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UN resolution ignores LTTE atrocities - Minister Susil Premajayantha

UPFA General Secretary and Environment and Renewable Energy Minister Susil Premajayantha said that he didn't see any logic in the UNHRC decision to investigate Sri Lanka's alleged human rights violations from 2002 to 2009 ignoring the atrocities and other grave human rights violations committed by the LTTE prior to 2002. The UNHRC's decision is to pin point Government violations and pay little heed to LTTE atrocities.

The Minister in an interview with the Sunday Observer said that the Government's position is if the UNHRC wants to investigate alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, they should investigate such violations from 1983 so that they could also report on mass human rights violations committed by the LTTE including the massacre of 33 Bhikkhus in Aranthalawa, the massacre of Buddhist devotees at the sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and the bombing of the Sri Dalada Maligawa, Kandy.

The Minister said these massacres were committed prior to 2002 and the UNHRC wants to exclude them by ignoring what the LTTE did. This shows that the UNHRC doesn't maintain a credible stance on the issue.

It is not only the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay but also countries which tabled and supported the resolution at the UNHRC are not aware of the ground situation in Sri Lanka. They are under pressure from Western powers. Although the imperialist countries invaded small countries militarily in the past, today they are using the UNHRC as a tool to interfere with their internal affairs.

Q: The UNHRC circus has now taken a different twist when human right violations will be investigated from 2002 to 2009 and not from the beginning of the LTTE hostilities as desired by the Sri Lankan Government. How do you observe this type of vagaries in such international issues?

A: It clearly shows the intention of the authors of this resolution. I don't see any argument or logic to expand the period from 2002 to 2009 as the LTTE has committed so many grave human rights violations prior to 2002. Their sole intention is to give little weight to LTTE atrocities and pin point more to the Sri Lanka Government.

Our position is if the UNHRC wants to investigate alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, they should investigate such violations from 1983. Then they would find so many grave human rights violations committed by the LTTE including the massacre of 33 Bhikkhus at Aranthalawa, the massacre of Buddhist devotees at the sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and the bombing of the Sri Dalada Maligawa, Kandy.

All these incidents took place prior to 2002. I think they just want to exclude those brutal LTTE atrocities. This deviation also shows that the UNHRC doesn't maintain a sustainable position on the issue.

Q: The Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims lived together in peace for centuries, despite minor incidents of religious disharmony. Does this warrant the so-called internationalising of religious reconciliation in Sri Lanka when hundreds of religious minorities have been butchered in some Asian countries?

A: Before 2009 and for the past so many years, international forces interfered with Sri Lanka's internal affairs. Apart from that some of our leaders during their regime invited some foreign countries and organisations to interfere with our internal matters. Actually the people should understand this situation. I don't want to mention names of those former leaders. But if you go back to history, there is so much of evidence to show that during their leadership how they invited some foreign countries and organisations to interfere with our internal matters. After President Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power in 2005, none of those foreign countries or organisations were permitted to interfere with our internal affairs.

I think that is why most of the Western powers dislike the manner in which President Mahinda Rajapaksa is handling the country's internal affairs. Because they like to interfere with the internal affairs of other countries rather than solving the domestic issues in their own countries.

They have so many issues in their own countries to be sorted out. But they are not bothered and interfere with the internal affairs of other countries. These external forces, foreign countries and organisations want to interfere with our internal affairs and that is why they have taken this step.

Q: If an independent vote is taken at the UNHRC in the absence of the UK and USA's gerrymandering, a victory for Sri Lanka is certain. How do you analyse this scenario?

A: The Commonwealth countries means countries which gained independence from British rule. These Commonwealth countries are also in the UNHRC. They are influenced by the United Kingdom. On the other hand, the United States of America has an in many countries such as the Far East, South Asia, Africa, the EU as well as most of the Western countries. Because some of these countries cannot survive without the financial, economic and military support of the US. Those countries have realised the true situation in Sri Lanka and have conveyed this to us when we met them personally. Unfortunately, those countries can't vote for Sri Lanka due to the pressure exerted on them by the UK and USA. Surely if not for the USA and the UK, definitely most of the countries would support Sri Lanka to defeat the resolution.

Q: How do you evaluate Australia's commendable stand on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC without being swayed by the big powers?

A: Australia is an independent country. Though it is a Commonwealth country, it does not depend on Western powers militarily, economically or financially. That is why countries like China and Australia expressed their straight forward views.

Q: What are the consequences of the Resolution specially on trade?

