05 May 2020

Stay safe Ms Bachelet, wherever you may be




I have no idea where the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet is right now. Her missives have a Geneva address, but that could be on account of the location of her office. Perhaps she’s holed/held up in her office. Perhaps at her residence. Perhaps somewhere else she was visiting but is unable to leave on account of strict restrictions on movement imposed as a measure to battle Covid-19.

I hope she is well. I hope she is safe. I hope she is washing her hands frequently. I hope she’s maintaining social distance. I hope she uses a face mask. As per precautionary protocols. I want all creatures, vocal and otherwise, powerful or powerless, young or old, male or female, belonging to every race, religious, political/ideological community and of every conceivable sexual orientation to be safe, to be in good health and at peace with themselves and one another.

na antalikkhe na samudda majje
na bappathaanan vivarang pavissa
Na vijjati so jagathippadeso
yatthatthitan tappasabhetha maccu


Thus spake Siddhartha Gauthama, the Enlightened One. In the seamless skies, in the vast ocean, deep within a mountain or anywhere else, there is no place that is known to anyone where one can from the jaws of death hide, the Buddha said.

So, let me repeat. I wish that Ms Bachelet is well, safe and in good health.  It’s something, as I mentioned, I wish on one and all, but I am thinking of Michelle in particular.

The lady has quite rightly stated in the context of combating Covid-19, that emergency powers ‘should not be a weapon Governments can wield to quash dissent, control the population, and even perpetuate their time in power.’ Indeed! Well said! Not some deep philosophical observation, true, but still. Needed to be said.

Now the UNHRC has clearly stated that international law does allow states to restrict some rights in order to protect public health, with additional powers available if a state of emergency is declared. The UNHRC states that more than 80 countries have announced a state of emergency related to Covid-19 and that others have put in place ‘exceptional measures.’

The World Health Organization (WHO), i.e. the supreme multilateral body pertaining to healthcare and disease control and prevention, and a sister agency of the one that Michelle heads, is doing its best but is understandably a bit clueless. The WHO cannot be blamed. The world finds itself in trial-and-error mode. What we know today we didn’t know yesterday and might be found to be false tomorrow. The WHO initially told the world that the virus cannot be transferred from human to human. They recanted. The WHO claimed that face masks are unnecessary; now they strongly recommend them. The WHO issued guidelines for disposal of bodies, but those guidelines have been brought into question by the fact that those handling cadavers have been infected and of course the need to apply the better-safe-than-sorry adage given the enormity of overall ignorance about the virus’ behavior.

So, individual states are doing what they feel is best. Sure, that can be a convenient cover for the kinds of excesses Michelle is worried about. Such things have happened and are happening. The USA, to use an analogy, bombed countries into the middle ages so that they can enjoy democracy (hmm… well ...so that the US could obtain strategic edge, expand markets and plunder resources).

Anyway, someone in Michelle’s office has made a list and it’s being shaken many times. Of the 80 that have declared emergency, we told that there are 15 where ‘the allegations were deemed most troubling.’ Sri Lanka is one of the ‘dirty fifteen,’ no surprise there given Michelle’s ignorance and/or arrogance based in part probably by lies agreed upon by the cabal that controls the rights mafia, supported in no small measure by the rent-a-signature cohorts in Sri Lanka masquerading as rights activists.

I don’t know in what ways Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and other countries have erred in Michelle’s eyes. Georgette Gagnon, Director of Field Operations (nice names they come up with, almost as though the UNHRC is a war machine!) has claimed ‘there are probably several dozen more we could have highlighted.’ How very generous of the UNHRC not to name and shame them.


The only reference to Sri Lanka is the fact that ‘more than 26,800 people have been detained.’  Detained for what? Well, curfew violation.

What would Michelle have authorities do? Should Sri Lanka have not imposed curfew? Having imposed curfew, should Sri Lanka lift it because Michelle is upset? Is Michelle saying that those who violate curfew should be ignored, that the police and security forces tasked to enforce such restrictions should turn a blind eye on them? Should the violators have been patted on their backs and conferred medals for bravery? Should they have been given lollipops?

Michelle’s ignorance is legendary of course. Just after the much-talked of ‘Mannar Mass Graves’ were found out to have been more than 400 years old, the lady referred to the same in dire tones of censure when speaking of Sri Lanka. She has bones to pick, clearly.

Interestingly, Michelle hasn’t included Nepal and India in the list of ‘dirty’ nations, even though civilians were brutally attacked in both countries. Containment measures imposed by India resulted in migrant workers being thrown out of their houses by landlords and hundreds of thousands forced to walk hundreds of miles to their villages.

Sri Lanka, in contrast, took every possible measure to fly back citizens trapped in other countries. Sri Lanka extended the visas of all foreigners currently in the island and unable to get to their respective home countries, assuring them that they will be treated as though they were also citizens. Sri Lanka even treated infected patients in ships that happened to be in Sri Lankan waters. Every possible step has been taken to track and trace the possibly infected. Quarantine, isolation and treatment — that’s the order of the day. Systems are in place to ensure that the  sequestered don’t run out of food or medicine, especially the poor. Measures are in place to ensure that schools and universities continue to function even in these restrained circumstances.

Perfect? Of course not. The testing regime is weak and is only now taking off the ground. There is abuse in the distribution system. Sri Lanka is also in trial-and-error mode, after all.

What is interesting is that the Sri Lankan people have not protested the so-called ‘brutal lockdowns.' Even the Opposition (which include the darlings of rights agencies who are clueless about their track records and machinations or else know but choose to be ignorant) hasn’t complained. In fact when they do whimper, it is to urge the government not to open up too soon. All relevant agencies, the WHO included, have praised Sri Lanka’s efforts so far. We are not out of the woods, most certainly not. We might see things getting much worse before it gets better. That’s not on account of being lax though.

Maybe Michelle, wherever she may be, needs to feel relevant, fearing perhaps that she might be the victim of a redundancy edict or cost-cutting measures of the UN post-corona.

Poor thing.

She’s exposed herself once again. The government would do well to ignore her altogether. She doesn’t deserve an answer.

She, on the other hand, could take a chill-pill. Who knows, it might work in the absence of a treatment regime guaranteed to succeed.  In any event, let me for the third time say it: I hope she is safe and in good health, maintaining social distance, wearing a face mask etc. And I hope she reflects deep on what her life has been and the errors of her ways.

Perhaps the following words of the Buddha might be relevant.

Time passes. The night ends, consuming life. The life to live diminishes. Those who are at death’s door may be fearful and therefore, in anticipation of the bliss of nirvana, is well advised to let go of attachment.’ (Accenti Sutra, Samyutta Nikaha).  

We are all dying and the fact is palpably evident thanks to Covid-19. Michelle Bachelet, wherever she is, is clinging to ‘Sri Lanka’ for dear life, ironically. A burden unnecessary, that’s what it is.


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malindasenevi@gmail.com.

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