By Shenali Waduge
To most of us the announcement of UNHRC’s Technical Team visit comes as a surprise but nothing that should cause frenzy other than the fact that most UN visits are generally not without bias and not without agenda. There is every possibility that the conclusive report is already drafted. Therefore, Sri Lanka’s Government is in for a rude shock if it is under the illusion that Pillay and her team arrive on 14th September to make amends, share a good cup of Ceylon tea and to congratulate Sri Lanka on eliminating terrorism! Every nook and corner that they will be digging for dirt and every area that they would manipulate must be thought out as their cohorts would have been given prior notice what to do. It is nothing UN can take offense against – UN lies on Iraq’s WMD is just one example.
The UNHRC head visited Zimbabwe on 20th May 2012 on a first ever visit though she was extended the invitation in 2009 by the coalition government despite the fact that UNHRC nominated Manfred Nowak the Chief UN Special Rapporteur was debarred from entering Zimbabwe citing he had no clearance. The 5 day visit of Ms. Pillai covered meetings with President Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Government ministers, chief justice, speaker of Parliament, President of the Senate, Zimbabwean Human Rights Commission and members of civil society.
If Pillai is to meet similar counterparts in Sri Lanka it is also advisable that she meet up with distinguished and respected luminaries like Mr. Gomin Dayasri, Mr. S L Gunasekera, Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera to get the other side of the version that organizations with personalities like Saravanamuthu, Jehans are likely to be paid to say.
Her visits are never without controversy. We are well aware that Syria’s crisis was planned far before any signs of “rebellion or insurgency” added to the fact that Foreign Governments are funding, arming and openly training mercenaries to fight the Syrian forces with UN’s silence there is nothing to be surprised that President Assad rubbished the UN and its reports as being biased. Israel too debarred the UNHRC fact-finding mission to enter West Bank and not a word came from the UN, the West or the humanitarian organizations.
Ms Pillai left Zimbabwe without causing much ripples a 5day visit spent only in Harare clearly indicating that the authorities had kept her visit under surveillance and control with diplomatic panache. At the end of the visit UN Human Rights head was “happy” with land reform but “concerned” with political polarization. To everyone’s surprise she did not mention “Diaspora Vote” as a human right, issue of election monitoring, peacekeeping was never put for discussion, she was silent on 2 missing human rights activists since 2008, she ignored mentioning issue of compensation for Zimbabwean commercial white farmers whose properties Mugabe had seized – none of these areas were even mentioned in her 7page end of mission statement. But she did bring up the request to recognize gay rights which President Mugabe had blankly refused. She also requested sanctions to be lifted against Zimbabwe though it must be pointed out that Zimbabwe does not suffer sanctions as a result of Russia and China blocking the 2008 resolution though Zimbabwe suffers travel restrictions and asset freezes on specific individuals – how could Pillay make such a mistake!
We know that the West eyes Zimbabwe and other African nations to plunder its resources. When Mark Malloch-Brown, the ex-Rhodesian, ex-journalist, ex-UNDP head and ex-right hand man of Kofi Annan who says it is the world against Zimbabwe it is all connected to the conflicts that have been designed to take place in order to facilitate the plundering through an international designed framework known as the Responsibility to Protect. We know the lies told to invade Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria. All the peace and humanitarian organizations are today dependent on funds and these funds come from the very people who create the wars and desire to sustain them therefore the employees of these organizations have little choice but to say what they are paid to say which is no different to mainstream media. They are all part of a vicious cycle that end up fooling the masses.
It is to balance the status quo that nations look for alternative powerful alliances. It was the English explorer Sir Francis Galton in a letter to the Times in 1873 sought “Chinese settlements of Africa be part of our (UK) national policy, in the belief that the Chinese immigrants would not only maintain their position, but that. they would multiply and their descendants supplant the inferior Negro race.” However now in 2012….the West is not happy about China in Africa.
Sri Lanka’s Case
Promotion and protection of human rights has been a major “preoccupation” for the UN since its inception. There are upteen entities all working towards protecting something or the other but with little results except wonderfully compiled dossiers full of information.
Within all of these magnanimous peace and human rights promotion and protection efforts is a carefully clouded plan that artfully aims at usurping the sovereignty of sovereign nations to govern their countries on their own according to the laws that they design. Such has been the task of the Technical Assistant teams who are tasked with
A) Reforming National Laws (incorporating international laws into national laws and constitutions on the guise of protecting human rights – Bulgaria, Malawi and Mongolia are good examples).
B) Assisting and Drafting national laws and preparing national reports – another area to watch out for.
C) Strengthening national and regional institutions
D) Training criminal justice personnel – judges, lawyers, prosecutors and police.
