More controversy surrounding the issue of retaliation against HRDs in Sri Lanka

September 10, 2013


On 9 September 2013, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that she had an immediate concern for the protection of human rights defenders, journalists and communities that she met during her recent visit to Sri Lanka. She said: “I am grateful to the government of Sri Lanka for facilitating my recent comprehensive visit, which allowed me to assess the progress being made towards reconstruction, reconciliation and accountability in the aftermath of the war – as well as the broader human rights situation, including religious intolerance, governance and the rule of law. I will be reporting on my observations later in the session, but wish to stress my immediate concern for the protection of human rights defenders, journalists and communities I met during my visit from any reprisal, intimidation or attack”.

The Secretary-General’s report on coöperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights is before the Council at this session. It refers to cases of alleged reprisals, or intimidation, against persons as a result of such coöperation, from 16 June 2012 to 15 June 2013.”

Delivering a statement at the same session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva and Leader of the Sri Lanka Delegation Ravinatha Aryasinha said, Sri Lanka is fully committed to protecting human rights defenders. Re High Commissioner’s ‘immediate concern’ for the protection of human rights defenders, he said that Sri Lanka has a vibrant civil society, a fact that was amply demonstrated through the wide range of meetings and events that were arranged independently by the UN team in Colombo with civil society groups and persons of all ethnic and religious denominations for her during her recent visit. The Government of Sri Lanka had requested the High Commissioner and her office to provide specific information of such incidents, “if any.”

How difficult and radicalized this debate is can be demonstrated with a reference to a statement by Malaysia’s Penang State Deputy Chief Minister Professor P. Ramasamy, in an article sent to TamilNet on Monday which states inter alia that “Despite the publicity surrounding her visit, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanetham Pillay was a big disappointment for Tamils in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. At the end of her visit, she basically revealed her true character of serving the interests of the UN and the larger interests of the Anglo-Saxon world”.  Accusing the UN for being an arm of the “arch imperialist power in the world, the United States of America,” Prof Ramasamy said that Ms Pillay’s visit had especially disappointed the sections of Tamils in the US and Europe that had thought that she would make a difference.

Prof P Ramasamy

“Navanetham Pillay, the chief of UN Human Rights, visited Sri Lanka and reported about the state of human rights in the country. Unlike her earlier hardline stand, her report was certainly mild in comparison. She lamented negatively about human rights in Sri Lanka and stated that regime was heading towards a more authoritarian path. Beyond this, she was quite kind to the government, thanked the officials for their cooperation, providing accessibility to areas she visited and remarked that government’s own mechanism, the LLRC, had made some positive moves in the direction of the promotion of human rights. Ironically, contrary to expectations, her harshest criticism was not leveled at the cruel regime for the genocide of more than 100,000 innocent Tamils, but towards the LTTE.  She vented a ferocious anger, uncharacteristic of a human rights person, against the LTTE and called it a “murderous” organization. She urged the Tamil Diaspora not to glorify the outfit and in her opinion, the LTTE, was the prime cause of Tamil misery. Not knowing history or simply ignoring it for certain political expediency, she failed to realize that LTTE was not an autonomous growth, but a product of extreme Sinhala racism and hatred.

 Prof P Ramasamy

One Response to “More controversy surrounding the issue of retaliation against HRDs in Sri Lanka”

  1. […] More controversy surrounding the issue of retaliation against HRDs in Sri Lanka ( […]

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