Connect with us

News

UN told how Lanka tackled child soldiers’ issue

Published

on

Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Mohan Peiris, PC last Friday explained how Sri Lanka had successfully tackled the child soldiers’ issue. Addressing the Virtual Event, titled “Early Warning to Early Action: Implementing the Vancouver Principles to Prevent and End the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers”, Peiris thanked the Permanent Missions of Canada, Rwanda and Uruguay as well as the UN Department of Peace Operations and the Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security for organizing the important event.

The following is the text of the speech by Peiris: “Particularly, today (Feb 12), as we mark the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers. I cannot but recall the words of Kofi Annan the former Secretary-General when he said “if there is any lesson that we can draw from the experience of the past decade, it is that the use of child soldiers is far more than a humanitarian concern; that its impact lasts far beyond the actual time of fighting; and that the scope of the problem vastly exceeds the number of children directly involved.” I was further encouraged by the reassertion of this thought when Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau stated ‘the use of child soldiers have no place in our world … by bringing countries together and putting the Vancouver Principles together we can make sure children remain children and build a safer and more just future for all.’

“As you would all know, Sri Lanka experienced the sad phenomenon of child soldiers at the hands of a group of non-state actors that terrorized the country for nearly 30 years. Following the neutralization of this group in 2009, the Government of Sri Lanka undertook the substantial task of rehabilitating these children and reuniting them with their families. I would now like to show a few photos that depict the rehabilitation programme conducted by Sri Lanka for the ex-child soldiers, where we treated these children like our own children and apart from the formal education, they had the opportunity to attend scouting programmes and even some radio programmes at a media institution.

“I must refer to the mandates and early warning chapters in the Vancouver Principles which opens up a wide window of scenarios. We cannot be heard to turn a blind eye to some of the activities of these non-state actors who as we speak are engaged in the very activity which we are seeking to stop. I will briefly show you some photographs which depict the use of child soldiers and are being used to promote the idea of hate and terror. In one picture, as you see children dressed in combat uniforms carrying replicas of rocket launchers, missiles and guns. This is a lovely play! This is not Cinderella or Jack & the Beanstalk or Little Red Riding Hood but promoting hate, little children carrying replicas of bazoocas and all kinds of weapons. In the other, schoolchildren as young as eight years is enacting a drama dressed as suicide soldiers. Here is another one of glorification of child soldiers, in another little skit. These pictures speak a volume.

“We all know the modus operandi of such groups and I do not wish to get into that here. But I think it’s important to highlight that while the actual child soldiers created by this group were physically in Sri Lanka, they were being aided, sponsored and glorified by segments of the diaspora abroad. Unfortunately, we have witnessed children living thousands of miles away from Sri Lanka taking part in ceremonies that glorified child soldiers and to raise funds for this group of non-state actors. The modus-operandi included the use of schools, particularly in foreign countries, ostensibly for the purpose of imparting knowledge on culture and language to diaspora children. Under the fine and laudable cover of teaching the younger generation their culture and values, something far more sinister and scary was being carried out and that is the brainwashing of small children into a state of hate of nationalities they are falsely made to believe were antagonistic to them. We have found that some of these institutions had very close associations with this group of non-state actors and were actually their front organizations and were being used to propagate their illegal activities overseas as well as a source of income. Indeed, in Europe alone there were more than 350 such institutions with nearly 20,000 students.

“Some of the activities of the diaspora are depicted in these photos – innocent looking concerts and plays by little children who are compelled to re-enact the grim and sad story of child soldiers on a mission to kill their brothers and sisters. My dear friends, what are we in the international community doing about it? The answer is very little, but an avalanche of rhetoric and passively allowing the glorification of terror. This has gone on unabated and un-noticed and has led to the systematic radicalization of Tamil youth. It is evident that systematic psychological conditioning of students to become martyrs and terrorists started with this group of non-state actors long before it manifested itself in Islamist madrasas.

“This is extremely unfortunate, and continues even today. It is important that in our efforts to combat this gruesome ordeal we do not forget the sophisticated mechanizations of various non-state actors to further their cause of terror.  Our efforts to move forward on these issues must ensure that we do not allow them to use the same procedures that we use to foster and propagate our ideals of humanity at the UN for their own purposes.

“Most often children end up a numerical notation on international podiums, and scant regard is paid as to why children are made to carry arms and under what circumstances they become victims of movements that would do anything to ensure that their agendas are realized. The Vancouver Principles are something that is long overdue for the reason that nothing constructive has been done internationally to put an end to these children’s misery.

“I will end by citing a grim warning from scripture about protecting children when Christ said “if anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come; let woe to the person through whom they come.” The sophistication of our treaties will not suffice unless and until we act true and fast. The Vancouver Declaration will be a stepping stone in the right direction.”



