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A Response to Rajiva Wijesinha

Squealer of the Animal Farm

(February 22, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) I am writing to request a correction to a statement contained in Rajiva Wijesinha's article published in the Island on 20th February, 2011, which refers to 'Basil Fernando’s Asian Human Rights Centre'. There is no organization known to me by that name. There is the Asian Human Rights Commission, based in Hong Kong. If this is the organisation he is referring to then I am not the owner of that organisation. The Asian Human Rights Commission is a registered limited liability company in Hong Kong and it has a board of directors who bear legal responsibility for that company. It has also large staff from many nationalities. I do not want to take credit for the great achievements of this organization. I am quite happy to be associated with it, as one of its staff.

Wijesinha also tries to insinuate that projects of this organization receive funds or otherwise relies on the German Liberal Foundation. I am authorized by the Asian Human Rights Commission to state that there is no truth in this statement and that Wijesinha had fabricated it.

I personally do stand by the principle, that all crimes must be punished. In my writings I have repeatedly pointed out that in Sri Lanka this principle is not respected as it should be. Criminals are often forgiven and innocents are punished in their place. As an example, just take our laws on torture and ill treatment. Thousands of cases are reported but none are prosecuted. The same is true of forced disappearances and so many other crimes. We have no reliable police agency to ensure law enforcement.

No nation can be secure if crimes are not investigated and prosecuted.

Wijesinha and I have had public disputes on issues of liberalism in the past. He was one of the advocates of liberalism at one time and he has now abandoned that fold. He has instead, embraced the executive presidential system against which he wrote books about at one time. He resents my reminding him of this fact. He also resents my comparing him to Squealer (a character in George Orwell's Animal Farm). He is aware that I know that some of his former international colleagues in the Liberal fold refuse to attend meetings, if he also plans to attend.

Perhaps due to these reasons he drags my name into his articles even when there is no reason to do so. That does not bother me. However, I do not want to take credit for other peoples achievements.

- by Basil Fernando
( Following was sent as a letter to the editor of the Island )

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