This is not a document for easy reading, nor is it meant to be. It is a reasonably comprehensive record of the abysmal record of the UN and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in addressing human rights violations. It is being submitted to the UNHRC and will probably end up in a dustbin. So be it.
by Brian Senewiratne
(March 16, 2012, Brisbane, Sri Lanka Guardian) The 19th Session of this talk-shop started on 27 February 2012 and will go on till 23 March 2012. While people concerned with the serious violations of human rights of the Tamil people by the murderous politico-military junta led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa are hoping that this Meeting will demand an international investigation into war crimes (as suggested by the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Panel of Experts ), I am highly sceptical that it will. The track record of the UN and the UNHRC is such that to believe otherwise is ignorance, if not plain stupidity.
The bombshell has just been dropped, the (UK) Channel 4 News documentary “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished”, a follow-up to the shocking video “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” aired in June 2011. The latter was screened at a special showing in the UN Human Rights Council meeting soon after it was released. It shocked the world and even the hardened diplomats in the UNHRC, some of whom were unable to continue watching the ghastly scenes and turned their heads away (I saw this on a recording of the showing).
The Channel 4 “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished” was shown to a packed audience on 11 March 2012, during the International Human Rights Film Festival in Geneva. It ends with, “Can the cries of thousands of Tamils continue to fall upon deaf ears?”
This latest video could be even more damaging for the GoSL, not only because it shows the cold-blooded execution of the 12 year old son of the Tamil Tiger Leader, Velupillai Prabakaran, executed point-blank, with a gun held not more than a few feet from his bare chest, but also involves the UN itself. The last UN overland food convoy was targeted and subjected to a massive sustained shelling by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. Two of the UN staff were foreigners, one an Australian, Peter Mackay, who in a sworn statement describes how the shelling was re-targeted after the GPS co-ordinates of the site had been given to the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL). The resulting carnage was photographed by the UN workers.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the President’s brother and Defence Secretary, and General Sarath Fonseka, Army Commander, now in jail essentially for contesting Mahinda Rajapaksa for the Presidency, seem to be in trouble, or rather, in more trouble than they already are in. I will detail this later.
The timing of this latest release could not be better. Whether the UNHRC will arrange a special showing of this documentary to the delegates (as it did with the earlier one), I do not know. For sure, the Sri Lankan delegation, all 90 of them(!), will be hell-bent on blocking this. Whether or not realpolitik will prevail, as it usually does, and a decision made not to show it, I have no doubt that it will be in the minds of the delegates as they vote next week on the (weak) Resolution that has been tabled by the USA to ‘censure’ Sri Lanka (‘a gentle rap on Sri Lanka’s knuckles’ will be a better description of the US-backed Motion.)
A second bombshell has just exploded. The internationally acclaimed International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has just made an Oral Intervention (on 13 March 2012). delivered a stinging blow that will leave Sri Lanka reeling.
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