Sri Lankan delegation allays allegations against the country by vested interests
Sri Lanka strongly refuting allegations made by Britain’s Channel 04 Television has emphasized that the country should be given the time and space required to complete the process being undertaken by the Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
It has also urged the international community to take due cognizance of significant progress achieved by the country in rehabilitation and resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs), economic development of the North and the East, and demining activities carried since vanquishing the scourge of terrorism in May 2009.
The head of the Sri Lankas delegation to the 18th session of the Human Rights Council Minister Samarasinghe made these above observations at a side event titled “Sri Lanka - Humanitarian Operation: A Factual Analysis”, organized on the margins of the HRC in Geneva by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva.
At this event the Sri Lankan delegation provided a succinct analysis of the post-conflict developments in the country, and briefed participants on progress in the legislative front such as the termination of emergency regulations and the adoption of the National Action Plan for Human Rights by the Cabinet of Ministers.
The participants of this event were also made to view the film “Lies Agreed Upon” refuting the allegations leveled against the Sri Lanka Government in the Channel 4 film entitled “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” and highlighting its inaccuracies and inconsistencies was also shown.
The President of the Maldives Mr. Mohamed Nasheed speaking at the event urged the international community to support the reconciliation process being implemented in Sri Lanka. While pointing out that all Sri Lankans were affected by the conflict, the Maldivian President strongly welcomed the efforts made by the Sri Lanka Government towards speedy resettlement and rehabilitation of communities and towards development of the conflict-effected areas following the onset of peace.
The former Attorney General and Senior Advisor to the Sri Lankan delegation Mr. Mohan Pieris briefing the attendees on the termination of emergency regulations that existed in the country since 2005, said that these regulations were implemented in the past to protect the country and its people from terrorist forces. He pointed out that beginning as early as May 2010, the Sri Lankan Government gradually reduced the scope of the Emergency Regulations in keeping with improvements in the ground situation, and finally annulled it in its entirety last month on the instructions of the President.
The Sri Lanka delegation strongly refuted the assertion being made by Amnesty International that the LLRC was not mandated for accountability. Responding to Amnesty International on their recently released report criticizing the LLRC, the former Attorney General emphasized that any criticism and “pre-judgement of the process before its completion is superfluous and unacceptable”. He also elaborated on the “broad mandate” that has been given to the LLRC, structured on the concept of restorative justice.
Several developing countries endorsed the Sri Lankan position. They noted that Sri Lanka’s domestic reconciliation process should be supported by the international community and no action including pre-judgement of the process, should be undertaken by any party or parties prior to completion of the LLRC’s mandate. They also commended Sri Lanka for the humanitarian operation conducted to protect civilians from terrorism, and remarked upon the significant progress the country has achieved in resettlement and rehabilitation of the affected people in the aftermath of the conflict.
Government Agent /Jaffna Ms. Imelda Sukumar in responding to queries on the situation in Jaffna elaborated on the resettlement of people including in the former High Security Zones, progress on demining and restoration of livelihoods of the people including those in the fisheries sector. She also referred to the rapid return to normalcy of life in the Jaffna district.
Following the broadcast of the “Lies Agreed Upon” video, participants acknowledged that events can be presented in different ways and may not necessarily be true.
A cross section of member countries of the Human Rights Council, INGOs and civil society organizations participated in the side event. They appreciated the opportunity provided for a very frank exchange of views on developments in Sri Lanka, and expressed the hope that further briefings may be provided via similar events organized on the sidelines of the forthcoming sessions of the HRC.
The participants were given copies of information material on Sri Lanka including copies of the “Lies Agreed Upon” DVD, the publications entitled “Humanitarian Operation Factual Analysis July 2006 – May 2009” and “Sri Lanka: The Emerging Wonder of Asia” published by the Ministries of Defence and Economic Development respectively, as well as material produced by the Ministry of External Affairs, at the Forum. They were also directed to the relevant websites with regard to information available in the public domain on the LLRC process, and other legislative enactments.
The Sri Lanka delegation comprised Minister of Plantation Industries and Special Envoy of the President on Human Rights Mr. Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Irrigation & Water Resources Management, Mr. Nimal Siripala de Silva; Minister of Environment, Mr. Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Parliamentarian Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative /Ambassador to the UN Ms.Tamara Kunanayakam; Senior Advisor to the Cabinet of Ministers Mohan Pieris; Secretary/Presidential Task Force for Resettlement, Development and Security for the Northern Province Mr. S.B. Divaratna, Government Agent/Jaffna Ms. Imelda Sukumar; and Addl. Government Analyst Mr. W.D.G.D. Gunatilleke.
- Asian Tribune -