Ban Ki-moon and human rights


By K Godage
Former Ambassador


I write further to my article published in your paper today on the letter the EU has sent to the Sri Lankan government over the GSP Plus issue. I have received a huge response by email that I decided to revisit the subject. In that article, I said that those who had sought to teach us how to conduct ourselves "may have come down from trees in the not so distant past. Many of those who responded to my article have drawn attention to the fact that we have a written history of over 2000 years, and that when our kings sat on thrones those who are pontificating to us today lived in caves painting themselves black and blue. They, of course, marched ahead with gun powder, conquest and plunder of other lands. Subsequently, there occurred the Industrial Revolution, which made them rich and powerful.

Today, they are preaching to us on Human Rights! Good God, was it not only following the Second World War, after fifty million were killed of whom thirty million were civilians, that they realised the value of human life and agreed to the Human Rights Convention. That was in the culmination of many wars and massacres. Don’t we recall the Inquisition, the Crusades, and St. Bartholomew’s Day? In more recent times they carpet bombed Dresden. Did they say a word of protest when the US bombed out Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings, or even later protest when the US used Agent Orange in Vietnam? But, let us come to more recent times when they sat and watched thousand of Muslims being murdered by the Serbs who called themselves Catholics! Didn’t the Dutch, who were so-called peace keepers, watch whilst Serbs butchered Muslim men women and children in Srebrenica and let me also recall the period when a ten percent White minority, practised the crime of apartheid and made slaves of the native people of South Africa. What did those western governments that are now preaching to us do then? They aided apartheid. They supported Malan and every White regime that followed and allowed them to brutalise the native people. Where was their sense of justice?

In more recent time we have had the invasion of Iraq (on absolutely false pretenses, claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction) and Afghanistan and the killing of thousands of innocent civilians. Are these the people who are seeking to preach to us about human rights?

Don’t we know how the US provoked Iraq by getting Kuwait to demand repayment of loans made to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and the role played by the CIA? Don’t we know how Saddam Hussein was tricked by the US Ambassador at that time into believing that the US considered its dispute with Kuwait (over monies due from Iraq for oil supplied during the Iraq-Iran war), to be a regional conflict and would not intervene and made Iraq invade Kuwait and seize their oil fields in 1990 and spread the word that Saddam would next invade Saudi Arabia, which he had absolutely no intention of doing? After that year Bush set about his plan to destroy Iraq. President Bush coerced the United Nations Security Council into an unprecedented series of resolutions, finally securing authority for any nation in its absolute discretion by all necessary means to enforce the resolutions. To secure votes the US paid multi-billion dollar bribes, offered arms for regional wars, threatened and carried out economic retaliation, forgave multi-billion dollar loans (including a $7 billion loan to Egypt for arms), offered diplomatic relations despite human rights violations and resorted to corruption to obtain votes, creating the appearance of near universal international approval of US policies toward Iraq. A country which opposed the US, as Yemen did, lost millions of dollars in aid, as promised—the costliest vote it ever cast!

President Bush consistently rejected and ridiculed Iraq’s efforts to negotiate a peaceful resolution, beginning with Iraq’s August 12, 1990, proposal, largely ignored, and ending with its mid-February 1991 peace offer which he called a "cruel hoax." For his part, President Bush consistently insisted there would be no negotiation, no compromise, no face saving and no reward for aggression. Simultaneously, he accused Saddam Hussein of rejecting diplomatic solutions. President Bush led a sophisticated campaign to demonise Saddam Hussein, calling him a Hitler, repeatedly citing reports - which he knew were false - of the murder of hundreds of incubator babies, accusing Iraq of using chemical weapons on his own people and on the Iranians knowing the US intelligence believed the reports untrue. After subverting every effort for peace, President Bush began the destruction of Iraq answering his own question, "Why not wait? The world could wait no longer." The course of conduct constitutes a crime against peace and a crime against humanity.

