A delegation from the Sri Lanka Youth Council visited Geneva, Switzerland from 24-27 April 2014 as a part of a promotional campaign titled “Round the World in 40 Days” of the World Conference on Youth (WCY 2014) which is scheduled to be held from 6th – 10th May 2014 at the BMICH in Colombo. The Delegation was headed by Mr. Saman Abeywardena, Assistant Director of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development, and included Mr. R.A.S. Kumara, General Secretary, Sri Lanka Federation of Youth Clubs, Mr. A. Thevarajah, Member of National Federation, Sri Lanka Federation of Youth Clubs and Mr. T.Y.Kamalsiri , General Manager (Sirasa TV), Mr. I.R.M. Angello, Program Producer (MTV).
Welcoming the Youth Council Delegation at a promotional event organized at the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva on 25th April 2014, Ms. Manisha Gunasekera, Charge d’Affaires and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva said, “Sri Lanka is hosting the WCY at an opportune moment when the country is in the process of consolidating peace and reconciliation, having emerged from a nearly 30 year brutal terrorist conflict where generations of young people from all communities, especially the North and the East, suffered heavily”. She noted that "Sri Lanka has made significant progress in reintegrating its youth in the development process since the end of the conflict despite challenges” and shared statistical details on the high performance of the students of the Northern and Eastern Provinces in the A/L examination which further proved this phenomenon.
Four Sri Lankan inventors won 2 Gold medals and 2 Bronze medals, including a Gold medal with special jury recognition at the 42nd International Exhibition of Inventions held from 2-6 April 2014 in Geneva, which is known as the world’s largest market-place for inventions. At this event, inventions of more than 700 companies, universities and individual inventors from 45 countries are exhibited for the first time, with 60,000 visitors from all 5 continents.
Sri Lanka’s efforts at achieving national reconciliation and significant progress in many spheres received support from countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America during the adoption of the resolution on 27 March 2014 and consideration of the High Commissioner's Report on Sri Lanka on 26 March 2014 at the Human Rights Council.
China said “the international community must respect the right to choose one’s own path of development.” They also pointed out that the co-sponsors of the draft resolution on Sri Lanka “used the problem of human rights to openly exert pressure on Sri Lanka” to intervene in the internal affairs of the country.” China shared the concerns of many other countries that “this resolution does not reflect the consensus of the Council” and it is “an example of politicization of human rights” and at the same time “some of the contents of the draft goes against the mandate of the High Commissioner and provision of the resolution which established the Council.”
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha has said countries supporting US-led action against Sri Lanka are now a minority in the Human Rights Council.
Speaking to media following the vote today (27th March 2014), the Ambassador said a significant point about the vote in the Human Rights Council on the resolution on Sri Lanka, was that since the US first began moving resolutions on Sri Lanka in 2012, a majority of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council - 12 countries opposing and 12 other countries abstaining - has made it clear that they do not support the action taken by the US, the UK and the other co-sponsors of the resolution to impose an international inquiry mechanism concerning Sri Lanka. Those 24 countries, as against the 23 ( that includes 12 - EU, EU aspirants and the USA), who refused to endorse the action being taken, have sent a very clear and emphatic message rejecting imposition of external solutions on Sri Lanka, and the detrimental effect it would have on the reconciliation process.
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha addressing the Human Rights Council on behalf of the 'Country Concerned' ahead of the vote on the resolution on Sri Lanka on 27th March 2014, observed that the key imperative driving the resolution was not genuine concern for the welfare of the Sri Lankan people but electoral compulsions of some States at the behest of certain extreme elements with links to the LTTE. He said such biases and extreme ideologies ignore the ground realities, the legitimate aspirations of the Sri Lankan people, and trivialize the price paid by all Sri Lankans to defeat a 30-year brutal terrorist conflict and consolidate peace.
