At the recently concluded 46th session of the Human Rights Council session on Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, among other issues charged Sri Lanka of;
- Having failed to ensure justice for victims of the civil war which ended in 2009;
- Dismantle the systems, structures, policies and personnel that gave rise to such grave violations in the past remain – and have recently been reinforced;
- The space for civil society and independent media, is now rapidly shrinking
- The independence of the judiciary, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the National Police Commission and other key bodies has been deeply eroded by the recently adopted 20th Constitutional Amendment.
The High commissioner further charged the minority communities were being excluded by divisive and discriminatory rhetoric including from the highest State officials. She added successive Government commissions had failed to credibly establish truth and ensure accountability. She called on the Council to explore new ways to advance various types of accountability at the international level, for all parties, and seek redress for victims, including by supporting a dedicated capacity to collect and preserve evidence and information for future accountability processes...
The Council voted 22 in favour 11 against with 14 abstaining. This paper has continually stood up for human rights and sovereignty of nation states. Similar thinking guided Lanka when it played a historic role to prevent the breakup of Japan following its defeat in World War II, despite its commission of crimes amounting to war crimes during that dark period. At the end of the war, some nations wanted Japan to be carved up into separate occupation zones.
At the San Francisco Peace Conference in 1951, Sri Lanka opposed the proposal and helped Japan to maintain its unity and sovereignty. Sri Lanka, then Ceylon’s representative - JR Jayewardene- declared his country would even waive its right to reparations from Japan. Quoting Gautama Buddha he pointed out that “hatred ceases not by hatred, but by love...” Lanka’s stand moved those nations seeking punitive measures into accepting Japan back into the international fold.
Both India’s and Japan’s stand at the recently concluded UNHRC sessions in Geneva stood in sharp contrast to then Ceylon’s position at the San Francisco Peace conference. While mouthing its usual platitudes on Sri Lankan sovereignty at Geneva, India abstained from voting. However, India’s Permanent Representative in Geneva called on the Sri Lanka government to carry forward the process of reconciliation, address the aspirations of the Tamil community and ‘continue to engage constructively with the international community to ensure the fundamental freedom and human rights of all its citizens are fully protected’. What bombast, what hypocrisy, especially as even today, India uses its military against its own people.
In Kashmir, using a presidential decree India annulled Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority state.
To quell anti-Indian agitation, Indian forces indiscriminately fired pellet guns into unarmed civilian protestors as a means of crowd control.
According to Mehbooba Mufti, former CM of Kashmir, over 6,200 civilians were wounded by Indian forces using of pellet guns as a means of crowd control, resulting in 782 with eye injuries.
‘The Hindu’ reported various government and non-governmental data put the number of pellet victims in Kashmir since the pellet shotgun was introduced in 2010 to quell mass street protests, is likely to be between 10,000 to 20,000 persons.
BBC reports the widespread use of pellet guns against protesters in recent years has led to an estimated 3,000 people in the region sustaining eye injuries, which locals refer to as “dead eye epidemic.” In different parts of India today, Muslims and other minority, groups continue to be attacked with impunity.
A new law bans conversion, and moves are afoot to prevent mixed marriages between different religious groups –all of which trespass on the rights of its own citizens. India also intervenes in the affairs of its neighbours, as for example it invaded Pakistan and bifurcated that country.
In Sri Lanka, India provided weapons, weapons training and set up training camps for militant groups. She coerced President Jayewardene into accepting an Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) on grounds of protecting civilian Tamils. But the IPKF ended up killing the very Tamils they came to ‘protect’. The killings stopped when President Jayewardene’s successor President Premadasa ordered the Indians out of the country.
Today the country stands proud of those who rejected co-sponsorship of the UNHRC resolution and stood for dignity.