A Letter to Nelson Madela, his Elders, Mary Robinson and Navi Pillai on Human Rights.
Posted on April 9th, 2012

By Garvin Karunaratne

Mr Nelson Mandela and his Group of World Elders has thought it fit to advise Sri Lanka on how to handle the UNHRC resolution.  In “Avoid another resolution urges Elders” (Daily Mirror 28/3/2012), they “urge Sri Lanka to try and avoid  another showdown in the UNHRC by adhering to the recent resolution”.

A former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson has told the BBC that “the Elders are very pleased  that the UNHRC adopted the resolution urging Sri Lanka to ensure a proper reconciliation process”

She adds that “the scale of violations alleged is really very grave by international human rights standards”   and adds that Sri Lanka should conform, not to “come under the radar of the UNHRC once again next year”.

Ambassador Dayan Jayatileka  states that Sri Lanka should follow Myanmar and change. Myanmar has accepted holding democratic elections and has also released the opposition leader who was held under house arrest for long. Sri Lanka is a full fledged democracy and the present leader President Rajapaksa totally believes in democracy. Myanmar was a dictatorship. That dictatorship had incarcerated Aung Sang Suu Kyi, the opposition leader, who had won the right to rule Myanmar at the 1990  General Election. Nothing of that sort has happened in Sri Lanka and one wonders what sort of change  has Sri Lanka to copy from Myanmar.

Nelson Mandela  was a black leader who had been incarcerated for as long as 27 years by the Apartheid Government. South Africa was a colony of the UK, where a small number of Whites had wrested 87% of  the arable land by force without any compensation payment for the Blacks. The Blacks lived in slums and shanties and the ANC fought tooth and nail to liberate the Blacks.  President de Klerk had discussions with Nelson Mandela.  The  ANC led by Mandela reached an agreement for a peaceful change from Apartheid to majority democracy. In actuality President de Klerk twisted Nelson Mandela’s arm to continue the prerogatives enjoyed by the Whites under Apartheid, this time under a Black Government.. No wonder Mandela was accorded the Noble Peace Prize.

Let us see the situation today after the ANC leaders had enjoyed rule for over two decades. In the words of Grasian Mkodzongi, a researcher, a Ph.D. student at the University of Edinburgh:

“While the ANC elites continue  to make promises to the poor, the Bredell eviction saga demonstrated that the ANC Government was more interested in calming nervous White land owners and foreign investors than addressing the root causes of landlessness and social injustice.” The Bredell eviction was an incident where the ANC Government brutally evicted landless people who had forcibly occupied a land of the Whites.

The actual situation in South Africa today is aptly expressed by him:

“South Africa remains a very strange place, a divided society. The transition from Apartheid majority rule involved what Patrick Bond calls “ƒ”¹…”elite transition’ for the beneficiaries of the new South Africa are indeed few and mostly White”¦.. two countries, One, a small Mediterranean archipelago with beautiful bungalows perched on hill tops, Whites Only, beaches where Blacks are there to serve the rich; the Other Stereotyped African country with overcrowded slums, high unemployment”¦ extreme poverty extreme wealth live side by side”

(From:South Africa:The Next Frontier For land Occupation” by Grasian Mkodzongi: http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/63718 <http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/63718> )

South Africa is perhaps one of the few countries that can boast of very high unemployment levels, as much as  23.9% unemployed where  a few thousand Whites occupy and “own” 87 % of the arable land. Some authorities state that 50% are unemployed. The total population is  some 50.5 million  and even today though Apartheid has been accepted to be wiped out, the Whites do rule along with a few Black leaders like Nelson Mandela and his associates who have done nothing to allay the poverty and hunger of the vast Black population.  The ANC in order to win independence sacrificed the right of the Blacks to ever own the arable land that had been taken away from them by force during colonial domination a few decades ago. The ANC accepted a peculiar model of Land Reform- a “Willing Buyer and Willing Seller Model”, where land “owned” by the Whites could be taken over only if the “owners” were willing. The ANC in order to placate the Blacks fixed a target of distribution- 30 % of the arable land, but up to 2003 only 2.7% of the land was distributed.  Over 3,000 White farmers have so far been murdered.(From: “Ten Years of Subdued Land Reform”by Shile Mkhize: (www.afra,coza/jit_default_1013.html)

Andrew Nowicki, states:

“Through 1999 and 2000, protests grew against unemployment and privatization of basic services. Crackdowns by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) became increasingly repressive. In 2002, private security guards fired live ammunition to disperse around 100 people demonstrating over electricity cutoffs outside the home of Johannesburg’s executive mayor, Amos Masondo, in the swank Johannesburg suburb of Kensington. The ANC, aiming to make an example, arrested the demonstrators, denied them bail, and held them in Sun City, a notorious maximum security prison, which formerly held anti-apartheid activists. The new South Africa has rapidly regressed into the South Africa of old.

