The Sunday Leader

Investigation Not A Topic Of Discussion – Keheliya Rambukwella

By Camelia Nathaniel

While India and Norway, on prior occasions, have tried to mediate a solution for the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka, it is reported that South Africa may be the third country to mediate in Sri Lanka’s reconciliation efforts with the Tamil minority community.
It is reported that South African President Jacob Zuma’s special envoy on Sri Lanka Cyril Ramaphosa is expected in Sri Lanka, late May or June, to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa and discuss the issue.

It is expected that the Sri Lankan government would use the South African initiative to mitigate the effects of the UN Human Rights Council resolution which called for an international investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told The Sunday Leader in an interview that it was not a topic for discussion as the Sri Lankan government had already rejected the UN Human Rights Council resolution which called for an international investigation into alleged human rights abuses within the country.

In spite of difference of opinion among certain members within the TNA, a team of TNA parliamentarians recently visited South Africa and held discussions with the South African government regarding the reconciliation process and the cause of the conflict.
While the Indian mediation was initiated in 1987 with the Indo-Lanka Accord of July that year, Norway brokered a peace deal with the LTTE during 2002 and 2004. Both efforts failed, but, according to Rambukwella, the Sri Lankan government has not closed the door to any country, especially India, and they would welcome any assistance that would pave the way for reconciliation and lasting peace.
Following are excerpts:

Q: On prior occasions, both India and Norway have attempted to intervene and find solutions to facilitate a reconciliation process. Do you believe that the South African mediation would yield any positive results?
A: South Africa has prior experience of a similar nature in sorting out these issues. India, on the other hand, has experience of a different nature. The sentiment of the Sri Lankan government is that we would welcome any assistance that would be of assistance to Sri Lanka in achieving proper reconciliation and resolving the issues that stand in the way of reconciliation. We cannot just take a situation or its solution from one country and plant it here and expect the same results. Different environments and situations require different approaches and solutions. Our point is that their experience could be made use of in resolving our issues. To that extent, we are open to help from any country.

Q: There is a belief that the South African mediation is a very important move as it comes at a time when the Parliamentary Select Committee is virtually defunct. What is your take on this?
A: What happens is that, whatever you do, eventually, it has to come to parliament. Why run round in circles and waste time when whatever help can be brought in, including the South African experience, by the members to the select committee in order to achieve a solution.

Q: Certain TNA members have also visited South Africa in the midst of dissatisfaction by some of their party members, while Sambanthan had stated that it was on the invitation of the government. Do you believe the visit proved fruitful?
A: As far as they feel that they could get anything fruitful that would assist in the reconciliation process and assist the select committee, I don’t think there is any issue and their efforts are most welcome.

Q: How will the South African peace initiative help in terms of the UN investigation into alleged war crimes and human rights violations being brought against Sri Lanka?
A: We have rejected the UN investigation into alleged war crimes and human rights violations, so there is no issue regarding that matter.

Q: Will the South African dialogue go beyond a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?
A: The South African dialog is based on the principles of truth and reconciliation. There are no set boundaries or limits. The Sri Lankan government is only concerned about finding genuine solutions that will pave the way for true reconciliation.

Q. With the South African mediation set to take place, what would India’s role in this whole process be?
A. Be it India or any other country, they are all contributory factors and we have not refused the mediation or assistance of any party. In fact, we will welcome assistance for reconciliation, be it from any party. We have not pushed out anyone, but the fact is that it is our problem and we are more committed to finding solutions to our own issues.

2 Comments for “Investigation Not A Topic Of Discussion – Keheliya Rambukwella”

  1. Sangaralingham

    Wise men women know where there is the problem. SriLanka by their acts and deeds has become a closed community of people with only in the higher archly get the prime position rest has to wait with the minority totally disregarded I spite of the talents hardworking etc is there leading to lot of unwanted conflicts. Still the role of armed forces in north and yeast far exceeds that is warranted by the populations the numbers. It is appropriate they should be in the capital with a token. Umber in all provinces help to build reassure the public from evil elements from in and out of the nations territory.

  2. Grim Reaper

    Deadman talking

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