Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sri Lanka and UN

Having lived and worked in Sri Lanka for two years after the 2004 tsunami, I have many beautiful memories of the island, fondly know as the 'Pearl' of Indian Ocean.  While serving the tsunami survivors I was blessed with many long lasting relationships that I still enjoy. As a humanitarian, I learned ways to recognize and enhance community resilience after a major disaster. 

However, I also remember the day when a bomb exploded next to our office in Columbo and how fear swept through the team, especially for my Sri Lankan colleagues. I remember trying to comfort a Tamil girl and a Sinhala girl and both expressed the same fears. Their concerns and tears were identical. We all prayed for peace for that beautiful island but we didn't know that it was going to be much worse before getting better.

Many reports including those from the UN claim that many atrocities were committed from both sides especially towards the end of the war. According to these reports, tens of thousands of civilians were killed in 2009 and those who survived were denied of basic human rights. 


Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council urged Sri Lanka to thoroughly investigate allegations of atrocities committed during the island nation's long and brutal civil war (http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/22/world/asia/sri-lanka-war-crimes/index.html). This resolution seeks to promote reconciliation and accountability in the country after 27 year civil war. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, 'lasting peace can only come through true reconciliation and holding perpetrators to account.' (http://www.canada.com/news/Lanka+should+punish+civil+crimes+forum/6343019/story.html). 24 countries including India, US, Switzerland voted in favor, 15 countries including China, Russia, Uganda voted against the resolution while 8 countries abstained.

It saddens my heart when such allegations are made against Sri Lankan soldiers and it is even more painful when instead of investigating thoroughly into it, many good people just want to close their eyes on the whole issue. If the atrocities were committed against the civilians from either side, it is prudent to carry out a neutral inquiry and have those who are responsible face the consequences. 

As an Indian, I am proud that India voted for the investigation. However, this is also a good time for India to also introspect regarding the human rights situation within its own borders. I am aware of many human rights organizations that constantly monitor and report violations of human rights in India. Maybe the cases in India are not as big as the 2009 war crimes in Sri Lanka but we do have cases where human beings are denied of their basic rights in the name of caste system, corruption and control. 

We all, whether the US, India or Sri Lanka, need to look within while we want to correct the whole world. No country becomes smaller because it allows investigation regarding the questionable actions for its officials. On the contrary, accountability for all it's citizens and their rights makes it greater!

3 comments:

  1. Beautifully written, it's only fair to look at both sides of the coin.

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  2. The images you got to see must have been disturbing. It takes a raakshash to do what have been done to the women and children in that island nation... the pearls are really dripping in blood of innocent, voiceless people. What is lost has already been lost also along with pride, dignity and respect as we talk about this over a coffee table conversation quite safely and conveniently in the plush luxury of our offices and homes... they have become just talking moot points for thinkers and it is a coffin closed long ago... No wonder raavana is woershipped in his truest form there.

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  3. Introspection is never considered a virtue for nations...

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