22 March 2012

Farah Mihlar and others tossed cats out of the bag in Geneva

They say that if you give some people enough rope they will hang themselves with it.  On March 19, 2012, in Geneva, no one needed give any rope to several individuals who came to talk about ‘Rule of law and human rights violations in Sri Lanka’.  They came with enough rope and a scaffolding to boot, so to speak.

The event was one of the many side-shows at the 19th Sessions of the UN Human Rights Council.  It was ‘show’ alright and began before it all began.  Fahrah Mihler, who I have met just a couple of times and who, courtesy a mutual friend, invited me for dinner in Geneva during the Govt-LTTE talks in Celigny, 2006, came and said hello.  She said she had watched me debate Callum Macrae (Channel 4) and Bob Templer (International Crisis Group) on the Sri Lankan conflict in an event hosted by the Asia Society in New York in December 2011 (I participated via skype).

I said ‘they were spouting a lot of bullshit’.

Farah agrees: ‘I know!  In fact I was in my mind thinking out the responses you should make.’

So Farah agrees that what Macrae and Templer said was bullshit. And what did they say?  Macrae regurgitated Channel 4 lies (agreed upon, I should add) and Templer spat out stuff that Channel 4 and the Darusman Panel had stuffed down his gullible (I am being generous here) throat.  In short, taking as fact the claims made by unreliable witnesses, believing exaggerations, having no regard for the principles of proportionality and showing rank ignorance of or showing no respect whatsoever to that little uncomfortable thing called ‘context’.  Farah knows context. 

Then came the next show which was a no-show.  The moderator announced that the much anticipated screening of Channel 4’s latest ‘production’ on Sri Lanka was not going to happen.   Now that ‘new’ film was nothing more than a re-hash of the earlier ‘documentary’ called ‘Killing Fields’ whose toilet-wash worth was more than revealed in ‘Lies Agreed Upon’, where Channel 4’s collusion with the LTTE rump and its long history of glorifying terrorism was laid out without frill or clever juxtaposition and splice.  Perhaps the organizers knew that there were people in the audience who knew better than to believe anything anyone says and had evidence in hand to counter all the claims made in that second film including the stories of the tall-story spinners showcased. 

Then came Farah’s main show, which began with another classic disclaimer.  Ms. I Agree That Channel 4 Is Spouting Rubbish says ‘I am not against Sri Lanka’.  What was coming was apparent.  There was a ‘but’ to come of course, but not before it made me think that it’s like a sodomiser telling intended victim ‘this is good for you..enjoy!’ 

‘We are supporting the US Resolution on Sri Lanka’ she said, not surprisingly; the apologies, caveats, shy-making twisting, turning and squirming fooling few. 

Representing Minority Rights Group, London, Farah did the now boring tokenism number, glossing over LTTE atrocities.  This fluent operator was slick enough to toss out numbers tossed out before in the lie-construction industry, but as a doctoral student she slipped because she showed she had never heard the words reliability.  If one were to believe her argument, then we wouldn’t have seen people walking out of the No-Fire Zone (rendered a joke by the LTTE moving heavy weapons into the area and firing on the Government troops from there and then shooting to kill civilians held hostage as they sought to flee); no, we would have seen ghosts or skeletons.   She’s such a meticulous researcher that she missed the endorsements and words of praise accorded to the Government by the ICRC and top UN officials (Ch 4, by the way, continues to treat as biblical truth the opinions of disgraced UN officials, most of them clearly sympathetic to the LTTE and having axes to grind on account of preferred outcome not materializing).  
Farah’s presentation seeks to give some ‘first hand’ evidence.  When the frills are taken out, however, it’s all hearsay, littered with ‘I was told’, and nothing at all by way of numbers; just random statement that are not offered with even a semblance of substantiation.  There was nothing to indicate anything systemic or policy-driven.  If that’s being ‘academic’ then I seriously question the credentials of her supervisors, especially those who taught her research methodologies. 

