The Sunday Leader

Government Does A U Turn On The West

Valerie Amos and Mahinda Samarasinghe

  • Pillay And Blake Likely To Visit Next Month
  • Govt. Gets UN Funding Through CERF

The Mahinda Rajapaksa government last week finally admitted that United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has been extended an invitation to visit Sri Lanka.
The government claims that Pillay during her visit to Sri Lanka would be able to learn firsthand of the positive developments in the country since the end of the war.

Valerie Amos and Mahinda Samarasinghe

The invitation to Pillay comes as part of the Rajapaksa government’s efforts at re-building relations with the international community and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
A government minister said the government hoped that Pillay’s visit would help soften the stance of some members of the international community adopted on the country.
Pillay’s visit and her observations are expected to be a mode of communication the government plans to use to inform the international community of the country’s post war developments and that it was not looking at being isolated from the diplomatic community.
Sources in the External Affairs Ministry said that Pillay is yet to confirm her visit and even representatives from her office have not informed of when they would visit the country.
“We have communicated that they (UNHRC officials) are welcome and they are yet to get back to us,” a government official said.
The Rajapaksa government, until the US backed resolution on Sri Lanka was adopted at the UNHRC’s March sessions, vehemently opposed any interference by the international community in the country’s affairs.
Extremist members in the government like Ministers Wimal Weerawansa and Champika Ranawaka have continuously campaigned against the government permitting any UN intervention in the country.
Weerawansa went to the extent of staging a fast unto death outside the UN compound in Colombo when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed a three-member panel of experts to report on the situation in Sri Lanka.
Nevertheless, the UNHRC sessions in March served as an eye opener to the Rajapaksa government that behaved like the ‘untouchables.’
The government now knows that living in isolation and saber rattling with the international community does not serve well for the country, especially in its path to becoming the ‘Miracle of Asia.’
The seriousness of the resolution adopted on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC in March has now sunk into the government. It has realized that the best option would be to show initiation in implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
However, the government has also noted that the UNHRC officials could observe but not instruct the government on what needs to be done.
Cabinet Spokesperson Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told last week at the Cabinet press briefing that Pillay’s visit would not be to give instructions to the government.
He observed that delegations from India and the UK have also visited the country and travelled to many parts of Sri Lanka including the North and East.
Be that as it may, the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka states that any assistance would be provided with the consensus of the government.
Meanwhile, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake is also to visit the country some time soon although the dates are yet to be finalized.
At the time of going to print, External Affairs Ministry officials said that there were discussions about a visit by Blake to the country, but that it was yet to be finalized.
It is believed that Blake would make his visit prior to the 20th sessions of the UNHRC, which is to commence in Geneva this October.

Seeking Fair Assessment

The government says that it is seeking a fair assessment of Sri Lanka’s human rights record when the UNHRC holds the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for Sri Lanka this November
Special human rights envoy and Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said Sri Lanka would share the progress it has made in addressing human rights issues following the end of the war at the UPR.
He made these comments while speaking on the final day of the defence seminar held in Colombo last week.
He noted that Sri Lanka has set up military tribunals to address some accountability issues on the war and that the system adopted by Sri Lanka to address these concerns was similar to that adopted by other countries when concerns are raised against their military and yet only Sri Lanka is being sidelined saying it is not doing enough.
“In March 2012 Sri Lanka was faced with an unnecessary and unjustified challenge in the UN Human Rights Council. A resolution was tabled which, in effect, asked us to do what we were already in the process of doing. As has been our custom since the inception, we had regularly briefed the Council and had discussions with regional and cross regional groupings represented at that body periodically on the Sri Lankan situation. We had hosted special side events at which our progress was presented and discussed. We had been open and transparent about our successes and also about the challenges we faced. Hence the resolution was in our opinion, ill-timed, unwarranted and violated of the founding principles of the Human Rights Council,” Samarasinghe said.
The Minister during his speech noted that an area of concern is the concerted campaign of disinformation and pressure exerted by the so called “anti-Sri Lanka Diaspora” on host countries around the world to question our record.
“We call on those countries who express an interest in reconciliation in Sri Lanka to focus on the activities of these groups which are aimed at creating instability and undermining reconciliation,” he observed.
Samarasinghe also re-iterated that the report by the UN panel of experts remains questionable especially since no one knows the witnesses used to gather information for the report.
He said, “…the process and content of the Darusman Report is at best questionable.”
However at the same time he reiterated that the government was not questioning the prerogative of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a panel to advise him on Sri Lanka.
He said that the UN panel had an opportunity to visit Sri Lanka and gather information before making its final report, but yet did not make use of that opportunity.
The Minister said that through a national census carried out recently the government hopes to prove wrong the figures that thousands of civilians were killed during the final stages of the war.
“When we go before international human rights forums such as the UN Human Rights Council in September for the 21 Regular Session and in November for the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka, we will share the progress we have made in all aspects of the promotion and protection of human rights. We can do no more than present our case and ask for a fair and impartial hearing. This is no more than we have always demanded,” Samarasinghe said.