Ambassador Aryasinha who made a detailed critique of different elements of the resolution, said Sri Lanka categorically and unreservedly rejects this draft resolution, as it challenges the sovereignty and independence of a Member State of the UN, violates the principles of international law, based on flawed premises, and is inimical to the interests of the people of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha responding to the High Commissioner's Report on Sri Lanka, informed the UN Human Rights Council on 26th March 2014 that rather than encourage and support the ongoing reconciliation process in Sri Lanka, as well as the constructive engagement Sri Lanka continues to maintain with the Council, it was ironic that the draft resolution on Sri Lanka being mooted by some members of this Council, is reflective of the same partisan politicised agenda through its request to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to undertake "a comprehensive independent investigation". Assistance to this process by third party ‘experts’ whose mandate and credentials are far from clear; and its deliberate exclusion of a significant part of the duration of the terrorist conflict from the period under investigation via the introduction of a particular time frame, would be both precedent setting and prejudicial to the interests of all member and observer states of this Council in the future.
Exercising the right to reply on statements made regarding the arrest and detention of Ms. Balendran Jeyakumari, and the incidents in Killinochchi last week, Sri Lanka asked the member states at the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council on 26 March 2014 how their respective countries would react if there was a credible threat of re-grouping terror networks and if they would remain passive bystanders or take proactive action to ensure terror networks were kept at bay.
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva and Chair of the Personal Representatives of G-15 Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, recalling the active role played by Dr. Gamini Corea in reinforcing unity among nations of the Global South and their position in multilateral negotiations, said Dr. Corea’s “legacy and intellectual prophecy continues to inspire international institutions such as the South Centre, as well as cross regional groups of nations such as G-15, to continue to strive and work tirelessly for a more equitable and just world order”.
Ambassador Aryasinha made these observations when he addressed a half-day special Tribute seminar, organized by the South Centre with support from the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka, in commemoration of the life and intellectual legacy of Dr. Gamani Corea (Former UNCTAD Secretary-General and South Centre Board Chair), was held on 20 March 2014 at the United Nations in Geneva.
Intervening in the 6th session of the Forum on Minority Issues at the 25th UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 19th March 2014, Sri Lanka said that mindful of the many challenges after a three-decade long conflict that had taken its toll on the population of an entire country. We are seeking to address these challenges in line with the National Plan of Action for the Implementation of the Recommendations of the LLRC which contains many recommendations that seek to promote religious tolerance and inter-communal and inter-religious understanding, as well as to address grievances and grant redress to those whose rights have been violated on ethnic or religious grounds.
Exercising its Right of Reply on statements made regarding the arrest and detention of Ms. Balendran Jeyakumari and the detention of Mr. Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen, the Government of Sri Lanka detailed to the Human Rights Council today (18th March 2014), the sequence of events preceding this action. Sri Lanka said Ms. Jeyakumari was placed under arrest on suspicion of aiding and abetting K.P. Selvanayagam a.k.a. ‘Gobi’ who is believed to be leading the revival of the LTTE in Sri Lanka, while Mr. Fernando and Father Praveen have been detained as it has been revealed that they have been in Killinochchi engaging with persons connected to Gobi. Their questioning is continuing at present, to ascertain the whereabouts of Gobi and other related operatives.
Intervening in the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar at the 25th UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 17th March 2014, Sri Lanka reiterates its consistent position that any action taken in the promotion and protection of human rights of a country must have the consent of that country, and be based on the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue, and on the founding principles of universality, impartiality, non-selectivity which govern the work of the Council. Sri Lanka also believes that the UPR mechanism is the appropriate platform to address the human rights situations of all countries in a uniform, objective and constructive spirit of engagement.
Minister of Plantation Industries and Special Envoy of the President on Human Rights, Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe has said Sri Lanka’s opposition to the Resolution being moved by the US, UK and a few other countries against Sri Lanka was a fight on a matter of principle and that Sri Lanka would not compromise on it. Noting that what is happening to Sri Lanka today, could happen to any other NAM country tomorrow, Minister Samarasinghe called upon all Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) member states to continue to show solidarity with Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka intervening during the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council under Agenda Item 3: Clustered ID with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Special Rapporteur on Counter - Terrorism on 12th March 2014, said the recent sporadic attacks on religious targets are isolated incidents and there is an attempt to portray such sporadic incidents targeting places of worship as a sign of religious hatred and intolerance.