Unemployment figures in most of the country’s provinces have hovered near the 50 percent mark since the late 1990s. Social services have suffered massive cuts despite South Africa’s national health emergency due to AIDS.” (From: “What went wrong with South Africa” in Third World Traveller, Z Magazine, Feb 2004)

There is a fire smouldering beneath, that can destroy the ANC.

Over to you Mr Nelson Mandela and his group of World Elders, instead of trying to advise Sri Lanka please look after your own people not the South African Whites, but the Blacks. They are the real people of South Africa whom you have forgotten. The estimates of unemployment are around 50% in many Provinces!. You and the ANC had sacrificed their right to have land and become commercially successful farmers.   It is a fact that while the foreign debt of South Africa at independence was  around $ 24 billion, under ANC rule this has increased to as much as $ 80.52 billion by 2011. The ANC spent this foreign exchange for the luxury life of the rich minority in the country and not for the majority that yet live in slums, landless and unemployed.

May I remind you have a short life span before the Blacks rebel and then no  Bredell type of  armed operation  can hold them back.

The World Elders,  Mr Mandela  and Mary Robinson are talking without understanding basic facts about what happened in Sri Lanka.

They  should understand that the LTTE held a population of twenty million to ransom, murdering innocent civilians, monks , and even all Tamil politicians who belonged to the democratic steam of governance- Mr Amirtalingam,  and many other Tamil Members of Parliament, in an attempt to establish a dictatorship over Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was not a country that had an ethnic problem. We had Tamil Ministers in all Cabinets since independence in 1948 and Tamil gentlemen held some of the highest positions in the land like Judges of the Supreme Court, Attorney General, the Inspector General of Police, The Head of the Public Service  etc. It is sheer nonsense to talk of any grievances suffered by only the Tamil people. The grievances suffered by the poor Tamil people are the same as the grievances suffered by the poor Sinhala and Muslim people in other areas of Sri Lanka. These range from poverty, unemployment to low incomes. The ethnic problem was actually created by the LTTE. Their killing fields were not in the East and the North of the country as they said, but in the entire island. That was the only rebel terrorist outfit that had a full fledged navy and an airforce. 

Let me repeat a paragraph from my earlier writing:

“Not a day passed without  civilians  being targeted and killed in cold blood in some part of Sri Lanka. This included the bomb blast At the Central Bank where  91  were killed and 1,400 injured. In addition100 people lost their eye sight. A number of my close friends who happened to be near windows in adjacent buildings had injuries to their eyes. The LTTE killed over three hundred civilians and monks who were worshipping at the Sri Maha Bodhi, the most sacred place of the Buddhists. Then the LTTE cadres took to 18 villages killing another two hundred and finally entered the Wilpattu Reserves and when accosted,  killed the officials there.  The Government at that time was even scared to report the correct number that died and officially declared that only 146 died. That Government was scared to death of the LTTE.  The LTTE attacked the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy  killing many and also killed 33 monks  at  Arantalawa.   In 1990, at the Peace talks it was agreed that the police in the East should surrender to the LTTE and they were guaranteed safe passage.  Under the instructions of the Government some 600 to 700 police officers surrendered to the LTTE and instead of safe passage to Colombo they were marched to death and gunned down by the LTTE. The LTTE killed President Premadasa  and also Rajiv Gandhi a former Prime Minister of India.” (From, “The Double Standards in Human Rights : The Lanka Web March 2012)

It was President Rajapaksa who had pledged at the 2005 Presidential Election that he would save the people of Sri Lanka from the LTTE terrorist outfit if he won the election. He kept to his pledge to the people.

While the people of Sri Lanka suffered at the hands of the LTTE for three long decades, the Western Imperial Powers had different ideas. They actually supported the LTTE and did not want the LTTE annihilated.  This was very strangely brought to light in the last stages when the LTTE was cornered to Mullativu and were about to be totally defeated. Then Kouchner, the Foreign Minister of France, David Milliband, the Foreign Minister of the UK, the Secretary of State of the USA and other Western Powers became activised-decided that the LTTE had to be spared and they cajoled President Rajapaksa to stop battling the LTTE. Earlier it was only Norway that took action in the open, That was to settle Tamils from the upcountry to the North under the Red Baana Colonisation done without the knowledge and approval of the Jayawardena Government. When President Rajapaksa refused to stop battling the LTTE, as he had to carry on the battle because of the pledge he made to the people of Sri Lanka, these Superpowers decided to harass President Rajapaksa and their resolution at the UNHRC  was how they retorted. 

