UN exercise on Lanka against accepted principles – Mohan Samaranayake | Sunday Observer

UN exercise on Lanka against accepted principles – Mohan Samaranayake

19 September, 2021

The exercise at the UN Human Rights Council labelled ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’, is a political project by the hegemonic countries. It has nothing to do with promoting human rights or reconciliation in Sri Lanka, senior international affairs critic Mohan Samaranayake.

In an interview with the Sunday Observer last week, Samaranayake spoke about the ongoing Geneva process and the mounting international pressure on Sri Lanka.

“These are my personal views as an individual who is closely observing national and international political developments and does not represent the views of the Government”, he said, before responding to our questions. Samaranayake who has years of experience working for UN Sri Lanka, currently serves as the Director General of Government Information.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: Why do you think certain Western countries are reluctant to give due credit to the achievements by the Security Forces in defeating one of the most ruthless terrorist organisations in the world, proscribed even by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)?

This whole exercise at Geneva has nothing to do with promoting human rights or reconciliation back in Sri Lanka. This is a political project by the hegemonic countries.

This is not a world order fallen from the sky yesterday. It goes as far back as 300 years and evolved into the current state. The key feature of this order is that it is dominated by a few extremely rich and extremely powerful countries.

The world famous political and social critic in Senegal Samir Amin assessed that the world is dominated by a triad consisting of the US and Canada, EU (and UK) and Japan. They want to control every inch of the world as long as it is of interest in terms of geo-positioning, military and economy.

These countries are supported by similarly powerful and rich countries such as Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, to a certain extent Singapore and now even India. I believe this is the reason why they will not give credit to Sri Lanka’s achievement.

Q: Do you have any proof to back your claim?

There are numerous examples to back my claims. The battle against terrorism with the LTTE ended in May 2009. Then towards the end of 2009, the United States Foreign Relations Committee compiled a report on Sri Lanka tilted ‘Sri Lanka: Revisiting US strategy after the battle against terrorism’.

The report concluded the United States cannot afford to lose Sri Lanka because of its geopolitical significance. This is the reason why they want Sri Lanka under their influence.

When Sri Lanka was fighting a decisive war with LTTE terrorism, the so-called international community wanted to stop it. They not only supported the LTTE in numerous ways but towards the end of it, they also strongly intervened to stop the humanitarian operation.

In late April 2009, the then Foreign Ministers of UK David Miliband and France Bernard Kouchner visited Sri Lanka, met the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and demanded that the ongoing operations must stop.

The Defence Secretary informed them that only one person can do it and that is President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is the Commander in Chief of the Security Forces.

They met the President in Embilipitiya and said the Government was annihilating Tamils. President Rajapaksa’s reply was, “We are no longer a colony of yours. We are doing what is good for our country and that is to end terrorism and restore peace”. Not a single life was lost to terror attacks since May 2009 until Easter Sunday incident in 2019 which was attributed to the Islamic State terrorists.

The whole exercise in Geneva is to keep Sri Lanka under the dominance of a handful of countries. The Yahapalana regime was a part of this project. The regime change was funded by the hegemonic countries. In the 2016 Financial Report of the US Department of State, then Secretary of State John Kerry says, we have spent US $ 585 to restore democracy in three countries – Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nigeria.

Q: But many other countries issued statements during the last stages of the battle against terrorism when the Security Forces were about to defeat the LTTE in Mullivaikkal?

During President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s time, the Galle Dialogue was organised to discuss maritime security issues. At the first session, Commander of the US Naval fleet in Pacific Admiral Harry Harris said Sri Lanka is important because of three reasons, ‘its location’, ‘location’ and ‘location’.

The countries in the forefront of the resolution against Sri Lanka are the US, UK, France - the members of the Samir Amin’s triad. Historically and in the present era, they are the worst violators of human rights. That is the irony.

=Afghanistan is a clear modern day example for blatant violations of human rights. In 1978, a comparatively progressive government came to power in Afghanistan - People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan. But they were allies with the Soviet Union. The US funded and gave arms to Afghan Mujahideens to topple this government.

A few weeks ago, the US government withdrew their troops arbitrarily, plunging the country into more chaos. Today, the country is in shambles. When the country was invaded by the US in 2001, half of Afghan population was surviving on food lorries arriving from Pakistan. Then US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage told Pakistani President Pervaz Musharaff to stop the food lorries. The latter alleged that the Assistant Secretary threatened to ‘bomb them back to the stone-age’.

If they are really human rights defenders, how can they cause such devastation in Afghanistan? After 9/11 attack, how many unjust wars have these countries waged collectively?

