The whole country or at least the large numbers of political parties in this country seems to waiting to see what happens tomorrow in New York when Sri Lanka is up for election in the UN HR body.
Will Sri Lanka get it? The optimistic answer the government and government proxies will gove you is a resounding yes. They will tell you that Sri Lanka got a "balanced" verdict at the Universal Human Rights review in Geneva today and that automatically translates into a seat at the Council.
The opposition and opposition proxies such as a number of NGO's and so called humanitarian organizations and don't forget the LTTE proxy groups will give you a resolute no. Why? They will tell you that the government indulges in extra judicial killings , allies itself with armed para military groups that conscript kids and they will also quote the numerous media rights violations by the govt.
What will a non partisan observer like moi tell you? Hmmm.. the logical answer would be a no, there are four seats reserved for Asia on the Council and we are running with five other countries namely Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Timor Leste and Baharain. Now with the obvious exception of Pakistan the other four are HR heavy weights and the logical choice would be for Pakistan and Sri Lanka to loose out.
But, the pertinent question is whether Sri Lanka deserves a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.
Before all the pro-government politically motivated individuals start calling me a LTTE proxy/ sympathizer/ terrorist let me tell you the situation is not a bad as the NGO's/ opportunist opposition make it out to be. But the situation is grim.. yes quite grim.
Firstly the governments xenophobic attitude towards UN Human Rights monitors and the subsequent labeling of Holmes and Arbour as terrorists does not augur well for the country. A responsible government should have acted much much more diplomatically and not played to the nationalistic gallery. I personally believe that we would have been better off had the UN observers come here, they were in Serbia and numerous other global flashpoints and personally I don't think it fulfills any imperialistic agenda.
Secondly the government's violation of Media freedom is absolutely horrendous. What happened to the probe on Mervyn? I believe two committees were appointed to look into the incident but almost five months later we are yet to hear from them.
Also the Defense Secretary has been a trifle high handed when talking to the media, yes he might be an honest man and an excellent military strategist on whose shoulders the territorial integrity of the country is squarely placed upon. But I doubt if any free thinking citizen in this country appreciates an all out censorship on the war, especially when it is glaringly apparent that the government is using the war as a political tool.
Thus is it is the responsibility of the media to highlight military debacles and to stop the government from using it to further its political aspirations.
Thirdly, the governments decision to ally with the TMVP. Yes, it may have won us the Eastern Province and I personally do not think it was a bad strategic move. After all the US also aligned it self with friendly Afghan warlords. But more attention should have been paid to what the TMVP militiamen where doing apart from fighting the LTTE.
Finally widespread corruption and rampant cronyism and nepotism. This government intentionally disrupted the COPE committee that was established to look into corruption and mis management. The government funded Mihin LAnka that utilized the EPF and ETF monies of Sri Lanakan citizens was total flop and was virtually a free for all embezzling party.
The idea behind the formation of the UN Human Rights Council in 2006 was that its members would be party to UN protocols and up hold human rights. ONe ofthe major flaws with its predecessor the UN Human Rights Commission was that countries that didn't even know the ABC's of HR held office i.e. Sudan. Though Sri Lanka is not in such an abysmal state we still have a long way to go before our rights as citizens are assured.
So though it is unlikely that Sri Lanka will get elected to the Council, the present regime and perhaps any regime that ruled Sri Lanka from 1948 does not deserve it.
To finish off my article I believe that true patriotism is not to unconditionally ally oneself with the ruling coalition but to stand up for the rights of the citizens. Though the government will tell you otherwise don't be afraid to stand up for your rights!