Friday, September 27, 2013

Commonwealth giving Sri Lanka carte blanche for human rights abuses

27 September 2013

Sometimes I feel helpless. Actually let me rephrase that, almost all the time I feel helpless. I can’t change anything happening in the world and I can’t trust any other institution to follow through on their objectives and change it for me. And that stings. Most of us believe that as one we may be powerless but united, we are a force. So if even these international institutions created for the sole objective of representing are united might are failing what is left for us to believe in? What is that pinnacle of hope that promises our brighter tomorrow? Where can I find solace in the senseless violence that carves out this world?

I don’t know.

As an individual who is relatively knowledgeable about international political theory, I tried to understand. We don’t enter the Middle East and try to resolve gender segregation because we have strategic interests in the oil markets there. We don’t enter sub-Saharan Africa because there is no stable foundation to work from and creating one is expensive and dangerous. We don’t seek to alleviate century old racism in Brazil because they are a raw material hub. It makes sense. Pure neoliberal, objectifying, cold, calculated sense. I try to tell myself that, but somewhere along the way it doesn't make sense anymore.

How can we be so heartless as to reduce everything to its utility? How can we quantify human life and consider ourselves worthy of being human at all? In other words, how does any strategic interest or risk outweigh the very existence of our fellow human?

Again, I don’t know.

And again I’m struck helpless.

This is the helplessness I felt this morning.

Now let me tell how it can get worse. Today, as I prepared for this blog, I came across an article about Indonesia. This country is known for its war crimes, religious turmoil, sex trafficking, and blatant violation of every norm and law regarding human rights. Now, as an opportunity that costs nothing, has no strategic backlash, and could help alleviate the situation presents its self- the Commonwealth chooses to forgo the opportunity. I cannot think of any cold and calculated and self-interested reason why! And obviously, no humane reason exists.

So now, I feel more helpless than ever. As the Commonwealth hands Indonesia a carte blanche and initiates its summit there to judge other countries about their human rights violations, I sit here in fury. Now, not only will Indonesia be given a pardon for the atrocities of the Tamil Tigers and the president, but the very legitimacy of the organization will be undermined in international law. For those who wish to see this world burn, I’d say the Commonwealth just killed two birds with one stone!

It’s disgusting and I just cannot fathom what logic exists in doing such a thing! So I feel the helplessness seep into my very bones. 

BY Priyanka Juneja

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