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UNHRC hops onboard Tamil Tigers’ bandwagon - Manila Times

Random Jottings

Much of the fodder that the UN rights body offered as its own diligently cross-checked facts was the same self-serving pap the Tamil Tiger propaganda machine is spewing out on the Internet

ONE of the less appreciated side-effects for anyone dispatched to the tropics on United Nations related business is that the good life which comes with the job—with a fair share of it spent in the customary expatriate ritual of subjecting one’s body to the harsh rays of the sun while lazing by azure-hued swimming pools or golden sandy beaches—can result in the microwaving of the brain cells.

Similarly, over in Geneva, which serves as the capital of the UN’s humanitarian soul, a posting to a spacious corner suite of a chateau set amidst the picturesque alpine ambience (with the cool and invigorating air thrown in for free) must tend to get the brain cells functioning at the lower gauges of the thought meter.

This, perhaps, is the only plausible reason we can offer up in mitigation for the mind boggling (and diplomatically costly) faux pas made by the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) through its seemingly prickly boss Navaneetham Pillay.

Ensconced in salubrious Geneva and gasping for the oxygen of publicity for a body which has been severely discredited on many fronts globally as being inept and incompetent, Pillay claimed, rather wildly as it now transpires, that more than 2,800 innocent civilians had been killed and a further 7000 wounded in recent weeks in the ongoing fighting between the Sri Lankan forces and the Tamil Tigers—even though the facts on the battle ground, and the evidence from the hospitals that surround the battle zone, could prove otherwise.

And this is where our aforementioned theory that the agreeable weather in both Colombo (where the alleged figures emanated) and Geneva (whence they were disseminated by UNHRC carrier pigeons) must at times make rational thinking and attention to detail a tough option.

Needless to say, the Sri Lankan government is fiercely disputing the claims, and rightly so. What the UNHRC appears to have overlooked is the very salient fact that Sri Lanka is not at war with itself—as we discovered this past week while traveling around this stunningly beautiful island where smiles are very easily activated. Sinhalese (who make up a sizeable majority), Tamils, Muslims and a spattering of other ethic groups live alongside each other in perfect harmony. And the only time that social equilibrium is shattered is when the Tamil Tigers chose to do so with their bombs, bullets and suicide belts.

As the record now shows, much of the fodder that the UNHRC offered up as its own supposedly diligent “cross-checking of facts” was no more than the same self-serving pap that (sensing the end is nigh as it makes its last stand cornered in a rapidly diminishing 21 square kilometer patch of jungle) the now ignited Tamil Tiger propaganda machine is spewing out on the Internet.

What is an undisputed fact is the presence in the battlefield of several thousand innocent civilians, including women and children, held hostage there by the Tigers as a barbarically convenient human shield in order to secure a ceasefire and a desperately needed respite.

Meanwhile, unable to make a fight of it in the theatre of war, the Tigers are now dependent on their paymasters in the misguided (and extortion ridden) Tamil diaspora to do battle for them by taking to the streets of London, Ottawa, and Geneva and targeting the support of the local populace in the faint hope that enough voices will be mustered to force a UN or European Union mandated ceasefire.

Elsewhere, the Web based Tiger surrogates are also on fire. When we penned a recent column stating that Vellupillai Prabhakaran, the blood thirsty leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), believes that the logic of survival was brutality, we were swamped with over 300 emails refuting our stand—one of which accused us of making the commandant of the Tigers “look like a devil when he is an angel!”

We will leave the LTTE apologists to agonize over the competing prospects of strumming a harp on a heavenly cloud, or being deep-fried in a furnace in hell.

Suffice it to say, that with the battle for a Tamil homeland, or Elam, now in near ashes, the war takes on a new phase by moving on to the media forum and cyberspace to secure (gullible?) hearts and minds to the cause on a universal theatre.

As of writing, Pillay—whose name, through no fault of her own, would resonate more comfortably in Southern India (where the Tamil Tigers still retain a fast fading support base) than Southern Sri Lanka—has stubbornly refused to back down from her stated case.

This despite the fact that the UN headquarters in New York issued a communiqué on the blistering controversy, which seemed to mildly imply that the UNHRC figures are at best questionable.

Elsewhere at the UN in recent days influential voices have been raised against the inhuman tactics of the Tigers in the battleground. So at the Big Apple end at least they don’t want to be seen as cozying up to a terrorist outfit that is rotten to the core.

But Pillay’s unyielding stand is hardly surprising seeing as credibility (think Gaza, Darfur, Bosnia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Angola . . . need we go on?) is a commodity that deserted the corridors of the UNHRC decades ago.



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Last modified: August 06, 2010.

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