Here’s more context she missed:

Sri Lanka is emerging after a brutal war against terrorism.  It is easy for a globe-trotting, neither-here-nor-there fly-by-night operator to pick and choose juicy bits that will titillate the ears of the uneducated and misinformed, but for us here in Sri Lanka, it makes absolutely no sense to defer in favour of sorry as opposed to safe.  Considering the virulent hate-mongering of Farah’s think-alikes (namely the LTTE groups in the West), the delicate that is post-war Sri Lanka cannot be underestimated.  Demilitarization is a process and the relevant time-table cannot be set by those who necessitated militarization and certainly not by their apologists.  Like Farah. 

She spoke of rape and vulnerabilities.  She didn’t mention that soldiers found guilty of rape  have been tried and punished (not whitewashed like Staff Sgt Robert Bales, who is not being media-pardoned on account of insanity).  She fails to make the case that these alleged violations were systemic or widespread or of a magnitude that is above national average or at levels exceeding those in similar situations elsewhere in the world.  She doesn’t say a word of the insecurities and vulnerabilities these very same women had to suffer at the hands of the LTTE.  She knows, but will not admit, that life pre-Mat 2009 was hell.  She expects Sri Lanka to move from hell to heaven in record time. 

Here’s  more context.

The United States, which tabled the resolution which she so ardently supports, walked into Iraq in search of non-existent weapons of mass destruction and is still there almost a decade after Saddam Hussein was overthrown.  The USA overthrew the Taliban years ago and is still discharging hell-bombs.  Sri Lanka is targetted though.  ‘For her own good,’ she reminds us. 

Farah was followed by Anna Van Gall of the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, Berlin.  Anna talked about gender-based violence.  Anna probably has no idea of geography for had she even the slightest clue, she’d be camped out in places like Saudi Arabia instead of going for easy pickings.  Unlike Farah, she can be excused for she has no idea what Sri Lanka is about, the status of women, the problems of women, what’s being done and what needs to be done.  It’s the same song: nothing is perfect is Sri Lanka so everything must be wrong. 

Theodor Rothgeber of the Forum for Human Rights, Geneva, was a treat.  The man said that he himself could not have come up with as ‘soft’ a resolution as the one the USA came up with.  Again, his annoyance is sourced to unreliable and corrupt ‘evidence’ trotted out by the likes of Colin Macrae and Bob Templer, the people who Farah agreed ‘talk rubbish’.   The man needs to do some reading about the history of resolutions, country-specific and otherwise, find out who has vetoed what, voted against what/whom, and how ‘softer’ resolutions and indeed no-resolutions led to monumental crimes against humanity. 

Now all three panelists and the moderator kept talking about their ‘colleague’ Sandya Ekneligoda’s presentation, but she was saved for the last.  There was a reason, which I will come to; just wanted to flag that.

Next came Ms. Giyoun Kim of the Asian Forum of Human Rights, Bangkok.  Poor lady.  She let her colleagues down badly and I am convinced that this is because she was honest.  Naïve yes, but honest.  She admitted that she was brought along for the show in order to indicate to the world that it was not a ‘West’ thing.  Poor thing, she didn’t realize that she had been tagged to give a ‘global’ look to a Western project, just like South Indian forums in the West always have a token Pakistani, Sri Lankan or Bangladeshe (key word: ‘or’) amidst a host of Indian, just to make it look non-Indian. 

More interestingly (and hilariously too), she found herself ‘getting emotional’ as she begged (yes!) Sri Lankans in the audience not to ‘attack’ her beautiful/wonderful partners in the human rights advocacy racket in Sri Lanka.  She named them: Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Sunila Abeysekera and Nimalka Fernando.  The little girl didn’t know that all of them have been amply exposed as frauds.   Giyoun can be forgiven for ignorance but Farah cannot be, especially since the entire panel was so infuriatingly self-righteous from beginning to end. 

After the event, Giyoun was duly informed about the antics of these people, but she refused to believe they were anything less than angels.  I will come to that later.

