Michelle Bachelet, Commissioner of UNHCR discriminates against Sri Lanka
Posted on February 17th, 2021

By Garvin Karunaratne 

It is sad that the UNHRC has now forgotten why such a council was ever established.  This is clear when the Commissioner of UNHRC has called upon member States  to  refer  the situation in Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court(ICC) and  ‘actively pursue extra territorial or universal jurisdiction and persecute international crimes committed by all parties in Sri Lanka’(Sunday Times.sl:31/1/2021)  

It is important to note that this  directive from the Commissioner of the  Human Rights Council appears in the form of  an inquisition, even  aimed at inciting member States to act against Sri Lanka. 

It has to be noted that the aim of the UNHRC is to promote and protect Human Rights  around the world. ” and berating a sovereign country and trying to get other countries to take action against another sovereign country,   is  totally beyond the aims of UNHRC. 

 Looking at infringements of Human Rights happening around the world in clear daylight like what is happening in Israel, grabbing the land that belonged to the Palestinians and at several other places in the world, it is evident that the UNHRC is somehow   inactive and helpless to take any action. It looks as if the UNHRC has bowed down to the might of the Superpowers and now has taken in charge the task of punishing a powerless sovereign country, that too perhaps in order to appease certain  Superpowers! 

In the case of Sri Lanka the UNHRC is accepting fabricated evidence. 

There is absolutely no firm evidence whatsoever of any military officer torturing or killing anyone captured or otherwise.  If evidence such as a person has seen, has heard, has been told, I know, and a number of persons corroborating”  is accepted as firm evidence there will be no end to instances  because the leaders of the armed forces who took action to restore the sovereignty of Sri Lanka  are well known and easily  identifiable which also invalidates any  identifying parade. If this type of mere statement      :”I have seen, I knew etc ” is accepted as evidence even  civilian  administration will become impossible. When implementing  any programme, those who do not fall in line have to be reprimanded and corrected. I have served long as an administrator and I  can state that if action is taken against any administrator without firm evidence, administration will grind to a halt. Administration creates enemies and the enemies do resort to create evidence. In all cases it is absolutely necessary that there has to be firm evidence to hang anyone and in all cases that have cropped up against military personnel, there is no firm evidence which prove beyond doubt. 

What has Sri Lanka actually done to deserve such an inquisition 

It has to be mentioned that Sri Lanka has acted in good faith right along, despite facing political upheavals.  When a country is democratic and holds elections  regularly political upheavals are  only to be expected.  United Nations bodies should recognize this fact. , 

The Sri Lankan  Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena  has explained re Resolution 30/1 of 2015, that  the commitments of the Resolution bound the country to carry out an experiment which was impractical, unconstitutional and undeliverable”. .(Adaderana: 26/2/2021) 

The President of Sri Lanka, elected in 2019 has rightly commented on following the stipulations in the Resolution: 

It is not possible for the Government to act against its own country.” 

He is right because certain stipulations in the Resolution cannot be implemented as they are contradictory to the Constitution of the country. 

Dr Laksiri Fernando has voiced himself stating that the High Commissioner Report is more of a political report than a human rights one”.(The Island: 8/2/2021). 

Perhaps the Commissioner UNHRC has to be made  aware of certain facts 

The LTTE was accepted  internationally as the most ruthless terrorist organization.in the world. 

The LTTE used child soldiers, suicide bombers 

The LTTE carried out attacks on civilian targets in entire Sri Lanka, killing innocent people, including the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranasinghe Premadasa, the Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. and their own revered leaders like the Mayor of Jaffna. The LTTE killed thousands of innocent people including monks and even over 600 police personnel who were instructed by the Government to surrender to the LTTE, whom the LTTE agreed at a Peace talk to hand them over to the Government at the border, but instead they were all marched to death.  

When the LTTE controlled certain sections of the North of Sri Lanka, the Government of Sri Lanka, sent food and essential supplies to  its own civilian citizens held captive in the areas they  controlled. This took the form of convoys of lorries, dispatched every few days..  The LTTE is said to have sold the goodies to the people, despite the fact that these were sent totally free. At times the lorries sent with the goodies were requisitioned by the LTTE and the drivers never returned. One such driver was Lionel Gunatileke, a driver recruited by me when I worked as the Senior Assistant Commissioner of Agrarian Services. He went driving one lorry, in a convoy of lorries sent to the LTTE areas, carrying a load of rice never to return. 

