The Canadian High Commissioner in Colombo, Bruce Levy yesterday emphasised the importance of Sri Lanka addressing concerns raised by the international community, regarding accountability issues as early as possible.
Levy said that Sri Lanka couldn’t ignore accountability issues if it was keen to ensure peace and development.
The official was responding to a query by The Island regarding a recent statement attributed to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a round table conference.
Citing the statement, the Canadian media asserted that Harper was likely to boycott the 2013 Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka unless the Rajapaksa government addressed accountability issues.
The Canadian leader is quoted as having said: “I intend to make it clear to my fellow leaders at the Commonwealth, that if we do not see progress in Sri Lanka in terms of human rights and some of the issues that you raised, I will not, as prime minister, be attending that Commonwealth Summit.”
Every two years, Commonwealth leaders meet to discuss global and Commonwealth issues at the heads-of-government event. One is set to take place in Australia next month.
HC Levy said that Premier Harper’s statement reflected that Sri Lanka had, in spite of the end to the war over two years ago, failed to address contentious issues to the degree the international community expected and wanted it to do. He stressed that a sustainable post-war national reconciliation process would depend largely on the restoration of democratic rights and accountability.
Pointing out that Premier Harper was referring to an event scheduled to take place in two years, HC Levy asserted that Sri Lanka should expedite the national reconciliation process.
The External Affairs Ministry said that those demanding punitive action against the government of Sri Lanka over unsubstantiated accountability issues had conveniently ignored a spate of allegations made against other member states of the UN. The LTTE and its sympathizers, including the media had stepped-up pressure targeting Sri Lanka at the ongoing sessions of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, a senior spokesperson for the ministry said.
Commenting on the statement attributed to the Canadian Premier, another External Affairs Ministry official told The Island that Canada had been always supportive of Sri Lanka’s efforts to restore peace. The Canadian ban on the LTTE had strengthened Sri Lanka’s efforts to eradicate the LTTE and rescue the Tamil civilian community held hostage by the group. The official expressed confidence that Canada wouldn’t be deceived by those shedding crocodile tears for civilians, while being mum over LTTE atrocities. “We challenge them to produce at least a brief statement critical of the LTTE quitting the Oslo-led peace process in April 2003, child recruitment or suicide attacks on Tamils fleeing the battle zone. They’ll never be able to meet our challenge as they were always part of the LTTE. They remained silent as long as they felt the LTTE could overwhelm the military,” the official said.
In fact, those pushing for war crimes probe targeting Sri Lanka on the basis of the controversial ‘Darusman report’ had ignored war crime allegations levelled by the same Panel of Experts (POE) against the LTTE.