Righting the wrongs or wronging the rights?
Posted on May 27th, 2009

Bandula Kothalawala

Like the LTTE protagonists abroad who defiantly scoffed at the news of their leader’ ignominious death at the hands of the Sri Lankan armed forces, some governments in Europe, still smarting from self-inflicted bruises, do not seem to accept ground reality and are now clutching at another straw. It does seem that the abject failure of Mr Miliband’s last-ditch attempts to save the skins of the LTTE leadership has not deterred the British Government in its latest endeavour to give solace, succour and strength to the terror outfit and its apologists by hauling Sri Lanka before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

That Mr Miliband and his Government should waste time and effort and British taxpayers’ hard-earned money on yet another wild goose chase defies comprehension. Mr Miliband and his band have already made a number of expeditions including a hastily arranged day-trip to Colombo. Many of us who were expecting Mr Miliband’s gauche antics to end with the war are in for a shock. The multi-recidivist British Foreign Secretary is in no mood to give up.

A person with an iota (or a milligram?) of commonsense would know that even a mildly worded resolution against Sri Lanka on the conduct of war against the world’s deadliest terror outfit had no chance of success at the UNHRC. Sri Lanka has exercised its legitimate right in line with the UN Charter to preserve its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The seemingly impertinent, but obtuse attempt by the British Government exposes its own ineptitude, ignorance and hypocrisy and bears eloquent testimony to its atavistic penchant for cynical exploitation of tragic events.

It must be within the competence of clinical psychiatrists to fathom how and why people responsible for the illegal invasion of Iraq which caused, at least, half a million civilian deaths, massive destruction of infrastructure and an exodus of at least four million refugees, could summon up courage to stand up sanctimoniously and point an accusing finger at Sri Lanka on human rights violations. The US and UK Governments, which habitually chant civilian casualty figures in Sri Lanka with gay abandon, on their own admission, did not even bother to collect any information on civilian deaths in Iraq.

The UK Government has no qualms about combating terrorism if Britain is likely to be the target. On 22 March 2009, Gordon Brown, writing in the Guardian said:”We know that there is an al-Qaida core in northern Pakistan trying to organize attacks in Britain. We know also that there are a number of networks here and as the head of MI5 reported recently: “There is no cause for complacency; there is plenty of activity and the threat level remains at severe.” In the eyes of the UK Government the war on terror is perfectly justified if the victims of terrorists are British citizens. If not, terrorists are re-branded rebels! At the behest of the US and UK, the Pakistani army is tracking down Talibans in Pakistan, which is causing death and destruction in the Swat Valley. Nearly two million people have fled the area. Yet, there is no murmur from the UN. The British Government, now hell-bent on pillaring Sri Lanka, has on its hands the blood of over 30,000 innocent Sri Lankans including children massacred in the quelling of the Wellassa rebellion in 1818 and is today hectoring and lecturing to the Sri Lankan Government on human rights!

France, which suffers from chronic amnesia about its malodorous past in Indo-China, Algeria, other former colonies and more recently in Rwanda, has snuggled up to its saintly neighbour in a rare display of entente cordiale in condemnation of Sri Lanka. It is too good an opportunity for the Germans not to take part in the “stoning of the devil” ceremony in the salubrious Geneva. They never miss a chance to wash off their sins committed against six million Jews in the Second World War if they can do so at someone else’s expense. As for the US- holiest of the holy – this time, it is content to be the teleprompter. Never mind the 2m Vietnamese – men, women and children – slaughtered by the US forces and the destruction of crops through the use of defoliants to starve civilians to death during that horrible war.

The Governments of India, Indonesia, China, Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan and Russia, just to name a few, which have had a mature, sensible, responsible and dignified stance on the issue throughout the crisis have made it abundantly clear that they would not be duped by wily manoeuvrings by Western nations led by Britain and France. To say the least, Sri Lanka’s friends who have long enjoyed purposeful relations with her are well aware of the human rights credentials of Sri Lanka’s detractors. From a diplomatic perspective, the resolution against Sri Lanka was, at best, an ill-conceived, clumsy attempt moved by a curious mixture of frustration, anger and ignorance. Even a congenital idiot with an elementary knowledge of geopolitics and a smattering of history would understand that Sri Lanka’s friends in the region and elsewhere will not let her down despite the shameful arm-twisting and vicious propaganda by Britain, France and US.

After a 30-year bloody war which caused death and destruction on a massive scale, the people of Sri Lank are just beginning to rebuild their shattered lives, livelihoods and above all, to make the first faltering steps towards meaningful sustainable peace. There are more than a quarter of a million Tamil civilians rescued from the clutches of marauding Tigers in dire need of food, clothing, shelter and medical care. The SL Government and a large number of NGOs are doing their best to attend to their needs in extremely difficult circumstances. The governments in the region and elsewhere are doing everything possible to assist the Government of Sri Lanka in its efforts to care for the IDPs, restore normality and achieve long-term peace and reconciliation. In the meantime, some governments in the West that have been shouting themselves hoarse in the past few weeks on the plight of civilians are now falling over themselves to arraign Sri Lanka on charges of human rights violations in the UNHRC and thereby impede emergency relief and rehabilitation. The unholy alliance has already put a spoke in the wheel in Sri Lanka’s efforts to secure financial assistance from the IMF. Yet, in the same breath, the same alliance, dripping with compassion for “all living beings”, is making a song and a dance about the plight of Internally Displaced Persons once again!

Rarely has Geneva seen such a shameless display of sickening hypocrisy, breathtaking arrogance and downright stupidity.

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