The LTTE when it controlled the Northern Province and certain sections of the  Eastern Province did not respond to overtures of peace by the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and stayed defiant. The LTTE decided not to allow farmers water to commence cultivation on their traditional land.. They captured the Mavil Aru Dam and Canal and decided not to allow water to the cultivators. This was when Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered the Army to  capture the Mavil Aru canal and deliver water to farmers. 

When the LTTE cadres were  defeated they retreated carrying with them Tamil civilians whom they used as a human shield, to avoid being attacked. When the LTTE was finally defeated there was a mass of over 300,000 civilians who formed the human shield the LTTE had forcibly taken. The Army was instructed to save this mass of 300,000. civilians from the LTTE cadres.  When the LTTE was defeated, this mass of 300,000 were homeless, had no food and had to be housed, taken care of, and their homes had to be found, the areas demined, homes that were in ruins rebuild and settled down.  It is to the credit of the Sri Lankan Government that this 300,000 mass of civilians were housed, fed, cared for, their homes rebuilt and settled down within around three months. This task  was accomplished by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.  Minister Basil Rajapaksa  who was in charge of this humanitarian task and the military officers working with them  during this three months had to work long hours. This task has never been equalled in any other country in the world and the UNHRC of all organizations should recognize this fact. After the 300,000 homeless people were settled down the Government of Sri Lanka looked into the economy and developed the infrastructure of roads etc in the North and the East, ignoring  the rest of the country. This humanitarian task accomplished should be recognized by the UNHRC.  

 Comparatively in Palestine refugees thrown out of their homes and habitat by the Israelis are living in makeshift camps for decades,. It was interesting to note that  homeless Palestinians living as  refugees in the West Bank  yet  own the deeds of their ancestral land occupied by force by the Israelis. That was yet their treasured possession. 

Meanwhile in April 2019 Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanhau openly called for the annexation of West Bank and repeated it again in September 2019. It is sad that the UNHRC is silent- gagged and bound. 

A UN Security Council Resolution adopted stated that Israel’s  settlement activity constitutes a ‘flagrant  violation’ of international law and has no legal validity and  demanded that Israel should stop. However the UNHRC is silent, but in the case of Sri lanka the UNHRC is belligerant. 

Sri Lanka has rehabilitated 594 child soldiers. Instead of being gunned down, the child soldiers were captured, cared for, and rehabilitated and sent back to their homes as normal citizens. This is in sharp contrast to what the US Army did when they captured leaders of the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were bound, inhumanly gagged and flown to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.. The UNHRC should note that the military prison at Guantanamo Bay yet holds prisoners, incarcerated under  inhuman conditions. The UNHRC is silent and has been made dormant. 

It is time the UNHRC comes to play a humanitarian role and understands that the LTTE insurrection was belligerent and that the military personnel were performing  an essentially humanitarian task to   save the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka from the rebel forces. 

The fact remains that today as well as earlier before the LTTE insurrection as well as during the insurrection over fifty percent of the Tamil population of Sri Lanka lived outside the North and the East amongst the Sinhala people as friends in total harmony and have been helped when necessary. I have for long served in  charge of a District and of the Chief Clerks that served under me the best happened to be Rajasingham, a Tamil gentleman. The entire staff was Sinhala taking instructions from him. There has been always amity among the different ethnic people. That was a District in the South of Sri Lanka and Rajasingham was loved by the staff. and the people. There is absolutely no ethnic problem in Sri Lanka.  This over fifty percent of the Tamils that live among the Sinhala people in total amity proves my point beyond doubt. 

The Armed Forces were involved in the humanitarian task of saving the civilian population from the massacres  done by the LTTE and it is a fact that in the LTTE controlled areas the LTTE held the Tamil people at gun point, extorting money and taking away their children by force to be trained as cadres and as child soldiers. After the LTTE was defeated the Tamil people live freely. It is the Army that provides blood to the bloodbanks of the hospitals in Jaffna and other towns in the North. It is a fact that the Sinhala people and the Muslims who were living happily in the Jaffna area were ordered to leave by the LTTE and they have not yet been able to go back to their habitats and employment.  

