“To those political actors who, as in the days of the League, threaten the multilateral system or intend to withdraw from parts of it, the sirens of historical experience ought to ring clear. We will not sit idly by. For we have much to lose, so much to protect. And our rights, the rights of others, the very future of our planet cannot and must not be thrown aside by these reckless political profiteers.” – From statement made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein with UN Secretary General António Guterres present; was calling on the Council to ensure the rights of all communities are protected around the world; at the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council opened in Geneva, Switzerland on 27 February 2017.
At this 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) opened in Geneva, the Sri Lankan Government is seeking more time to resolve the human rights and accountability mechanisms to bring justice to the victims of human rights violations caused by the bloody civil-war that ended in 2009, that was promised fifteen months ago, to unite a divided nation that was once a paradise at the time country gained independence in 1948. In seeking the extension the country’s foreign minister did concede to that fact that the 69-year-long experiment in nation-building has failed in Sri Lanka and explained in detail how in the past two years the government had planned to put matters right. When this government was elected in 2015, the country was fully corrupted and bankrupt facing an economic crisis; then to address all ills, the people went back to basics and strived on the need of a new constitution. All credit to the new government made few major changes to the existing constitution to tidy over things and begun the process of drafting the new constitution with the involvement of all political parties in parliament, a situation never occurred before in the country and has plans to put the constitution to a referendum and get the people’s verdict. This is taking place at a time the government is facing opposition from the forces of extremism and regression on both sides of the divide, who are creating road blocks for narrow, short-term political gain; not surprisingly the minister requested more time for the government to end the reconciliation process successfully. It would be interesting to see how the international body UNHRC responds to the request for extension of time by Sri Lanka.
In the meantime, the “frogs in the well” type political actors from both sides of the divide in the House of Parliament is having a field day with the extremists of all shades and colour outside the parliament are creating opposition for narrow and short-term political gains; amidst allegations from the south, who claim that the government is giving into the separatist calls, while from the north there is a call for more devolution than at present and claims that the government has not done enough to promote reconciliation and accountability and sadly the media has failed to play its role properly. This is however is not going to deter the ordinary citizens, who are not willing to sit idle and take any more of it for they have much to lose and so much to protect; have realized their rights and the rights of others, the very future of our nation cannot and must not be thrown aside by these reckless political profiteers. In the past few weeks the affected people in Keppapilau in the North protested to get their land released from the security forces, holding on to them long after the civil war ending in 2009. For over a month the protest continued without much support from the political actors, but appreciating the plight of these affected fellow citizens it was a relief when more ordinary people from all communities living in various parts of the country came out to protest on the streets and gave their support. That caused the President to instruct the Defense Ministry and the Army Commander to make arrangements to release the lands as early as possible. Ironically, this instruction that should have been given eight years earlier by the then president, only delayed by the inaction of then political actors; confirming the truth in the statements made this week by the Foreign Minister at UNHRC. Also it clearly demonstrate the mood of the people, who are not going to sit back and wait to meet their demands through the political actors and many of whom are still hanging on to their political positions, for narrow and short-term political gains. It would be beneficial if the people continue to stay in this gear to complete the journey of reforms needed.
In this context, the government seeking more time to resolve the human rights and accountability mechanisms was unavoidable, for there are many factors at ground zero that are delaying the process; and the wise Leader of Opposition has accepted extension as unavoidable necessity, if the unfinished matters are to be resolved properly and correctly has suggested perhaps with direct supervision of UN. As previously reported many postings in Northern Breeze, it only brings home a clear message to the people of the country once again, that all these external interferences by the international communities; be it to provide devolution to the peripheries in 1987, to finish the war in 2009 or to change the rulers in 2015 could have all could have been prevented had the past petty minded rulers accommodated all communities as equals in 1948 and moved forward to build a multi-racial and multi-religious nation. It would have not only ensured the country retained its place as a leading nation in the region if not the world; but would have also given the opportunity to show the whole world of a Nation that follow the rich teachings of Lord Buddha.
To those political actors that includes many politicians from the majority community in the South, who have systematically worked to threaten the many-sided system or politicians of the minority community in the North, who are feed-up and prefer to withdraw from the ruined system that was in place at the time country gained independence in 1948. To them all the warnings of our own post-independence historical experience ought to ring clear, we say that there is a simple lesson to learn from our hand, that all the fingers are not of the same length, but when they bend all stand equal; life become easy when we bend and adjust all situations. It is about time our political actors, in particular the leaders of all the political parties as lead actors understand this basic fact of life and accommodate each other and move forward to build the nation back to its previous glory as pearl of the Indian Ocean.