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Arbour did not recommend UN monitoring mission - SCOPP

The Peace Secretariat is sad but not surprised that much of the media now claims that Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has recommended that a UN Monitoring Mission be established in Sri Lanka, said Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP).

Given this determination, it was not likely that, when she made no such recommendation, they would simply report what had happened or what she had said, he added in a news release.

Excerpts from the release: “Earlier they had confidently claimed that the EU would bring forward a resolution critical of Sri Lanka to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. When this did not happen various explanations were offered.

The basic claim was that Sri Lanka had been narrowly saved from censure, principally because the Human Rights Council was dominated by banana republics and similar potty regimes. No such explanation was however available when Louise Arbour failed to live up to expectations, so a new strategy was required.

What might have appealed to the less dishonest amongst them was an attempt to argue that what Louise Arbour said amounted as it were to the recommendation that a UN Monitoring Mission be established.

That however would have required some semantic somersaulting that might not have been plausible. Since retreat was not conceivable, and subtlety is not the strong suit of the anti-Sri Lanka lobby, the only available alternative was to claim that Ms Arbour had said what she did not say.

The particular agenda behind all this was made crystal clear in one of the first announcements of the falsehood, in a radio station that had a couple of seconds of Ms Arbour’s speech, followed by a long translation in Sinhala.

Not only was the thrust of this quite different from what the lady had said: the news had been preceded by the obviously much more important and newsworthy announcement that Lakshman Kiriella had announced the full support of the UNP for Ms Arbour’s recommendation of a Monitoring Mission.

What does this agenda entail ? I have no idea whether its proponents understand the goals they will attain if they are successful, but certainly it cannot have escaped their notice that these are precisely those of the LTTE.

Tamilnet was perhaps the first network to declare categorically its own version of what Louise Arbour had proposed, and its backers will leave no stone unturned to have this statement replicated internationally.

And perhaps they hope that their opponents will join in too, and start kicking the poor lady around, and then they can shed crocodile tears for her as they did for Sir John Holmes.

Interestingly enough, there was an attempt to get Louise Arbour too to grant an interview to the BBC contrary to her agreement, but fortunately she did not give in to pressure on this score.

All this could be prevented if Ms Arbour shows herself determined not to be a football. Sir John did send a fairly handsome letter of apology, which the Minister who had arranged his visit accepted gracefully, but this was scarcely noticed in the media which concentrated instead on controversial aspects.

But now that Ms Arbour has been so clearly misrepresented, she is in a position to issue a categorical denial.

For too long now the UN has been in a state of denial about the antics of the LTTE, its terrorism and suppression of basic humanity in the area still under its control, its ruthless abuse of UN funding.

If Ms Arbour does actually issue a correction as to what has been claimed about her, the Sri Lankan government can work with confidence to develop its relationship with her office as she desires.

As Minister Samarasinghe made clear, the government has already begun reforms in areas highlighted by her. It would be useful if this activity could be taken further in active cooperation and confidence.

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