The USA, the UK, and other countries that supported the resolution at the UNHCR should hang their heads in shame.  They have all forgotten that Sri Lanka is a democratic country, overlooked that President Rajapaksa was an elected President and also the fact that the LTTE terrorism was a domestic rebellion like the JVP insurrections of 1971 and 1987. In 1987 the number of youths killed was easily over 50,000.  Then there was not a resolution at the UNHRC.

It is necessary that true facts have to be shown and I would think that the failure on the part of the Sri Lankan Government was that it did not carry out publicity of the terrorism done by the LTTE. Many booklets should have been written of the atrocities perpetrated by the LTTE and should have been sent to diplomatic circles and to various Governments to inform them what the LTTE did- their child soldiers etc.. Then the diplomatic service did not project the true picture of LTTE atrocities. Our diplomats’main charge should be to tell the true facts to all countries so that they know the real situation. As I have already pointed out the earlier Sri Lankan Governments were  frightened of the LTTE even to show the amount murdered by them. When at the Sri Maha Bo Tree, the most venerated place of the Buddhists over 300 people who were worshipping including monks were gunned down and thereafter the LTTE cadres took to the villages on a killing spree, the Government said that the LTTE only killed 146 people when over 500 were murdered. Our then President Kumaranatunge called everyone that criticized the LTTE as chauvinists and were harassed. She had even posted a LTTE leader as the Head of the Sri Lanka  Broadcasting Corp!

It is very necessary that people of the standing of Mr Nelson Mandela and his Group of World Elders and Mary Robinson  former UN Human Rights Commissioner should actually find the true facts before writing.

Perhaps they have to be reminded that the most  grave human rights violation in recent times was the invasion of Iraq by the USA and UK. The rulers  President George W. Bush of the USA and Prime Minister Tony Blair of the UK said that they had to destroy weapons of mass destruction which Sadaam Hussein held in Iraq. The UK’s Arms Inspector  David Kelley who was the UK representative and had been to inspect the weapons in Iraq, said in no uncertain terms that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. David Kelley had to be silenced and very strangely he did not come back home after an evening stroll.  A strange inquest was held by an outsider appointed for the purpose and it was ruled that Kelley had committed suicide. Strangely the inquiry documents were declared to be kept secret for some seventy  years, but after repeated agitation the documents were recently released. The duo George W. Bush and Tony Blair did not have the authority of the Security Council of the United Nations but took action on their own. The result- Iraq in ruins, the death toll of the Iraq men women and children  is in the millions.  My question to Navi Pillai, the Head of the UNHCR and Mary Robinson, Nelson Mandela and other Elders is  why has this grave infringement of human rights  been ignored. 

It is also important to note that President  George H. Bush of the USA never won an election. In 2000 he won the Presidential Election by  a Supreme Court ruling which stopped the ballots that were being counted in Florida to declare the elected leader and in 2004 George W. Bush stole the election through the electronic voting machines. These are well documented in my books: The Administrative Bungling that Hijacked the 2000 US Presidential Election: The University Press of America and  The Electronic Stealing of the 2004 US Presidential Election: Amazon. Com .

The UNHCR has to take into consideration every infringement of human rights in the World and also look into international matters and not the domestic affairs of sovereign countries.

These facts prove that the UNHRC is not a reasonable and responsible body. As has been pointed out earlier the UNHRC is carrying out the dictates of the US and other Superpowers in an unfair manner infringing the rights of  other small countries of the United Nations. The UNHCR  should realize for once that Sri Lanka is not at fault and did not commit any human rights violations  whatsoever in defeating the LTTE. The very fact that the vast majority of the  300,000 Tamil civilians held by the LTTE as a Human Shield, were saved from the captivity of the LTTE in the last grim battle is itself a fact that tells out the humanitarian task that Sri Lanka achieved.  What of the fact that the Tamils who lived in the East and the North under Prabhakaran who ruled with the gun as well as the twenty million citizens of Sri Lanka who were living in mortal fear of death at the hands of LTTE cadres were liberated. The UNHCR dares to find violations of human rights  in Sri Lanka when the defeat of the LTTE was essentially a humanitarian task to ensure the human rights of millions of its citizens.

