Facebook Recommendations
Out Now!

Unmaking the Nation: The Politics of Identity and History in Modern Sri Lanka (1995 | 2009).

Pradeep Jeganathan & Qadri Ismail (eds.)

Now in a 2nd Edition, with a new preface, and a comprehensive index.

"Stimulating... Excellent..." -- Journal of Asian Studies. 

"Will be of great value to all those concerned with... nationalism [and] violence..." -- Arjun Appadurai.

"...[F]orces us to think about Sri Lankan symbolic and social formations in an entirely novel fashion." -- Gananath Obeyesekere

_____________________



« Do Not Trample the Grass | Main | Thinking Through and Beyond the Sandahiru Saya »
Friday
Apr062012

Fundamental rights is our business

It always pays to read between the lines. In fact to read. It seems a truism, but in these days of tweets and clicks, it seems we do this less and less. First comes the actual resolution passed in the UNHRC in Geneva. As I followed the vote and aftermath of celebrations on the Toronto based Diaspora group, Sri Lanka Without Borders, on Facebook – I realized that even nearly 20 hours after the vote, none of the prolific commentators there knew what they were actually celebrating.

Section 3 of the US sponsored resolution now has the interpolation: “in consultation with, and with the concurrence of, the Government of Sri Lanka…”; it wasn’t there before. This significant interpolation seems to have been a last minute addition insisted upon by India. Which may mean that Diaspora celebrations are premature, and fundamental rights in this country, battered and bruised, may continue at a low ebb without any external supervision as envisaged by the previous draft, but with the added burden that the voices of the well known local spokespeople for rights in Sri Lanka, who supported the resolution in Geneva, will ‘smell foreign’, as Indi Samarajeewa puts it.

It seems silly to repeat this, but fundamental rights are important and like many important things, it’s the business of Sri Lankans; neither India nor the US really cares about our rights. That’s what I stress when I hear the argument about the double standard, which is of course true, but they are our rights, and we shouldn’t see double or treble.

It is fascinating in this regard to read former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Teresita C. Schaffer’s Op-ed in The Hindu, where her main point is: “The Obama administration must broaden its dialogue beyond Geneva…Washington needs to broaden its dialogue with Sri Lanka beyond human rights. Its ability to influence Sri Lanka’s policy in that area will atrophy in a one-issue relationship.”
If we follow Shaffer’s logic more closely, we get a better sense of where this conclusion comes from.

Unlike the many INGOs who’ve been painting a dire and grim picture of post war Sri Lanka, especially in the North, this former diplomat sees, “Economic development is where the government is putting most of its energy. This is indeed a critical ingredient in rebuilding both the polity and the economy. Northern Sri Lanka has had basically no economy for three decades….The government is encouraging investors to look at Jaffna…That is the one source of hope for the future.”

It is an old liberal, US foreign policy argument to say, ‘let the economy grow, human rights will follow.’ It’s often wrong, and been so proved to be wrong historically. It’s usually used in places where the US has what’s called a ‘strategic interest,’ meaning it’s a place that’s important to them if they need to saber rattle or even go to war, over trade routes or resources. Schaffer’s arguments reposition Sri Lanka right there, in the ‘strategic interest,’ contra distant to Assistant Secretary Blake, also a former Ambassador, who has been taking the other, rather more Provisional Transnational Tamil Government line of regime change or nothing.

Given the bleakness of the situation as a whole, the continuing fault lines in our polity, the abysmal depths to which the war torn societies have sunk, both culturally, socially and economically, I think there may be in this case, something to what Schaffer says. Or perhaps not.

In any event, those who are investing in the North should understand the special responsibility placed on them; help build a real civil society in that province. Support fundamental rights; and make the possible suturing of economic growth to constitutional freedoms a strong one. This doesn’t take tub thumping or flag waving. It’s quiet work, and it needs to be done.

Published in print, and on the web, in the Nation.

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (17)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: red bottoms heels
    855 You will want 9 dark strips and eight white strips for your weave. The only regular that remains in our children's lives, year in, calendar year out, louis vuitton yumiko looks for being their more or less phobic distaste for walking.
  • Response
    Response: Hollister
    pradeep jeganathan's work - SouthPaw - Fundamental rights is our business,Qhov no tsab xov xwm no twb sau ib daim ntawv lub kos yog Txawm li cas los, yog hais tias koj xav saib lwm yam khoom koj yuav tau saib cov ntaub ntawv ntawm no:Hollister,
  • Response
    pradeep jeganathan's work - SouthPaw - Fundamental rights is our business
  • Response
    Response: seo company
    pradeep jeganathan's work - SouthPaw - Fundamental rights is our business
  • Response
    Response: dev.starbooth.com
    pradeep jeganathan's work - SouthPaw - Fundamental rights is our business
  • Response
    pradeep jeganathan's work - SouthPaw - Fundamental rights is our business
  • Response
    pradeep jeganathan's work - SouthPaw - Fundamental rights is our business
  • Response
    pradeep jeganathan's work - SouthPaw - Fundamental rights is our business
  • Response
    Response: dhost.info
    pradeep jeganathan's work - SouthPaw - Fundamental rights is our business
  • Response
    pradeep jeganathan's work - SouthPaw - Fundamental rights is our business
  • Response
    Through education comes the knowledge in your life that health education is very important and necessary for your better life. No doubt health education is very essential for everyone and we realize its importance. We make our life in the society more comfortable and healthy and Bea healthy member of the ...
  • Response
    All we need is to understand the basic reason of our life. No doubt presentation matter a lot but material has its own importance so we should not neglect the importance of material as compare to presentation.
  • Response
    Response: http://awriter.org
    I am really enjoying reading your well written articles. I think you spend numerous effort and time updating your site. I have bookmarked it and I am taking a look ahead to reading new articles.
  • Response
    Response: hotstar for iphone
  • Response
    Response: downlaod
    best apps to download
  • Response
    Response: GBA4IOS For iOS 9
    GBA4IOS For iOS 9
  • Response

Reader Comments (1)

"but fundamental rights are important and like many important things, it’s the business of Sri Lankans; neither India nor the US really cares about our rights."

I would broadly agree with this statement but does it even matter what US or Indian intentions are?

As a resident and a citizen I would look at it from the point of view of how far this may advance the liberties and rights of citizens and as long as these are improved then such measures should be welcomed. Politics does make for some strage bedfellows.
April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Point

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.