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‘Shape karala ganna puluwan’ (Can fix it) plan of Govt failed in Geneva

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By Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

The reaction of the Rajapaksa regime to the successful US resolution at the Human Rights Council makes out the resolution to be, in effect, the first defeat suffered by the regime, its feeble efforts at damage limitation notwithstanding. Needless to say it should not have come to this.

What passed for policy was “shy-making” when set against the standards set by Sri Lankan diplomats of yore who were the envy of the developed and developing world.

It was strident and incoherent, lacking in strategic input and downright expensive to boot – the travels to Africa and elsewhere, the sojourn in a five star and other hotels for all and sundry numbering seventy according to some counts and in one of the most expensive cities in the world!

A wide view during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council. 23 March 2012. Photo by Jean-Marc Ferré

Who will take responsibility for this? Probably no one and this is a key reason why this episode should be seen as a microcosm of policy making and execution under this regime that cries out for remedial action.

Comments and Questions are in Order.

The first is the demonstrable inability of the regime to fully comprehend an interdependent world in which domestic and international politics are not totally separate spheres of action. Regime consolidation and survival being paramount, from the outset it characterized the resolution as an infringement of national sovereignty and expended a lot of energy and muscle in galvanizing public opinion at home against it.

In addition to the many public demonstrations it organized, through the state controlled media and privately owned clones, the regime orchestrated vicious and vituperative attacks on human rights defenders including this columnist. Ministers and at least one high- level state media functionary were enthusiastic revelers in this carnival of hate.

All of this has been noted by a somewhat bewildered international community, which is at the same time, supposed to believe that the regime is passionate about reconciliation – in its own time of course!

On one occasion the Uruguayan president of the UNHRC noted the intimidation of civil society representatives in the Council without naming Sri Lanka and subsequently, naming Sri Lanka , the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement of concern with regard to the intimidation and attacks on civil society representatives at the Council, in Geneva and back at home.

The domestic drama and hiatus may have made good political sense to the regime. It distracted from the economy and reminded the masses yet again of the historic defeat of the LTTE and who was responsible for it. It also revived the patriot vs traitor categorization of the public discourse.

What it did not do was to impact positively on what was most important, the vote in Geneva , which by the regime’s own reckoning, is a violation of national sovereignty and more dangerously, the thin edge of the wedge in respect of regime change and an international war crimes tribunal.

More fundamentally illustrative of its ignorance of an interdependent world is the assumption that it can get away with the portrayal of contemporary Sri Lanka as a place in which reconciliation and harmony, the rule of law and democracy sans disappearances, militarization, torture and the culture of impunity are the order of the day. This too, when the LLRC notes that its interim recommendations dating from September 2010 have yet to be implemented.

It is worth noting that the disappearance of Ramasamy Prabhakaran in Colombo two days before his fundamental rights petition was to be heard by the Supreme Court, the abduction of Jesudasan outside a court in Colombo and the alleged attempted abduction of the Mayor of Kollonawa by members of the security forces, all took place in the lead up to the sessions of the Human Rights Council and during them.

Information, despite the determined efforts to suppress it, like water in a clenched fist, seeps out. When it does it cannot be dismissed or wished away by disingenuousness, invective and deceit.

This is why local human rights defenders are being maligned – for challenging the regime’s portrayal of human rights and governance on the ground, in the belief that if there is to be genuine reconciliation we need to begin with an honest diagnosis and acknowledgement of the gravity and dimensions of the problem.

On the ground with respect to the international community, the regime seems to have been anywhere but. Did they not see this resolution coming? What did the mission in Washington report?

What did the US public relations company hired to do the work of the mission report?

Was it not the case that the US pulled the Canadian resolution in the Council last year on the grounds that the international community should wait for the LLRC report?

Was not the foreign minister invited to Washington to discuss the resolution in a letter from the US Secretary of State informing the GOSL of the US intention to move a resolution in the Human Rights Council?

Would a visit to Washington have made a difference and obviated the need to travel around the world drumming up support?
Or is it the case that the regime is so damn arrogant that it does not give a damn, confident that it would defeat the resolution – that every time it would only be a matter of “shape” karala ganna puluwan (we can fix it)?

