With the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council ongoing, political commentators stressed that a US Congressman has himself made representations that Sri Lanka should not be ‘bullied’ i.e: that double standards should not be applied with regard to the country.
Political commentators stressed U.S Congressman Eni F.H.Faleomavaega who had visited Sri Lanka, criticized the US double standard in its foreign policy towards Sri Lanka, and asked ‘what is the necessity for a resolution against Sri Lanka a small country Strategically important to USA, ’ during sessions of the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific recently.
He said: I have mentioned in my statement about the double standards that we are applying in as afar as violation of Human Rights and the sense that I have is why is the most powerful country in the world picking on a small little country like Sri Lanka- the size of West Virginia , 60,000 square miles with only 3 million people, the Congressman said.
Following is the full extract from portion of Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega’s statement related to Sri Lanka at the hearing of the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. February, 26,2013.
“The US simply cannot afford to lose Sri Lanka due to its strategic importance. Last week I had the privilege of visiting Sri Lanka and met with president Rajapaksa for more than 2 hours.
I also met with governor of the Northern Province. And personally visited Jaffna because I wanted to see for myself the post conflict developments since 2009,when Sri Lanka finally became the first country in the world to eradicate terrorism on its own soil, by defeating the Tamil Tigers – which remains listed as a terrorist organization by 32 countries including our own country Mr. Chairman, India , Canada and the members of the European Union , and dubbed by the FBI as one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the world.”
“After a 30-year terrorist conflict or war the challenges Sri Lankan government faces are enormous. But the strides the Government has made to rebuild in a way that establishes lasting peace and equality for all citizens should be firmly acknowledged.”
“The United States should join Australia in praising the work that Sri Lankan government has done in the North and East of the Island in such a short period since the war. As Australian deputy opposition leader Julie Bishops and the parliamentary delegation she led recently, stated on their visit.”
“Regrettably in the resolution it intendeds to submit again to the United Nations Human Rights council, the US fails to mention one , not even one positive development for Sri Lanka . Such failures suggest that the United States is not being even handed when it comes to dealing with sensitive human rights issues across the globe.”
“So I call upon my government, the United States of America to find a better way forward rather than using United Nations resolutions to destabilize developing nations like Sri Lanka while ignoring human rights Abuses in nations like Indonesia , where our geological strategic and military interests supersede our Human Rights Agenda.”
“The US led United Nations resolution should also be withdrawn for focusing only on the last few months of the war and failing to acknowledge therefore almost 30 years, Mr. Chairman, the Tamil Tigers hacked to death innocent men , women and children in Sri Lanka, carried out some 378 suicide attacks more than any other terrorist organization in the world.”
“We also do not need to criticize Sri Lanka for borrowing money from China. And by the way I was there Mr. Chairman .
In terms of our ability to provide assistance to these third world countries, China was able to provide Sri Lanka with 500 million dollars of low interest loans, for them to rebuild their sea port as well as a brand new international airport that I was there to witness….”
Secondly, Ranking Member Faleomavaega reiterated a number of his points from his opening remarks, raising concern over the double standard with which the U.S. Administration seems to approach human rights in the context of its foreign policy.
“I have mentioned in my statement about the double standards that we are applying in as afar as violation of Human Rights and the sense that I have is why is the most powerful country in the world picking on a small little country like Sri Lanka- the size of West Virginia , 60,000 square miles with only 3 million people- and yet in Sri Lanka we are talking about 21 million people living there.” “The serious question that I have is that for 27 or 29 years this country was in the state of civil war.
It is not a conflict. It is not the question of the Tamil people asking for more autonomy. We have to understand not all Tamils are members of this terrorist organization called the LTTE or the Tamil Tigers, that our government along with 32 other countries also categorized as a terrorist organization.”
“And in the process you are talking about for 27 years some eighty to hundred thousand Sri Lankans ended up dead. Lot of innocent men ,women and children”.
“What I am trying to seek here is that there also was a country that had civil war. It was the United States of America, for four years we ended up with 600,000 of our soldiers died form that terrible conflict.
Ant it was not the question of Southern States asking for more autonomy. They wanted to secede, pull away from the mother country , just like the Tamil Tigers wanted to do in their efforts in seeking this war against the Government .”
“My concern here is that we a looking at such a small little sequence, of this two or three months that now we are questioning .
And the reason why we have this resolution before the United Nations Human Rights Council, but forgetting the fact for 29 years that Sri Lankan government has had to deal with this terrorist organization that I just could not believe the atrocities that were committed by these people.”
“And now overnight we just thought that we’ve got to hit this resolution against them this is where my concern with double standards.”
“Our government to the 10 year period that we were in war in Vietnam .
In Vietnam Mr. Secretary, let’s ask the tens and thousands of women and children innocent civilians that we exposed to Agent Orange , when we were there for the ten year period . Let’s ask the people in Laos and Cambodia for the six million pounds of cluster bombs we dropped there, and these countered never declared war on us.”
“Where is the consistency in our standards as far as Human Rights are concerned .
We are pointing the finger at this little country Sri Lanka. and the thing that perhaps may be we need to clean up our own backyard , as suggested may be we be little more consistent , if we are going to do it against Sri Lanka. Let’s make sure that we are clean ourselves.”
“So I just need your comment on that as I ‘ve got only one minute left on this”
I know I‘ve only got, ten more seconds Mr. Secretary.
I just want to say, that was part of the subject that I discussed personally with the president of Sri Lanka, and he is concerned. In fact, he is spending more time on the Northern Province , and all the amount of resources their trying to do, to make this as part of the reconciliation process.”
“Thank you Mr. Chairman.”