ICG applies human rights as a cynical tactic to “push Rajapakse government” -Part II
Posted on May 23rd, 2010

H. L. D. Mahindapala

The ICG report attacking Sri Lanka was released on May 17, right on the eve of the first anniversary of V-day. No doubt it was timed to counter the celebratory spirit. Predictably, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Channel 4 in UK, editorials in leading Western newspapers and local NGOs joined in the chorus of the demonizing Sri Lanka based on the ICG report. The pattern is clear. This is what Noam Chomsky called ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-manufacturing consensus.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ When the West decides to teach lessons to independent nations which refuse to toe their line they begin by demonizing the maverick states.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ At the height of the Cold War the common cry to demonize anti-West dissidents was to brand them as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-communistsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. That was a term of political opprobrium which demonized dissidents in the eyes of the West. Now that the communist bogey is no longer there the common weapon used by the West is to accuse non-compliant states of violating human rights. Sri Lanka is a prime example. In fact, the ICG report acknowledges this tactic of using human rights to attack independent nations. It says bluntly: ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-In this context, a long-term plan for sustained and graduated pressure on accountability for alleged war crimes and grave violations of human rights law offers the international community the only serious leverage they have to push the Rajapaksa government towards meaningful political reforms.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ICG has let the cat out of the bag. Nothing can be more explicit than this. The West is using human rights and alleged war crimes not because they believe in human rights per se, without any political strings attached, or because they are morally committed to human rights as a noble virtue that serves mankind but because they find it useful as a leverage to push their global agendas. When it comes to Sri Lanka the ICG has confessed that human rights is ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-the only serious leverage they have to push the Rajapakse governmentƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ (emphasis mine).. This signals that the West will come down hard ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-to push the Rajapakse governmentƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ using human rights as a whip.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ When human rights is used cynically to push a partisan agenda then it is time to reject the politicized brand of human rights without any compunction. If this is the only leverage they have then the West must be desperate. This also reveals that the West has exhausted all its tactics to push the Rajapakse government in the direction they need. Hence the confession that ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-the only serious leverage they have to push the Rajapakse governmentƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ is human rights.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The use of human rights as a political tool was well known though not state so explicitly. But ICG has confirmed it unequivocally, revealing it as an obscene instrument of big power politics. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Who can respect human rights after this when ICG, an institution that professes to be the pioneering instrument of the doctrine of R2P, confesses unashamedly that human rights must be used as a political tool to push the Rajapakse regime?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ But, of course, there is a reason for this. It stems from the hard reality that there is no other way to push the Rajapakse government to follow their line. The last avenue open to them was to use Velupillai Prabhakaran as means of forcing the Rajapakse government to fall in line with their agenda of (1) changing the Sri Lankan constitution that would appease the Tamil diaspora domiciled in ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Western electorates and (2) preventing the drift of the Rajapakse government to the East, an inevitable concomitant of the myopic policies of the West trying to force unrealistic and partisan demands on the Rajapakse government like David Milliband and Bernard Kouchner rushing to end to the Vadukoddai War when the forces were about to crush the Tigers once and for all.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The West, in short, was trying to use the Vadukoddai War as a leverage to dictate terms. The West, like the UNP, failed to read the unstoppable military thrust heading for a victory. Under the pro-West regime run by Ranil Wickremesinghe the West managed to twist the Sri Lankan arm and impose a political agreement that turned Prabhakaran as the de-jure dictator of sizeable segments of the north and the east. Human rights was not raised as an issue to reform either the brutal violence of the fascist rule or to delegitimize Prabhakaran an end the futile war. The Ceasefire Agreement was purely to restore peace at any cost, even ignoring (1) the horripilating violence used by Prabhakaran to force the West to make him the legitimate ruler of the north and east and (2) the unmanageable violence that Prabhakaran would use to retain his grip on power by eliminating any dissidents, Tamils or non-Tamils. In reality, the West agreed to legitimize the enthroning of Velupillai Prabhakaran as a de jure dictator, with their guarantees and patronage, as a human right of the Tamils.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Those who followed the peace negotiations would know that human rights was not on the agenda of Erik Solheim when he negotiated with Prabhakaran. The primary objective was to ignore all of PrabhakaranƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s violations of human rights and war crimes in order to make him sign the Ceasefire Agreement. Ending the war without any considerations about the violations of the human rights was the primary objective of Erik Solheim. Not once did he mention that human rights was a pre-condition, or even a post-Ceasefire Agreement condition even though Prabhakaran was a wanted criminal in India, Sri Lanka and Interpol. Besides, Erik Solheim, the pro-Tiger ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-peace facilitatorƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ would not have had any leverage to persuade Prabhakaran to sign the Ceasefire Agreement in 2002 on the condition that the Co-chairs to try him in an international court of justice later. If this was a condition laid down Prabhakaran would have kicked Solheim out of Vanni before he could say Norway.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ So why was human rights not an issue to arrive at the Ceasefire Agreement endorsed by the international community and why is human rights such a big issue when the Rajapakse government has restored peace which the international community failed to achieve through their Ceasefire Agreement? If human rights was such an indispensable moral need to the end the war according to the standards now dictated by the West why wasnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t it applied with rigour to end the war in the Ceasefire Agreement signed with Prabhakaran? Why is it applied now, out of the blue as it were, to the Rajapakse government? IsnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t it because the West wants ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-to push the Rajapakse governmentƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and not human rights per se? The West was agreeable to end the war the Prabhakaran way without raising questions about the human rights violations but it is not agreeable now to see the war ended the Sri Lankan way for he simple reason that their intention right now is to ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-push the Rajapakse governmentƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Mark you, the West fully aware that he was the worst political criminal who had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Western foreign offices could not have missed it because The New York Times had branded him as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-the latest Pol Pot of AsiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. So why wasnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t the criterion of human rights applied by the Co-chairs ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” US, Japan, EU, Norway ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” in signing agreements with Prabhakaran who had violated the basic standards laid down in international humanitarian law? Why is it applied now to Sri Lanka which had confirmed its democratic political culture in a series of elections ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” elections which are one of the key markers of democracy?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The politicizing of human rights is quite apparent in the double standards applied by the international community. It had no qualms or shame in legitimizing a fascist dictator in the north and the east without using human rights as a leverage to reform either his subhuman violence or his brutal politics. But it has now taken the high moral ground to apply human rights to the Rajapakse government which, with all its defects, has restored democracy throughout the land, ended violence from coast to coast, and paved the path for reconciliation and progress. Progress and reconciliation go together. From now on there is only one way to go and that is up and up.

