Why The Sri Lankan President Is Attempting To Undermine The Human Rights Council Resolution

Why The Sri Lankan President Is Attempting To Undermine The Human Rights Council Resolution

President Sirisena turned against something he himself had sponsored.

After the end of the 23-year-old civil war in Sri Lanka between the government and the Tamil Tigers and other ethnic minority separatist groups, a human rights organization decided that both the separatist groups and the government of Sri Lanka perpetrated human rights violations, some even counting up to the charge of war crimes. Following the report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations, the Human Rights Council took up the matter drafting a resolution that was co-sponsored by the United States, Britan, and other nations, including Sri Lanka itself.

The resolution that was produced called for a number of things, including the creation of an Office of Missing Persons (OMP) for the forced disappearances that had occurred during the civil war, criminal war tribunals, and the amendment of domestic constitutional laws; this includes the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which allowed the government to kidnap and detain its citizens for undisclosed reasons for any period of time. The resolution, the Human Rights Council’s consensus resolution 30/1, the October 2015 resolution on transitional justice, has largely failed to be implemented by Sri Lanka.

A recent interview by President Maithripala Sirisena at the Sri Lankan network Derana on February 6th, 2018 denounced the resolution, which his administration co-sponsored, completely. In this interview, the Sri Lankan President made various claims that depict either a genuine or construed ignorance of what these and other UN resolutions called for and an admission on the Sri Lankan co-sponsorship of HRC resolution 30/1.

On February 9th, the Asian Tribune reported:

“When the president declared in the interview that Sri Lanka had not been accused of committing any international war crimes he displayed his ignorance that the UNHRC Resolution 30/1, a joint effort by his own government and the United States, in several places called for accountability for past abuses. In fact the March 2017 subsequent resolution in Geneva clearly used the term ‘war crimes’ noting that the government of Sri Lanka agreed to probe the issue.”

Then the president made another admission, stating that the reason that he had removed Mangala Samaraweera from the position of Foreign Minister was regarding the resolution he co-sponsored with the United States at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

According to the Asian Tribune:

“The resolution proposed to invite foreign judges to investigate allegations of human rights violations during the military offensive against the separatist Tamil Tigers. The president stated that he did not agree to the involvement of foreign judges then, and he does not agree with it now. 'Therefore I told them not to send foreign judges to my country. There will be no international war tribunals or electric chairs,' he said, in the interview with Derana 360°.”

Whether this ignorance is genuine, which seems unlikely, or simply created as a way out of Sri Lanka’s promises to the UN and the international community, one thing that it's not is shocking. The Sri Lankan government continues to use the very policies that the HRC resolution wanted to conduct these tribunals in reference to. For example, concerning the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Sri Lankan government says more than 80 detainees are still being held under this act but human rights groups believe that number to be much higher.

All the while, President Sirisena continues to adamantly state that there are no secret detention and torture camps in Sri Lanka. Even the one part of the resolution that has been fulfilled has been little more than for show. The Office of Missing Persons is the only mechanism in which any progress has been made, and yet even with this the office has not been formally constituted and operationalized. In addition, the initial steps have been conducted in less than perfect ways, with little to no consideration for the victims' voices and concerns, as well as the lack of transparency about the Constitutional Council’s selection process of the OMP chairs. This has left it wide open to allegations and due process has been subverted as a result of political bargaining, which will have profound consequences for the future of the OMP.

There is still speculation toward Mahinda Rajapaksa, the former president of Sri Lanka, who was in power during the atrocities committed in the civil war. As Rajapaksa regains his power, the current administration is afraid of losing to him and then being left at his mercy. This may lead to further conflict as violence and riots ensue.

Cover Image Credit: Joe Roberts / Unsplash

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A Country, Divided

Hate will only fuel hate

With the latest school shootings, election investigations, and the Time's Up and #MeToo movements flooding social media and the news outlets, it's almost impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The people of our country are divided over personal beliefs, as usual, but have now insisted on using social media to belittle each other. While this is not new, each day I find new things people are complaining about on Facebook, especially the gun laws and problems with the NRA. While strict gun laws mean nothing to a country full of hatred, promoting and fighting for your rights with a heart full of hate will not make anything better for us.

