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‘Muslim govts stood by Sri Lanka at UNHRC’’

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In spite of some members of the government attacking Muslims, Islamic governments didn’t abandon Sri Lanka at the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council), a group of Muslim civil society activists said in a statement issued yesterday.

The following is the text of the statement issued by M M. Zuhair PC, former MP, Latheef Farook, Journalist and Author, Mass L Usuf, Attorney-at-Law and Advocacy Columnist and Mansoor Dahlan, Theology Scholar: “We as a country may not be happy about the outcome of the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) resolution adopted on 23rd March 2021. Indeed the government must explain the serious implications of the ‘anti-Sri Lanka resolution’ to all Sri Lankans without attempting to save face on deceptive technicalities. We need to explain how and why the development and economic recovery of the nation will be adversely affected, unless the early warnings are heeded. The government must, as a necessary preliminary step, take the lead in encouraging all ethnic and religious groups to come under the umbrella of a united nation, eschewing all divisive rhetoric.

Neither the contents of the UNHRC resolution nor the detailed report of the High Commissioner that preceded it, has received the coverage they deserve, particularly in the country’s Sinhala media. On the other hand the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the 21/4 Easter Sunday attacks (COI) had however received ‘anti-Muslim coverage’ excessively in sections of the country’s mainstream Sinhala media over a continuous period of two years. This has regrettably created unwarranted new lines of hatred and divisions instead of unitedly overcoming the 21/4 tragedy. We appeal to the Sinhala media to give reasonable coverage to Muslim responses, which only sections amongst them have done.

 Primarily the COI report is faulty, ignores geo-politico-strategic implications and in addition Sinhala media coverage on the subject is mostly one sided. What is required today is a fair, balanced and robust public discussion on the UNHRC report and resolution, followed by remedial action on the issues, the UN-HCHR was tasked with on 23/3 by the UNHRC.  That will help avoid Sri Lanka’s economy plunging down any further.

 We need to make a passing reference to the deceptive technicalities. We have been told that the UNHRC resolution is illegal! But have we not signed UN treaties and covenants over the past several decades including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 23rd March 1976? Did we not sign the 2009 joint statement with the then UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon agreeing to many matters? Can the Sri Lankan State now argue that we are not bound by the UN treaties and joint statements that we had signed?

If we as a country behave inconsistently, can we blame the promoters of the resolution, arising from the resolution or otherwise, imposing at the minimum individual country level travel bans on Sri Lankans who in any capacity such as minister, parliamentarian, investigator, prosecutor, judge for having violated or aided, abetted or conspired in the violation of Sri Lankan human rights laws, international human rights and humanitarian laws? What prevents those countries from extending the damaging restrictions to the families of the alleged violators, as was done to the family of the present Army Commander though wrongfully? Commercial restrictions too can be later on imposed on Sri Lanka by countries using the resolution as a weapon.

Let us remember that in 2009 Sri Lanka received 29 votes in its favour at the UNHRC but dropped to 15 in 2012, 13 in 2013, 12 in 2014 and 11 in 2021. The trend is very clear. We should change gear! We requested at the highest level, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the OIC comprising 57 Muslim countries for support at the UNHRC. Not one Muslim country did vote against Sri Lanka, though four countries voted for Sri Lanka, notwithstanding utterances by sections in the government violative of the human rights of the Muslims. In 2012/14, Arabic conversant Muslim delegations visited Geneva and successfully canvassed for support for Sri Lanka from Muslim member states in the UNHRC. According to the evidence at the Easter Sunday Commission, at the same time BBS admittedly was in Norway, a prime supporter of several anti-Sri Lankan moves, getting brainwashed in Oslo against the Muslims of Sri Lanka! Muslim bashing need to stop but Easter attackers need to be punished or rehabilitated and not brainwashed.

The simple truth is that there was no need for Sri Lanka to plead with any country if it would honour its constitutional obligations, treat all its citizens particularly the minorities as equal citizens without discrimination and not abuse 21/4 to marginalize the Muslims or any other minority. There is an urgent need, from now onwards for the government to take the public into confidence and encourage free and transparent discussion as the first step.”



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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs

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A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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