“Shape” karala ganna puluwan?, seems to be the attitude towards India as well, in fact the leitmotif of the regime.

Whilst domestic political pressure from the south was certainly a factor (and what did the Rajapaksha regime do about that?), it is worth considering as to whether stringing along the Indian government on a commitment to a political settlement, for example, may not have been another.

Given the President’s subsequent remarks on what the Indian Foreign Minister thought the President had told him on his last visit about a political settlement and Thirteenth Amendment Plus and the cumulative frustrations Delhi has endured with regard to its assistance to the north and east, could it have been taken for granted?

Were it to be the case that Delhi ’s relationship with Washington trumps all else including regional solidarity, did the denizens of the foreign ministry, associated monitors and advisors not detect this?

If they did, was their advice heeded at the apex of power?

Indeed, was there any consideration of the possibility that Washington would not have moved in the first place without Delhi ’s concurrence and therefore that the real change in the Indian position was from abstention to a positive vote?

Equally important as the strategic reappraisal of the design and execution of our foreign policy is the fate of the LLRC report. In the babel of ministerial voices it is difficult to discern as to whether all of it or some or none at all will be implemented.

The resolution calls on the GOSL to implement the constructive recommendations of the report, to take all necessary additional steps to fulfill its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans and to present as expeditiously as possible a comprehensive action plan detailing the steps taken and to be taken re the above as well as requests the Office of the High Commissioner to report to the Council on the provision of assistance to the GOSL made in consultation with the GOSL and with its concurrence.

The challenge confronting the regime is as to whether the LLRC recommendations are good for the country and therefore warrant implementation or as to whether the LLRC recommendations are bad for dynastic consolidation of power and therefore should be jettisoned, especially since it could be made out post-resolution, that the recommendations are being implemented under international pressure.

When the LLRC report came out, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) issued a statement in which it made the point that the implementation of the LLRC recommendations required a paradigm shift on the part of the regime. In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that point and to continue to live in hope.

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37 Comments

  1. ‘Shape karala ganna puluwan’ (Can fix it) plan of Govt failed in Geneva. Ekatath vadiya kiwa ( said more than that )lokka DJ. Wait and see the magic wand of Tamara on 23rd March. Now DJ says in 2009 he was able to win because SL regime had the high moral stand and now SL regime lost because they lost their moral high stand.

    Again DJ and the likes will say the high moral stand can be ‘Shape karala ganna puluwan’. Here we go round the malburry bush.

    This remind me of ” The FP taking the Tamils again on a merry go round trip ” the famous quote of Colvin and NM used in their election rallies in the north and east in the 1960s. They used to ridicule the democratically elected FP, then TULF and now TNA.

    We can hope for a paradigm shift on the part of regime as concluded by Dr. PS but an equitable one that will take care of the sovereignty of citizens who has been living in all the 9 provinces will never happen without the UN guidance.

    If you do not believe me, ask living legend Nelson Mandela or those who can communicate with souls of past SLFP , UNP, FP, TC leaders and other South Asian leaders .

  2. This rsolution is the result of intense lobbying by the GTF and the TNGTE for over three years,with a budget that was once used to finance the Terror campaign in Srilanka to the tune of USD 300 Million.

    And Dr PS reckons Lankan Govt spent big bucks in staying in Geneva Motels.

    Resolution crossed the line by a nose because Dr M Singh got the jitters,from the Karunanidhi Jayalalitha alliance.

    None of the members who are important and relevant to Srilanka did agree with the US.

    The most relevant and the most important backed the Srilankan position to the max.

    So there is nothing serious for the Policy Alternative lot to get excitd about.

    IMF boss in the region,Dr Mathai’s recent report has given a near HD for the current policy settings with regards to the Lankan Economy.

    And assures the inhabitants that the current Economic growth around 8 percent will continue unabated, with infaltion at moderate levels and creating more employment.

    This is also a near HD performance when compared with the Economic malaise in the main drivers of this “Fix Srilanka Resolution.”

    UK in particular is an example where the unemployment is 12 percent and the manufacturing has come to near zero.