It's one thing to support gun rights, but it's another to attack someone for wanting something different. All you have is an opinion. What you have to say is not fact, and it doesn't matter how many stats you find on the NRA's website to prove your point. Attacking students who watched their classmates die in front of them does not make you a great citizen because you're "protecting your rights." You sound like a jerk fighting with a 14 year old who is grieving.

I'm not writing this as a call to action, or to voice my opinion, because my opinions don't matter. In our country today, it seems like the only opinions that matter are those who are the rich, or those who are in support with our government. Anyone who goes against them are deemed liars and "wrong."

I'm glad that those who have wronged women are being punished. I'm glad that kids are finding their voices and are refusing to be silent. But if you fight with a CHILD, and tell them that their opinion doesn't matter, who ever told you yours did? Who made you feel like you were above everyone else because you support a big corporation, or a big government power? Hate to break it to you, but that's what they want. You're a dollar sign.

So the next time you log onto Facebook, Twitter, or whatever, think before you write a hateful post to your "friend" because you don't agree. Think before you yell at a child you've never met for using their freedom of speech and freedom to act, the same right that you're fighting for. Just because you're on opposing sides, doesn't mean you have to hate each other. Violence equals violence, and as of right now, I see no end.

Cover Image Credit: Sherry Boas

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Are Adults Using Children To Further Their Political Agenda?

They're smarter than kids, and it shows.

Since the national student walkout on March 14, there has been an increased sense of "pride" in the children of the United States.

Adults and politicians praise students for standing up for what they believe, even though these same children are too young to vote for those exact things that they believe in. Rolling Stone wrote an article that criticizes adult Americans for doing nothing since the Parkland mass shooting that killed 17. Articles like these are more than common lately - children are being worshipped while adults take the full blame for gun violence and the lack of change.

I, however, want to offer a new perspective. Columnist Megan McArdle wrote an opinion post titled "The student walkout said more about adults than kids," and it challenged me to think out of the box and offer a new opinion regarding this upcoming generation of students. (Give her article a read because it's really thought-provoking!)

When the walkout took place, not everyone participated. There were schools that fully supported it, but many threatened to punish students for leaving class. My sister's high school didn't organize a walkout, but many students still decided to participate on their own. The media, of course, highlighted the schools that had hundreds of students marching on school property, waving signs and chanting for change.

More importantly, the walkout symbolized a new era of student's voice. Never before had so many underage children stood up for what they believed in. But was it really what they wanted? Had every single one of the thousands of students nationwide been educated on gun usage, firearm statistics, and the actual definition of a mass shooting? Or had their parents, teachers, and the media just told them what to believe?

If children started protesting against the drinking age, how would the adults respond? They'd probably disagree and put down the protests. It would make media headlines for a day or two and then dissolve into nothing. What if 12-year-olds demanded the right to drive cars? Ridiculous, the adults would say. Children's opinions rarely matter because their knowledge and experience are weak compared to that of their superiors.

BUT, when a child stands up for something that the adults are also passionate about, all of sudden, that child is "wise beyond years" and "more mature than most." It would seem, then, that the adults are the ones shaping children and controlling what they support.

This isn't a new concept, of course. Adults are smarter than children, in my opinion, and you'd be dumb to argue against that. And yet, people are basically worshipping the walkout students for organizing such a huge event on their own, except it wasn't on their own. The entire walkout depended on the support and aid of adult teachers, parents, and organizations. Adults spread the word of the event via Facebook, Twitter, news outlets, and text messages. Adults provided security at the schools during the walkouts. Adults showed up to video the event and provide news coverage. Without adults, the walkout on March 14 would have been nothing. It wouldn't have happened.

This wouldn't even be a problem if people weren't blaming adults for being retroactive in regards to gun control. But they are. Liberals are saying that children are more grown-up than most adults, simply because they decided to skip school for 17 minutes. Yes, there are certainly children who really do want gun control, but I have a bad feeling that the majority of them participated in the walkout because they felt pressured by their parents, teachers, and peers. The adults were in full control; the students were just puppets.

If we're going to let kids walk out of the classroom, lose quality learning time, and march for what they're "passionate" about, we better be prepared for it to happen again with issues that are more childish.

Imagine if these same kids organized a walkout to protest the length of the American school day - would they be so smart and mature then?

On a side note, the walkout is going to do nothing politically. The adults have government control, and they'll do what they want. Stay in school, kids, because your opinion does not have an influence, no matter how much mom and dad says it does.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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