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New Geneva inquiry:

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SJB backs govt. call for examining all available information, evidence

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The main Opposition party, the breakaway UNP faction, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) yesterday (30) said that all available information and evidence relating to Sri Lanka’s war against terrorism should be made available to the proposed special unit to be formed for the implementation of an accountability resolution adopted at the recently concluded Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

SJB lawmaker Dr. Harsha de Silva said so when The Island asked him whether his party backed the government’s call for the UK to make available wartime (January-May 2009) dispatches from its High Commission in Colombo to the proposed special unit.

The former non-cabinet minister in the yahapalana administration, who led the country’s delegation to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UNHRC in 2017, said that he couldn’t comment specifically on the British dispatches. The Colombo District lawmaker said let the planned new unit receive access to all available information and evidence.

 Prof. Peiris, who served as the External Affairs Minister during 2010-2015 period on Monday (29) asked whether the UK, leader of Sri Lanka Core Group, in addition to being member of the UNHRC, would submit suppressed dispatches to the special Geneva unit estimated to cost the UN USD 2.8 mn. Prof. Peiris said that Geneva should request for dispatches from the British as well as from other countries with diplomatic missions in Colombo served either by defence advisors/attaches.

Prof. Peiris said that those genuinely interested in establishing the truth shouldn’t have any qualms in examining credible evidence.

MP de Silva asserted that there couldn’t be any dispute over new Geneva unit examining all available information and evidence.

Addressing the media at the Opposition Leader’s Office earlier in the day, Dr de Silva flayed the government for making a desperate attempt to depict the Geneva vote against Sri Lanka as a continuing battle between the West and the global south. The SJB MP pointed out that of those who voted for the resolution only seven represented the Western group.

The 47-member UNHRC is divided into five groups. The former UNPer explained how members of all groups either voted for the resolution or skipped the vote at Sri Lanka’s expense.

The SJB parliamentarian dismissed SLPP Chairman Prof. Peiris’ allegation that the Opposition was trying to portray an unfounded threat. Referring to The Sunday Times reportage of the issue at hand, lawmaker de Silva urged the government to be realistic in its assessment of the Geneva situation and take tangible measures to address the concerns of the international community.

Warning of dire consequences unless the government changed its strategy, lawmaker de Silva reiterated that the SJB’s commitment to throw its weight behind the country. The top SJB spokesman called for a consensus between the government and the Opposition in that regard.

Dr. de Silva emphasized that Geneva found fault with the incumbent government over a spate of issues ranging from threats to democracy and rapid militarization of the country. He also listed specific issues raised by the latest resolution that really focused on post-2019 presidential period rather than accountability issues during the war.

Declaring the SJB’s support for the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report commissioned by the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa, MP de Silva said that ex-Attorney General C.R. de Silva’s dossier cleared the Sri Lankan military of deliberate slaughter of civilians. However, the government failed to act on other findings made by the report. Had the then government acted responsibly, international concerns could have been addressed, Dr de Silva said, demanding to know why one-time LTTE commander Karuna was offered high political status instead of punished for the massacre of 600 policemen in June 1990. The MP emphasized that the LLRC report especially called for probe into Karuna’s alleged role though he denied involvement.

The SJB declared support for a local accountability mechanism which could win the confidence of the international community. The SJB also assured its support for the full and meaningful implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution through which maximum possible devolution could be offered.



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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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