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Brad Adams, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division since 2002

Amongst the more depressing discoveries of the last few years has been the realization that so-called human rights organizations are totally unwilling to discuss matters with transparency.

I found this initially with Human Rights Watch when, in 2007, they issued an outrageous press release about what they claimed were indiscriminate attacks on civilians by the Sri Lankan forces, when in fact their detailed report on the retaking of the East recorded only one instance of civilian casualties. I pointed this out to HRW, who did not admit their mistake but sent a general letter, to which I responded in detail. After that they cut off communication with me.

I made another effort in September when I was in Geneva. The new HRW representative in Geneva seemed a decent type and seemed to engage positively, after which we agreed I should write to her with my complaints about the previous public performance put on by HRW in New York. She agreed to respond, but evidently was advised against it, for I received no reply to my letter.

A few months later the Foreign Minister asked me to go to London to speak at a meeting at the House of Commons which HRW was arranging. He had been asked, but was busy so requested me to go instead. When HRW heard I was coming, they cancelled this meeting. I believe there was a causal connection for the diplomat in London who was liaising said that they had expressed fear that I would rubbish them.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

May 2011
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