Today’s HR Drumbeats vs GSL: Some Critical Responses

Challenges to Recent HR Allegations from Amanda Hodge and Others

A recent criticism by Amanda Hodge in The Australian is one mark of the vociferous claims that human rights activists are under threat in Sri Lanka today under the new regime. Former Minister Eran Wickremeratne’s public claim in the Colombo Telegraph of 21st February that a witch-hunt is in progress and that the Swiss embassy issue had led to the unjustifiable hounding of Dharisha Bastians, Krishantha Cooray and former CID Director Shani Abeysekera adds fuel to this fire. The second of these claims is bracketed here for further comment when more information reaches us.

On the 20th February I  addressed an appeal to Ruki Fernando, Jehan Perera and other activists as well as number of local journalists of standing and several Tamil friends to supply me with chapter and verse in demonstration of the validity of Hodge’s assertions about harrassment and looming threats – one that is clearly part of a broader Western campaign against the present government in line with their interventions during the Presidential Election last year.

Professor Gerald Peiris in Kandy has served up a sharp opening round – a criticism that drew a favourable response from a commentator in Australia with considerable international experience who, alas, needs to camouflage his identity.  I stress here that Peiris’ NOTE was penned before Eran Wickremaratne spoke out in Parliament …. so, there are several overlapping issues here.

This is just the opening round of what will, hopefully, be a series of sharp ‘fights within the limited circles that THUPPAHI reaches

Gerald Peiris, 20 February 2020:

“The mainstream media (print and electronic) carry plenty of stuff (news reports, features, one-to-one and panel discussions) that are intensely critical of the new government. I have been following these as comprehensively as I could throughout the recent past; but have yet to see even a single reference to the new government taking action to restrict non-criminal “activists.” As far as I am aware even Wigneshwaran, the Chief Minister of the Northern Province, and probably the most ardent critic of the Gotabhaya government among Tamil political leaders in Sri Lanka, has not made such a charge in his press interviews. As frequently reported in the press, diplomatic delegates from a number of countries (especially those of the main NATO powers, and of Australia, New Zealand, Japan etc.) have been meeting GR; but they have newer referred to any harassment of ‘activists’. They have not even attempted a defence of the ‘activists’ in the Swiss Embassy hostilities. I do not rule out the possibility that the Australian report is based on information supplied by Colombo-based NGO activists who depend on their sources of funding in the ‘West’. I think the opening paragraph of the Australian report indicates clearly enough that its author (and the editors of that newspaper) have scant regard for the factual authenticity.

Fair Dinkum Response to the Peiris Memo, 20 Feb 2020

An excellent and cogent analysis.

Though unrelated to the writer’s comments, I would add that the media in Australia is mainly owned or controlled by Rupert Murdoch – the most right wing person you could ever find.  It is not a free media. His influence on Australian thinking and politics is considerable and lacks transparency necessary in a democracy.  Whatever they churn out is rarely about truth, but aimed at developing a particular mindset in Australians to a certain ideological thinking. They employ journalists with a similar ideology. It is an industry.  Only those ordinary Australians attuned to it can avoid it.  No doubt former Tigers are well able to tap into this system and the journalists go with it and sensationalize it. In the end, it is a waste of space and a good reason to ignore the Australian media… …..

By the way, from Dec 2019 to early Feb, we didn’t get many propaganda stories on China in the media.  Now they are starting up again so I think I was right when I said these guys would take a holiday.

The trade war has been replaced by the virus war — the idea that somehow because China has a different ideology and culture to the West is being connected to the virus and articulated by some media commentators as a good reason to destroy education, trade and cultural links between China and Australia. This kind of argument has started in media and it will grow.   It is totally irresponsible to politicalise a virus or to use it to drive political ideology.

America is doing very well now, a strong currency and unaffected by it economically. The situation for Asian countries is different but those right wingers see an opportunity to take advantage of  China’s misfortune.

The exception of course is the state of Victoria which I find increasingly out of step with federal politics and for the right reasons.

***  ***

Rajeewa Jayaweera’s Email Memo in response to Eran Wickremeratne’s Statement. 22 February 2020

Eran Wickramaratne has raised several points which is commendable. However, I cannot agree with his assertions about Dharisha Bastians and her spouse Gihan Indragupta who is an officer of the Sri Lanka Foreign Service. There is some confusion as to whether Indragupta has been recalled from Geneva or New York. Regardless of the location of his current posting, he is holding a mid-level diplomatic appointment and has access to information related to many sensitive issues, especially the UNHRC 30/1 Resolution. The Gotabaya Rajapaksa dispensation has announced its intention of withdrawing from the co-sponsorship of the Geneva Resolution.

We all criticized the one time Governor of the Central Bank Arjuna Mahendran for living in the same house with his son-in-law, Arjun Aloysius, owner of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. the Primary Deal who benefitted billions from the Bond Scam on the basis,  that the son-in-law could have learned valuable information by living with the Governor father-in-law under one roof.

It is no different when an official with access to sensitive government information lives together under the same roof with a spouse who is a journalist, especially one working for the New York Times that denied GoSL the Right of Reply on the Swiss Embassy fiasco is not acceptable.

It is quite difficult to prevent a spouse from overhearing telephone conversations and to deny access to sensitive documents in the house while living as man and wife under one roof.

In such a backdrop, Indragupta’s recall is justifiable.

National Interest must take precedence over all other rights and interests at all times.

***  ***

NOTE News ITEM, 23 Feb 2020: ………….”BASL finds fault with Eran W” = http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=219170

PERTINENT BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES

Colombo Telegraph: “Unprincipled or Scared: Eran Exposes Witch-Hunt Against Scribes, Lawyers and Cops; Condemns Silence of their Peers,” 21 Feb 2020, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/unprincipled-or-scared-eran-exposes-witch-hunt-against-scribes-lawyers-and-cops-condemns-silence-of-their-peers/

Amanda Hodge: “HRW and Hodge clamour about renewed Intimidation under Gota,” 21 Feb 2020, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2020/02/20/hrw-and-hodge-clamour-about-renewed-intimidation-under-gota/#more-40742

Lalin Fernando: “Mockery, Veils and Subterfuge in the High Mountains of the Swiss Embassy,” 9 December 2019, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2019/12/09/mockery-veils-and-subterfuge-in-the-high-mountains-of-the-swiss-embassy/

Tamara Kunanayakam: “Swiss Power-Plays a Violation of Sovereignty,” 12 December 2019,  tps://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2019/12/12/swiss-power-plays-a-violation-of-sovereignty/

An Informed Western Scholar:Kunanayakam hits the Mark. USA behind the Swiss-Hit,” 13 December 2019, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2019/12/13/kunanayakam-hits-the-mark-usa-behind-the-swiss-hit/

** https://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2019/12/03/swiss-summon-sri-lankan-envoy-over-worker039s-abduction

**      http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2019/12/08/news-features/alleged-swiss-embassy-staffer-abduction

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, american imperialism, australian media, authoritarian regimes, centre-periphery relations, China and Chinese influences, communal relations, democratic measures, doctoring evidence, foreign policy, human rights, legal issues, life stories, news fabrication, politIcal discourse, power politics, Rajapaksa regime, security, self-reflexivity, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, truth as casualty of war, vengeance, world events & processes

One response to “Today’s HR Drumbeats vs GSL: Some Critical Responses

  1. Pingback: Ruki Fernando on Recent Questionings & Intimidation from Governmental ‘Arms’ ‘ | Thuppahi's Blog

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