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SL writes to UNHRC member states to counter US claims

The Sri Lankan government yesterday accused a section of the international community of trying to distort the situation in Sri Lanka to undermine the post-war reconciliation and recovery process.  A senior spokesperson for the Sri Lankan delegation, headed by External Affairs Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris, yesterday told The Island that the US-led moves were unethical.
Such actions would only help the LTTE rump, operating in the US and other parts of the world, the official said, adding that Sri Lanka had no option but to write to Geneva-based diplomatic missions, including those member states of the UN Human Rights Council to thwart an alleged US bid to deceive them.

Following a discussion chaired by Prof. Peiris here on Tuesday night, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva, Tamara Kunanayakam wrote to member states strongly denying reports of Sri Lanka having bilateral engagement with the US over accountability issues. The delegation included, Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Mahinda Samarasinghe, who is in charge of the human rights portfolio and Douglas Devananda, MP Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Ambassador Kunanayakam, Additional Secretary External Affairs Kshenuka Senewiratne and presidential spokesman Bandula Jayasekera.

The following is the text of Ambassador Kunanayakam’s missive to Resident Representatives of member states of the UNHRC comprising 47 countries, including Russia, China, US, India and Norway: “It has been brought to our attention that an e-mail dated 21st February, purporting to have originated from the Mission of the United States to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva, signed by one Miriam Shahrzard Schive has been sent to Member States of the Human Rights Council and Diplomatic Missions in Geneva. It seeks support for a resolution on Sri Lanka supposedly sponsored by the United States, that is to be presented to the Human Rights Council Sessions in March. This e-mail creates the impression that diplomatic officials of the U.S. have been in close contact with the Government of Sri Lanka, as well as this Mission, to work, “collaboratively on issues of accountability (in Sri Lanka) and the implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s Report’. It goes on to express the hope that ‘the Sri Lankan Government will work with us on this Resolution’. It obliquely canvasses the position of a co-sponsorship of a Resolution and conveys a false impression that Sri Lanka is working with the United States on this Resolution.”

“Sri Lanka categorically states that at no time has the Government or its Mission in Geneva, ever worked with representatives of the United States on any Resolution on whatsoever. It is inaccurate and misleading to seek to create such an impression that Sri Lanka was consulted, has cooperated or in any other manner been part of such a process. Indeed, Sri Lanka has started on the implementation of the recommendations of the LLRC, among other initiatives to secure peace, prosperity and reconciliation for our people, in the aftermath of the thirty year conflict against separatist terrorism. We have consistently maintained that it is unnecessary, unhelpful and counterproductive to bring any resolution concerning this matter barely two months after the publication of the LLRC Report and more particularly in the context of implementation of its recommendations.”

“We have continued to openly and comprehensively brief the international community in Geneva and elsewhere of all recent developments in this regard. Moreover we plan to inform the Council and its Membership of the current position as to all relevant matters during the forthcoming session of the Council – a practice that we will continue in the future.”

“It is unfortunate that such an unethical distortion of the true position has been resorted to by interested parties who can only be pursuing some parallel agenda, seeking to achieve some collateral gain, given Sri Lanka’s commitment to engage constructively with its partners, its forthrightness in discussing issues pertaining to post conflict recovery and the realization of positive developments within its territory pertaining to reconciliation and development.”

“It is opportune to observe that we have received wide spread support on the endorsement of the principle, that a domestic mechanism must be given the time, space and the necessary impetus to achieve its objectives. Sri Lanka’s position is that given the considerable progress that has been achieved in the implementation of the recommendations of the domestic mechanism from the release of the Report to date and the Road Map for further progress, any resolution of whatsoever nature is most unhelpful and highly unwarranted.” (SF)

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