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FM: UNHRC on political campaign against SL

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… points out duplicity of some members

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday (23) said double standards adopted by some countries would undermine the global fight against terrorism. Minister Gunawardena said so delivering the country statement at the 46th session of the Geneva based UNHRC. He spoke using video technology.

Minister Gunawardena said there was an unprecedented propaganda campaign against Sri Lanka on the basis of the report of Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The Minister said that he would leave it to the members and observers of this Council to make their own judgment on whether Sri Lanka represented a situation that warranted the urgent attention of this Council, or if this campaign was essentially a political move that contravenes the very values and principles on which this Council has been established. Particularly at a time when legislation is enacted by some countries to protect their soldiers from prosecution in military operations carried out overseas, only points to duplicity and the hypocritical nature of their motives. This cannot but result in a significant loss of morale among countries engaged in the struggle against terrorism.

The following is the full text of the statement: “Sri Lankan heroic armed forces militarily neutralized the LTTE in 2009 after three-decades of conflict. The Sri Lanka Government acted in self-defense to safeguard the unitary state, sovereignty and territorial integrity from the world’s most ruthless separatist terrorist organization.

The LTTE is the only terrorist organization in the world which has killed two world leaders: a serving President of Sri Lanka and a former Prime Minister of India extending its terror beyond the borders of Sri Lanka.

End of terrorism guaranteed the most cherished of all human rights – right to life of all Sri Lankans – Sinhala, Tamil, and Muslims.

Nonetheless hegemonic forces colluded against Sri Lanka in bringing an unsubstantiated resolution against Sri Lanka which was defeated by the support of friendly nations who remain by Sri Lanka’s side even today. Further resolutions were presented to this Council on purely political motives. In each instance Sri Lanka presented the procedural improprieties, and how such processes could set a dangerous precedent affecting all member states of the United Nations.

The Government which assumed office in Sri Lanka in 2015, in a manner unprecedented in human rights fora, joined as co-sponsors of Resolution 30/1 which was against our own country. It carried a host of commitments that were not deliverable and were not in conformity with the Constitution of Sri Lanka. This led to the compromising of national security to a point of reviving terrorist acts on Easter Sunday 2019 causing the deaths of hundreds. The rejection of this resolution by the peoples of Sri Lanka was clearly manifested in the mandate received by His Excellency President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in November 2019. Based on this mandate I announced at the 43rd session of this Council that Sri Lanka would withdraw from co-sponsorship of the resolution. I also stated that Sri Lanka would remain engaged with the UN system including this Council.

We have provided detailed updates to the OHCHR in December 2020 as well as in January 2021 on the progress of implementation of commitments that Sri Lanka had undertaken such as continuity of the existing mechanisms, appointment of a special commission of inquiry headed by a Supreme Court Judge, achieving the SDGs, progress made in returning lands, demining and creating new avenues of livelihoods.

These steps have been taken even as Sri Lanka was battling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for the past one year. In spite of these challenges we held a free and fair general election in August 2020 and elected a new Government with a two-thirds majority in one of Asia’s oldest Parliamentary democracies.

It is regrettable that despite the spirit of cooperation with the HRC and its mechanisms, elements working against Sri Lanka intend to table another country-specific resolution based on this OHCHR Report. This rejected report by Sri Lanka has unjustifiably broadened its scope and mandate further, incorporating many issues of governance and matters that are essentially domestic in any self-respecting, sovereign country.

I leave it to the members and observers of this Council to make their own judgment on whether Sri Lanka represents a situation that warrants the urgent attention of this Council, or if this campaign is essentially a political move that contravenes the very values and principles on which this Council has been established. Particularly at a time when legislation is enacted by some countries to protect their soldiers from prosecution in military operations carried out overseas, only points to duplicity and the hypocritical nature of their motives. This cannot but result in a significant loss of morale among countries engaged in the struggle against terrorism.

The Council must hold the scales even. Not going by hearsay, unilateral action or one angled doubtful sources but adhere to its guiding principles. Insistence on such ever-expanding externally driven prescriptions notwithstanding our continuous cooperation and engagement with this Council can pose numerous challenges.

As the Council is aware this is a critical time to the entire world in the last hundred years where we need to be united in our efforts to overcome the Covid19 pandemic and to revive battered economies. I appeal to the members of this Council to take note of our continued engagement and cooperation on its merit and support us by rejecting any resolution against Sri Lanka. We believe that the extent to which the resources and time of this Council has been utilized on Sri Lanka is unwarranted, and carries a discouraging message to the sovereign states of the global South.

The need of the hour, in the face of an unprecedented pandemic, is solidarity rather than rancor and acrimony arising from divisions within this council. In view of the circumstances set out above, we urge that this resolution be rejected by the Council and be brought to closure.”



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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