TNA called upon to adopt constructive attitude :
Lanka expects integrity and impartiality from UN - External Affairs
External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris told the TNA to shake
free of the notion ‘that it is the international community that is going
to frighten us, intimidate us and impose a solution on us.’
External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris
“I tell the Hon. R. Sampanthan on the Floor of this House that it
will never happen,” the Minister asserted, wrapping up a debate on the
adjournment motion moved by TNA Parliamentary group leader R. Sampanthan
on the US-sponsored UNHRC Resolution against Sri Lanka, in Parliament
Inviting the TNA for talks, the Minister urged them to adopt a
constructive attitude and help the Government to find a lasting solution
to the issue at hand.
“The international community is neither disposed nor able to impose a
substantive solution on the Government and the people of Sri Lanka. That
is a futile illusion,” he cautioned the TNA.
He said, “Let us resolve these problems within our shores”, adding
that a direct dialogue is more promising to throw up solutions to the
domestic problem - the problems facing the people of the North and the
Explaining the Government's decision to reject the US-sponsored
Resolution which was adopted in Geneva in March this year, Prof. Peiris
said the Resolution is never founded upon objective premises.
“The Hon. R. Sampanthan, moving this Motion, very early in his speech
said that the ideas contained in the Resolution adopted in Geneva and
his own initiative in proposing this Motion were not intended to inflict
any harm on the country or its people. That, Sir, is the fundamental
He said, “The whole thrust of the speech of the TNA leader was that
‘this Resolution passed in Geneva is a good and proper Resolution; it
embodies the truth; it is something that should be accepted without
question and the principles contained in that Resolution should govern
our conduct in the future.”
He said the contrary is very much the case.
The Minister said one important point was not mentioned by the TNA
“There was one very significant circumstance which my friend omitted
to mention. It is this; I am sure he knows that. This Resolution was not
proposed for the first time by the United States of America. That was
not the case. It was originally brought up by another country. It was
brought up by Canada. Canada actually submitted a draft resolution in
Geneva. So, the initiative came, not from the United States of America,
but from Canada. This happened in September 2011.”
Refuting the argument by Sampanthan that the influence and clout of
the mover of the Resolution was totally irrelevant to the outcome, he
questioned as to why the Resolution failed dismally in 2011 when Canada
originally submitted it.
“When we were in New York, we were informed by our Permanent
Representative in Geneva that this Resolution had been submitted to the
Human Rights Council by Canada and a text of the Resolution was sent to
After Canada's strong efforts to garner support for the resolution
failed, a bilateral meeting was held between Prof. Peiris and his
Canadian counterpart in New York on the request of the Canadian Foreign
“At that meeting, the Canadian Foreign Minister informed me that
Canada was not proceeding with this Resolution on that occasion. The
reason was that they did not have support.”He said what Canada could not
do was taken over by the US and the superpower garnered the necessary
votes with its might.
“It is quite idle and entirely disingenuous to suggest that the
attitudes of countries have nothing to do with the economic, military
and strategic influence of the United States.
“You cannot gauge the influence of the United Sates on those
countries by simply looking at the bare figures relating to direct aid.
Influence takes a variety of forms as my friend is very well aware. So,
many countries did have a very substantial difficulty in saying 'No' to
the United States.” He said the members of those governments have shared
their individual sentiments to him personally.
“International relations are not founded upon unlimited altruism.
Foreign policy is all about enlightened self interests. These countries
are trying to protect and nurture their own interests. It is not their
job to make a very clinical, objective and dispassionate appraisal of
the situation. That is not how decisions are made with regard to the
patterns of voting in Geneva.” Commenting on the attempts by the TNA
leader to give the Resolution a humane face, Prof. Peiris said, “I do
not think we should try to dress it up and give it a complexion that it
simply does not have.”He said what happened in Geneva has ‘many unusual
features'. The US came into the Human Rights Council in 2009 and they
have a track record of being highly critical of country-specific
resolutions. Many countries who voted for the Resolution have gone on
record that they were in principle against such moves.
“They deviated from that policy, not because of great moral and
ethical considerations, that is to live in a dream world.”
“It was the practical dynamics of the situation and issues involved
in the bilateral relationship between the country bringing the
resolution and the countries whose votes were canvassed that accounted
for the result.”
Speaking on the EU vote, he said, “At any given time, there would be
more than 10 countries belonging to the European Union that would be
members of the Human Rights Council. Those countries, as I am well
aware, cannot make an independent decision on how they are going to
vote. They cannot. Because, that is a subject that is delegated to the
Commission in Brussels.”