Foreign Relations Improved

A foreign diplomat serving in Colombo said there seems to be an improvement in Colombo’s approach towards the international community and its requests.
“It seems like the dust following the March resolution is now settling down,” the diplomat said.
Expressing a similar sentiment, a local Foreign Service official said that Sri Lankan heads of overseas missions showed signs of improvement in their foreign relations with their respective host governments.
Details of interactions between local and foreign diplomats through the overseas missions have shown a marked improvement since March.
It is learnt that there has been an improvement in the work of the Sri Lankan mission in Geneva that was in the midst of controversy during the UNHRC sessions in March and afterwards.
The new mission head Ravinatha Aryasinha has initiated a dialogue with members of the international community that were previously not included in Sri Lanka’s ‘circle.’
“It seems like the new ambassador is making efforts to bridge the gap between Sri Lanka and most Western European countries,” the Foreign Service official said.
Building a dialogue with the countries that initiated and supported the resolution this March, has helped the Rajapaksa government realize that it had overreacted in some ways to the resolution.
Members of the diplomatic community feel that the entire drama during the March sessions was due to the lack of proper communication and misunderstandings.
“Most members of the international community now say that they did not expect Sri Lanka to over react since the resolution was only aimed at giving a direction for the government to work towards reconciliation through a process chosen by it (the government),” a Sri Lankan diplomat said.
He added that even neighboring India has expressed views to the effect that it should not have voted against a member of the region and found other ways of dealing with the situation.
“The Sri Lankan government during its latest interactions with members of the Indian government has expressed that it was understood that India’s action during the 19th UNHRC sessions was fueled by domestic politics as well,” the diplomat observed.
However, he said that the international community has taken into account the actions of the Rajapaksa government since March.
The appointment of a Presidential Task Force to implement the recommendations of the LLRC and the release of a National Action Plan on the implementation of the LLRC recommendations are seen as positive moves by the government.
“There is yet much to be done, but there’s hope,” the diplomat said.

Govt. Gets UN Funding

Amidst the positive development in the foreign relations front, the UN last week stated that it would allocate US$ 55 million to bolster operations in eight countries including Sri Lanka with neglected humanitarian emergencies.
A UN release has stated that Afghanistan, Cameroon, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Sudan would receive funds from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help provide food, water, health and other basic services.
“These CERF grants provide critical funding. The money will save lives by helping aid agencies reach people in desperate need,” Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos said in a news release.
“I hope this funding will also serve to draw attention to their situation, as millions more people are still in need.”
Launched in 2006 and managed by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), CERF enables the fast delivery of life-saving assistance to people affected by natural disasters and other crises worldwide.
It is funded by voluntary contributions from Member States, non-governmental organizations, regional governments, the private sector and individual donors.
The new allocations will bring the total amount allocated by CERF to more than US$ 158 million this year, as 13 countries were given nearly US$ 104 million in January.
Each year, a third of all CERF funds are earmarked for underfunded emergencies to help improve the balance of global humanitarian aid distribution.

20 Comments for “Government Does A U Turn On The West”

  1. Hearth

    As a matter of policy Weerawansa should resign and run home before Pillay comes. If not he should apologize in public for drama he played just to bluff the citizens.

    • Richardson

      He has to say “any sorry Anay”
      No ingilish sorry Anay miss.

      • navali pilay nothing else LTTE spoke person let her come to srilanka. we still have unuse land mines we know hoe to use them too

    • he dont need to apologize dum dum he has backbone to stand up u need to go and see ur self on mirror u just licking para sudas puka that way u can get copuple of $

  2. Lankan

    The government claims that Pillay would be able to learn firsthand of the positive developments in the country since the end of the war. This is only one aspect, but the world still want to know how the war was conducted. Sri Lankan government is still accountable for the last stage of war, Rajapaksa brothers must tell the truth to the world.

