Opening remarks by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at a press conference during her mission to Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy UN

Given the importance of the mission and the nature of the statement, Groundviews is reproducing in full Navi Pillay’s opening remarks, delivered at a press briefing held earlier today in Colombo, Sri lanka.

Download the statement as a PDF from here.

  • Dev

    Thank you GV for posting the entire speech, over the next few days it will be interesting to see the reaction of the government and its lackeys.

    • Inoka Karu

      Well it won’t be any different from what we have already heard (but it might get worse), she will continue to be branded a “tigress” and vilified for daring to criticize this triply blessed resplendent island!

      I am glad she noted the intimidation BEFORE and AFTER her visit/talk with some of the families, what is more important is her following statement:

      “This type of surveillance and harassment appears to be getting worse in Sri Lanka, which is acountry where critical voices are quite often attacked or even permanently silenced. Utterlyunacceptable at any time, it is particularly extraordinary for such treatment to be meted outduring a visit by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights”

      I am also glad to note her mention of religious/race violence against the muslims,some off the cuff commentators (and the president) would love to sweep these under the carpet using various guises but this is a pressing problem and glad she has noted it.

  • Harshula

    re: Navi Pillay (31 August 2013): “Secondly, the LTTE was a murderous organization that committed numerous crimes and destroyed many lives. In fact, my only previous visit to Sri Lanka was to attend a commemoration of the celebrated legislator, peacemaker and scholar, Neelan Tiruchelvam, who was killed by an LTTE suicide bomb in July 1999. Those in the diaspora who continue to revere the memory of the LTTE must recognize that there should be no place for the glorification of such a ruthless organization.”

    Has Navi Pillay, in the past, ever made such an emphatic condemnation of the LTTE and its support structure within the Tamil diaspora? If you recall such a condemnation in the past, can you please provide a reference where I can locate it? Thanks!

  • Candidly

    Amidst the continuing slaughter going on in Libya, Iraq, Egypt and, above all, Syria, it’s important to note the UN Human Rights Commissioner’s statement that “this is the longest official visit I have ever made to a single country”. She said that 4 years after the decisive ending of the civil war in Sri Lanka and the total defeat of the Tamil Tigers where there have been no further terrorist acts and where some areas have the oipportunity to freely vote for the first time in 25 years. Certainly there are some continuing unresolved issues of human rights still prevalent in Sri Lanka, but they are relatively minor compared with those in the 4 countries just referred to, not to mention the continuing butchery going on in Mexico, the USA’s neighbour and ally, in the never-ending war between the Mexican government and the enormously wealthy drug cartels there. There are thousands of deaths due to the drug wars every year in America’s neighbour, Mexico, but of course Ms Pillai has never been sent there.

    However, there is a method in the UN Human Right’s Commissioner’s double standards and this has been revealed recently in a speech by Gareth Evens, the former Australian politician and former head of the International Crisis Group. Evens is also one of the architects of the dubious policy of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and recently he has openly stated that the R2P cannot apply to big countries such as the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council because they are too powerful.

    For the full speech see the link below and note especially the 3 opening paragraphs and the penultimate one where Evens writes: “going to war against any of the major powers to protect a suffering minority would certainly trigger a much wider conflagration.”

    http://www.todayszaman.com/news-324359-diplomacy-and-double-standardsby-gareth-evans-.html

    This admission from Evens actually confirms what many R2P critics have been arguing for a long time: that R2P is applied selectively only to smaller countries and not to the major players. It also raises some other important issues: e.g. Why should the remaining 188 non-members of the permanent Security Council approve a hypocritical policy that will only be applied to themselves and not the big players? Won’t this 2-level policy inevitably lead to all smaller countries being compelled to put themselves under the protection of the big five leading to a decline in the possibility of non-alignment as way of avoiding the threat of R2P intervention?
    There is growing evidence that the real job of the UN’s Human Right Commissioner is to attack and undermine the smaller nations who do not want to be aligned with any of the Big 5 in order to force them to go to the major powers for “protection”. That’s why she doesn’t get sent to any of the nations under the protective umbrella of any of the permanent Security Council members, especially the 3 Western powers, the USA, UK and France.
    None of this, of course, is an excuse for Sri Lanka not to put its house in order on the human rights front, not because someone else has told them to, but because its good for Sri Lanka and her people