SINGAPORE: UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) head Navi Pillay’s current campaign against Sri Lanka over alleged human rights violations – along with similar campaigns against Libya and Syria earlier – could jeopardize the cause of human rights around the world, analysts say.
Pillay released a report in February calling for an international investigation into alleged war crimes when the Sri Lankan armed forces crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a final battle in May 2009.
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Envoy in Geneva conveying the Sri Lankan Government’s response to Pillay’s report stated that the UN High Commissioner’s recommendations, “reflect the preconceived, politicized and prejudicial agenda which she has relentlessly pursued with regard to Sri Lanka,” and in a 18-page document pinpointed her double standards accusing her of giving “scant or no regard to the domestic processes ongoing in Sri Lanka.”
The Sri Lanka government has also criticized the report for arriving at conclusions in a “selective and arbitrary manner” and ignoring requests from the Sri Lankan government to provide factual evidence to substantiate allegations and to refrain from making general comments.
Sri Lanka’s criticism of Pillay is not new. But, commentaries in both mainstream and online media in Sri Lanka indicate a hardening of attitudes in the island state against Pillay’s perceived bias and alleged abuse of power as head of UNHRC. She is said to have got away with it in the international media because the western media apparently tended to believe – and continue to – most of the propaganda put out by the LTTE supporters in the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora over the past 30 years.
At the twenty-fifth session of the UNHRC from March 3 to 28 in Geneva, Pillay’s report is due to be officially tabled, and she has refused to entertain a request from the Sri Lankan government that its response to the report be attached as an appendix. The United States has indicated – supported by EU and India – that they may table a resolution at the meeting to establish an independent international investigation into alleged war crimes and human rights violations in Sri Lanka, which the government is sure to reject.
“How many of the bullying countries accusing Sri Lanka of crimes against humanity and war crimes have clean hands or a flawless record?” asks Senaka Weeraratne, a Sri Lankan lawyer and international affairs analyst.
“What we see today in western dominated international organizations such as the United Nations related bodies such as the UNHRC, ICC and the like are proceedings conducted on an Inquisitorial footing i.e. witch hunts aimed at devastating the target country or individual usually of non–European descent thereby perverting the course of justice. No quarter is given to the other party until it submits to the political will of the bullying nations,” argues Weeraratne.
“It is a shameless display of brute power making a mockery of institutional rules and procedures. The targeted country is assumed to be guilty right from the start ruling out any mitigating circumstances. It is virtually a re-enactment of the Inquisition under the auspices of the United Nations rather than the Catholic Church as in the days gone by.”
It is not only Sri Lankans that are complaining about the UNHRC and Pillay’s tactics. Anti-war activists in the West and supporters of the former Libyan regime and that of Syria have also pointed out how these UN agencies, and particularly UNHRC under Pillay, are practicing double standards to promote Western imperial designs.
Kalinga Seneviratne is IDN Special Correspondent for Asia-Pacific. He teaches international communications at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. [IDN-InDepthNews – March 3, 2014]