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Sunday, December 10, 2023

UNP warns govt. to be cautious when countering US resolution

With the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) now set to take a decision on the US-resolution targeting Sri Lanka at the current sessions on Thursday (22), the UNP urged the government to be cautious in its counter offensive.

UNP spokesman, parliamentarian, Lakshman Kiriella yesterday said that there was no dispute that immense pressure was being brought on the GoSL at UN rights sessions in Geneva. Having admitted that Western powers were pursuing an aggressive policy towards post-war Sri Lanka, the Kandy District MP emphasized the importance of countering the Geneva moves without causing unnecessary friction.

The MP strongly criticised the ruling SLFP-led UPFA for allowing supporters to set fire to an effigy of US President Barak Obama in the presence of Deputy External Affairs Minister Neomal Perera. The incident took place in the wake of National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Minister Wimal Weerawansa lambasting the US at a public meeting in Colombo.

Asked whether the UNP endorsed the government’s claim that the country was being unfairly treated over unsubstantiated accountability issues, the UNP spokesman said that those who represented the GoSL abroad and here should counter whatever accusations levelled against the country’s political and military leaderships without playing to politics.

It would be a grave mistake on the part of the government to pretend that those pursuing Sri Lanka on the ‘human rights front’ were only concerned about the final phase of the conflict, the MP said. In fact the government was being investigated for, what MP Kiriella called, ‘extra-judicial actions’ not only in the Northern and Eastern Provinces but the South as well. Unfortunately, the government had failed to realize the difference between military action directed against terrorists and violence directed against political opponents and in some case its own members.

Obviously, some of those UPFA members hadn’t studied their own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report, though they made various remarks citing it, the UNP official said. The bottom line was that the international community was demanding immediate implementation of the report as it had dealt with a range of key issues, including the need to re-establish independent commissions, a free judiciary and disarming of the underworld, the MP said. The reference to Kolonnawa shooting in October last year had revealed that the government could no longer ignore the sorry state of affairs and immediate action was needed to rectify the shortcomings, he said.

The UNP urged the government not to allow its ministers to further sour relations with the West as it could have serious consequences for the post-war economic recovery.
By Shamindra Ferdinando


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