    Even the public sector is going to start a cull and the poor migrats will be the first to cop it.

    As for Dr PS’s example , most inhabitants would wonder where this Uruguay is?.

    up with res

  3. It is indeed an inspiring piece of writing. Thank you very much for publishing.
    At least now the world is slowly opening its eyes to see the reality of the minority of the people in the tiny land of Sri Lanka.

  4. Pathatic governace and foreign service. The way the goverment cheat the people, they think the can cheat the whole world. Deserve it.

  5. What the 70 strong SL delegation did in Geneva within the precincts of UNHRC is more than enough to prove how the common man especially the Tamils will suffer with regards to their Human Rights in Sri Lanka.

  6. My readings on the whole Geneva saga are as follows
    if the current junta regime fails to act swiftly/accordingly in the future, most likely following are inevitable.

    1) 2013 head of commonwealth summit in srilanka , will be an international embarrassment for the ruling junta, possibly England (The queen ), Canada, Australia, NZ and other western affiliated countries boycotting the summit altogether.

    2) next very crucial UNHCR session in March and beyond , more harsher/stringent measurements will be imposed against Junta regime and individual countries likely to impose specific sanctions ( i.e USA and Europe might impose travel restrictions on the Junta regime chief and all his stooges)

    3) 2013 September UNHCR session( periodic review ), Sri lanka will be on a more pathetic/vulnerable /helpless situation and on the docks again and will be scrutinized/humialted taking all the domestic human right violations (not the war crimes, as its not mandated)

    On the economy, US$ might climb up towards Rs 150 mark by the end of the year.

    .

    P.S i have predicted Geneva debacle long before! with or without India ,USA would have passed the resolution. My only surprise was behavior of Saudi, Kuwait and India.

    Folks I’m neither a political scientist no an economist, these are all my humble opinions.

  7. I take my hat off to Dr. Saravanamuttu for writing this eloquent article. Your courage to enlighten the regime and citizenry is commendable. May the good Lord bless you many times over!

  8. KA
    some one must tell the poor sods who wait in long queue under the hot sun. in front of the uk visa application centre, that britain is finished and SL is the new economic power house.

  9. I am just wondering what level of support these foreign funded local NGOs or self appointed ‘civil society’ enjoys in the society. For example can they gather at least 1000 people for a rally? They are a hated lot.

  10. The very day the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka was passed with 24 to 15 against with 8 absent, the US also voted this time against a similar resolution but alone. This resolution was against the illegal Israeli settlements and passed 36 to 1 with 10 absent. The US alone voted against the resolution. And Israel openly rejected the resolution outright saying it will not abide by it. And the US is quiet on Israel’s stand but vociferously demanding Sri Lanka comes up quickly with a timetable to implement the US sponsored resolution. I say, we should implement only what is feasible.

  11. DR PS,

    You are spot on, a well written thought provoking article. “Shape kerrala ganna puluwang” was the arrogant regime’s motto all along. Even now they think the same ignoring the seriousness of the resolution in Geneva. The idiots are openly challenging the resolution by saying that they will only implement recommendations that suit them and that no one can challenge them in this regard. The arrogance exhibited is beyond belief. They fall into the category of mass murderers Slobadan Milosovich, Gadafi, Sadam, Azad and the like and ought to be locked up in prison and the keys thrown away. They seriously thought that they could fool everyone all the time.

  12. GTF and TNGTE will surely be in love with Kalu Albert regardless of any other stand on these matters by Kalu…giving them the huge credit for this I wish to know if Kalu is on their ‘payroll’ as well 🙂

  13. I wonder when Kalu albert is going to realise that “silence is golden” He thinks the people who read his comments are all “brain washed” like him!!!

  14. If the majority people in SL and some in this forum believe this resolution is nothing to get excited about that would be a sad for the entire country. This resolution is to CONDEMN the GOSL for its in action on LLRC report (like in many other commision reports as we all knew very well) and NOT AGAINST the people of SL. But ignoring this report by the GOSL to protect itself by whipping up its extremist base, the whole SL people might pay the price in the long term.

