With the United Nations Human Rights Council conducting its Universal Periodic Review on Sri Lanka this week, some leaders of parties in the ruling coalition appear to have made matters more difficult for the Rajapaksa government. Though facing crises locally and internationally, the government appears to be overcoming them largely because the opposition is weak or bitterly divided and a strong sustained civic action like the Arab Spring is probably not part of Sri Lanka’s culture.
Whatever happened or did not happen in the past, the present trends in the globalised capitalist market economic system are encouraging or tempting people into selfishness, self-centredness and greed. Except for a few individuals and groups, most people appear to have been drawn into the vice of worshipping money or wealth and building bigger barns by fair means or foul with little concern for the wellbeing of others or for the common good. Tragically the trend is set mainly by ruling political leaders and the businessmen who finance them.
It is in this context that the Rajapaksa government faces questioning or grilling in Geneva by a UN committee chaired by India with Spain and Benin as its members. All three countries last March voted in favour of a United States sponsored resolution reprimanding Sri Lanka on its human rights record and urging that action be taken to bring about political reconciliation and allow an independent international probe on alleged war crimes by the Government and the LTTE during the last months of the conflict.
The Government has sent a high-level delegation headed by Presidential Envoy on Human Rights and Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe to Geneva. He will be presenting a report to the UNHRC on the positive steps taken by Sri Lanka for rehabilitation and resettlement and the action plan to implement some of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. But the task for the Government is daunting.
The ties with our giant neighbour and UN Committee Chairman India are known to be at breaking point for various reasons including the Rajapaksa Government’s double talk on the 13th Amendment and the decision to use the LTTE’s former chief arms dealer Kumaran Pathmanathan to reach a compromise with the Tamil Diaspora. He is wanted by India and Interpol as a suspect in the killing of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Besides this, opposition parties and independent groups here and the international community are reported to be gravely concerned over the threats and intimidation of the judiciary. Some Government politicians and ministers are even known to be talking of a possible no-confidence motion against the Chief Justice, mainly because of the Supreme Court’s tough ruling on the Divi Neguma Bill.
If the Rajapaksa Government continues its assault on the independent judiciary and the collision course with India, then November might turn out to be a purgatory for the Government.