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Lalith Weerathunga says appointing a Special Rapporteur on Sri Lanka by UNHRC is a possiblity

Just days after his return to Colombo from the Washington visit, Weeratunga figured in ITN’s talk show Doramadalawa (Gateway). Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was among those who took part. Here are translated highlights of what he said:

“What I felt during my visit to Washington and Geneva was that they tend to pressurise us more, because we achieved peace without any assistance or permission from them. But there is a controversy within the international community in the process over resolutions against Sri Lanka.

The opinion of most of the members in the US Senate and the Congress was that America is not in a position to question Sri Lanka about the human rights violation since they themselves could not properly establish those rights after 100 years of war.

“The Purpose of my visit was to brief the international community about the progress made by the Government following the recommendations of LLRC within 18 months starting from July, 2012. We met 130 delegates in Geneva and allowed them to come up with questions. My speech was only for 20 minutes whereas the Permanent Representative (Ravinatha Ariyasinha) and I answered their questions for two and half hours.

“Some of the Latin American and Asian counties as well as most of the African countries seemed to have appreciated what we said. They spoke on our behalf at the meeting. At that moment I felt that Sri Lanka should project itself as a model in front of the world. There was no country which ended a 30-year-long conflict with minimum damage to the civilians; there is no country where an Army accepted 300,000 displaced persons and then became their facilitator. They should not expect us to complete the reconciliation process within four and half years. There are states that failed to do so even after 100 years. Therefore I explained to them that they should look into this matter in a fair perspective.

“The US still does not give us a clear picture of the proposed resolution it has against us. When I spoke to the Assistant Secretary of State Biswal, she was not ready to look at the justification of what we say. They asked us to follow the way the US acted after World War II by being magnanimous and forgive the opponents. I reminded her that we too forgave nearly 11,830 terrorists without even any trial.

“The next issue they have is accountability. I explained clearly that accountability over this civil war is a matter of 30 years but not just the one or two weeks of the last stages. No one can remember the brutality brought about by the IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) to this country for about two years. Everything including IPKF should be taken into the accountability. (Note: Troops of the IPKF were inducted to North and East Sri Lanka following the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987 to ensure a ceasefire between Sri Lankan troops and separatist guerrillas. They later ended up fighting the LTTE until late President Ranasinghe Premadasa ordered their withdrawal). I clarified the sensitivities of the reconciliation process. Because it takes time, two to three generations, as revealed in researches. So pressurising Sri Lanka over reconciliation can only divide the two ethnic groups even more.

There might be resolutions against Sri Lanka before the Human Rights Council at the March sessions. It cannot clamp down an embargo on us. However, other measures such as sending Special Rapporteurs might take place.”

The latter remark suggests that Weeratunga, like other UPFA leaders, is conscious of the passage of the new US-sponsored resolution next month

Sunday Times


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