4 Responses to “ICG applies human rights as a cynical tactic to “push Rajapakse government” -Part II”

  1. distance Says:

    Mr Mahindapala,
    I have been a big fan of your precise and conscience style of writing since your days began with the editorial column of the then evening observer (tabloid version), when you were fresh from Australia.

    I only hope that at least the power that be, now be able to see both sides of the coin; as the invisible side in this editorial essay is put in good perspective on a very balanced timeline. The local intellectuals those blindly savor their chicken gordon blue of pro-western liberal values, neatly wrapped-up with deep fired political agendas and presented as democratic glitz on a nice platter, might surprise to see the number of layers you have delved down to expose their hypocrisy. It is good you are not wasting your valuable time any more on derelicts like Ranil (He recently invited Magi the game boy to join UNP) but would like to see your thoughts on Sajith leading the UNP in the future.

    Good job Sir, and good for Sri Lanka!!!

  2. Leelawardena Says:

    Piripaharan and company are plain killers. All of them wanted to live another day to kill more. Tamil Diaspora, so-called international community, NGOs, Christian Evangelists strive hard to help them live another day to continue their enterprise. For thirty years we struggled with LTTE terrorists. They bombed our buses, trains and public places. In spite of JRJ being a Yankee they didn’t helped him to rid of them. Before 9/11 this clique didn’t call LTTE terrorists. They never raised any ‘human rights’ during that time. We had two other insurgency and thousand were killed yet not a hum by this lot. All of a sudden their hearts started to bleed. Fortunately, we have people like you to alert us. I wish you could get your write-ups published in Sinhala in local papers. The vast majority in this country should understand who these parasites are, what they want and what they are up to.

    No matter how, our forces had killed Piripaharan and company en masse on May 18th 2009. And since, there had been no blasting in Sri Lanka. People are happy for they can roam freely anywhere without fear. Peace and tranquillity prevail in this country. But the said clique is not happy. They were happy only while LTTE was active. Why?

    They were busybodies putting their fingers in every pie, during the so-called peace period. They positioned themselves as arbiters, peace monitors, mediators and above all advisors. They dwelled in luxury hotels and traversed from north to south in expensive Land Cursers. Now those jobs are gone for good. They are not welcome in other trouble spots; in short they are jobless. No wonder they can’t stand Rajapakses. No wonder they scheme against Sri Lanka.

    Let them bark; vast majority in this country are determined to move forward with Rajapakses. That’s what matters.

  3. Naram Says:

    Itis goodtie to take a goodlook at Human Rights watch.

    Thanks Mr Mahindapala for bringing out the falsity fake nature of the peace wallahs, living in the pockets of shady organizations.

    We see in the global financial melt down US authorities taking a closer look at Hedge Funds and one of the first to fall into the net is said t have linksto LTTE if so the charade played with the government of Sri Lanka with promises of peace shared Post Tsunami Organization for Management Strategy would have brought the money to buy the sophisticated weaponry and naval bases even in foreign lands that LTTE possessed.

    One of the Architects of the Peace Strategy with direct access to Hedge FUnds called the GOvernment Army General is not suited evento lead a salvation army that Sri Lankan Army mistake Eliphant Pass [Ali Man Kada for PamanKada, Medawachchiya for Kilinochchia.

    Sri Lankans must remember that another high earning US lawyer who defended Sri Lanka’s cause went over to the other side after 2005, no doubt for a higher fee to speak for the LTTE cause.

    Sri Lankan Policemen were slaughtered with pickaxes 600 in one go after one of the many peace initiatives in the past. THe bombing of buses, trains, cities and villages did not receive any condemnation from Human Rights Watch characters.

  4. Peter Says:

    Thank the stars that there are still some journalists who can write and the world read and see sense!
    I have had the luck to have been in the same room at the same time with this man.

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