    Remember, China backed South Sudan for a very long time and then dropped it when it could not do it anymore once it was proven in the international arena that it is infact an oppressive regime. The same could be true for SL. When LTTE was live and kicking the GOSL had a cover on its opressive practices. After LTTE is gone the GOSL now stands exposed and looking for a cover, but none is available other than blaming the Tamil diaspora , but the international community can see thru it to what is happening on ground in SL, especially in the north.

  15. According to Dr. P.Saravanamuthu, he seems to say that it was the SLG who spent time and money in securing support against the UNHRC resolution in Geneva. He could not see the efforts made by the ‘mighty’ US and its allies, the EU, using carrots and sticks to pressure the countries who were unwilling to support the resolution. For arm chair critics and pundits like DR.PS who gets funds from foreign sources to run their organization, it would be difficult to see the other side of truth. In my opinion, Sri Lanka has spent most of the three years after the war ended in the rehabilitation of the people who have suffered during the 30 years. This included the surrendered LTTE cadres as well. For a problem that started since the Independence of the country, which is more than 63 years, and the racial feelings created and nurtured by politicians on both sides, ( I remember, even as children, we were told by elders who had been brainwashed by Tamil politicians telling us that Singhalese were people to be feared -for no reason, and that we needed a Thamil Arasu)a mere three years are not enough to reach a solution, especially when the elected Tamil politicians, including some hard line Singhalese leaders, are not cooperating with the government at all. Remember, when Chandrika Kumaratunga introduced a solution, the UNP which is making a big noise about not finding a solution by the SLG within 3 years, made fun of it and refused to support it. People like, Dr. PS never bothered to criticize the UNP at that time. Why, because the UNP is pro-western? Let Sri Lanka finish helping the people who lost everything due to the war first, and then talk about the rights and other political issues. What the war affected people need now is help in terms of shelter, jobs, food, and other basic needs in order to carry on their everyday lives. For those who live comfortably in Colombo and in foreign countries with all the facilities, these basic needs may look trivial, but for those people who struggle for survival it is the foremost thing they need at present.

  16. The Rajapaksa regime’s drama surrounding the recent UNHRC saga is well analysed and presented by Dr PS here. It would have an impact if this article is translated and published in the sinhala press. The sinhala public is being very well misled by the regime’s lies and distortions of the real facts of the UNHRC resolution.

  17. @Kalu Albert:

    “Resolution crossed the line by a nose because Dr M Singh got the jitters,from the Karunanidhi Jayalalitha alliance.”

    For crying out loud, it is really unbelievable that people have been taken for a ride with Peiris’s moronic statement that the 8 abstentations implied that those 8 countries were with Sri-Lanka, and therefore the vote was actually 24-23. Stupidity seems to have reached new heights. The 8 abstentations means that those countries were not for _and_ not against the resolution either. If India had voted against it, it would have been 23-16, that’s all. Add 1 or 2 more abstaining countries that would have gone with India to vote NO, and you will still have 21-18 worst case. Moreover, India’s initial plan was absentation – there is no way that the US would have moved forward with this if India was completely against it and was ready to vote “NO”. So enough with the stupidity. It was a complete loss for Sri-Lanka with 24-15. Learn to live with it.

  18. This is what Mahinda said when LTTE peace talk went in to a stand still “porrunthuva anna passada balamu” he is now “passada balanava”.

  19. Kalu Albert

    In the Bible in the Book of Genesis the God the Lord will say to Moses that he will do miracles through him. And Moses did those miracles before the Phaoroah, who dismissed them as cheap magic.

    This also the God said that He will harden the mind of the Pharoah so that He can take him to his ruin.

    What an utter ruin it was for the Pharoh. All his soldiers were drowned in the ocean. He had lost his everything. All his standing crops were eaten by a swarm of locusts. There was a rain of fire et al.

    Through all this Moses would ask the Pharoh ‘let my people go’. Yet again the Pharoah will refuse to let them go.

    At last he was forced to give them up all and also he had to lose all his army into the ocean.

    Likewise if you people take a hard stand against it, the Tiger supporters will become happy.

