A year ago, UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet made the following observation in her report on Sri Lanka (tabled on March 8, 2019):
‘On 29 May 2018, human skeletal remains were discovered at a construction site in Mannar (Northern Province). Excavations, concluded with the support of the Office on Missing Persons, revealed a mass grave from which more than 300 skeletons were recovered. It was the second mass grave found in Mannar following the discovery of a site in 2014. Given that other mass graves might be expected to be found in the future, systematic access to grave sites by the Office as an observer is crucial for it to fully discharge its mandate, particularly with regard to the investigation and identification of remains.’
Pointing out that the said mass grave has been dated back to 1499-1719 CE, as per tests done by Beta Analytic Institute, Florida, USA, I made the following observation:
‘Bechelet may have not known (which indicates sloth) or knew very well (which indicates she’s toxic) when she tabled that report. Those who were ecstatic when these graves were discovered and may have uttered equivalents of ‘Pay dirt, baby!’ are playing ostrich right now.’ [Ref: ‘When you have a bone to pick….’].
There’s been no apologies or explanations. Not then, not since. Not about the mass grave nor about the blatant lies and tendentious claims she dished out in her report, clearly refuted by then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tilak Marapana.
A year later, Bachelet revisits. No mention of mass graves. Instead she offers a whine. Read on:
‘“A contributing factor to a lack of delays in implementing human rights reform appears to be a lack of common vision among the country’s highest leadership, deadlock on important issues is an addition and an avoidable problem with damaging impact on victims currently from all ethnic and religious groups and society as a whole.
What does she mean by ‘common vision’? Before we answer that, there are a couple of things we need to deal with. First, ‘leadership’. Contrary to her claim, there doesn’t seem to be disunity. The Yahapalana Regime was brought with division. There was a maverick Minister of Foreign Affairs (before Marapana) who was like a law unto himself, bullishly co-sponsoring an anti-Sri Lanka resolution (30/1) on behalf of a Government led by two individuals in a coalition of two parties that had been going hammer and tongs for more than half a century and was too busy with petty political fights to figure out what he was up to. Indeed THAT government, at THAT time, had all but lost its mandate, having been routed in the local government elections a year before. In stark contrast, the current regime does not seem to be suffering from any vision impairment on account of disunity with regard to these issues. ‘One Voice’ is what we have now. We can tell her something like this: There’s no deadlock miss; ask the UNP’s presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa what his views are on Resolution 30/1.’
The disunity we see comes from differences among different political parties/coalitions. That’s natural. That’s why there’s ‘government’ and there’s ‘opposition’. It’s about having power and wanting power. However, today, the main opposition United National Party (UNP) doesn’t seem to have any issues with the position that the ruling party, the SLPP (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna) has taken vis-a-vis Resolution 30/1.
So when Bachelet talks of ‘common vision’ we need to unpack ‘vision’. Whose vision? Is she dismayed because a nation appears to be unwilling to inhabit her version of its reality? Probably. But what’s her vision and what is it based on?
In her elaboration on Sri Lanka, Bachelet says, ‘the recent appointment to a senior position in the SL army of Major General Shavindra Silva implicated in alleged serious violations of national humanitarian rights law is a worrying development.’ Key word: ‘alleged’. Then she laments ‘lack of progress’ in ‘setting up special judicial mechanism to deal with the worst crimes committed in the 2009 conflict.’ That’s not allegation, it’s conclusion and condemnation. A quick shift, that.
She’s also mentioned ‘an important next step’: ‘legislation and the establishment of an independent truth and reconciliation commission.’ Aha! So we need to legislate. This seems to be an acknowledgment of the frivolous and pernicious nature of Resolution 30/1 where Sri Lanka (well, Mangala Samaraweera, actually) pledges to violate her own constitution! Naturally, new laws would have to be made. Now that promise was made without any mandate for constitution-violation. Today, Bachelet says ‘legislate!’
There has been minimal progress on accountability, she says. True. Of the UNHRC, sections of the UNP, the Tamil National Alliance and various I/NGOs with absolutely no standing in civil society but whose word has been taken as biblical truth by UN agencies, the USA and the UK. They lied. The lies were picked up and agreed upon by the charlatans commissioned by former UN Secretary General, Ban-ki Moon to advise him on Sri Lanka. Lies were agreed upon. Based on these very same lines, ‘vision’ was produced. Now that the whole edifice is askew on account of a weak foundation, people like Bachelet wail, ‘there’s no unity among leaders in Sri Lanka!’ They use ‘allegation’ and treat it as ‘guilt’. They talk of ‘damaging impact on victims,’ interestingly ‘from ALL ethnic and religious groups and society as a whole.’
Has Bachelet done a survey of some sort? And who are these ‘victims’? Yes, all ethnic and religious groups suffered. ‘Society as a whole’ suffered too. Happens when a rabid terrorist outfit holds country and community hostage for decades. The victims are those who suffering has been all but discounted by the UNHRC and people like Bachelet. Resolution 30/1 kicks them in the teeth, so to speak simply because it infringes upon their sovereignty, makes light of their suffering and attempts to force them to submit to someone else’s version of what they’ve suffered.
So when Bachelet talks of ‘deadlock,’ it is essentially disagreement between the people of Sri Lanka and the UNHRC’s (or should I say ‘Uncle Sam’s’) notions of Sri Lanka’s past, present and future.
Since she talks of ‘all ethnic and religious groups and society as a whole,’ she needs to understand that Resolution 30/1 panders to the pernicious designs of a small minority of a single ethnic group that has been whipping communalism for decades. That’s what legislation a la Bachelet would do.
When I said Michelle Bachelet needs a tutor it was tongue-in-cheek. She knows stuff. She knows stuff and knows her job. Upholding human rights is her official job, but the United Nations being a creature of North America and Europe, that job is framed, more or less, by the interests of the relevant nations. Sure, the USA has called it a ‘cess pool of bias’. That’s correct. Bias in favor of the global political formations mentioned above. Sure, the USA quit the UNHRC, but no one’s fooling anyone. The US can operate (read, ‘arm-twist’) directly or through proxies. And Bachelet seems to be playing her part in that game.
This must end. Soon. Sri Lanka has been hauled over the coals by countries that have the worst human rights records and their apologists. Sri Lanka should not be held to ransom on account of the stupidity of an inept government utterly servile to the designs of the USA. Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans should not be held to ransom just because a maverick minister suffers from a postcolonial condition that makes victim hate him/herself and believe fervently in the ‘curative power’ of vilifying and destroying his/her community.
Enough. We need closure on this. Bachelet, we must not forget, is someone who refused an audience to the victims of the US-sponsored coup that ousted the democratically elected government of Salvadore Allende during two separate terms as President of Chile. She can’t pretend to shed victim-tears for tears she did not have to shed for victims in her own country.
We need closure on spin. No tutors required for that.
This article was first published in the SUNDAY OBSERVER [February 23, 2020]