This is what happens when a power hungry dictatorial lunatic rule our country.


      • 0


        It is such “brilliant” minds like Dr Dayan who paved the way for the “doggish” behaviour of the EAF. Dayan created a beast that has consumed him and is on its way to consume the nation.

    • 0

      Don, but then Dayans main point is on how to escape the international investigation. The diagreement is only over the escape route. All else being the same.

  • 2

    Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka,

    We all know that the famous Fox Joker Duped not only you, but even Gen.Sarath Fonseka who won the war, CJ Shirani Bandaranayake and her husband,all voters who voted for him, India and the International community.

    Please watch the following youtube web that says about the REAL FOX where everybody has understood by now.


    But now the Fox is caught Red handed with it’s prey and nowhere to hide.

    Very soon the Fox will show the exit door to GLP also.

    What do a Grade 10 passed Plantation Minister Know about UN, UNHRC, International politics, Human right laws, public and International Relations, Geo Politics, and world affairs to be a part of Sri Lanka’s delegation UNHRC to face Mighty US,UK and the world community.May be he is one of the few Ministers who could speak in English.That’s all and it does not work that way.


    Where does Sri Lanka stand……..


    Keep on writing these letters and keep on getting familiar and educate and update yourself on world affairs and Politics, both Local and International.

    One day your service will be required again by a future Sri Lankan state and you will be able to serve it better then.

    We need more Academics like you in our Foreign Ministry to take our country foreward. Good luck.

  • 2

    I have not been kind to DJ in the past due to his onetime close relationship with the MR Regime. When DJ fell out of grace he was sacked by MR. MR even dismissed DJ as a highly paid NGO – a derogatory connotation. DJ after some time returned to Sri Lanka and was definitely seen to be sucking up to MR. Many people thought DJ was grovelling for the return of his former job. This never eventuated – reasons not known. It seems that DJ is doing an about turn hoping that the grip MR and his Clan have in Sri Lanka is unravelling. It will be interesting to see what tunes DJ will choose to play as matters come to a head in Sri Lanka soon.

  • 0

    I agree with `Regular Dayan Reader`. DJ is educated and somewhat a complex individual. I cannot blame him for being a Sinhala chauvinist as he is not the most respected Late Mr.Mervyn De Silva. He could have been a gentleman and not be a racially biased person but it`s okay since he`s honest in openly telling his opinion even though he changes his stand or attitude occasionally. We have to give him the due respect he deserves after all he is an educated intelligent person. He may be eccentric at times, so what!
    At times, I have insulted him and I feel sorry for that after reading the comment from Regular Dayan Reader.
    Dr DJ has accepted many wrong things the SL government is doing and many of his arguments and analyses are acceptable. Today he was not eccentric. Thank you Mr Jayatilleke. SL is in some trouble made by it`s own folly. We will join you Mr Dayan Jayatilleke and feeling really sorry for our nation and it`s predicament. They refuse to listen to any one, so no one can help them.

    • 0

      But Bruz,
      even on the curret article, you will not find a single word against MR ?
      How come ?

      Even 10 year olds see it glass clear today, but DJ not to see the key problem as it is – more than remakable ?

      Unequivocally agree with that he could be one to leave constructive arguments in a debate of highly critical state. But this is not the nature of any senior diplomats that have collected hands on experience over the years. I think what is lacking srilanka is we dont have many of good diplomats. Actually country should use the knowledge of DJ and Tk and the senior officials in that areas to build up new canddiates. Then only state will be able to tackle the unexpected problems that arise in the future too.
      Instead to marginalize those candidates to the manner MR regime has done sofar is very disadvantageous.
      None of those soldiers or tea tasters can teach a lot to new canddiates.
      This country had a great history of good diplomacy. During the days of Bandararanayke and recently by Kadigamar, they did the job to the top… fruits were though plucked by MR regime but leaving a vaccum for the future generations. How can former soldier now turn diplomats strenghten the diplomatic relationships ?

  • 1

    Siri: I have nothing to disagree with your points. But things have changed for the worst and adjustments or actions have to be made. No one can change Dr DJ’s attitude or the majority citizen until they realize their faults.
    Minotities are at the receiving end ad the majority cannot understand the pain and sufferings of the oppressed or marginalized. Imagine if Tamils were the majority and if they treated the majority like how minorities are treated today ? You have to experience the pain to know the agony.
    I know Dr DJ and others of his stature are well off and they just don’t care about the sufferings of the common people, especially Tamils or Muslims.
    Dr DJ never utter a word about the governments atrocities against Tamils or Muslims. But he goes on advising GoSl on how to defend SL in UNHRC.
    We all know DJ is a biased individual and obviously an educated racist. But again that’s what is normal in SL today. There are no Brian Seneviratne’s or Mervyn De Silva’s any more. Racism, jealousy is rampant with all the racially biased leaders we have and had all the time. There is no Sir Pon Ramanthans today. It’s all our fate. Let us separate and go our ways.
    No point talking any more. Divorce is the only answer to all the problem.

    • 1

      It is all because under MR administration, there is no basis for qualified people. If one would study the background of the appointments made by his admin: Selection creteria for highly recognized positions are just dependent on ” ape miniha principle” (our man) fully ignoring the hands on experience that the candidates should have obtained in particular areas.

      How can a tea taster/business man do the job of an Ambassador ? This is possible only under MR regime.
      (current situation at foreign office -Washinton)

      Today´s Geneva problems would NOT have been case, if we had competent men on those positions. Even if GLP is world recoganized professor, he has become just a carcature of stupid Rajapakshes.

  • 1

    Dear Dayan

    Am I the only one who feel here that your recent writing sounds kind of bitchy and I told you so tone.
    I have great admiration to you and I agree with the most of your arguments, But I kind of feel like you are too idealistic.

    One fact is Tamil leadership (except few) will never extend their friendship to Sinhalese and they are racist to the core. After all these deaths, there is no change of their tone of negotiation. They still want ELAAM.

    Mahinda is the only one who delivered peace to Sri Lanka and we should never undermine or underestimate his achievements.

    Sometimes we have to show the finger to everyone and move forward because what other kind of government would succeed in SL? How many intelligent (not educated) politicians are there in any side? How many bogus human right defenders try to destabilize our country.

    We have to see the aspirations of the majority of the people too, They want Food, housing and peace above everything. Human rights are just a dream of few liberal thinking upper middle class. I think Sri Lankans have to go a long way to understand the value of human rights.

    When put everything into perspective, My bet is still on Mahinda even though we need lot of improvement in good governance.

  • 0

    today iwas at geneva airport to bring my niece. i saw presidentrajapaksas camaraman sudath and 5 persons. arriving the emirates plane.so i ask sudasth its a vacation. he said they came to organise a protest in geneva on 24 march. sir this is public funds this 5 persons tickets and facilituies cost about 40 laks why dont you expose this people want the truth

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