25 August, 2019

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US At The UPR Of Sri Lanka: We Remain Concerned By The Consolidation Of Executive Power

Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

Note: An abbreviated version of this text was delivered at the Universal Periodic Review due to time constraints.


The United States welcomes H.E. Mr. Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Plantation Industries and Special Envoy of H.E. The President on Human Rights. and the Sri Lankan delegation to the UPR Working Group.
We note steps taken by the government of Sri Lanka to resettle IDPs, foster economic growth, improve infrastructure, and develop a National Action Plan for implementing a number of recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
We remain concerned by the consolidation of executive power, including the passage of the 18th amendment, and that no agreement has been reached on political devolution.  Former conflict zones remain militarized, and the military continues to encroach upon daily civilian and economic affairs. The Ministry of Defense has controlled the NGO secretariat since 2010.
Serious human rights violations continue, including disappearances, torture, extra-judicial killings, and threats to freedom of expression.  Opposition figures have been harassed, detained, and prosecuted.  There have been no credible investigations or prosecutions for attacks on journalists and media outlets.  In the past 30 days, a judge who questioned executive interference in the judiciary was severely beaten in broad daylight by multiple assailants and derogatory posters appeared in Colombo threatening the director of an NGO challenging a government bill that would weaken provincial councils.  No arrests have been made.
Bearing in mind these concerns, the United States makes the following recommendations:
  1. Implement the constructive recommendations of the LLRC, including the removal of the military from civilian functions; creation of mechanisms to address cases of the missing and detained; issuance of death certificates; land reform; devolution of power; and disarming paramilitaries.
  2. Transfer NGO oversight to a civilian institution and protect freedom of expression and space for civil society to operate, by inter alia investigating and prosecuting attacks on media personnel and human rights defenders.
  3. End impunity for human rights violations and fulfill legal obligations regarding accountability by initiating independent and transparent investigations, which meet international best practices, into alleged violations of international law and hold those found culpable to account.
  4. Especially in light of today’s news of the efforts to impeach the Chief Justice, strengthen judicial independence by ending government interference with the judicial process, protecting members of the judiciary from attacks, and restoring a fair, independent, and transparent mechanism to oversee judicial appointments
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    Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

    Freedom in society, this is the goal towards which all consistent and logical minds must strive.

    Everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear.
    George W. Bush

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      Seriously? You quote Dubya?????

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        Shrub was over anxious to complete his father’s assignment and bury all evidence of Oil theft via Kuwait using horizontal methods and bLiar the one who could answer a question without answering was there to make it for the next five generations.
        Having said that with Shrub we all knew where we stood because he never was a politician and today he is sulking because he is on warrant in Genève.
        I quoted him because he put it straight off the cuff to all tyrants in very few words. Hope that clears I am not a fan of any politician because their job is to lie.

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          Irie Brejin! Evrtyin’ chrys. Seen!

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    Preachinging to a Vulture and expecting it to do exactly what is told, could have yielded some results, but not from this Hyena. The world body has to be more firmer unless they too are taking us for a ride. Enough is Enough! What is this Pussy footing by the World Body knowing all what this Hyena is up to?

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      World bodies can only do a little if the majority of the people of the themselves show a negative attitude when their freedom and liberty are usurped by the dictatorial rulers. What support did the people in general give to the agitation of the FUTA. This is an example of peoples’ attitude. World bodies will be compelled lend support when the people really rise in defence of their freedom as it is happening in the Middle East now.

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        A muslim talks about Freedom and liberty.

        Consider their women, how they treat other less powerful muslim sects, devotees of other religions, how accomodative is Saudi Arabia (Macca is located), how they treat kaffirs if they offend Islam….. there is no end to that.