External Affairs Minister and Leader of the Sri Lankan delegation to the UNHRC in Geneva, Prof. G.L. Peiris, called on Mr. Baudelaire Ndong Ella, the President of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The discussion focused mainly on the procedures adopted by the Human Rights Council on Sri Lanka and the need to ensure a level playing field in the dealings between the UNHRC and Sri Lanka.
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka
09 March 2014
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, has said "the draft resolution on Sri Lanka deposited with the Human Rights Council by a core group comprising - the USA, UK, Mauritius, Montenegro and Macedonia, violates the constitutional provisions of Sri Lanka, is highly intrusive in nature and is in breach of the sovereignty of the Sri Lankan people and the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka". "In being politicised and in clear contravention of accepted principles of conduct in the Council", he said, "the resolution sets a bad precedent, and can in the medium-to-long term have an adverse impact on all developing countries in the Council".
Sri Lanka has expresses its strong reservations on the misplaced reference in the Annual Report to the Secretary General’s Internal Review Panel (IRP) report on Sri Lanka including provision of link to the report in a footnote, in the context of prevention. We note however that the report relevant to the subject at hand is ‘the Rights Up Front’ plan of action, to which report, surprisingly, no such link is provided. The ‘Rights Up Front’ plan of action is not meant to be retroactive but forward looking. Regrettably, the misplaced attention paid to the IRP report, which is neither endorsed by the intergovernmental process nor based on credible sources and information, can only be construed as yet another attempt to politicise the situation of Sri Lanka in the Council.
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka
External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris has said, the highly prejudiced actions taken by a few countries and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to give disproportionate negative attention to Sri Lanka, has made the separatist Tamil elements in Sri Lanka and abroad more intransigent, making the intensely difficult task of reconciliation in Sri Lanka, even harder. He said it was unfortunate that Sri Lanka has become a “political football” in the electoral fortunes in some countries.
Minister of External Affairs and Leader of the Sri Lanka delegation Prof. G.L. Peiris, delivering the National Statement at the High Level Segment of the 25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today (5 March 2014), rejected the Report of the High Commissioner in its entirety, saying it was fundamentally flawed and disregarded the substantial progress made by the Government during the five years which have elapsed since the end of the thirty year conflict against terrorism. He said it also pays scant regard to the complexities and local nuances of a sensitive reconciliation process, while eroding confidence of the people of Sri Lanka by the constant changing of unjustifiable demands. Moreover, they persist in an attitude which is clearly disproportionate to the circumstances and inconsistent with the treatment of comparable situations. It is much to be regretted that the High Commissioner’s Report and those who exalt its virtues only seek to inflict harm on the reconciliation process by bringing about a polarisation of the Sri Lankan society.
The Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) has rejected the call by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navnanethem Pillay's "to establish an international inquiry mechanism to further investigate the alleged violations of IHRL and IHL and monitor any domestic accountability process in Sri Lanka", saying "it gives scant or no regard to the domestic processes ongoing in Sri Lanka within the framework of the LLRC NPOA, and is politicized in premise". The government said, the trajectory that has emerged with regard to the recommendation of the High Commissioner "reflects the preconceived, politicized and prejudicial agenda which she has relentlessly pursued with regard to Sri Lanka", since just a week following the defeat of terrorism in Sri Lanka, on 26th May 2009 at the 11th Special Session of the UNHRC on Sri Lanka, and at subsequent sessions and reports. It is noted that the reference in the current report that “the High Commissioner remains convinced” for an “independent, international inquiry” demonstrates her persistent efforts against Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka said, "it is pertinent to question the factual basis for the High Commissioner’s initial formal call to the HRC for an independent, international investigation in May 2009 and its continuation, in order that the international community not be misled".
His Holiness Pope Francis met Sri Lankans at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in a special audience he offered to the migrant Sri Lankans living in Italy on 8 February 2014. Addressing the congregation of some 15,000 Sri Lankans at the invitation of His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, and referring to the invitation to visit Sri Lanka, Pope Francis said "I accept it and believe the Lord will give us this grace".
The Sri Lankan community resident in Geneva and the environs came together on Saturday (1 February 2014) to celebrate Sri Lanka's 66th anniversary of independence at an event organised by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva at the ILO premises. With over 250 Sri Lankans under one roof, the event was testimony to the country's rich and multi-faceted heritage.