Few countries can boast of anything close to the track record of Britain when it comes to gross human rights violations. Genocide and monumental plunder have marked the history of that country and indeed have been the main source of the wealth and sway its citizens and governments, respectively, have enjoyed over several centuries.
It is ironic then that this global bully (or rather the side-kick of the worst rogue state on earth, the USA) has led moves against Sri Lanka in Geneva. These moves can be traced back to the USA’s direct involvement (the involvement, following the ‘cesspool of bias’ descriptive of the UNHRC, has been largely behind-the-scenes stuff) in various vexatious allegations based not on evidence but hearsay. The evidence, as such there were, for example the missives of military attaches of the USA and UK in Colombo as well as the ICRC were disregarded and are still left out of the narrative.
Now, as it was then, it is about strategic interests. Then it was just the USA’s designs on the region. Now, in reduced circumstances it is the interests of the infamous ‘QUAD’ (USA, India, Japan and Australia) in counterpoint to the’Chinese Footprint Gonibilla.’ Ironically, the terrorist rump now masquerading as champions of human rights, i.e. the ex-LTTE groups who have rebranded themselves after the military defeat of the terrorists in 2009, are unhappy with the Resolution passed early this week. In that sense they find themselves in the same camp as the Sri Lankan government!
However, the reasons for dismay are different. Sri Lanka believes it is vexatious persecution. The Government won’t say this, but it is really vexatious persecution by rogue states with sordid histories who turned the Human Rights Council into a kangaroo court.
The Tiger-rump is unhappy because the resolution hasn’t gone ga-ga with the now tired ‘Tamil genocide’ story but has instead been an exercise to further Quad objectives. The resolution is, admittedly, about the here and now. In other words it is about targeting the present government. If ‘war crimes’ was what it was all about then it is immaterial whether or not a US/UK friendly government is in power; it is a matter of principle, nothing else. However, the degree of vexation indicates clearly that things in Geneva are politically motivated.
The here and now. That’s an interesting factor. In the here and now the UK is almost at the tail end of a process to legislate the protection of service personnel in overseas operations. Not that they haven’t got away with all manner of crimes against humanity in the past of course. However, if tomorrow, the UK decides to invade Switzerland and some British soldier took Michelle Bachelet hostage, subjected her to torture (as advocated in interrogation manuals for British and US troops) and shot her thereafter, that country can resist censure at home by citing what is called the Protection from Vexatious Prosecution Bill. Vexation, after all, is a subjective term. As for censure in multilateral forums such as the Human Rights Council, it is about who calls the shots. There’s a cartel of rogue states who are ready to close ranks. They did so just the other day in what was essentially an Europe and North America combine against the rest of the world affair, buying off or silencing the objectors through bribe and threat just as was done in the infamous Green Rooms just prior to a vote being taken to bury the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff and to set up in its place the World Trade Organization.
What’s pertinent is that in the here and now, given the vexatious prosecution legislation, the Human Rights Council played dumb and dumber. It played blissfully ignorant or else knowingly pernicious. No one bothered to ask the British representatives if they’ve heard of the adage ‘charity begins at home.’ That’s international political economy, folks.
The further harassment of Sri Lanka that was legitimated is not about turning Sri Lanka into some kind of paradise when it comes to protecting human rights. It’s about arm-twisting the government into submitting to mechanisms that further Quad objectives or, failing which, wreck things to the point that destabilizes the country and as per top priority in the wish-list result in bringing in a pliant and indeed servile government.
The Human Rights Council has been hijacked by bullies. Sorry, the Human Rights Council was made by bullies, for bullies and with bullies. Bullies can keep changing goal posts until they can score.
All of this makes it all the more important for the government and the people of this country to get some basic things right. A government without the support of the people on Counts A, B and C, cannot defend the country and people on Count D. It goes without saying that a government that cares not about Count D will subject people to shameless servility. Of course they’ll call it some nice name. Like yahapalanaya. Or, as the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (which played dumb, dumber and dumbest when in power to allow the then government to compromised sovereignty via Resolution 30/1 in 2015) would put it ‘a balanced foreign policy.’ Such garbage is cheap.