    Read the article of Dayan Jayatileke that is also posted here. If is not very often, that he talks in a coherent and logical manner.

    But Now a days I find him talking in a coherent, balanced, somewhat subdued and logical manner.

    I feel GLP if left his way would have done a good job, only if there had been a sincere will towards reconciliation from the MR and company.

    But his voice was stifled. His views were not heard by the top people.

    The Minister Samarasinghe contributed to the stirring of the Tamil people and political parties by his premature utterings.

    BUT IN TOTAL I FIND THE WILL TO CHANGE IS NOT THERE AND THERE IS NO GENUINE MOVE TOWARDS RECONCILIATION.

    YOU PEOPLE WILL BE GLADDENING THE HEARTS OF THE EELAM SUPPORTERS IF YOU CONTINUE TO TREAD IN THE SAME PATH.

    DON’T LABEL ALL THOSE WHO SUPPORTED THE RESOLUTION AS TIGER’S OR THEIR SUPPORTERS. AMERICA DIDN’T SUPPORT THEM. UK ALSO HAS BANNED THEM. EVEN IN TAMIL NADU JAYALALITHA OR THE KARUNANIDHI ARE NOT GUIDED BY THE TIGERS.

    THE SENTIMENT OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC WAS LIKE THAT AND THEY HAD TO VENT THEIR FEELINGS AS LEADERS OF POLITICAL PARTIES.

    IF YOU PEOPLE WILL CONTINUE TO BEHAVE IN THIS MANNER THEN IT WILL BE FOR YOUR OWN ……

  20. Kalu Albert
    None of the members who are important and relevant to Srilanka did agree with the US.

    The most relevant and the most important backed the Srilankan position to the max.
    ———————————–
    I am sure your parents must have taught you that you are judged by your friends

  21. Americans demand to implement LLRC report immedeately. The report came out three months ago only. Tamils and the so called HRW + other Human Rights champions refused to participate at the LLRC. Then what are the moral grounds these people have to support American motions? Are these people think America will terrorise Sri lanka?

    Americans have their own agenda over Sri lanka. It has nothing to do with TAMIL or Human Rights.

    What the hell UNHRC can do against Israel which has pulled out from UNHRC completely? America was the only country supported Isreal. Why did America support isreal if it really concerned anything about accountability or human Rights?

    Are these Anti-Rajapaksha people expect Sri lanka must obey the white mans’ resolution while Isreal dont need to obey the UNHRC? Can Navi Pillai open her mouth against Israel or America?

    You cannot follow TWO standards for a same problem in an International body!

    What is the American problem over Sri lanka?
    Americans expected the LTTE had the might and manipulative skills to carve out Sri lanka but Mahinda destroyed it. Americans tried to save the LTTE leadeship at the last moment of the war but that was also failed. Americans cried “War Crime” for the destruction of the notorious criminal LTTE gang.

    There is no need to listen to the UNHRC or Americans.Dr.PS and many others are on the payroll of outsiders. It is good to dump all these people because these people are not working for the interest of Sri lanka but for “outsiders”.

  22. Gamage,

    “I am just wondering what level of support these foreign funded local NGOs or self appointed ‘civil society’ enjoys in the society. For example can they gather at least 1000 people for a rally? They are a hated lot.”

    You seem to be lost and a loner here, except for may be the ever sinister Kalu Albert. Get a life mate!

  23. Kalu Albert says:

    “This rsolution is the result of intense lobbying by the GTF and the TNGTE for over three years,with a budget that was once used to finance the Terror campaign in Srilanka to the tune of USD 300 Million.”

    Could you enlighten me:

    Why did the GTF, BTF…………….A to Z fail to prevent the war in the first place?

    Were you the book keeper maintaining LTTE financial records?

    Could you find me a job with GTF, BTF…………….A to Z managing their finances as you seem so close to them keeping records of LTTE money matters.

    You ssay:

    “Resolution crossed the line by a nose because Dr M Singh got the jitters,from the Karunanidhi Jayalalitha alliance.”

    So Dr M Singh did not get jitters when Karunanithy and Jayalalitha wanted him to stop the war and the slaughter of innocent civilians.

