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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1587

Geneva: Antics of humbugs continue

By Janaka Perera

Will Sri Lanka have to rewrite its history if the U.S. resolution on Sri Lanka wins at Geneva? Some Sri Lankans (if they deserve to be called that) defending the resolution are like those who argued that the British occupied the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815 only to free the natives from a tyrannical king!

Likewise, 197 years later Americans are supposedly doing the same but indirectly – this time to teach Sri Lanka ‘human rights’ and again ‘free’ the natives from another real or imagined tyranny. This latter view apparently is the current line of thinking of some in the Opposition and in the media – though they dare not say it openly. There is no other reason for UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to instruct his party members not to make comments on the U.S. resolution but let the government handle it – as if the repercussions of such a resolution being force on the country will affect only the Rajapaksas.

Those peddling this theory seem to have forgotten that when the U.S. imposed sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship they hardly had any impact on him or his government. Instead the 10 years of US-led UN sanctions contributed to the deaths of over half a million Iraqi children under the age of five.

A handful of short-sighted Sri Lankans looking forward to “a mutiny on board the ship” forget that if it sinks everybody in it – mutineers and all – go down with the vessel to the bottom. The need of the hour is to first save the ship from the pirates attacking it in the name of human rights.

Even Minister Sakashita Osamu of Japan’s Permanent Mission in Geneva told the current session of the UNHRC on the Sri Lankan issue, "No country has a perfect record on human rights, and countries need to be given time, space, encouragement, advice, and where appropriate, concrete assistance in order to overcome existing challenges. The political, socio-economic and cultural contexts of each country duly need to be considered when addressing human rights issues.”

As for India expressing her ‘inclination’ to support the U.S. resolution seems to have forgotten that she herself was once the victim of a similar UN resolution that charged Delhi with “human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir” although it was successfully beaten back.

Some local journalists seem to have taken umbrage over media attacks on the U.S. Writing in the Sunday Leader of March 18 under the heading “Did the U.S. and IC want to save the LTTE? What stuff and nonsense,” Uvindu Kurukulasuriya says there is “an ongoing hate campaign against the US and the international community.”

So what? Are the U.S. and the so-called international community sacred cows? Hate campaigns have been going on against several countries in the world in varying degrees primarily due to the policies of their governments at different stages in history. The Kurds and Armenians still bear grudges against the Turks. Israelis and Palestinians hate each other. U.S. policies have infuriated Afghans and Pakistanis. Many Kashmiris hate the Indian Government no matter which party is in power. China still on and off condemns Japan for World War II atrocities. Some Tibetans react similarly towards Beijing’s rule. There is nothing new or surprising in such situations.

The U.S. - we are sure - is used to such hate campaigns since the Vietnam War during which there were world-wide protests demanding “Yankee go home.” In Colombo it led to a mob attack on the U.S. embassy in 1971 resulting in damage to embassy property and the death of a policed officer. But we doubt there will be such violence over the U.S. resolution on Sri Lanka..

No media or political party in Sri Lanka is directing a hate campaign against Americans as a people or a nation. .There is no Taliban here threatening to abduct or kill U.S. citizens. Nevertheless there is no denying that Washington’s policies have sparked off anger in Sri Lanka as well as elsewhere in the world. And what right the U.S. – which has military bases almost right round the world – to demand that little Sri Lanka withdraws her troops from the Northern part of her own territory?

And what is this international community Kurukulasuriya is talking about? Does it include China, Russia, Iran, Vietnam, Nepal, Myanmar, Cuba and Venezuela among others? Or is it only the U.S. and its allies engaged in twisting the arms of those who refuse to serve the Western agenda?

The writer then goes on to say that “a Sri Lankan nationalist press has been misleading the public for ages.” The way he has worded the sentence gives the impression that he sees ‘nationalism’ as something offensive and obscene whereas it is nationalism that inspired many a anti-colonial struggle in Asia and Africa. That the European version nationalism became an excuse for Western countries to invade others has nothing to do with us. And if anyone is trying to equate our nationalism with racism it is his / her problem.

If we cut the crap what the writer is really trying to tell us is, “You’d better listen to the high and mighty in the Western Capitals. Don’t be fools. We owe our existence to them because they decide what is god for us - what is right and wrong in this world. We have no say in it. In foreign policy they are shameless thugs and hypocrites of the first order. That is their track record which is known to everyone. But we cannot do anything about it. International justice is what they define as such – not what you and I think. Do as they say not as they have been doing (in Hiroshima, Vietnam, Chile, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc). Otherwise better be ready to face the consequences. We have no other choice”

It is at times like these that small nations like Sri Lanka feel the great disadvantage of the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Although we do not endorse everything that happened under communist totalitarianism as long as the Cold War lasted less powerful nations and former European colonies could live with dignity. When Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike nationalized foreign-owned petroleum companies in the 1960s, the U.S. and the Britain cut-off aid to Sri Lanka. Soon afterwards the country developed stronger ties with the Soviet Union and China. Later the West was compelled to resume its aid programs.

Anyway, even if the U.S. Resolution is not defeated Sri Lanka need not worry much.. She can draw inspiration from tiny Cuba which is right at the doorstep of the U.S. Despite this close proximity not only has this island survived more than 40 years of US sanctions intended to topple Fidel Castro’s government but it also defied predictions that it would not survive the collapse of its one-time supporter, the Soviet Union.

- Asian Tribune -

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