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          You seem to have a biased view on seeing the label Muslim. Being a Muslim does not mean sacrifice of liberty and freedom as you loosely imply. However, compliance to established laws of the land does mean sacrifice of a few of those rights for the sake of good governance, be it Muslim or otherwise. There is nothing wrong with women rights in Islam, or else you will find women agitating in all Muslim countries for equality, freedom and their rights. Islam has given them their due place and respect in society, with specific laws to protect them from hindrance, marriage and divorce laws, inheritance laws, and everything in between, for their co-existence as equal partners. What you imply may be based on hearsay and bloated media eccentrics, which are far from the truth. Sectarian violence is nothing new and not limited to Muslims only. It is happening in all religions. Catholics and Protestants, Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, Shia Sunni Muslims. In all cases each treats the other with contempt. In the case of Saudi Arabia which you have mentioned, it is and has been a Muslim country all along. It is the land on which the last and final Prophet of Islam tread on. It is to their privilege and advantage that they have maintained it that way, preventing any non-Muslim foreign invasions. No one can blame them for not opening their doors to other foreign or other alien religions. They have succeeded in maintaining their immaculate identity as pure Arab Muslims. Workers enter this country for the money (good wages) but they need to return to their homelands. The government is very strict in enforcing the law regarding places of religious worship which are not permitted, and you take offense on that issue. C’mon grow up Softy. Islam is the religion sent down to all of mankind, be it Muslim, non-Muslim (Kaffir – as referred by you), and the Holy Quran, the Last and Final ‘Testament’. Read it and don’t be so biased against Muslims, wherever they may be.

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      Gamini

      So you are virtually asking World Body to bring sanctions against Sri Lanka ? Right ?
      Didn’t it occur to you that Tamils too might suffer due to such eventuality ? Or End Justify the Means ???

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    We too remain concerned of the natural disasters that strike USA to be in consequence to the injustice committed in the world by the Americans.

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      America was born waging wars.

      What has natural disasters got to do with US waging wars?

      Reason my only lover why do you shy when I use thee?

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      US preaches to every one. US can not understand why the Nature treat her that way.

      They think they know every thing.

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    International bodies, and rich countries that have constantly given us aid, have EVERY right to question the irregularities, mismanagement, and the corruption that exists in our country. The Rajapaksa’s have dodged investigations, stalled addressing serious human rights issue, and have behaved like despots slowly silencing the media, and now attacking our judiciary. Those who take their cue and start attacking these aid donors, should stop to consider the fact, that if no international body or nation can questions crimes against the Sri Lankan people by this rogue regime, no one else will help get justice for the people. It seems voices within the country, who should be questioning such anti democratic moves, have been deliberately silenced.
    Many Sri Lankans do not seem to realize the gravity of this unwarranted attack, and shameless play for more power by this horrible Rajapaksa family.

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    The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of constructive criticism.

    Right now they are questioning the SL sovereignty because it carries an international responsibility just like the concept of freedom itself.

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    I wonder what’s stopping the US (with India’s consent) from using the oil supply/sanctions weapon against MR’s govt? No Iranian oil can cause massive social problems that even MR & GR will find hard to gloss over.

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    From what I have gathered from CT and elsewhere, there is a problem in Sri Lanka with guns being in the hands of thugs and criminals. Some with powerful political connections, enjoying impunity for their violent crimes.

    What would people think about a ban on all guns in Sri Lanka outside the hands of the army, navy, airforce and police? This can provide a starting point for the progressive demilitarisation of society, to be followed by reduction in weapons in the hands of the police and military? Needless to say, there should be concerted efforts to recruit Tamil and Muslim men and women to serve in the police and military.

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      Romesh Senewiratne:
      Now I’ve heard it all! Are you seriously suggesting that those in possession of weapons of all descriptions are doing this in a clandestine manner, without the government being complicit in their crimes? You are either a monumental idiot or running short of smokescreen material for those you so avidly support. I’d strongly suggest the latter!

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        No, you haven’t heard it all, there is some more to tell.

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        You are under a false impression, “Beyond Surprise”. I suspect that certain members of the government are indeed involved in and complicit in violent crimes (including the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge). That is why I am interested in how the government would respond to a ban on guns as mentioned above.

        And yes, Barney below, it would be a world first to pass such legislation. Maybe the example will be followed in other countries (First, Second and Third worlds included…and Fourth World, too, if you subscribe to such divisions of global humanity).

        Do you not see an irony that cannabis, which has rarely been used to kill or maim ANYONE (an exception being hashish-using warriors in South Asia), is illegal, while guns, which have been used to kill so many, are not? In the USA, especially, this is a huge problem.

