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GoSL refers to US HR record, demands impartiality

External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday said that the hands of those wanting to haul Sri Lanka up before the United National Human Rights Council (UNHRC), on the basis of unsubstantiated UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s so-called Panel of Experts (PoE) report, weren’t clean. Unlike unproven allegations contained in the PoE’s report and ‘Channel 4 News’ production, ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ the conduct of those human rights champions had been exposed on numerous occasions since the launch of global war on terror, Prof. Peiris told The Island.

The minister was addressing the Sri Lankan media accompanying the government delegation following a series of meetings with member states of the UNHRC. 

“There is a limit to selectivity,” an irate Prof. Peiris said, alleging that those pursuing Sri Lanka on the human rights front for political reasons as well as domestic compulsions had caused irreversible damage to the UNHRC process.

Asked whether the Sri Lankan delegation had raised the contentious issue of double-standards with those spearheading the anti-Sri Lanka campaign here, Prof. Peiris said: “Most certainly, we had an opportunity to tell all those concerned how their despicable strategy will cause rapid erosion of confidence in the UNHRC process.”

Prof. Peiris pointed out that some Tamils living abroad were campaigning against those who had rescued their kith and kin from the LTTE’s grip. He said they were being rather ungrateful.

The global Tamil community, Minister Peiris emphasised, should be eternally thankful to the incumbent government for saving children from the LTTE’s clutches. Those who were raising the so-called accountability issues had failed to prevent the LTTE from using children as cannon fodder until May 2009, the minister said.

The UN made an abortive bid to persuade the LTTE to stop using children way back in 1998. None of those organisations protesting against crushing of the LTTE ever bothered at least to issue a statement condemning the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar during the Ceasefire Agreement. The Minister said that the government couldn’t get at those directly involved in the Kadirgamar assassination, though the LTTE was destroyed. The failure on that part of the government to get at the assassins didn’t mean that it was either reluctant or not interested in punishing those responsible, the Minister said.

Asked whether Sri Lanka was confident of countering the US-led resolution, Prof. Peiris emphasised that even those supportive of the anti-Sri Lanka effort, realised that it was nothing but politically motivated campaign. Prof. Peiris said that he didn’t want to point a finger at any particular country, but the international media coverage on global war on terror as well as the whistle-blowing website, Wiki Leaks had exposed the conduct of those promoting human rights in Sri Lanka.

Prof. Peiris said that he had an opportunity to discuss a very unfair condition that the identities of those who had made oral and written submissions to the UNSG’s panel wouldn’t be revealed for 20 years. He said: “How could a country recovering from a bloody war be undermined on the basis of information provided by anonymous persons, whereas a spate of reports, which dealt with horrendous crimes committed since the launch of global war on terror over a decade ago had gone unnoticed?”

In the run-up to the UNHRC sessions scheduled to begin on Feb. 27, HR violations and atrocities committed by the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan as well as abuse of prisoners, too, had come up for discussions.     

Prof. Peiris said that since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009, the Sri Lankan government had moved faster on the accountability issue than any other country accused of large scale violations during global war on terror or in the case of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. 

He said that the Sri Lankan delegation had briefed member states of the UNHRC on action taken by the government to address an entire gamut of post-war issues, ranging from resettlement and rehabilitation to accountability issues.

By Shamindra Ferdinando in Geveva


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