As far as Mr Mandela is concerned it is my appeal to him to find a solution to the problem of poverty and landlessness in his own country before the powder keg on which he and the ANC leaders are currently sojourning in mirth,  does explode beneath their feet. Perhaps the Youth Self Employment Program of Bangladesh which I designed and implemented in Bangladesh when I was a consultant there in 1982, which has  by 2010 guided over 2 million youths to be commercially viable entrepreneurs, and which program today guides 160,000 a year to be self employed- the one and only successful employment creation program the world has known,  may offer him some idea of how Black youths can be guided to be entrepreneurs and contributors to the South African economy,  instead of being rebels. The Youth Self Employment Program of Bangladesh is a sustainable,  self reliant  program  that  has stood the test of time.  This is documented in my book: Success in Development, Godages, 2011)

Garvin Karunaratne, Ph.D.(Michigan State University)

Former SLAS

Former Commonwealth Fund Advisor to the Ministry of Labour and Manpower, Bangladesh

April 8, 2012

8 Responses to “A Letter to Nelson Madela, his Elders, Mary Robinson and Navi Pillai on Human Rights.”

  1. AnuD Says:

    All these elders – Nelson Mandela, Bishop tutu, Jimmi Carter … are very old people. I don’t think they have time to think about anything else, forget about they saying it, except their body pains because of arthritis or high blood pressure concerns. They may be saying yes to what their staff is saying.

  2. nandimitra Says:

    All these elders and the coloured leaders of the so called Human Rights organisations are nothing but agents of the west. How come they do not question the americans and the west on the HR violations in Iraq, Afghanistan Libya etc As long as they do not question the americans they all stand accused of Hipoocrisy.To hell with them

  3. dhane Says:

    Its a well know secret that if no war any part of the world US, EU will suffer with more unemployment. Therefore to keep these counties employment they create war either with support UN, UNHRC or not whichever the means. All these so call Elders have their own problems and pains before taking about Sri Lanka or any other country. Let these Elders enjoy their
    left over time by themself.

  4. Voice123 Says:

    Nelson Mandela was not as peaceful as people now make him out to be. At one stage, he vowed to use any manner of violence necessary to remove the Apartheid regime, causing many South Africans to term him a terrorist. Of course, ANC never used much violence because Africans generally avoid sudden changes. The author of this article has got a few things wrong. I doubt that he has lived in Africa. Africans are unlikely to rebel against privileged whites. They will never have their JVPs. Thats just their nature, easygoing, forgiving, admiring of the benefits of western society, technology, consumer goods etc. I doubt it will ever change.

  5. Dham Says:

    Don’t know why Cassandra is not crossed over what is given in the article as the South Africa today.
    Mandela can be compared to Ranil only.

  6. gamunu6 Says:

    Dear Mr. Garvin Karunaratne!………Have visited MI University, Moorhead back in the day, when Prof: Shelton Gunaratne was writing about travels in USA & in Canada.

    As some of your responsees say, WHAT were the so called ELDERS DOING for the last 30 years, when LTTE was killing not only their Tamil brothers & sisters, but poltical leaders including Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi. As the west turned a blind EYE, what were they (the elders ) doing about attrocities in Middle East, Afganistan & many adventures the west continue to embaark in.

    They have come of age, their best advice should be given USA, UK Europe & India the Trojan Horse of Int. interferience in the name of HUMAN RIGHTS. Very catchy term, why no one is talking about prisoners of war, combattons or any other name they can spin about.

    It is & always will be double standards, they make pronouncements to please either the rebels, terrorists or freedom fighetrs BUT yet fail to complement the ONLY COUNTRY which defeated terrorism.

    We can respect these retired, barely living, with help of GOD or any other religion they belong to, but to continuously telling Sovereign Govts to adopt their own outdated theories. Isn;t it time them really retire & seek the help of all mighty & die peacefully, with respect& dignity/

    People in Si Lanka, Afganistan or any other country the west has ventured into, will decide what those peoples future will be. NOT anyone from outside our Motherland. This intrusion is mainly to divert attention of their own shortcmongs in combatting terrorism, rebellions & other unrests.

    These countries at the receiving end will decide their own future. Thanks very much Sir, for your valuable article, which I am sure will help others learn more about these so called Elders……~ Gamunu, retd engr – Canada

  7. A. Sooriarachi Says:

    Why is the Western nations so “impressed and happy” with people like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu? Is it because they were willing to forget the rights of the underpriviledged South Africans and allow the rich white South Africans, irrespective of whether they have been guilty of crimes or not, to continue in their priviledged positions, other than losing the ability to govern the nation to the black majority? Is the Nobel peace prize a tool of the west to reward and flatter into inaction, those who comply with what the Western leadership dictates?

  8. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Despite Nelson Mandela’s pivotal role in ending apartheid. the goal of improving people’s daily lives can only be deemed a failure. South Africa has gone from a race-based to a class-based society. Despite black South Africans now entering the middle and upper classes, the 40% of the population in poverty has been largely ignored. As a result, crime rates have soared..

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