        Sri Lanka can set an example in creating a non-violent society by leading with such legislation, rather than waiting for such laws to be passed in the gun-toting Wild West. That would be a long, violent, wait.

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          An oft used cliche is “guns don’t kill people, people kill people’. In the absences of guns, a good old fashioned ‘Dhali pihiya’ will be used. The issue is poverty and lack of resources.
          The reason politicians are in bed with organized crime is that under the PR system large sums of money are required to finance a political campaign. One can say that in SL criminals are the “SUPERPAC’ donors to politicians. Like the billionaires in the US.
          With regard to my favourite pass time. That is to say puff puff pass. Your preaching to the converted. Yet a good case in point.
          Cannabis does not kill anyone. The US has a ‘ban’ on Cannabis. This ‘ban’ creates criminal gangs and networks to supply Cannabis, hence the drug wars in Mexico and thousands dead worldwide in all division of global humanity. Sometimes bans/regulations have the opposite effect.
          No, the only real remedy is education and a level playing field for all. P.S. sorry for preaching.

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      The problem of guns being in hands of thugs and criminals is universal. You can’t ban something that there is a demand for and hope that is the end of the story. All it will do is create black market for weapons and further enhance the finances of criminals.(prohibition comes to mind) A wise man once said ‘the invisible hand of the market is stronger than any governmental regulation’. Especially in the developing world poverty, crime, drugs, handguns, graft are all part of the same mosaic. Just to drive home a point, there is a ban on prostitution in SL. So there isn’t any right?

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        Who is the “wise man” you are quoting, Barney? Sounds like a market capitalist to me. Or maybe another character from the Flintstones!

        The designation of countries as being the “developing world” is part of the objectionable post-war, elitist not to say imperialist, paradigm. The “developing world” was said to be poorly governed and populated by “too many people” with a propensity for “ethnic conflicts”, nepotism and “inter-tribal warfare”, with potential (if they borrowed lots of money from the “developed world” via the IMF) to, in the fullness of time (and with expensive advice from First World Experts )”develop” into “fully developed industrialized nations”.

        The “development” came with strings – and the cost, via exorbitant debt repayment obligations, was the poverty, malnutrition, infectious disease epidemics and other catastrophes that have been the plight of the so-called “developing world”.

        The tide is turning, with the economic success of China. China had been regarded as both a “developing country” and a “Second World” nation (though the term Second World was used rarely in comparison to the widely discussed “Third World”). Who would have thought that China would win the economic war of World War III (based on the definition of World War III as starting at the end of World War II, with the Cold War)?

        What is more valuable, Barney? An atom bomb or a China cup?

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          It was actually. The very first market capitalist. Adam Smith in his work “The Theory of moral sentiments. circa 1759.

          What’s objectionable about the paradigm? ” poorly governed.. with a propensity for “ethnic conflicts”….nepotism …borrowed lots of money from the “developed world” via the IMF”. OMG! were they thinking of SL when they came up with a definition for ‘developing country’. Call a spade a spade. Politically correct jargon doesn’t change the nature of it, we are developing, perhaps we should call a spade an ‘entry level excavation device’.

          China is a bad example, a currency manipulator, a thief of intellectual property, a partner for every thuggish regime on the planet. Oh yes, the economic success of China is causing employees of Foxcomm to jump of the roofs of their factories in Shenzhen. Police chiefs are are seeking refuge in US embassies. Not a good example.

          You should have used Benigno Aquino’s Phillipines as an example. Read about that. That’s something to aspire to.

          The answer dear Romesh, is elementary! Leadership! Not meaningless regulation.

