Unveiling the utter hypocrisy
Posted on July 24th, 2017

BY SHIVANTHI RANASINGHE Courtesy Ceylon Today

On 20 June, 2014 Atul Keshap told an English language daily paper, “the US believes in a very bright future for this country and it believes that Sri Lanka has the potential in terms of human capital, in terms of resources, in terms of geographic location, in terms of having secured peace after a very brutal civil war – a country connected to the entire world. It is now a country that is not the subject of a UN Human Rights Council Resolution, because it has perfected its democracy and perfected its respect for human rights.”

This makes more sense if this statement is rearranged as: “If this country is not the subject of UN Human Rights Council Resolution, then there is a very bright future for this country as Sri Lanka has the potential in terms of human capital, resources, geographic location, and having secured peace after a very brutal civil war – a country connected to the entire world.”

According to Keshap, this is possible if only

Sri Lanka has “perfected its democracy and perfected its respect for human rights”. Since, this is not the case; Sri Lanka’s future is blighted.

Keshap is forgetting that his own country has not perfected its own democracy or their human rights record. The 13th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution disenfranchises a large number of Americans, mainly from minority communities. Trump won because a significant group felt marginalized by successive American governments. They were becoming pauperized as job opportunities dwindled. The desperate struggles of the native Americans, to preserve their rights in their meagre reservations exposes the American hypocrisy.

Even France, though shocked by Trump’s vulgarity, is not kind to its minorities. They do not tolerate the burka and sees mocking another religion as freedom of expression, freedom of the press and etcetera. In England, a Muslim in too many layers of clothing in summer is likely to be handcuffed and subject to body search in public. European leaders insist that they are oblivious to skin colour and see all as white. Yet the failure to arrest the rising hate wave against minorities tells a different story.

Is there anywhere in the world where people enjoy a perfect democracy and a perfect human rights record? In Singapore, people are sullen as even septuagenarians must work long hours for the privileges they enjoy. In Nordic countries, the immigrants must be ‘westernized’. Years ago, two Indian children were removed from their parents for been hand-fed and for sharing the parent’s bedroom. It took the Indian government nearly a year to restore the children to their parents.

That is not the first time the Indian government had to step in to help its citizens from other governments’ excesses. Just before Modi, the Indian and American relationship soured when one Indian diplomat was arrested and stripped searched. Overlooking this reality, federalism is the solution Keshap proposes to counter the less than perfect democracy and human rights record in Sri Lanka. The theory is, if the provinces have the political, economic and law enforcement powers, then the minorities have the power in “their” provinces to be “self governed”.

Self determination

What happens to the regional minorities in those provinces is conveniently overlooked. Obviously, this is a solution that has only taken into account the Tamils in the North and East. Clearly, U.S. foreign policy has sided with that group over the relationship with the Sri Lankan Government. Today, the North is under the “self determination” of Tamil National Alliance. When Shivajilingam, a political nonentity, warns the President of Sri Lanka to stay away from the North for a week and that is heeded, no further proof is needed. All foreign delegates, from the UN to the West, and even neutral Singapore, after landing in Colombo make a beeline to Jaffna. They all make a point to shake hands with the Northern Province Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran. Almost none visits the Buddhist Prelates or at the very least Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

The Northern Provincial council has no minority issues as the North has no other communities. Yet, for these past two and a half years, have the lives of the Northern Tamils lives improved? Has the North received any significant investment? Has the job prospects increased? Has the Tamil Nadu poaching resolved? Tamil politicians make a huge brouhaha to remember those who perished on the Nandikadaal lagoon. They are demanding answers for the disappeared. Yet, what support the living, especially those households without a man, get? The high level of substance abuse is a revealing indicator of the North’s happiness index. The police, for the slightest excuse, are pelted; their properties torched. The reaction to the police shooting a man who refused to stop is just one example. The TNA is grinning through gritted teeth as they fight amongst each other for power.

Against this backdrop we must evaluate how the de facto federalism helped the Tamils in the North and the country as a whole to perfect its democracy and human rights record.

Events in the North further expose federalism as a solution to Sri Lanka. Though ignored by the self-appointed international community, the Buddhist premises, temples, symbols and other establishments are under severe duress by Muslim extremists.

