2 March, 2024


The UN High Commissioner’s Visit And Current Concerns

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

The focus of the recent interview I had with Ceylon Today was supposed to be  the forthcoming visit of Navenethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In fact there was  a wide range of questions, my full answers to which have been reproduced, since some of what I said had to be edited out for reasons of space. In general though the paper had done a good job, and with regard to the main focus they had omitted hardly anything. Still, it may be useful to reproduce those sections here for the record.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay , is due to arrive in a few weeks. Do you view her arrival as an opportunity for the government  or a signal of caution to the government?

I think this could be a great opportunity for the government but some elements in it may treat it as something to worry about, which could have unfortunate consequences.

The High Commissioner and the UN are still pushing for SL to investigate alleged war crimes that occurred during the latter stages of the armed conflict and address issues of accountability in relation to the armed forces and their conduct. Do you think this is going to be a key message of Pillay to the Government?

This element, which has been grossly exaggerated, will come up but I believe there are more important things which she will concentrate on.

The Government has obviously not been able to convince the international community of its genuine commitment to addressing accountability issues even four years after the conflict. Why has the government been ineffective in doing so?

The government has been ineffective because it panicked over what it saw, correctly, as unfair treatment. Instead of dealing swiftly with the very minor charges about which there was prima facie evidence, it developed a discourse which saw all charges as traitorous, rather than false.

The rot set in with the manner in which it responded to Sarath Fonseka’s charges, which could have been refuted through his own very different words some months earlier. After that it became difficult to deal properly with the residual charges – such as those noted in the government’s own LLRC report – since some elements in government feared that Sarath Fonseka and his supporters, in the forces and outside, including those who had supported the government against him, would cry treachery themselves.

This is a simplistic fear, because such support is minuscule, but the government’s agenda in this regard is being set by those who profit by panic.

Do you think the Foreign Ministry has been ineffective in projecting an accurate and positive picture of the progress Sri Lanka has made after the war to the diplomatic community?


Critics assert that while the media may seek to apportion blame on the foreign Ministry it is the fact that limited progress has been made on the ground, which has caused the international community to express displeasure over Sri Lanka and its HR/ accountability track record. Do you agree?

We have made considerable progress on the ground, which the Foreign Ministry has failed to project. For a couple of years our image was projected by the terrible Pieris twins and, though they were critical of each other, and seemed to have very different perspectives, as I saw during the March 2012 farce, both came across as humbugs, precisely because neither was pushing domestically for what they claimed was happening. I was stunned when the then American Ambassador told me we were being ambiguous about the LLRC report, and I said she should listen to what the accredited spokesmen of government were saying, not individual critics (she had cited Mr Weerawansa). She wanted to know who the accredited spokesmen were, and when I mentioned the Pieris twins, she said that they had both lost all credibility. Though Ms Butenis was playing her own little games, that was when I began to realize what a sorry state we were in.

The recent incident in Weliweriya where the army was used to crackdown on peaceful protestors was condemned both locally and internationally. Do you think this will be a key theme of Pillay’s deliberations with the government?

Yes, I would expect so.

Don’t you think the use of the army in such an instance was completely unnecessary and is only going to worsen the perception abroad that citizen’s rights are not respected?

I don’t know the situation on the ground, so cannot say that the use of the army was unnecessary, but certainly its use of live ammunition was, and this increases worries both locally and abroad.

What do you think are going to be the consequences in terms of our foreign relations and international image as a result of this one incident?

I think we should be more concerned about the feelings of our own people. With regard to our international image, since we cannot get across the good things we are doing effectively, and since those making the running against us cannot distinguish truth from falsehood, this will I suspect make little difference.

The Opposition notes  that citizens in the North and East still continue to live in mud huts and are devoid of basic facilities. Do you agree?

The Opposition is talking nonsense as usual. Our Resettlement programme was extremely successful and, though there are some shortcomings, by and large we have every reason to feel proud, of resettlement and the facilities available. I wish the Opposition would be more serious about areas in which we could do much better, ie Human Resource Development, where in both the North and the rest of the country, we are not doing enough.

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  • 0

    “Our Resettlement programme was extremely successful ” please provide some proof.