Sandya Ekneligoda was introduced and re-introduced as the wife of Prageeth Ekneligoda (a ‘journalist’ who has disappeared).  No one, including Sandya, mentioned that Ekneligoda had once self-disappeared himself. No one mentioned the fact that Ekneligoda was not a journalist or that his ‘journalism’ was limited to the occasional cartoon and a lot of irresponsible, unsubstantiated and tasteless fantasies that bordered on cheap pornography.  No one seemed to have read the excellent undressing of what could be called the ‘Ekneligoda Saga’ by Uvindu Kurukulasuriya.  Now I’ve written about the incident and the debate and I shall not repeat it all here (‘On Ekneligoda, in spite of Ekneligoda and his pals’ in the Daily News of March 1, 2010: http://www.dailynews.lk/2010/03/01/fea02.asp) where I touched upon the issue and noted, inter alia, the following:

‘What is interesting in this missive is that Ekneligoda deems it necessary to fall on his knees and worship, again and again, a man called Sunanda Deshapriya, a charlatan of the first order who made bucks out of activism and stole bucks from the Centre for Policy Alternatives and dares not step into Sri Lanka for fear of arrest for perpetrating numerous acts of fraud.  Sunanda is Ekneligoda’s hero. Need I say more?’

That man Sunanda!  Sunanda Deshapriya sneaked into the discussion at the tail end.  ‘The translator is here, the translator is here!’ the moderator was clearly excited.  Yes, he was to translate Sandya.  The moderator might not have known, but Farah could not have not known what Sunanda has been up to.  Had it been Farah who moderated and had she had any integrity, she might have said ‘the translator-crook is here, the translator-crook is here’.  Sunanda’s love for the LTTE aside (the LTTE killed his driver, but he never once pointed a finger at Prabhakaran) his stubborn refusal to subject himself to the accountability doctrine he so vociferously espouses (he robbed money from Saravanamuttu’s organization and the lovely man Sara, Giyoun should know, cited ‘lack of clarity’ when Sunanda was hoofed out) has been amply exposed by Uvindu Kurukulasuriya (http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2012/02/26/sunanda-saga-states-of-denial-and-ngo-accountability/ and http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2012/03/04/how-sunanda-robbed-the-money-and-ngo-accountability-fmm-still-not-submitted-audited-accounts-for-rs-30-9-million/).  There’s more to come, I hear.

Interestingly, Sunanda’s dollar greed and dollar theft has been facilitated by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its big names including Jacqueline Park.  The IFJ is frequently cited as an authoritative source about media rights in Sri Lanka.  Sunanda’s ‘Journalists for Democracy’ (JFD) has apparently submitted ‘evidence’ (doctored, it has been proven) to Channel 4.  And who endorses this evidence, but another JFD stalward, Rohitha Bashana who is said to have edited the LTTE’s Sinhala paper ‘Dedunna’ (Rainbow).  And who showcases Rohitha Bashana?  Channel 4!  The ‘evidence’ of a terrorist is aired to the world as though it’s the word of some pious priest of unblemished virtue. 

So Sunanda got late.  Why?  The man had gone with camera in hand to photograph a demonstration against the US Resolution.  The police were informed that his presence, with camera, was an act of provocation.  I wouldn’t disagree, knowing his links with the LTTE.  He was duly taken away for questioning and got late.  Hence the delay in getting Sandya to speak.

Sandya told her story.  The jist:  my husband disappeared and if I, a Sinhalese can’t find him, what more of Tamils who have loved ones that have gone missing?  Valid point, but an incomplete story.  It took 2 years for a suspect associated with the attempt to assassinate the Defence Secretary was found, just to keep perspective.  Those who disappeared in the middle of a brutal war will take finding.  Some may have died in combat, some may have fled.  Names and numbers are needed and exercises to this end are rubbished as though the rubbishers could do a better job themselves, which is what rubbish really is.  Channel 4, for example, neatly clouds the source of some numbers trotted out (Official Census of 1981!), for if they didn’t do that they would have to count ‘in’ those who fled the North and East (to the Western Province, USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and India in the main). 

