The Sunday Leader

UNHRC proposals Are Not Advantageous To Sri Lanka – Tilvin Silva

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) continues to oppose the proposal by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to get the participation of foreign experts in the judicial mechanism in ensuring accountability over alleged human rights violations that had taken place in the country, which according to the JVP would be a threat to the country’s sovereignty. During the recent parliamentary debate, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera said the JVP could not possibly disagree with the participation of foreign experts in the new mechanism as the JVP had earlier requested an international investigation on the Matale mass grave. Speaking to The Sunday Leader, General Secretary of the JVP,  Tilvin Silva stated that the UNHRC resolution and the Matale mass grave are two different incidents and making statement mixing up those two only shows the inability of that person to properly identify the two issues.

Following are excerpts of the interview: 

by Waruni Karunarathne

Q:  During the parliamentary debate on the UNHRC resolution, did you receive adequate responses from the government to the concerns raised by the JVP?

A: It is irrelevant whether we received responses from the government or not. The issue here is that the government has already agreed to adopt the UNHRC resolution. We do not see the proposals within the resolution as advantageous to Sri Lanka. That is where we raised our concerns. We are clearly having disadvantages and the government has not been able to avoid such proposals. Besides it does not seem that the government has taken the immediate measures that should have been taken to provide relief to the affected people. The government keeps talking about the issue but according to our observation the process of finding a solution to the issue has become stagnant. They are not taking the actions required to save the country from these allegations directed at the country.


Q:       The proposal to get the participation of foreign experts was seen by the JVP as a threat to the country’s sovereignty. However, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera pointed out that the JVP could not possibly disagree with getting foreign experts involved as the JVP had earlier requested an international investigation on the Matale mass grave. Therefore do you think it is valid for the JVP to protest against the participation of the foreign expert in the proposed new mechanism?

A: Those are two different things. There is a huge issue and allegation against the country for grave human rights violation and foreign countries including the US have intervened into this internal issue making it an opportunity to poke their finger into the internal affairs of our country. Our position is that it is a threat to the country to get foreign technical assistance or foreign lawyers involved in the process to inquire into internal human right issues.  The Matale issue was completely different. In Matale, there were difficulties to determine the period of which the skeletons belonged.  Sri Lanka did not have the expertise to determine that. We did not want to intervene in to the investigation. What we wanted at that point was to get expertise from a world recognised body to determine the period of which those skeletons belonged. In that process also the government deceived everybody and it was all false. If anyone makes a statement mixing up these two incidents, that means the person who made that statement has not properly identified these two issues and does not see the difference of these two incidents.


Q: The government said that they would draft the new mechanism based on four pillars and bring the draft before the All Party Conference. How far can the JVP agree with the four pillars that they have proposed so far?

There is a contradiction between what government officials are saying and what they are actually implementing. Our issue is that it will not be implemented just as they say. The main issue is that if Sri Lanka to do this investigation we will have to establish an institution and pass a law in parliament. In that process of getting a law passed in parliament, we will have to see whether the contents of that law are advantageous or disadvantageous to the country. Some may say that it is our own mechanism in which we do not seek assistance from anybody but when passing a law related to that we will have to see the sentences included in the legislation only when it is submitted. Thus we will only see the reality when the government implements the mechanism.


Q:  India’s Union Minister of State for Transport, Highways and Shipping Pon. Radhakrishnan has expressed keen interest in building a road between Rameswaram and Talaimannar. Do you think it would be a wise decision to build that road link at this point of time?

A: It is good to have a road link between Rameswaram in India and Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. But the questions that we should ask should be who will build that road, as to how it will be built, how would the money be spent, how the road will be used, what agreements we would reach and whether there are other motives behind this interest. Without knowing all that we will not be able to give our view about the matter. We can only say for now that building a road would be good. We can further comment only when we get the answers for all our questions.


Q:   The fishermen’s issue also continues between India and Sri Lanka. Neither the Sri Lankan nor the Indian governments have found a permanent solution to that issue. How do you suggest the government should approach this issue?

A: The Sri Lanka government have the right and the responsibility to protect our marine border. From the side of India there is a huge lack of taking responsibility as the Indian government does not try hard to prevent Indian fishermen from entering Sri Lankan waters. Tamil Nadu is doing it by force. On one hand Sri Lanka government should protect our marine border and on the other hand they should have proper talks with the Indian government to arrive at an agreement. Both countries seem to be just mutually releasing arrested fishermen in both the countries from time to time without actually finding a solution.


Q:  MP Udaya Gammanpila claimed that the JVP and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) are effectively in support of the government and therefore cannot be recognised as the real opposition. How do you respond to that?

A: Gammanpila is an infant without knowledge of politics. It is a joke to respond to his claims. Recently he has said that he is criticising the government not with malice but to correct the government. He is the one who claims to direct the government in the right path while calling us as the supporters of the government – it is kind of a joke. A part of his alliance has officially joined the government.

They are the ones who are having one part of their party in the government and the other part in the opposition which is only to deceive the people. Gammanpila is a person who lacks knowledge on politics and says things irresponsibly.


Q: Objections have also been raised against the decision to appoint two JVP MPs to the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE). According to MP Gammanpila, if the JVP is given two, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in the opposition should be given at least three seats in COPE whereas they have only be given one. Do you think his argument is valid?

A: The COPE is tasked to investigate into fraud and corruptions in Public corporations and other semi governmental bodies but not to assist such activities. If the objective of the COPE is to encourage fraud and corruption it is good to assign more UPFA MPs to COPE. That is what they had been doing during the last decade. They can teach how to do corruption and fraud. If the objective is to capture those who are engaged in fraud and corruption, then it is better to have more JVP representatives in COPE. We are the ones who had been voicing against fraud and corruption during the previous regime.

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