The Sunday Leader

Govt. Pot Boils While MR Is Away


  • Govt. Commences Fresh Probe On ACF Killings
  • Russia And China Out Of UNHRC This Year

Pressure on the Mahinda Rajapaksa government mounted last week due to several reasons.
Key among them were: the clash between Muslims and Buddhists over a Muslim mosque in Dambulla, moves by French NGO Action Against Hunger (ACF) to file a report against the government at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva and the screening of Channel 4’s video, Killing Fields Part 2 in Ottawa, Canada.

In the hot seat-President Rajapaksa, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Basil Rajapaksa

The government had to deal with these issues in the absence of President Mahinda Rajapaksa who left on the 23rd on an official visit to South Korea (he returned on the 27th).
The government continues to feel the fall out of the 19th UNHRC sessions in Geneva and the resolution that was passed on the Sri Lankan government.
The Rajapaksa administration is now aware that it had no option but to take stock and at least appear to move forward in the path of reconciliation and implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommendations.
The realisation that the government could no longer try to buy time with insincere assurances to the international community, especially to India has pushed the government to formulate an action plan on the LLRC recommendations as stipulated in the US backed resolution adopted at the UNHRC sessions in March.
While the key role of preparing the LLRC Action Plan is with the Ministries of External Affairs and Defence and the Attorney General’s Department, other line ministries have also been asked to join in the effort.
When preparing the LLRC Action Plan, ministries have been asked to be mindful of the Human Rights Action Plan that is also being formulated for the UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights.
Certain areas that would be covered in the Human Rights Action plan are also expected to overlap with the LLRC Action Plan.
However, the government’s aim is to conclude the LLRC Action Plan before External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris’ visit to Washington next month. MPs Namal Rajapaksa and Sajin Vass Gunawardena will accompany Peiris.
Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who plays a key role in Indo-Sri Lankan bilateral relations, is to visit India during the end of next month.
One of the key impediments in implementing the LLRC recommendations is the failure on the part of the governing UPFA to formulating an official stance on the LLRC report.
Interestingly, the main coalition parties of the UPFA government have not yet submitted the stances of each party on the LLRC recommendations and its implementation.
The President the previous week called on the party leaders to submit the stance of each party and their proposals on implementing the LLRC recommendations to the Presidential Secretariat.
The parties were asked to submit the proposals by the 28th in writing to the Presidential Secretariat.
However, by the 28th most of the main government allies were yet preparing their reports to be handed over to the Presidential Secretariat.
The delays continue to add to the pressure on the government to take positive action as stated by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week.
Ban said that President Rajapaksa must address human rights issues in the country.
He told the Press Trust of India (PTI) he has been urging the Sri Lankan leadership to take all necessary measures to ensure human rights are protected and promoted
In reference to the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka, Ban said it is important to ensure that there is accountability and the process of addressing the rights violations is “very transparent.”
“It is the right time for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to address the issues in a speedy and judicious manner,” Ban said.

Fresh Probe

The move by the ACF together with the human rights initiative SPEAK to submit a report to the UNHRC in advance of the Council’s review of Sri Lanka’s human rights practices in October 2012 got the government activated on an issue that has been pending since 2008.
The ACF had continuously been calling on the government for a fresh probe on the killing of 17 of its aid workers in Muttur on August 4, 2006.
Although several legal proceedings were initiated in Sri Lanka, ACF has recognised the failure of these procedures and what it terms as the blatant lack of will of the Sri Lankan justice system to establish the truth and identify the perpetrators of the massacre.
The government and the LTTE were engaged in charges and counter charges over the killings while failing to apprehend the murderers.
The ACF last week stated that it would submit a report to the UNHRC highlighting that the search for the truth has been a casualty of obstructionism, the intrusion of politics into the judicial process, a lack of transparency and massive errors during the two years of investigations.
ACF noted that it would call on the UNHRC to launch a full international and independent investigation to obtain the truth and identify the perpetrators of the brutal massacre and officially recognise Sri Lanka’s violations of its international obligations.
The government immediately responded saying that it was ready to commence a fresh probe into the 17 murders.
The government claimed it was keen to have a second look at the investigations and re-start preliminary inquiries.
The Attorney General was asked to act immediately and direct a fresh probe on to the killings.
The Attorney General in turn directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to revisit the evidence that was gathered during the initial murder investigation and to visit the scene of the murder once again.
The IGP is expected to appoint a special team headed by a Deputy Inspector General of Police to probe into the killings.
The team is to work under the IGP with direction from the Attorney General’s Department.
Through these actions the government is trying save face when the country’s human rights record is taken up at the UNHRC’s UPR this October.
A government minister said that the fresh probe would reach a substantive level by October and any moves by the ACF against the government could be thwarted.
Meanwhile, Army Commander Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya last week said the Army has appointed two committees in line with the LLRC recommendations to address issues related to the period of the war and on new methods to be adopted.
Jayasuriya said that one is a court of inquiry that would look into the alleged violation of international laws during the war and the other is a committee to study the recommendations made to the Army by the LLRC.
According to the Commander, the report by the committee studying the implementation of recommendations made by the LLRC to the Army is expected in the next few weeks.