    He must be an odd person indeed.

  24. M.Sivananthan says:

    “Americans have their own agenda over Sri lanka. It has nothing to do with TAMIL or Human Rights”

    I wonder what that agenda might be. Could you share the secret with us.

    You say:

    “You cannot follow TWO standards for a same problem in an International body!”

    So you agree that Israel and Sri Lanka have same problem therefore both should be treated similarly. Thats all I want to know.

  25. Surprising that N.Vedda and Madras Mahesh are not up to sratch with political machinations in Chennai in general and Delhi in particular.

    Neither the Ethnic Politicking in London Toronto and even Washington.

  26. Vedda:
    You are a LTTE criminal and you bark the LTTE propaganda all the time. Why did you run away from LTTE? Any robbery or any woman problem?

    Better learn the American expansionism. Then you will know what is their REAGONOMICS etc.

    You are crying like a fool without understanding anything I write.

  27. The self appointed “Doctors” and “Liberals” are the main cause of ethnic disharmony

    in Sri lanka. In a “democratic” country people should be able to live any where they

    wish like people live in USA, UK, Australia and so on. But These “Pundits” never

    encourage this because they follow their masters “Devide and Rule”. Where more

    conflicts and division along ethnic boundaries in the World then Imperialist and the

    Church can achive their objectives – Power and Religious hegemony.

  28. These NGO vultures are now targeting the president at every front as he rooted out their fighting carders. It was people’s wish and order to eleminate cruel LTTE terrorism from our soil. The People of Sri lanka ordered to president rajapaksha to do the job. Mr. President has done it accordingly and the peace has dawn to Sri lanka after 30 years of bloody LTTE terrorism. While we thankfull to him for his brave action should protect him and our motherland from both inside and out side threats.

  29. Kalu Albert

    Surprising that N.Vedda and Madras Mahesh are not up to sratch with political machinations in Chennai in general and Delhi in particular.

    Neither the Ethnic Politicking in London Toronto and even Washington.

    ————–

    I don’t understand your words Sir. Please enlighten me about them.

  30. Sri Lanka scored a “first” by taking the national trait of thuggery against political opponents, into the halls of the United Nations.
    Now nations are aware of how politics is conducted in sri lanka.
    The nothern paramilitary leader too was comfortably esconced as a member of the sri lanka delegation during the consideration of the US resolution,in place of the permanent representative.

  31. After the government’s reluctance to consider the genuine concerns and genuine violations of human rights, the biggest hindrance to actual reconciliation are “dirty human rights champions” such as this one. They are partially responsible for tipping over the moderate Sinhala population over the edge.

    When they “speak” we feel like protecting the democratically elected government of this country at all costs and the whole rational thinking goes out of the window. Its almost as if the government is paying them to talk BS.

  32. Kalu Albert says:

    “Surprising that N.Vedda and Madras Mahesh are not up to sratch with political machinations in Chennai in general and Delhi in particular.”

    Pardon me for being bit thick.

    I don’t understand what you and M Sivananthan say in this forum. Please explain to me what you meant by political machination in Chennai and Delhi in particular.

    By now you would have known all my teachers were either Tamils or Sinhalese hence I am bit slow in understanding all your politics.

  33. Chandana says:

    “While we thankfull to him for his brave action should protect him and our motherland from both inside and out side threats”

    Please tell me whose motherland are we talking about my dear Chandana.

    Don’t forget the island is our ancestral land. I would like to remind you that you are a Sinhapurian from Lala land. I urge you to go back to India and fight for your motherland or grandmother’s land.

  34. M.Sivananthan says:

    “You are a LTTE criminal and you bark the LTTE propaganda all the time.”

    You have blown my cover. What shall I do now? I am scared.

    You must be a genius to uncover my deep, deep, deep ………..cover.

    REAGONOMICS – What is it? I never heard of this word in my entire life. Let me guess, is it some kind of voodoo magic practiced by zombies? Is it to do with trickle down economics? It could be voodoo economics. I haven’t got a clue.

    You say:

    “You are crying like a fool without understanding anything I write”

    Please I am not an enlightened one like you therefore please bear with me.

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