Much needs to be done, no doubt, but as I have said before, just as much as Sri Lanka is no Paradise on Earth, neither is it the Hell on Earth that the likes of malicious and self-promoting individuals who lack integrity (Farah, for example) make it out to be. 

I feel for Giyoun, who was almost in tears.  I feel for her because I think she was the only honest person on the panel.  She does not know (and can be pardoned for not knowing) that Sunila’s commitment to preventing gender-based violence was amply demonstrated when a close political associate beat his wife regularly.  The wife had told Sunila and she had asked her to ‘be patient’.  Anna Van Gill would be appalled to know.  There are police records of complaints, I hear.  As for Giyoun’s darling Nimalka, the lady’s venom against Sri Lanka is well recorded, bending backwards to a) legitimate the LTTE and b) get the Government to stop the military offensive, not to mention a concerted vilification campaign all over the world.  

None of these three people would get more than a handful of votes in an election.  They are not under any threat.  No one needs to vilify them.  They do a good job of it themselves.  Most importantly, Saravanamuttu and Sunanda, both of who write regularly to newspapers (freely and without holding back punches) have never once responded to cogent critiques of positions taken and, more importantly, substantiated charges of wrong doing, including hanky-panky with finances.  Giyoun can google, I am sure. 

The entire panel was bombarded with charges of duplicity and double standards.  Farah and others were forced to say that they would not hesitate to take issue with human rights violations by the USA.  Just two hours before this event there was another on human rights violations in Afghanistan (the panel included a Human Rights Watch representative and a UN official) where the blatant and horrific crimes against humanity perpetrated by the USA were pussy-footed around.  None of the panelists were seen there.  On the following day there was a similar discussion on Iraq where the Amnesty International representative beat a hasty retreat, fleeing when questioned about double standards.  None of the panelists were seen at either event.  So much for across-the-board concern for human rights. 

Farah said that if Sri Lanka or anyone else brings a resolution against the USA, she would support it.  She said ‘the resolution has been brought by the USA, yes, but 53 countries get to vote’, in a sad exposing of rank ignorance about global political economy.  This lady still believes that the UN is about one member, one vote! 

Giyoun might learn and med her ways. Farah?  I doubt it.  She’s thick.  She knows what rubbish is (she admitted) but has no qualms about dishing it out as delicacies.  It all came out in Geneva.  Unintentionally. 


manuri said...

sunanda wouldnt have been happy..for his delay made...sandya..steel the show......

the more sound he makes the more money he makes as well...

but there is something call "karma'no matter what...it will come after them too...sooner or later.....nothing stays the same....

'let these ppl live in interesting times" chinese curse

Shaik Ahamath said...

We shouldn't judge too harshly the countries that votes for the US Resolution. The US is capable of severe retribution for those who do not go along with them. I remember many years ago, Dr.Kissinger (Nobel Peace Prize Winner)on a visit to Bangladesh to announce the Food Aid US had lined up for her. His plane had landed and he was at the top of the steps when he turned round and returned home much to the chagrin of the VIP's lined up at the bottom to greet him. Dr. Kissinger had been summoned back because Bangladesh did not side with US on a crucial vote in the UN. As expected the Food Aid was cancelled.

Zen said...

Since then, the Resolution was passed with 24 votes for, 15 against and 8 abstains. 

The low down is reading through the Wikileaks cables, and judging by their timeline, you would have noted that the US was plotting and planning all this right along. 

If Sri Lanka, agreed with some of the stuff they wanted, like contributing SL Army forces (mind you these are the very same forces they accuse of war crimes) for the US Operations in Afghanistan, which Sri Lanka refused lest they should offend the Muslim minorities, we may not have had to face these accusations, charges, resolutions, etc. This should expose the duplicity and hypocrisy of this Resolution tabled of all countries by the US. I just don’t get that still!!!

