The Sunday Leader

Double trouble for Sri Lanka in Geneva following Kandy violence

By Easwaran Rutnam


Sri Lanka faces twin pressure at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) currently meeting in Geneva as a result of the violence in Kandy.

The Council commented on the situation in Kandy last week and is expected to raise the matter further this week and next week.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, delivering his annual report and oral update in Geneva last week at the 37th session of the UNHRC, said that he was alarmed by the mob violence in Sri Lanka targeting ethnic and religious minorities, particularly Muslims.

“In Sri Lanka, I am very alarmed by recurring and continuing episodes of mob violence targeting ethnic and religious minorities, particularly Muslims, including most recently in Ampara and in several locations in the Kandy district, leading to the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency for 10 days. There should be no impunity, either for the incitement that led to the attacks, or the attacks themselves. I have repeatedly urged the Government to advance its implementation of the transitional justice agenda. I regret the absence of meaningful progress. It is urgent for the sake of the victims that progress be made on accountability and transitional justice. In the absence of such progress I would encourage Member States to explore the use of universal jurisdiction,” he said.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is to discuss Sri Lanka in full on 21 March when Sri Lanka will make a statement.

Speaking after the High Commissioner delivered his annual report, the British delegation in Geneva said it shares the concerns about recent inter-communal violence in Sri Lanka.

“We support the Government’s determination to end it swiftly, using measures that are proportionate and respect human rights, and urge it to hold the perpetrators to account,” Britain said.

Sri Lanka is already under pressure to deliver on its promises to ensure justice for the victims of the war, including those missing.

Several informal meetings and briefings were held on Sri Lanka in Geneva last week where the issue on the disappearances reported during and after the war were discussed.

This week, the report on Sri Lanka by the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review will be discussed.

The review of Sri Lanka was held at the 16th meeting in November last year. The delegation of Sri Lanka was headed by Minister Harsha de Silva.

In its report the Working Group had concluded that Sri Lanka must end impunity and ensure that perpetrators of incitement to hatred and violence are brought to justice in compliance with international law.

Sri Lanka was also urged to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and enforce an immediate moratorium on its use and ensure that the draft Counter-Terrorism Act is compliant with international human rights standards.

Sri Lanka had also been urged to take comprehensive measures to ensure that the alleged war crimes and other human rights violations committed during the internal conflict are investigated and prosecuted, with the aim of ending impunity, expedite the ongoing process and establish a clear timeline to establish a truth-seeking commission and an Office on Reparations as well as a special court to investigate allegations of serious human rights violations.

The Government was also urged to develop a clear timeline and benchmarks for the full implementation of Sri Lanka’s commitments under Human Rights Council resolution 30/1, fully implement the recommendations of the Consultative Task Force on Reconciliation, adopt a national policy on the protection of journalists and human rights defenders to combat intimidation and violence, and to ensure effective investigation of such acts and prosecution of perpetrators, consider a large-scale transfer of land for civilian use in the northern and eastern provinces of the country and strengthen measures to eliminate all forms of violence against women, inter alia by criminalizing marital rape.

It was noted in the report that all conclusions and/or recommendations reflect the position of the submitting state(s) and/or the state under review and should not be construed as endorsed by the Working Group as a whole.

Sri Lanka, on its part gave an assurance to fulfil commitments contained in Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 towards the operationalization of the Office on Missing Persons, and the establishment of a truthseeking commission, an office for reparations, and a judicial mechanism with a special counsel.

As mentioned in the report, Sri Lanka had also given an undertaking to ensure, and strengthen, respect for the fundamental rights of all persons, including those from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer community, and address concerns raised in that regard.

Sri Lanka said that it will also review and repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and replace it with new counterterrorism legislation compliant with international human rights standards.

17 Comments for “Double trouble for Sri Lanka in Geneva following Kandy violence”

  1. Sangaralingham

    Commonsense not politics must play a role on human rights. Any politicians citizens participants in hate crime include language religion race colour accent social cultural must send to work on human related projects if no violence involved but if violence involved appropriate prison sentence community work for a period of time after discharge must be given as punishment.if it is a politician more time
    For community work

    • Robert


      Your comments are slightly funny.

      dealing with Human rights violation is not a common sense approach issue.

      It is based on Justice, morality and equality.

      During the final part of the war thousands were executed and their bodies were burnt or buried deep.

