By Malinda Seneviratne –
Canada, it is reported, has joined the United States in calling for the removal of Richard Falk, a UN human rights rapporteur who opined that American policies were the impetus of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird officially called on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to remove Falk from his position, arguing ‘Falk’s consistently mean-spirited comments cast a dark shadow over the United Nations and what it can accomplish. Comments like these do a great disservice to the fundamental values of the United Nations and to all freedom-loving people.’
A few days later, grudgingly giving three UN rapporteurs permission to probe Canada’s record on human rights, treatment of aboriginals and discrimination against women, Canada complained, ‘Some countries, like Iran, reviewing Canada have abhorrent human rights records. Canada stated that Iran ‘hangs guys and stones women.’
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Government have objected to Falk because he has been mean-spirited. Now is Richard Falk the first UN official to utter mean-spirited opinion? Have they not heard of the boss-lady of UNHRC, Navineethan Pillay? When she was mouthing the mean on Sri Lanka (while being ‘tokenist’ on the USA and EU), wasn’t Canada listening? What then of the much vaunted ‘fundamental values’ of the UN? What then of service and disservice, did Baird and Harper ask themselves? Or is it all about ‘You can be mean to anyone but not to my friends and certainly not to me’?
Now Falk may have outdone himself in bypassing perpetrator and picking on Washington, but there’s no denying that incidents (even bomb explosions) and people (including marathon-bombers and drone-bombers) have histories. Weapons have manufacturers and require markets (to be created if necessary). And the world has known ‘our terrorists’ and ‘their terrorists’, the former being ‘ok’ and the other responded to with ‘license to kill’.
But what of the second gripe, that of moral authority? Canada objects to Iran. Canada does not object to the USA, though. Sure, the USA is not exactly investigating Canada, but the principle must be observed across the board or abandoned altogether, wouldn’t Canada agree?
The United States hangs people (and let’s not talk about the scandalously monumental profits that corporates obtain from the US prison-industrial complex). The USA is not known to stone women, but what they toss on innocent men, women and children are not exactly pebbles. We are talking about all the wars in the 20th and 21st Centuries. We are talking about Kissinger’s infamous defence of President Richard Nixon (‘He wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn’t want to hear anything about it. It’s an order, to be done. Anything that flies on anything that moves.) which in all fairness to the man is applicable to many who came before and everyone who came after Nixon, right up to Barak Obama, the drone attacks, rendering, sanctioned torture, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and the arming of terrorists.
So when such a country brings a motion against Sri Lanka, what does Canada do? Canada cheers! So does Harper and his Government wonder why few are commiserating with Canada in her hour of anguish?
Canada has shown displeasure about the UN team. If the UNHRC wanted ‘untrammeled access’ (meaning hordes of investigators, rapporteurs and Channel-4 like spin-masters), would Canada say ‘ok’ in subdued tones? Probably not.
Sri Lanka has cooperated with the UNHRC within the norms of the UN Charter and global standard practices as exemplified by ‘developed’, rich, ‘respected’ Governments such as Canada.
So Canada is boycotting the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM). It’s about Sri Lanka’s position with respect to moves orchestrated by the USA in the United Nations. Is Canada confused or just self-absorbed? Has Harper not heard about sauces, about the goose and the gander? We wonder…
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com