Cuba in minority as UN Council Votes to Investigate Sri Lanka for Human Rights Abuse

March 28, 2014 | Print Print |

By Ron Ridenour

HAVANA TIMES – Five years after the ethnic civil war in Sri Lanka was won by the Sinhalese government, with thousands of Tamil civilians killed in the final weeks, the UN Human Rights Council authorized its High Commissioner to investigate if human rights abuse occurred. Cuba was in the minority opposing the investigation.

On a vote of 23 for, 12 against and with 12 abstentions, the HRC voted to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka by having its High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, and her successor soon-to-be:

To undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties [referring to the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam guerrilla organization as well as the government] in Sri Lanka during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such alleged violations and of the crimes perpetrated with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedures mandate holders. (1)

The Commissioner will then “present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh session, and a comprehensive report followed by a discussion on the implementation of the present resolution at its twenty-eighth session.” The process could take three years.

Sri Lanka’s government rejected the High Commissioner’s report and the resolution as “interference into a sovereign state.” This is the position that Cuba takes as well.

This resolution is the fourth since May 2009, and the third sponsored by US/UK and allies. The resolutions of 2012 and 2013 merely asked Sri Lanka to implement its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) mild report, in which no mechanisms were proposed to end impunity for those who committed human rights abuse.

The biggest surprise in these sessions is that India abstained instead of voting yes as had been expected. This is a boon to Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa and a disappointment to Tamils.

India, like Sri Lanka, maintained that the resolution will “undermine national sovereignty;” also that it is an “intrusive approach, counter-productive,” and that the tough language “will hinder efforts” for rehabilitation.

Some analysts believe that India may also object to the resolution because it could set a precedent that might implicate India for its conduct in Kashmir.

A renowned lawyer in international law, Professor Francis Boyle, criticized the final resolution for being ineffectual. He told Tamil Net that,  While noting that `investigation´ by the UNHCR is better than nothing—with all due and sincere respect for the UNHCR—dissemination of that `investigation´ will be subject to the control of the UN Human Rights Council for political reasons…and the dissemination of that UNHCR `investigation´ will be dragged out…thus enabling the GOSL to continue its campaign of ongoing genocide against the Tamils despite the requirement of article 1 of the Genocide Convention that every UN Human Rights Council state member is obligated both `to prevent and to punish´ the GOSL for genocide against the Tamils.”

Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, president of a small political party in Sri Lanka, the Tamil National People’s Front, concurs with the Permanent People’s Tribunal in the necessity of addressing genocide.

He asserted that, “the remedy for violations…cannot be anything short of a judicial process through the ICC [International Criminal Court] or an Ad Hoc special tribunal,” adding…”anything less would undermine the concept of international justice and the application of humanitarian law.

In the “real world” of geo-politics, Cuba, China, Russia and Venezuela stand against the Western-led resolution, which all other Latin America states supported. They oppose any investigation or sanctions for human rights abuse. China’s President Xi Jinping said that his government opposes “politicizing and imposing double standards on the issue of human rights”. On the sidelines, China and Cuba point out the hypocrisy of the key accusing nations for numerous aggressive invasions of sovereign states and human rights abuse of their peoples while they enjoy impunity.

Tamils could aid their cause by identifying with a report of UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk. After six years as HRC’s independent expert charged with monitoring and reporting on human rights in Palestinian territories since 1967, he delivered his final report on March 21. He called upon the International Court of Justice to assess Israel’s occupation, which Falk characterizes as “colonialism”, “apartheid”, “ethnic cleansing.”

“We mustn’t forget that thousands of Palestinian political detainees, including children, remain in Israeli prisons. Among them are more than a hundred administrative detainees. Many of them are subjected to ill-treatment and torture from the time of their arrest to their interrogation in detention.”

The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and Sri Lanka Tamils, the seizure of their homes and the false imprisonment and torture that the Zionist Israeli and the Sinhalese chauvinist Sri Lankan governments impose should bring those peoples together in a common struggle for liberation.

Notes:

1) Yes: Argentina, Austria, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cote D’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Macedonia, Montenegro, Peru, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sierre Leone, UK, USA.

No: Algeria, China, Congo, Cuba, Kenya, Maldives, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Saudia Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Vietnam.

Abstentions: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Morocco, Namibia, Philippines, South Africa.


