As the three Sri Lankan human rights defenders who have come most under attack by the state media in Sri Lanka in the past week, because of our active involvement with the on-going session of the UN Human rights Council in Geneva, we feel compelled to issue this statement of clarification.

We do not deny that we are critical of the conduct of the government of Sri Lanka, and the institutions and agencies under its control, whenever disregard for the human rights obligations imposed on the government by virtue of its being signatory to almost all international human rights conventions comes to our attention. As the President of Sri Lanka, and his Special Envoy on Human Rights well know, the three of us have offered our services to this government to ensure human rights accountability in the past. For example, all of us served on the National Advisory Council appointed by Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, when he held the portfolio for Human Rights.

Nor do we deny that we work with a range of human rights organizations, nationally, regionally and internationally, to draw attention to human rights violations in Sri Lanka as well as to the culture of impunity and the lack of accountability for violations of the past and of the present. This is our right, as human rights defenders, and we have exercised that right for many years, under various governments, in spite of a barrage of attacks and intimidation from various quarters, including state and non-state entities.

It is indeed regrettable that at a time in the history of our country when we have the opportunity to transform our society, to move from a post-war to a post-conflict phase, and to enjoy the support of the international community to rebuild a just, humane and prosperous Sri Lanka in which all its citizens can live together with peace and dignity, the government and its media have seen it necessary to launch into an unprecedented and utterly personalized attack against the three of us. There is no attempt to challenge us substantively on any point. None of the comments attributed to us, were actually ever made by any one of us; there are many who were present at the side events where we have spoken who can testify to that.

This attack is totally counter-productive in terms of the government’s campaign to resist the Resolution on Sri Lanka, which has been tabled at the Council. In fact, in Geneva today, there is more focus on the attacks and acts of intimidation of Sri Lankan human rights defenders than there is on the negotiations around the Resolution. Those who accuse us of bringing the country into disrepute would do well to examine both their own motives and the consequences of their actions. Instead of carrying on with advocacy for defeating the Resolution, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the Council, Ms. Tamara Kunanayagam has had to spend hours of her valuable time talking to delegations, to the President of the Council and to officials of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights about the campaign of intimidation and attack against Sri Lankan human rights defenders at the Council and in Sri Lanka.

As human rights defenders working to defeat impunity in Sri Lanka and to build a strong system of justice and accountability for human rights violations, whether committed in the past or in the present, we remain committed to our ideals and to our goals. For us, whether there is a Resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human rights Council or not, our work to defend human rights in Sri Lanka must, and will, go on.

  • Davidson

    What sort of education about the UN is being carried out by UNA Sri Lanka please?

  • Davidson

    We need to increase the critical mass of Sri Lankans who should support the brave trio.

    • wijayapala

      How?

  • Jayantha

    Whereas there are so many men in Sri Lankan society, as three women, your dedication to justice is highly appreciated. But your way seems too fast and hot.
    I like if you become bit calm in your way ahead.

  • kadphises

    Jayantha,

    How about the Government which owns and controls the organs used to vilify and intimidate these three people? Should they not become “calmer in their way ahead”?

  • Alex Fernando

    Well done to the trio and good luck. The UN, US and India are now in your camp and Sri Lanka is on the road to accountability, law & order, peace and and as a result, prosperity.

  • justitia

    The ambassador of the European Union speaking at the UNHRC meeting expressed concern about threats to sri lankan human rights activists in Geneva.

    • yapa

      Those bloody fools think that the ra in the cat’s mouth also should follow the sober behaviour of the cat.

      The cat can sing purrr..! purr….!! with the rat in its mouth, but the unacceptable behaviour of the rat is the natural indication of the disastrous state it is in.

      That is Ethics and Morality of cats!

      Thanks!

  • Wallflower

    Carry on regardless with the commendable activities dear ladies and gentleman, rest assured that you will not be reborn as dogs in some god-forsaken country where even humans starve.

  • yapa

    It is good some intellectuals appearing to protect human rights in Sri Lanka and it should surely be done, there is no argument of the value of it. However, human rights violation in Sri Lanka is not the cause of the problem, it is only one of the effects. So, spending all our efforts on protecting human rights or trying to find a solution to the problem from that “small opening of human rights” will not be a fruitful exercise with long lasting results. In my opinion protection of human rights should be a part of the solution to the problem or in other words, human rights violations should stop as a result of the solution. In this sense protecting human rights is “a priority” and not “the priority”. (you may call me a cynic, but still I would like to continue.)Priority should be to find a long lasting solutions and therefore priority should be drawn to find the real root causes of the problem. So, my belief is objective analysis of the root cause, whether ones emotions are hurt or not should be boldly undertaken. I think any other effort whether protecting human rights or another thing, cannot have more priority than this. “International probe into human right violations”, is the only solution for some people. It might punish the human rights violators and human rights record will be straightened, but if the problem is not properly solved what is the guarantee that same causes may lead to same results in the future. What is the guarantee you have that human right violations will not be violated in the future, even after the human right violations are probed here with international aid?