The Darrusman Panel  claimed that the Armed Forces killed 40,000 Tamil people. The Darusman Panel has no basis for this statement whatsoever and has not adduced any proof . This can be contrasted with  the figure of 10,000 by Amnesty International. A United Nations Study estimated the number killed at   7721 and 18,479 wounded.  The USA estimates range from 7000 to 9000 based on reports of US and UK military attaches. There is no basis whatsoever for the sum of 40,000  killed.  

Dr.Rohan Gunaratna said that the UN’s unsubstantiated and oft-repeated allegation that 40,000 civilians were killed by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the last phase of the war continues to be made even twelve years after the war ended in May 2009. The baseless figure of 40,000 and other charges of war crimes are based on dubious, anonymous and unidentified sources, and  passed off as credible evidence” to provide a basis for accusing the Sri Lankan armed forces of committing war crimes” and demanding that its personnel be dragged before the International Criminal Court (ICC) “he said. ( Daily Mirror:17/2/2021

Stephen Rapp, the US Ambassador for War Crimes and Global Criminal Justice(2009 to 2015)  has disclosed that  our President, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had when he was the Defence Secretary, admitted to him that the LTTE leaders were killed after surrender(The Island:16/2/2021). It is very strange how Stephen Rapp, a person of international standing- specifically tasked for looking into Criminal Justice waited all these years without taking any action, He has waited for years to tell this ‘Once upon a time’ fairy tale.  The circumstances of his statement leads one to conclude that this statement is nothing other than fiction to use his earlier status as Ambassador to the US to bring some weight to hold Sri Lanka to ransom. Rapps’ reputation stands tarnished due to the role played re Ruwanda. He stands exposed due to ” his heavy baggage. His own culpability of covering up Ruwandas 1994 genocide as an attempt to whitewash the US involvement in that episode”(Gammiris.lk: 16/2/2021) 

Human Rights have now come to be accepted as supreme. The League of Multinational Corporations in Sri Lanka has insisted that everything needs to be fixed in the context of international standards in terms of human rights  and labour law too”.(EENews:14/2/2021) What right does the Multinationals have to interfere with a sovereign country? 

The Armed Forces were instructed to defeat the LTTE which occupied certain sections of the North and East and to save the civilian population of the area. The Armed forces did accomplish that task and there is no evidence whatsoever that the Army killed civilians in the process. It is to the credit of the Armed Forces that the human shield of Tamil civilians were rehoused and re established in their habitat within the short space of a few months. It is sad that the UNHRC is acting against officers of the Armed Forces, who should actually be held in high esteem for the humanitarian task they did perform. It has to be noted that 23,790 soldiers were killed in quelling the LTTE insurrection. The author has lived in the UK and the USA  where  members of the Armed Forces are held in high regard. 

Michelle Bachelet, the Commissioner of the  UNHRC should note that  her discriminative action could  lead to  destroy the amity that prevails today among ethnic groups  in Sri Lanka. That will be an unfortunate experience all due to the UNHRC. 

Garvin Karunaratne 

Ph D. Michigan State University 

International Consultant, former SLAS Administrator,  

Author of the Youth Self Employment Programme of Bangladesh, which is today the premier employment creation programme the World has known, a Programme  that has so far guided over three million to be self employed.  

2 Responses to “Michelle Bachelet, Commissioner of UNHCR discriminates against Sri Lanka”

  1. Sarath W Says:

    Almost daily in recent times I see various writers complaining about discrimination against Sri Lanka by UN officials backed by their LTTE supporters in Sri Lanka. It is time to think if we have achieved anything by whinging every time the UNHCR meets.

    I put the blame for successive governments since 2009 for allowing for this to happen. We had the evidence from the mail from foreign diplomats, Wikie Leaks and evidence supplied by Lord Neasby to counter those false allegations, but never used them. The government have posted very incompetent relatives and goons as diplomats who are incapable of performing heir vital roles. I expected president GR to play a more positive role in this issue, but he too has failed so far.

  2. aloy Says:

    UNHCR is a beggar’s wound for the corrupt rulers who simply have no love for the country or the majority community Many nluding ‘ranawiruwos’ fall for it. And once they are there, they too are finished for life.

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