A: This is just another resolution. Likewise they have passed so many resolutions against other countries. But nothing has happened. They can't commence any investigation without our consent. If any investigation is done by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay obviously it is a biased investigation. I don't know whether we can go to the international courts on the basis of that biased investigation. Because the rule of law is not in existence.

Is there an international court to take action against Navi Pillay, we would explore the possibility of doing so. Because there is evidence that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is biased. Can such a biased person commence an investigation against a country? Though the resolution is adopted, we have to look into the legality of holding an international investigation against Sri Lanka.

Q: When one sees the massive lobbying in Geneva by LTTE supporters, one is inclined to think that the UNHRC has lost its independence being swayed by intense pressure of the big countries. Your comments?

A: Yes of course. The LTTE diaspora started recently and they have been operating for so many years. When the LTTE was active, they began fund raising and lobbying some politicians, political parties, party leaders and some organisations. Still they have funds and they utilise those funds to carry out their campaign.

They still collect funds because they have an international political wing in operation. All these organisations started after the 1983 incidents. Who is responsible for the 1983 incidents ? At that time the UNP Government was in power and Ranil Wickremesinghe was one of the Cabinet Minister of that Government. There are so many UNP Parliamentarians who were in that UNP Government.

Then President J.R. Jayewardene didn't take any meaningful step to prevent those incidents. As a result, thousands of Tamils left the country and settled in Western countries which are pressurizing us today at the UNHRC. Their second generation are pressurizing those Governments and they hire PR companies and there are lobbying groups in those countries.

This situation was created by the UNP Government in 1983. Even during the regime of Ranil Wickremesinghe, he internationalised our internal problems by calling monitors to supervise. He also signed an agreement with the LTTE Leader Prabhakaran with the blessings of the so-called Western countries which tabled the resolution against us at the UNHRC. Those are the countries which supported Ranil Wickremesinghe when he was the Prime Minister. Wickremesinghe after signing that agreement with Prabhakaran in two particular places said that we have an international safety network. Where was that network? After a few days, the LTTE started killing intelligence officials and destroyed our intelligence system.

They also started many other killings. Then only we realised though Ranil Wickremesinghe signed the agreement under pressure from Western powers, they didn't support us at that time. However, President Mahinda Rajapaksa successfully ended the war against terrorism without the support of any of these Western countries.

They want to take revenge from the President and the people of Sri Lanka because they were not involved in this process.

Q: As far as Sri Lanka's alleged human rights violations are concerned, don't you think it is illogical for a world body to act on Navi Pillay's report alone without due regard to the ground situation in the country?

A: It is not only Navi Pillay, even the countries which tabled and supported the resolution at the UNHRC are not aware of the ground situation in Sri Lanka. Even though they know about Sri Lanka's true situation, they are under pressure from Western powers. Even during history, imperialist countries invaded small countries militarily. Now they use the UNHRC as a tool to interfere with the internal affairs of smaller countries.

Q: The TNA's action since being elected expose its secessionist agenda despite the claim for devolution of power within a united Sri Lanka. Your comments?

A: Definitely. We find that most of the TNA's representatives in the Provincial Councils and Parliament are ex-LTTE cadres. Their mindset has not changed. We have to live with these elements. That is nature. That is why we need a strong leadership even in the future.

Q: There are allegations from the main Opposition UNP that the rule of law and good governance has weakened, giving room to arbitrary action. Is there any truth in this allegation?

A: They should go before a mirror and ask that question. What happened in Sri Lanka during the 1988-1989 terror period? How many youths disappeared and were burnt on the roads during this period? More than 40,000 youth were brutally killed. I think the total number of killings and disappearances during the 1988-1989 terror period exceeds the total number of deaths during the last 30 years of war against terrorism. That is why I call upon the UNP to go before a mirror and ask the same question from themselves. They have to recollect what happened during the terror period from 1988 to 1990 in Sri Lanka.

Q: The billions worth of development projects launched by the UPFA Government is enough to ensure a landslide victory at the Provincial Council elections. What will be the voter reaction considering relentless Opposition attack on the Government?

A: Right throughout the election campaign, we didn't see an organised campaign by any member of the Opposition party. They had a few adhoc gatherings. The UNP could not even have a single main rally in a public ground. They had all their meetings and discussions in small halls. It shows that the people are not with the Opposition. The UPFA had about 16 major rallies under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The people witnessed the rousing welcome and overwhelming public support gained by the Government in the Western and Southern provinces. I think we don't have any competition or challenge whatsoever from the Opposition.

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