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Sunday, 3 March 2013





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Rather than commending Sri LankA:

UNHRC goes against its basic principles - Dr. Prathibha Mahanamahewa

Dr. Prathibha Mahanamahewa

While Sri Lanka's role in eradicating the mindless LTTE terrorism which butchered thousands of people and restoring peace throughout the country should have been commended, attempts at making wild allegations against Sri Lanka contravene the basic principles of the UNHRC, said Dr. Prathibha Mahanamahewa, Dean/Faculty of Law, Sir John Kothalawala Defence University in an interview with Sarath Perera of our sister news- paper, Silumina.

Q: To begin with would you like to reflect on the speech by Sri Lanka's special envoy to UNHRC Mahinda Samarasinghe?

A: He has painted an accurate picture of Sri Lanka and explained in details the progress achieved on human rights and reconciliation. He said that Sri Lanka is fully committed to protect human rights. He elaborated on Sri Lanka's attempts at resettling those displaced and rehabilitating LTTE members rather than prosecuting them and ensuring harmonious co-existence, to give effect to the LLRC recommendations.

Q: American and other Western countries level allegations that the LLRC recommendations have not been implemented. What is your comment?

A: Certainly not. The government has already implemented the main recommendations. Adequate steps have been taken to restore civil administration in the North and relocate the people in their ancestral lands. However, the West always allege that it is not so. America is well aware that no human rights could be maintained with terrorists or under the spectre of mindless terrorism. It is a joke that Sri Lanka is being hounded out in the name of ensuring human rights.

That peace has dawned on Sri Lanka is universally recognised as borne out by the freedom provided for tourists to travel the length and breadth of the country without let or hindrance. Far from making allegations against this country, America should have ascertained the situation from the Western tourists themselves.

Q: Were not these the self-same countries which now sermonise on implementing LLRC recommendations, castigated them as an attempt at whitewashing?

A: Yes, they did so at the beginning. Later they shifted their position and called upon Sri Lanka to implement the LLRC recommendations. The LLRC was appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

It is the prerogative of the government to decide on what recommendations should be implemented and what not. Now they say that they are not happy with the manner the LLRC recommendations are implemented.

Allegations are levelled against Sri Lanka based on hearsay evidence. Minister Samarasinghe asked them to visit Sri Lanka so that they could apprise others of the prevailing situation.

America is harping on protecting the lives of terrorists while turning a blind eye to the massacre of thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Who will level criminal charges against America for killing Bin Laden? Channel 4 has highlighted Vellupillai Prabhakaran's son but even former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka who is against the present government denies that he had surrendered to the Army.

That we are still against terrorism is self-evident from the fact that America captured an Al Qaeda suspect in Sri Lanka. It is totally unjustifiable to penalise a country which does its utmost to safeguard the lives of those who despised terrorism. Last year too America moved a resolution against Sri Lanka.

This time it is procedural resolution targeting Sri Lanka while Japan was emphatic that it is time to help Sri Lanka to move forward. Most countries such as the Philippines could see the truth.

Q: How could we win over these powerful Western nations?

A: First of all, they pretend to know the truth. They know very well that Sri Lanka has restored peace and is on the road to rapid progress having improved infrastructure facilities in the War-ravaged areas.

Today the country has become the benchmark for all developing countries. While launching development programs the government also hold elections when due.

Elections to the Northern Provincial Council have to be held to enlighten these countries. Apart from the LLRC recommendations the 2011-2016 National Human Rights Action Plan is being implemented. This has to be conveyed to the NGOs at the forthcoming sessions.

The impeachment of the former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake is one of the items on the Agenda. None could exert pressure on us for acting in consonance with the provisions of the constitution. Under the pretext of safeguarding human rights through their resolution, this time America is trying to detail a foreign mission to Sri Lanka. This can, however, be done only with the concurrence of the country concerned. Last time too, a similar attempt was thwarted due to the objection raised by the Sri Lanka government.

Q: Is the UNHRC a judicial body?

A: The UNHRC is not a judicial or semi-judicial body; It is neither a tribunal. They are conducting a review of human rights in each individual country. Already 98 resolutions have been passed on Cuba fallowed by Israel. Cuba remains unchanged. We should stand united against all anti-Sri Lankan forces and safeguard the hard-won independence.

Q: Sri Lanka needs to align herself with its sincere friends. What is your comment?

A: Western countries are attempting to isolate Sri Lanka internationally? Last time 11 Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia voted for Sri Lanka. It is time to probe whether the current anti-Muslims sentiments are a ploy to make these Muslim countries our enemies.In the 1980s there were LTTE training camps in India. Tigers assassinated Rajiv Gandhi. Even today speculation is rife that the Tigers are being trained in Tamil Nadu. India is constrained to go against Sri Lanka due to pressure from Tamil Nadu.

India has to act targeting her elections next year. However, I believe New Delhi rulers know what is right and wrong. India is having enormous problems in Kashmir and grave allegations have been levelled against her.

Rather than holding on to incidents alleged to have taken place during the last phase of the war against terrorism and trying to pillorise Sri Lanka America should extend a helping hand to Sri Lanka which has survived as a peaceful democratic country.

Translated by K.D.Michael Kittanpahuwa


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