This Government Is Not Going To Hide Anything – Ravi Karunanayake
By Ashanthi Warunasuriya
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Q: What kind of effect has the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al-Hussein’s visit to Sri Lanka had on the government?
A: It is our duty to find out the truth behind the alleged human rights violations in the country during the past decade. It is essential to carry out investigation forward. Just because the visit of the UN High commissioner took place, it does not mean that we are entitled to any special privilege or punishment. We are bound to execute what Rajapaksa’s had promised to the international community during his terms in office.
Q: What is the reason for the delay in implementing a domestic mechanism in this regard?
A: The Tamil community may see this as a delay. The Sinhalese community may see this as a premature move. The resolution is scheduled to be presented to the UNHRC in March. Hence, we will take appropriate actions at the right time.
Q: What was expected from the discussions held between the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Government?
A: He visits countries all around the world annually to check on their human rights standards. He announced his visit to Sri Lanka last year. What he did was only to observe the level of development in the country with regard to human rights compared to that of its level at the time the last UNHRC session was held. Apart from the President and the Prime Minister, he had talks with religious leaders and opposition members as well. This is all usual business. However, unlike before, now there is no panic or tension in the country whenever UN High commissioner or any other representative of the international community is in town. No one is going to hold a fast unto death at Thummulla Junction only to walk away later after drinking water. This government is not going to hide anything. We have always disclosed what was happening to the people. That is how we take every action. This resolution was initially compromised not by anyone else but by the Rajapaksa and gang.
Q: When will be the judicial proceedings for setting up the domestic mechanism come in to action?
A: We cannot pinpoint an exact date for its initiation. However, it would be started in due course in right manner.
Q: Hasn’t the UNP started to suffer criticisms by its own members after nominating Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka for a vacant national list seat?
A: No, there is no such a crisis.
Q: Then why did the party decided to appoint Sarath Fonseka when there are suitable members for the position in the party?
A: The extremists are accusing us of being too much lenient towards the minorities. But we bring a war hero such as Sarath Fonseka to the parliament; now no one can accuse us of such leniency. They cannot accuse us of ignoring the army as well. There is a need to replace the existing Constitution with a new one. We must also think about minorities and war veterans. This move shows that the government considers the interests of all parties.
Q: Some have alleged that the government is trying to bring in a new Constitution under the instructions of the international community.
A: It is only the defeated and politically bankrupted extremists such as Wimal Weerawansa making such claims. No one pays much attention to such trivial matters. The media are not talking about the change that has taken place and corrupt deeds carried out by the previous government. Ask the Rajapaksas why Yoshitha is behind bars. Ask Namal what Sajin de Vass has done. It is to cover these dirty deeds that they are trying to trigger racism and extremism. The people sent the Rajapaksas home because they were fed up with the Rajapaksas. They are now cursing the government by smashing coconuts; that is good. Then at least the prices of coconuts might go up and planters would get a fair price.
Q: The pro-Mahinda Rajapaksa faction is accusing the government of arresting Yoshitha Rajapaksa saying that it is done to satiate rulers’ political revenge. Even the SLFP ministers have claimed that they will resign from their posts if the FCID is not removed. Has this issue grown into a crisis inside the government?
A: There is no such thing. Apart from Yoshitha Rajapaksa, others such as Nishantha Ranatunga have also been arrested. So, if the Rajapaksas think that they are not at fault, then they should not be afraid of facing the law.
Q: What has happened to the ‘National Government concept’? We see ministers publicly criticizing each other.
A: The government members are also human beings. If these things had happened in the previous government, then before long, one of the ministers would have had resigned. But under the Yahapalanaya, everyone is allowed to criticize anything. It is through constructive criticism we correct our mistakes.
Q: Although around 30 complaints about massive fraud and corruption in the previous government have been handed over to the authorities, only about five of them have been adequately probed. What is happening to these investigations?
A: All investigations are being carried out in a steady manner. There is no disruption in this regard. They must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. So, all the evidence will be presented to the court very soon.
Q: What is your opinion about the claims made by the former President that he will form a new political party?
A: He may contest from another party if he wishes so. The SLFP is with President Maithripala Sirisena. Until he remains an SLFPer, Mahinda Rajapaksa has to work under President Maithripala Sirisena.