The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) on Tuesday (23) said that by making a public statement before the vote on an accountability resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC and then skipping the vote, India had clearly shown its displeasure at the lack of progress on addressing the alleged violations of human rights and international laws and the non-implementation of Sri Lanka’s numerous public commitments of the past in addressing the grievances of the Tamil people. The GTF said that Tamils were grateful to the Tamil Nadu political parties, particularly the DMK president M.K. Stalin for the recent statement calling on the Government of India not to support the Government of Sri Lanka by voting against the resolution.
The following is the text of statement issued by GTF spokesman Suren Surendiran: The Government of Sri Lanka rejected this resolution, however even all the neighbouring countries did not support that position.
It is significant that the majority of the Latin American countries and all of the European countries voted in favour of the resolution. Majority of the African countries, the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) and the Asian countries did not support the position taken by the Government of Sri Lanka.
It is particularly pleasing that the countries voted in favour cover all regions across the globe and several countries who would have traditionally voted against such a resolution recognised the criticality of the situation in Sri Lanka and decided to abstain. It is indeed encouraging for victims of human rights abuses across the world that UNHRC continues to offer hope, even if the process of seeking justice is painstaking and arduous.
The current process towards this important outcome commenced with the report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, which powerfully articulated that ‘Sri Lanka is on an alarming path towards recurrence of human rights violations’ and called for urgent action from the international community. The High Commissioner’s call was ably converted into resolution 46/1 by the core group of countries under the leadership of the UK, which in fact is a pragmatic outcome balancing the highly concerning developments in Sri Lanka with challenging geopolitical reality. Strengthening OHCHR’s capacity to collect, consolidate, analyse, and preserve information and evidence, and to develop possible strategies for future accountability processes, with sufficient budgetary and manpower support is a critical and welcoming new dimension in this resolution.
Tamils are grateful to the US Administration that initiated the original process of promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka in 2012.
GTF would like to express its appreciation and gratitude to all progressive forces that made this current outcome possible – the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, the core group of countries, all countries who voted for and/or co-sponsored the resolution, the countries that abstained without voting against the resolution, eminent persons and dedicated human rights organisations who championed the cause, and more importantly the victims of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka who despite the time elapsed and the risks involved, continue to provide inspiration by bravely fighting for human rights and accountability.
Tamils are grateful to the Government of India for supporting an escalation of the Tamil demand for equality, justice (accountability), dignity and peace at a multilateral international forum like the UNHRC. By specifying India’s support to the international community calling on the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfil its commitments to devolve political power to the Tamils and to allow those devolved powers to be operationalised effectively according to the 13th amendment of the constitution is very significant.
Unlike in the previous years when the outcome at the UNHRC was eagerly sought by the Tamil community, the interests and expectations this year were much more widespread. The Muslim community, which was openly victimised through forced cremations and expected burqa ban; the Christian community which is highly disappointed with the dishonest approach towards Easter bombing investigations, and indeed the majority community which is increasingly becoming unsettled with the authoritarian and militarised trajectory the country is adopting.
GTF believes this convergence of concerns, fears and apprehensions offer hope for all the people of Sri Lanka to come together as equal citizens and communities. Such progress is possible only when all communities stop living a lie based on denial but come to terms with the truth based on evidence. The UNHRC resolution just passed provides a useful framework to work towards such an outcome. We call upon people from all communities, important stakeholders of the country including the leaders of the government and opposition, to stop using the UNHRC initiative for short term political gains, but rather listen to the coherent and powerful voice of the international community, and adopt the parameters of this resolution willingly for the betterment of the country and its people. The Government of Sri Lanka, by rejecting this resolution, is undoubtedly isolating itself from the international community.”
Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’
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.
PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners
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.”
Thilo Hoffman remembered
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.
Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’
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