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

Delisting of Tamil Diaspora groups irks some; explanation sought

Published

on

Decision based on GoSL assurance given in Geneva last June

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera yesterday (14) said President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government should explain the rationale behind delisting several Tamil Diaspora groups and individuals.

“The timing of the government announcement really worries us,” Dr. Amarasekera said on behalf of the Federation of National Organizations (FNO). He said such moves couldn’t be simply justified on the basis of the forthcoming sessions of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council. The next UNHRC sessions are scheduled for September.

Recalling that he too strongly backed the stand taken by President Wickremesinghe with regard to US Ambassador Julie Chung’s opposition to measures the government adopted to counter violent protests, Dr. Amarasekera emphasised national security couldn’t be jeopardised by politically-motivated decisions.  The Defence and Foreign Ministries owed the public an explanation as regards the procedure adopted in delisting some Tamil diaspora groups and individuals.

The UK-based Global Tamil Forum (GTF), the British Tamil Forum (BTF) and the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) had been among those delisted, through an Extraordinary Gazette issued by the Ministry of Defence.National Freedom Front (NFF) spokesperson Mohammed Muzammil, MP, too, echoed Dr. Amarasekera’s concerns. Addressing a hastily arranged media briefing at NFF’s Pita Kotte party office, lawmaker Muzammil asked whether the government had received an undertaking from those delisted groups, and individuals, whether they would abandon the separatist agenda. Lawmaker Muzammil said President Wickremesinghe, who holds the defence portfolio, should address the concerns of those who felt betrayed by the disputed de-listing of those who propagated separatist ideology though the armed forces eradicated the LTTE in 2009.

Both Dr. Amarasekera and MP Muzammil pointed out that Tamil Makkal Theshiya Kutani leader C.V. Vignewaran, following a recent meeting with President Wickremesinghe, had declared that he received an assurance with regard to several of their demands.  They asked whether the de-listing of these organizations, and individuals, had been part of the agreement between Tamil political parties and President Wickremesinghe.

The Island

sought the views of Suren Surendiran of the GTF, who is among those delisted. The UK-based GTF spokesperson alleged that the entire process of designation of groups and individuals was arbitrary, irrational, and an outright abuse of the United Nations Regulations – aimed at suppressing freedom of speech and dissent, not just within Sri Lanka but also across the borders.

 “GTF and I were listed in 2014, delisted in 2015, re-listed in 2021 and re-delisted in 2022,” Surendiran said, declaring they remained committed to their original ideals meant to achieve justifiable aspirations of the Tamil-speaking people, and implementation of the 2015 accountability resolution.

Surendiran has sent us the following response:   “Every time when a resolution is passed at the UNHRC, calling for Accountability and Reconciliation, the Rajapaksas, be it Mahinda or Gotabaya, will proscribe us as an angry reaction and then realise that no other government or international institution, including progressive Sri Lankans of all communities, and the wider media, recognise these proscriptions and just before another UNHRC session, the sitting government will de-proscribe us. This has been the case since 2014.”

“GTF is grateful that the international community and many Sri Lankan stakeholders (including the media) ignored this listing for what it truly was.

“We did an estimation on the loss of foreign currency inward flow into Sri Lanka directly related to these proscriptions of 2014 and 2021, at least per annum the loss has been USD 300 mn to   half a billion dollars.

Former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary of Defence Kamal Gunaratne, Former Foreign Minister G L Peiris and the notorious so called “terrorism expert” Rohan Gunaratna must explain these losses to the Sri Lankan people and held accountable for their arbitrary decisions and explain what benefits these proscriptions achieved.”

Authoritative sources said that contrary to concerns expressed by various iparties as regards the delisting of organizations and certain individuals, the decision to do so was announced by the former Foreign Affairs Minister Prof GL Peiris in mid-June this year at the 50th Geneva sessions. The Foreign Ministry quoted Prof. Peiris as having said: “The list of designated individuals, groups and entities under the United Nations Regulation No. 1 of 2012 is being reviewed. As of now 318 individuals and 04 entitles are proposed to be delisted. This is a continuing exercise.”

Sources said that it wouldn’t be fair to seek explanation from the incumbent government for a decision taken by the previous administration.

Continue Reading

News

Govt. trying to impress UNHRC – Vigneswaran

Published

on

Tamil Peoples’ National Alliance (TPNA) leader MP C. V. Vigneswaran says President Ranil Wickremesinghe is in a hurry to rope in Tamil MPs w,ith an eye to the upcoming UNHRC session.

