“A Classic Case Of Double Standards And Hypocrisy” : Tamara Kunanayakam
By Raisa Wickrematunge
Q: Why is the Government opposing the US draft Resolution which is in effect only calling for Sri Lanka’s own homegrown solution to be implemented?
A: The draft Resolution submitted by the US does not come as a surprise! Ever since the 2009 Council’s Special Session on Sri Lanka adopted a Resolution welcoming steps taken by Sri Lanka and calling on the international community to support the internal process, the leaders of certain countries have never made a secret of their intention to revisit the past.
From my perspective, it appears that the objective is to force us to compromise on our sovereignty, step into line, and accept their leadership! There are many reasons why most developing countries and emerging nations do not support the draft text nor the hidden agenda and the accompanying pressures.
First, it is a precedent-setting initiative in that, for the first time, the Council will be addressing past issues. If adopted, it would effectively transform the Council into a tribunal, modifying the powers entrusted to it by the General Assembly and politicizing the institution so that it better serves the foreign policy goals of the big powers.
Second, it will undermine the well-entrenched rule of international law that requires exhaustion of domestic remedies and help legitimise intervention in the internal affairs of States. Third, it does not judge the facts placed before it, but rather the intention of the Government with regard to implementation of the LLRC report, and this is unprecedented! Fourth, it addresses a report, in this case that of a domestic mechanism LLRC, that is not formerly before the Human Rights Council for consideration! Fifth, by obliging Sri Lanka to accept advise and technical cooperation from the Office of the High Commissioner and the Council’s special procedures mechanisms, it violates the Charter requirement that human rights shall be promoted through international cooperation. The draft is a classic example of hypocrisy and double standards! It reaffirms that States must ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism comply with their obligations under international law, especially international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law. Yet, we all know the US track record in this regard! Only a few days ago, President Karzai of Afghanistan accused a group of US soldiers of having deliberately killed 16 civilians, among them 9 children and 3 women in the Kandahar province. Such examples can be easily multiplied! What, we may ask, has all this got to do with human rights? What else can we expect from a country that has a devastating human rights record and refuses to be accountable to anyone!
Q: There are some who consider the wording of the text to be mild. Do you agree with this assessment?
A: Certainly not! Presenting the draft as mild is part of a crude tactic to obtain support for the text! The objective is to exercise pressure on Council members and on Sri Lanka to consent to a process that will inevitably lead us to accepting and, thereby, legitimising external intervention in our internal affairs, abdicating our independence and our freedom. This Resolution is only one step in that direction! Of course, that is totally out of the question! The outcome of this battle is not yet known, but one thing is clear – We will not betray the trust of our people, nor the solidarity and support expressed by our many friends in the international community!
Q: You have previously been placed on record saying that the US Resolution is based purely on the West pushing for a regime change in Sri Lanka.
A: There are those who believe they have been bestowed with a “Divine Mission” to steer humanity’s course! We are far more modest despite our millenary civilization; it is not our intention to dictate to anyone how their affairs should be conducted! The region to which Sri Lanka belongs has an essential geostrategic importance in the eyes of the US, UK and other Western powers – economically, politically, militarily and in terms of the world’s largest concentration of economic and human resources! To maintain its global hegemony, the US must exercise decisive influence over South East Asia. This vision is hardly compatible with the existence of an independent sovereign government in Sri Lanka, which has, besides, been able to defeat the world’s most ruthless terrorist group, depriving it of a possible foothold in the country! Obviously, it is far better to have a docile Government in Colombo that espouses the Western cause than one allied to emerging nations and those perceived by Washington as rivals!
Q: 31 Tamil priests recently signed a petition calling for an independent investigation into war crimes. What do you think of this, and threats by JHU members to prosecute the priests?
A: The LLRC has heard the Bishop of Mannar as it did other witnesses and recommended measures to help clarify and address the concerns raised by him. Now, we must progress toward peace and reconciliation and not fall into polemic and confrontation. It is a responsibility that applies to all confessions. I was pleased to hear Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith on the matter. Since I am concurrently accredited as Ambassador to the Holy See, I have had the opportunity of speaking to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and also to several members of the Curia, among them Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone. I was very impressed by their knowledge of the situation in Sri Lanka, the efforts of the Government toward reconciliation and the progress made. I found a lot of support, understanding and encouragement to persevere in the path we have chosen.
Q: Do you think implementing the proposals made in the LLRC Report is sufficient for reconciliation?
A: The LLRC report is not a catalogue of good intentions, a ‘take it or leave it’ final document. President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the first Sri Lankan Head of State to have had the courage to face up to the consequences of an almost 30-year old tragic history. We must be able to revisit this whole period in a spirit of tolerance and mutual heed. This applies to all of us, without exclusion. I am Sri Lankan, but I am also Tamil; the history of my family is also that of my country. The lessons we learn together will give us the strength to move forward to live in harmony with each other without having to deny who we are.