Mahinda S was only a showpiece at UNHRC
| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(February 29, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The two best master manoeuvres for the UNHRC sessions were by the External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris and the TNA and they have the power in their hands in their missions to determine the outcome of the UNHRC sessions.
While Mahinda Samarasinghe had just 10 minutes to read out his 15 page script prepared no doubt by GLP with some last minute alterations, the professor chose to visit South Africa and plead with Desmond Tutu who is a top diplomat with a Nobel Prize for Peace under his belt.
Media rumours that GLP was side-lined by the President according to court reporters should be taken with a pinch of salt. GLP certainly did not want to read out a statement for 10 minutes when he could be of more use persuading leaders that Sri Lanka has its own mechanisms to deal with alleged war crimes and that it needs a bit more time than allocated. This is what one would called diplomacy.
It is indeed very difficult for the professor to deal with Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cohorts who would not know international politics if it hit them between the eyes. The President’s domain is the Sinhala Buddhists and he truly believes the world owes him a bunch for eradicating terrorism and that Sri Lanka had set an example to the world to eradicate terrorism. What a pity he was not around when Al Qaeda rammed its planes into Pentagon and the World Trade Centre and other facilities within minutes on 9/11.
Kunanayakam and Samarasinghe cannot light a candle to GLP’s intelligence and diplomacy and of this there is no doubt. They are simply not in the same league despite Kunanayakam’s relationship to the late Lakshman Kadirgamar and her speaking several languages according to Dayan J. Kadirgamar was another maverick who lined his own pockets in the government and who was last witnessed to be doing breast-strokes at his swimming pool to boost his aging self when he was assassinated purportedly by an LTTE cadre who kept a close watch on him for days from a neighbouring house.
Wonder what portfolio his latest wife Suganthi has in the Rajapaksa administration. Is she still serving the cause of widowed army wives?
The contingent sent to Geneva who are Rajapaksa (un)faithful dogs in the cabinet and diplomatic missions and who cannot subscribe to be career diplomats but who climbed their ladder in their genuflection before the President cannot ameliorate the fact that they caused more damage for Sri Lanka’s image than Wimal Weerawansa et al who surround US and UN compounds at the drop of a hat.
There is hardly any doubt Samarasinghe could not have scripted the statement presented before the UNHRC sessions. The man has the brain of an amoeba and all the opulence of a stage actor.
R.Sampanthan’s decision to visit India to coerce its support is also another tactical move rather than the show-case emissaries of President Rajapaksa such as Tamara Kunanayakam propelled by Dayan Jayetilleka and other minions who wanted to enjoy diplomatic privileges and some comfort in the luxury of freebie holidays with their consorts while wives and husbands or girlfriends and boyfriends are left behind watching them on the Nine O’ Clock news.
The fact remains the UNHRC sessions are far from over. Then there is the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) of the UN in the offing. There is so much to do both by those who feel justice is yet to be meted out to those who were massacred in the war on the one hand and the government which insists the war was necessary to eradicate terrorism on the other.
Interesting months are ahead for the government and the opposition UNP has a fair chance of coming a cropper if only they could bury the hatchet within its party members and co-opt minor parties to defeat the UPFA.
(The writer is Asia Pacific Journalism Fellow at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, California and a print journalist for 21 years. She can be reached at email@example.com)