The Sri Lankan government is facing a multi-pronged attack at the United Nations Human Rights Commission sessions, scheduled to begin on Feb. 27, with the US spearheading a diplomatic offensive much to the delight of the LTTE rump. The 19th sessions will continue till March 23.
Sri Lankan government officials told ‘The Island’ that the LTTE was depending on the US to help it move a resolution against Sri Lanka, during the sessions in spite of many member countries, of the 47-member HRC, being wary of the US-LTTE move.
“Due to the failure on their part to secure support from member states, those campaigning on behalf of the LTTE are also exploring the possibility of securing Sri Lanka’s consent for a resolution on Sri Lanka,” an official said. Asked whether the government would give in to the move, the official replied in the negative.
External Affairs Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris arrived in Geneva on Monday (20) for a series of bilateral meetings with senior representatives of member states of the HRC, ahead of next week’s sessions.
The HRC consists of five regional groups, namely: African States (Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Djibouti, Libya, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda), Latin American and Caribbean states (Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay), Asia states (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, the Maldives, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand), Western Europe and other states (Austria, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, United States) and Eastern European states (Russia, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Moldova).
Minister Peiris is also scheduled to meet the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, later this week, in Geneva.
South African Pillay succeeded Louise Arbour on July 28, 2008, for a four-year team at the height of Sri Lanka’s war against terrorism. Pillay is also on a collision course with Sri Lanka over the recent appointment of Sri Lanka’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Major General Shavendra Silva to the special advisory group on peace keeping operations. This is the first time that a Sri Lankan has been appointed to a post relating to peace keeping operations, throughout Sri Lanka’s 50-year long partnership with the Department of Peacekeeping.
Major General Silva will represent the Asia-Pacific states in this body.
The Sri Lankan mission in Geneva pointed out that US-based Attorney-at-Law Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran had been involved in the Geneva operation.
Those countries facilitating Rudrakumaran’s operations had conveniently forgotten that he was a senior member of the LTTE which is still on the list of proscribed organizations in over 30 countries, including the US and UK, the mission said. The LTTEer goes as Prime Minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE).
In support of the diplomatic effort, the TGTE was planning to bring in thousands of pro-LTTE activists to Geneva, beginning with a big protest on Feb. 27, sources said. Large groups of demonstrators are to move to Geneva from Norway, France and the UK, sources said, adding that the Geneva operation was the biggest undertaken by the LTTE abroad, since its protests demanding international intervention to compel Sri Lanka to halt the military offensive in early 2009.
The LTTE collapsed on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon, on May 19, 2009.
By Shamindra Ferdinando in Geneva