      SRI LANKANS want to forget and play practical games. Unless perpetrators are punished it will come to haunt the Buddhists even after decades

      • MC

        Haunt the Buddhists? What the hell are you going on about? You do realise the 30 year war was fought by Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Hindus against the LTTE right? The LTTE massacred people in the thousands without any reason. This is not a war between religion and races. Its between a bunch of people who want to separate the country and keep it as one.

        • Robert

          Sinhala Buddhist were killing Tamils and Muslims long time before your were born, !915 – killed Muslims, !956, 1958, 1061, 1964, 1977, 1979, 1981. Tamils. Tamils and Muslims have not forgotten what happened to them. Then LTTE came asking for separation. You start your story only after that and then liked over thousand Tamils in 1983.

          Being Burger and now migrated to a foreign country because Buddhist terrorism I lived through all that horrors. I saw with my two eyes what happened even before you were born.!!!

  2. Lima

    It is none other than president Maithripala Sirisena who permitted the racial riots which started in Teldeniya to escalate when he could have easily controlled it at the inception , based on reports supported with palpable evidence reaching Lanka e news

    When the remains of the lorry driver was in the mortuary , an explosive situation had prevailed in the whole area . The OIC of Teldeniya police Wijekoon Banda who was aware of this had phoned Kandy DIG Ekanayake and informed him that after the body is brought to the village , there is a likelihood of a communal violence flare up . He had therefore requested the DIG to get the soldiers of the Ambakote STF camp that is close by and beef up the security of Taldeniya town.In fact Ambakote STF camp is just a stone’s throw away.

    DIG Ekanayake had told the OIC ‘son I have no powers in this regard and it is senior DIG S.M. Wickremesinghe in charge of Central district who has the powers . Hence please meet him and explain the situation to him.’
    Are you coming to teach me how to perform my duties !

    Weerakoon Banda who deployed 7 or 8 policemen and a mobile patrol vehicle in Teldeniya town had met Wickremesinghe , and expressed his concerns. ’Sir the body is being brought home . It is being said Gnanassara is also coming there . Therefore as violence can be unleashed, if you can please provide me with police security from outside and give orders to the STF camp .’ Before the OIC could finish , senior DIG has exploded on him.

    ‘Yakko , you brat are you coming to tell me how I should work? All of you think I am one who does not know my work. Why are you worried about Gnanassara. He will come and go. You go and look after your duties,’ the senior DIG who flew into a rage had told the OIC , and chased him out.

    When the riots erupted at the funeral house , Wickremesinghe has sent a reinforcement just 20 additional cops only. He has also not given any orders to shoot to control the violence.

    The Teldeniya OIC had recorded all these in the police book .This is why we say there is palpable evidence. This is recorded evidence for the investigators.

  3. Lima

    Until the STF were deployed on the orders of the personal assistant (DIG) of IGP, Wickremesinghe did nothing to avert the escalation of the riots . In any case , by that time the marauders and plunderers have already wrought disaster and accomplished their deadly aims .

    Meanwhile Menikhinna Moulavi and Kandy Moulavi on hearing Gnanassara the hooligan monk is visiting the funeral house, and knowing well his satanic criminal nature despite being a monk in Saffron robes , had met senior DIG Wickremesinghe and explained the dire situation, and requested security to prevent this impending riot.

    Wickremesinghe who chased out the police OIC had asked them ‘how can the Moulavis say there will be violence ? Did anyone tell you that such things will happen. Don’t just get agitated , Gnanassara will just come and go. Nothing will happen’ he had assured. The Moulavis will give evidence in this regard.

    • Robert

      When the ordinary Buddhist population is happy to go along the road, doing mob violence, why do you blame one single man, president or DIG or prime minister?

      Sit down and think clearly – What is Sri Lankan Buddhist man’s psyche? Your president did not ask them to go on the road and burn properties.
      It was Buddhist monks who asked them to do it; and you worship them and call your country “a Buddhist country”.

      Is it ingrained in your culture?

      Burning houses and killing people – 1915, 1956, 1958. 1961, 1964, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983 ….. I lost the count after that. All involves Buddhists
      Sri Lankans have no problems in taking matters to their hands. – Gangster land with religious fanatics and ethnic hatred.

      • Jey

        Join the dots , then one will see the culprits. Minor percentage of fanatical Buddhist monks are the problem. They hold a ” Fear” that Buddhism will be eroded if they allow other races or religion to succeed. Then , there is a major factor, bad politics and lack of leadership. Combination of all these will keep Sri Lanka in dark corner in decades to come.