In a statement after meeting President Wickremesinghe the MP says: “He appeared to be in a hurry to rope in Jaffna MPs to be part of the Government, I suppose to showcase to Geneva! I don’t blame him. The Government has so far ignored its obligations to the UN as per Resolution 46/1. Although the President assured us that he will take action to implement our requests and invited us to join the Government, we felt the impending Geneva meeting was more important to him than solving the Tamils’ Problems.”

Full text of Wigneswaran’s statement: At the invitation of the President, I met his Excellency, along with our Party senior member Mr. S. Selvendra, at 4.30 PM, on 10th August 2022 at the Presidential Secretariat. The Prime Minister was also present.

The President explained to us at length his plan of governance which included a Parliamentary governance committee giving a greater role for the Provincial Governors. His idea was that all MPs from the Provinces must govern the respective Provinces under the Chairmanship of the Governors in terms of a National Agenda. He referred to Austria as an example. (His example was inappropriate. Austria is a Federal Country).

Further discussing grabbing of lands in Provinces by Central Government Ministries he agreed that there should be no forestry land that should be grabbed by Ministries and that we should focus on preserving the environment in each Province. He said, if need be a maximum of 2 acres could be taken over by the Government. I said no land should be appropriated by the Central Government in the Provinces except with the consent and concurrence of the respective Provincial Government. There was no response from His Excellency.

Regarding National Schools, he said 50 National Schools were enough for the Country not 1000 National Schools. I pointed out that no Provincial Schools could be taken over by the State and that our Alliance has already filed action in this regard.He appeared to be in a hurry to rope in Jaffna MPs to be part of the Government, I suppose to showcase to Geneva! I don’t blame him. The Government has so far ignored its obligations to the UN as per Resolution 46/1.

He wanted me to share a document which outlines the proposal on how money could be channeled into the Country from the Diaspora.It became apparent to us while discussing with him that his plan was to strengthen the central administrative control of the entire country, totally ignoring the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

I pointed out to the President that the Tamil people in this country expect the government to take speedy action to attend to their requests, submitted by all Tamil National party leaders which included the release of political prisoners; action to trace the missing persons; stop the activities of various government departments to grab Tamil lands and stop persons trying to build Buddhist temples in Tamil homeland with the help of the Military and so on.

It was also pointed out that in order to enable the Tamils to give political leadership and governance over their Provinces, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution should be implemented in full as a temporary measure until satisfactory constitutional reforms are made. We told the President that until this process is started in earnest satisfying the Tamil people, we will support the Government from the Opposition. There was no question of our becoming a part of the Government.

Although the President assured us that he will take action to implement our requests and invited us to join the Government, we felt the impending Geneva meeting was more important to him than solving the Tamils’ Problems.Nevertheless, we promised to forward the document he called for and took our leave to depart.

Continue Reading

News

 Arms, drug seizure from Lankan boat: Accused raised funds to revive LTTE, says NIA

Published

on

KOCHI: In a major revelation in a case pertaining to the seizure of a huge quantity of narcotic drugs along with five AK-47 rifles and 9mm ammunition numbering 1,000 from Sri Lankan fishing boats, the NIA has stated that an accused had been involved in activities of proscribed terrorist organisation LTTE within India and abroad.

The accused had also plotted to procure prohibited arms and ammunition, besides contraband articles. The NIA filed the report in the Kerala High Court in response to the bail plea filed by Ramesh, a Sri Lankan native and eighth accused in the case.

The Coast Guard intercepted the boat, ‘Ravihansi’, near Minicoy Island, Lakshadweep, on March 18, 2021. There were no proper documents and six Sri Lankan nationals found on board were arrested by the Kochi sub zone of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on their arrival at Vizhinjam port in Thiruvananthapuram.The Central government directed the NIA to take over the probe and later the seventh and his brother and eighth accused were taken into custody, allegedly for being members of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Ramesh revealed that he had stayed in India without a visa violating the provisions of the Foreigners Act.

According to NIA, Ramesh and the other accused, including his brother being a core cadre of the LTTE, held secret meetings and conspired to carry out illegal activities of trafficking in drugs and also arms and ammunition with the intention of raising funds to revive and further the activities of the LTTE, both in India and Sri Lanka, They formed a terrorist gang and transferred money through hawala channels for the procurement of drugs, arms and ammunition.

A witness in the case also spoke of the drug and hawala business carried out by the brothers and specifically referred to Ramesh having collected hawala money from a person named Faseel Bhai. While dismissing Ramesh’s bail plea, the court noted that the statements of the witnesses show not only his inextricable connection with the illegal activities but also his definite link with LTTE, with full knowledge and complicity in the attempt to smuggle heroin, arms and ammunition in the boat, intercepted before its entry into the port.

Continue Reading

Trending