In his article Mr. Jehan Perera (JP) is thinking of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) due in October this year. The NGO lobbists have to not only plan strategy, but also begin to think of booking their plane tickets, make their hotel reservations etc. Indeed, many NGO activists participated at the February UNHCR meeting in Geneva, agitating with the pro-LTTE lobby supporting the US resolution. JP has pushed two strong messages. The first is that Sri Lanka has NOT fulfilled the commitments made at the last UPR in 2008. The second is that the government should involve civil society groups and NGOs like his own in developing its presentation to the UPR.
| by Gam Vaesiya
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone
( May 04, 2012, Ontario, Sri Lanka Guardian) Mr. Jehan Perea has raised the question of “Facing up to the next challenge in Geneva”, in a publication that appeared in several electronic journals as well as in the 24th April issue of the Island. This comes in the wake of the news about attempts to relocate Ambassador Tamara Kunanayagam to Latin America.
Mr. Perera lists some of the major undertaking of the government in 2008, and asserts that there is only “broken trust”. He mentions the recommendations of Canada, UK, Poland, and Bhutan and Sri Lanka is judged guilty even without reviewing the evidence. However, we can examine at least the recommendations of these four countries.
In 2008 Bhutan recommended “developing the former conflict zones to bring the afflicted communities living there to be on par with those living in other provinces of the country”. Surely, compared to 2008, when the ‘afflicted communities’ were under the jackboot of the LTTE, with children and civilians forced into the war front, the government had done wonders in these four years. It has overthrown the LTTE, freed the population, held elections, built infrastructure and carried out de-mining. This is a population of about 5% of the national population, but it is devoting nearly 25% of its national reconstruction and development budget to these areas. So, why does Mr. Perera claim that the government has failed? He should compare this effort with the US government’s effort to rehabilitate the Katrina Hurricane victims even after seven years!!!
Poland’s proposal human-right’s violators.
In 2008 Poland proposed that Sri Lanka should ensure a safe environment for human rights defenders and prosecute those responsible for harming them. The biggest systemic violator of Human Rights then was the LTTE. In 2008 alone we have:
3rd Jan 2008
LTTE attack on bus at Narahenpita, killed 5, 3 pedestrians, wounded 28, and killed an
A-level student and his mother.
8th Jan 2008
Claymore attack by LTTE killed or wounded Hon. Minster D. M. Dissanayake, his entourage, and innocent bystanders including women and children.
15th Jan 2008
LTTE bombed the Buttala bound bus no 62-6427 near Vaeliaara,
killed three children, 14 women, 13 men and wounded others.
LTTE night raid killed 11 villagers, 2 young men, and wounded others in Thanamalvila-Thambalagamuwa.
Time bomb exploded at Dehiwela Zoo to target the school children on this
holiday, injuring six. Luckily no dead.
Anuradhapura bound bus from Kandy Claymore bombed at Dambulla, wounded 75, killed 19, and these included women and children.
Claymore attack on bus at Padaviya, wounded 17, killed 12 including women and children.
School children (baseball teams) were attacked by an LTTE suicide cadre at the Fort railway station, killing 8 children and wounding many others.
and so on …
All this and more fell within the last review period. When these events happened, Jehan Perera and his NGO called for ‘resuming talks with the LTTE’ and ‘stopping the military offensive’, ignoring the recommendations of the UPR recommendations that called for strong action against such violations of human rights, here amounting to terrorism. Is it any wonder that the government has NO TRUST in these NGOs, and hence do not consult them, although the UK government naively recommended that “civil society organizations be included in the follow up to the UPR process”. There are civil-society organizations that the government consulted, but surely not the Center for Policy Alternatives.
The government’s unwavering effort to eliminate the LTTE reflected the view of Sri Lanka’s civil society at large. While suffering the death of many soldiers and civilians, its actions fulfilled the undertaking given by the government in 2008 in Geneva. And yet, Mr. Jehan Perera says “Most of the other recommendations are far from happening,”.
Safe environments in Sri Lanka and in the West.
Ensuring a safe environment for human rights defenders is another issue made at the UNHRC. Jehan Perera has been quick to refer to several ‘human-rights defenders’ who subsequently fled the country, and that “the situation of people living in the conflict zones is a far cry from the normalcy experienced in other parts of the country”.
Unfortunately Jehan Perera is thinking mainly of the ‘human rights’ of his buddies in the chattering class – the likes of Sunanda Deshapriya, Lionel Bopage or Noel Mudalige alias what-ever-name, who have run away from the country for various reasons. Indeed, he should ask why such people, whose crimes have been mentioned many a time, have not been prosecuted when they go in and out of the country openly or with forged documents. It is such people who have given an excuse to this government to crack down even on honest journalists who are viewed with suspicion. How would Canada or Australia treat a foreign national who comes in with forged documents to engage in political agitation?
Canada is one of the sponsors of a recommendation to Sri Lanka at the UPR in 2008. In Canada too we have notorious civil-rights abuses like the Maher Arar case, and other cases of detention of people without trial for eleven or more years falling within this review period. In Canada the police in cold Prairie cities like Winnipeg are known to pick up aboriginal Indians and dump then far away at subzero temperatures to freeze. This comes up every winter and nothing seems to happen except that we have a few more “dead injuns’! In Vancouver, when close to a hundred aboriginal women ‘disappeared’, the police refused to investigate as it is just ‘Injun scum’. When aboriginal women protested on Canada’s Parliament Hill last summer, no mainstream news medium in the country bothered to report. The aboriginal people get about one fifth the money for education and health that an ordinary white Canadian gets – and the list of woos goes on. Canada is not a country which has just emerged from fighting a war for three decades. And yet John Argue and other Canadian Human Rights activists have joined hands with the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC), Jehan Perera, Saravanamuttu, Basil Fernando, Britto Fernado, Nimalka Fernando, Father Emmanuel, Craig-Scott and others to supprot the US against Sri Lanka in Geneva. It should be noted that the CTC replaced the World Tamil Movement banned by the Canadian government for its links to LTTE terrorism. Clealry, there seems to be the usual double standards here.
Many foreign-funded NGOs and their spokespersons work hand-in-glove with the CTC, the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam etc., to further the policies for which they are funded. And now they want to be officially consulted by the government as part of the up-coming preparations for UPR!