The Sunday Leader

UNHRC Resolution ‘A Concocted Story’ – Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena

While the government allies of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) have extended their full support to implement the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution co-sponsored by the Sri Lankan government, the SLFP MPs sitting in the opposition have expressed different opinions on the matter. Speaking to The Sunday Leader, SLFP MP Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that the UNHRC resolution is ‘a concocted story’ fabricated to allow the international community to have their grip on Sri Lanka. He, however, added that the SLFP has not yet decided their stance on the matter.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

 

by Waruni Karunarathne

 

Q: Would you be able to elaborate on the SLFP stance at present on the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka?

A: The SLFP has not taken a decision as yet as to where we stand as a party. The party is currently collecting comments from the party members. Once we look at all the comments, the party will issue an official statement very soon on the matter. However, there is a general opinion that we maintain. The UN resolution is a concocted story. During the time of the war, especially the last phase of the war that they are referring to, the UN resident representative and Human rights representatives were here in Sri Lanka. Right throughout the war, they were living here. During that time, they had no complaints or raised any concerns whatsoever.

Even if there were small concerns that came through proper channels, those have been attended by the government. For instance, for the killing of students in Trincomalee, some of the security personnel were arrested, and the case was heard and the culprits were punished. That was the situation of the country, even during the time of severe war. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) who boats of representing the rights of the Tamils in the country was in parliament at that point. They were members of the parliament and parliament met regularly but none of them made any complaint of this nature to the house.

That was the real situation. So we believe none of the issues raised now are real matters. Those are all fabricated stories. At one point, they said 40,000 people were killed during the last phase of the war, now they say 7,000 people were supposedly killed. If they compiled a genuine report, the content of the report cannot be altered. They cannot change the content of the report just because the government has changed. Those things cannot happen if that was a genuine report. They are not prepared to disclose the information and evidence that they have gathered. Even though they say their report is based on certain reports and investigations, they have not been able to disclose the evidence. That itself shows that these people have concocted some stories just to drive our country towards their own targets.

 

Q: As you say, if those are fabricated stories, why didn’t the previous government make attempts to conduct proper investigations to clear the country of those allegations?

A: For you to have an investigation, there must be a complaint. When there is no complaint, what is there to be investigated? If there is a complaint, it has to be a serious level complaint and evidence must be submitted. There are relevant authorities within the country such as Human Rights Council of Sri Lanka in operation at the time. The local police have been properly functioning. No person in the country has lodged a complaint of that nature. Just lodging a complaint or writing about those cannot be counted. It does not help any process. Complaints need to be supported by proper evidence. Where are those evidences? They say that they have found some evidence, but they are not prepared to disclose them. That is very unfortunate.

 

Q: The Presidential Commission to investigate into complaints related to missing persons was established by the previous regime. But now this government has decided to abolish the Commission and appoint a new mechanism in its place. Don’t you think it questions the credibility of all the mechanisms established during the previous regime?

A: The Prime Minister says that he will submit reports of the Paranagama and Udalagama Commissions to parliament. If those processes were not credible, there is no reason for them to refer to those reports. Why haven’t they published the report of the Romesh De Silva Commission? Why couldn’t they publish the Desmond Silva’s report? They could have done it too. But so far those reports have not been published. Desmond Silva is a world renowned and respected lawyer. He is a citizen of the UK; he is aware of the situation of Sri Lanka, and he can understand the language of this country as well as he has lot of connections with Sri Lanka. Therefore, that report carries credibility, and it is worthwhile if that report can be published.

 

Q: Why couldn’t the previous government take an initiative to publish those reports?

A: It is true. But first and foremost, it is the previous government who took the initiative to appoint these commissions. I do not know what made them not to publish the reports. Now there is no point of talking about the previous government. This government has all the power they need to do the necessary activities. They have 202 members of the house out of 225. Why can’t they take bold actions now? This is the high time for them to take actions. They cannot use the power to harass people or get publicity, but they should have proper evidence to act. Just because some people are making wild allegations, why do we have to be agitated? The TNA has never raised such issues at the time. Neither UN Human Rights Council nor the local Human Rights Commission talked about the rights of those who were brutally murdered by the LTTE. Now they are talking about things that none of us have seen. All of that is rubbish. These are politically motivated issues. The government is pushed to take some actions due to various pressures. That is a different story. However, we believe that there is no basis of the allegations that the UN human rights council is levelling against us.

 

Q: The government has decided to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). How does the SLFP view this move?

A: I am sitting in the opposition, and we are not yet been made aware of those decisions made by the government. I believe their intention of repealing the PTA is to free those who are taken into prison under the PTA. That is the ulterior motive of this move.

 

Q: The government has hinted at recommencing the controversial Colombo Port City Project, an initiative of the previous government which was temporarily suspended by the new government because of various concerns related to agreements and environment concerns. The project came under heavy criticism of the new government before they came to power. You being part of the opposition and the previous government, how do you see this development?

A: This is all politics. At one time, politicians find fault with anything the opposition has done. They make various false claims for their political advantage. That shows the level of politics that they do in our country. The port city is a type of project which our country has never invested in. It is a huge investment and ultimately, we get 50% of the product. In that case, how on earth one can say that it is disadvantageous to the country. If we are not investing a single cent on the project and if we are going to get 50% of that investment towards the end, then why do you think it is bad? Even last time, Moratuwa University conducted a proper Environmental Impact Assessment and produced a report. This time also Moratuwa University is producing the report.

 

Q: Is it true that President Maithripala Sirisena will be leading the upcoming local government election campaign?

A: Yes. He is the leader of our party.

 

Q: During the last parliamentary election, the President maintained a neutral position. Has he given an assurance to lead the SLFP local government campaign?

A: He has to lead the SLFP campaign as the leader of our party.

2 Comments for “UNHRC Resolution ‘A Concocted Story’ – Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena”

  1. Jayantha Karaliyadda

    These Rajapaksa’s cohorts or the thieves of Alibaba must be worried. The credibility of local justice system is near zero. So involvement of internationally acceptable, honest, efficient and unbiased judges and lawyers must be welcome. That is the only protection for the Sri Lankans, Sovereignty and the unitary status of Sri Lanka. Corrupt politicians who ruled the country since the departure of colonial masters cleverly planned, formulated and implemented the existing inept laws, rules and regulations to safeguard their dirty vested interests. That is why every current politician is attempting to derail what was achieved in the UNHCR resolution.

    • Patriot

      If you believe UN appointed investigators are unbiased, then you must accept the 3 reports produced by Dharusman, Petrie and Yasmin Sooka, where the so called witnesses are not known and will not be known for decades. This is the type of justice and transparency you are promoting Mr Karaliadda.,

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