Allies Going Out

The government is now being cautious in dealing with issues that could be taken up before the UNHRC in future given that some of its allies would be leaving the Council by June this year.
Sri Lanka would be dealt a severe blow by the departure of two of the countries main allies, China and Russia from the Council when the UNHRC holds its next sessions in June.
Along with China and Russia, two other countries that voted against the US backed resolution on Sri Lanka at the last UNHRC sessions, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh will also be leaving the Council in June.
The government concerned that four of its supporters would not be in the Council when the country is taken up during the UPR in October.
There will be 15 new countries that would enter the UNHRC and the External Affairs Ministry is now looking at the list of countries that are to enter the UNHRC in June and their affiliations to the US.
However, the Rajapaksa administration is hopeful that China and Russia would continue to support Sri Lanka from outside the Council in the event of a crisis situation.
“Since there is no necessity for veto powers like in the Security Council, the departure of China and Russia would not have a huge impact as long as they continue to support Sri Lanka from the outside,” a government minister said.

Checkmating CH4

The External Affairs Ministry finally managed to carry out some positive action by carrying out an effective campaign against the screening of Channel 4’s controversial second video on Sri Lanka in Canada.
The second part of the Killing Fields video produced by the UK based media institution was to be screened in Canada on Tuesday (24) at 7:00 pm at the Parliament Hill Media Theatre.
Acting External Affairs Minister Neomal Perera prepared a letter through the External Affairs Ministry that was sent to the Canadian High Commission to be circulated among the Canadian parliamentarians.
The letter emphasised that the video was an effort by Director of Channel 4, Stuart Cosgrove and his wife Shirani Sabaratnam.
The Ministry has stated that Sabaratnam is a well-known LTTE sympathiser and that she and her husband have participated in several LTTE activities in recent days, which reveal their modus operandi vis a vis anti Sri Lankan stance and their bias toward LTTE struggle.
“In this context, we understand that the CH4 has scheduled to screen the above film at the Parliament Hill Theatre in Canada with the participation of CH4 Director, Stuart Cosgrove and his wife Shirani Sabaratnam who is  a well known  LTTE sympathizer.
Her involvement in LTTE propaganda activities has come to light through the “ Tamil net “ web site, which is the LTTE’s official news portal. As you would note from the web links attached hereto,  Cosgrove and his wife Sabaratnam have participated in several LTTE activities in recent days, which reveal their modus operandi vis a vis anti Sri Lankan stance and their bias toward LTTE struggle.
In fact the CH4 has all along made rather sinister attempts to brand Sri Lanka as a pariah state with the intention of isolating Sri Lanka from the friends of the international community. Needless to say, its endless campaign against Sri Lanka has been aided and abetted by the so called human rights campaigners and civil society activists who are hell bent on dividing Sri Lanka on ethnic lines as was done to Kosovo, Serbia, etc.,” the letter sent to the Canadian parliamentarians state.
However, the Sri Lankan High Commission in Canada has managed to effectively carry out the campaign resulting of 10 about Canadian parliamentarians attended the screening of the Channel 4 film.

Dambulla Issue

While the government managed to gain some ground in the screening of the Channel 4 video in Canada, actions back at home sent a clear message to the world that the path to reconciliation in post war Sri Lanka was still distant.
The clash that took place in Dambulla by the Sinhalese against a Muslim mosque located in the sacred area and its aftermath reverberated through the week.
Muslim nations that supported Sri Lanka at the last UNHRC sessions also expressed concerns over the issue forcing the government to notice the gravity of the situation.
The Muslim members in the government opposed the clash and warned the government that any moves to relocate the mosque would result in serious consequences.
The Dambulla mosque issue saw government members coming out hard against the failure of the state to address the issue in a proper manner and in a sense its support towards creating a religious disharmony.
Apart from the Muslim ministers, senior SLFPer and Lands Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon also came out against the government.
He charged that the government had mishandled the issue and as a result the mosque could not be relocated although it would have been possible through a peaceful dialogue.
In the absence of President Rajapaksa, SLMC Leader and Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem spoke to Minister Basil Rajapaksa and expressed concerns over the entire Dambulla saga.
Hakeem had pointed out that the entire incident did not reflect well on the government’s reconciliation process in post war Sri Lanka.
He had noted that the SLMC was vehemently opposed to any attempt to relocate the mosque, as it would be considered an insult.
The SLMC had also conveyed to the government that it would have to be prepared to face the consequences if the government was determined and try to relocate the mosque without the consent of the Muslim community.
The final decision now lay in the hands of the President.

