The Sunday Leader

Countdown To Geneva

By Easwaran Rutnam

US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal , and TNA MP Suresh Premachandran

The year 2014 will without a doubt be a decisive year for Sri Lanka particularly on the human rights issue with the UN Human Rights Council set to discuss Sri Lanka when it meets in Geneva in March.

The buildup to the Geneva meeting has gathered momentum with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) saying it will gather support for an international investigation into some of the incidents alleged to have taken place during the final stages of the war.
TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said the TNA will also brief foreign diplomats on the situation in Sri Lanka ahead of the Geneva meeting in March.

Premachandran said that at a recent TNA meeting held in Vavuniya the TNA members had agreed on the need to push for an international investigation in Sri Lanka.
He said that the TNA had gone to Geneva when the Human Rights Council met on previous occasions but this time they hope to intensify efforts to push for an investigation on Sri Lanka.
The TNA MP also said he hopes the Council will adopt a resolution on Sri Lanka when it meets in March for the 25th regular session.
The other push for an international investigation on Sri Lanka will come from the huge Tamil Diaspora.
The Global Tamil Forum, a leading Diaspora group based in London, said it is prepared to work with the TNA to help strengthen their voice in the international arena this year.
The GTF said that it also hopes the Northern Provincial Council will be given the opportunity to address at least some of the pressing needs of those in the area.
“The clear political mandate given by the Tamil people to the TNA at the elections to the Northern Provincial Council in September strengthened our hopes for the future. The decisive victory sent an important message to the Government of Sri Lanka and the international community.

“The TNA now has the right and the responsibility to implement its manifesto. We hope that the Provincial Council will be given the opportunity to address at least some of the pressing needs of those in the area. We have developed a strong collaborative working relationship with the democratically elected Tamil leadership in Sri Lanka and we will continue to actively engage with the TNA and help to strengthen their voice in the international arena in 2014,” the Global Tamil Forum said in an email.
The GTF said the establishment of an international mechanism under UN auspices is imperative to ensure truth and justice for the tens of thousands who perished, as well as to help lead the way towards a brighter future on the Island.
Meanwhile the US based Tamils for Obama said that during the TNA’s visit to Geneva ahead of the UN March 2014 UN Human Rights Council Session, they would like to see the TNA take an active stand in urging members of the Council to adopt a Resolution to establish an International Commission of Inquiry on Sri Lanka to investigate War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity Meanwhile the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), which is also based in the US and led by former LTTE peace negotiator V. Rudrakumaran, said that the TGTE will work resolutely in harnessing the support of the international community for the establishment of an independent state of Tamil Eelam and undertake all necessary measures to obtain justice for the alleged injustices committed by the Sinhala state against the Tamil people.

Rudrakumaran said that during the inaugural sitting of the TGTE Assembly in December 2013, a series of working sessions were held in order to prepare the TGTE work plan for 2014. Based on the outcome of these sessions and the input of several resource personnel, he said the TGTE will be discussing a number of creative and structural changes within the TGTE.
Meanwhile with US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal is due in Sri Lanka this month. There have also been reports that a delegation from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay may also arrive next month.

The TNA says it hopes to have talks with Biswal if she visits Sri Lanka. TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said the TNA hopes Biswal will also visit the North and gather information on the human rights situation.
Earlier this month the TNA briefed a visiting US delegation on the situation in the North following the recent Northern Provincial Council (NPC) elections.
The TNA, including Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran met the US delegation from Congress at the US Ambassador’s residence.

At the meeting, the UN Human Rights Council session scheduled to be held in Geneva in March was also discussed.
The US is expected to submit a resolution on Sri Lanka at the 25th UN Human Rights Council session.
Earlier last month Biswal had said that the international community had underscored the need for Sri Lanka to make progress on issues of reconciliation, on issues of accountability, and on issues of human rights, ongoing concerns about the political space and human rights in the country.

Speaking at the Washington Foreign Press Center at the US State Department, Biswal had said that the US is committed to working with Sri Lanka to see that progress and they would like to see Sri Lanka address these issues through its own processes.
The Government has meanwhile begun a diplomatic push to gather support ahead of the Geneva Human Rights Council meeting and is hopeful it will have enough backing, especially from the Africans.
External Affairs Minister Professor G.L Peiris is leading the diplomatic drive and is having meetings in Colombo and overseas.

7 Comments for “Countdown To Geneva”

  1. Our Government will continue to supress Tamils in Srilanka. Nobody can do anything against this Government. President Rajapakse is a very clever man. He can fool the world. I doubt we will ever have an independent international investigation while Rajapakse is in power.

  2. Dot

    — and the meantime ordinary Tamils have bought property down south and is mingling with all stratas of Sinhalese South . And in the meantime the Politicians in the south are bending backwards to please the Tamil militants coming into the country diguised as Tourist and giving them visas without checking on credentials never happen at any immigration at any port of call anywhere in the world . — and in the mean time the media blows it up and tells you we told you so after the bird has flown . When will this ever stop .. I wonder whether the local Politicians like this international situation of instability for to promote their cpabilitiy of maintaining a balance …. long after we would e dead and gone and a future research person will unravel the truth . so why worry let the media and the Politician settle their egoistic battles while we battle with the cost of living !

  3. Sumathy m

    I dont know what moral rights does Suresh Premachandran have to talk about human rights.During the IPKF time,he was was based in Jaffna at Ashoka hotel and was involved in recruiting tamil youth forcefully.How many innocent Tamils were killed during that tame .
    Why,there should be an inquiry about the alleged incidents to have taken place during the final stages of the war?.If there is to be an inquiry,it should be a full inquiry starting from 1983.

  4. gamarala

    Biswal should visit the north and east sri lanka and speak with citizen groups,to be aware of the state of governance – dominated by the army – of the two provinces.
    She should avoid a ‘conducted tour’ by the army.

  5. Malin Gunawardene

    The writing is on the wall for SL. Economic sanctions will kill off this country and people will starve to death or eat grass.

  6. Asitha

    oh boy we had Navi Pillai…now another tamil woman. there is a never ending stream of these people

  7. Jayasingha

    Any inquiry must include the 30 years of the conflict. Sri Lankan govt: and the LTTE with the TNA must be held responsible for the crimes committed by both sides. The activities of Indian and other western governments must also be probed and held responsible along with NGOS who supported indirectly and directly to the to LTTE terrorists.

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