What's your opinion?

  • haramanis

    This Votes has nothing to do with Human Rights in Sri Lanka, its only show how United States and it’s “white” Western Allies, intrude internal matters of small countries. when those countries run by leaders who cannot be controlled by US agenda.

    • roland kuranage

      you great

  • perera

    it is not a sinhalese government. it is a sri lankan government.

  • Disgusted

    Has any of these human rights promoters have the decency and honesty to mention the structured and random genocide of Sinhalese and Muslims in the North and East, carried out over several decades and accelerated by the LTTE and the overseas LTTE diaspora, now taken refuge in the West? If not, how did the North become almost 100% ethnic Tamil, at the conclusion of this conflict in 2009?

  • Disgusted

    How can there be even the tiniest possible genocide of Tamils, when the majority of Tamils have moved out of the Northern Province, to live in every nook and corner of the island, mingling freely with the Sinhalese, Muslims, Burgers and other ethnic groups, owning big businesses and enjoying equal rights to everything, including a free education up to University degree in Tamil, free health care, have well patronised and large Hindu Kovils receiving Government funds, just like the Buddhists, Muslims and Christians etc? Why are these very small but hyper-active group of supporters of Tamil racist propaganda, lying so much or are they well meaning, but too lazy to have a long visit to Sri Lanka to experience the truth.

  • Sri Lankan.

    Sensible Tamils are living among others peacefully. The western nations are taken for ride by the pro LTTE Tamils, sadly. They will understand at some point. It’s time for all Sri Lankans prove they are wrong by being united and giving dignity to all communities and religions. God bless SriLanka..

  • Griffin

    How about the whole lot of you stop murdering each other and live in peace?

  • Antany Peter

    You are going to see an unprecedented event in the Indian Subcontinent. India abstained from voting at the UHHRC this week; however the resolution passed for the West to get a foothold in India’s backyard. India must takeover Sri Lanka, or let the West to takeover Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean. I have been commenting this through the online news agencies, well before Russians took over Crimea. I really don’t think the Rajapaksa regime can deal with the current situation. As I predicted the momentum has started in favour of the West. The US backed UNHRC resolution would lead to a bloody disaster in the Indian Ocean. I really don’t think the Rajapaksa brothers can handle it from now on. If they do, it will be the greatest miracle in the 21st century. The West has been ruling the world for the last 700 years; its knowledge and power are beyond the comprehension of the Sinhalese, Tamil, Indian and Chinese. Therefore, India must act quickly, diligently and extremely carefully.

    • Guest

      India should have opposed the resolution. Even more, it should have put pressure on the USA to not bring the motion in the first place. It was a mistake on India’s part not to have done this.
      Some people in the West are eager to break up Sri Lanka. Why do you think this is? Is it because a small country like Sri Lanka itself is of such importance? No. It is because this is a footbridge to breaking up India next.
      The fact is that when Sri Lanka defeated the LTTE, all those who wanted to break up India were sorely disappointed. They would like to start this problem again if they could.
      Those (in the West) who wish to break up India will not let up and not stop. There are those (located in the West) whose job it is to figure up ways of breaking up countries. They are often clever people. They know the Indian sub-continent better than most Indians do. They have spent their whole lives studying India and its sociology. They are paid a regular good salary to sit at their desks each day and figure out ways of breaking up India. They will think of plan after plan to exploit faultline after faultline in order to achieve their aims. Breaking up Sri Lanka is just one of their pathways to achieving their goals. And they are quite happy to sacrifice millions of lives by creating conflicts and then to sit back and watch their plans unfold.

  • Guest

    The fact is that all the countries that abstained actually supported Sri Lanka but could not oppose the USA. Even some of the countries that voted for the motion would not have done except to be in the USA’s good books. Therefore, if it were not for USA bullying, Sri Lanka would have won.
    Sri Lanka fought a difficult war against the LTTE terrorist group that was able to raise billions of dollars in the West. The Sri Lankan govt had to defeat them and did the right thing by defeating them. Because it defeated the LTTE, all Sri Lankans are much better off now than before. Anyone who goes to Sri Lanka now and compares it with even a few years ago will see that it is overwhelmingly a much better country.
    Cuba did the right thing by supporting Sri Lanka on this occasion. The vast majority of Sri Lankans will be grateful to Cuba because of this.