The Sixteenth Dudley Senanayake Memorial Lecture on 7th July 2016 @BCIS
Delivered by Chito Gascon, the Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines.
Topic – “Human Rights in a Liberal Democracy”
In essence Mr Gascon used three examples of his deceased Heroes from the Philippines to explain how through much personal suffering, how their ideals finally won through, to promote Social Justice in their societies in their time, but which from time to time had to yield to Nationalistic and Autocratic rule, which either negated everything they had previously achieved, which bred a new batch of recruits to carry out the same fight, which through suffering ultimately triumphed, and he compared and contrasted their lives with that of Dudley Senanayake, who mercifully did not have to deal with the wrath of Civil Strife by dying within 2 years of the first JVP uprising that challenged the elected Government.
Rightly or wrongly, Mr Gascon was EXTREMELY non-committal on the latest AVATAR of Nationalism, the newly elected President of the Philippines, who has already made some quite startling but populist statements of vigilantes taking the law into their own hands! Rodrigo Duterte has just executed 30 drug dealers in the first 4 days of his Presidency! http://www.newsweek.com/philippines-30-drug-dealers-executed-dutertes-first-four-days-president-477550
All we can hope is that they are in fact drug dealers, and NOT the political opponents of the President. Of course this is a very popular move, because the people of the Country, as it is with Sri Lanka is fed up with the Drug Dealers and do not wish to show them any mercy, in the crime they are committing.
Mr Gascon will have to face allegations of Human Rights Abuses on a daily basis, but with a critical public at first as they see it as a necessary act for the greater good, which does not always bode well with international principles of justice and fair play, no matter who is in the wrong.
If the law is taken into one’s own hands, in time, this power corrupts, and results in a worse scenario of abuse of power. This will indeed be a headache for Mr Gascon, and he probably did not wish to contemplate his fate, after the Liberal Democratic Rule of the previous President Aquino son of the assassinated Benigno Aquino.
The fact that Gascon did not refer to the vigilantes today, is telling, worrying!
In the opening address of the Chairman of the DSF, Mr DM Swaminathan got his facts terribly wrong, as Dudley Senanayake was the Prime Minister 4 times.
Succeeding his father in March 1952, then in the elections he called and won, June 1952 to June 1953, when he resigned in favor of Sir John Kotelawala. He was PM again in March 1960 to July 1960 giving way to Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranayake’s first term. Finally he was the PM for the full term between 1965 and 1970, when he lost by a landslide to Mrs Bandaranayake.
Though SWAMI said RW was on his 4th term, he failed to mention that this was under 3 different Executive Presidents. DB Wijetunge, Chandrika Kumaranatunge, and Maithripala Sirisena, which is not the same as an executive PM!
For the record Ranil Wickremasinghe was PM May 1993 to August 1994. Then after the election, December 2001 to April 2004 and thirdly, appointed in January 2015 and then again winning the election in August 2015. The last two terms, under President Maithripala Sirisena!
In his closing address and vote of thanks, Minister of Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene emphasized that RAW recruits were sent into battle to fight the world’s first SUICIDE cadre terrorism of the most ruthless kind, where even their own kind suffered under the brutal rule of the LTTE, and finally liberated the Country from their clutches by completely and utterly defeating them.
What he did NOT say, but clearly implied was that the world was on the case of the Sri Lankan Defence Forces, who he has to protect, against allegations of torture and murder of innocent civilians, when in war the INNOCENT are the real casualties. He did not say, that the foreign powers use double standards, in prosecuting crimes, and did not say, that there was NO concerted national policy to kill captured terrorists, or civilians, as is alleged, and if there were any atrocities, they were acts of revenge of a personal nature, and NOT part of national policy.
Again he did not say, that it is ONLY due to LTTE Diaspora pressure that we still suffer much of the UN pressure, in light of the rest of world condoning the use of drones of pin point accuracy that still kill innocent civilians caught in the cross fire.
He finally concluded on the need for a full reconciliation and the coming of the communities together as one in order to develop this Country, and that was the ONLY means by which we could have a lasting solution to the ethnic divide and animosity among the different communities.