The UNHRC team or those vociferous opponents of Sri Lanka’s achievement are aware that within 3 years Sri Lanka has successfully implemented an indigenous rehabilitaton, resettlement, reintegration, reconstruction and reconciliation program. Much of the truth that is responsible for the conflict has to remain unsaid to keep diplomatic relationships! Sri Lanka can today proudly say areas are now free of mines. It has almost rounded up the resettlement of close to 300,000 Tamil refugees, it has helped these people find livelihoods, Sri Lanka has provided training, education and vocational facilities for the children who had never seen a school except taught to hold a gun, close to 12,000 of the LTTE combatants who were either caught or had given themselves up during the final war have gone through rehabilitation and have been reintegrated into societies and reunited with their families. Some of them have even married in ceremonies facilitated by the military, some of them are now in civil defense services while the talented ones have moved on to continue education while others have taken to cultural activities. The involvement of military in civil affairs is nothing new and nothing to be alarmed over as they had been running farms as early as the 1950s. Besides if the people of the North and in particular areas of Mullaitivu feel happy about the military presence what reason do others have to say otherwise especially the TNA parliamentarians who visit the North only during election times.
Comparing Sri Lanka’s achievement against Iraq/Afghanistan
In view of the US/NATO invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and UN’s own compliance before pointing fingers at Sri Lanka, it is upto our authorities to ask some relevant questions and it is nothing they should feel shy to ask. As a UN member country, we have every right to know what UN organizations have done to take care of the interests of the Iraqi and Afghan civilians since the invasions were both without evidence of wrong doing by either. Simply because US Presidents declares countries to have terrorists, or WMDs or that people hate the local leader it does not permit the sovereignty of that nation to be taken over.
While UN heads may like to humiliate and belittle Sri Lanka’s achievement we would like to know how they used their mandate to help the 4.7m Iraqi’s who have left their homes? What about the 2.7m Iraqi’s displaced internally, or the 2m who have fled to neighboring states of Jordan and Syria. Why did the UN not put pressures upon the US/NATO as they did to resettle the 300,000 Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka? When we have resettled all but a handful after a decade of invasion US has settled ONLY 5000 Iraqis! The world must thank Sweden for taking 18,000 Iraqi’s being a country that had no responsibility for Iraq whereas the US has taken only 1696! Afghans refugee numbers are no different to Iraq and with severe weather conditions the Afghan people continue to suffer simply because US/NATO wants to remain in Afghanistan until the gas/oil pipeline from Central Asia to Europe is constructed with US bases along its entire route!
While further humiliating campaigns have even gotten nods of UN heads for falsefully escalating civilian casualties nothing goes said about the Iraqi civilian deaths that are said to cross the 500,000 – these information is often classified yet there are no “killing field” documentaries against the US/NATO.
But the US is not reluctant to spend billions or rather trillions of US tax payers money that has left its own economy in shambles, 30% war veterans suffering mental and health complications.
Billions of US taxpayers money stand unaccounted, lost or missing for spare parts shipped, items for reconstruction, trucks, trailers, vehicles etc – while mismanagement and waste stands at USD10billion (2007 Congressional hearings). There are no troops in Iraq but its fatalities stand at 4487 with over 32,000 wounded 20% of which have serious brain or spinal injuries. However, the paid mercenaries remain and private contractors in Iraq standing at a shocking 180,000 and counting.
With the elimination of the LTTE and dawning of peace people are still picking up the pieces. It is wrong to expect miracles because we are dealing with people who have been brainwashed for 30 years even those who have not been part of the LTTE. Reconciliation does not come to timelines or timetables and it does not happen simply because someone sitting from room in a Western country dictates the local head to do or step down. The people of the North are slowly starting livelihoods, the infrastructure is getting built, the Govt has even utilized money meant for development in the south to be diverted to make the railways, roads etc..which the military is also contributing towards. They have built more houses than any US troops have with their own hands when some of them do not have proper homes of their own.
Compare that to Iraq , unemployment is 60%, consumer price inflation is 50%, 28% of Iraqi children suffer chronic malnutrition, 40% of professionals have left Iraq, electricity to Iraq is given for only 1 to 2 hours, only 37% of Iraqi homes are connected to sewer systems, 70% of Iraqi’s do not have access to water – much of these were targeted during NATO strikes, only 22% of these water treatment plants have been reconstructed.
Therefore when UN agencies come as custodians of peace they are bringing with them a backlog of incomplete targets that they have not set up for themselves. Iraq and Afghanistan are two nations that the UN are directly responsible for its people and whether they have allowed intervention on the guise of “humanitarian” to take place they have completely ignore the accountability and responsibility factors. Responsibility to Reconstruct must be what the UNHRC head must first concentrate on and once they complete these backlogs for which they are directly responsible they can start pointing fingers at Sri Lanka.
As things stand given the limitations for a third world nation, we have done remarkably well when compared to US/NATO – we have raised the bar and we have shown that while Guantanamo Bay and Diego Garcia continues to treat “supposed” terrorists inhumanely and nothing is done about it too, the LTTE combatants have gone through rehabilitation and have been reintegrated to society barring a handful who are to have criminal charges filed against them according to the laws of the land – we do not have Guantanomo Bays in Sri Lanka!
Therefore, if Sri Lanka’s officials are to grin and smile and accept accusations that come from these foreign officials who have paid scant attention to helping the people of Iraq and Afghanistan then our officials will be degrading the valiant efforts of our armed forces pre and post conflict.
Therefore we urge Sri Lanka’s Government to plan every angle that accusations will be hurled against us and meet every accusation with proper facts and demand answers to questions which should not be kept swollen.
The views expressed are the author’s own