The Minister said that the the Human Rights Council today is the most
politicised among all organs of the United Nations system. “It is a fact
and that has very considerable consequences, not only for Sri Lanka, but
for other countries as well.”
He opined that the implications of that situation far transcend the
specifics of the Sri Lankan situation and are of far wider interest to
the world community and in particular to developing nations. He said
there is an acute reason for concern about the implications of the
unfolding situation in the UNHRC with regard to Sri Lanka.The Minister
said the manner in which the Human Rights High Commissioner has acted in
relation to Sri Lanka is highly questionable.
“The report that the Commissioner submitted to the Human Rights
Council seeks to incorporate into the formal documentation of the Human
Rights Council, certain other documents and the whole purpose of that
exercise is to sanctify those documents by being brought into the
mainstream of the documentation of the Human Rights Council.“The
Darusman Report, the virtues of which Sampanthan extolled eloquently,
describes the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as the most disciplined
and nationalist organisation; it was the same organisation that
liquidated a member of his party who graced the Chair of the Leader of
the Opposition in this august assembly.
“Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam was killed brutally by the LTTE and this is
the organisation that is described as the most disciplined and
nationalist organisation and that is a report which Sampanthan finds
“The Report further goes on to analyse the conflict in this country
which raged for such a long period as essentially a conflict between the
Sinhala and the Tamil people.
How come the LTTE liquidated most of the leadership of Sampanthan’s
party, not to mention many other distinguished Tamil citizens of this
country - professionals, academics, industrialists and business people?”
The Minister said this was a bizarre characterisation by the Darusman
Report. “The committee has gathered information in a clandestine and
furtive manner, and cannot possibly be held to be doing justice.”
“There is also one other, absolutely incredible feature of that
Report. If the Hon. R. Sampanthan would care to refresh his memory and
read some of those passages, they describe in the most horrendous terms,
events which are supposed to have occurred and then, believe it or not,
they say that these should not be accepted as facts. They are not
prepared to vouch for the accuracy of what they are putting into that
“The African Union and the Organisation of Islamic Countries have
unequivocally rejected the Darusman Report because it is incurably
flawed and yet that is the report which the United Nations Commissioner
for Human Rights is incorporating into the formal documentation of the
Human Rights Council and therefore, the United Nations system.
That is something which we vigorously and vehemently object to.”
As for the Petri report, which was mandated to examine the manner in
which the UN system had operated in the country, the Minister said it
has been exposed that they committed portions of documents used which
did not support their pre-conceived conclusions.
Referring to the 40,000 casualty figures mentioned in the reports,
the Minister said Sir John Holmes himself admitted that this figure was
not based on factual information.
“This is why we say that this modus operandi spells disaster for the
system as a whole, because it strikes at the very root of credibility
Speaking of the visit by a technical team from the office of the
Human Rights High Commissioner, the Minister said, “We wrote to the
Commissioner 11 months before the Resolution was adopted in Geneva,
inviting her to come to this country to rely on the evidence of her own
eyes and to see for herself the progress that was being achieved on the
ground. She said she will come, but that she would like her visit to be
preceded by a visit by a technical team from her office.”
“So, that is how we received in this country, Hanny Megally, one of
her officers who was accompanied by two or three other officials of the
We have in our Ministry a letter from the Commissioner expressing
appreciation of the assistance which we gave her officer at every point.
“What happened when Megally went back to Geneva? The first thing that
happened was that he went to the residence of the United States
Permanent Representative to brief selected invitees.”
The Minister said, “That is why we have every reason to expect
integrity and impartiality of treatment. Countries big and small;
powerful and not so powerful are all equal in the eyes of the United
Nations and we reject this kind of behaviour as thoroughly unacceptable.
So, these are the reasons why we think that the system is going wrong.”
Speaking on the 'motivation underpinning the extraordinary behaviour’
by the Canadian foreign Minister who called Sri Lanka ‘evil’, the
Minister cited a Canadian newspaper, Globe and Mail, which reported a
Cabinet member of the Harper Government, Peter Kent criticising the
relationship between the Canadian Government and a gentleman called
Paranjothy who had very close connections with the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam. Kent has called the situation ‘outrageous'.
The Minister also reminded the TNA leader that although the LTTE is
no more as a military outfit, the international threat posed by them is
Commenting on the upcoming Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting
in November, Prof. Peiris said, “Strong voices were raised in support of
Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka’s leadership of the Commonwealth for the next
This is not simply a matter of a physical event that will take place
within the shores of the island.
“It has far greater significance because this country will lead the
Commonwealth for two years from November and President Mahinda Rajapaksa
will be heading that organisation during that period.
This is what some people cannot stomach and that is the stark reality
of the matter.”