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UNHRC efforts to target SL armed forces:Govt. may contemplate new laws, constitutional safeguards



Dr. Amarasekera warns govt. to be wary of vile Western strategies

 By Shamindra Ferdinando

Under severe pressure on the human rights front with UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet pushing for punitive measures against Sri Lanka, SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris on Monday (1) said that the government wouldn’t hesitate to introduce news laws in Parliament to guarantee protection for the armed forces.

 Prof. Peiris emphasized that they were even ready to provide what he called constitutional safety for the armed forces. Prof. Peiris, who is also the Minister in charge of the education portfolio, said that the government bore the responsibility to take tangible measures to safeguard the interests of the armed forces. Prof. Peiris dealt with the issue at the weekly SLPP media briefing at Battaramulla.

The top academic said that the Constitution could be amended to afford the required protection.

 The 46th session of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is now underway.

 Prof. Peiris who served as the External Affairs Minister, after the successful conclusion of the war in 2009, explained constitutional safeguards in place for the protection of US and UK military personnel deployed for overseas missions. However, in the guise of protecting human rights, war-winning Sri Lanka was being relentlessly harassed by interested parties bent on causing turmoil here, while hiding the sins of their own armed forces, Minister Peiris said.

 UNHRC adopted three resolutions against Sri Lanka in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In Oct. 2015, Sri Lanka co-sponsored Resolution 30/1 against its own armed forces and the war winning political leadership. In March 2020, Sri Lanka announced withdrawal from Resolution 30/1 though it firmly remained involved in the process.

 Commenting on Bachelet’s controversial report that dealt with the situation here, Prof. Peiris alleged that it was unfair by Sri Lanka. Although a Bachelet’s Office agreed to make some amendments, such gestures weren’t sufficient to rectify the harm caused to Sri Lanka.

 Alleging that the UNHRC pursued an agenda in respect of Sri Lanka at the behest of some member states, Prof. Peiris questioned the rationale in Bachelet focusing on purely domestic issues, particularly developments following the Nov 2019 presidential election.

 Prof. Peiris discussed how the UK turned a blind eye to LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham’s wife, Adele’s direct involvement in LTTE terrorism. Minister Peiris pointed out the absurdity in the British position as regards accountability issues having provided a safe haven to Adele who sent child soldiers into battle after tying cyanide phials around their necks.

Prof. Peiris, who once led the government negotiating team for talks with the LTTE said that those who had been involved with the LTTE had no qualms in promoting their association with the terrorist group. Pictures and video footage of Adele in LTTE combat uniform is in the public domain.

 Referring to US National Security Adviser John Bolton threatening the International Criminal Court (ICC) in case it sought to prosecute Americans, Prof. Peiris explained how the world’s solitary superpower sought to protect its interests. However, Sri Lanka was at the receiving end for bringing the war to a successful conclusion over a decade ago, Prof. Peiris said, pointing out the Western powers sought protection for their armed forces deployed in other countries whereas our forces operated within Sri Lanka territory.

 Federation of National Organizations (FNO) spokesperson Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera urged the government to be wary of Western strategies. Asked whether the nationalist organizations approve of the government’s stand in Geneva, Dr. Amarasekera emphasized that the country couldn’t under any circumstances accept the Core Group’s resolution. Dr. Amarasekera said that having quit the accountability resolution in March last year it would be ridiculous to accept another resolution. The civil society activist said that losing a vote in Geneva was much better than giving in to their despicable strategy. The government should be wary of their perceived readiness to listen to our grievances, Dr. Amarasekera said, urging those responsible for Geneva policy to review the strategy. Dr. Amarasekera regretted the government’s pathetic failure to exploit valuable evidence provided by US and UK defence advisors, a confidential UN survey, Wikileaks and other documents to disprove unsubstantiated war crimes accusations against the backdrop of UN confidentiality clause that denied Sri Lanka an opportunity at least to examine accusations till 2031.

 Dr. Amarasekera said that the government hadn’t done its homework and struggled in Geneva expecting other countries to save Sri Lanka. Their failure to present Sri Lanka’s case properly in Geneva couldn’t be justified, Dr. Amarasekera said, pointing out how New Delhi made use of the situation again to demand the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which was forced on the country by Delhi. Dr. Amarasekera was referring to New Delhi’s recent statement in Geneva.

 Dr. Amarasekera said that Bachelet was pushing for wider actions against the armed forces. Her report should be examined against the backdrop of the US declaring Army Commander General Shavendra Silva a war criminal, the veteran nationalist said. What she wanted was individual member states to take punitive measures, Dr. Amarasekera said, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and Maj. Gen. Chagie Gallage, too, were denied visas, based on false accusations.



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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.

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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.”

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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.

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