    • 0

      ‘The Opposition is talking nonsense as usual. Our Resettlement programme was extremely successful’

      Rajiva has flawed and spoiled the entire interview with the above blunder.
      He showed the iron glove us and finally caressed the regime with a velvet glove.
      Rajiva & Dayan are literally confusing the public more and more.

      I have been to Jaffna myself and I haven’t notice any significant development at all except for some lethargic slow typical third world type construction works.
      All I noticed was Army presence every where.

  • 0

    We expect GOSL will do the justice to all the IDPs with providing basic facilities to the people and assistance to their livelihoods with and protection for their safety. – http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/5031360/633279796/name/What

  • 0


    Please ask Prof to reply to these comments.

    “In addition to claiming that 95% of IDPs were resettled, the President claims that “the numbers of the Armed forces personnel present in the Northern Province is at a minimal level.” There is cause for serious alarm if 75% army deployment totaling 200,000 troops and comprising 14 out of 19 army divisions is the “minimal level.” Assuming even the most generous statistic, the ratio of solider to citizen in the North is 1 to 10. These soldiers are not just occupying space. They are occupying homes.” [Edited out]

    @Anpu, please write instead of posting links – CT

    • 0

      See Why more deployment is needed in the North:

      “Two suspected members of the LTTE, who were apprehended by `Q` Branch sleuths in Chennai on Friday, were reportedly in the process of devising IEDs to trigger blasts in Sri Lanka, Indian media reported.

      While Sivaneshwaran alias Nesan (34) was formerly an important functionary in the political recruitment wing of the LTTE, Gopi alias Manoharan (37) had completed his training and was a member of the outfit`s cadre, police said.

      Police have reason to believe that the duo has links with `eelam` sympathizers based in France and had been receiving funds from them.

      They said they were initially not inclined to plant bombs in Sri Lanka. But on seeing the Sinhalese occupying traditional Tamil areas in the island nation, they felt that blasts would discourage Sinhalese from settling in Tamil areas. Moreover, Nesan had lost his sister and Gopi his father in the final stages of the war, for which they said they wanted to take revenge, said a source.

      The two had also been actively lobbying among political leaders in the State for the cause of Lankan Tamils, Q-branch sources were quoted as saying by Express News Service.

      After evading the police net last December, the duo was believed to be hiding in Tiruchy with the help of a local functionary of a political party. When the `Q` Branch got a tip-off that the duo had shifted to Chennai recently, the sleuths traced them to the Sri Devi apartments on Church Road in Golden George Nagar at Mogappair.

      Both Nesan and Gopi, hailing from Jaffna, had arrived with valid travel documents after the completion of the war. Nesan arrived in September 2009 and Gopi arrived in July 2011. Police said they did not seize any explosive material during Friday`s arrest.
      They were produced in a court at Tambaram and remanded in judicial custody.

  • 0

    Rajiva talking nonsense as usual

  • 0

    More bilge from a master of the form, even when he is writing from a little distance from the absolute MR embrace.
    Those of us who had the experience of watching this liar and fabricator at work – truly a man without shame – can only express amusement at his efforts to reclaim some of the “eminence” he had as a front-line defender of a regime that defied description then and continues to “improve” in that respect!

  • 0

    Please ask Prof to reply to these comments.

    If the Prof gets a dime each time a Tamil nazi asks to ‘clarify’ a hoax he’d be a rich man.

    If you need clarity stop lying to yourself and others. Just because you learn to string together few words online does not make you ‘cultured’. Cultured means no lying and no Naziism. Didn’t they teach you this in kindergarten?

  • 0

    At Mannar public gathering TNA claimed they needed weapons to get a Tamil state. Tamil nazi loves to start wars they cannot win and then complain about ‘triamphalism’ !

    If you don’t like to lose, don’t want to help rebuild afterwards, don’t like getting your human rights violated don’t like to become a refugee, don’t friggin start wars isnt it? I’d thought it be this simple.

  • 0

    “The Government has obviously not been able to convince the international community of its genuine commitment to addressing accountability issues even four years after the conflict. Why has the government been ineffective in doing so?”

    I think Prof Rajiv wijesinghe is living in his imaginary world.

    What every Sri Lankan govt does, they won’t be able to convince the IC. It is more complicated than what you talk.