A former NATO General, and onetime Supreme Commander of NATO forces in Europe, said in 2001, the US had plans to down seven Muslim countries within five years.

Q: So are we going to be a part of the collateral damage in the face of power struggles of world super powers?

Today, there is a major threat to the political, military and economic power of the triad, because of the emergence of other power centers, especially China. China’s share of the world GDP was 2 percent in 1990. Today, it is over 18 percent. Independent studies reveal that China will overtake the US as the world’s biggest economic power in a decade.

The triad wants to stop this. This is a key concern and an objective discussed in their internal security communications. There is a grouping of four countries – the US , Japan, India and Australia - called the Quad (Quadruple Defence Dialogue) formed to directly counter the rising power of China.

On September 15 this year, the UK and the US entered into an agreement with Australia to provide technology to build nuclear powered submarines. Only six countries have such technology at present. In the name of human rights, they want to control small countries to fall in line with their hegemonic agendas. If tensions between the triad and China or Russia increase and if there is a war, you cannot rule out the possibility of a military invasion in our country.

Q: Do you agree that the UN has gone beyond their mandate in Sri Lanka?

The UN Resident Coordintor in Sri Lanka issued a statement this week condemning the actions of State Minister Lohan Ratwatte. We do not condone the alleged actions but it was an internal matter and the UN had no right to issue a public statement. The UN country office has only a development mandate.

She can convey the concerns of the UN Secretary General to the Government. This incident is ample evidence of the extent of their interference. If the UN resident coordinator in India made a similar statement, the following day she will be packed off.

Q: So you say the powerful nations are not criticised at the Human Rights Council whereas the smaller nations get constantly bullied. Isn’t this against the UN Charter?

According to the UN Charter, operations of this world body are governed by seven principles. The first principle is sovereign equality of nations. But there is no equality at the UN now.

No one brings resolutions against, US, UK or any other powerful nation. Under the seventh principle of the Charter, the UN has no authority to intervene in matters which are within domestic jurisdiction of a state.

The whole exercise on Sri Lanka is against the accepted principles of the UN. The resolution which called for the establishment of the HRC clearly states that it cannot take ‘Country Specific’ action and that no action can be politically motivated.

The resolution 30/1 which was adopted in October 2015, called for the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). During the entire administration of the Yahapalana Government, the HRC did not raise this issue of the PTA. It was a Government they helped get elected and it danced to the tune of the West.

The demand of repealing the PTA has come to the fore only now and the European Union has tagged it to GSP plus trade concessions. This process is a project motivated by geo political interests and nothing to do with human rights.

Q: But can we be complacent now that Sri Lanka has eradicated the LTTE?

We eradicated a menace annihilating the LTTE and the whole world benefited. More than any community, the Tamils suffered at the hands of the LTTE. Underage Tamil children were proscribed as cadres. After the war, the Northern children now get the best results at national exams and go to the best universities in the country.

But that is not to say that Tamil people don’t have genuine grievances. But it is a blatant lie to say the Tamil civilians were targeted by the Security Forces. The battle was against the LTTE but civilians were used as a human shield resulting in casualties.

Reputed British Parliamentarian, Rt. Hon. Lord Michael Naseby citing 14 diplomatic despatches from Colombo to host countries in 2009, proved that about 7,000 – 8,000 people died in the final battle - out of this 4,000 were LTTE cadres. And the figure 40,000 mentioned in the Darusman Report is a gross exaggeration of the reality.

Besides, if the UK was interested in human rights, the best they could do was to take Adelle Balasingham, who is living in the UK to court.

Q: Fifteen countries including South Korea and Japan and three representatives of regional groupings have spoken on behalf of Sri Lanka at the current session of the UNHRC?

A majority of countries are facing a threat similar to ours before the HRC. Therefore, Governments are reluctant to endorse such action at the Human Rights Council. So, the countries want to work in solidarity. On the other hand, power centers like China and Russia stand up against the Western agenda. They don’t have a hegemonic agenda but are mostly driven by economic ambitions.

Q: What can a small country like Sri Lanka do to counter international pressure?

The world community must be made aware of the true situation using international fora like HRC and the UN General assembly. They should be briefed as to what actually happened.

The strategy at these international bodies should be to win over the countries on-the-fence and strengthen the bonds with friendly countries. Notwithstanding our neutral policy, we must stand in solidarity with them at international fora on common issues.

Finally our message has to be conveyed to the hostile countries also so as to create public opinion in support of our case. In this case, the stance taken by Lord Naseby on Sri Lanka’s issue needs to be given wide publicity.