By S. V. Kirubaharan –
During our 1st standard, we were taught about fairy tales. One interesting story was about “The fox and the grapes”. A fox was very anxious to eat grapes. To achieve its goal, it was jumping up to a bunch of grapes that was hanging from a vine-tree. When the fox became tired of reaching for that bunch of grapes, he eventually said: “Those grapes are very sour”. I see a similar situation between the Sri Lankan government – SLG and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – HCHR.
It is a long story about every successive Sri Lanka government. They cordially invite VVIPs; entertain them with anything and everything – free air passage, free food and lodging in 5-star hotels, helicopter tours to mountainous cities and beaches. During their stay, they will be brain-washed and made to feel obliged to Sri Lanka. Then they will meet a few high-profile persons – President, Defence Secretary, Foreign Minister, Prime Minister and others. At the end of their tour, they will be given the most precious gifts including Gems. This is how every Sri Lankan government has successfully cheated and fooled – or tried to – those who speak about the worsening Sri Lankan human rights record. A few who have already benefited from and enjoyed this interesting offer by the SLG, have told us about it subsequently. Of course some duty-minded persons have rejected this corrupt business.
Those who are not caught in this elegant trap will be slandered and vilified systematically – a fate, which both the present and the previous HCHR, met when they visited Sri Lanka. The SLG panicked, highly disappointed about their honest and dedicated approach to the problem of the country’s deteriorating human rights situation and war crimes. The very same slander and vilification were metered out to Indian leaders and diplomats when they were supportive towards the Tamils up until 1987.
During their mission to any country, the HCHR and their staff never depend on the host country for any logistical support. This is the starting point where the Sri Lankan government found it difficult to offer their usual corrupt hospitality.
When the present HCHR, Mrs Navi pillay was appointed, Sri Lankan representatives met her within a week of her assignment, in September 2008. Also every time when Sri Lankan Ministers visited Geneva, they meet the HCHR. I presume that every Sri Lankan Representative in Geneva including Tamara Kulanayagam must have met and briefed the HCHR and her staff.
In other words, for at least the last five years, the SLG has been doing business with the HCHR and her office, the OHCHR. So now what!
Why is it, that now the OHCHR’s ethnicity has been raised by racists in Sri Lanka? If their logic proved to be right, then none of the cases of the Tamils can be brought before a Singhalese Judge!
No-one has forgotten what happened to the members of the Eminent Persons group, nor Canadian Ambassador Allan Rock, who undertook a UN mission to Sri Lanka; Norwegian main mediator Erik Solheim; World Bank, Chief Peter Harrold and Heads of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission – SLMM, Major General (retired) Trond Furuhovde, Major General (Retd.) Tryggve Tellefsen, Mr Hagrup Haukland, Major General Ulf Henricsson, Major General Lars Johan Solvberg, other members of the SLMM and many others.
The visit by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under Secretary General of Humanitarian Affairs, Sir John Holmes in August 2007, created a necessarily tense dynamic, some would say, between the UN and the government of Sri Lanka.
This is not the first time that a controversy like this has arisen between SLG and the UN or other international institutions and VVIPs. There is a habitual pattern.
Soon after Sir John Holmes report was published, then Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mr. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake told Parliament, “The government of Sri Lanka, in no uncertain terms, rejects John Holmes’ assertion that Sri Lanka is not safe for humanitarian workers… The government cannot but feel that Sir John has contributed to those who seek to discredit the government and tarnish its international image.” (BBC-South Asia, 10 August 2007)
That was followed by similar statements from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government Defence spokesman and the clown of the political circle, Keheliya Rambukwella and a few others.
When Kofi Annan visited Sri Lanka in January 2005, he wanted to see the Tsunami-devastated area in the LTTE – Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam administrated areas. This was to assess tsunami damage and speak to the people where tens of thousands of Tamils were killed and many more lost their homes and livelihoods. But Sri Lankan government blocked his visit to those Tamil areas and started the usual slander offensive on Kofi Annan. This is similar to what is happening presently to the HCHR. Kofi Annan was accused of planning to meet the LTTE Leader Pirapaharan.
Before we go into the latest visit of the HCHR, let us see what happened in October 2007 to the visit of her predecessor, Canadian Supreme court Judge Louis Arbour. As a part of propaganda, Sri Lanka invited Louis Arbour and then allowed only limited access. At the time there was much turmoil between the Louis Arbour and the government. On the last day, Louis Arbour was forced to have her Press conference jointly with then Minister of Human Rights. In the press conference Louis Arbour could not say much independently. This fits the Sri Lankan pattern perfectly. If the visitor refuses to agree to their term and conditions, they antagonise, bully and then discredit them.
Prior to Louis Arbour’s visit to Sri Lanka, TCHR – Tamil Centre for Human Rights said on 21 August 2007, “……. we would like to state that, whoever wishes to visit Sri Lanka should be prepared to release only statements ignoring the government’s horrendous human rights record. If anyone happens to make an independent comment about the realities in Sri Lanka, they will be branded as a “Terrorist” or as “helping the terrorists”. Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who intends to visit Sri Lanka in October should be prepared either to go along with the government or to face condemnation.” (Excerpt – Tamil Centre for Human Rights – TCHR, 21 August 2007)
It is the same situation now, for the HCHR. They met, they discussed, they took photographs for their publicity and propaganda and they tried to brain-wash her! As all their attempts have failed, now they are trying to discredit her and tarnish her image.
If the HCHR’s ethnicity is a problem, why did the SLG never object at the beginning? Why did they meet her within five days of her assignment starting? Why did they invite her to Sri Lanka?
Prof G.L. Peiris is telling utter lies just for his bread and butter. It seems surprising for a Cambridge-educated person to behave in this manner. He misinterprets and twists even those things which are clearly black and white. So how can one possibly deal with him!
Rajapaksa’s regime said that the UN Secretary General wanted to meet LTTE Leader Pirapaharan and the HCHR wanted to give a floral tribute to the same. In time to come no-one knows what else the SLG may say! Will they say that the HCHR visited Vanni to meet the LTTE leader?!
“If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live on after he’s dead, then maybe he was a great man.” – James Byron Dean, an American actor (1931 –1955)