    • 0

      Jim Softy,
      Didnt you praise the same Rajiva when he was supporting MaRa. You went onto say that he is a bright Thomian and bla bla bla.
      Why now the change? Anyone supporting MaRa is good for you and anyone opposing MaRa is a traitor and an enemy for you right?
      Where are you guys taking this country to?
      Why you guys are lying thru your teeth?
      Man, there is a thing called KARMA.
      Dont you believe in that?

      I can even copy paste that your comment you made in another media under an another pseudynom.

      • 0

        Jimsofty should be representing the village folks of the country. He should be that Leela that added all kind of anti-muslim comments to this and other threads.
        This man is said to be nearly 70 years old and be living somewhere near to Horana. He is brainwashed by the current regime. This man is a joke for the entire nation. I dont mind him being that supportive to the current regime, but he or she as a senior lanken – said to have a PhD on Theology or Anthropology -but utterly disgusting comments dropped down by him regardless the matter it is, but just to whitewash the brutal regime and their murderous acts have reached to unbearable levels now. Apita Buduma Budu Sanarai so long this kind of people are the majority of this country. They seem to be stay stagnated – not a sign of change in their thoughts towards murderers at all.

        • 0

          The danger is not his being praising of this regime.
          The danger is that Leela, Nalin de Silva, Gunadasa Amarasekara, Champika Ranawaka etc are misleading the youth in this country. The damage has been huge and irreparable to the country and to Buddhism. These madmen are preaching a new religion in order to keep one family in power. What a sin. These so called educated guys doing this unpardonable damage to this land and some follow suit blindly.
          This must be stoped. The earlier the better.
          Its we and out silnce that going to harm the Buddhism.
          Buduma Budu Saranai!!!!!!!

          • 0

            I think people to be blamed for the current disastrous situ in the country. Wait and see how they the very same people elect ruling party candidates against for the upcoming election. That is the nature of our people. They are a folk that would never learn a lesion from the past. If the average people are clever, would they have voted for rulers ? Every pradeshiya saba member is said to be linked with crimes rising in the country today. They are high criminals. So, in a country the breeding of high criminals has become usual to the rulers, what cant go wrong ? Wimal or other ruling party men are far from realities. Even MR has no wisdom at all as the previous leaders have been. Just because they open this and that each corners of the country, to show off people that they are doing well with their projects are just red herrings to deceive the nation further. Many today – incl. teachers tell me high costs are not affordable at all. So how can poor of the poor could survive.
            In an environment, where no war is fighting, cost of living can NO means be that high as it is the case for lankens day to another. At least they the rulers should make price reductions in daily needs of the people. Why cant they do so ? People may feel it is all because of development projects.. so then why do they take high interest bank loans from China banks ?

            • 0

              My aged father said to me very recently “Sinhalaya balu wela “. So, that alone makes me clear – older generations are fed up today^s society. How many on CT and other threads are furious of MR^s politics ?

  • 0

    Rajiva Wijesinha,

    You, in no small part, with obfuscation and contortion, deviousness and diversion, helped bring about international suspicion of Sri Lankan motives and actions. But, in fairness, you are not alone. There were many with you who had to suck up to HMV – His Medamulana Voice. Your twists and turns would have impressed many a contortionist but alas, not the sharper observers in the global community. You all let down Sri Lanka and contributed to our present pariah status. And still you have the cheek to write vacuous articles offering us your two cents worth. Shame obviously didn’t feature in your vocabulary. Do the decent thing, Mr Wijesinha, and take a long break.

  • 0

    There is more ‘settlement’ – of citizens from the south,on state land,of buddhist temples and buddha statues in places where buddhists do not exist,
    than ‘resettlement’ of citizens of the north and east,into their own homes and lands – most of which are being ‘grabbed’by the army for its own ‘projects’.
    Many IDPs still remain displaced.

  • 0

    This is how Western Style Human rights work.