President Bush ordered the destruction of facilities essential to civilian life and economic productivity throughout Iraq. Systematic aerial and missile bombardment of Iraq was ordered to begin at 6:30 p.m. EST on January 16, 1991, eighteen and one-half hours after the deadline set on the insistence of President Bush, in order to be reported on television evening news in the US. The bombing continued for forty-two days. It met no resistance from Iraqi aircraft and no effective anti-aircraft or anti-missile ground fire. Iraq was defenceless.

The United States reports it flew 110,000 sorties against Iraq, dropping 88,000 tons of bombs, nearly seven times the equivalent of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. About 93% of the bombs were free falling bombs, most dropped from higher than 30,000 feet. Of the remaining 7% of the bombs with electronically guided systems, more than 25% missed their targets, nearly all caused damage primarily beyond any identifiable target. Most of the targets were civilian facilities.

The United States intentionally bombed and destroyed Iraqi military personnel, used excessive force, killed soldiers seeking to surrender and in disorganised individual flight, often unarmed and far from any combat zones and randomly and wantonly killed Iraqi soldiers and destroyed materiel after the cease fire. The United States used prohibited weapons capable of mass destruction and inflicting indiscriminate death and unnecessary suffering against both military and civilian targets. Among the known illegal weapons and illegal uses of weapons employed by the United States are the following: Fuel air explosives capable of widespread incineration and death; napalm; cluster and anti-personnel fragmentation bombs; and superbombs.

Mr. Ban Ki Moon please tell us how this compares with a story, told by a man, Gen Fonseka, filled with absolute hate for his former comrade Secretary Rajapaksa, a story related to a journalist who also had a problem with Secretary Rajapaksa, a story Fonseka has gone back on saying he heard it from X who had heard it from Y. This ‘long story’ is now being used by the Diaspora and certain countries to demand an investigation into what they call war crimes committed during the last stages of the war. Tell is Mr. Moon, have you heard of how women suicide bombers pretended to be pregnant women and assassinated their victim? In fact Gen. Fonseka was lucky to have escaped on such attempt? How, in the thick of battle, was a soldier to know (even if the incident did happen) that the men carrying white flags and coming towards them were not suicide bombers? After all, this report was incidentally filed by a woman reporter of dubious reputation Marie Colvin, from the US, claiming that she had spoken to someone on the phone and that he had told her that was going to surrender—and this is the story that Moon is using.

Moon, who is seeking another term, is no doubt seeking to please Sri Lanka’s western adversaries. The absolute proof of this is the appointments he has made to this Investigation panel. The Indonesian who was a member of the Eminent Persons Group who assisted a presidential commission that investigated some alleged HR violations in the Eastern Province had a serious difference of opinion with the then Attorney General and left the country; the second man—-Steven Ratner has written a book in which he claims that we are practising apartheid and discriminating against the Tamil people The third person is the Chairperson of an NGO funded to the tune of 25 million Euros by the EU for a three year project in South Africa and these are the people who are seeking to charge us with war crimes!

Moon has indulged in another trick for which we have fallen. He has appointed our Ambassador to the UN as Chairman of a committee to inquire into Israeli practices in occupied. Our man has accepted the assignment but he has now given Moon a trump card; he would no doubt say "if your government could have confidence in me to agreeing to appoint your man to an important Investigative committee, why can you not repose the same confidence in me when it comes to appointing a panel to inquire into incidents in your country!  The government should ask Kohona to step down in protest.       

To revert to the record of HR violations of the US, one wonders whether these are the people who are seeking to charge us with war crimes. May I, in conclusion, ask what were the EU and Mr. Ban Ki Moon doing during this period of the invasion of Iraq? Are they also not a party to the crimes against humanity and shouldn’t Mr. Moon be charged along with Bush for crimes against humanity? We, for our part, should actively lobby the countries of the Non Aligned Movement and also China and Russia to ensure that a man of integrity is appointed as the next UNSG.

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