    So, what I think is human right protection can work parallel to the effort of finding a long lasting solution, but it should not be taken as the first priority, and at least it cannot work as an obstacle to the main process. Human right protectors cannot work mutually exclusive to the main process of finding a long lasting solution and it should reinforce the main process. If human rights protection or any other effort though taken in good faith, if works as a barrier to the priority, I don’t think it can be hailed for any reason.

    We must be able to identify our priorities correctly. You should not take the 9th priority as 8th priority. Every priority has a proper place to stand. If we take 10 as 01 and object or act as an impediment to 01, that activism we cannot accept as progressive. A finger cannot act against the whole body.

    Thanks!

    • yapa

      Correction….

      “It might punish the human rights violators and human rights record will be straightened, but if the problem is not properly solved what is the guarantee that same causes may lead to same results in the future.”

      Should be corrected as,

      “It might punish the human rights violators and human rights record will be straightened, but if the problem is not properly solved what is the guarantee that same causes may [not]lead to same results in the future.”

      Thanks!

    • Dessert Fox

      You, ‘wanna-be’ DJ protege/side-kick,are nothing but a Casual Deconstructionist; Offer nothing of value. And to take an arrow from your quiver, your statement proves just the kind of semi-educated obstructionist dissenting opinion that castrates any form of critical thinking beyond simple indecision. If I can put it in the mother tongue ‘Yanne koheda? Malle Pol’ 😀

      Hey GV readers!! I think Yapa is suggesting that Human Rights issues shouldn’t be debated at the UN HRC. Yes! lets discuss Human rights issues at the next summit on UN’s World Food Program!!

      • Gamarala

        Dear Yapa is just looking for some love and affection on this forum, and the more ridiculous the assertion, the more likely he is to get some reaction.

      • yapa

        Yes!, Gamarala is my grand dad and I am a baby,and looking for his love and affection.

        Thanks!

  • yapa

    Sunila Abeysekera on her mission at Geneva. Please watch.

    Thanks!

  • This poem is Dedicated to the Human Rights Activists in Sri Lanka

    The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith

    People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
    Love them anyway.

    If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
    Do good anyway.

    If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
    Succeed anyway.

    The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
    Do good anyway.

    Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
    Be honest and frank anyway.

    The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
    Think big anyway.

    People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
    Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

    What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
    Build anyway.

    People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
    Help people anyway.

    Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
    Give the world the best you have anyway.

  • Nalliah Thayabharan

    The human rights issue is being used by a handful of countries as a pretext and tool to pursue selfish interests, demonize the image of other countries and intervene in their internal affairs.

    The US shouldn’t behave as a self-proclaimed human rights judge. The US has never hesitated to point the finger at other countries’ human rights and to advocate that “human rights are superior to sovereignty” when it serves its own interests. But the US has refused to sign some of the major United Nations human rights covenants. On March 18, the UN Human Rights Council made 228 proposals for the US to improve its own human rights conditions, including urging Washington to ratify some key international human rights treaties, improving the rights for minorities and reducing racial discrimination. However, the US refused most of these proposals on the grounds that its human rights allow no intervention from the outside.

    The double standard embraced by the US testify to the fact that human rights are being used by some countries as a tool to interfere with others’ internal affairs and the idea that “human rights stand higher than sovereignty” has become a political slogan for some to justify their hegemonic activities.

    Until the outbreak of World War II, Western countries were still enmeshed in their history of colonialism, racial discrimination and outside aggression. The widespread national liberation and democratic movements across the world following the end of World War II quickly resulted in the collapse of the West’s long-held moral excuses that were used to justify their past crimes and “use of force” and it turned to concepts, such as “humanitarian intervention” and “human rights are superior to sovereignty”, as the main means to regain their lost moral dominance and maintain their dwindling domain of influence throughout the world.

    By using abstract terms and their own criteria to define the concept of human rights, Western countries have attempted to completely separate human rights from sovereignty and then cause conflicts in specific countries and regions from which they can benefit and achieve their own political purposes.

    Human rights in individual countries can only be realized and protected in a sovereign country, when there are still strong and weak countries and when hegemonic activities and power politics still prevail.

    A country belongs to all its people and the country’s sovereignty is the concentrated embodiment of its collective human rights. The existence of sovereign nations constitutes the foundation of the current international society and under this precondition human rights conditions worldwide have made continuous advancements.

    In the absence of sovereignty, a country will have no ability and means to protect the human rights of its people. From Kosovo to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, under the pretext of “human rights being superior to sovereignty”, Western countries have chosen to use guns and bombs against the governments of these countries to realize their own ulterior motives. But the use of force has failed to bring the people in these countries improved human rights, on the contrary it has plunged them deep into humanitarian disasters and cost many their lives.

    Protecting human rights is a universal pursuit of people of all countries across the world. But if this issue is rigged by a handful of countries as the excuse to interfere with other countries’ internal affairs, the human rights of these countries and their people are ignored.

    Military interventions under the guise of moral slogans are in essence a kind of neo-colonialism.