LOOKING AHEAD AT UNHRC SESSIONS – EDITORIAL

We are done with elections. We are done with crossovers and the securing of a majority that enables a relatively smoother functioning of the Government.

We are almost done with ministerial appointments.  There were a lot of hiccups and a lot of umbrage from certain quarters over how the particular outcomes were obtained, but by and large there’s general acceptance. It is unlikely that there will be riots on account of what some would argue are un-yahapaalanaya-like manipulations.

 Those in power, distracted by political intrigue for many months, can now focus on resolving the outstanding problems of the people. These need not be enumerated here as we’ve heard about them enough during elections. The key concern at this point would be the UNHRC sessions later this month.

 The prime mover against Sri Lanka in recent times, the USA, has clearly indicated that it prefers the current political establishment to that of Mahinda Rajapaksa. While no one should be fooled that the USA’s foreign relations have anything to do with the democratic health of the particular nation, a softening of stance with respect to war-related allegations was obvious.

Nisha Biswal was essentially reiterating John Kerry’s view that in the end Sri Lankans should sort out Sri Lankan affairs when she referred to domestic instruments in investigating allegations of wrongdoing by the security forces.

 A+section+of+the+picketIt is the kind of soft-hands approach one has come to expect from the USA when dealing with pliant Governments. It is the kind of approach that can lull everyone to a false sense of security.  In these matters what should never be forgotten is that time is long. Things can change and very fast too.

Today’s friend can be tomorrow’s enemy. The way the USA has dealt with ‘friends’ in the Middle East ought to instruct those mandated to represent the country. Nothing can be taken for granted, in short.  

There were indeed ‘domestic mechanisms’ that were pooh-poohed by many, including those now in power. Interestingly, when the pooh-poohed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) came out with its report, the objectors embraced it and waved it at the then Government, insisting that the recommendations be implemented.

Of course they were selective about which recommendations to prioritize and had no qualms about misreading some of them, but that’s a different matter.

The point is that the LLRC was a useful exercise.  This alone ought to persuade the President, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet that regardless of who appointed whom, the findings of commissions have to be taken seriously.

A good rule of thumb would be to check the identities of those who object to such exercises.

This is why the work of the Presidential Commission on Missing Persons, also known as the Maxwell Paranagama Commission, should be taken very seriously. The report on missing persons cannot be allowed to gather dust, most importantly because it contains comprehensive rebuttals of baseless allegations and unsubstantiated conclusions by self-appointed pundits on Sri Lanka who at one time shared ‘common ground’ with the USA.  It is not about covering up wrongdoings by the ‘Ranaviruvo’.

It is about the truth. The Paranagama Report is not the last word on the matter but it is a key word. Leave it out and we are complicit in an exercise of obfuscation.  

It is about the integrity of a people. An obvious and even legitimate dislike for the previous regime should not blind the current Government to the long-term negative repercussions of factoring revenge-politics into foreign relations. The President and the Prime Minister are both seasoned politicians.

They should be able to see ahead and be above the personal and petty, especially since they are both politically secure now.  A good starting point would be to make the report public.

It is what ‘good governance’ demands.

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