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UN 'Lip Service' and crocodile tears

2014 Sep 26

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is due to address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) today in New York. His address comes in the wake of a report submitted to the UN sessions early this week on the Sri Lankan situation by Navi Pillay's successor at the UNHRC, Zied Ra'ad Al Hussein. The UN appears to have forgotten the atrocities committed by the now defunct LTTE and its terrorists. It continues to harp on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka pressurizing the Colombo Government by setting up an international probe. Colombo has countered it by a domestic inquiry with the participation of international human rights experts serving as advisers.
The UN is known for its 'lip service' formula to suit times. Though it pressurizes Colombo on war crimes, it never initiated such international probes on crimes committed by the LTTE when it was active for three long decades. The ruthless terrorists massacred hundreds of monks and priests at religious places. Thousands of men, women and children were brutally massacred and some chopped to death. Thousands of innocent Tamil children were abducted and conscripted to expand its cadres. What was the UN doing then? Did it ever condemn those inhuman dastardly acts? It only resorted to the formula of lip service.

It is appropriate to look back to the beginning of this century to recall how the UN shed crocodile tears and paid lip service over the plight of child combatants. How Prabhakaran continued to conscript children till 2009 defying UN policies. How the UN chose to maintain silence after paying lip service in its report on the issue in 2001.Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan who was in office at that time would remember the 'lip service' paid and how the UN shed crocodile tears for those child combatants. Annan in his report on the plight of child combatants stated, "A large number of children have been directly affected by armed conflict, many of them uprooted from their homes and communities, maimed or killed. Others have been made orphans, abducted, abused and exploited. In the armed conflicts of recent years, children have featured centrally as targets of violence, and occasionally – even unwittingly as perpetrators".

Annan was only reiterating what was already known to the world especially in countries like Sri Lanka, that were, at that time crying for help from powerful countries to save those voiceless children from the clutches of terrorists – but an effort in vain. Incumbent Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and new UNHRC Chief, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein would certainly have read that ugly history that prevailed in Sri Lanka at that time though Navi Pillay decided to ignore it. Well, despite Annan's report and Olara Otunnu's (Annan's special envoy to Sri Lanka on child combatant issues) observations, the UN only paid lip service in reports and nothing practical was done to combat the situation. Otunnu visited the LTTE in Wanni and obtained an undertaking from the Tiger terrorists that the child combatants would be set free. What did the LTTE do? They continued to conscript children upto 2009. What did the UN do? It just turned a blind eye.

What would have been the response of the UN and the international community if the Sri Lankan security forces recruited anyone below the age of 18 to battle the LTTE? Then they wouldn't have hesitated to impose economic sanctions on Sri Lanka. Where was Olara Otunnu when Prabhakaran broke his promise and went ahead with children conscription? Did not the UN realize that terrorism was emerging stronger in a shrinking world? Even today, the UN has failed in its efforts to deal with international terrorism.
Therefore, the rulers of those countries affected by the blight of brutal terrorism had a right to wipe out the menace. The UN and powerful countries yet continue to pay lip service but democracy is at peril. The UN is notorious for issuing statements, filing reports and appointing investigation commissions or committees against countries that battled to eradicate or crush terrorism. That is done under the guise of alleged war crimes and human rights violations. Is it that the UN does not want nations that battle terrorism to end that menace? Ban Ki-moon and his Saudi Prince Zeid must answer this vital question and the UN must stop rendering lip service and shedding crocodile tears.

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