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