Message Or Warning?

A statement made by Minister Basil Rajapaksa during the opening of the new SLFP office by organiser and Minister Mervyn Silva made many in the government think twice about its current path.
Rajapaksa said that it was not outside interferences, but internal weaknesses that could make the government collapse.
“The government cannot be toppled but could be made to topple (Anduva peralanna be, eth peralaganna puluvan),” he said.
He observed that external forces could not topple the government.
He noted that the Ministers and parliamentarians needed to be mindful of the fact and be cautious in their actions, as it would be detrimental to the government’s existence.
According to Basil, the government needs to look inwards and pay close attention to its actions in order to ensure its survival.
It is in this backdrop that the SLFP has decided to commence a massive re-organizing of the party from next month.
The first in the series is to be held on May 12 and 13 in the Anuradhapura District and it is to be held in other districts in the next few months.
SLFP General Secretary and Minister Maithripala Sirisena has planned the re-organising programme. SLFP seniors have expressed concerns over the President’s consideration to hold provincial council elections to several councils prematurely without strengthening the SLFP base.

15 Comments for “Govt. Pot Boils While MR Is Away”

  1. saman

    Muslims have built 5,000 mosques everywhere in Sri Lanka. They destroyed Dighvapi. Now they want to destroy Dambulla.

    I think Buddhism is finished in Sri Lanka

  2. Tomsamusa

    It’s not the internal nor external forces; the inflation cost of a loaf of bread,the life style of rich anh corrupt of sinking lanka, especially the pakse thugs will make massesagainst the momkey govt.

  3. Marikkar

    Ultimate collapse of the present government has already begun by fully govt. backed demolition of the Masjid in Dambulla and this will certainly lead to convict the present government for war crime! What should the public pay prices for these crimes.

  4. Meena M.

    As for the Dambulla issue. The Rajapaksa government has not done enough to contain this unnecessary thuggery by some rabble rousers, and should have shown some leadership by condemning such behavior. There will never be unity until ALL religions feel safe to pray in their places of worship without harassment.
    If things are heating up for the Rajapaksa’s, they should not be surprised. This is the result of their arrogance and unwillingness to cooperate with the international body. Blaming all their misfortune on foreign countries went nowhere. They have been called upon to act with some honestly, and implement their own recommendations. The world waits for such action.

    • jaliya

      What about forceful occupation of Buddhist shrines in east by islamic thugs? If this land belongs to temple it should be given to temple. There are more than enough lands to build a mosque other than this!

  5. Mahasen


  6. vintage voter


  7. Araliya Watch

    “You can cheat some people for some time but not all the people all the time”. The Govt. has been playing hid and seek on all issues using its war victory. Now the trend has changed. Whether internal or external, cracks are appearing and the beginning of the worst corrupt, divisive, communalist Govt. has begun.

  8. West is best

    Well…well…it is the beginning of the end of SL. It is now going further and further into anarchy. Rapes, murder, kidnappings and an international investigation into war crimes. This third world country is now in the grip of poverty where more than 80% are under the poverty line.

  9. Leena M

    I am suprised that the President who is wanted for international human rights violations was allowed into another country.

  10. Bulto

    There are lot of well educated and cultured Buddhists in the Government and all over Sri Lanka. It must be a real dilemma for them to reason on the issue of Dambulla Mosque issue.

    Well now that we are done with one conflict and have some breathing space and it is up to the leaders or Sri Lanka to decide if they intend to take the country in the direction of civilized world or join the ranks of Pariahs.

    For MR and family the similarities are too close for comparison with Saddam and Family or Qaddafi and Family. May be MR is the last of the dinosaurs waiting for a similar ending that will usher Sri Lanka towards joining the world of civilized community.

    Well Mr. President, the future is clear, you still have a good chance to go down in history as a great leader.

  11. Piranha

    The pressures are piling on this dastardly regime and we all hope it will end in its demise sooner rather than later.

    The regime is drunk with power and a feeling of invincibility and does what it wants without fear of the laws of the land or of the opposition which is in a sorry mess. Whipping up of racial and religious hatred are its latest tactic to deflect the criticism against it for the pathetic state of the economy and its effects on the masses.

    The more the pressure on the regime , both internal and external, the sooner it will disintegrate.

  12. Vis8

    Banki moon can dance to the tune of his white masters…. Sri Lanka shall remain firm. It is time that the world’s people see through this political hogwash.

  13. When power plants are built to breakdown from the first month of operation, harbors are built without any ships, education without proper curriculum and labor with no job skills and unemployment, sky rocketing cost of living, farmers without water, top heavy economy planning, improper fiscal and monitory policies , indiscipline politicians, disappearance in justice,suppression, etc..etc..are the causes for a govt. change by the citizen. When the govt. cannot deliver it’s promises to people, it’s time for it to pack up and go. Not the implode within.

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