    • punchinilame

      Under the reported circumstances, an independent Inquiry with transparency IS A
      MUST – so that so-called democrarcy of GG is upheld.

  4. Sam Fernando

    Hakeem should be sent to Geneva to go and pull back every statement he made concerning the minorities as a then Minister of Justice. Also tell them he has double standards concerning Tamils & Muslims.. when Justice administered in the country.

    • Independet

      The culture of impunity in this country will never end.

      The main cause of all attacks on Muslims if the culture of impunity.

      The fact is how can a Sinhala Budhist Govt. and a member of any force punish a Budhist Monk or a Sinhala Budhist militant for attacking Muslims who is not a Sinhala Budhist.

      Being Sinhala Budhist the IDiG will nover taka any action against Sinhala Budhist. Do not expect Rule of law here.

  5. punchinilame

    As far as Sri Lanka and MEA are concerned, when Tamils were attacked it was
    unfortunate for SL to face a Tamil born UN Officer in the name of Navaneetham Pillai. This goes on now to a Muslim Officer at the helm having to handle SL anti -Muslim behaviour.

    The curse in SL does not appear to end even in foreign climes. The logical
    follow up will be therefore a Sinhala Buddhist Officer must rise up to the
    equivalent Status when both Tamils and Muslims can be dealt with at the same

  6. L. Perera

    The UN Conveiently ignores issues that are the root cause of problems like ethnic violence etc. in developing countries. Inequality of incomes must be addressed first. Wealthy nations simply don’t do the right thing by their poorer neighbours. The level poverty in developing countries is abnormally high and the gap between have and have nots is widening by the day. The first world must stop playing GOD and put their money where there mouth is.

  7. gon

    Connecting tamil tiger war with ethnic violence is absurd. What USA doing to gun violence in schools? Who to blame for that. Gang violence can’t be attributed to governments. Sri Lanka government is doing what is necessary. Why don’t you poke in Burma where government sponsored genocide of muslims are continuing?

  8. MC

    Remove the PTA act? What kind of clowns are in the UNHRC? Lets see them remove terrorism laws for any country that suffered terrorism in the past 10 years and how that country will end up. Malaysia has never been in a civil war or had major terrorist related disasters in the country, yet they have a very strong terrorism prevention act. During the UNSC people keep shouting to increase security to stop citizens from being recruited to terrorist outfits, in the UNHRC they complain that there is too much security. If a country like Syria, Egypt or any countries with terrorist incidents remove their anti-terrorism laws, the will fall back to the middle ages within an year.

    Also funny how the statements are so biased. Yes, Muslims were being attacked and I condemn those actions, but how come no one spoke about how the minority mobs went around killing Buddhists. Even natives from countries like France, UK and US will react similarly when a minority population goes around creating problems with the majority. Shouldn’t the statements include both sides? Regardless of religion or race, humans are being killed and their families suffer even more. Instead of listening to these politically biased councils, do what is best for the country to maintain peace and harmony among the various races that call Sri Lanka their home.

  9. Lal Silva

    Now will Muslim countries will support us? The stupid Sinhalese(me included) should understand this!

  10. Abeygoonaratne

    It is always with grief that people in Sri Lanka view such incidents that flare into ethnic or religious violence. Frustration,& ignorance is usually the cause. Branding one community or a religious entity as violent only make matters worse! It is sad to see the media going to town branding Buddhist, Muslim or others asThugs. The culprits of violence do not represent a religion. Rousing up anger and blemishing a country is mainly due to the media who exploit such situations for their own devious reasons! These only make matters worse!, Regarding the Commissioner for Human Rights, he has a bigger and a more pressing problem at the moment with the massacre of millions of Muslims in Syria & in the Middle East. Further, why are the problem of genocide in Somalia,& the conflicts in Turkey, Chechnya, Iran, Lybia & Israel! are swept under the carpet?. It is a sad world when certain incidents are highlighted & others ignored! Fake News & hearsay the venom that poisons people & causes even more violence! Those who live in glass houses must be careful when they throw stones at others If people integrate these problems will not exist, but when ghettos are formed of one particular race in a multiethnic society, violence is bound to erupt! To live in peace is so easy it just needs educating the public and also giving them a healthy social life. When the stomach is empty the body is feeble, and when religions become instruments of war the casualties are many!

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