|Sri Lanka joins many voices on Gaza at the Human Rights Council in Geneva|
|Monday, 12 January 2009|
The Human Rights Council continued with its ninth special session on 9th January, and discussed the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including the recent aggression of the occupied Gaza Strip.
In various statements, delegations said that the current situation was a source of serious concern. The humanitarian situation in Gaza had worsened due to the outbreak of hostilities, and this was a matter of great concern. The Security Council resolution was a positive effort, but it was just one measure. Several delegations appealed to Israel to put an end to the military operation in Gaza and condemned the criminal and disproportionate attacks by Israel, which principally affected the civilian population. The rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel were also condemned. Speakers stressed that in times of conflict, all parties had the responsibility of respecting the civilian population, and the standards of international human rights law and conventions, as well as the principles of proportionality, distinction and the protection of individuals in all circumstances in situations of hostilities. Nothing justified the current actions by Israel in the Gaza Strip: it was nothing short of an attempt to rewrite international law based on the doctrine of self defence.
Some delegations said that the Human Rights Council's proposed draft resolution failed to acknowledge that sustained Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel had led to the current crisis and used inflammatory language. Terrorism or use of force was never a proper means to resolve conflicts. Israel should end the collective punishment of the Palestinian people, and open the border crossings to allow the passage of humanitarian supplies. The use of violence as an instrument to achieve goals by any of the parties involved was unacceptable. Nothing less than ending the violence would be effective to improve the situation. In addition to the killed and wounded, thousands of Palestinians had been displaced, but there was no safe haven for them as had been shown by the incident at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency school. It was important that the Special Session on the 9th January be able to live up to the expectation of the international community, and thus take concrete actions to fully and appropriately address these violations through, inter alia, establishing an international fact-finding mission, tasked with thoroughly investigating the Israeli regime's human rights violations.
Speaking during the afternoon session were representatives of Senegal, Ukraine, Italy, Chile, Mexico, Bolivia, the Philippines, Canada, Slovenia, Germany, Jordan, the Netherlands, Brazil, Morocco, Yemen, United Nations Relief and Works Agency, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and United Nations Children's Fund in a joint statement, Algeria, Turkey, Kuwait, Venezuela, Syria, Luxemburg, Belgium, Oman, Spain, Iceland, Jamaica, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Norway, New Zealand, Lebanon, Ecuador, SRI LANKA, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Austria, Ireland, Viet Nam, Libya, the Holy See, Thailand, Iraq, Sudan, the African Union, Maldives, Botswana, Peru, the Arab League, Costa Rica, Portugal, Greece, Australia and Afghanistan.
Also speaking were representatives of the National Council for Human Rights of Egypt, Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues in joint statements.
The Council resumed its Special Session today, 12 January 2008 at 10 a.m. and is scheduled to continue to hear remaining statements, before taking action on the draft resolution.
(Courtesy: Website of the UN Human Rights Council)
Given below is the full text of the statement made by H.E. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office in Geneva.
“Thank you Mr. President, Sri Lanka associates itself fully with the statement made by the Ambassador of Cuba on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. Mr. President, one of the most poignant scenes that we have seen on our television sets is when the women and children of Gaza cry out to the rest of the world and ask whether nobody is watching or listening. We, the Human Rights Council here must show that we are watching, that we are listening and that we are responsive. If the Human Rights Council does not stand up for the human rights of the people of Gaza, the innocent people of Gaza, then what do we stand for, and why do we exist?
Mr. President, the atrocities committed on the innocent people of Gaza should not be permitted to be obscured, obfuscated by lies, deception, half-truths and selective reordering of facts and chronology.
We cannot accept, Mr. President, the argument that the ceasefire broke down because of sporadic rocket fire, reprehensible as that rocket fire was, directed on Christmas Eve, or on Christmas day, when we know that six Palestinians were killed on the 4th of November, the very day of the results of the US elections. That is when the ceasefire was most massively violated. That is a fact, and that fact must not be covered up.
We cannot accept the argument, Mr. President, that this is somehow a fight to defend the Palestinian moderates against the Palestinian extremists; democratically elected though those extremists may be. We cannot accept that fact, because we know what is happening in the West Bank, with the wall, and the barbed wire, and the 400 check-points, and the expansion of settlements. We cannot accept that specious argument of the defence of Palestinian moderation and the Palestinian authority against terrorism because we remember what happened to that most moderate of Palestinian leaders, President Yasar Arafat, who was virtually kept a prisoner, and his Headquarters turned systematically to rubble, by Israeli tanks in 2002; that we remember, Mr. President.
We cannot accept these arguments that the people of Gaza can be pummelled and 219 children killed because of the politics of Hamas and Hezbollah, because we recall the bombing of hospitals in Beirut in 1982 by Israeli jets when Hezbollah did not even exist, let alone the Hamas. We recognize the continuity of the aggressive policies that are being used, Mr. President.
We are totally opposed to terrorism which targets Israeli civilians. The fact of Occupation cannot justify the targeting of non combatant, Israeli civilians; on the other hand, the fact of sporadic terrorism cannot obscure the larger, longer, historical fact of Occupation. Let me conclude therefore, Mr. President, by reminding the Council that normalcy is not Occupation. Thank you”
|Last Updated ( Friday, 14 August 2009 )|
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