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MAJ.GEN.SILVA IN NEW YORK: SENTENCE WITHOUT A HEARING

27 February 2012 07:48 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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They find convicting suitable even beore a hearing.They label individuals to satisfy their partialities, thus sidelining such individuals in the most blatant manner for no obvious fault of their own. This is the plot outline of Major General Shavendra Silva’s story in New York. Had Sri Lankan armed forces been found guilty of the various charges levelled by the international community, their move would have been justifiable; yet not in conditions such as these, when the country is trying to prove its innocence while fighting many LTTE hidden paws that show up in the forms that are most unimaginable. However, the disturbing story reaches home at a time, when the Sri Lankan delegates are rowing a boat with many holes, in Geneva UNHRC sessions. Even though Maj. Gen. Silva’s situation does not change anything about the Geneva proceedings, it certainly gives the idea that, Sri Lanka has many demons to tackle at a time; not to mention demons of international standard too! As soon as he was appointed as the Sri Lanka’s deputy permanent representative to UN, Maj. Gen. Silva was earmarked to be included in the bad books for his military background. Whatever the diplomatic expertise he possessed was overshadowed by his history in the army as a commanding officer during the latter stages of the war: a time period during which the alleged war crimes and HR violations are said to have taken place. Thus, he landed in New York with a decided fate of earning the dislike of the international bodies, or becoming subject to controversy. The respect ensured by common diplomatic protocols was not his; even his immunity as a diplomat was not well-defined until of late. Almost turning the tables, his nomination for the Special Advisory Group on UN Peace Keeping by Asia’s group, came as a consolation for many who thought Sri Lanka’s dignity in New York was doomed for eternity. However, the bliss was short-lived when the UNHR commissioner, Navi Pillai sent a hate mail to the UN Secretary General raising concerns on Maj. Gen. Silva’s appointment; a move which compelled them to review his nomination. Navy Pillai has never been a great favourite of Sri Lanka nor had she been entirely even-handed in her proceedings with the island nation. For reasons that are best known to her,Ms. Pillai exceeds the diplomatic boundaries when dealing with Sri Lanka. Her prejudice is disgusting. Her partiality hardly suits someone who sits on a higher chair such as that of hers. Whatever the script that is being acted out by her or whoever the directors behind the curtains, Ms. Pillai had gone to the extent of defying the fundamentals of law and human rights, she is honour-bound to protect; thus, she had let the world catch a glimpse of her hypocrisies. What Ms. Pillai has conveniently forgotten perhaps is that her designation as the UN Human Rights Chief does not give her the supremacy to ‘convict’ a diplomat nor does it give her immunity to endorse Tiger propaganda, willfully or otherwise. However, by continuously fanning the flames of communal hatred in this manner, her actions are far from those of a responsible head of a UN affiliated body that looks into peace, human rights and reconciliation. One cannot help but wonder, for one who is hyper sensitive about human rights violations, why Ms. Pillai does not raise the same vehement voice against America or the NATO forces, on their missions in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. The situation leaves the question as to whether, Maj. Gen. Silva would have been saved from her rage, had he been a commanding officer in the NATO forces instead of the Sri Lanka army. However, the tension in the Advisory group boiled down to a point where Maj. Gen. Silva was sidelined at the committee’s sitting last week. International media reported that he was informed beforehand that his attendance was not necessary at the sitting. However, the request was declined by him which later compelled him to be an absentee at a sitting where he was physically present. Considering the nature of the events, the head of the Group and the former UN Deputy Secretary Louise Frechette’s office issued a statement saying “Following careful consideration and consultation with other SAG members, the chair, Louise Frechette, has advised Major General Shavendra Silva of Sri Lanka, that his participation is not appropriate or helpful for the purposes of this group. He will not participate in its deliberations.” What is sadder perhaps is that Maj. Gen. Silva was compelled to endure such treatment from an organization which was once chaired by an individual who was accused of war crime charges. If Kurt Waldheim of Austria could become the UN General Secretary in 1972, even with his shadowy history of Nazi war crimes, one is at a loss to comprehend as to on what basis shall the doors of the UN or its affiliated organizations be closed to Maj. Gen. Silva who is not even a suspect of a war crime tribunal. It seems that whatever the nature of peace or human rights assured by the UN, it has certainly not looked into the fundamental rights of Maj. Gen. Silva. No doubt, he may not be the ideal diplomat to have been posted in New York. Whether he was guilty or not of the charges thrown at him, is a factor only time would reveal. Perhaps, the drama at the advisory panel would be the end of Maj. Gen. Silva’s involvement in the UN missions. One cannot blame him for not being able to bring the international community under his spell. After all, he is no charmer but a military man who was trained to fight a different battle than what one sees at the diplomatic level. If the decision makers had thought that by sending him on a diplomatic mission, they were honouring a war hero, they have blindly thrown him right into the lion’s den by posting him in New York. If it was their foolish idea to boast to the world that Sri Lanka has military men of diplomatic calibre, their bravado had certainly backfired. His fate has more to do with the fact that the government failed
By Dawpadee Kawshalya
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