While the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Navaneetham Pillay makes a first-hand probe of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, a civic action group has sought a meeting with her to highlight other major though largely unseen areas of human rights violations.
The Swarna Hansa Foundation headed by Gallage Punyawardana has alleged that these wide-scale and deadly human rights violations are being commited mainly in Third-World countries by Trans-National Corporations (TNCs) in collusion with seemingly-respectable United Nations groups like the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The FAO was set up by the UN in 1945 mainly to promote agriculture in Third-World countries as part of plans to alleviate poverty.
The intentions may have been good. But most independent economic analysts believe that eventually neo-conservative US institutions such as the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations began to manipulate the FAO not so much to alleviate poverty but to promote the agendas and super-profit-making mechanisms of US-based TNCs.
Down the line, a high-sounding International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) was set up and as part of the continuing process of mass deception they also began proclaiming agreeing revolution which looked big and beautiful, but the roots or agendas of the TNCs were poisonous to the Third-World. Decades later we see proof of it in the globalised capitalist market economic policy where the rich world is getting richer and the poor world poorer because as much as 85% of the world’s wealth and resources is in the hands of the rich and ruling elite.
The subtle, sophisticated cunning and deceptive methods used by the self-righteous and sanctimonious humbugs included the mechanisation of agriculture and the widespread use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and weedicides. The TNCs also created hybrid or genetically-modified seeds claiming the harvest would be better, but not making it clear that the patent rights would be with the companies, and poor farmers would have to pay a heavy price to buy seeds for the next cultivation.
The excessive use of imported agro-chemicals has caused a catastrophe in the North-Central and other provinces of Sri Lanka, though another UN body apparently influenced by the TNCs is trying to colour-wash the main reason why the ground water has been polluted and made toxic. Tens of thousands of people between the ages of 15 and 70 are known to have been affected by the chronic kidney disease caused by ground water pollution and most of them are undergoing the agony of dialysis. Some 22,000 people in the NCP are known to have already died of this kidney disease, while Sri Lankan agriculture experts are warning that if immediate and effective measures are not taken to solve this crisis it might affect tens of thousands of people in other provinces also and destroy our agriculture.
According to the Swarna Hansa Foundation and most of the Third-World economic analysts, the TNCs are also committing such deception if not devilry in medicinal drugs and devices and food such as the ongoing Milkgate crisis over imported powdered milk products in Sri Lanka. The Government and civic action groups need to act fast to restore organic farming on a large scale, give incentives including interest-free loans to farmers to revive the local fresh milk industry and take other steps so that the people of this tropical paradise could get their food and nutrition from Sri Lanka itself. This is what Mahathma Gandhi taught us. We did not listen then. We need to listen now to his guidance – “Be Lankan, buy Lankan”.