We might end up there. This is why national security is inextricably linked to livelihood sustainability, protection of resources and an improved score on the Happiness Index.
The government has got the intelligence part of the equation right. The entire apparatus was almost dismantled by the previous government and to add insult to injury no stone was left unturned to demoralize the personnel in the intelligence services.
If anyone has any doubts about the success of this aspect of things, just consider the fact that countries like the UK, France, Germany and Italy are in lockdown right now, despite the bucks and vaccines. And the USA? A basket case if ever there was one, over and above the absolute misery that Washington inflicts on minorities in that racist and thieving trigger-happy nation.
Yes, they all voted against Sri Lanka, except the USA (the behind-the-scenes string-puller for European marionettes). How about Sri Lanka? The number of active Covid-19 cases have dropped from 10,000 to a little over 2,000. Things are getting back to normal. This would not have been possible if not for the tireless, 24/7 work ethic that marks the State Intelligence Service which readily accepted the burden of tracking and tracing, effectively complementing the excellent work of the health authorities in the state sector. STATE sector. Yes, that’s an emphasis that says something about private healthcare and privatization.
And yet we have people like Nalin Bandara (MP-SJB) who will go out of the way to disparage the intelligence services. The likes of Bandara, knowingly or unknowingly play into the hands of anti-Sri Lankan (or, put another way, pro-Quad) forces for whom vexatious persecution is second nature. The relevant officers have taken Bandara to task, sending him letters of demand for damage caused. We won’t say anything more on the matter because it’s all about courts from now on. We don’t have to say anything more.
That kind of ‘security’ however is only one side of a many-sided story or rather a multi-faceted approach to national security. We need to, as mentioned above, ensure food security. We need the economy back on track. We need to set up and strengthen development banks and cooperative banks. We need models that are not crafted by people and nations interested only in furthering their interests and whose proposals, while hiding the fact, market servility as programs of prosperity. We need to take care of our resources. We need a new development model.
We cannot do any of this if we don’t have comprehensive knowledge of all things relevant to development, data most of all. If there are gaps they need to be filled. If reliability is an issue it has to be addressed. It can be done. It must be done.
Yes, managing foreign relations is important. It has to be framed by what can be done, what cannot be done, what should be done and what should not be done. The diplomats are well-equipped to do all this. They need to advise the politicians and more importantly politicians should be guided by the diplomats.
Citizens are not diplomats. Neither are political commentators. However, they all have the right to air their views. For example, on India. INDIA DID NOT STAND WITH SRI LANKA. India, in this crucial vote, by virtue of abstaining, was complicit. India did speak and the words were obnoxious. India harped about the 13th Amendment. The 13th Amendment was the issue of a marriage between Indian thuggery and Sri Lankan acquiescence, the former represented by Rajiv Gandhi and the latter by J R Jayewardene, one of the grandfathers of the SJB. India reneged on its part of the bargain but has the gumption to demand that Sri Lanka fulfill agreements made by a government in decline under duress!
India, geographically challenged, stood with the West, square in the middle of the Atlantic. Sri Lanka has nothing to gain by agreeing to terms of engagement slanted in India’s favor simply because the ‘friendship’ or ‘go-easy’ this might yield is in fact capitulation. It would compromise territorial integrity and sovereignty.
And in this context of India picking the West, it would not be imprudent for Sri Lanka to pick her West. The Western Container Terminal. A you keep yours, we keep ours kind of position.
As for the other Kangaroos, well they’ve all named themselves, haven’t they? Arms length, ladies and gentlemen, not closer! As for missives and statements and tweets, we don’t have to describe them each and every time, but here’s a word that would well inform policy maker and citizen: balderdash.
[Malinda Seneviratne is the Director/CEO of the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute. These are his personal views].