The sting is mostly in the tail of the latest UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) draft resolution against Sri Lanka coming out of Geneva. The final paragraph calls upon the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to “enhance” its monitoring and reporting of the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including the [...]


Human rights: The Geneva charade


The sting is mostly in the tail of the latest UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) draft resolution against Sri Lanka coming out of Geneva. The final paragraph calls upon the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to “enhance” its monitoring and reporting of the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including the progress of reconciliation and accountability and on the human rights impact of the economic crisis and corruption.

It would seem that the latest resolution is even longer than the High Commissioner’s report on Sri Lanka – an embodiment of shifting goal posts since the original witch-hunt began in the aftermath of the 2009 liquidation of the LTTE’s armed campaign for a separate state.

This, if passed, will give to the incoming UN High Commissioner for Human Rights an open-ended ‘watching brief’ on the governance of a sovereign country. It reminds one of the many accusations, some well-founded, some less so, made against the UNHRC and its predecessor bodies by world leaders ranging from former US President Donald Trump to Cuban President Fidel Castro over the disproportionate focus on some countries motivated not by concerns over human rights but by political bias.

That was the underlying theme of many countries, mainly from Asia, Africa and Latin America that spoke during the debate on Sri Lanka; the selectivity, the double standards and political bias prevalent and whether the crusade by the Western Core Group was going beyond the mandate of the UN body. It was pertinent to note that the majority of Non-Government Organisations also given a hearing at the assembly were Baptists, Evangelicals, Franciscans and the so-called Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam and those with exotic names like ‘Global Life-Savers’.

The wisdom of the trajectory of the new draft – 13 years after the end of the separatist insurrection — was raised by Sri Lanka but the writing is surely on the wall: the Western powers want Sri Lanka on the slow-burner. They have broken new ground linking economic crimes and corruption to human rights — targeting not only a country but also a family that treated them contemptuously in the lead-up to that final military assault on the LTTE in 2009.

How the Government will press the ‘reset’ button on reconciliation, accountability and corruption one will have to wait and see. It is not easy to shake off the Western offensive as they seek to reduce China’s influence over Sri Lanka and yet their support to overcome the economic crisis is a crucial factor in the grand scheme of geopolitics. To hell with human rights.

His Majesty’s paradox

‘Elizabeth Regina’, the longest reigning Queen of the United Kingdom in a world divided by pro and anti-monarchists, will be laid to rest tomorrow with all the pomp and pageantry the British are masters at. Such are the painstaking rehearsals for the funeral ceremony that soldiers were asked to pretend-cry and flowers and flags were thrown at the horses which will pull the Queen’s bier to prepare them for the anticipated noise of the crowd.

Beloved by most of her subjects, Queen Elizabeth II witnessed much of her nation’s triumphs and tribulations over the past 100 years. Personally, the year 1992, was in her own words, an “annus horribilis” (a horrible year) as her family was rocked by scandal and tragedy, and the popularity of the monarchy and her own standing plummeted. She soldiered on, gradually repairing the damage and her sense of duty which she pledged to uphold when crowned way back in 1952 was greatly admired; in fact, she ‘died with her boots on’ as the saying goes, swearing in the 15th Prime Minister of Britain in her record reign, just 48 hours before her passing.

To this country, she was Queen from 1952-1972 until Ceylon became Sri Lanka and a Republic cutting the last umbilical cord with the former somewhat exploitative colonist, remaining, however, a member of what was then the British Commonwealth, now the Commonwealth of Nations.

The Queen was an ardent fan of the 56-member Commonwealth club, arguably due to nostalgia for the time when her nation ‘ruled the waves and waived the rules’ over vast swathes of land and people across the world. Her ancestors did both good and bad during their centuries of Empire, and many of them actually ruled, not just reigned.

She owed no personal responsibility, nor can she claim credit for the good deeds and missteps of her predecessors, but she has been questioned by the present generation of world citizens for conferring knighthoods and outdated honorifics like the OBE (Order of the British ‘Empire’) to those responsible for invading foreign sovereign states in recent times causing the deaths of men, women and children and immense distress to natives of those countries.

By coincidence, Her Majesty’s Government — now His Majesty’s Government — is leading the charge against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva demanding the UN body supervise the running of the country they left behind in 1948.

Their envoy said her Government is “deeply concerned” and even “distressed” that “peaceful protesters” were subjected to arrests and detention recently in Sri Lanka.

As she spoke, her own Government’s police were arresting and detaining peaceful anti-monarchy protesters including one person who shouted, “Who elected him?” as the newly anointed King Charles passed by.

While England and Wales limit the right to protest under the Public Order Act 1986 and introduced the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act this very year, common law offences of breach of peace continue in Scotland and Northern Ireland, which include provisions that can be invoked on public processions.

The point is not if the British or the Sri Lankan security services exceeded their powers, but in the ‘do as we say, not as we do’ policy of Western double standards.

Foreign policy is often said to be an extension of a country’s domestic policy and the British Government is too beholden to its voters, now swelled by the influx of the Sri Lankan Diaspora.

Thus King Charles III, as the new head of the Commonwealth, faces a paradox of how one Commonwealth member is doing its darnedest to crucify another.

In a stripped-down monarchy, he can only watch from the comfort of Buckingham Palace and adhere to the dictates of typical contradictions performed by His Majesty’s Government.


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