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          Hey! Jumping off the roof is it about welikade jail during the che guvera insurrection back in 60’s? Ha ha.
          A China where the people fear the government is tyranny. There are two sides to a coin so the weaker can take only what’s left which you call partner of every thuggish regime. Which country on planet earth hasn’t stolen intellectual property? The whole world is a copy. My family has lost enough copy righted products to the Malabaris in the M.E- its very expensive policing patent rights and the most economical way is to keep on innovating and changing.
          There are no guns or drugs on the street. A pretty young girl after a couple of drinks can leave her car at the club car park and walk back home 4 km away at between 2-3 am with being harassed or raped.
          What you are not aware is China is on its 5 year internal development plan and ASEAN is feeling the heat and in turn the west is craving for cheap goods. They plan well ahead because the government is a constant like cooperation whereas we in a democracy need a change every five years for better or worse. Sorry China is too vast and not what you hear. Of course the folk want a regime (30 million plus relatives who own everything) change but are too proud of their ancient culture and are aware of the divide and rule policy of the west plus destruction (Japan did them) in inviting outsiders to assist so they would take their time to change by self.
          BTW: There are more alchol related deaths and assaults due to booze than drugs. Last year there were 1.2 million hospital admissions in the UK due to alcohol misuse. The overall cost to society is put at £17bn to £22bn a year. Would anyone of you support the campaign to get cheap, high-percentage alcohol off shop shelves? SL Lion Beer (Selva bros of Carson fame) has changed from imported malt to rice that produces high % alcohol like the cheap Budweiser.

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          Hope you don’t mind me pasting an interesting collection of views by military and political experts on definitions of World War III, IV and V! If the American President George Bush knew he was fighting a World War, and so did his advisers, shouldn’t we take appropriate defensive measures? It’s from Wikipedia:

          “Other historic conflicts as World War III

          “Norman Podhoretz has suggested that the Cold War can be identified as World War III because it was fought, although by proxy, on a global scale, with the main combatants, the United States and later NATO, and the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries providing political, military and economic support while not engaging in direct combat.

          “Eliot Cohen, the director of strategic studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, declared in The Wall Street Journal, a month after the September 11 attacks , that the struggle against terrorism was more than a law-enforcement operation, and would require military conflict beyond the invasion of Afghanistan. Cohen, like Marenches, considered World War III to be history. “A less palatable but more accurate name is World War IV,” he wrote. “The Cold War was World War III, which reminds us that not all global conflicts entail the movement of multi-million-man armies, or conventional front lines on a map.”[1] In a 2006 interview, U.S. President George W. Bush labeled the ongoing War on Terror as “World War III”.[2]

          “On the July 10, 2011 edition of Fox News’ The Big Story, host John Gibson interviewed Michael Ledeen, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and said “some are calling the global war on terror something else, something more like World War III.” But Ledeen responded that “it’s more like World War IV because there was a Cold War, which was certainly a world war.” Ledeen added that “probably the start of it [World War IV] was the Iranian revolution of 1979.” Similarly, on the May 24, 2011 edition of CNBC’s Kudlow and Company, host Lawrence Kudlow, discussing a book by former deputy Under-Secretary of Defense Jed Babbin, said “World War IV is the terror war, and war with China would be World War V.”[3]”

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    I too agree, Gamini, that our rulers heady with power are not prepared to listen to sermons by the world body and the democratic international community, and it is high time they take firm action against the looming dictatorship. Repeal of the 18th Amendment is the first and foremost priority that the local and international pressure groups should concentrate on.

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      Well the present CJ was appointed to approve it and the plum was her husband becoming a chairman of bank. Now the tyrant has electrocuted their seats. Haven’t we been told as kids don’t associate with goon gangs because once in there is no sensible way out? Brilliant Shirani T never accepted it – its call cultured folk.

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    I doubt the recommendations of the US representative can have any telling impact on the Sri Lankan administration and hence any benefit for democracy and the people. It’s mere thunder bereft of rain.

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      US policy on south Asia is bound to change if Mitt Romney wins. The regime will be under less pressure on human rights.

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    US and the West are the biggest violators of human rights in the world. Look at the Guntanamo camp, look at Afghanistan, Look at Pakistan, look at Libya and Iraq, these are only contemporary examples. If you go back a few years, what they did in Vietnam and Indo-China, US has committed the horrendous crimes against civilians. These are all propaganda to conceal their own crimes. Don’t take these international criminals seriously and if you want to fix any problem in SL, take the initiative on your own. Canada even refused to take its own child soldiers back and he is still languishing in jail, while Sri Lanka rehabilitated these child soldiers and the LTTE terrorists. Unfortunately, these countries have agenda to fulfill. India is part of this agenda. But India will learn the lesson soon.

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