This also exposes the hypocrisy of Multilateral bodies established with Charters of lofty ideals now being partial, partisan, errant and going down dubious paths of hegemonic Agendas that does not uphold the common good of ordinary masses.

Despite their performances in Geneva, a large majority of people within Sri Lanka do not find credibility in characters like, Paikyasothy, Sunila and Nimalka because there is a huge monetary angle to their role. Besides, if Sri Lanka had draconian laws like the US & some Western countries these people are sucking up to, like the Patriot Act, Sedition Laws, etc. That brand people as 'Enemy of the State' do you think they will be pulling these stunts against Sri Lanka internationally?Sunila Abeysekera tried to cover up financial fiddling by Sunanda Deshapriya in her own NGO. It was recently exposed by Uvindu Kurukulasuriya.

Ever since Channel 4 became independent of Government funding & had to depend on ”Donations & Advertisements” (according to it’s own website) it has been compromised by numerous Agendas and received monies from terrorist funds obviously. This was also the predicament of Amnesty International which at least admitted to it unlike Channel 4. Amnesty won’t do anything about white, blond haired women like Adele Balasingham who distributed Cyanide pills to our women in the North. The ICG is purported to be funded by the BILLITON, THE BILLION DOLLAR STRIP-MINING COMPANY. What do you have to say to that? And Some people think ICG is God!

Finally, the inevitable will happen. India will lose either way. US is the biggest loser. Sri Lanka cannot lose either way. At the same time, do not be fooled. One Resolution does not make a loser or a winner. It is all because people are not fools and are aware of what is happening in the world. Good point to be remembered by world bodies as well as politicians.

My request is that you publish every where possible this Resolution, in all 3 languages (Sri Lanka made a big mistake by not broadly circulating the LLRC in 3 languages). If possible, at least provide a link so that all Sri Lankans know what it entails for this country and who is responsible for what and to what extent, so that any consequences that comes through may not come to the masses as a surprise. Very few care genuinely about the average citizen these days. 

We should consider this perhaps as one lesson learned.

Dinu said...

India voted with the USA. El Oh El. I mean LOL. But I don't think we should be upset about India's Yankeedoodle Act.
I think I mean Yankee poodle Act.

Chathu said...

India says the friendship will remain the same. The biggest achievement in this Resolution is exposing India in it's true face. What friendship? In your dreams.

Biso Menike said...

Dear Mr Seneviratne.
we really like to appreciate the effort of the whole Sri Lankan GO and the people who actually tried their best to support and people who don't hesitate to sacrifice their lives even on behalf of our mother land. And i personally like to thank you and the others who represented the country at that moment. people can really say things ' good if you do this and that" 'Why didn't you do that" ... etc. My question is where were all these other people before we really face this kind of a situation they could have pushed the relevant parties if they realized that there is something missing. Did they do their bit in order to remind the relevant parties. Any Non GO parties (organizations/ individuals)really could take the responsibility to educate people on this instead of expecting one particular party to translate the report in to all other languages. this is actually my personal view as a citizen of this country especially if one holds some 'education' to read and write and to speak than some citizens of our country that are known as uneducated or less educated they really can contribute to at least a little up to a certain level i believe.

Sir, actually we really like to thank all the parties including you, the countries who stood on behalf our mother land doing their bit as neighbour, a friend, as a member of a same region or otherwise.
your effort is shown here in this piece of writing no i have not forgotten the other articles that you have written regarding the same matter over the past years.

Thank you

sl130 said...

mr malinda can u explain why your rights respecting gov is protecting drug lord mervyin silva who threatens to break limbs of journalists.

sl130 said...

"it took 2 years to find a suspect associated with the assassination attempt on the defence secretary, remember?" maybe but unfortunately for raja passe regime the radaliyagoda affair (a person whom court has issued a arrest warrant,but in the meantime attending parties and seminars with def sec))cannot be expained in the same way. waiting 4 ur answer

Dinu said...

Hello Biso!
Relaxxxxxxxxx. If one represents the Government, one should be able to provide a link ........ hissssssssssss.