Desecrated and vandalized images of Buddhist belongings make regular rounds in social media. The Buddhist prelates have also voiced their concerns over these happenings in the East.

Sinhalese living in the East are further harassed by Tamil and Muslim government officials. These Sinhalese fled to escape from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s ethnic cleansing. Today, the bureaucrats are refusing to locate their land deeds or reissue their National Identity Cards. None of the agricultural benefits due to them, including water, is not provided.

It is in this backdrop Keshap visited Batticaloa this year. His visit was to celebrate Batticaloa being the first district to be Anti-personnel Mine free, to which efforts the U.S. has contributed USD 8 million. However, he went one day ahead of the rest of the delegation. Why?

Keshap celebrates Ramadan

Afterwards, Keshap stayed over to celebrate Ramadan. This is very curious when his government is flattening Arabic countries. On 21 July 2017, Gwynne Dyer writes to The Island on ending the siege on Mosul, that the battles probably took more civilians too as the U.S.-led air forces used to compensate the shortage of trained and motivated Iraqi ground forces, regularly took individual ISIS snipers by air strikes that levelled entire buildings.

After nearly 500 years of colonial rule, we should be able to sniff attempts of divide and rule. Yet, we still cannot. Those warning against federalism as a Trojan horse are systematically discredited.

On 12 January 2015, Teresita Schaffer writes in her blog, South Asia Hand, an interesting and a revealing analysis of what the Sirisena-led government would be (Sri Lanka: After the Election Upset, what next? http://southasiahand.com/regional/sri-lanka-after-the-election-upset-what-next). A former Ambassador to Sri Lanka (1992-95), with 11 years of experience in South Asia, serving in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, she is the State Department’s leading expert of the region.

Though her assignment in Sri Lanka ended

20 years ago, she correctly asserts that Mahinda Rajapaksa as the common enemy is the only adhesive keeping the new coalition together. Maithripala Sirisena despite his long political career will depend on his ministers for foreign policy matters. His challenge would be, “to demonstrate to the home audience that any policy changes he adopts are made at home, not in Washington. And Washington will need to lower its voice.”

It is on her advise “to suspend action on the annual U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution on Sri Lanka while the new team gets its balance,” that Sri Lanka got six months respite from the UNHRC for exactly that reason. Her advice was posted four days after elections. The UNHRC took the decision on 21 February 2015 – almost a month and half later. She further advises, “The United States, India and Sri Lanka to quietly work out a plan for implementing some of the most important LLRC recommendations.”

Exactly a week after the UNHRC’s respite, the UN Under-Secretary for Political Affairs, Jeffery D. Feltman stopped at Sri Lanka en route to Myanmar for a four-day visit. He makes his second visit on 19 July 2017 for a three-day visit. Though he is the second highest ranking officer in the UN, both visits have been low key and for closed-door meetings.

Feltman’s interest in Sri Lanka is cause for concern. In his almost 30 years of U.S. foreign services, mostly in the Middle East, he has consistently taken sides in an internal turmoil to push the U.S. agenda. The interested reader should follow the role he played in Lebanon where that government became known as “Feltman Government” and the guidance to the Nepalese politicians in their own constitution-making.

Daya Gamage writes in Asian Tribune, ” Feltman in May 2012 switched from being a US Assistant Secretary of State to UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs. The US essentially owns this UN position (US Lynn Pascoe was Feltman’s predecessor), just as France owns UN Peacekeeping through Herve Ladsous and three other Frenchmen in a row before him. The UK for now has Humanitarian Affairs, twice in a row.”

Thus, Feltman comes to Sri Lanka when the debate is on our constitution not as an international civil servant, but one pushing the U.S. foreign policy. In his capacity in the UN, he advises the UNSG. If America has decided that Sri Lanka must be divided, especially on ethnic lines, the UN assistance we are receiving is not in our interest.

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One Response to “Unveiling the utter hypocrisy”

  1. NAK Says:

    Seems the US is adamant to move its Diego Garcia base not to Trincomale in Sri Lanka but to a Trincomale in Eelam.

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