    Cruise Missiles for al-Assad and Impunity for the Generals in Egypt

    The Human Rights Hypocrisy of the West

    “…while the undermining of the rule of law, the normalization of war to advance national interests and the hollowing out of the human rights idea in order to justify “humanitarian interventions” might seem to be beneficial in the short term, the people of the world who have been slowly liberating themselves from the conceptual myopia of colonization see very clearly the hypocrisy of the West’s supposed commitment to universal human rights, democracy and the rule of law… “ (War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: The Story of U.S. Exceptionalism in Iraq)

    In a surreal replay of the Iraq debacle, the U.S. along with Britain and the “socialist” government of France are preparing another violation of international law with their plans to attack the sovereign state of Syria. The justification for this breech of the United Nations Charter is based on the dubious claims made by an insurgency, armed and trained by those same western powers and their regional allies, that a chemical attack was launched by the al-Assad government. An attack that illogically and irrationally took place at the precise moment the Syrian government was clearly winning the war against the so-called rebel forces and when United Nations inspectors were already in the country.

    In a move that can only be seen as bizarre and came just as the UN inspectors who were invited to investigate the alleged attack by the Syrian government were starting their work, the U.S. asserted that it was too late for the inspectors and called for them to be withdrawn.

    This forceful reaction stands in stark contrast to the feeble response to the slaughter of more than 1,000 demonstrators by the Egyptian generals over the last few weeks. With Egypt, the U.S. administration did not have to violate international law to express its opposition to the wanton violation of the rights of demonstrators to peacefully assemble. It could have condemned the coup and withdrawn its economic support, but chose to do neither.

    Clearly there are two standards operative in the world today: one for the vast majority of nations and another for those comprising the dying but dangerous collection of European colonial capitalist nations that have decided to use military means to maintain their global hegemony.

    U.S. criminality seems to be completely out of control. The U.S.-based peace and anti-imperialist movements continue to be in disarray, despite the fact that the majority of the population in the U.S. continues to oppose military intervention in Syria. During the Obama era, other progressives and radicals who traditionally have seen through the crude propaganda of the U.S. government have found themselves on the same side as the U.S., the dictatorships of the Gulf Cooperation States, Israel and the collection of second-rate European powers regarding Israeli attacks on Gaza, Libya, Egypt and Syria.

    And Western-based human rights organizations continue to either provide intellectual cover for this rampant militarism with racist notions of “humanitarian intervention” or respond to these blatant violations of international human rights law with the most tepid and technocratic positions imaginable.

    The merging of neoliberalism and militarism over the last decade coupled with the weak and often accommodationist positions of many Western-based human rights organizations demonstrate in graphic terms why a new “people-centered” human rights movement must be built, a radical human rights approach that is anti-imperialist and committed to systemic change in order to bring about social justice. A movement that is grounded in one ethical standard related to the conduct of States.

    Until we build an independent human rights movement, we will continue to have Western hypocrisy posing as a “universal” norm, and the blood will continue to flow.

    • 0

      You cant change the world. But we can change in us for the sake of our people and their betterment.
      Just because Chinese go on all human rights violations, we must not follow them. What BS are u talking here. If you are honest to you – you would not add this kind of baila to annoy the CT readership.

      Now the pundit – people^s traitor – GLP is on a mission analyzing all what MS Pillay has criticised instead of trying to learn a lesion from it. He is not the minister of external affairs – but a just one another man to please the nation for brutal rulers to succeed the election.
      And idiotic leader of the nation is on a round in taking part any kind of 2-m or more construction finished by their regime while not doing the due timely, boasting on going elections are the democratic actions of a democratic state – I really dont know what the average of the country would feel listening and seeing all these. I am fed up.. I really do.

  • 0

    Poor fellow feeling left out from the Pillay visit. Unlike last time when he was in the limelight when the previous HR HC, Arbor came. Rajiva was at the thick of things talking of political footballs and what not. The insults cast at Louis Arbor has come back to haunt Sri Lanka with her now being the head of the powerful International Crisis Group. Rajiva and his fellow travelers have done a great disservice to the country by their pathetic actions. The sad thing is the joker thinks that his advise is worth taking.

  • 0

    Sorry to know that many of our efforts in rehabilitating ex-combatants are not fully understood or known sadly even among key government officials. Only Rajiva W knows it fully and he has the right to talk about it as the only MP out of 225 in our parliament to fund productive programs aimed at meaningful rehabilitation of the Tamil youth. He sponsored through his decentralized budget allocations to run a training on ” How to start your own business” for the youth and it was proved to be extremely successful. This has never happened anywhere in the world and unfortunately these are not highlighted by the government representatives when they fight against human rights violations directed against Sri Lanka at international forums.

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