    • yes we telling the truth to world
      child soliders
      credit card scamm
      alquida tarining
      LTTE spend millions of $ on NAVLI PILLAY to get un human rights position. now she doing her job but too late

  3. Greener pastures

    The west puts food on the table and clothes on poor Sri Lankans. SL being the third world country that is, you cannot show off to anyone because it will come back to bite you…..haa…haa

    • u so stupid. west didnt do any thing to help SRILANAK. only thing they did was is will be destabilize srilanka.
      yes low lifer like u just suck up to suda that way u can get ur refuge visas.

      • SL is a third world joke

        They way you write, you cannot have a name like James. First go back to school, learn to read and write in English (if they teach English in SL) and then maybe take a shower (if you have clean running water) and some clothes before you start wiring to a great papewr like the Sunday Leader.

      • West is Best

        James, it appears that you have been busy. But unfortunately, you are not intelligent enough to understand that it is universally acknowledged that your SL is in a deep , unprecedented and inextricable economic despair. People are wrose off in every way that some people working in companies as Executives are struggling to put food on the table. SL needs the west to survive or else it will go down. Don’t be like your ignorant, uneducated, low class thug Ministers who are are not good enough to live in a dog kennel. Accept that without the west, you cannot survive.

      • Len

        James seems to be very knowledgeable about licking and sucking of some parts of the anatomy of certain race of people. I have to conclude James have had lot of experience in this activity hence his fascination in the subject makes him write about it frequently. Is James getting ready to come out of the closet.

        • Come out James

          Len, you make me laugh man. Well done. You are a funny guy. I agree, James needs to be honest and come out of the closet.

  4. R.M.B Senanayake

    Not only funds we should also obtain advice on how to handle the IDP resettlement according to the UN Resolutions on Humanitarian disasters. The statement of the Bishop of Jaffna shows that the resettlement undertaken so far is inadequate. Are we following the criteria laid down by the UN Resolutions. The recent dispute between the Tamil and Muslims in Mannar show that the resettlement has not been done properly. Only the humanitarian aspect should be considered and not any political or military objectives. It is best to allow a UN Agency to monitor the resettlement of IDPs as per UN Declaration and UN resolutions. No sectarian issues should be allowed in or soon we will have sectarian ethnic and religious conflict as well

    • is this the same bishop told last phase government troops kill 100000. right that bishop also need the join other bishop now running properganda aginst srilanka.
      jaffan bishop didnt say any thing when LTTE recurit child soliders. where was the jaffan bishop.
      when LTTE killing innercent sinhala and muslim unarmed woman and children where was jaffan bishop.

  5. WHERE IS THAT WANSA FELLOW? IS he HIDING SOME WHERE?

    • he is still doing good. at least one man have backbone to stand up para suda. u just licking sudas puka that way u can extend u refuge visa,.

  6. First of all our government ministers issued various opinion about Ms Piilay’s visit. One say Piilay is not welcome to Srilanka. Another one says she will not permitted to visit certain part of the country. Endo f the day only one person who can issue a statement is our President. We don’t want to hear commnets from some mad politicians.

  7. Ebenezer Thurairajah

    What’s the Big Deal here ?

    After invading Afghanistan for “freedom” and “democracy” and demonising the Taliban. the US is now in bed with them and actually paying them money as well

    Anyway, all this time there we various howls from various quarters that Navi Pillay SHOUD be allowed to come to SL – now that she apparently is, even that is cause for discontent among the same howlers

  8. Great man

    SL is a criminal country with rapists, murders and thugs. Who would want to live in this cave.

  9. Mahes

    James is of those with amorphous back -bone like his mentor Weerawansa standing in army protected home base in the south and jumping around raising their sarong up shouting Jayaweva ! ; but we all know previously how these heroes “veerayas” whose military drop their guns and ran away throwing their uniform and absconded from their duty.
    Now after saturated indiscriminate bombing from the air helped by India and China massacring innocent tamil women and children including hospitals and refugee camps ,completely as war criminals they walked in, of cause tigers did not run away they stood and fought with guts gave their lives. You may call them terrorists for your convenience ,but they were by-product of 1958 and 1983 riots and genocide by the “veerayas” with the so called “backbone.” Regarding Human Rights Council the Rajapaksha criminal government is pretending and scheming as usual for a criminal before appearing in a court.

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